Small businesses fail to utilise social media when pursuing overseas sales

Just a little over a third of start-ups actively use Facebook to connect with the international market, a new report claims

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UK start-ups are potentially missing out on the international market by failing to utilise their social media channels, according to a new report by Barclays.

The survey of 500 small businesses revealed that while respondents are using sites such as Facebook and Instagram to market themselves to domestic consumers, they are not catering to the international audience in the same way.

While 66% of those surveyed used Facebook to attract home customers, this figure more than halves (31%) when referring to global consumers.

This trend continued throughout all other social media channels such as a company’s website (43% and 28%) Twitter (36% and 17%) LinkedIn (21% and 12%) and Instagram (16% and 10%).

When quizzed about their reasoning for such a strategy, business owners responded that:

  • The UK is their biggest market
  • What works in the UK will work just as well overseas
  • They have no interest in exporting abroad
  • There is no need to as English is an international language
  • They had never thought about exporting abroad

Steve Childs, head of international at Barclays Business, said:

“A website or Instagram page can be your shop window to the world, delivering growth and bigger market share with minimal costs. With more consumers shopping online, business owners are missing out on sales if they aren’t using or tailoring their digital platforms and targeting international e-marketplaces to attract customers abroad.

“Worse still, by not understanding your target market you could even be putting off customers through unintended translation or currency errors.”

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