Social media marketing is credited with helping a new business turn over $1 million in its first year of trading.
United Sweets of New Zealand has hit nearly 13,700 Facebook likes and is attracting about 1000 new fans each week.
It stocks about 300 confectionery products, many recognised by American movie buffs but not readily available here. Staff post the goods to thousands of customers countrywide and plan to increase the range to 500 products this year.
Directors and siblings Finn and Micah Puklowski said social media had given them the edge over their competition. "There's nothing to stop someone else starting a similar business. Our strength is our loyal fan base and the way we interact with them," Micah Puklowski said.
United Sweets runs regular competitions on Facebook to build its fan base. "We've made full use of social media and online marketing. It's an e-commerce business supplying a product not readily available in NZ. People love it."
Finn Puklowski said the company did little other marketing apart from Facebook.
The business started as a website in December last year. This month, they opened a small shop in Hamilton.
Finn said because he and his sister were social media-savvy and on Facebook a lot anyway, it was easy for them to communicate with customers. "We build everything around Facebook."
The business was expanding into malls and he said its kiosks would offer built-in iPads so customers could "like" the page to get special offers.
Finn said having a large number of Facebook followers helped build trust and could make a business appear bigger than it was.
"People don't trust online so it's a way to build that." He added that done well, a social media presence could make potential customers think of a business as human, rather than a faceless brand.
But he said big, established companies had less success, citing General Motors pulling out of Facebook because it was already an established, household brand and found it was gaining little from social media.
A crackdown by Facebook has highlighted the need to follow the site's extensive list of regulations.
Hell Pizza's Facebook page, with more than 20,000 likes, was deleted for breaching the rules.
A spokesman for social media firm Mosh, Jeremy Marks, said it seemed the page was deleted in an automated process. A Facebook representative in Australia was contacted to restore it.
Another company, Velvet Burger, had its page deleted after it posted a promo offering to split Lotto winnings with anyone who shared the post. It lost its 9500 fans.
Marks said the biggest mistake businesses made was starting a page then ignoring it. "If people find a Facebook page that was last updated a month ago, or only has photos of the owner's dogs, it can be quite brand damaging."