How to thrive as a small businesses in a connected world

Everyday millions of people use Facebook to connect with the people and things they care about. More than just a place for sharing pictures or keeping up with friends, Facebook is also where businesses connect with customers to start and join essential conversations. This, in turn, allows businesses to build their brand and reach new audiences.

We know that businesses across Europe are already using Facebook to reach new customers and actively drive growth. A recent study by Deloitte showed that Facebook is already helping to contribute £2.2 billion to the UK’s economy, as small businesses use the platform to promote their brand, raise awareness, advertise and generate new business.

Over 35,000 jobs around the country are even supported thanks to small businesses using Facebook in this way – whether it’s a start-up employing a social media manager to look after its Facebook activity, or a family business taking on more staff thanks to increased sales generated through the platform.

Facebook is changing marketing by building technology that is bringing us closer together and it’s clear that small businesses in particular can thrive in this connected world. We want more businesses to grow in this way, which is why we’re excited to have launched a series of initiatives to support SMEs. To get you started, here are some quick tips:

Create Conversation

You want your fans to talk about your business with their friends, so first you need to understand what they care about. Use Page Insights to track which posts spark conversations and sharing, then try to keep posting this kind of content.

Be an Attention Seeker

Your fans’ News Feeds contain information about all their friends and other businesses they like, so they don’t have time to read everything. To grab people’s attention, keep your posts short and snappy and use pictures. You can also reward fans with competitions and special offers, or even by announcing exclusive news or product launches first on Facebook.

Keep Up the Conversation

Your Page is a place for conversations between you and your fans and it’s important you keep this up to build a real relationship. Think of it as an online community and keep your fans involved, for example by using Facebook’s Questions feature to gather feedback about your business. With just one click, fans can agree with an existing answer or add a different response – ultimate engagement, minimal effort.

Reward your community

There are thousands of businesses on Facebook so you need to stand out from the crowd, you could reward your fans for liking your page by offering competitions and special offers. Think about announcing new products to fans on Facebook before anywhere else, giving fans early access to sales, or posting exclusive photos from events on your Page.

Be relevant

Your fans will be more likely to notice your business’s Page if you post about relevant issues, post about special offers and mention the issue of the day – whether that’s the FA Cup Final or the Diamond Jubilee.

Visit www.facebook.com/FacebookMarketingUK to keep up with how you can use Facebook to market your business.

Kirby Koo, SMB Growth Team, Facebook

Mobile compromise: science fiction or reality?

Trend Micro, the global cloud security leader, last week released a short film to raise awareness about the risks associated with our increasing use of smartphones.

Smartphones are now outselling PCs, with 850,000 Android devices activated every day, 70m iOS devices sold in the first three months of 2012, and over 35 billion apps downloaded by the end of 2011. Cyber criminals are increasingly focusing their attention on these devices for financial gain, through targeted, persistent attacks and by hiding malware in legitimate looking mobile apps.

The video (below) features Rik Ferguson, Director of Security, Research and Communication, presenting a real-time hacking scenario which takes us behind the scenes as a cyber criminal looks to exploit his victims. The video shows how a simple app can transform a smartphone into an espionage tool in the hands of criminals – recording conversations, stealing text messages and spying on private meetings. It also details the dangers of downloading un-vetted applications from third party app stores. Unfortunately, users often leave their smartphones unprotected in the belief that they cannot fall victims to crime, making the hacker’s job even easier.

“Cyber criminals are looking for an easy way to make money and are targeting smartphones through the use of social engineering techniques in order to capture both personal and company confidential information”, said Ferguson.

As with most cybercrime today, smartphones infected with malware will not typically show signs of unusual activity. Here are some simple measures you should take in order to protect your smartphone:

  • Always lock your device with a password
  • Stick to the official app distribution channels, however tempting other offers may sound
  • Check the publisher’s reputation and the permissions
  • Invest in effective mobile security and management software

Privacy and security concerns slowing down the adoption of cloud computing

A research study commissioned by Dell and Intel indicates small businesses with 100 or fewer employees are heavily dependent on IT but their lack of awareness of the benefits of cloud computing are hindering adoption of the much hyped technology.

