Why do Small Businesses Love Social Media and What is Their Advice to You?

It is estimated that over 3.96 billion people use social media worldwide, so why wouldn’t small businesses take an opportunity to reach them? I interviewed three small business owners from different industries to explore their opinions on social media for business and what top tips they have for a successful digital presence.

 

Chloe Marie Studios

Chloe Marie is a designer and illustrator who is all about promoting positivity and self-love through her work. She has built a beautiful social media presence to sell and share her designs and is definitely worth following to brighten up your feed.

Photo courtesy of @chloemariestudios

 

Harry’s Vintage

Harry’s Vintage is owned by Frankie who is a verified seller on Depop selling nostalgic garms and is rapidly growing his social media presence. Frankie has recently started a YouTube channel where he shares his Depop journey and provides excellent advice to others who are wanting to follow on a similar path.

Photo courtesy of @harrys.vintage

 

Franklin Mount Guesthouse

This beautiful, boutique B&B opened last year and has used social media to grow their guesthouse into one of the highest rated places to stay in Harrogate. As well as showcasing their stunning interior, they share video tours of Harrogate and recipes by one of the owners who is a professional chef! 


Photo courtesy of @franklinmountguesthouse 

 

1. What is your favourite social media platform to use for your business and why?

Chloe Marie - Instagram is definitely my favourite and, admittedly, the only one I use profusely. I love it as my work is very visual and Instagram provides a great platform to showcase this kind of work. I am able to interact with customers and fellow small business owners which creates a lovely sense of community. It is a much more supportive platform to promote on than any other social media I have tried i.e., Twitter and Facebook.

Harry’s Vintage - Instagram for sure, as I run a Depop Shop you’re limited to your creativity on the app, it just shows your products and description. Instagram gives you the ability to show people who you are and show the personality behind the shop. It allows me to show my creative side through my love of photography and giving off a cool aesthetic. I like to try and show that in my posts. It also attracts another audience to your shop and can drive traffic to your Depop! All in all, I’m a creative person therefore Instagram is the one.

Franklin Mount - I use two for business, Facebook and Instagram (I have specific business accounts on both, which are linked for analytics). I also have a presence on TripAdvisor and GoogleMyBusiness, which aren’t social media per se, but guests can share their images and post reviews which I can interact with, which is important!

 

2. Do you think it is important to take courses/training on running social media for a business or have you found it is easy to pick up on your own?

Chloe Marie - I have learned everything through experience, doing it myself and learning as I go. I wouldn’t say that courses don’t help but personally I have found that throwing myself into social media has been a quick way to learn techniques. I have never taken a course or training so I can’t comment on how helpful they might be; however, I would advise that people shouldn’t be afraid to take on the learning themselves. It is amazing what you can absorb by being on social media.

Harry’s Vintage - Definitely not. It’s really not difficult to run a social media account. I suppose if you’re not naturally creative or have an eye, it might be difficult, but you can definitely pick it up quickly. I look back at my first post to now, to see my progression, and it’s definitely come along way with the sort of content I'm producing. It also helps not to be shy so you can show your face on stories. Your customers /followers can then get a better understanding of who you are which is key in my opinion.

Franklin Mount - Most of what I’ve set up - from the basic account, to using some advertising on Facebook - I’ve dabbled and found it fairly easy to navigate, if you give yourself time to do so and watch tutorials. However, I now do belong to a B&B marketing community forum, which provides guidance and training on using social media. So yes, I think it’s important to take courses/training as the technology on social media platforms does evolve constantly!

 

3. Have you found that there is a community on social media for small businesses in your industry? (Is this something you find useful?)

Chloe Marie - Absolutely! I have found so many amazing small businesses that are incredibly supportive and it has really motivated me to be involved with the community. It is so useful as we are able to share tips and tricks with each other and grow together. It really is so fulfilling and is also amazing for business growth.

Harry’s Vintage – Absolutely. For re-sellers there’s lots of growth groups which is essentially an Instagram group chat where a few sellers share their posts and you all like and comment on them, so you can grow together. I’ve met a lot of friends through these groups. The Vintage Clothing Re-selling game seems to be a very supportive community, everyone helps and appreciates what you’re all doing. It’s a very friendly place. I’ve met some very good friends through it.

Franklin Mount – Yes, there are many communities for small businesses, whether it’s your industry specifically (as I mentioned above), or in general. I belong to Yellow Duck Collection which is a community of B&B owners who all went through the B&B course with Karen Thorne (industry expert). There are also local support networks, like Harrogate BID (a non-profit network to help Harrogate town centre, although its reach is very small on social unfortunately). You can also find independent support for small businesses from other entrepreneurs, like Sarah Akwisombe from No Bull Business School who has range of online courses and free podcasts etc.

