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In the world as we knew it before the COVID-19 pandemic, the proliferation of digital marketing was changing the way we do business. Fast forward to 2021 and this growth has been exponential. Small businesses who were not sold on the idea of marketing themselves online and investing in tools like social media marketing, were compelled to jump on the digital bandwagon.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the pandemic “triggered a digital and e-commerce turning point.” We’ve switched over into what some refer to as “digital dispensation,” and this transition has opened up unique opportunities for small to medium enterprises (SMEs), particularly in regard to the reach and efficacy of social media

A 2020 study by social insights company, Talkwalker, found that 40% of the South Africa’s population are active social media users. Therefore, not using social media to market your business effectively means you are missing out on opportunities within a significant segment of an engaged population.

On the effectiveness of marketing, it’s better to meet your target audience where they are rather than where you want them to be. How is your business leveraging the power of social media? What can you do better? Here are some points to consider:

  • Choose wisely

Too many brands worry that they will be overlooked if they do not build a following on the most popular social media channels. The age-old axiom applies here: quality over quantity. Rather create good quality, relevant content that speaks to your audience on one channel than exist on every single channel and do a poor job of creating content that is tailored for that channel. As a rule of thumb, think of Instagram as perfect for brands with visual appeal; LinkedIn as the realm of thought-leaders; Twitter is ideal for news-worthy, real-time content; and Facebook is the industry stalwart for social engagement (particularly in South Africa). Choose your platforms according to the kind of content you have to offer and where your audience engages most.

  • Follow the data

Digital marketing has completely revolutionized the way we think about marketing in general. With an array of analytics tools, we can now track return-on-investment (ROI) down to the last cent. That means that brands can make decisions based on what’s really working. Ultimately, your marketing budget on social media can go further and do more than it can on traditional media. So we suggest leveraging that data – using it to inform your decision-making around broad issues like which topics to post about, to something as granular as what time of day to post. Most social media platforms have free basic reporting tools, which takes some of the guesswork out of marketing and makes sure you get the most out of your budget.

  • Become part of the conversation

 In many ways, social media has become the new interface for human relations – it’s where we meet, debate and share our opinions and thoughts. Too often we see brands simply creating and disseminating content, without starting and participating in conversations. As a business, the worst thing you can do is shout at your audience, make demands and put messaging out that is too much of a ‘hard-sell’. Social media should ideally be a two-way communication channel, so use your platforms to ask for input from your customers and listen to their feedback. This in turn will help your business evolve and adapt according to its market needs. Remember, investment into a social media strategy is not only monetary – it also requires a time commitment. We suggest dedicating at least an hour a day to finding out what people are talking about in your field and joining conversations, in order to build your presence and make your voice heard, demonstrate relatability and ultimately show your audience that you’re a good listener.


About the Author: Ben Bierman

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Ben Bierman has been our Managing Director since 2015. He joined our company in 1990 and has risen through the ranks occupying various positions ranging from being a management accountant, Head of Information Technology and Chief Financial Officer. Ben is an avid reader, enjoys classical music and being in the outdoors including for hunting trips. He is our go-to-spokesperson for our SME Confidence Index, SME sector policy and trend matters, and business leadership articles.