Social Media, Helen Hodgkinson.

Social media gives independent businesses an opportunity to grow their business, to connect and engage not only with current customers, but also with potential customers. Digital technology levels the playing field and gives small businesses the same opportunities as their larger competitors. Being proactive with social media is very important so communication needs to be in real time and addressed quickly.

The most important tip for social media is to target the correct media channels and develop an informative and interactive communication strategy. This engages and drives the customers to a deeper understanding of your brand and ultimately drives them to purchase more from you.

This quick guide will help you decide which social media platform to use and how to create great content to showcase your business.

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Which ones for your business?

FACEBOOK is the main social network. It is used daily by millions of people to keep in touch, share photos and interact. View Facebook as you would view talking to your customers face to face. You can have a personal page, a business page, or set up or join a group.

Examples of use:

  • Upload photographs and a video
  • Share a paragraph about a new product and services.
  • Update your page with your latest range.
  • Share your new promotions.
  • Promote events.
  • Sell from Facebook either via posting, albums or a Facebook shop.
  • Set up competitions.
  • post live video which is a great way to showcase your brand.

 

INSTAGRAM: With 400 million users and over 80 million posts per day, Instagram has become an essential element of social media marketing for business.  On Instagram your message reaches consumers where they follow their passions and explore the world through imagery.  For these reasons Instagram is a highly relevant environment to share your business’s story or showcase your products, apps or services.

Examples of use:

  • Upload photos and videos of your products
  • Upload photos of your staff  and customers wearing or using your products
  • Upload photos of your business at different times of the year
  • Add images and video to stories which last for 24 hours, these can be customised to showcase your brand’s creativity.

 

PINTEREST: A channel where you ‘pin’ photos of products and things you like. It is very visual and great to showcase product photos. Use this channel as a visual representation of your business.  Pinterest comes up in product searches via search engines so it’s a great way to link to customers that are ready to purchase.

Examples of use:

  • Open a page as a person and set up a ‘board’ with products you like – include yours and others
  • Open a page as your business and share your images as well as those that inspire your brand.
  • Link your product images to your web site so customers can shop directly.
  • Add a pin it link to your website product pictures so customers can add these to their own boards; this means your products are shared to a wider audience.

 

TWITTER: Quick and short updates. Is often used for quick promotions, headlines from blogs, key messages from a brand and to interact with customers. Customer service issues are often highlighted on Twitter – so keep an eye on it.

Examples of use:

  • Share the latest images of your products
  • Update on daily deals
  • Share a customer’s best opinions
  • Ask for feedback on the latest adverts
  • Share the latest events
  • Link to articles your customers will find interesting

 

YOUTUBE: Shared video channel. Is very useful for ‘how to’ videos and to really showcase your business.

Examples of use:

  • Take a video of people using a rage of your products
  • Film ‘how to guides’ that explains how to use the product in real life
  • Make a film to promote your brand

 

LINKEDIN: Business networking and sharing of professional information. It is not used

extensively in marketing but used as a professional business person or as a business. Good for business to business networking and good for recruitment.

Examples of use:

  • Ensure you have a personal LinkedIn page with your history and details
  • Ensure you have a business page with your details
  • Use the page to share links to your blogs and sometimes your products

 

How to create great content?

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As you post/tweet updates, photos and more think about what your customers find interesting and inspiring.

  • Know your brand – ensure you always write in the style of your brand. Over time your customers get to know your brand style – they trust and become comfortable with it. This should be reflected in everything you do, from the tone of your emails, to the wording in your tweets, to the colours in your pictures.
  • Know your customer – knowing your customer is key. If you do not know them well enough you won’t be able to interact with them in a way that fits their wants, needs and desires.
  • Be authentic.  Share what you’re genuinely excited about and your customers will be excited too.
  • Be responsive.  When people comment, show that your business is listening and that you care.  If you need more time to answer a question, let them know that you’re looking into it.
  • Be consistent.  the more regularly you post, the greater an opportunity you have for connecting with people and building trust.  Setting a schedule for your posts can also help to maximise your team’s time.
  • Do what works. Replicate your success on posts that get more engagement.
  • Ensure keywords are included – understanding your keywords is critical to generating content – you must research them well and use them in every tweet, blog and Facebook update.
  • Impactful and enticing content – make sure your content is interesting to ensure customers read it and click through.
  • Use images and videos – ‘an image tells a thousand words’. Include pictures either that represent your business, or your business behind the scenes, or your products & services.  Use videos if you have a great story and want to share a message over a wider audience.

