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How SMEs can be heard amidst the noise of social media

As a business owner, I’ve experienced  first-hand what a powerful tool social media can be in the development of a business.  After setting up my Indian cookery school ‘Sweet Cumin’ following redundancy, I took to Twitter to strike up conversations and reach out. 

It didn’t take long for a great opportunity to turn up and before long I found myself applying for, and being selected to take part in, ITV’s ‘Food Glorious Food’.  That was the springboard for a fantastic journey for me that has resulted in the growth of my  school and a second business ‘Bini’s Fine Foods Ltd.’

As the South West’s ‘Women in Enterprise Task Force’ lead for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), I’m passionate about helping the businesses in our area to thrive, so last week, we hosted a fantastic ‘social media tips sharing’ event in Somerset. 

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The Power of Social Media – Panel, left to write – back row Austin Sutter, Natalie Waters, Mish Poynter, Gavin Gibbons, front row Bini Ludlow and Natasha Musson

 

A panel of five business leaders informed, enthused and inspired other business owners with examples of how they use different social media platforms to tell their stories.

‘Make it personal,’ was the tip from ex-BBC producer, Natasha Musson. She started her Somerset-based business as a wardrobe stylist and fashion consultant nine years ago.  She wanted to break down barriers for her potential customers so they “let her into their wardrobes”.

She achieved that by letting them into her own wardrobe first using Instagram and Facebook Live.

Red Berry Recruitment’s Natalie Waters’ top tip was to use social media to create your brand’s personality.  She said with so many different social media sites at your disposal  you have routes into a number of very different marketplaces.  The trick, she says, is to know your customers and where they fit on the social media map so you are confident of using the right channels.

This was resonated by Cornish lingerie entrepreneur Mish of Mish Online who likes to think through every aspect of her customers’ lifestyles. 

She imagines who they are, where they live and where they might shop, eat or go for entertainment to understand them better.  Mish also advised people to ‘be consistent with social media’ , choose how often you are going to post (and stick to It) and not be afraid to let Bloggers review your products as customers respect other people’s opinions.

Social media content experts Austin Sutter and Gavin Gibbons from United Visual Agency, who have created social media campaigns for global brands including Pepsi MAX, Doritos and 7Up,  stressed the importance of creating content for each channel that is tailored to the user.  Don’t fall into the trap, they said, of putting the same content out across all of the channels.
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So. to recap. Know your customers and which platforms they’re using, make your content personal to them, be consistent  and use your media platforms to create your brand’s personality.  And, if you’re worried where you’re going to find the time to do all of this, be selective about the channels you use.  

Above all, reach out - and have fun.