How UK SMBs can use social media to stay competitive and drive revenue

By Mark Robinson, Market Business Developer, Canon UK

To support this week’s Small Business Advice Week – which helps the UK’s 4.5 million SMBs thrive with advice from both leading experts and businesses across Britain – Canon’s SMB specialist Mark Robinson shares tips on how SMBs can reap the power of social media to drive revenue.

While larger organisations have the ability to absorb revenue fluctuations with previously generated profit, bank credits or investor trust, this impact can me more profound for smaller organisations, as the usually work with few assets and few people. Throw in a small business market with tight margins that has never been more competitive, and you will see that surviving month-to-month can be very difficult.

To keep the revenue stream consistent – and grow it, where possible – business owners can turn to the digital world, where they have the same opportunities than their larger counterparts. However, a report by ICM on behalf Canon has revealed that only a mere 35 per cent of UK SMBs believe they’re making the most of social media and the internet, compared with an average of 47 per cent across European markets.

So how can small businesses reap the power of social media to drive revenue?

  1. Find new business leads in LinkedIn groups

LinkedIn groups are a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and generate new leads. They capture an engaged audience who is specifically looking for information about your industry, therefore any discussions you contribute to will help publicise you and your brand, keeping you top of mind when business leaders are looking for the kind of products and services you offer. According to LinkedIn, people who contribute to discussions receive up to four times the average number of profile views – so the more you share, the more you’ll get noticed.

  1. Tell your target audience about your products and services

While LinkedIn groups are a great way to build your credibility and raise your profile through wider conversations on industry-specific topics, LinkedIn pay-per-click advertising puts your products and services directly in the eyes of potential customers. You can display ads which link to your website and are only visible to the people you want to sell to, based on the targeting criteria you selected – such as job title, job function, industry, company name and size. LinkedIn also offers analytics for your ads free of charge, which allows you to tweak your campaign on-the-go and make sure your advertising budget is spent in the most effective way.

  1. Be vocal on Twitter, too

One of the best ways to market to an audience is on Twitter through a Twitter chat with a scheduled hashtag to group the discussion. Such Twitter chats are a great way to position yourself as an expert in topics around your industry. Small business owners should also search for other Twitter chats to join, retweeting interesting tweets and providing opinions to attract followers. The more followers you will attract, the more chance you have of converting them into customers, therefore increasing your revenue stream.

  1. See what your competitors are doing – and do it better

It can be frustrating to see competing companies having greater success on social media. However, the good news is that everything they do is transparent, giving you the power to monitor their communications strategy and see what content and tone your audience responds to. You should follow your competitors’ online actions on Facebook and Twitter, and by joining Linkedin groups. Learning from them will allow you to develop a better content strategy, which makes you more visible in the online space and will keep you top of mind when potential clients are searching for the kind of products and services your business offers.

For more SMB advice throughout Small Business Advice Week, follow @CanonBusinessUK 

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