The op­por­tu­nity in your pocket

NZ Business - - COVER STORY -

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.”

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