by helen on February 15, 2011

According to a survey conducted by Sage UK, only 1% of SMEs (a total of 1200 took part) believe social media can improve customer service. And less than one in 10 of them is already using social media to engage with their customers. (Read more here).

Now, I don’t know the reason for this, but I can hazard a guess based on the conversations I have been having with business owners over the past six months.

Many see social media as something for personal use. For sharing news with loved ones who live miles away, or for posting photos to share with friends and family.

They don’t understand how they can use it for business. And they’re not sure they have the time or inclination to find out. They are suspicious of it but they want to know more.

To help business owners overcome their nervousness about social media we need to help them answer questions such as:

  • I know my company needs to be engaging in the social media space, but where do we begin?
  • What are our competitors doing?
  • How do I engage with my customers?
  • Which social media platform should we use? Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube? Which ones should we stay away from?

So how can we go about doing this?

By encouraging them to get involved – to see what other companies, especially their competitors are already doing. If they can see for themselves that people are growing their businesses by adding social media to their marketing channels, they will quickly see how and why they should be getting social with their customers too.

Some tips to get started:

Identify up to four key competitors and/or similar organisations and track their social media activities, including:

  • Twitter: read their bio and background, how many followers/following, number and style of tweets, retweets, inclusion in lists, links to main website and other activities, influence (
  • Facebook: official/unofficial pages, number of fans, number of status updates, level of engagement, offers/discounts, apps in use, links to main website and other activities
  • Linked In: compare profiles, connections, recommendations/endorsements, group memberships and participation, links to main website and other activities
  • Websites/blogs & comments: reactions to comments, influential industry bloggers

Put all the information into a table to make it easier to compare how the organisations are using each channel. It will also quickly highlight where an organisation should start to engage with its online community – if competitors are engaging with their customers, chances are a similar business should be able to take advantage of this audience too.

Once business owners have had a peek at their social media landscape they will be in a better position to understand how it can make a difference to their business.

So go on, take a walk and enjoy the view. Because when you get back, you’ll probably want to get busy planning your first social media campaign!

Need someone to take the walk with you? Give me a call 07870 213974, or drop me an email

My walking boots are always by the front door. ;-)

Previous post:

Next post: