Small Business Survey Shows Social Media Marketing is Harder Than Filling Out Income Taxes

While Social Media Marketing Is Critical to SMBs, 66% Are Not Confident That They’re Making the Right Decisions

Sensai, the first AI-powered social media marketing solution for small businesses, announced the findings from its inaugural Small Business Social Media Confidence Survey. The results revealed that the majority of small businesses (66%) are not confident when it comes to their social media marketing. In fact, 46% of respondents shared that managing social media channels is harder than filling out income tax paperwork. In addition, changing algorithms rank as a major marketing challenge and almost half (46%) state that the recent changes to algorithms are making it nearly impossible to be successful at social marketing. The new survey coincides with the launch of Sensai’s first-ever, AI-powered social media marketing solution for small businesses.


“Social media is a broken system for SMBs,” said Angel Gambino, founder and CEO, Sensai. “In today’s algorithm-driven world, SMBs are struggling to reach and engage their target audiences and they don’t know what to do to make the biggest impact. However, there’s never been a better time to be on social media if you know what’s working today. Our goal is to empower small businesses by helping them overcome these challenges and give them the guidance to achieve a higher return on investment.”

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Key findings include the following:

  • Sign of The Times: Small Businesses Are *NOT* Happy with Their Social Media ROI. Although small business owners still see the value of being on social media, they are confused and uncertain about whether they’re doing it right.
    • 57% of survey respondents said that social media is one of their most important digital marketing channels, and it was ranked as the #1 most important digital marketing channel by 31% of small business owners.
    • However, only 33% of business owners were confident enough to say “Yes” when asked if they were currently satisfied with their social media ROI. (30% said “No,” they were not satisfied, and 37% said they were “Not sure.”)
    • The evolving social media landscape has created new challenges for small businesses.  While rising marketing costs was ranked the #1 challenge this year, “changing social media algorithms” was ranked #2, followed by “ads and content boosting” at #3.

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  • Changing Algorithms: It Really *IS* Like Rocket Science for Small Businesses. Small businesses don’t know what’s working when it comes to their social media marketing, so they don’t know where or how they should be spending their money, effort or time. Thirty-two percent of small business respondents stated, “We don’t know what’s working, so we don’t know where we should be spending our money and effort.”
    • When asked about their biggest challenges in managing social media, 39% of respondents said “we know we need to be on social media, but there are too many platforms and confusing choices.” Only 28% of survey respondents said that they are “very confident about my strategy and success” for social.
    • Recent changes to the algorithms are making it more difficult for small businesses to engage with their target audiences; 36% cited “shifting algorithms” as a key challenge to social media success, particularly on Facebook.
    • Another major challenge mentioned by 31% of small businesses was that “we are not digital marketers” and “we don’t understand it. It’s too complicated.”
  • I Won’t Quit You: Despite Their Frustration, Small Businesses See That Social Media is Too Important to Give Up The rules of social media marketing are changing fast and small businesses and self-described social media experts alike are finding it nearly impossible to comprehend, and keep up.  While frustration has reached a tipping point, small businesses are not ready to give up.
    • 25% said that they are “slightly confident” or “not at all confident, and 38% said, “I have a strategy but I’m not sure it’s working.”
    • However, only 10% of small businesses are ready to quit social media marketing.
    • Despite its challenges, small businesses remain ever hopeful about finding social media marketing success with more than half (56%) of respondents stating “I’m hopeful I can figure it out; I just wish someone would show me the way.”

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