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Leveraging social media for business growth

One of the things people do when they wake up is check their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, favourite blogs or other online communities they are belong to.

Sisi Yemmie of Sisi Yemmie TV

One of the things people do when they wake up is check their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, favourite blogs or other online communities they are belong to. This active (addictive) use of social media as a way to connect with virtual communities reveals that invariably, social media fulfills our human need for expression, connection and social validation. Popular application, Facebook boasts of having 1.86 billion users all over the world surpassing its counterparts’ number, collectively: Twitter (284m) and Instagram (200m) users. A statistics report says that YouTube records at least 1.3 billion users and almost five billion videos are watched on YouTube daily.

Back home, Nairaland has more than 1.7m registered accounts since its inception, and so far this year it has hosted more than 8.8 million unique visitors from non-account holders. On the other hand, new networking site Linda Ikeji Social (LIS) owned by popular blogger Linda Ikeji registered 50,000 users on the first day of its launch. More and more social media outlets sprout daily and, thankfully, cheap data and affordable smart phones facilitate the sustained growth the Internet population enjoys while allowing for these outlets to be more accessible.

Interestingly, social media operates in an uncontrolled exchange environment whereby users generate and share contents in form of comments, pictures or videos, which have as many receptors from various sources unlike traditional media. An implication of this for business owners is objective feedback from customers on products bought or for services rendered. For instance, first time customers will likely Google products to check reviews and compare prices making a buying decision. While poor reviews may discourage potential customers, good reviews will boost customer base, sales and profit as well as enhance brand perception.

Social media benefits businesses in a number of ways. First is the global audience and potential leads brands have at their disposal. Second, information on customer demographics, tastes and attitude changes is cheap and available. Companies can get insights on customer’s preferences in real time through the use of selected analytic tools. Such information if well exploited could direct advertising to the right audience. Also a business’ presence online can shape its public perception from the type of information on its websites or social media platforms. There is the opportunity to connect with consistent interactions, and provide rich customer service experiences, resulting to customer retention and brand loyalty. 

Moreover, business owners get to track competitor activities as well as industry trends, which helps strategic decision-making.
Businesses can examine the impact of its marketing efforts on set goals using a number of unique social media analytics tools. For instance, Google Analytics by Google can be used to track website traffic. BrandWatchers provide demographic information about markets. Crowdbooster ensures that contents reach the right audience. While Hootsuite analytics, apart from posts scheduling can monitor time spent in resolving customer service issues. These tools coupled with some listening applications on smart phones extract data in form of likes, tweets, shares or comments or chats across multiple social platforms thus playing a huge role in business intelligence.

It is one thing to monitor its activities; however, businesses may utilise social listening tools such as Google alerts, Quora, Social mention, etc. to learn what is being said about its products and services. With these tools, managers can identify customer needs and pain points by tracking conversations. This is very important especially in the development phase of a product in the sense that only useful features are added.

Should A Business Have Accounts On All Social Media Platforms?
There’s an argument on whether businesses should be present on all social media platforms. While there is a need to have online presence, not all social media platforms are effective for business growth. Factors like business type and needs, target market (audience), budget etc should be considered when deciding what accounts to have. It is also essential to know how to maximize selected outlets.
For instance, LinkedIn is a network for professionals and business owners around the world hence is a more serious platform compared with Facebook or Twitter. Up to 50 per cent of account holders have some form of decision authority. There is also a significant class of members that have high spending power making way for easy conversion. The unique nature of LinkedIn as a business-to-business market is one that connects future partners, influencers, thought leaders and employees compared to other networks. Contents shared on this platform should be more thoughtful, informative and highly professional.

On the other hand, Facebook is designed to accommodate all types of businesses from a construction company to a fashion store to meet their objectives, whether it is to have an active profile, to build a fan base, attract traffic or to gather online sales. The eventful nature of Twitter makes it a great option for brand awareness and/or customer support. Since, Instagram operates in a visual style, brands can creatively tell their stories using very clear pictures/short videos.

Take for instance the popular radio OAP and fashion entrepreneur, Gbemi Olateru, who owns her shoe line, and uses Instagram as one of her lead platforms to visually showcase her products and boost her brand. Leading search engine YouTube has more reach than any cable network, and Nigerian lifestyle entrepreneurs are utilising it such as Sisi Yemmie, who has grown a strong following both on Twitter, and through her videos on her YouTube channel, SisiYemmie TV.

As more people have access to the Internet these days, traditional advertising tends to be less of an option for businesses seeking to thrive. Though social media has its downside – but that is another topic for another day – the benefits are immense and worth it. Every business must get on board.