Remember – your recipe for success is to create page posts and adverts that are interesting and valuable to your customers, and to target your messages so that the right people see them.

 

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Facebook Tips

Self-generated content such as blog or website articles, website links, promoting your own products and services.

  • Articles others have written and you can link to – things that will interest your customers, that may help them.
  • News from local business or news about the local area that may be important or of interest to your customers.
  • Following businesses, agencies and other influencers can help you generate content, you can share and link into what others are saying.

Instagram Tips

Images have always been used for visual communication on Instagram and today we are seeing more & more video on the platform.  For brands a strong visual voice is the key to driving real business results on the platform.

  • Your visuals should be well branded, story driven, carefully crafted and, of course, well targeted.
  • Instagram is driven by #hashtags; these should be relevant to the visual and your target audience.
  • As you cannot have a clickable link in a post, drive people to click the link in your Bio.
  • If you are product based, use the ‘tag a product’ feature to link the customer to purchase directly from your website.

Twitter Tips

A concise tweet makes an impact. Keep each tweet focused on one specific message rather than trying to communicate multiple things.

  • Hashtags are a powerful tool that allow you to expand your reach and tap into relevant conversations. Focus on keywords relevant to your business. Best practice recommends using no more than two hashtags per tweet.
  • Retweeting relevant content and replying to tweets are great ways to maintain a robust Twitter presence. Positive customer feedback, helpful articles, and messages that align with your business’s authentic voice are all impactful content to re-tweet.

March for Business – You said, we did

march for business logo v2Denbighshire County Council believes it is important to listen to businesses, which is why every year we encourage traders to take part in our annual Business Survey and ask them what training and support will help them grow.

We then take that information and plan out four weeks of training, workshops and networking events as part of our March for Business month.  This year businesses asked for help with social media, e-commerce and marketing and we responded by hosting events to meet those needs.

Other results from our 2017 Business Survey, which had more than 470 responses, found the majority of businesses are more confident about the future than ever before.

The survey, conducted by the Council’s Economic and Business Development team, found more than 70 per cent of respondents said their business is stronger than it was in 2016 while only 1 per cent said it was weaker. More than a quarter expect to increase staff numbers, while 63 per cent are expecting sales to increase.

March for Business 2018 – our biggest business month yet. 

This year more than 400 attendees took part in 25 varied events during March for Business 2018.  Working with partner support providers, we held Facebook, Twitter and Instagram training, workshops on e-commerce, exporting post-Brexit, branding and marketing as well as showcase of local Denbighshire produce.

We asked businesses for feedback on March for Business and the response showed event satisfaction was very high and businesses rated events as being very useful.  From feedback the overall feeling was that events at March for Business were ‘excellent’.

More than 90 % of respondents said events were well organised, staff were helpful and the events provided useful networking opportunities.  Food producers who attended the Blas Lleol – Meet the Producer event reported  more than £25,000 of orders.

Business Survey 2018

We have launched our business survey for 2018 which means you have the chance to tell us what events you would like to see at March for Business 2019.  Do you want to see events focused around social media, branding and marketing,  financial support or exporting? Or are there other areas you would like us to focuson? By taking part in the survey you can help shape March for Business 2019.

It is also your chance to tell us about how your business is performing and what your aspirations are for the future.

This information allows us to direct our efforts to help businesses grow over the coming year to support healthy private businesses, create higher paid jobs to increase economic prosperity, a priority under our Corporate Plan.

