The age of the internet has perhaps been one of the most disruptive periods in history for the world of business.
With the rise of social media and e-commerce, we are seeing industries of all shapes and sizes being completely turned on their heads by the growth of the internet.
From online stores helping people shop from their sofa to online universities helping people learn anywhere, anytime, business is changing.
A prime example is just down the road in County Durham where Atom Bank, which has recently been named the most disruptive fin-tech (financial technology) firm on the continent by KPMG, is changing the way people bank.
Harnessing mobile apps and online banking to launch the UK’s first digital only bank – Atom is a great example of how North East start-ups are helping spearhead the digital revolution.
One of the most game-changing aspects of the internet age has been social media, giving businesses of all sizes a chance to put themselves on the global stage.
If you’re looking to start using social media for your business but are unsure where to start, here’s a few of the networks worth exploring…
The world’s largest social network, boasting over one billion users per month, Facebook is quickly becoming one of the most preferred marketing platforms for businesses.
One of the reasons Facebook has risen to the top isn’t because of how conscious its owners are of its importance as a communication tool for friends and family, but because of how they’ve pinpointed the abundance of business opportunities it offers.
Whether you’re a huge corporate or a start-up, you can guarantee Facebook can benefit your business. From targeted advertising, allowing you to pinpoint your customers by age, location, place of work and interests, Facebook offers tailored advertising campaigns from as little as £5 per month.
If however, you’re operating on a shoe string budget, you don’t necessarily have to pay for any targeted campaigns at all. As the old adage goes, word of mouth is the best form of promotion, and where better than the most social of social networks to get the word out there?
Our top tip? Launch a business page on Facebook, add your contact information with a link to your website and get your family and friends to endorse you and share it with their networks. After all, who is better at endorsing your business than those you surround yourself with on a daily basis?!
Another of the social media giants is Twitter, which we’re sure you’ll have heard of. Where Twitter differs from Facebook is its incredibly short posts – which are either 140 characters or less. The idea is that it’s easier to read and you get to see more.
As with Facebook, it has also become popular with businesses. Posts (tweets) can include a link to any web content (blog post, website page, PDF document, etc) or a photograph or video. The great thing about Twitter is the analytics it provides, to let you monitor how you’re performing (i.e. amount of views or clicks).
It can be quite hard to grow your Twitter following at the start but a great idea, especially for North East businesses, is to harness local networking campaigns such as #NorthEastHour. The idea is simple, it allows businesses to network and get to know each other whilst cross promoting their products or services. Simply add the Hash Tag (#NorthEastHour) to one of your tweets promoting what you do during its working hours and get involved.
Twitter is also another great platform for paid digital marketing campaigns, allowing you to target people by location and also by the accounts they subscribe to. For example, a commercial window cleaner in the North East could choose to have their adverts viewed specifically by people who follow business support organisations or famous business people within the area. (This way you aren’t wasting your money on people who aren’t interested in what you do).
Our top tip? With 317 million users each month, be careful how you spend your time on Twitter. If you’re selling your products or services across the globe then by all means, go all guns blazing. However, if you only operate locally, be sure not to waste your time promoting your business to people who aren’t potential stakeholders, make sure you operate in local circles!
Think of LinkedIn as a combination between recruitment site totaljobs and the old fashioned Yellow Pages. As the ‘corporate social network’ there are hundreds of thousands of businesses and business people actively using the network to share industry news and content as well as hunt for jobs and recruit staff.
If you’re looking to recruit staff who have specific industry experience or educated to a certain standard it is a great way of headhunting and finding the right people. As well as being able to search for people right down to location, experience and education, it also has its own job board where you can advertise roles to thousands of job hunters.
Alternatively, it’s rich knowledge bank of businesses can help you source customers, suppliers and even competitors and analyse how they’re promoting. You can also pinpoint and connect with key contacts from specific businesses or sectors using its advanced search function.
LinkedIn groups are another key feature. Most industries have forum style groups for people to talk about and share industry news discussing innovation and advances. It can be a great way of staying ahead of the competition.
Our top tip? Use LinkedIn to your advantage to stay ahead of the competition. Link in with and follow industry leaders who are at the peak of what you do and ensure you never miss a thing.