There are very few ways a retailer can turn £10 into £750, but that’s exactly what we did using social media when Highland Games events took place near one of our store at the beginning of June. It wasn’t down to our ability to hurl logs or look dashing in tartan, but our ability to use Facebook to promote our store.

After some trial and error we’re regularly reaching over 15,000 local people per post. We initially tried just posting pictures of our offers but then we realised we had to give people a reason to interact with each post. So instead of posting a BOGOF deal on Coca Cola, you take a picture of a stack of Coca Cola bottles and reward the first person to guess the number with a free bottle. Add a £10 advertising boost on the post and you’ll have your community’s attention.

So how did we turn £10 into £750? We announced that we’d be at the event giving one person in every group a hand stamp worth a free ice cream. When they came in store, their friends would inevitably buy an ice-cream too. We then uploaded pictures of those stamped in store which were widely shared on Facebook, leading even more people to come and visit. In a week with similar weather, we normally make £30 on ice cream, but this week we made £780.

Here’s my top tips for getting started with social media:

1. Get the mediums right

We played around with using Facebook and Twitter. We found out that there aren’t enough local people active on Twitter to draw in customers, but it is great for strengthening relationships with your suppliers and nearby businesses.

Facebook on the other hand has an incredible local following, we originally had one Facebook page under the business name but we later found that you need one Facebook page per shop, each one with the same name as the shop so it’s easy to find.

2. Ask for help

“My main piece of advice would be just to get stuck in and have a go, but I understand a lot of retailers will be starting without hardly any experience online or with social media.  My advice for them would be to ask a tech savvy staff or family member to help out by setting up a shop page and scheduling some posts.”

3. Use competitions

By using competitions we’re giving our audience a reason to interact with us. This can be anything from guess the number of beans in a tin, to announcing a prize draw for anybody who buys a certain product in store, a charity raffle and “like and share” competitions where people enter merely by liking the page and sharing the post. We find tech prizes such as kitchen gadgets or event tickets such as theme park tickets work very well as prizes. Make sure to make the most of the publicity by doing at least three posts: one announcing the competition, one announcing the winner and one with a picture of the winner picking up the prize in store.

The advantage of competitions is that it boosts overall awareness of your store, and the number of people wo will see all the less interesting posts such as your deals and new stock arrivals.

4. Invest a little

We spend money to ensure we have a good prize and we spend money advertising the post to make sure as many people see it as possible. It’s money well spent – compare it to a leaflet campaign where you would spend £100 to reach 1,000 people. If a £10 online advertising spend can reach 15,000 people that makes it 150 times more value for money.

5. Use images

More people will see your posts if you make sure you add an image to it, and more of the people who do see it will pay attention.

6. Don’t be afraid of criticism

Any business that has an online presence will get complaints, but it’s not something to be afraid of. The key thing is to respond quickly, openly, in a kind manner and taking on board what they’ve said.

Do it: Read how these other retailers use social media to boost their businesses