You can take part in the Business Survey 2018 here:

www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/dccbusinesssurvey

 

Welsh Government Economic Action Plan

The Cabinet Secretary for Economy has announced the next stage of the Economic Action Plan (EAP) introducing the Economic Contract, Call to Action and Economic Futures Fund. The plan seeks to grow our economy and has been developed to meet the needs of today and to prepare for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

Economic Contract

The Economic Contract is the framework for a new relationship with businesses looking to access finance, requiring businesses to demonstrate their commitment to growth, fair work, employee health and skills and reducing their carbon footprint, reflecting the kind of business behaviours that many successful and responsible businesses exhibit.

Call to Action

Designed to help businesses prepare for the future and adapt to the challenges they may bring. For Wales, these Calls to Action are designed to enable more inclusive economic growth by promoting regional strengths and tackling structural challenges.

  • decarbonisation
  • innovation, entrepreneurship and headquarters
  • exports and Trade
  • high quality employment, skills development and fair work
  • R&D, automation and digitalisation

Economic Futures Fund

The Welsh Government are introducing a streamlined finance package bringing together existing finance schemes into a consistent approach, simplifying the process for businesses and allowing Welsh Government to be flexible in how it uses the resources it has to meet business need, and deliver against the points highlighted in the Economic Contract and the Calls to Action.

For further information on the EAP contact the Business Wales Helpline on 03000 6 03000.
You can view the strategy on the Welsh Government website 

Town Business. Networking & Branding in Denbighshire Towns

This article is part of a series of interviews  giving examples of the range of great businesses there are in our town centres.

Trefor Jones clothes shop

Tudor Jones is the owner of Trefor Jones clothes shop in Ruthin, a well-established family-run business which has been open for 40 years.

The firm offers a range of top-quality menswear including casualwear, formalwear, footwear, wedding hire and accessories.

Mr Jones, whose father founded the business, said: “We are a well-established local brand. We work hard and we have a diverse customer base. We try and have a diverse range in the shop, you have to move on and be flexible.

Tudor Jones owener of trefor Jones

“It is important to move forward and stay relevant, we have a very busy hire department and we have moved into footwear. You have got to have different things going on, we don’t sell as many suits as we did 20 years ago. It is about diversification and still keeping quality products, being different from multi-nationals. Having knowledge and experience and being able to help our customers helps us get repeat custom. We have a reputation and we get customers from the Wirral, Cheshire and the coast.

“There is a great business community in Ruthin. Online shopping isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. People still want to try things on, they want to touch and feel a product.

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“In places like Ruthin there are nice places to eat, there is history to the town. It is a destination as well, shoppers can come to us and spend an afternoon in the town.”

Rhyl Town Centre Plan

You may have heard that Denbighshire County Council is undertaking a programme of engagement to support a plan for the future of Rhyl Town Centre.

Businesses are a key group that we want to talk to as part of the project, as they will play a key role in shaping and supporting the future of Rhyl Town Centre. Local businesses are a vibrant and important part of our community, whether you’re based in the town centre or not, you have ideas and knowledge that can help us make it better for local people, visitors, other business and for the wider benefit of Rhyl.

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How to get involved

We’ve already spent much of March for Business speaking to local businesses from across Denbighshire, which has been great. You’ve been telling us how you’d like to see the town centre change, what you think works at the moment and what issues you’d like to see us address.

There will be more opportunities to get involved throughout the Spring and Summer. If you have a spare couple of minutes now it would be great if you could  complete our business questionnaire online.

If you have something to say about Rhyl Town Centre, we want to hear it so If you’d prefer to discuss the town centre directly with one of our team you can contact us.

More information

You can find out more about the project by visiting: www.denbighshire.gov.uk/rhyltowncentreplan

How do digital skills free up time and money?

The Economic and Business Development team embraced the information age long ago. The research data we collect from national and local sources, informs all activities that we do to improve the economic well being of Denbighshire.

