At today’s BCC International Trade Summit Olivia Leonard from Facebook shared some interesting figures relating to the global use of the network. The message was that social networks give a company the ability to market products and services across borders. Traditionally a firm would need to send a representative on a fact-finding mission, probably a second visit to conduct meetings with potential clients, whilst at the same time engaging a law firm and specialists to research the setup process. Traditionally, all of this would happen pre-marketing. This no longer needs to be the case.
Facebook does indeed offer a company a relatively low route to market in terms of marketing and visibility. A company in the UK could invest a few hundred pounds in targeted ads to an audience in the UAE by way of researching demand for a product. Similarly, for free, a company could connect with people in the UAE to ask how a market performs; this is not Facebook specific but is one of social media’s USP’s.
Today, from the UAE, we were able to interact with firms using the #BCCExport hashtag. Whilst there was no flood of tweets (presumably because the speakers at the event were so engaging), we did manage to find a number of companies using the hashtag that could potentially expand or export to the UAE. In the weeks to come we’ll talk to these companies to find out if we can help them. Thanks to the use of a Twitter hashtag we have been able to identify potential clients from approximately 3000 miles away.
The fact that a social network has been invited to speak at a leading export event is recognition of the tools companies now have when it comes to marketing and visibility. At the BCB we’ve been using social networks since our inception, and we encourage UK firms looking at an export market to do the same.