UK consumers would be far more likely to shop and spend money with small, independent businesses if those businesses did more to market themselves on social media sites, research finds.
Currently, 34 per cent of Britons say they follow one or two local small businesses on Twitter or Facebook.
However, this could rise to 70 per cent if small businesses did more to encourage consumers to interact with them on social media, according to a study of 1,500 consumers by npower’s small business division.
Rachel Vincent, head of customer service for the gas and electricity supplier, says that more than half of the UK population uses social media so having an online presence is important for businesses in order to extend great customer service and to attract new customers.
‘Small businesses need to get in on the action. Whether that means bars and restaurants tweeting about drinks promotions and their special of the day, or local cafes offering a discount code for Facebook fans, every independent business can benefit from marketing their services on social media.
‘Taking the first steps may seem daunting to some, but it’s a relatively simple process to set up and manage a Twitter or Facebook account. The rewards from engaging with customers online at a time when more and more companies are moving their core business onto digital platforms, and when consumers are increasingly looking for shopping information online is worth the extra effort,’ Vincent adds.
Women are more likely to follow local small businesses on Twitter and, perhaps unsurprisingly, those in the 18-24 year old category are more likely to follow local small businesses than other age groups, the survey finds.
However, consumers of all ages are keen to use social media to stay in touch with local small businesses. Among the over-55s, more than half (51 per cent) of respondents say they would like to follow small businesses if they knew they were there and were given a good reason to follow.