Last year we completed the Denbighshire business survey for the third year running. This annual survey takes the temperature of Denbighshire’s economy and business health to find out how business owners are feeling about their situation, their future and what we can do to make things even better.

In Denbighshire we can see the digital skills gap closing as the clever businesses save time and money through new skills.

An important part of the business survey is to find out how business life is changing and what skills businesses now need to stay ahead of the competition. The business survey has shown that 8 out of 10 businesses value skills over attitude when hiring new staff. Is this because businesses desperately need new staff with digital skills in their businesses? A survey by Fujitsu has shown that 77 percent of 1,400 UK employees believe their organisation’s future success hinges on the effective use of digital technology. Yet a separate survey shows that 49 percent of UK SMEs face a digital skills gap.

In Denbighshire we can see the digital skills gap closing as the clever businesses save time and money through new skills. By looking at the ways businesses market themselves we can see that the smallest businesses, with the least time and money to spend are far more likely to use Facebook to present their business to the world on the web. As businesses grow there is more information to be shared and a business need a website; and by the time a business is medium sized, web advertising is even more popular than word of mouth.

But there is still work to do.

Most businesses can’t just hire digitally literate staff. If businesses are to close the digital skills gap it takes a little work for a big gain, and it looks like Denbighshire businesses are up for the challenge. When asked what skills businesses would like to learn over three quarters of businesses wanting training said they want to learn e-commerce and well over half want to learn social media.

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LEARN ABOUT MARCH FOR BUSINESS 

Denbighshire’s March for Business month returns

A major month-long series of events to support businesses returns with its biggest ever schedule.

Denbighshire County Council’s March for Business month returns with 23 varied events offering almost 100 hours of content at venues across the county.

The business month, held throughout March, features social media training, networking events with the Federation of Small Businesses and West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, an event for young entrepreneurs and sessions on exporting, Welsh in business and a showcase of local food producers.

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Cllr Hugh Evans OBE, Leader of Denbighshire, said: “We designed this year’s programme to meet the needs of businesses in the county.

“March for Business offers firms the chance to network and get expert advice around issues that matter to them.

“They can then take this knowledge forward and help grow their business, making a real difference to the county’s economy.

“The focus of March for Business was devised following feedback from our annual Business Survey and shows the Council is listening to businesses and offering them support to suit their needs.”

March for Business is part of the Council’s work on developing the local economy through its Economic and Community Ambition Strategy, which includes a number of high priority projects to help businesses succeed.

Carole Derbyshire-Styles, 57, has run Corwen’s Vintage Home Styles, selling vintage and antique furniture, for the past two years.

She said: “I attended March for Business last year and it was very informative. I took a course around social media marketing.  It gave me ideas how to market my business better. We have increased engagement and people find us online and then phone or call in, we have people coming from as far as Birmingham.

“It was beneficial for me and for the business.”

Mrs Derbyshire-Styles, who also received a grant from Denbighshire County Council to revamp her shopfront, is now set to open a warehouse on the site of Corwen’s former auction house to keep up with demand.

She said: “I can’t keep up with what people are asking me for, the warehouse will have space for more items.

“We will be attending March for Business this year and I would recommend other businesses take advantage too.”

Lizzie Peters, from Phoenix Optical Technologies, an optical manufacturing firm based on St Asaph Business Park, attended the Denbighshire for Growth event at last year’s March for Business.

She said: “The event was a great opportunity for local businesses to network. I found out about companies I hadn’t heard of previously and gained new connections in training and other industries. The talks were very informative and it was interesting to hear the future plans for St Asaph Business Park. We had a great response to our stand on the day, we were advertising our Armourdillo Toughened Glass and as a result I was asked to speak and give a presentation at the Wales Festival of Innovation.

“I’d encourage businesses of all sizes to take advantage of the varied programme for March for Business as there are sessions tailored for all sizes of businesses.”

