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

To recap, Small Business Saturday is now in its second year and it’s designed to support and encourage small UK companies.

The scheme launched in the UK in 2013 with the backing of shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, who told Real Business the campaign will push the idea of the “British dream” having followed a US launch that was driven by Barack Obama.

And ahead of this year’s big day on 6 December, Sage UK has found 75 per cent of British SMEs are not using social media to engage with local consumers.

The lack of digital marketing put into place shows there is potentially a greatly missed chance to generate revenue, as two in five companies say they generate 75 per cent of their income locally. In fact, the data shows Small Business Saturday prompted 43 per cent of people as they chose to spend in their community.

Nick Longden, general manager at Sage One UK, said: “It’s brilliant to see people supporting the UK’s small businesses, but we want to help business owners remain front of mind throughout the year, every day.

40 per cent of local businesses joined in with Small Business Saturday last year, and 70 per cent are prepared to take part this week, according to Sage.

“Our research shows that local custom is the lifeblood of the majority of small businesses, but many are failing to harness the opportunities to grow that base online,” Longden added.

The company’s new Always On toolkit claims to offer guidance around social media, emarketing locally and building an online presence. It comes as Ummana stressed to Real Business that Small Business Saturday shouldn’t be limited to bricks and mortar stores, urging online retailers to also take part in order to connect with consumers.

Pimlico Plumbers managing director Charlie Mullins has also voiced his support of Small Business Saturday, saying: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the British economy and, in my book, any opportunity to back entrepreneurialism is a good one.

“Admittedly, the UK version is still a babe in arms compared to the US’ school-age initiative, but I don’t see any reason why, with the right encouragement and information, more shoppers can’t keep the tills ringing at independents for a little longer.”

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