For years, social media has been lauded for its role in bridging the communication gaps in the world, but what most people don’t know is that the technology is rapidly evolving into an efficient and reliable marketing tool.
Big brands and entertainers have been known to increase their fame and wealth using social media, but the knowledge that this same technology can be used to grow small scale businesses is still very scarce.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) have been described as the backbone of major developed economies. They are the little efforts making the bigger impact on economies and individual/collective standards of living worldwide.
In 2020, the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) in collaboration with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBC) recorded that the total number of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in Nigeria bordered around 1,240,965. With a contribution of about 49.7% to the country’s GDP, the Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector had also accounted for over 76% of total employment rates in Nigerians and 7.64% of total export.
In the same vein, as of January 2021, Nigeria was recorded to have 33.9 million active social media users. With WhatsApp in the lead – brandishing over 90 million users, – Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram follow closely behind as the most used social media platforms in the country.
Where once businesses were confined to a physical space with tangible exchange, a convergence between ICT and commerce has introduced a virtual reality where commerce has been digitized to promote efficiency, speed and accessibility.
The scope of social commerce
One of most obvious advantage of marketing via social media is the free access to a wide range of ideal customers. With a single post on your timeline, you can advertise/publicize your business to hundreds (or more) heterogeneous followers who may be scattered across the globe.
In 2020, Meta noted that 81% of shoppers research products on Instagram and Facebook; while for 48% of Printerest users, shopping is a top priority. Hence, tapping into these online marketplaces is the best way to grow your audience on a small budget.
– Speed and efficiency
While it would take longer to inspect an actual marketplace in search of a certain service or commodity, social commerce makes it easier to locate these products, purchase them and have them delivered with ease. Thereby saving consumers a lot of time, while keeping them connected to their friends and love ones the entire time.
– Market study
Simply producing and marketing your products isn’t a conclusive solution to building a business. A working strategy to establishing a great business – whether big or small – is by studying/monitoring the marketplace.
This helps the entrepreneur to understand ways to improve, determine changes to make and new approaches to take in order to grow into its full potential.
Studying the buying patterns of customers and marketing techniques of competitors has never been easier than it is on social media.
According to a survey in the first quarter of this year, the social commerce industry in Nigeria is expected to grow by 43.8% on annual basis to reach US$791.6 million in 2022.
How to properly harness these potentials
But simply being active on these social sites doesn’t count as a good marketing strategy; the social commerce space, although large enough to accommodate every venture, can be very competitive and tricky to harness. There are hacks and tricks required to build a good social business.
In a chat with The Hub podcast, CEO of Bennycapricorn Digitals, Amama Ben Benedict discussed some of the benefits, tricks and hacks, which he believes will aid the progress of Small scale businesses that wish to venture in Social Commerce.
Here are some of the tips he shared:
While this may appear to be an obvious fact, a lot of businesses have failed to take off because of poor branding.
He emphasized on the need to have a landing page, logos and a traceable contact address.
“A product that does not have a logo has no identity”
In addition to being identifiable in the market, thpe business must be trustworthyas well – nobody wants to do business with a ghost. Transparency is the most llimportant quality any entrepreneur can have.
– Choosing the right platform:
As an already established and successful social media marketer himself, Ben is of the opinion that choosing the right platform to market one’s goods and services is the first step to ensuring positive returns.
“It doesn’t make sense for certain kinds of brands to advertise in certain platforms. The product informs the platform. You have to look for a platform depending on your niche.”
– Building an appeal:
While Nigerians have been known to be prideful, in social marketing, an invaluable trick which Ben suggests is the ability to appeal to the crowd’s emotions.
“If you don’t know how to appeal to people’s emotions, you will not get it right”
He said that the trick is to establish a good relationship with people whereby the entrepreneur is able to convert friends to customers and make friends with customers.
Understanding the preferences and needs of their social media followers is also another trick which can come in handy when talking the public through the “buyer’s journey”.
– Establishing a working seller-customer relationship:
“Social media is the future of work and customer service”
Because the social media enables an immediate feedback mechanism, this feature makes the technology the best place for effective customer service.
Through surveys, reviews and “social listening”, enterpreneurs can stay informed about the reactions their products are stirring up among their audience. With this added information, they can easily navigate their reach and redesign their products to better meet their customers needs.
In summary, entrepreneurs are inclined to note that they are not just marketing products but providing solutions. It is the uniqueness of the product that convinces people to patronize it and not the product in itself.