78 per cent of small businesses are now using social media. Active social media users make up 3.4 billion or 43% of the world population. But can social media really do any good for small businesses?
Interviews: Yasemin Cusack
HANA SUTTON – SUTTON AND SONS FISH AND CHIPS
We have had our fishmongers for twenty-five years, so we are lucky that we have built up a loyal customer base. Word of mouth was a large factor in promoting our fish and chip shops which led to print reviews being written. Transitioning to social media definitely helped our marketing campaigns as it gave us the chance to expand our brand and reach a wider audience.
Social media has been a great aid to our business as it helps us get the word out. A viral campaign can reach many new customers than what our targeted marketing can do. We experienced this when we launched our vegan range. With the digital age, the market is now saturated with competition that a lot of people rely on social media reviews to choose who to support reviews can make or break a business. Running our social media accounts also allows us to interact with customers, new and returning, which gives us a connection that we never had before these platforms were available.
Having followers doesn’t always mean business is doing well. Social media isn’t an accurate portrayal of actual customers. Some people follow us purely because they support our vegan menu and sustain- ability initiative. Likes don’t always translate into sales. But the reviews and higher follower count does mean that more people will see our restaurants. Marketing can’t do all of the heavy lifting and once we get the customer, it’s up to our food to do the hard work of ensuring they keep coming back.
There is no right way to do marketing, it works differently for every small and large business. We have entrusted our brand and message to a local creative agency, Insignis Media, to help us with our marketing and public relations strategies. They have been integral in getting our name out there so that we can focus on what we do best: serving the best fish and chips in London.
JESSICA BANKS – JOY YOGA
A yoga studio in Dalston, specialising in Kundalini yoga.
Social media provides another platform to share about our Kundalini yoga classes, workshops, and other special events. When we were first getting started, before we had our Dalston studio, social media especially Facebook and Instagram was our primary means of reaching new students.
We share information about Kundalini Yoga, dates and details about our work shops and events, and pictures of our studio and some of what’s happening here. Social media is a window into what we’re doing and what we’re about.
Like so many things, it’s quality not quantity that matters. It’s more important to have a following of those who are actually interested in whatever it is that you’re offering. Social media rewards engagement. It’s better to have fewer followers who actually respond to what you post.
The more people react or engage with your post, the higher up it will appear in other people’s feeds. And of course, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many people have followed your business on social media. You want people to take class or to buy your services or products.
We invest considerable time on maintaining our social media presence. We also buy google ads. We run print ads in journals that are relevant to our target consumers, focusing on local media. We distribute postcards around the neighbourhood.
We have a mural on our shop front which faces Dalston Lane and flyers in the window. A number of our students have found us just walking down the street. And of course, word of mouth is an essential part of marketing.
KATE HIGGINSON – PRINT CLUB LONDON
Screenprinting studio and online shop offering affordable, limited edition screenprints to buy online.
Absolutely social media helps our business. We sell images and lifestyle and Instagram offers a platform that is entirely based around images. Also as we run studios what we do is very physical and the art of printing and it’s process is manual and people love to watch it. We use stories on Instagram to report what our artists are doing and it gives our buyers a real insight into the studios. Buying from artists who you’ve seen in the flesh working is a great experience and I’m pretty sure offering them this insight encourages sales. We work really hard to make films and a constant release of footage on our social channels showcasing the studios and artists.It’s also feels less of an aggressive sales approach which we prefer.
“We’ve built our followers over 10 years and they are mostly very engaged but you can’t always rely on social media.”
Social media is a good start and definitely use it as much as you can. But be mindful not to over share. Consider every post, the look of your feed needs to be consistent. We often use stories to be more playful as it’s short lived. And the more important images stay on the feed.
We have written a book in fact which contributes like Joanna Ham and Dave Buonaguidi both of whom are incredibly successful at marketing themselves. Buy the book. It’s gives a great amount of advice about setting up as an artists and building a brand!
MARK ATOM – ATOM GALLERY
Atom Gallery is a contemporary art gallery in Stoke Newington, specialises in limited edition prints of all kinds screenprints, relief prints, monoprints and digital (giclée) prints.
We post regularly on Instagram and it keeps people informed of what we are up to, not only can we publicise exhibition openings and new print releases but we keep keep people up to date with other aspects of the business, some serious some less so.
“Likes don’t pay the bills”
Having thousands followers on social media doesn’t mean business doing well, there are many people who are keen users of social media who never do anything but press the like button and post the occasional comment. Nothing wrong with that but it doesn’t pay the bills.
We have over 12,000 followers. Social media can get very busy and then go rather quiet but a lot of this depends on what Instagram is up to with its algorithms, often posts are not seen by a large proportion of followers.
Social media is a good tool for small businesses with tiny budgets for advertising. Post regularly, keep your posts focused and engage with your followers. The best marketing tool is always word of mouth but it takes a long time to work.
CLARE LATTIN, LITTLE DUCK – THE PICKLERY
It’s difficult to see how much social media helps our business, but
we know that it does to a degree because when we promote one of our workshops or classes through social, we always get a direct response in bookings. If we’re talking about a specific dish, then customers often come intothe restaurant for it.
“Having thousands followers on social media doesn’t mean business doing well, not for us anyway”
Our strategy is really one of excitement and keeping things interesting in what we do day to day in the restaurant, we don’t have a social strategy, but we use social to communicate what we do. What we do would exist with or without social media we create reasons for people to return, and we use social to communicate that to our target audience, which has been built through the strength in what we do at ground level.
Having thousands followers on social media doesn’t mean business doing well, not for us anyway. I don’t think the quantity matters so much, it is the quality and who that audience are and their loyalty that makes a difference to our business. We don’t monetise on instagram, we monetise through people coming into our restaurant and enjoying themselves.
Hackney Magazine: You announced that Raw Duck Hackney is closed in April. This restaurant had 19K followers on Instagram. How do you explain this?
We gained followers through the engagement of our product, the story we tell, the things that we create and do, which we hope has always been backed up by the real experience in the restaurant. Aesthetics are important but we’ve been careful not to let this define us, we try to keep our restaurant platforms real and honest, which isn’t always beautiful, but it is always genuine. And we hope that comes through, an honest approach in life helps form genuine relationships both in real time and socially of course there are plenty of examples where this is not the case but it does still it exist.
LUKE MCLOUGHLIN – THE SPREAD EAGLE
London’s first 100% vegan pub in Hackney. We talked to social media manager of TheSpread Eagle Sakina Windeatt and co-owner Luke McLoughlin
Social media helps our business 100%. It’s a great vehicle for finding and communicating with our audience as well as engaging with them in real time. Plus it helps us stay in tune with what’s going on culturally and be a part of an exciting wider movement.
“It’s a responsibility to have thousands of followers”
Being able to connect with our customers to highlight what is happening in a really visual way helps people to see what we are all about, what events we have coming up and to check out our yummy food and cocktails! We have been able to build a great online community of like- minded people and make links with other great businesses that we love.
We want to connect with our customers using engaging content that is of interest to them. We tend to keep it simple and always speak from the heart. That way we know those that come to us are aligned to our core values.
It’s a responsibility to have thousands of followers so ideally, it means people think about what messages they are relaying as it makes them more powerful. We always try to think about what we post in terms of ethics and so- cial responsibility plus keep it fun to lift people’s spirits.