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Get your small business growing this festive season

Facebook and Instagram’s Ciaran Quilty explains why the festive season is a great opportunity for small businesses to think about expansion.
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This festive season is an exciting time for small businesses – UK shoppers are expected to spend £2.5bn more than last Christmas, reaching a total of £73bn in the final two months of the year.

With that in mind, below are five tips to help your business shine this festive season.

1) Be where customers are – on mobile

Businesses are going mobile, with this year seeing more festive season shopping being done on smartphones than ever before. In fact, 62 per cent of consumers report using their digital devices more than previous years to research gifts, and 60 per cent claimed to buy more often from smartphones and tablets. So the good news for small businesses: If you have a smartphone, or the likes of a Facebook Page or Instagram account, you have a mobile marketing strategy. Through the Ad Manger app on Facebook or Business Tools on Instagram, you can create ads right from your phone. If your customers are on mobile, then your business must be as well.

2) Bring the in-store experience to life online

With new video tools like Live on Facebook and Stories on Instagram, taking a bricks and mortar business online is simpler and more powerful than ever. Third party research predicted that 75 per cent of all data will be video by 2020. People expect experiences that are authentic – and the festive season is a perfect time for connection and new beginnings. Some 2m small businesses on Facebook already use video to connect with customers via phone, and over 100m people use Instagram Stories every day.

@larssonjennings, a Swiss-made watch brand, is using Instagram Stories to showcase new products and recently unveiled its AW16 collection in a preview, highlighting favourite features, colours and details. And Kay’s Designer Consignment in Florida has done a great job showcasing her new products using Facebook Live, and interacts with customers as they view and ask questions.

3) Create thumb-stopping creative

Video, Live and Instagram Stories are just some of the many ways a business can easily become more engaging (especially for sales). When it comes to telling the story of your business or selling a product, remember to show, not tell. With creative apps like Instagram’s Hyperlapse and Boomerang, great natural light, a simple tripod, and festive season backdrops, you can turn any space into a creative studio.

Take @silkfred, an innovative Etailer in the UK, for example. The firm has been using Boomerang to bring the personality of its products to life and show off its fun side. But being creative doesn’t always mean re-inventing the wheel. Remember you can repurpose the assets you already have. Turn beautiful product images from your website into a carousel ad, or ask to feature content your customers have shared.

4) Connect with customers in any part of the world

The number one reason businesses succeed or fail is the ability to attract customers. With the powerful targeting available on Facebook and Instagram, businesses can reach customers that matter. During the Christmas period, your business can use Custom Audiences to re-engage customers who purchased from you last holiday season or use Lookalike Audiences to find new customers that look similar to your existing ones. The Museum of Science, Boston, for example, used these tools successfully last yer to increase sales of gift memberships. And if you want to find new customers around the world, you can.

Businesses can use cross borders tools like International Lookalike Audience to connect with customers that look like top customers – but in other countries.

5) Measure, measure, measure this festive season

We want to be the best minute and dollar you spend on marketing. But success starts with knowing your goal. Whether it’s getting more customers to your store, more downloads on your app, increased sales on your ecommerce site or higher quality leads, Facebook and Instagram have the tools to help you achieve and measure real business results. One of these tools is the Facebook Pixel, a piece of code that allows you to report conversions, build audiences and get insights on how customers use a website. The pixel can help a business understand how customers view Facebook and Instagram Ads across multiple devices, including mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers.

Bonus Tip: Capitalise on the post-holiday momentum

After the festive season it’s an excellent time to build relationships with new customers. Relationships take time and consistency. Make it your New Year’s resolution to find creative and engaging ways to make your customers feel special and informed throughout the year.

Ciaran Quilty is regional director of SME for EMEA at Facebook and Instagram

Image: Shutterstock

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