SMALL businesses across the North East need to switch on more to the social media world and the opportunities waiting for them.

That was the message from social media guru David Taylor on a visit to the region aimed at helping small and medium-sized companies understand the “new reality” of a world where business is increasingly conducted across the internet.

The Kent-based social media consultant, author of several books on the subject, was speaking to an invited audience of Tyne and Wear businesses at the Northern Design Centre in Gateshead at a masterclass organised by Lorraine Ellison, MD of Houghton-based accountants Simply Additions.

Lorraine said: “We were a group of small businesses looking to learn a bit more about how we could make the most of being online and it was great to tap into David’s expertise.

“We learned a lot more about how different age groups use the internet, about how to increase profits, reach new audiences and build our brands.”

Mr Taylor said: “I enjoyed my visit to the North East – I think Tyneside and Wearside are no different to many other areas across the country, in that small businesses are starting to realise that the internet can hugely benefit their companies.

“Of course, thousands of businesses are already tapping into it successfully but it’s open to all businesses to take advantage of.

“It is vital companies large and small adapt to today’s increasingly digital age, and to the modern tech-savvy customer.

“The Government itself estimates in 20 years time, 90% of all jobs will require digital skills of some form.

“While this involves embracing social media and mobile technology, in many ways it is also about doing the traditional basics of business right – developing a strategy that suits your business, educating yourself about the market you are in and relating to your customers are all key.”