The visibility, transparency and sharing offered by Social Networks will be a critical factor in the survival of small businesses during the recession, according to global business social network Ecademy. After reporting a 100% increase in membership during the past year, Ecademy founder Penny Power claims that members of social business networks are reaping the benefits from opportunities provided through their networks and as a result are increasing their sales despite an economic downturn and are becoming ‘recession proof’.
Power advised small businesses in a recent interview that maintaining a low cost base that is entirely customer focused is the only way to survive the forthcoming recession and that the use of Collaborative Virtual Teams will enable businesses to continue to grow despite reports of a slowing economy.
“Members of social business networks are realising that once you have a great client, you need to nurture and expand that client by providing additional services and consulting through the Collaborative Teams in your network. In the current economic climate it is far easier to do that than try to find new clients”, explains Power, who built the UK’s first business social network Ecademy into a Virtual Business with a global reach into over 220 countries and successfully guided the company through the Dot Com crash eight years ago.
According to Power, 86% of new members are invited into the Ecademy network by its existing members and she believes that this is testament to the power of referral marketing and highlights the need for businesses to achieve this kind of advocacy for their business.
“Businesses must ensure that they are communicating their expertise in as focused a way as possible. Niche will win and the more niche a business skill is, the more identifiable and attractive it is. Everyone now is found through Google and business people must manage their brand on Google and ensure they are optimised. A good Business Social Network that is ‘open’ to Google will achieve this for them immediately and cost effectively.”
“I can’t afford to contact estate agencies all over the UK, but I can use it to get the message out” explains commercial property photographer Keith Cooper, who has been a member of Ecademy for eight years. “I’ve had enquiries from people that came indirectly from Ecademy contacts. The important bit is that they were indirect, which means people have (from my profile and chatting with me) decided that they are happy to refer me”.
“Ultimately, to survive the recession, businesses need to be able to put their head on their pillow at night as say to themselves, ‘am I more visible tonight than I was this morning’, and “have I gained an advocate today that can refer business to me and I, in turn, can help them”, adds Power.