In this moment of uncertainty, with a pandemic raging, an uncertain economic landscape, civil unrest, and political “leadership” fumbling through a response to it all, entrepreneurs have flocked to social platforms for connection, support, and opportunity. In the midst of all this turmoil, we asked social commerce business owners what was the biggest challenge to their growth. Hundreds of business owners responded to our survey and we put a sample of their responses through text analysis algorithms to find patterns and themes.
We selected 200 responses at random and ran them through MonkeyLearn, Voyant Tools, and TextAnalyzer for the analysis and visualization. While each tool provides slightly different results a few themes were immediately clear; social-commerce business owners are looking for more customers, work-life balance, and help with social media. The list below shows the biggest challenges as stated by business owners, along with the their algorithmically derived relevance:
- 1) Social Media (0.996)
- 2) Time Management (0.92)
- 3) Marketing (0.71)
- 4) Customers (0.546)
- 5) Funding (0.483)
It is clear from this list that the top challenges to growth for social-commerce businesses are not huge structural issues. This was a bit of a supprise, because these are solvable problems, based largely on knowledge gaps. We expected structural issues around accessing capital and financial services, to dominate. However, the real burning issues for entrepreneurs running a small business, mostly by themselves, are about getting new information in a constantly changing environemnt, connecitng with customers, and finding the time to do it all.
“learning how to applying[sic] new strategies as far as keeping up with trends on social media sites and tending to our online presence” -Survey respondent
This quote is typical of the responses we sampled that mentioned “Social Media” as a top challenge to growth. It was mentioned in 67 of the 200 responses we sampled and MonkeyLearn identified it as the most relavant term across our sample responses. However, a simple frequency count doesn’t capture the full intent of its usage. In our full report, we code a response like this as indicative of three distinct challenges, (1) knowledge (“learning how”, “keeping up with”), (2) strategic (“new strategies”, “trends“), and (3) tactical (“applying”, “tending to”). With this additional coding on each response, we get an even more complete picture of the challenges facing social-commerce businesses.