Interview with an Entrepreneur: Do Small Businesses Need Social Media?

It is no doubt that web presence is a ‘must’ when it comes to marketing your business. But if you ever wondered whether investing in a website building and hosting for your business will pay off, this post might just be for you! 

Can social media be used as an independent marketing tool? Is context advertising worth your investment? What business accounts do well on Instagram? I interviewed a newly-made small business owner to get the answers first-hand. 

Daria, has just started running her business last year. She owns a shisha lounge in a central location of Saint Petersburg; with the place offering tobaccos that respond to latest flavour and strength trends among inveterate shisha visitors; and excellent bar services. The business is well on its way to break even; to finish off the first year of its operation by earning profit. I kindly asked Daria to share her experience as first-year small business owner. Here’s three main questions I got an opinion on:

What marketing communication channels have you been using so far?

Well, I mostly use social media and personal communication channels. Word-of-mouth really is a powerful tool in my type of business. For the first few months of opening my clientele consisted 70% from my friends and friends of my business partner, sometimes it takes time for information to travel; so make sure you put out the word into the public about the opening of your business so as many people are aware about it. We also invest in Instagram context ads from time to time but hope to do it regularly once we start making profit.

Do you find social media to be an effective marketing tool for your business?

Yes, I feel like nowadays everyone is on social media posting, communicating and sharing opinions. So this is really the best platform to spread a word about my business and build brand awareness. 

In fact, when it comes to online marketing I rely solely on social media, Instagram in particular. I started with regularly promoting the lounge opening via my personal Instagram account, as I already had a solid following. I used stories as the GIF’s option in these seemed to really appeal to people, I would constantly get replies about the bookings, location etc.  

So once the buzz was built my partner and I created an Instagram business account for more legitimacy; also, it is very convenient in terms of managing bookings and other user’s inquiries. Within a couple of months the lounge’s business account has gained a solid three digit following, we make sure to consistently make publications and upload stories with promotions and updates about the lounge to keep the followers interested. I really enjoy this way of promoting my business, it requires minimum investment and planning which is what any newly-made entrepreneur should be looking for. 

Do you think it’s necessary for a business to have a website? I feel like for me and to other local small business owners it wouldn’t make much sense to manage a whole website dedicated to the business. 

For instance my business deals with all the bookings and other inquiries through our Instagram page and mobile; and experienced no trouble so far. Though, if things keep going well and the question of expansion will be on the table, website will seem like a more sensible step to take. 

To come back to the question of small businesses, I would say it all depends on their target audience and what they’re selling; if the business is specialised in providing online services or its a retailer that also offers shipping it would most definitely need a website as these businesses must build a foundation of trust with their customer and it’s not a way to do it on Instagram.

As a small business owner, what were the challenges that you had to face during your first year of operation?

Aside from finance related challenges, I also had to focus on establishing communication with our customers. As I mentioned before, building a foundation of trust is important for any brand and in bar/lounge industry this is achieved through quality services. 

Getting people to come visit is half the work, now, the everyday challenge is getting them to want to come back each time

And Finally…

Set realistic, measurable goals for your strategy and if your marketing doesn’t get your business where you want it to be – analyze. For local small businesses it’s all about location, USP (unique selling point) and target audience; in this case your marketing acts as a magnifying glass on your strengths as well as your weaknesses; keep that in mind.

And lastly, make sure you register your business with Google and add it to the maps this is great for attracting roamers and passersby.

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One thought on “Interview with an Entrepreneur: Do Small Businesses Need Social Media?”

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