SMEs 'Miss Chance To Engage On Social Media'

Survey Shows Firms Could Double Interaction Levels With Better Focus

15.07.2014

Steven Beahan, Partner | +44 (0)114 294 7868

SMEs could do a lot more to get potential customers to interact with them on Facebook and Twitter.

A study by npower has found that while 34 per cent of Britons follow one or two small local businesses on these social networks, there is the potential for these firms to more than double the figure to 70 per cent.
Head of customer service at the energy firm Rachel Vincent said: "Small businesses need to get in on the action.

"Whether that means bars and restaurants tweeting about drinks promotions and their special of the day, or local cafes offering a discount code for Facebook fans, every independent business can benefit from marketing their services on social media."

She added that getting started on a social media platform "may seem daunting to some, but it's a relatively simple process to set up and manage a Twitter or Facebook account". Moreover, she added, the rewards make the effort more than worth it.

The study also found that young women are the biggest target audience, as female consumers have a higher level of interest in following local businesses online and the 18-24 age group does so more than all the older demographics. Even so, there is a potential appeal among consumers of all ages. For example, 51 per cent of over-55s would be open to doing so if they knew about the business and were given a good enough reason to follow them.

By engaging through social media, small firms could ensure they remain in the consciousness of consumers and can also treat Twitter and Facebook as outlets for marketing, whether for new products, promotions or general news. If many small companies are failing to do this, it means the SMEs that do make the most of such methods of communicating could gain a competitive advantage.

Indeed, some people setting up their own businesses may be able to use social media marketing lessons they have learned from observing how their current employers use this medium.

Earlier this month, the Big Issues for Small Businesses report from Lloyds Bank Insurance revealed 26 per cent of people currently working for an employer would like to become self-employed.

Expert Opinion
Small businesses have a huge opportunity in the current economic climate to develop and grow their offerings, but in order to achieve any genuine level of success it is vital that they use all of the tools available to them to achieve their goals.

"This is important on a range of levels, including marketing and online promotions which allow companies to successfully target their client base with tailored and trackable advertising.

"However, equally important is the need for SMEs to have a wider support network, with legal advice being another crucial component.

"Support from experts who can advise on matters as wide ranging as employment law, real estate, banking and finance and litigation can be essential for a business of any size – so it is vital that small businesses consider this alongside their wider needs."
Steven Beahan, Partner