Four social media wins from the UK and the US, plus the lessons you can learn

Dan Martin
Former editor
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Tamsin Fox-Davies, small business marketing mentor at Constant Contact UK, offers inspiration for your social media marketing with the efforts of four small businesses in the UK  and US.  

Constant Contact is running an advanced social media webinar at 2pm on 3 December which will discuss the five major networks and share tips to take you from simply posting to getting real business results, including the new Twitter advertising services. To register, click here.

Finding time to make social media work for your business can be hard. That’s why looking at what other small business owners are doing can be a great way to find inspiration for your own business. But don’t limit your search for inspiration to the same types of business as yours, or even to the same country as yours!

There are lots of great ideas out there from small business owners who are winning with their social media. I've picked four which I think are great:
Idea one: Offer something of value
Who did what?
Bigblindmedia had run a social campaign before, but didn't get the results they had hoped for. Owen Packard, co-founder of the online magic retailer, decided he was going to use a tool specifically for this purpose.
Owen decided that the best way to grow Bigblindmedia’s Facebook Page was to position it as a resource for magicians around the world - and what better way to do that than provide them with something useful?
"We spent about five minutes to make the campaign. People who liked the Page got access to a video that taught them a new magic trick," Owen explains.
From there, we promoted the offer through Facebook, Twitter and our email newsletters. Owen also sought out different magician forums and posted the video there.
The result?
139 new Facebook fans in three weeks.
What you can learn:
  • Think about what your customers might find valuable. It doesn't have to be a discount, it could be useful information or something entertaining.
  • Whatever you are offering, and wherever your offer is being run, you will do best if you promote it on multiple channels, so think about how you can use email, social media, and good-old-fashioned signage (if appropriate) to spread the word.
Idea two: Show people behind the scenes
Who did what?
People like to know what goes on behind the scenes in your business, so let them take a peek behind the curtain. Stephen Quick of Splintered Studios did just that: "No one would believe I had painted my work, so I had to prove them wrong by recording me painting it," he says. "Secondly, I realised that the modern day gallery isn’t really on the street anymore, it’s on the web."
Stephen's speed paintings, whether of Darth Vader or Dexter, earned him a number of fans and he decided to build on that success. His studio in Bristol, England, is available worldwide, through the Splintered Studios website, his Tumblr account, Facebook Page, Twitter, and email newsletter.
"The internet is the modern-day gallery," he says, "it's a place that's open 24/7 and makes art available all around the world."
The result?
His YouTube channel has over 5,000 subscribers and over 800,000 views, whilst his work sells in several different countries.
What you can learn:
  • With a small business, your customers aren’t just investing in your products and services, they’re investing in you too. It might be boring to you, but they want to know about your people, your processes, and your suppliers.
  • Behind the scenes views don’t have to be video. Think about pictures (Instagram is a great tool for that), 30-second interviews with your team members, or case-study-like details of the suppliers and materials that you use.
Idea three: Offer a deal
Who did what?
There's nothing that gets people more excited or engaged than the chance to win something – however small. And that’s just what Orange Cycle, based in Florida, USA, found out. For one week, they offered a coupon to get a free pair of Orange Cycle socks with any purchase over $10 (£6). All people had to do was like their Facebook Page to get the coupon.
By giving away something that people would find useful, adding a sense of urgency through a deadline, and making it an offer that got people into the shop, Orange Cycle were more than surprised with the response to their promotion.
The result?
450 new Facebook fans and $500 (over £300) revenue.
What you can learn:
  • Every business can bundle in something extra to their product or service that makes people feel like they are getting a great deal.
  • Look at what items or services go well with what your customers are already buying. Maybe you could team up with another business to help provide the whole package.
Idea four: Show people what your business does
Who did what?
Whether you feel you have a business that lends itself to being visual or not, showing images of what your business does is a powerful way to engage people on social media. One company doing just that is Oh To Be A Dog, from California, USA. Owner Shannon Sardella says she first started using Instagram for personal use and has been using it for her business for a few months.
Shannon explains it's a great way of showing all they offer. "We're lucky, because everyone loves looking at pictures of dogs. We use our pictures to give people a look at all the work we do. So whether that’s showing a dog sleeping, because people board their dogs with us, or showing a dog walking on a leash or going through training."
The result?
In addition to giving them that credibility they're looking for, it really just helps them get their name out there. They know people are sharing their photos and saving them for themselves. Hopefully, their friends see those pictures when they post them on their own pages and see that they were taken with Oh To Be A Dog.
What you can learn:
  • Most people don't really understand what you do or how you spend your time, so show them! The more they get to know you, the more they will like and trust you – and that leads to sales.
  • It's really easy to show people what you do through things like sharing images, or 'day in the life' blog posts. It doesn't have to be complicated. Try a few different things to see what works, but you might be lucky first time like the people at Oh To Be A Dog.
Constant Contact is running an advanced social media webinar at 2pm on 3 December which will discuss the five major networks and share tips to take you from simply posting to getting real business results, including the new Twitter advertising services. To register, click here.


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