According to the study on the server and storage needs of European companies, more than a third (35%) of small businesses said they had little or no knowledge of how a cloud-based infrastructure would benefit their company and 28% said they had no intention of moving their infrastructure to the cloud for the foreseeable future.

The findings showed more than nine out of ten (93%) small businesses have experienced an outage which affected their ability to do business and around one in six (17%) say this happens at least once a week. Though small businesses are experiencing surprisingly frequent IT outages, knowledge of cloud computing’s ability to ensure business continuity and fewer disruptions is low amongst those surveyed.

Among European small businesses only 2% of companies have moved all of their applications to a cloud-based infrastructure while 85% have concerns about doing so. Security (28%) and privacy (20%) were the most commonly reported primary concerns although performance (14%) and availability (12%) were also frequently cited.

Cloud computing is seen by many influencers and experts in the IT industry as a very relevant and attractive option for small businesses because it allows them to move to a pay as you go model and eradicates some of the upfront capital expenditure or business risk inherent in a traditional IT infrastructure. However, more than a third of companies (35%) said they had little or no knowledge of cloud computing and there is a clear correlation between lack of knowledge and low adoption rates. The UK is the most progressive European country when it comes to this technology with 25% of small businesses adopting this relatively new technology compared to only 2% in Switzerland and 12% in France.

WiFi now live at first Tube stations

London Tube journeys have taken a gigantic leap into the 21st century with the launch of Virgin Media’s next generation WiFi service on London Underground.

Passengers can now get online and stay in touch with the world above at King’s Cross, Warren Street Tube, Oxford Circus, Green Park, Victoria and Euston tube stations.

Up to 80 Tube stations across the capital will be connected by the end of July and 120 stations are expected to be live by the end of 2012.

The capital is already home to more software and IT companies than any other European City; and the digital and hi-tech sector is expected to account for a third of the capital’s growth over the next two decades. Ensuring London’s digital connectivity is world class will be key to furthering this growth – helping existing tech start-ups to grow and attracting high tech global investment.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “We need to ensure London is able to cement its position as Europe’s leading digital city. Our partnership with Virgin Media to make WiFi available on Tube platforms will be of tremendous benefit as building world class connectivity is critical to supporting new businesses and the jobs they create, especially in the high-tech and creative sectors.”
A comprehensive, free WiFi portal will allow millions of commuters and visitors to get online and find their way around London with up-to-the-minute TfL travel information, as well as discover great things to do in the capital with daily recommendations from Time Out, exclusive playlists from Spotify and the latest trailers and red carpet gossip from MyMovies.Net.

Working in close partnership with Transport for London, Virgin Media is also offering free, full internet access to every online destination throughout the summer, so all Tube passengers will be able to share one of the most amazing summers London has ever seen.

Gareth Powell, London Underground’s Director of Strategy and Service Development, said: “Our new WiFi service is a fantastic deal for Londoners, with live travel updates, entertainment and news freely available to everyone while they are on the move across the capital.

“WiFi at Tube stations will help us improve the journeys of the millions of people that use the Underground everyday at no cost to fare or tax payers.”

Neil Berkett, CEO, Virgin Media, said: “This is a truly historic moment as we connect millions of Tube passengers to the wonderful world of the internet for the first time ever. Our plans for getting London Underground online were very ambitious from the start and, in less than just three months, we’ve launched a major new service, making London one of the world’s leading connected cities. By putting the power of Virgin Media’s next generation fibre optic network in the hands of Londoners and visitors, we’re able to showcase our great capital and celebrate a momentous summer.”

To use the new free WiFi service, London Underground passengers just need to connect to the service and register their email address.

All Tube passengers will have permanent, free access to the new Virgin Media WiFi portal, with up-to-the-minute TfL travel news and great content from Virgin Media’s WiFi partners Time Out, Spotify and MyMovies.net.

After the summer, passengers wanting to hop onto the rest of the internet will be able to make the most of a range of options including full internet access for customers of Virgin Media and selected networks, as well as a Pay As You Go service perfect for visitors and regular London commuters.