Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many other social media platforms have woven their way into our society and into people’s daily habits. Often I encounter those in business who exclaim, at the mention of social media, “I don’t have time for Facebook” or “I don’t do Instagram”. This, in your a personal capacity, I understand. However, for your business, social media now needs to be weighed up in your marketing mix alongside the traditional options such as newspapers, radio, brochures, websites. It is a powerful tool through which you can communicate with your prospects and clients. Broadly, social media is an electronic communication, generally website-based, through which users create communities to share information, ideas and messages. The following are four great reasons to consider using them for your business:
Reason 1: the reach
Recent research (2017) shows this online community boasts impressive statistics in South Africa:
- 14 million South Africans use Facebook
- 3.5 million South Africans use Instagram, up 32% from 2015
- 8.74 million South Africans use YouTube
- 7.7 million South Africans use Twitter
- 5.5 million South Africans use LinkedIn
Millions of people can be targeted through one platform!
Reason 2: the integration
These platforms allow your brand story to be integrated into the consumer’s life stories. Brand messages come up amongst engagement posts, holiday photos and their new favourite spot. They have control, (so they can discontinue seeing these communications if they choose) so the audience is willing and is choosing to be a part of your brand. A brand strategist’s dream!
Reason 3: the statistics
Social media platforms give you instant feedback on what has appeal, what is engaging your consumers and how many people you are reaching along with so many more useful statistics. This information allows you to realise the success of your campaign. The feedback also allows you to adjust your message, target audience and so essentially increase the effectiveness of each campaign. Sharing posts also exposes the businesses to broader audiences (each others) and if they engage – your audience.
Reason 4: the cost
Creation of an account on any of the platforms is free and supporting your activity with paid advertising is inexpensive and incredibly targeted making a small budget go a lot further! The cost is based on the size and quality of the group, you can look to advertise with budgets of hundreds of rands rather than thousands of rands.
The level of social media engagement required for your business is determined by your customers and prospects. As with every marketing effort, deciding who you are talking to and what objective you are looking to achieve will guide how active you are and what kind of information you should be sharing. Social media can play a number of essential roles within your business including:
- building your brand story including its authenticity: the profile you build guides your prospect’s perception of your reliability, trustworthiness and ability to deliver on your promise
- two-way communication with customers and prospects e.g.: the immediate ability to respond to queries as well as compliments and complaints
- linking your business to like minded businesses through sharing each other’s posts
- sales of products and services online
- segmenting these large audiences into smaller targeted groups. The algorithms allow you to choose groups according to a range of demographic and psychographic information
- cost-effective advertising opportunities
- accurate statistics that allow you to assess what is and isn’t working for your business
- a website for a startup: the functionality of a Facebook page can replace the need for a website
If it all seems overwhelming, choose one platform, explore it, experiment with it and before long you will be doing it well. Unsure which one to choose? I’d recommend Facebook as it leads the way in South Africa for business pages and so is a great starting point! A specialist who knows their way around social media can make a huge difference so reach out if you need extra knowledge and assistance.
Social media is a broad topic and we will be releasing several more articles on the topic so please follow us to keep up to date!
By: Kelly Hodgkins