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Since the coming of the jet age, social media have had a huge impact on how businesses find and communicate with their audiences. Before the advent of social media, small scale businesses and startups had to rely on other means to boost and maximise their business networks.
These means include spreading local awareness campaigns, holding seminars and outreaches for a target audience, which are usually very expensive compared to the flexibility and influence of social media platforms. But with the coming of social media, there have been lots of transformations such as allowing startups to get in front of a targeted group of people virtually and easily. Social media have also changed the way businesses communicate.
As of January 2019, there are 5.11 billion estimated internet users around the globe, that’s 53% of the world’s total population. Active social media users make up 5.2 billion, or 42% of the population. With such penetration, its significance to society cannot be ignored especially in the business world. The reach and influence of social media are a treasure in the business and trade industries, where the need to engage and persuade the market is of top priority. With the slow death of print and radio, social media have taken over as one of the leading channels for marketing, advertising and maximising business profits.
Examples of these popular social media channels include:
Facebook: Facebook is a go-to startup page for most small businesses and even larger business corporations and conglomerates. Facebook had an audience of 2.7 billion monthly active users as of the second quarter of 2020 which makes it a great target Eden for business owners. It can be used to promote services, increase customer support and boost recognition.
Even with recent leaks and negative press, Facebook is still the most popular social media network. When used correctly, a Facebook page can be invaluable to small businesses. Its basic interface makes it user-friendly and easily navigatable. Facebook can be used to share everything from photos to important company updates. With a business account, a business owner has access to powerful advertising tools and in-depth analytics. Business pages also have a lot of customisation options which can highlight information such as the contact information of the business, hours of operation, the products and services the business offers, and much more.
Using Facebook for business may seem difficult because its rules and algorithms change frequently. However, with the right strategies, Facebook is one of the best tools for targeting a specific audience through paid campaigns. It knows a lot about its users and it uses this information to the business owner’s advantage when they purchase ads.
The first and foremost agenda in maximising profit through Facebook is the creation of business pages. A business page is unlike a normal Facebook wall or page. A business page focuses more on the business part of things on Facebook. It enables the user to engage in more business-oriented tools and services at their disposal. With the help of these, they can monetise their pages and reach a higher number of targeted audiences.
To create a Facebook business page, the business owner must have a personal profile and follow Facebook’s on-screen instructions. When creating a page, Facebook will ask some questions, such as a category to describe the page, business name, address and phone number. There is also an option to upload a profile and cover photos. It is also important to include all the information that would help customers easily recognise the page and find information about the business.
There are a range of sections a business owner can add to a Facebook page, but not every section will be a good fit for every business. Here are some sections a business owner should consider adding:
- About: The About section is one of the most important parts of the Facebook Business page. It should be filled out with the address, business details, contact information, hours and website URL. Many people go online to find specific information about a business and the About section really goes a long way in guiding customers through.
- Community: The Community page is where posts, photos and videos from customers show up. Customers can also check in to the store here. This is a great area for the audience to interact and learn more about the business.
- Events: The business owner can create event pages and promote upcoming events in this section. Once they create an event on Facebook, they can invite people and share specific information about it all in one place.
- Home: This section is where all the updates and posts live. This is also the first page users see when they visit the business page.
- Info and Ads: This section is designed to add transparency to the page. It shows the followers any Facebook ads the business owner is currently running.
- Offers: Business owners can post discounts or deals from this section. This is an easy way to encourage people to go through their Facebook page.
- Photos: The Photos tab features the business owner’s photo albums that they have posted on their timeline.
- Posts: This section shows all the business owner’s posts, including timeline photos and updates.
- Reviews: Under the Reviews tab, customers can write a review and indicate if they would recommend the business. Ratings show up at the top of the page. While the business owner can hide the Reviews tab, it can provide valuable feedback to him and his followers. Reviews help verify the business and make it easy for customers to recommend your product or services.
- Services: The business owner can showcase his services on this page.
- Shop: The business owner can add his inventory on this page, and users can buy his products directly from Facebook. Sales are sent to the business’ bank account.
There are also other tools that Facebook offers to help a Business owner manage his Facebook page, they include:
- Messenger: With Facebook Messenger, business owner’s can easily interact with customers. The inbox is located at the top of the page. Messenger has several new tools and updates that make it easy for brands to engage with customers on the platform, including natural language processing for Messenger chatbots.
- Facebook Insights: Facebook Insights is an analytics tool. It’s free to use, and it shows data on actions taken, page views, the number of people reached, the number of post engagements and more. This information can help the business owner to measure the effectiveness of his social campaigns and how to improve his posts.
- Facebook Publishing Tools: A business owner can use Facebook Publishing Tools to schedule posts to go live in the future. He can also create videos, advertise his business, promote an event, make an offer, write a note and post job applications on the Facebook page.