For more information or to book visit www.denbighshire.gov.uk/marchforbusiness

Town Business: Brunning and Price Q&A

Restaurant and pub company Brunning and Price was started in 1989 by two friends Jerry Brunning and Graham Price. Since then it has grown into a family of pubs spanning the country with a host of locations in North Wales, including the Corn Mill in Llangollen and the Dinorben Arms in Bodfari.

We asked Andy Barker, manager of the Corn Mill, about the firm’s approach and why it has invested in Denbighshire.

Andybarker brunning & Price

Brunning and Price has opened two restaurants in Denbighshire, out of six in the whole of North Wales. What attracted you to Denbighshire?

When looking for new Brunning and Price pubs we are always seeking something that little bit special. That might be a charming building or amazing historical architecture or a wonderful location with a stunning view. Denbighshire is beautiful and packed with history, so it seems a perfect fit for us.

Denbighshire has a great selection of local produce – what type of producers do you work with in the county and how does that benefit you? We show our ‘ale miles’ on boards above our bar and strive to make sure that we use as many local brewers as possible, supporting the local industry – but also providing a quality product. We also love to use local cheeses so like to seek out great producers nearby.

What do you think makes a strong market town?

We are really into ‘people’. Without our people and the atmosphere they bring to our pubs we wouldn’t have anything to offer and a market town is the same. It’s essential, having markets and shops, these just bring people together to form a community and it’s

that that makes for a special place. We like to think we help out with community by sitting at the heart of things, as a meeting place for people to chat and stay in touch with each other.

What are the benefits of being located in a thriving town like Llangollen?  How does the proximity of a vibrant selection of local and independent traders help your business?

Llangollen just offers so much with the canal, the river, the railway, the walking and all the other outdoor pursuits that are now available via many different operators. It is a huge help to be part of a thriving community that has certainly become more popular as a tourist destination over the past twenty years. The main benefits are that there is a huge footfall through the town and that gives us exposure to a huge amount of people from lots of different regions. The town and community sells itself very well with all the independent retailers and different events that go on and we are glad to be a part of that.

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The firm has enjoyed tremendous growth over the last three decades, what has been behind it?

We have very much stuck to what we do best and the principles that we first started with. Our pubs are run by the teams there, with an owner operator feel, head office is there to help the crew in the pubs do what they need to do to offer a great experience for the customers. We try to keep things very simple, not deviating from our goal of running great pubs. Even though we are bigger we are still a family and that’s the main thing, just a bigger family. Everyone treats each other as they would like to be treated themselves.

What sets you apart from your competitors?

I guess you will have to ask our customers that. We tend to concentrate on what we are doing rather than look to others to compare. We would say though that fresh food, designed by and for individual pubs is pretty hard to find outside of ‘independent pubs’. Our head chefs work with local suppliers, so for example we source sausages, meat and cheese from North East Wales. The rest of the teams design their own menus which change slightly daily – that’s pretty rare as it’s so tough nowadays keeping all of the allergen information up to date.

Customer service is an important part of your business – how do you ensure everyone stays on message and keeps smiling?

We strive to be at our best all the time. The main thing is to employ lovely people – we can teach them the rest, but if they have good hearts in the first place hospitality comes naturally to them. There is no message to stay ‘on’ – we just find nice people, treat them nicely and they in turn are happy to be at work and interact happily with the customers.

Stephen Dodd / bigcheese.co.uk

Stephen Dodd / bigcheese.co.uk

For more interviews with Denbighshire businesses, hints and tips for success as well as advice on important topics facing traders in the county, such as networking and promoting themselves through social media read the Town Business e-magazine here

 

It’s not What You Know, but Who You Know!

Business Networking

There are many opportunities for businesses in Denbighshire to join networks and groups with other like-minded business people; Town Centre business groups, Chambers of Trade and trade associations are but a few. As well as the opportunities to network offered by attending Events, Conferences and Shows,  there are also free online networks such as LinkedIn which are quick easy to become part of.

Choosing which to participate in can be a personal choice but the principles of Networking for Business remain the same. It’s good for everyone’s business!

