Social media started out as a way to connect and stay in contact with friends and family, but it also became a tool for business networking much faster than we might ever have anticipated. Today, social media has penetrated every sphere of our lives, to the extent that it almost goes without saying that every business should have a presence on social media.

Not only does a social media presence give commercial business legitimacy, it can also be used as a tool to do business, advertise services or products, and communicate with current and potential clients. No matter the size of your business, social media can be beneficial. Here is why:

The scope of social media

According to research done by World Wide Worx and Ornico and compiled in the SA Social Media Landscape Report for 2018, 16 million South Africans are on Facebook – that amounts to close to 30% of the entire South African population. There are about 8 million Twitter users in South Africa, LinkedIn has about 6.1 million users, and Instagram has 3.8 million users.

When the report was released, the MD of World Wide Worx, Arthur Goldstuck, said that Facebook is now in third place, just after radio and television, in terms of achieving maximum reach for advertisers across the population. He added that Facebook’s ability to tailor ads to specific groups of people could make it even more effective than traditional broadcast media.

The sheer scope of social media makes it an excellent marketing tool for all businesses, big and small. In fact, according to the same report, out of 118 of South Africa’s biggest brands, 97% use Facebook, 90% use Twitter and 72% use Instagram and LinkedIn. Whilst it is difficult to gauge what percentage of small businesses use social media in their marketing efforts, it’s safe to say that this should be on the increase as well.

While most small businesses can’t afford advertising on broadcast media like television and radio, they would be able to create a business page on Facebook at no cost, and might even have enough cash available to run a few ads on the platform.

How can social media benefit your business?

Having access to a potential client base that comes close to 30% of the population has completely changed the game for small businesses. Never before have small enterprises had access to so many people at rates that they can afford. Of course, no business can reach every single Facebook user in South Africa, but tailoring ads to reach specific people means that advertisements that run on Facebook may be exceptionally effective in reaching your target group.

In addition, having a social media presence helps to grow relationships with the target audience of your business. Word of mouth has taken on epic proportions with social media, and the interaction that your target audience has with your brand is multiplied when their friends see this interaction on the platform. This interaction with your target audience also gives you the chance to get to know their likes (pardon the pun) and dislikes, and tailor your product and service offerings accordingly.

Considering that most users of social media access their preferred platforms a few times a day, it gives you more than one opportunity to show up in their timelines, which means that you have multiple advertising opportunities every single day. The activity on your social media pages can also be indexed on search engines, which means that people with specific search requests might stumble onto your pages and might just become a client.

Marketing your products and services on social media is an extremely cost-effective way to advertise when compared to more traditional advertising avenues. This makes social media a significantly cheaper way to get the word out about your business.

Right, so it’s cost-effective and beneficial for a business to have a social media presence, but where do you start? If you are a small business owner, you stand the chance to win a social media starter pack to the value of R3000 from The Social Media Company in Smartcom’s Small Business Awards.

The Social Media Company is a digital marketing agency with a specialised focus on social media management, and their social media wizards will help you put your business on the social media map.

The Smartcom Small Business Awards comprise of three categories: the Smartcom Small Business of the Year, the Smartcom Informal Business of the Year and the Smartcom Youth Entrepreneur of the Year. Read more about the competition here and enter your small business into the competition here.

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