For SMBs and social media, it seems, the spirit is willing but the flesh unable.

A new survey by Social Strategy1 and OfficeArrow found that 67% of small business owners are not engaging in social media because of fear and a sense of inadequacy in their social media skills, resources, and ability to handle social media.

The findings show that while 60% of small business owners say they want to engage in social media, they just don’t know how to proceed.

What’s holding them back, said the study, “is a sense of overload, in particular fear of the resources required to meet the expectations of social media users.” The survey found that 51% of small businesses fear sharing sensitive information; 50% say there is too much social media to manage; and 44% fear “information overload.”

Small business owners find the prospect of social media market overwhelming and need more guidance, said Steve Ennen, President of Social Strategy1, adding that they need a “playbook” to proceed.

The study found that most small businesses do not plan to invest in social media until they understand the practices and payoffs. They also need to acquire more experienced staffing and expertise. “The prospect of building it is daunting, Few have hired anyone who knows social media to do it for them,” said Mike Lewis, Chairman of Social Strategy1.

Ennen advises small businesses to start by just listening rather than talking. “The most important resource is a specialist in monitoring social media,” said Ennen, who sees social media monitoring and analysis as a way to learn what customers like and dislike about your business and competitors.  Then, based on that information, you can automate tasks to address their needs and serve them better, and communicate with them about the issues in meaningful ways.