How Local Authorities can help level up the digital support gap

Analysis from over 3.9m UK businesses reveals a huge digital support gap. Maybe* is working with local authorities to deliver Community Renewal Fund projects across the UK. As part of these projects, Maybe* has undertaken research to better understand the social media skills and capabilities of businesses, set against ever-changing consumer habits. 

Data has been analysed from over 3.9m UK businesses, supported by surveys completed by over 2,250 businesses and consumers. Our analysis gives a clear picture of how consumers and businesses are using social media and forms the basis of this 42 page paper. 

What does the data tell us?

The most crucial finding is that there is a huge disconnect between consumers and businesses, with consumers being vastly more engaged with social media than businesses. 79.1% of consumers spend over seven hours a week on social media.

The data that Maybe* holds shows that only 31% of UK businesses have social media accounts, and only 19% are active on social media. Of those businesses with social media accounts, only 29.2% are spending more than five hours a week managing their accounts or creating content. Of businesses with active social media accounts, over 90% do not post to social media at weekends, despite this being the time when most consumers are likely to be on social media and making purchases.

Social media drives purchasing decisions in a way that is not at all reflected in the resources the surveyed businesses put into their social media work.

social media divide

How to bridge the digital skills gap

Our research suggests that there is both a significant opportunity and a major risk for businesses and their local economies to bridge the digital skills gap. There is clearly significant demand for quality local provision of a wide range of products and services that address consumer needs, but also a large gap between how local businesses communicate and where consumers go for information, advice, and to comment. 

There is an urgent need to upskill businesses, evidenced by 65.6% of businesses surveyed, who are keen to access support and training to help them grow their business. Investing in upskilling businesses delivers significant ROI for all involved.

consumer habits