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Why you can’t afford to ignore social media

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Social media should be one of the major components of your business routine, writes Jane Malyon, a business owner and an FSB member

It annoys me when business owners say they don’t have time for social media. Firstly, it implies that somehow I do have time because I’m not doing something amazingly ‘business-y’ that they’re doing! Secondly, I’m frustrated because they’re missing such a big trick in their business arsenal. If you don’t have the knowledge or want to make time to incorporate social media into your business, then consider paying someone to do it for you.  

I’m not a world expert and am still learning. I particularly use our English Cream Tea Facebook page, YouTube and @englishcreamtea on Twitter (and LinkedIn) but I’m also improving my Pinterest/Instagram skills by paying someone to teach me.

I represent a tiny Essex business: The English Cream Tea Company, which sends deluxe hampers to mainland UK and British gifts worldwide. Social media has enabled us to get our message out with no marketing budget, right alongside major companies which have millions in the bank.  

Here are just some of the other reasons why you need to jump on board social media for business:

Who are you?

What’s the personality and voice of your brand? In a few Tweets, we can gauge that and engage with you. Indeed, our Facebook/Twitter chat allows us to interact with our community and establish our voice in the field of afternoon tea and etiquette. When Guinness World Records wanted a new record set for the largest English Cream Tea ever, they came to us based on our name and the fact that we’re “in that space”. That’s how we got a Guinness World Record. Ever since we’ve been highest on Google for English Cream Tea. 

Accessibility

We don’t use fax now but email/phone aren’t the only way we receive enquiries. They pop up via social media messages and tweets almost every day. Someone even left a serious Facebook message asking to buy a third of the business.

Visuals

We can all use mobile phones and digital cameras to capture real-life business moments. Granted, photos of afternoon tea/cream tea are delightful but we also take behind-the-scenes pictures for social media (ensuring it’s not brand-damaging, of course). 

We make videos too. This one about English Cream Tea manners tips has 115,000 viewers. On YouTube you can track audiences (America and China are our top viewers) so it’s valuable free research on where your next export market should be.

We’ve produced mini videos too to upload onto Instagram. Certainly, our ‘cakey’ topic is fun but if I could see, say, someone trying to squeeze a cup of tea on the desk of our mad-busy accountant surrounded by paperwork mountains at annual returns time, it would make it real and give me empathy towards our bill. Any business can come alive for the rest of us if you give human insight into what it’s like in your world. We don’t want faceless or corporate; we want personality and likeability.

Engagement

Engaging with your followers or community is brilliant for mailing lists and brand-building. Run surveys, competitions or prize draws. We frequently run little competitions just for chocolate brownie prizes, tea towels or even luxury hampers. It engages people to join in our tea-time chat and it’s heartwarming. Every time we’re shared or retweeted, it’s like free PR from our lovely community. Marketing spread for no cost and just a little time; plus it’s our joy to interact with people who are interested in what we’re up to.

It’s now a fact that the younger generation scroll on their phones looking for pictures/videos rather than plain written content, so we all have to be “edutaining” about our businesses. So find the time, join the social media chat and come out to play. It’s good for business!

Jane Malyon is Chief Scone Gnome at The English Cream Tea Company and an FSB member
https://www.facebook.com/englishcreamtea/