Real Business Christmas Countdown: The Best of 2014: 9 December

Although day eight consisted of The Apprentice and Formula 1 underdog’s galore, we draw your attention away to the goodies we have prepared for you today.

News: Small Business Saturday: UK SMEs fail to engage customers with social media

Given that customers have claimed they would prefer to shop at SMEs if only they had an online presence, it’s quite worrying that many still fail to recognise where most customers go to talk to companies: social media. The research, which was launched to coincide with Small Business Saturday, found that a shocking 75 per cent of British SMEs are not using social media to engage with local consumers. And with the festive season in full swing, now is certainly the time to rethink digital priorities.

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Interviews: How Airbnb has become a source of funding for UK entrepreneurs’ businesses

Recently it seems as if Airbnb has become an unlikely form of finance for British homeowners, morphing into something of a startup incubator. So Real Business talked to various hospitality entrepreneurs who launched their businesses with funds generated from listing their homes on the marketplace. This includes Nakul Sharma, founder of  Hostmaker, who made use of his background working in the hotel industry, and The Hampstead kitchen founder Saima Khan, who explained that the decision was made based on the simplicity of the service and the fact she’s in control.

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Opinion: Charlie Mullins: After surviving, SMEs should be given a chance

“They say you realise who your friends are in tough times. In the case of the chancellor of the exchequer, the UK’s small businesses have been a amicable travelling companion for the Treasury on the journey through the recent economic wasteland.” Indeed, if the government were to really believe that SMEs were the backbone of the British economy, they wouldn’t continue to constantly focus on big businesses. Charlie Mullins talks about the relationship between SMEs and George Osborne.

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Surreal Business: 8 best and worst social media campaigns

Social media marketing demands innovation and the ability to react quickly to changes both in the popularity and capabilities of social sites. It can do wonders for any business, but when it backfires, the problem becomes all too public. We found eight examples of when brands get creative with social media marketing, and when they fail to deliver – from British Gas’ disastrous #AskBG to when Old Spice almost brought the internet down in two days.

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