The Social Media Opportunity for Small Businesses

How can small businesses get *real* value from social media?

If you’re the owner of a small business you may keep hearing that you should be “doing” social media. You may have heard that if Facebook was a country it would be the third biggest in the world. You may have heard horror stories of people who have outsourced their social media marketing and paid a lot of money for zero (often damaging) return. What you’re not hearing much of is how to decide if social media will add anything significant to your business, what the real costs are and how you can measure the results.

Over 60% of small businesses get no results at all from social media. None. 

Can social media really work for small businesses?

“We are all told in business that we must ‘do’ social media, but what exactly does that mean? For us, the Social Media Workshop has been invaluable in de-mystifying this whole new area of communication – in a sensible, practical yet personal way. The number of ‘light bulb’ moments we had throughout the course were countless and have helped to shape where our business will be going in the future.” Anne Prince and Steve Linford, Independent Cambridge, PHL Publishing Limited

Social Media is the only area of business where you don’t need to outspend your competitors in order to beat them. If you haven’t got a huge budget, a creative agency and a team of people working on your accounts it can still bring great results, if the effort is made in the right way. Social media is not the same as marketing. In fact it is exactly the opposite of the way marketers use other media.

One of the things that big businesses have spent millions of dollars discovering is that what works best is when people feel part of a community and relate to each other, so imagine building a community of committed people around your business. People who will be your advocates. People who will do your marketing for you. People who are trusted by their circle of friends so that when they say “this is the best” everyone believes them. This is where the magic of social networking happens.

Social media CAN provide all sorts of opportunities for small businesses but not in the way they are usually sold. A report from online business community Manta shows that small business owners are turning up on the social web in droves, desperate to create more sales. The trouble is, no matter how much time or money they spend, more than 60% of small business owners say they haven’t seen any return on investment from their engagement online. None.

And yet big businesses are devoting more and more of their budgets to social media – so what do they know that small businesses don’t?

People turn to social networks to have fun, waste time and talk to their friends. You need to know how to work with this, how to use these facts to your advantage and how to build a community around your business. 

Lets take a step back - Do you really need social media to grow your business?

“I was very impressed that right from the start Ann’s course asked me questions about my business - so she can tailor the rest of the course according to my specific business needs. I am someone who understands better from talking not reading and Ann very kindly offered me phone support to cement the written information in the course and fully understand how it applies to me! I really loved the tailored approach Ann uses and she runs hands on, no nonsense practical courses!” Adelina Chalmers Presenting Good Practice

The only way to answer this question is to know how much time, money and effort it costs you to get a new customer with your current marketing strategy and if its likely to be cheaper or quicker with social media. You may have heard that it’s not a good idea to “sell” on social media and that it’s all about building relationships but how the heck to do go about doing that without being on Twitter 24/7? What are you supposed to write about and, with 500 million tweets being posted every day - that’s 6,000 a second, who will see what you’re writing? If your marketing strategy is working and you are making sales, will social media add anything significant to your bottom line? If you need more sales but you can’t sell on social media, what’s the point?

Maybe you’ve already tried it?

You’ve sent a few tweets and got a few followers. You’ve set up a Facebook Page and asked everyone you know to “like” it. Your LinkedIn profile is polished  - but nothing much is happening.  Is it all a colossal waste of time? How do people get business like this? With millions of people all trying to do the same thing, how do you cut through the noise and get noticed? A small audience of big influencers is worth a lot more than thousands of followers or fans who are just playing a numbers game but how do you identify the big influencers in your sector and get them to take notice of you?

Creating great content is not enough to guarantee that anyone will see it or share it - it needs more that that.

I’ve been working with Ann Hawkins on her social media course & it’s been a real game changer. I have tremendously useful resources, solid actions that I’ve begun taking already & I’m feeling much better informed about it all in a way that resonates with me. It has been incredibly tailor made & just right for me. Ann is highly responsive and very accessible. She goes over & above expectations to deliver value. I have wasted money on courses that didn’t deliver & I’ve been disappointed & fed up in the past - not with Ann. I like the way I can use information/resources targeted to my needs rather than feeling overwhelmed with the whole social media stuff. I also like that I can work on things at my pace, to suit my busy travel/work schedule. The community is responsive & helpful too, which is an added bonus. It’s been refreshing to have social media demystified & broken down into the most valuable nuggets. Many thanks, Ann! Z Jacob, Owner, Passionfruit Coaching Ltd

Everybody seems to have a different opinion so how do you decide which “rules” to follow?

