Takeaway: Results from a recent Gallup study show relatively few American’s purchasing decisions are impacted by social media promotions. Here is what the indicative industry shift of quality over quantity and lasting customer relationships means for small business.

On Monday, Gallup released survey findings showing only 5 percent of Americans said social media has a great deal of influence on what they buy. While millennials rank slightly higher on the influence scale, the bottom line from Gallup (echoed online by influential business writers like Sarah Needleman and Deborah Gauge) is that brands with large social media marketing budgets need to spend less time chasing new likes and followers and instead double down on listening and interacting.

Gallup Poll Image

From Gallup: “Companies that engage their customers — by providing exceptional service and a pleasurable in-store experience — will, in turn, drive those customers to interact with them on social media.”

At Signpost, we are proponents of an optimal online presence for local businesses. Standardizing profiles across mobile apps and listing services (including Google+, Facebook, Yahoo, Yelp, Mapquest, Yellow Pages and many more) is an important first step for online marketing. What this post and the Gallup research should help make clear is that engaging existing contacts in a personalized way is the key to repeat business and success from the online word-of-mouth (positive reviews) in the long term.

It is rare that industry findings for Fortune 500 companies and how they choose to spend marketing budgets translate into actionable results for independent business owners. Small businesses need to take note and approach the web’s new word-of-mouth for discovery in a realistic way. What do we mean by being realistic?

Consider Time Commitments
Realistically speaking, a local service provider like a salon or yoga studio does not have time to manage a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ account while actually providing the service they specialize in without sacrificing quality.

Embrace Automation for Empowerment
Realistically speaking, finding trends in online data, and marrying them to actual in-person interactions isn’t going to be feasible for small businesses with limited digital marketing experience. This is why more and more small businesses turn to next-generation SMB-focused automated marketing software.

It’s important to note another survey from local directory site Manta (Small Business Wellness Index Survey) also released this week. According to the results, it is independence and the time afforded to pursuing passions that motivates small business owners and entrepreneurs over the bottom line or monetary return.

Your time as a small business is your greatest commodity, and we want you to know at Signpost this informs everything we do to fight for small business.

All businesses, from Fortune 500 to the neighborhood dentist, need to market their offerings and build loyalty by reaching customers at the right time with the right content.

At Signpost we see the marriage of online word-of-mouth with better customer data points as an opportunity to create and manage their customer relationships. This is what motivates us and drives our goal to build the best foundation for local businesses who want to build lasting customer relationships.