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The personal touch: How small businesses should position themselves on social media

Social Media for Small Businesses

As Small Business Saturday approaches our CEO Javier Burón has been thinking about how the
small companies out there can best use social media to compete with the larger brands.

From customer service and marketing to working with their suppliers, small businesses have a very valuable advantage that is often lost as a company expands… personalisation!

It’s easy to see how the personal touch can be used to great effect when serving customers in a shop or pub. But when it comes to social media, the trouble is that many best practice examples come from global brands, delivering big messages about products and services and generally making a noise about how great they are. This is how most businesses generally perceive social media – free advertising that can reach a huge number of people with relatively little effort.

So what’s funny then is the gross oversight of the word that defines what this type of marketing is: ‘social’. Being social on networks such as Twitter doesn’t just mean responding to customer service issues, but actually getting to know the customers.

While big brands can generate a perceived level of personalisation through automated responses, this ‘fake’ personalisation is generally very apparent and is often misguided.

Take this example from American Airlines whose automated response to a ‘congratulatory’ tweet highlights the downfalls of simulated personalisation.

Small businesses differ from larger brands in that the person running their Twitter account will in many cases be the person having real-life interactions with their customers. As such, they have a real and valuable understanding of the needs and interests of their customers. This is the small business ethos and is exactly where small companies can outperform larger brands on social media.

Developing personal messaging, individualised offerings and generally creating a sense of community with their following allows small businesses to craft a social media strategy that works. As followers gain further insight and relate to the personality of your business, they will spread your messages, doing some of the hard work for you.

The way people shop may be changing but we all still prefer to buy from those we trust. By building relationships with existing and potential customers online, helping them to understand the values of the company, and sharing a passion for the products, a small business can build trust and loyalty on social media in a way that larger brands can only dream of…

The difficulty comes when trying to sustain this technique as the business grows out of a result of having a solid social strategy!