WhatsApp: This is a messaging app used by over 1.5 billion people in over 180 countries. WhatsApp has been working hard to build out its business platform to allow people to use it for business purposes. When it first started out, WhatsApp was only used by people to communicate with their family and friends. Since then, it has evolved into a fully-functioning social media platform which can be used to boost business outreach. The major disadvantage with WhatsApp is that it has a very limited number of audiences and it is not as versatile as other platforms.
Instagram: Instagram is also another popular social media platform with an estimated 2 billion monthly users. From Instagram Live to Instagram Stories, there is no shortage of tools that businesses can use to promote their services and products. Instagram is a visual platform that’s based entirely on photo and video posts and it is also important to note that this platform is almost entirely mobile. More artistic niches tend to excel on Instagram thus limiting it to a particular set of audiences and market. It also comes with monetisation services such as Instagram shop and Instagram check out which can be linked directly to the Business owner’s website for direct shopping.
Twitter: Twitter with its estimated 1 billion users is great for short updates and sharing links to blog posts, but it also isn’t for every business. On Twitter, one can share short tweets (240 characters or fewer), videos, images, links, polls and more. One business advantage it offers is that it is easy to interact with users on this platform by mentioning customers and users to reach a wider audience.
Snapchat: Snapchat is another mobile-only visual social media network that is known for its disappearing content. Its 2.9 billion users can send videos and photos to each other, or post content to their public Stories, which disappears after 24 hours. The app has expanded to include chat, messaging, image storage, events and media content. Now, content can easily be saved and uploaded elsewhere. Because posts are temporary, there is less pressure to create super-polished content which can be beneficial to businesses.
YouTube: YouTube is a video-sharing platform where people can view, upload, rate, share and comment on content. Now owned by Google, the site is a huge hub for news and entertainment which creates a larger audience for businesses (up to 2.8 billion users monthly). Many businesses on YouTube have a creative, visual or educational component. The platform is heavily driven by creativity which makes competition very high. With adequate knowledge of video editing, one can be able to grow an ample business trend on Youtube. The higher the engagements on Youtube, the higher a Business owners’ profits are on Youtube. It also allows personal account integration and the use of Video shop pages.
LinkedIn: While LinkedIn might not be the most popular social media platform, it still has 260 million monthly users and is the best platform for professional networking. LinkedIn is a great platform for finding top talent and similar businesses. LinkedIn is designed to be more professional than other social media platforms. Users create profiles that are similar to resumes, and companies can create pages that showcase their business. Because LinkedIn is a professional platform, it’s the best place to post job openings and information about company culture.
One can maximise profits with the help of Social media by:
Boosting outreach: With the right use and implementation, social media can be used to boost visibility among potential customers, allowing the business to reach a wide audience by using a large amount of time and effort. Creating social media accounts on numerous platforms is relatively easy and fast and sticking solely to the pattern of business and by exploiting various audiences and services offered by these social media platforms, one can be able to maximise business profits by a very wide margin.
Communicating with Customers: Social media users nowadays are increasingly savvier and more discerning about which businesses or services they patronise. Before making a decision, social media customers would usually like to do a quick search to browse the business’ website and social media accounts. So setting up robust profiles that are updated frequently with relevant content will help build the brand’s authority and make sure the business makes a positive, strong first impression through social media, showing that the business is trustworthy, knowledgeable, and approachable. This also helps in boosting profits in business.
Flexibility and Versatility: Since they are based on the internet, social media channels tend to evolve very frequently, constantly dishing out new features, and this rapidly changing environment can be intimidating for some business owners. But once a business owner takes advantage of this phenomenon and masters the act of upgrading in line with the new services being dished out by these social media channels, then there would be no problem keeping the customers in line with the business quota. Also, a business owner can exploit some close-relation features like Instagram stories, Twitter Live feed or Facebook live to reach out in real-time to customers to assure them of the authenticity of the business.
Providing Support: Social media platforms have successfully broken down barriers between companies and their customers. Now, instead of calling a customer service line, many people turn to social media pages like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to solve problems or find information. To be able to utilise this, businesses must develop their reputation as a responsive, caring brand. They can do this by creating a system for tracking customer comments, questions, and complaints on social media. They also have to be able to be responsive to criticism and make customers feel heard. By doing this, a business can be able to woo more customers and in other words, boost profit for itself.
Advertising: Marketing costs add up, and not every business can afford huge campaigns. But one can be able to get a lot of value with the implementation of social media advertising. Any business, regardless of size or budget, has an opportunity to grow its audience and reach its objectives through ads on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram. When building an ad campaign, every business owner must be able to know who they are trying to reach and what goal they would want to achieve so that they would not waste any of their budgets on unhelpful advertising.
Social media are a crucial part of business marketing, but they don’t have to be stressful to manage. With the right attitude and a good strategy, one can always use social media as an added advantage to a business.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK