24 May, 2012
James Caan’s views on using social media to grow your business
Social media is probably the biggest revolution in business right now. Just look at the impact of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more recently Google+. Barack Obama was elected largely through the power of the Internet and social media campaigns.
Bearing in mind that these channels are free, you should really become an expert, because marketing costs are one of the biggest challenges for any new business. If you have an opportunity where you can access millions and millions of customers free of charge, then you should make it your job to be an expert on that subject.
I recently had a meeting with one of my businesses. My senior management team were looking for ways to grow the business ; we weren’t attracting any new customers. There wasn’t the cash to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on marketing.
So we considered the potential impact of social media and said, “Do we really understand it?” and the answer was “No.” “Are we using it in our business?” Again, “No.”
We weren’t doing it because we were ignorant in this area and we didn’t know how to do it. That’s not acceptable in business. So I said to my Chief Executive, a chap called Phillip, “Phillip you should make it your job to be an expert.”
Over the last 6 months, Phillip has spent every weekend understanding Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. He came up with an idea where he decided that he would create a forum on LinkedIn, where his business would sponsor forum discussions on the topic that his business specialises in.
The forum groups have taken off so well that today, there are over 1 million groups on LinkedIn and he’s in the top 80 in the world, and the 9th largest group in the UK. He has something like 70,000 people who engage in his discussions every week. He can stimulate the debate around the service that he provides.
Interestingly enough, his business has grown over 80% in the last 12 months, not coincidently because he is now attracting new customers at no cost.
So I think the concept of social media is not a ‘nice to have’ or something that’s there in the background, it should be a critical part of your strategy.