BUSINESS BUILDING SOCIAL NETWORKS; Social Media Is a Free Way for Small Businesses to Reach out to Customers at Any Time of the Day
OCIAL media and apps are being embraced by businesses across the region Sas they seek the best ways to exploit the new technologies. Research has shown that nearly 90% of UK small businesses are now using social media of some type - from Facebook to Twitter and Linkedin. Nearly half of those said it was now helping them secure around 25% of new business although a large percentage (58%) said they struggled to promote themselves effectively due to a lack of time or knowledge on how best to use the technology.
There has also been an increase in the development of apps which have been used by firms to take bookings, engage with customers, and even run guided tours through the mobile phones of visitors.
Dafydd Gruffydd, from Menter Mon, organised a project over the summer to place university students with local companies to create apps and support their social media offering.
He said: "Social media is providing an unique opportunity for small businesses to develop a dialogue with their customers which gives them a distinct advantage over larger firms.
"There are also mobile apps for everything from stock taking and accommodation bookings, to accepting credit card payments.
"These can be of real help to small businesses and often cost very little."
Dafydd Hardy Estate Agents, that covers Anglesey and Gwynedd, was one of the companies taking part in the scheme, with its graduate helping set up an app, Prop Trumps.
Dafydd himself also has more than 800 followers on Twitter and they find Facebook useful with promoting lettings.
Dafydd said: "We have refined the app and it is due to launch. This is a fun game that is about engaging customers, it is based on the price of homes and is the sort of thing kids can download and play while their parents are viewing.
"Twitter is again about engagement, it is all about getting the brand out and people associating it with selling homes. We don't see an instant impact in increasing business but it is about engaging people. The latest one is Pinterest, which is picture based and I can see has a lot of potential for agents. You have to move with the times."
Mark Evans, from Pebble Hill Property, which runs the Parc Menai and St Asaph business parks, said they had invested in building their social media presence.
He said: "We had Sam on the Jobs Growth Wales scheme with us for six months and we really pushed the social media side. We built up followers to the business parks and it helped us engage with people.
"But while it worked well for us it did not bring direct business which meant it was not cost effective.
"We still use social media and do think it is important as part of a wider marketing strategy but we can't dedicate a person to this because it is just not cost effective."
Gareth Jones, from Carbon Zero and Home Improvements UK, said he had used social media to win bus He sa nearly 10 "It's fr at any ti "I hav media a tool. …