Social networking… a balm for small businesses

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It’s no secret that us tigers are avid supporters of social media for business, and those of you who read our last blog will know why. That said, we could purr and roar until our stripes fell off and some of you would still want to see the evidence. Well, here it is… the proof you’ve all been waiting for.

Not so long ago, I was suffering from a heavy cold and mentioned it on my Twitter account. In response to my dying duck style messages, I was tweeted by someone who makes and sells home-made balms. As far as I know, Niki McGlynn is not a secret media magnet, nor a PR guru, yet she was switched on enough to recognise an opportunity when she saw it. After a brief conversation, @NikiMcGlynn asked me to DM her my postal address and promised to send a sample of one of her balms, in the hope that it made me feel better. Mere days later, a package arrived with not one, but three, different balms, together with a hand-written note explaining how to use them.

Lesson 1 – engage with your audience and build worthwhile relationships.

Do this without resorting to direct selling. Social media is certainly not the place for the online equivalent of cold calls; you’ll run a very real risk of turning people off.

Lesson 2 – underpromise, over deliver.

I would have been over the moon to receive just one balm to soothe my ills… instead, I received a variety pack. The result? Having been genuinely pleased with the results of Niki’s ointments, I was quick to tweet just that and happy to support her in spreading word of her business virally.

Of course, the story doesn’t end there…

This afternoon, I happened to notice a tweet from TV and radio presenter, Emma Forbes, in which she mentioned buying a home-made skin product for the first time. Having been so impressed by @NikiMcGlynn and her products, I quickly fired a tweet to @EmmaForbes, who then responded positively with a promise to Google Niki’s business.

From there, a beautiful snowball effect took hold: Niki saw the Twitter conversation and joined in, providing her website address and, thus, making direct contact with Emma Forbes, who was already beginning to engage with her brand. A few tweets later, Emma had publicly thanked both of us AND provided contact details for Niki to email her direct with more details about her company and her products.

Lesson 3 – look out for natural opportunities to increase the visibility of your brand and grab them!

Niki started this ball rolling when she sent me the samples; remember the old adage, from little acorns…

Just think about the power of this situation for a small business… not only have I endorsed Niki’s products to all my followers, but I’ve been able to open the door to a much bigger audience. At the time of writing this blog, @EmmaForbes had a whopping 14,597 followers – many of whom will now be aware of www.nikisbalms.co.uk and popping over to see what all the fuss is about. In fact, just seconds ago, another Twitter user sent out a tweet saying she was about to check out Niki’s products for herself, purely on my recommendation. Of course, this means the message spreads even further, as her 822 followers will also see the positive comments about Niki’s Balms.

Lesson 4 – expand your vision.

It’s not just about telling an individual about your brand, it’s about spreading the word to all those people standing behind them. This, gentle readers, is what viral advertising is all about.

From one small gesture of kindness (with a bit of savvy thinking thrown in, I’m sure), Niki’s Balms, the brand, has been put out to 17,114 Twitter users – and they’re just the visible numbers from the three respondents mentioned here… it’s impossible to count how many others will pass on the details to their friends and family. Even if we stick with the 17k, that’s a pretty big hit for a small business, don’t you think?

So, there you have it, with a final plug for Niki’s products in the picture we’ve chosen to use. If someone gives you good service, pass on your praise – and if someone praises YOU for good service, don’t be afraid to ask them to do the same. Social media really can be a balm for your business!

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3 Responses to Social networking… a balm for small businesses

  1. Hi! Thanks for such a simple and direct example of how social networking can work for small businesses, it has really illuminated for me the power that we can all have at our fingertips (literally!) – I’m going to show it to my business partner.
    Your blog posts are helping me see the potential all around me for my business!
    Great stuff, Luitha

    • Taz says:

      Thanks so much, Luitha – happy to help. If there are any topics you’d particularly like us to cover in future, do let us know.

      Taz

  2. Niki McGlynn says:

    Wow Taz, what a fabulous piece, just goes to show how immediate and powerful social media is – and all that happened while I was standing in John Lewis with my Mum. Fingers crossed that all this exposure translates into sales, I have just dropped Emma a line. Anything I can do to help back, just let me know
    Niki x

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