Can you post to more than one network at once? Should you have a personal account or a business account? Should you buy followers and fans to get started so that you don’t look like Johnny-no-mates? What can you automate? Do you have to follow and connect with everyone who follows or asks to connect with you? Should you be on every platform including Google Plus, Pinterest and Instagram? How do you manage it all? What about spammers and hackers?  You want someone to show you what works and what will be a waste of time – specifically tailored to your business and circumstances.

There is No Magic Bullet

You can build huge numbers of followers and fans very quickly using automated services but they will be worthless. You need help to design a real strategy, a strategy where the results can be measured and where you know the return you get on the time and money you invest. Social networking can be hugely effective for small businesses but it needs to be understood. People turn to social networks to have fun, waste time and talk to their friends. You need to know how to work with this, how to use these facts to your advantage and how to build a community around your business. Press, magazines, TV, radio, billboards are all one way communications broadcasting your message to the masses with no way for them to come back to you. One of the biggest differences of social media (and some people are suggesting that “media” is not an appropriate term to use) is that it is a conversation - and your customer, or potential customer, is in charge of that conversation, filtering out your sales messages but expecting you to respond immediately to queries.

“Even when you’re not talking, people are looking at what you do - this is what makes outsourcing so dangerous”

The real story

I have been using social networks since 2007 and it has helped me to build my business, to find real fans, real advocates and people who want to hire me to work with them based on what they’ve read or how I’ve interacted with them. Sometimes, I didn’t even know they were listening! It led me to start The Social Media Show where I interview the movers and shakers in the social media world and try to minimise the effect of the snake-oil sales people who call themselves social media gurus, ninjas or superstars because they understand the mechanics of the social web but not how a real business works.

That frustration led me to create this on-line workshop because I know what works and what is important to small businesses and social networking is only part of the picture. It can’t be taught in isolation. If you want theory you can find thousands of articles and blogs about social media but if they worked a lot more people would be getting it right. What you’ll learn won’t be exactly the same as anyone else because your business isn’t exactly the same as anyone else’s. You’ll have your hand held as you build your strategy and start to make it work and measure it.

Social business’ turns customer care on its head, turns the sales process on its head, turns branding, loyalty, employee relations and recruitment on its head and has an impact for every business.

“No more business as usual” has become a catch phrase for this era of adjustment as we all get to grips with the changes we need to make. The world of social networking changes all the time so your learning will never end, you’ll just keep adapting and we’ll always be here to answer questions and help as you expand your influence.

The workshop - practical step by step progress

Using the social spaces is all about on-line communication so we’ve designed this workshop to give you practical experience in a safe way, avoiding potentially damaging mistakes. You’ll work through the modules in an on-line group in a private forum and build your social presence learning from others just as you would in a physical workshop situation. This will give you real time experience and feedback from your peer group – an invaluable part of the learning process and a real incentive to stay on track. If you fall behind with any of the modules you’ll always be able to catch up and seeing what others are doing will help a lot. I will lead you through the content spiced with links to interviews and articles with expert thinkers and practitioners that support and underline why things work they way they do and keep you not just up to date but ahead of the game.

The content

Social media will not rescue a failing business so we’ve designed the content to cover everything you need to create a strong business that encompasses social media. However, as the experience is interactive and flexible, you can sign up safe in the knowledge that you will always get the information you need for your specific circumstances.

1. Getting the foundations right.
Business history, pricing strategy, number of customers, profitability.
2. Overall strategy – where do you want your business to go?
Plan for growth, %turnover, profit, how many mores sales /customers do you need? Identifying the value of a customer and how much they cost to acquire and keep.
3. Learn about the contradiction of Social Media.
Dispelling the myths and looking at what causes so many businesses to fail to get results.
4. Decide on the social strategy for your business.
Leaning about the many ways that social networks can provide opportunities, deciding on the main one for your business and learning how to get results.
5. Learn how to measure your Return On Investment.
Social networks provide an overwhelming amount of data. Knowing what to measure and what not to is vitally important.


