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Home Social Media Small Businesses & Social Media – the Benefits and Pitfalls

Small business social media

With 31 million Facebook users and over 10 million Twitter users in the UK, it’s safe to say social networks are well and truly a part of the digital landscape. The spread of social media use has offered great opportunities for large and small businesses as like but it’s not always a marriage made in heaven when the two combine. The Unum Employee Benefits team has conducted a study of social media use in the workplace – find out where you fit into the landscape as well as examples of both the benefits and potential pitfalls that we can all take head of.

Social Done Right

You don’t have to be Kraft with a million-dollar marketing budget to create a really successful social presence. Some of the biggest successes have come from small businesses with a unique and creative approach.

Arena Flowers, the ethical flower merchant, has found success in a competitive landscape by abandoning the traditional Twitter strategies of providing customer service or even being remotely relevant. They’ve created a uniquely random and amusing voice which has allowed them to stand out, collect far more followers than they would otherwise have and promote their brand.

Smaller still, the owner of the Fallowfields Hotel in Oxfordshire created an engaging personality on Twitter with tweets that went beyond mere self-promotion and gave people something they would actually be interested in. Examples include:



Relaxed, interesting and personal. This approach drove over £150,000 in new business over 18 months – proof social media can improve your business without huge budgets.


The Pitfalls of Social

It’s not all tea and crumpets when it comes to businesses and social media though. Big or small, many companies have a legitimate concern that they’re employees will be too distracted by networks like Facebook and Twitter and that their productivity will drop.

With a study showing that 67% of UK businesses block access to Facebook and 62% prevent employees from accessing YouTube it’s clear that social networks are a major concern to employers. While it’s clear that a member of staff spending all day chatting away on Facebook or watching video after video on YouTube, is it necessarily the best decision to completely block access?

A survey by the data analytics firm Evolv suggests that employees who use social networks may not be the unproductive dead weights you might have thought – responses collected from 100,000 call centre workers suggest the ultra-social (those who use over 4 networks) are the most productive and stay in their jobs the longest.

Social media use is obviously a hot topic and needs to be handled delicately but a straight out ban may not be the best option.

The Social Media Disasters

There have, predictably, been some absolutely spectacular social media failures. From questionable judgement to rogue employees; there is a catalogue of errors to choose from.

Like the online clothing store, CelebBoutique, that posted this tweet in the immediate aftermath of the Aurora school shooting:

“#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress 😉 Shop: ”

A social media backlash followed and the company was compelled to offer a swift and embarrassing apology

Even the giants can get it wrong – like McDonalds when they attempted to launch the hashtag ‘#McDStories’. It was hardly unforeseeable that it would be hijacked by Twitter users with tweets like:



So where do you fall into the social media landscape? Does your business have a relaxed approach to social media use or are you on the strict side of things? Take a look at the infographic below to see whether you’re in the majority or minority.
Unum Employee Benefts - Social Media & the Workplace Small Businesses & Social Media - the Benefits and Pitfalls Small Businesses & Social Media - the Benefits and Pitfalls social media workplace
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Shane Atkins
Hello! I want to show you how to get more traffic from blogging, and social media by helping you grow your subscribers and social influence by using a mix of best practices with trail and error. I'm going to be talking about blogging and social media a lot as I love them both 🙂 Want to know more? Check out my about page.
Shane Atkins

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