 

4. Are there any negatives you have found in having a digital presence for your business?

Chloe Marie - Personally, I always strive to see the positive in everything, but the reality is that there are going to be some negatives along the way. For me, it can be very difficult to separate myself from my business as it is solely digitally based. It can be invading when you are trying to have down time as you are so easily able to pick up your phone or laptop and do some work. However, I am so grateful that this is something I am able to work on and control myself.

Harry’s Vintage - The only thing I can think of, is if you are not feeling good in yourself, it can be very hard to maintain that presence. Also, if you have anxiety it can be hard to put yourself out there on social media. But it’s something you’ve really gotta think about if you want to do it. Although, it’s definitely not something to worry about.

Franklin Mount - No, not really. However, you do have to be on top of your social media very consistently, i.e. replying to posts and promptly engaging with your audience otherwise your reach can be negatively impacted by the platform’s algorithms, so that can be viewed as a negative!

 

5. Have you used competitions/giveaways via social media and if so, did they make an impact on your business?

Chloe Marie - I LOVE doing giveaways and contests, they are absolutely my favourite thing to do on my social media. They have a fantastic impact on my business. I am able to promote and make people happy at the same time which is definitely a win-win. I have found that they bring a lot of new amazing customers to my social media as well as new small business friends. I have been able to create a lot of online relationships doing giveaways and I would recommend any small business to definitely do them if you can!

Harry’s Vintage - I ran one giveaway when I was just starting off, to just get myself out there. It helped with followers a lot and some are still very active followers of mine now. I wouldn’t say it’s essential though, it’s good for bringing traffic to your page, but then again, some of those followers might not stick around after they don’t win the giveaway.

Franklin Mount – Yes, I have engaged in a few community giveaways, which have only been positive. Firstly, it was a fantastic way to connect with other small businesses in the area, especially as we ourselves are new to living in Harrogate. And then secondly, it was a good way to grow followers, both through being in the giveaway as people had to follow your page to enter. We were lucky enough that someone with 10k followers won our giveaway, so when they stayed a night at the B&B, they posted positive content and reviews on TripAdvisor, it was a great push for us, as a new business.

 

6. Are hashtags really that useful?

Chloe Marie - I have had a love-hate relationship with hashtags, sometimes they work great and sometimes not at all. I think that following hashtags that are related to your business is useful as it leads me to finding new accounts that I love and can interact with. I have found that story-sharing is a better way of getting people to see your posts than hashtags.

Harry’s Vintage - About 10% of my traffic comes from hashtags, so it can be useful to have them when smaller. But again, I don’t think they’re necessary unless your post is something very niche and you want it to be seen by someone maybe searching for that hashtag.

Franklin Mount - Absolutely, if you want to get noticed. I use them to capture attention of different parts of an Instagram audience who may be interested in our business, whether it’s travel, food, interiors etc. You get a wider range of the net you throw, so to speak. I also follow hashtags so I can be introduced to new small businesses too.

 

7. What is your favourite Instagram account from another business in your sector and why?

Chloe Marie - This is a tough question, there are so many amazing accounts that I love so it is really hard for me to choose. But if we are keeping within my sector then I would have to say @courtneysonnerdesign. Courtney, like myself, concentrates on spreading positivity with the use of retro inspired type. Her messages are so inspiring, and she is always interacting and being proactive on her account. Her motivation is infectious and her products are stunning. I am excited to watch her business grow even more!

Harry’s Vintage - Harry from @hartexgram runs a shop in London, his page is very much promoting culture in London life through his clothes and the good feeling of life. I recommend checking his page out, it’s a vibe.

Franklin Mount - I follow lots of other B&Bs and hotels all around the world for inspiration, it’s hard to choose one! But there is a small account I follow and keep in touch with regularly who continuously inspire me with their style of posts and images. We connected via Instagram through Messenger and touch base to encourage one another and share, so that’s nice too! Check out @weaversguesthouse.

 

8. What advice would you give to a small business owner just starting out on social media?

Chloe Maire - Do not be afraid to throw yourself into the deep end! Be as interactive, supportive, and proactive as you can and you will absolutely succeed. It is all about keeping the momentum and also being yourself. But be realistic and don’t burn yourself out. Social media can be incredibly rewarding but it is so important to strike the balance so that you don’t start to resent it. If you feel like you don’t know what you are doing, don’t worry we are all in the same boat. We all have to start somewhere, and I can guarantee that if you stay persistent you will learn so much and gain so much confidence.

Harry’s Vintage - Just be yourself, sell what you love, engage with other sellers. Enjoy the journey. The rest will come naturally!

Franklin Mount - Take your time with it, set it up with an authentic tone of voice from you - don’t try and imitate another account or brand. This is a window into your business, potential customers can be inspired by what you have to offer and your USP! Oh, and make sure you set up a business account on Instagram, it’s surprising how many people don’t and you can then dive into so many juicy analytics of when and what your followers are really engaging with.

 

Words By: Savanna Ruffini Sutich 

Edited By: Emilie Bolt