Today I was asked by a freelance writer if I would mind doing a little questionnaire on how we use social media in business. Below is may response.
How would you describe what your business does?
- We sell stickers, two types mainly wall stickers on www.wallglamour.co.uk and Gadget stickers, or skins as people call them on www.gadgetglamour.co.uk
What position do you hold within the business?
- I am the owner of the business.
How long has it been up and running?
- The company has existed since 2003 in various guises but we went limited in 2006.
What advantages did using social media give you when trying to set up your business?
- Well I used to be a freelance graphic designer and only ever achieved a certain amount of work/income in a year. So when I switched to a sticker/product based business, a couple of friends gave me some tips and tricks regarding blogging and twitter in 2007 and from there it changed everything as I was no longer a ‘local business’ in the Yellow Pages, we could sell to the whole world via the internet.
Describe the positive impact social media has had on your business since you set it up.
- Since I started using social media I was able to grow my company to six fold of our pervious turnover.
Do you think you would have been as successful/your success so rapid without social media?
- No never, I love social media and it has been great to see the changes it has on the world of business and specifically our business, even from an offline perspective. We have a working partnership with another company that would never have happened if we didn’t have a website that we push to number one on Google with the help of social media.
What types of social media do you use and how often do you use them?
- We have a blog, of course which is updated a few times a month, we have some guest bloggers also. Twitter and Facebook are used almost everyday, but with tacked as we don’t want to be spammy. We use photos (flickr), videos (youtube), social bookmarking (delicious etc) and anything else that comes out. I am always looking for the next thing and read a lot about social media and web.
Of these, which form of social media is the most effective for your business?
- It’s funny I have seen a shift in the short time we have been using it, blogging was the medium in 2007, then Twitter and now Twitter is almost becoming useless as there are too many people selling on it (like us) Facebook is where it is at right now and we are trying to use that more effectively.
Are there any cost benefits to your business from using social media?
- The biggest cost benefit is that we don’t have to pay a thousand pound a month PR company to do press releases etc – we can do it our self though we still use PR too, but we didn’t for a long time.
How crucial would you say social media is to the ongoing success of your business and why?
- I think as social media matures we need to refine how we use the tools, to become masters, rather than enthusiastic novices, but there is no doubt that social media is good for business. Personal recommendation is a far better advocate for a product, and a better use of money, than a slot on the TV at tea time….though I don’t have that kind of money to evaluate the two side by side, but that is also the point SMEs have a chance now.
How do you see your business growing and developing in terms of using social media?
- Actually I am a really interested in how I can launch new products/ventures and hit the ground running with all the stored knowledge of social media. We can also crossover and advertise our new products to our existing followers so we are not starting from scratch. As I had help from friends in the beginning I have also been helping other friends and it is amazing to see what we can do with the list of social media apps. From zero to hero in no time…it is exciting.
What do you think are the advantages of social media to your industry specifically.
- Our customer base on the gadget side are tech savvy and the devices we sell for are perfect social media tools so we have to be on there doing ‘it’ or we are missing out big style. Similarly on the wall stickers side we are dealing with design led customers, who are probably Apple users and either in the creative industry like design and web or least ‘just get’ social media, so again it is a must.
What advances would you like to see in social media over the next 5 years?
- From a technical point of view I really have no idea, I know that location services will be the next mass thing, with Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places and I have a few interesting ideas on how to use that.
On a business level I would add words of warning, businesses need to make sure they are not exploiting social media, it is not a cash cow. People will switch you off, just like they hop channels on the TV, if you are not ‘real’ or genuine and offering something positive.