The opportunity in your pocket
It was a smart move by Facebook to partner with Steve Adams and host the # BoostYourTown workshops around New Zealand. Start- ups focused on e- commerce, provided they have a fixed and/or mobile Internet connection, thrive off such social media platforms.
Mia Garlick, head of policy at Facebook ANZ says their data indicates that platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are highly useful for start- ups especially. “It’s free to set them up, and it’s cheaper to update them than to build a website.”
Setting up a social media account is a fast way to see if your business has legs, she says. The website can come later.
Facebook has the figures to back this up. Its Economic Impact Survey revealed that 70 percent of New Zealand SMBs on Facebook say the platform helps them attract customers. Fiftyfive percent say Facebook has helped them to increase revenue.
Technology’s a great equaliser, says Garlick. The aim of Facebook’s workshops in the regions was to deliver the same, consistent benefit to everyone. “There are tremendous opportunities in the regions.”
She was particularly struck by the breadth of ages at the workshops – it would seem the pull of social media marketing appeals to all generations.
People should have the confidence to “try by doing” and “learn by experience and mistake”, she believes. Having some training, and picking up on some ideas and tips, helps maintain the learning momentum.
Steve Adams says the workshops have highlighted peoples’ interest in Instagram especially – which he describes as “a production studio in your pocket”. Many attendees want his help to switch from their personal account to a business one and they generally form a queue after the teaching has finished.
Adams constantly reminds business owners that customers are actually looking for them and the use of hashtags on social media is a great way to connect. In a tourist-reliant town like Westport, he was keen to encourage the use of # WestportNZ to local business owners.
“It’s surprising how many businesses are on social media and don’t know it, because their customers put them there.”
Adams describes social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook as “marketing through storytelling”. It’s a case of always having ideas and your phone handy – whether it be for customer stories, new product stories or new experience stories. All it takes is a little creativity and practice to become proficient.
He admires businesses such as Hokitika’s The Crafty Chook which makes soap out of gorse flowers and built a business through Facebook almost overnight. “It’s typical of how this marketing platform just opens up opportunities. There are now no barriers to getting a great idea out there.”