Social media: the great leveler

How digital marketing, engagement give small businesses a boost

Berniece Van Der Berg

The single greatest challenge as a small business owner is keeping up. Keeping up with orders and fulfillment, keeping up with accounting, keeping up with customers. Each day I come to work at Moonlight Meadery in Londonderry and tackle yesterday’s to-do list while also trying to keep up with the growing competition and an ever changing economic environment. Simply keeping the trains running is not enough; as a business owner it is also imperative that you proactively anticipate the changes occurring around you and have both the awareness and humility to adapt.

Moonlight Meadery has evolved and adapted over our 9½ years that we have been in business as the largest production and only certified organic New Hampshire winery. Without question, the area in which we have needed to be the most nimble in has been the digital space.

The internet has had a profound impact on businesses because it has changed the way that most people shop. I live in an apartment building and every morning when I go to the gym or get my mail, the lobby is stacked with packages. People buy everything online – from clothing to pet supplies to furniture and even perishable goods like food.

So many of our consumers will never step foot into our space here in Londonderry because they don’t need to. One of the wonderful benefits of the digital age is that you don’t need a fancy brick-and-mortar storefront anymore to attract customers. What you do need, however, is an effective marketing strategy that will bring people to your website to then buy your product.

The brick-and-mortar component will always be a part of Moonlight Meadery for the experience that our tastings offer, but the internet has given us the opportunity to do so much more by providing a platform to sell our meads and wines internationally. For small businesses today, the opportunities for growth and success are literally at your fingertips.

Earlier this month, Facebook hosted an event with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce to train business owners on the various marketing tools that social media has to offer and equip local businesses with new skills as they head into the busy holiday season.

The Boost with Facebook Holiday Bootcamp was an extremely valuable opportunity for me to share some of my own experiences using social media to drive and grow my business. It has prompted reflection from me on how the digital world, and social media in particular, has played such an integral part in Moonlight Meadery’s story and success.

As a small business owner, everything I do has to have a return on my investment that is directly tied to sales. I always laugh when I get marketing and advertising sales calls from people asking me about what my marketing budget is. I had to learn guerilla marketing tactics from day one, because I could not afford to waste resources on marketing campaigns with no correlated returns.

Early on, I recognized that advertising on Facebook and Instagram helped to level the playing field with my deep-pocketed competitors by providing my business with affordable advertising options that provide significant reach and targeting capabilities. Today, social media is the only place where we advertise our products, because it’s the only place where we are seeing measurable returns.

Beyond the marketing capabilities that social media offers businesses, there are many other tools that businesses can utilize. My biggest takeaway from the Boost with Facebook event was that I need to be taking even greater advantage of these capabilities.

Social media offers endless opportunities for engagement and interaction, and as a small business owner it is so important to keep up with the evolving tastes and preferences of my consumers. Instagram is an especially useful platform to interact with customers; the poll feature and question feature are two excellent tools to prompt engagement from customers. While our Instagram following is growing, our Facebook audience is much larger so I plan to start utilizing Facebook user polls as well to get a higher volume of feedback.

The Boost with Facebook event was both informative and inspiring. I had several takeaways and I look forward to applying this training to my business strategy as we head into the holiday season.

Berniece Van Der Berg is co-founder and vice president of marketing for Moonlight Meadery, Londonderry.

Categories: Tech Advice, Technology

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