Social media campaigns can pay big dividends to small businesses.

Getting your name out to a larger audience is key for business owners. For small businesses operating online, there is great potential to do this, as a website can reach a global audience.

However, the hard part is finding a way to stand out from the masses.

For Anna Weightman, founder and owner of Handmade Flowers by Anna, social media has always been essential to her marketing efforts. She began following the #SBS hashtag, which stands for Small Business Sunday, nearly two years ago.

Dragons’ Den backer

One of the promotions is backed by Dragons’ Den investor Theo Paphitis, who picks six weekly winners. Weightman entered the free competition and described her business in less than 140 characters to Paphitis, followed by the #SBS hashtag.

‘I’d been entering Small Business Sunday for just under a year, and never in a million years did I expect to win it. I saw that so many of the other businesses were so much bigger I didn’t think anyone would care about a flower maker,’ she says.

However, one Monday last February, she was picked by Paphitis and retweeted her tweet to his 450,000+ followers. Weightman says the reaction was enormous.

‘I didn’t know until suddenly my phone started buzzing with all the tweets people were making. I had to turn it off in the end because it was too much. I think I gained about 400 new followers as a result. I also got a lot of new business,’ adds Weightman.

Added credibility

Since her win, she’s been able to put the SBS logo on her website and says this adds considerable credibility to her business’ reputation. ‘I now put the logo on all my emails and I am allowed to use Theo Paphitis’ name alongside my business. It’s really good for business as everybody knows who Theo Paphitis is. I think everyone should do it. It’s great recognition and it can be difficult to get your business known,’ she explains.

Social for small business

For business owners, social media campaigns are a simple and easy way to get attention. The government is also backing a Small Business Saturday #SmallBizSatUK event on 5 December. Those who sign up will be added to an interactive map of small businesses. There are also a range of events and promotions including a national bus tour aimed at driving awareness of the work small businesses do.

Five tips for social media success

Joining online promotions can rapidly boost your business. But make sure you’re ready for the deluge when it happens.
1) Update your website: check your content and make sure it still matches your offering. It’s easy to overlook static pages such as About Us or even your contact details
2) Review your Twitter profile: update your pictures and descriptions, and make sure your web link works
3) Tweet often: promote yourself, but also others. Share content and help your network. This is how opportunities arise
4) Be positive: a faint heart never prospers. Believe you can win and get involved
5) Prepare for success: social media can create a surge, so make sure you’re ready to meet demand.

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