Social media is now the top sales generator for one in four UK small businesses

In Opinium’s recent study with BT for their social media marketing campaign with Patricia Bright, we took a deep-dive into how social media platforms’ ever-growing e-commerce tools and how they are impacting the small businesses in the UK.

  • Study shows social media is now the top sales channel for a quarter of UK small businesses.
  • 1 in 3 small business owners feel excited about using social, but over half (58%) want help upskilling.
  • 60% of entrepreneurs wish they’d had more digital skills support at school, BT survey finds.
  • BT is working with Patricia Bright, online entrepreneur and influencer, to provide small businesses with top tips for success. 
  • Stacey Kehoe, Founder of Brandlective Communications, shares how digital upskilling helped her bounce back from multiple redundancies.

A quarter (28%) of small businesses in the UK are now generating more sales from social media than from any other channel, including e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar stores, according to research from BT.

Yet, despite the widespread uptake of social media as a sales tool, one in five (21%) entrepreneurs are concerned that they lack the digital skills to help them get the best results for their business out of social platforms.

In a bid to help the UK’s smallest enterprises better leverage the business benefits of social media, BT has teamed up with business influencer and YouTube star, Patricia Bright, to offer expert guidance on how to use digital marketing, and tailor strategies to use social media in an impactful way.

The campaign also comes as BT celebrates supporting more than one million entrepreneurs through its Skills for Tomorrow programme, which provides free digital skills training, courses, resources and mentoring for any small business in the UK.

BT’s study investigated social media strategies used by more than 500 small businesses in the UK and found that Meta-owned platforms are the most important for revenue-hunting entrepreneurs. Almost a third (30%) of those asked said Facebook was the primary social media channel they use for sales generation, followed by Instagram (18%), Twitter (10%) and TikTok (9%). 

Social media is also seeing a growth in popularity compared to other marketing tools used to generate sales, with a quarter (25%) using organic/non-paid social media to increase income, and 22% using paid social media posts. These are both being used more widely than other digital tools like direct email marketing (18%) and SEO (15%), and more traditional tactics like partnerships (11%) and leafletting (11%).

Behind the times

While many entrepreneurs have turned their expertise in social media into a competitive advantage, some admit to feeling overwhelmed by changes to rules, algorithms, and consumer habits. One in five (21%) feel “behind the times”, 16% feel “stressed”, and others feel “anxious” and “confused” when they think about how to best use social for their business.

These feelings often come from the frequent changes to advertising rules, the complexity of paid social performance and making the most of customer data. Facebook Marketplace, TikTok and Instagram shops all help businesses reach new audiences and convert sales within social media sites, yet guidelines and algorithms vary across platforms – which is leaving many business owners feeling left in the dark.

Digital skills plea

More than half (58%) of small business owners say they would benefit from digital skills training, and even more (60%) wish this support had been offered to them while at school.

When discussing which skills they need most help with, almost a quarter (24%) would welcome support in targeting the right audience online, one in five (21%) would like a hand understanding social media and creating a brand online, while a 19% are calling for more advice on wrapping their head around cyber security – something that can have a catastrophic impact if not implemented correctly.

Read the full article here.