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Herefordshire businesses see footfall benefit from UKCRF social media training pilot

16 March 2023
The Business Magazine article image for: Herefordshire businesses see footfall benefit from UKCRF social media training pilot

A social media training pilot from the UK Community Renewal Fund (UKCRF) saw businesses in Hereford benefit from a 15 per cent increase in footfall.

The data has been released by social media specialists Maybe*, which has been delivering the training in the county by providing training and tools to help the businesses leverage social media for sustainable growth.

Maybe* tracked weekly street-level visits for both participating and non-participating businesses, comparing it with town centre trends across the six-month period of the scheme. On average, 66 per cent of businesses participating in the scheme had a street level visit count which remained above the town centre trend, and 62 per cent had a street level visit count higher than non-participating businesses.

In total, 1,757 Herefordshire businesses participated in the pilot compared to just over 5,600 non-participating businesses. Across the test period, data shows that participating businesses experienced a 15.0% increase in physical engagement compared with town trends across the county and 7.4% up on their non-participating counterparts.

One of these was Ledbury-based licensed café bar The Ledberry, which has a multi-brand clothing boutique upstairs called Upstairs at The Ledberry. Owner Jessica Newman has been running separate social media channels for each business since launching in 2021.

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She said: “For us, Instagram reaches a younger demographic. We have a much higher proportion of 40s and under who follow us on Instagram, and we find the opposite on Facebook. So, we find that spreading ourselves across both channels, even if the content is sometimes the same, is giving us a much wider reach.

"For The Ledberry, particularly, we get lots of interaction and bookings via Instagram and it’s definitely helping us reach new customers. When people visit, we like to ask them whether they’ve visited before and nine times out of ten, they’ve come because they’ve seen us on Instagram, or they looked up Ledberry as a hashtag and came across our posts. And, when we boost posts, particularly as we can target certain geographic locations, we can see that our activity is clearly translating into visits and into sales.”

Polly Barnfield OBE, CEO of Maybe*, comments: “Our data shows that only 31 per cent of UK businesses have social media accounts, and only 19 per cent are active on social media. Of businesses with active social media accounts, over 90 per cent do not post to social media at weekends, despite this being the time when most consumers are likely to be on social media and making purchases.

“This is both a significant opportunity and a major risk for businesses and local economies. This pilot programme in Herefordshire has shown what can be achieved, and the impact it has on footfall,  when local businesses are shown how to use social media to connect with customers, drive footfall from online into physical stores and improve their ability to reach new markets.”

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Sam is the Regional Editor of Biz News. Currently responsible for Hampshire, he will soon take over Dorset.

A new recruit to journalism, Sam started writing for the Business Magazine as a freelancer in May of 2022 after completing his degree in English at University College London. His passion for local businesses and ability to tell a story soon caught the attention of the publication’s management team and have led to his meteoric rise.

Sam, who lives in central Reading, takes a particular interest in technology, gaming and food and drink, having been a chef before starting his degree.

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