Erica Ayotte

The Social Media Week that was

Social Media Week London (SMW) is all wrapped up and it was a fantastic event encompassing a huge range of social topics. Now, I know what you’re thinking: ‘All those digital folks blabbering about the virality of content sounds impressive, but at the end of the day, how does it help my business?’

Well, it can help quite a lot actually. Events like SMW are a great opportunity for small businesses to get practical advice on how to use social media to meet some of the goals you have for your business. It also gives you the chance to network with experts and your peers.

If you didn’t have a chance to come along, you can check out videos of the events here. This post outlines some of the key themes for small businesses that came out of Social Media Week.

Social media and the bottom line

It’s clear that there is still confusion when it comes to connecting social media with business activity. This is something Tamsin Fox-Davies discussed in her presentation on How Small Businesses Win in a Socially Connected World.

One very effective way of making this connection is through the Engagement Marketing Cycle, a three-step approach to driving word-of-mouth referrals and turning them into socially visible, public endorsements that bring new customers to your door.

Knowing that their best source of new customers are from the customers they alreadyhave, small businesses have a clear line of sight into how a strong social presence can help drive business growth.

Good things take time

You know those cheesy shampoo ads: ‘It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen’?

Despite the great ideas, tricks and tools on offer there’s no substitute for sustained effort. As you’ll know from your business – growth is usually gradual, punctuated with minor leaps and, yeah, the occasional drop. Social media is no different.

One of the small businesses who joined the panel discussion was Luke Hodson, the 26-year-old founder of Awesome Merchandise. He stressed that social media success was an ongoing process and growing a large community online can take years.

With nearly 8,000 followers on Twitter and more than 12,000 Fans on Facebook, Awesome Merchandise should be proud of the large and engaged community they’ve created, but Luke was clear that the team started small and it’s taken several years of work to reach that point.

Of course, small businesses don’t need those sort of numbers to be considered a success online. A lot of social media communities will be significantly smaller, but with good engagement these can still have a big impact on business goals.

Like any long-term relationship, it takes time to not only build up trust with your audience, but to get them to participate in ‘calls to action’ when you want them to.

Allocation of resources

We know that time is still a small business’s most valuable resource. The tools might be low-cost or even free, but time simply isn’t.

An interesting point that came out of our panel, Multi-Channel Social Media – Small Biz Friend or Foe, was that no one should feel like they have to be everywhere at once.

The number of platforms, and the functionality embedded into each of these platforms, continues to proliferate. It’s easy to get distracted and spread yourself too thinly. Pinterest is great and has driven website visits and sales for some companies but a small business shouldn’t jump onto to too many platforms just to be there.

Only take on something new if you can do it well, and you have at least a loose plan as to how you will incorporate it into your business. I hope you found that useful and if you have any specific questions or want to share your experiences on social, then drop me a line at @inthekisser / @CTCTuk or at our Facebook Page.

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