6. Who are you trying to reach and why?
Profile your target audience, look at where to find them, how to engage with them. Identifying influencers and understand how this group holds the key to success.
7. B2B, B2C or P2P?
Understanding brand v personal awareness and how to have relevant conversations.
8. Getting organised – a look at CRM systems.
Did you get a message via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or email? Social CRM is a wonderful tool for tracking and converting leads.
9. A detailed look at the ten major networks and how they fit your business.
Identify where your target audience can be reached and if you’ll be a small voice in a big network or a big presence in a smaller one.
10. Why you need to think mobile first, last and everything in between.
Some mind blowing statistics and predictions on how mobile will change everything we do in business.

11. The rules of social media – and which ones apply to you.
Discover which ‘rules’ can be ignored and create rules that work for you.
12. Understanding Influence Marketing.
An in depth look at whether you could be an influencer and how this works.
13. Finding your ‘brand’ advocates.
Who do you want to engage with your content, how will they share it, how will you track it?
14. Growing your tribe.
One of the easiest and most powerful ways to gain influence – but it’s not all about you. Learn how tribes and communities have to communicate with each other to work.
15. Using hashtags.
A simple way to curate a conversation or an irritant that turns people off? Learn how hashtags can help people to find your content.

16. Automation and timesavers.
Some automation is bad and some is good and it’s not the same for everyone. Explore what will work for you and learn how to keep up with new products as they emerge.
17. How to produce great content - consistently.
Compelling content is what drives social sharing and increases visibility in search engines. Learn how to create tweets that get re-tweeted and posts that get shared.
18. Setting up a content diary.
Consistency is the key to attracting fans and followers. Learn how to organise content to appear at the right time for your audience.
19. Building loyalty.
Its a truism that its seven times more expensive to get a new customer than to keep an existing one so learning how to create loyalty is as important as creating fans.
20. The role of your website / blog.
This is the heart of your on-line business, the place where you can create and curate content that is directly under your control. Driving traffic here is one of the main purposes of social networking but what happens when people arrive?

You now have an in depth insight into how to create opportunities for your business using social networks. This last module is an opportunity for you to produce a plan for future action, decide how you will measure the results and elect to be held accountable.
Social networks change all the time. Teenagers are leaving Facebook, Twitter is being used to influence the stock market, some of the newer networks are designed just for mobile. The applications that are experiencing the most rapid growth at the moment are Instagram, Tumbler,Twitter,, Keek, Vine and WhatsApp.
You’d have to read a thousand blogs to keep up. When you do this course you don’t have to – we’ll let you know about the really important things and you can ask us questions as they crop up.

Dates and cost

When you sign up you will get the lessons sent to you by email. When you complete them and send your responses you will get more tailored information, specifically addressing your situation. The more involved you get, the more involved I get and the more you’ll get from the course. This really is an individually tailored workshop!

Full course fee including individual mentoring is £457+vat .

Your tutor

Ann HawkinsAnn Hawkins is a business mentor with over 25 years experience of helping business owners to create profitable businesses. She is the founder of the peer group learning organisation The Inspired Group, the owner and presenter of The Social Media Show, a veteran blogger and contributor to The Business Hub radio show.

She is also a lively, irreverent and dynamic workshop leader, speaker and facilitator, guaranteed to get you thinking, never to bore and to continue supporting you kindly long after the event.

Catch up with Ann at:




  1. Hi Ann

    I am interested in this programme. Does it require live time webinar sessions, or can I complete at my leisure?



  2. Hi Helen
    There will be no live time required. We want to make this as flexible as possible.
    The course is run over five weeks so there will be material posted each Monday and people will have that week to complete it and get feedback / support before moving on to the next stage.
    In theory they can do it any time but for maximum results keeping to the weekly schedule will be best. We customise the follow up work depending on the responses and the direction we think people should go in, so some will be directed to certain content and others to different inputs.
    We have a system in place to offer on-going support after the five weeks as this is really just the beginning of a long term process but that is all covered in the price with no extra charges.
    If you have any other questions, please let me know!

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: