SOCIAL MEDIA: The value of joining a ‘community’

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You find TLAs – three-letter acronyms or abbreviations – everywhere in life now – countries, companies, science and, of course, social media.

This could be due to the limitations on the number of characters you can use on Twitter or just because they are an easy shorthand. After all, ‘www’ is so much easier to write and say than the ‘world wide web’.

One of the TLAs that has significant influence, both on a local level and nationally, is SBS or #SBS and it has different meanings on Facebook and Twitter. Nationally, it stands for Small Business Sunday on Twitter and the local version is for Suffolk Business Stars on Facebook. Both are communities that can help you grow your business and reputation.

Small Business Sunday

Theo Paphitis, of Dragons’ Den fame, created Small Business Sunday, shortened to the hashtag #SBS, on Twitter in October 2010. Theo is chairman of Ryman Stationery plus Boux Avenue lingerie and Robert Dyas, as well as joint owner of Red Letter Days. He is also a mentor and investor to many other businesses that appeared on the Dragons’ Den.

Each week, Theo encourages small, entrepreneurial business owners to tweet him 
@TheoPaphitis and describe their businesses in one tweet including the hashtag #SBS. Only tweets made in the time slot between 5pm and 7.30pm each Sunday count. On Monday evening, Theo reviews and chooses his favourite lucky six who are then re-tweeted to his nearly half a million followers.

Benefits to the winners include increased website traffic, increased Twitter followers, positive media publicity, their profile on the #SBS website and, for many, increased sales! There are now 13 Suffolk-based #SBS winners and the latest is David Burke of Alpha Executive Cars (see the article here).

This leads me neatly on to the other SBS, which David Burke is also involved in.

Suffolk Business Stars

This SBS is a closed Facebook Group, which means you have to be approved to become a member. It is the brainchild of Gemma Thompson, of Social Media Illumination, who created it as a place on Facebook for Suffolk business people to mix, mingle, post news and ask questions.

Founded by Gemma in November 2010, it now has over 4,200 members and is still growing. It is a supportive, friendly group where people post for advice, help and recommendations. You can post networking events, special offers, or milestones for your business. One of this week’s strange requests was for anyone who can organise pig racing/pig agility, dog and duck displays and ferret racing! Usually they are more likely to be ‘do you know an electrician who can...?’

The group is a great example of the value of reputation as your customers will actively suggest and recommend you if you have provided a good service and helped them.I think it is also a great example of my theory that, as our access to the world and information has increased and we are bombarded with information, many people are now looking for communities. These can be either local or like-minded, those with the same interests or hobbies as you.

Both of these SBS groups effectively use social media to create and foster exactly that feeling of community.

BREAKING NEWS

Facebook

Facebook is updating the way Page likes are counted by removing memorialised and voluntarily deactivated accounts from Pages, like counts. This change ensures that data on Facebook is consistent and up-to-date. You may see a small dip in your number of Page likes as a result but it’s important to remember that these removed likes represent people who were already inactive on Facebook.

It also introduced topic data which shows marketers what audiences are saying on Facebook about events, brands, subjects and activities, all in a way that keeps personal information private. Marketers use the information from topic data to make better decisions about how they market on Facebook and other channels. Working with a company called DataSift this initially is limited to DataSift’s partners in the USA and UK but could be an interesting development to watch.

Twitter

New profiles rolling out on Twitter for Android so it will be now easier to view bios, Tweets and photos.

LinkedIn

Announced its newly revamped Sponsored InMail product as a direct and personalised way for marketers to reach their audience in their LinkedIn. One key change is that Sponsored InMail will now only be sent to members when they’re actively on LinkedIn.

Find Kim Morrison at www.morrisonsocialmedia.co.uk