 

Gareth Wyn Jones

Gareth Wyn Jones Farmer and Presenter

Networking offers the chance to:

  • learn new things
  • gather information
  • get help with problems from people with appropriate knowledge
  • find out what competitors are doing!
  • meet potential new clients and customers and form new alliances

It can also help your business keep up to date with latest trends, new regulations or general industry developments. It’s not just about getting sales but sharing information and helping other businesses too.

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Hints and Tips for Networking at Events

  • If you’re attending an event talk about it. Use Twitter and LinkedIn to spread the word
  • Make the most of the event by inviting clients and customers
  • Read the attendance list and choose 2 or 3 people you’d like to meet, and find them
  • Allow plenty of time to meet people and distribute business cards
  • Make your business stand out and do a one minute elevator pitch at the event
  • Don’t just talk, but listen, and be prepared to share your knowledge
  • Smile and get yourself into a photo,  you never know where your face might show up!
  • Make sure you follow up with any contacts you make within a couple of days
  • Join a business group and share contacts and referrals

The Business Benefits

  • Staying current and knowing the market is the basis of a good business plan
  • More leads, business opportunities and potential suppliers or customers for the business
  • Improved business reputation and confidence
  • Improved bottom line
  • More fun!

Finding Events Near You

Keep an eye on websites and Twitter for up and coming events and workshops. Visit Business Wales or Denbighshire County Council for Business, LinkedIn, Twitter or Eventbrite to keep up to date with local events. Take the leap – talk to your fellow businesses and see what is available in your town or area.

 

 

Game Over

Nothing can match the stomach churning, sweat inducing panic that you feel when you know you have lost all your data. Think of the lost hours, the lost money and the lost information and what that could mean for your business.

If that hasn’t made you squirm a little, let me tell you a story of how the digital animation giant Pixar almost disappeared. Not with a magic spell but with one tiny bit of code.

/bin/rm -r -f *

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Back in 1998 a small crew of Pixar’s animators were working against a hard deadline to produce Toy Story 2 in time for launch. In a project like this every animator is working on the same computer network. One person may be altering the lighting of a shot, whilst another is adjusting the movement of Woodie’s hat in the same scene. As the animators worked, elements of the scene started to disappear. First a texture looked odd, then a character’s face disappeared and then the whole world started to crumble as bodies, props and scenes vanished. By the time the server plugs were pulled only 10% of the original film survived. By mistake someone had entered the master delete code. As the animators’ screens froze and they went to lunch, the gravity of the situation had not yet sunk in.

Every company which holds data should have a backup system. However, according to the Guardian 48% of UK small businesses admitted that they had no regulated plans in place and 78% said they didn’t have a mobile data recovery plan. According to the British Chambers of commerce 93% of businesses who suffer data loss for over 10 days file for bankruptcy within the year.

Fortunately, Pixar had a backup system. Back in 1998 backups were stored on tapes – when one tape was full this would trigger an alert to replace it. However on this occasion no alert was triggered. This meant that as newer work was written it began pushing the older work off the tape, deleting the older more fundamental structures on which the newer animations were based. When this came to light the panic started, the cold sweat ran and an emergency meeting was called.

Today backing up your files is easy. Many online services can backup your data to their own servers and provide a guarantee of data security and quality of service. If you cannot spare the budget for a paid service or would like to organise your own data the UK Data service and ready.gov  provide guidance on how to back up data and what to do if you lose it.

Back at Pixar, with the Toy story 2 project and the fate of the entire company hanging by a thread, one employee shouted “I have a machine back at my house”. It so happened that the Supervising Technical Director on Toy Story 2 had been returning from maternity leave, and working on the film from home, where she had an almost complete copy of the film saved on her hard drive. A team was sent out to collect the machine which held the fate of the entire company on its memory banks. Pixar didn’t go bankrupt that day, but went on to produce some of the most magical films of the last decade. The story could have ended very differently.

Will you be this lucky?