Social media for small businesses can be difficult and confusing, but some companies just seem to know exactly which buttons to push in order to create buzz, build loyalty and become globally relevant.

We took the opportunity to ask Lauren at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium about their social media strategies. Today they have 50k fans on Facebook, 10k on Instagram and 19k followers on Twitter – quite a lot for a cat café in Shoreditch. And the fans are active as well.

What is, in your opinion, the secret to social media success?

− We try to be mindful and cater our information to the medium we are using. On Facebook, we share news feed space with parents and friends, so we don’t tend to do much in the way of hard-selling. On Twitter, we need to cut through a lot of noise, as most people follow thousands of brands and people online.

Tell us a bit how you started: Did you begin on one platform or did you start everything at once?

− We started all at once, but Facebook and Pinterest emerged as the natural places to tell our story, so they were stronger platforms during the pre-opening and startup phase. After we opened, Twitter was a great mechanism to share quick updates and notes about seat availability. Each social media stream has served us differently at different times.

You have many followers from all over the world. How do you convert them into paying customers?

− We’re very engaged with our followers, so we take our lead from them on what products to stock. People aren’t shy of expressing their desires and views online, so all we need to do is listen and make it easy to get what they are after.

People aren’t shy of expressing their desires and views online, so all we need to do is listen and make it easy to get what they are after.

Do you spend money on social media, or is it mainly your time?

− Mainly time.

Have you tried using social media for special perks, competitions and such, or is it still mainly a channel for conversation?

− We have, but conversation is more powerful for us.

What do you see as the main pitfalls or mistakes when small business owners start using social media as a marketing tool?

− ​Putting up content for content’s sake. ​Your business must have its own voice, not just a smattering of random images and videos.