I thought we would share an experience of ours that we have been passing on in our training sessions, as a good example of what social media actually means for businesses.

The story involves a long journey with a hungry husband and our black lab Murphy who was in need of a run around.

Sometimes, a first glance is all you get

We were travelling home from Scotland and were looking for a pit stop for all parties concerned! We didn’t fancy the usual motorway services, and so we had our eyes peeled for an alternative.

We drove past a sign for a farm shop and cafe but rejected it as the grubby sign wasn’t up to much and didn’t give a great impression.

However, when we drove past the cafe we saw that the car park was busy and there seemed to be a lot going on. We turned around to check it out on the basis of seeing that other people thought it was a good place. We ended up having a great lunch and stocking up on delicious goodies in the farm shop to take home.

Does your business have kerb appeal?

So the moral of this simple tale is that we all make judgements, and these judgements can have a direct monetary value for a business.

A good social media presence is the equivalent of the full car park. Social media sites can be used in a number of ways to show others how busy you are and how liked you are. This is especially effective for newer businesses needing to build trust – for example, to influence someone deciding whether to take their loved one to that new restaurant in town for their birthday, or stick with their old favourite.

The permission marketing that social media is so good at then means that this word can spread to others, and is visible much further afield than in the example above with the drivers passing by.

Social media can enhance your reputation in a much more cost effective way than other exercises, such as website revamps or refurbishing of premises can. If, on the other hand, you have made these investments already, then social media can help maximise these so that you get the most return on your investment.