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Small businesses need to build more digital bridges to engage customers

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While 34 per cent of Brits follow one or two local small businesses on Twitter or Facebook, this could rise to 70 per cent if small businesses got serious about building digital bridges to customers.

This is shocking given that 4.5m out of 4.9m businesses use Twitter and that the majority of Facebook’s advertisers are SMEs. But there is a distinct difference in being on social media and engaging with customers through it.

The research reveals, that particularly among the over-55s, 51 per cent of respondents said they would like to follow small businesses if they knew they were there and were given a good reason to follow.

“Over half of the UK population uses social media, so having an online presence is hugely important for businesses in order to extend great customer service and to attract new customers,” said Rachel Vincent, Head of Customer Service for SME business at npower. “Small businesses need to get in on the action. Whether that means bars and restaurants tweeting about drinks promotions and their special of the day, or local cafes offering a discount code for Facebook fans, every independent business can benefit from marketing their services on social media.”

“Taking the first steps may seem daunting to some, but it’s a relatively simple process to set up and manage a Twitter or Facebook account. The rewards from engaging with customers online at a time when more and more companies are moving their core business onto digital platforms, and when consumers are increasingly looking for shopping information online is worth the extra effort,” added Vincent.

The research also found women are more likely to follow local small businesses on Twitter and, perhaps unsurprisingly, those in the 18-24 year old category are more likely to follow local small businesses than other age groups. 

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