Cyber and Tech
This woman could hold the key to survival and even growth for your business
As we made our way through the lockdown imposed to fight the pandemic one of the overriding fears gripping businesses has been ‘will my customers come back?’.
We are creatures of habit and habits change - a statement which probably does not help the situation - but which possibly explains why social media channels have become flooded with content gasping for the oxygen of publicity.
With swaths of us going digital it was the obvious tool to reach for to keep companies in the mind’s eye of customers.
From playing a supporting role, social media management suddenly became the new front line. But wielding that tool effectively and understanding its power, is another thing.
“Social media is, and was before the pandemic, the first shop window for businesses many potential customers visit,” said Karina Methven, who runs Magic Bean Media and has seen demand for her own services rise.
She too went online - to let the many she saw scrabbling around on the various popular platforms know there was help - getting in front of business owners on Zoom and other video conferencing platforms.
To the cynical social media experts are like snakeoil salesmen. But Ms Methven, who spent time working in the high-net-worth, brand-heavy, glamorous world of the super yacht market, has a way of wafting away the smoke and removing the mirrors to reveal the tools and how they can be used.
Her approach is the antithesis of the world she left behind when she relocated to her native Gloucestershire from following the superyacht circus, where she - as a small business owner herself - is as possinate about a short half an hour session with a client because it is al they can afford to strategising with a client with corporate aspirationsMany businesses, as she points out, simply hit he panic button and began shovelling content onto platforms with perhaps not quite the focus they might have to deliver the best engagement.
“For some, they only need an hour or a day of my time. But I have gone as far as creating a strategy for one business which included something to focus on every day of the year to help them deliver, but stay focused on their core business,” explained the mother-of-two, whose personable, gentle charm clashes beautifully with her currently striking ‘on brand’ pink hair do.
“I have been a guest speaker at quite a few marketing groups now," she said, laughing at what her younger self would have made of the woman pitching in front of scores of faces on lap-top screens, but it is easy to see why more and more businesses are engaging with Magic Bean Mean.
"I aim to help people focus on what they should be saying and who they should be saying it to.
“It is about talking to your customers and staying in their minds eye - especially at the moment, so people remember who has been with them, talking to them through the last crazy three months."
She added: “A lot of the time it is down to confidence. It is about knowing what you should be saying in in some cases not understanding that they need the internet as well and what it can do for them.
“And then there are a lot of people who think if they throw a lot at social media it will pay, but they do not get to know their audience.
“What is helpful to understand is that if you are a service-based business especially, this is where you build relationships and building a fan club and then turn those fans into customers.
“Your social media is now often the first impression people get of your business. You should really consider how your business is presented online and what sort of personality it might be projecting.
“Some companies have really grasped it and really grown through the lockdown by shifting online. Others have just kept a really high profile and conversation going with their customers, drawing in more people and raising their profile even more.”
In an article in Vogue this month discussing the same topic Linz Shelton, a global social media director, called social media “the new shopping mall”.
One business that does have real ambitions to harness the power of the online platforms is her own.
Through helping one or two small business initially she discovered two things – a passion for doing just that, not least because she could see how she could make a difference - but also an emerging market in which the kind of services she could provide were in rising demand. Growth came through word of mouth and kept coming.
Lockdown has only accelerated that.
In anticipation of the future she has been quietly training up one or two other to work part time under the Magic Bean Media banner, and can see a future where there is a team serving small and medium-sized business and helping the county become even stronger and even more prosperous.