Relentless social media use a ‘turn off’ for businesses

Small companies could be losing sales and damaging their reputation by bombarding potential customers with their “relentless” use of social media.

Three quarters of the business owners surveyed, by networking group BNI, said they have been “put off” using companies that have “misused” sites such as Twitter and Facebook to sell their wares.

Charlie Lawson, BNI’s national director, said small companies are “still far from understanding how the medium works best”.

“There are businesses which have the various social media profiles and accounts, yet no content, others that bombard with promotional messages, and a large proportion that don’t engage at all. These three strands are a combination of why SMEs are failing in their social media usage.”

He said companies are losing sales because of the “lack of knowledge of social media and the right narrative they require to be effective”. Common errors included using social media sites as an extension of mailing lists; failing to monitor staff members who then misuse company social media accounts; and simply “giving up too soon”, BNI said. “If there isn’t an immediate sales opportunity they quickly lose interest and cut off their possible referral opportunities.”

However, 60 per cent of respondents said they had found sites like Twitter useful for building relationships which eventually resulted in new business.

Simon Taylor, an executive director at Clear Insurance, said he has successfully used Twitter to build relationships in an industry that has been slow to adopt social media.
“Social media [is just] the latest forum for networking in a tradition stretching back to the City Livery Companies hundreds of years ago,” he said. He advises “starting gently” by following potential and existing customers, “getting a feel for the tone and learning from others’ mistakes”.

“Show that you understand the bigger picture by referencing articles and links, and ask questions to gain insights.”