Pentagon's Paul Edwards, left, with Theo Paphitis and Gabby Day.
Social media is becoming increasingly more influential, whether in daily, personal life or for companies and businesses. Globally, Twitter, the social network famous for short, 140-character ‘tweets’ boasts 200 million accounts. Of these, 34 million (17 percent) are based in the UK. Networking site, LinkedIn, as well as the universally successful Facebook, all have an incredibly large amount of users. But can these sites truly benefit business? BP&R caught up with Horsham-based injection moulder, Pentagon Plastics, to find out more about why it believes the adoption of social media has revolutionised the way it works.
Twelve months ago, Pentagon Plastics embarked on a social media campaign incorporating Twitter along with Facebook, Blogs and LinkedIn, to develop the business and exploit new ways of raising awareness, networking and selling products or services.
"I took over from my father as Managing Director a little over a year ago and felt it was important we developed the business to prepare us for the next 40 years,” Pentagon Plastics’ Paul Edwards explained.
“We identified many areas within the organisation that we could improve and develop to boost team morale and raise awareness of our services amongst the business community. One of these drives was to run a Twitter business account. This initiative is effectively a free way to communicate with an endless number of like-minded businesses across many industry sectors and has returned huge benefits.”
Fast forward to December 2013 and thanks to participation in a Twitter-based competition, the company has just returned from an event where it collected a ‘Small Business Sunday’ award from ex-Dragons’ Den star, Theo Paphitis, something which serves as recognition that its efforts to embrace social media have paid off.
The award, which is all communicated through Twitter, sees Paphitis acknowledge six small businesses each Sunday, giving the companies exposure to thousands of Twitters users as well as the opportunity to join a fast growing community of the businesses that have won so far.
Speaking about winning the award, Gabby Day, Pentagon Plastics’ Business Development Co-ordinator, said the acknowledgement had gone a long way in convincing both colleagues and industry that social media can be a valuable tool.
“Winning Small Business Sunday was lovely, mostly for the industry, which is perceived as an ageing industry. It was great for us to show that perception is probably wrong.”
Pentagon says the initiatives it is implementing are seen on a daily basis in the workplace, but have also garnered attention from a much wider audience, which it says has had a massive impact on raising awareness of the business both locally and throughout the UK.
According to Day, one of the most beneficial aspects of using social media is the ability to network, explaining that she sees a lot of business-to-business networking going on online, with new contacts being regularly made. “The more you shout about what you do, the more doors you can open up. We’ve made invaluable contacts from social media that we might have missed out on had we not used it,” she explained.
Moving forward, Pentagon Plastics says it will be working closely with local universities to assist the development of engineering and product design courses and identify career opportunities within manufacturing and small businesses, something it believes social media can help with.
"It is without doubt that there is a real and current skill shortage in certain industry areas, which is why we believe it’s vital to do what we can to raise awareness and interest in our industry to ensure these gaps are bridged and secure further business growth,” commented Day. “By using more modern platforms, such as social media, we are able to engage with the potential engineers of the future in a manner that is relevant to them."
When asked for advice for manufacturers or companies that may need to embrace new technology and digital marketing, Day said: “Give it a go, there’s nothing to lose. There’s literally nothing to lose.”