Small businesses warn they are at risk of being left behind as corporations embrace social media

Corporations are tracking your movements via mobile devices almost before you leave your front door, and while it seems a bit like Big Brother, small businesses are at risk of getting left behind unless they also embrace social media.

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Corporations are tracking your movements via mobile devices almost before you leave your front door, and while it seems a bit like Big Brother, small businesses are at risk of getting left behind unless they also embrace social media.

Perth entrepreneurs Paul Trappitt and Todd Sainsbury decided to develop a social media platform to make it easier for small businesses to engage with social media, after noticing they were lagging behind.

The pair took the leap from setting up businesses with wifi to providing an integrated system that enables customers to log in with social media, which they said would give a better experience for customers and allow business owners to build customer profiles.

"We saw a gap in the market, in the tech knowledge for the business owner, why haven't these business owners of these cafes had good wifi or an online presence? Is it because they don't understand how it works?" Mr Sainsbury asked.

"Small businesses are trying to survive. People don't have the disposable cash they used to, so businesses have to compete more for customers.

"Before, when you went into a cafe and asked for the wifi password, it was slow, it was hard to log in, you were restricted to certain amount of data, and wasn't very secure — you could see everyone else who is logged in.

"So what we are creating is a network where when you walk into the cafe, restaurant, retail space, you can log in using Facebook or with an email address and you can get a tailored experience with that business, write a review."

"And for the business owner, we might pull back information from Urbanspoon if someone has written a review and only given a three star rating, we say to the owner, you guys need to read these reviews and find out what can be improved."

Curtin University's head of internet studies department, Tama Leaver, said small businesses in the service industry in particular needed to embrace social media as the new norm for advertising and engaging with customers.

"Certainly for service industry small bars, cafes, restaurants, it is a really useful thing to do," Dr Leaver said.

"If you were to search for a restaurant online, and find nothing, you would find that quite odd, and suspect that business had closed down or didn't exist.

"Having an online presence doesn't necessarily mean being hugely interactive; you don't have to have a Facebook page, a twitter feed, an Instagram feed and a Pinterest page, it is often about having a targeted use of one or two tools and doing that well.

 

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