Small local businesses and social media.

Mark Richardson Blog Post Leave a Comment


Do you need to build better relationships with existing and potential customers?   Dedicating time to social media can really pay dividends.   Research shows that people enjoy feeling that they belong to a community around a business – 62% of Facebook users like to keep up to date with the latest news about the businesses they follow (Statista).  We all know that it takes less effort to sell to existing customers and social media allows you to nurture a community of existing customers who may even tell their friends about you.  If you have limited time and resources, developing your social media presence is a cost effective way of reaching your community of existing and potential customers – particularly for locally based businesses.


Do people really use social media that much? If you have any doubts about the reach of social media it is worth knowing that 63% of adults use social media every day and even among those aged over 65 there has been an 8% increase in the last year (Office for National Statistics).   In 2015 social media users spent an average of 2 hours and 13 minutes on social media (We Are Social).  It is likely that these figures are even higher in urban areas.


What do people want from the businesses they follow on social media?  They want to keep up to date with offers and competitions (Facebook 69%), keep up to date with the latest news (Facebook 62%), receive more info related to their personal interests (Facebook 48%),  to show their interest/loyalty (Facebook 34%), content they like (Facebook 31%) and to show other people they like them (Facebook 26%),  (Statista).


What can you do?   Give people what they want.   Although social media can encourage people to visit your website or premises it should not primarily be about selling; your social media pages are for keeping people up to date with what is going on in your business.  People want to know about what is new, what is going well, offers, competitions, even news about other customers.



What can I post on social media? Photographs, even snapshots work well.   If you sell widgets – your community of widget fanciers will be endlessly interested in photographs of widgets, different types, different angles …; any images connected with your business are good.   You don’t even need that much text.  You can post announcements about your business activity… you have an offer coming up, the offer has started, it is about to finish…..   You can tell people about the weather, the traffic, if things are slow or busy – they want to make a personal connection to your business so help them.   You can also look
for and post news related to your activity or locality.   Even pictures of your cat are good.



How do I know it’s working?  On most social media channels you can easily see if people like your page or follow you, if they like your posts, the reach etc.   See what works and then give people more  of the same.


What can I do to get my social media channels off the ground? It can seem daunting at first when you see other businesses have 10,000 followers and you have none but you can certainly build things up by asking friends and family to follow/like you.  Publicize your social media channels by putting up a notice asking people to like/follow you; if you have a website make sure that the links work.  Make sure that every letter/email you send out asks people to follow/like you.   You can even advertise – Facebook ads are easy to use and can be targeted by locality, age, sex and interests and do not cost a great deal.



What social media channels should I use? It really depends on your business and your customers. Ask your customers what social media channels they use – they may not be the ones you think.  Do some online research to find what similar businesses are doing.    Facebook has by far the largest number of users – 60% of the UK population has a Facebook account and there are 31 million active monthly users.   Although younger people are moving to other channels 26% of Facebook users are 25 -34.        Twitter has half the number of active users in the UK but it can be highly effective in reaching influential followers.    Instagram is rapidly overtaking Twitter in terms of followers particularly among under 35 urban females.    Pinterest and Linkedin are also worth looking at depending on your business. Look at different channels and decide which is going to work for your business.


I want to post on more than one social media network, won’t it be very time consuming?   There are plenty of free tools that you can use to help you.   For example the free version of Hootsuite allows you to post to 3 different social profiles, gives you some basic information about the effectiveness of you posts and allows basic message scheduling so you programme posts in advance and make sure that they appear when most convenient to you.


Where can I get advice?  There are plenty of companies and consultants that offer great free advice in the hope that you will go on to pay for their services, take advantage of this wealth of knowledge and advice but remember to use your common sense.

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