Insurance · 16 August 2016

Export opportunities missed as brands fail to use social media to target overseas customers

There are a dizzying number of options available when it comes to social media marketing
A majority of small businesses fail to “internationalise” social media channels, missing opportunities to export

The majority of small business owners are failing to make the most of export opportunities due to lack of social media use, new research from Barclays has shown.

By not fully “internationalising” digital channels, as many as 72 per cent of small firms miss out on sales opportunities in overseas markets.

The results of a Barclays survey found that small business owners ignore the potential to sell internationally via social media for a number of reasons – the biggest being that most smaller ventures focus entirely on UK sales.

Polling the views of 500 small business owners online, the survey revealed a commonly-held reason among small business owners when it came to their social media strategy was “what works in the UK will work just as well overseas”, while many reported little or no interest in exporting.

English being an internationally recognised language was also considered a key reason why small business owners didn’t need not to focus on targeting overseas customers.

Commenting on the results, international head at Barclays Business Steve Childs said: “With more consumers shopping online, business owners are missing out on sales if they aren’t using or tailoring digital platforms and targeting online marketplaces to attract foreign customers”.

Among the social media channels small business owners were found to be using to reach international customers, Facebook came top, with 31 per cent of owners using the network to advertise their brand outside the UK.

Also popular were Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, with 17 per cent, 12 per cent and 10 per cent of small business owners respectively using these channels to boost international sales. The survey found just 28 per cent of owners attempted to direct foreign customers towards their own company’s website.

“A website or Instagram page can be your shop window to the world, delivering growth and bigger market share with minimal costs,” Childs went on to say.

Social media companies continue to target small business owners with tools making it easier for them to grow their brand and market their product, both domestically and abroad.

Instagram was the latest platform to target small business owners. In June this year, the photo-sharing app created an in-built function to enable users to create business profiles, interpret users’ buying behaviour and market products.

Picking your poison: Which social media channel works best for your business?

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.


 
TAGS:

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

From the top