As many of you will have noticed, the local high street of today, in any town or city up and down the country, has far less to offer than in years gone by. There is a trend for empty premises to be filled with charity shops or just boarded up completely, making the high street much less appealing to shoppers and providing them with little reason to go there. Obviously, this has a massive impact on the small businesses who have chosen to set up in the vicinity. As the numbers of visitors to town and city centres dwindle, customers just don’t know they are there.
This is where social media comes in. Social media can play a massive role in helping small, independent businesses to grow and flourish in this challenging high street economy. 2019 statistics show that there are now 3.5 billion users of social media around the world. That is 46% of the global population! It’s astonishing to think that 20 years ago, social media wasn’t even a thing and now look – it’s a global phenomenon! Technology moves at such a frightening rate and all we can do as businesses and consumers is try to keep up! So why is social media so important to businesses? Have you ever stopped to think about the impact it can have? It really can be make or break for a small business and I will try to outline some of the reasons why…
What’s in it for us?
Social media is important for us as a small business because we are able to engage with our customers, potentially increase our customer base and of course, build brand awareness, in other words, to tell people we are here! Someone who wouldn’t necessarily walk past us in the high street as they no longer shop there will see the interaction of others on our social media pages and decide to visit us, yay! This wouldn’t happen without this avenue being open to us. A 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report by Michael A Stelzner found that 90% of business owners (82% of which own businesses with fewer than 100 employees) believed social media to be an important factor in the running of their company. That’s a huge proportion of businesses who perhaps wouldn’t be as successful without it!
Social media helps us to listen to you, our customers, to determine what it is that people want. The food and beverage industry is extremely changeable. Alternative diets are emerging all the time, trends in what foods and drinks are popular are constantly evolving, and the only way in which we can keep up is to listen to society and adapt what we offer to suit your needs. It enables us to stay focused on the community, on what is going on locally, and to offer a more personal touch to our service as we get to know our customers at a more personal level.
Research by Ambassador shows that 71% of people who have had a positive social media experience with a company are more likely to recommend them to others – taking good old word of mouth to a whole new level!
What’s in it for you?
So what are the benefits for you of interacting with small businesses on social media? Well, there’s the obvious one in that it helps us to stay relevant to your needs and, more importantly, open for you to enjoy! You can engage with your favourite companies at a much deeper level, and much more conveniently, than ever before. With small businesses, you can eliminate the need to write a letter, to which you may never get a response, or to negotiate complicated call centres. In comparison, social media allows us to give you an almost instant answer to your question, at the click of a button on your phone, wherever you may be! Social media also eliminates the formality that is sometimes necessary in the above forms of communication – it can almost feel like you are talking to a friend, and why wouldn’t that be a good thing?
Without that direct connection with you, our customers, we wouldn’t be able to tell you about all the wonderful things that we can offer you! Social media removes the onus on you to search for events or places to go, and places it on the business to provide you with this information, saving you copious amounts of time and energy!
Social media also provides you with ‘proof’ of how good the offerings of a business may be, without having to try them out for yourself first! If a small business has many likes and comments to say how great it is, then the chances are that you will like it too! Any queries you may have can also be resolved quickly and efficiently via the social media pages. It makes life so much easier!
So next time you are scrolling through the numerous posts on your social media, remember to give us a like or a comment here and there; it really does help to create the perfect partnership between business and consumer, with benefits for both. It’s a win-win!