At school level, we are exposed to marketing. Most people remember the 4 P’s and different methods of advertising like radio, television and other traditional marketing methods.
In today’s market economy, things are faster and much more dynamic. Marketing is seen as the art of business where finance is seen as the science. There is no set formula when it comes to marketing but you have to identify the variables in order to understand what approach to take.
The process is referred to as market research. These variables include:
- Target audience demographics and social behaviors. This is a broad topic and can be further segmented.
- Industry analysis
- Competitor analysis
- Product analysis
Although these are the old methods, they can still be used as a platform to ensure that your strategy has a sense of direction. One can’t just develop a product and expect it to make a success over night. We have been in business long enough to know that it isn’t always that simple.
Once the foundation is laid and you’ve established a niche, the next job is to attack that market. Among the more popular platforms are social media (which will be discussed shortly).
In South Africa, there is a government organization called SEDA. Small enterprise development agency and they assist smaller previously disadvantaged business owners with subsidized non-financial services such as Marketing, HR and Quality control. It works on a cost sharing process where you pay 10% and the 90% is subsidized by the state to stimulate entrepreneurship. Of course there are limitations but it is an excellent opportunity for small businesses to get websites, promotional material, online tools and more at an affordable price.
Coming back to social media, smaller businesses often do not have the cash flow to embark on massive marketing campaigns so they are often overlooked by potential clients.
Social media has recently been used to fill this void. All over the world, small businesses can now make use of these platforms to enhance their brands. The platforms are interactive, visual and dynamic and requires very little time and money. The most popular social media platforms in South African are Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram and Pintrest.
Keep in mind that you need to post strategically, not just any time on any platform. The purpose of your social media campaign is to increase your sales by enhancing your brand to the right target market. So how do we do this? Easy, Facebook allows you to filter your audience according to their interests and preferences so if you have 500 friends and you are selling golf balls. If 39 of your friends listed golf as an interest, your advert will go to them as Facebook has found that connection.
You will find that facebook gives you the option to boost your posts at a small fee so that it expands beyond your database. If you are selling golf balls, you will need more than 39 clients to become sustainable.
With twitter, its slightly different and to really get traction, you will have to post more frequently. In South Africa, Facebook and Twitter are dominant and instagram is slowly starting to be used for business so in order to maximize these 3 for your business, this is how you would do it.
With Facebook, post only 2 to 3 times a week. Any more than that you will be deemed as irritating and some of your friends might mark you as a spammer.
- The best times to post are Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings
- Do not put a URL link on the post. Facebook’s algorithm is designed to keep people on Facebook so your status will not see more than 8% of your audience if you put a link on your status. Best to put it in the comments
- Post 5 times per week
- Great because it’s real time
- The 5 posts should have a purpose. Ask yourself: what am I telling my audience?
- 2 of the posts should be relevant info or blogs that your audience can relate to, engage with and share
- 2 should be visuals, pictures or vlogs (video blogs)
- The last one should be a call to action. A direct sell. Buy from us today and get 10% off your next purchase (as an example)
- There are more detailed and advanced options for these but start with these basics and see how your audience reacts. Remember, its not a one day thing, it takes time so be patient.
Populate it with visuals and hashtags so that your post can go to wider audiences with similar interests.
Remember that there are options to manage your social media platforms collectively. The power of social media in today’s market economy is huge so if you are not tapping into this, you are losing out.
Hashtag Fusion: How to Craft an Effective Social Media Strategy