On Friday afternoon, I took time away from business-to-business PR and marketing, volunteering to do some one-to-one advice sessions at a “Mumtrepreneurs” coffee afternoon at a primary school in nearby Welling. Around a dozen businesses took part, getting an overview of marketing from University of Greenwich lecturer Charles Oham before selling some products or services, networking and learning about each others’ businesses.
In the late 1990s, I did some small business consultancy work in SE London for Greenwich Enterprise Board, helping people integrate websites into their marketing. Over a decade later, a new generation of small part-time home businesses are a bit more web-savvy, and also alert to the power of social media – and Facebook in particular. Whether selling cakes, sweets, children’s clothing, party items, kitchen utensils or photography services, almost every ‘mumtrepreneur’ told me she found customers through Facebook (perhaps the most successful route after word-of-mouth). Localised discussion forum and blogger community sites such as Netmums and Mumsnet were also mentioned.
However, some of their websites were not optimised to help people share content (for example, I saw two websites which used Flash to display images – not great for enabling people to cut and paste photos into, say, Facebook), or to help people find and recommend products or services local to their area by ‘word-of-mouse’. My “social media surgery” sessions turned into demonstrations of how content could be created once and then quickly shared across multiple platforms – and one small business (keen to expand beyond her local market and win some corporate customers) has already been in touch to follow-up.