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Why social media is your brand’s best marketer

ENTERPRISE
By Graham Kajilwa | September 22nd 2021

Social media is a core element of digital marketing enabling a business to reach millions of customers. 

And despite formal online markets giving businesses and entrepreneurs avenues to expand their markets including opening them up for export, social media or personal pages remains the most preferred. 

Why? There are a variety of reasons not limited to brand visibility only. Social media enables firms to directly engage and interact with their customers. Therefore, it’s important for firms to build two-way communication and engage with customers in real-time. Social media also helps with brand loyalty. This enables firms to retain customers and build a loyal customer base. 

Enterprise explores other reasons why social media beats other formal digital marketing platforms. 

Pocket friendly 

One of the reasons as documented in a recently released report is that marketing on Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram attracts no fees unless one is pushing a particular product.

This is unlike the commission-based system used by formal platforms.

The report titled Platform Livelihood: The quality of Kenyan youth’s digital experiences in logistics, e-commerce, farming, and the creative sectors opines that selling on the social media platforms has rapidly increased and offers tools for business management, promotion, and easy connection across different platforms.

The research argues that with social media, one is able to create a personalised relationship with the buyer.

“Social commerce offers a degree of familiarity with clients. This is especially true for WhatsApp, which constitutes immediate networks and offers a chance to grow using social media advertising,” reads the research sponsored by Mastercard Foundation and compiled by Caribou Digital and Qhala.

A compass for new sellers

The research notes that social media channels are the preferred starting point for new sellers due to their familiarity and the ease to get started when compared to the formal platforms.

“They are free to set up and do not charge a commission after-sales. They are also attractive to micro-and small businesses who want to test new business ideas, acting as a form of market research with minimal capital investment,” indicates the research.

The research adds that running a business on social media has low operating costs and so small businesses keep experimenting and offer competitive pricing.

A merchandise seller in the report is quoted as saying that the commission on sales formal platform get is one of the considerations he makes before listing.

“Facebook and Instagram are free, all I had to do was create an account and start selling. When I think of the other platforms where I could list my products, I have to consider the cut they get, plus the process of getting myself approved to start selling,” said Kelly in the research.

While most sellers start with their personal pages to immediately connect with buyers, the research says they later advance to business accounts.

“Most sellers indicated this quickens the purchase path,” according to the research.

The research notes that Instagram is preferred as an e-commerce social platform for its audience and ability to curate products in gallery form. WhatsApp is viewed as an easy platform to sell from due to the easy access to contacts.

However Twitter is not commonly used and those who do, take advantage of top hashtags of the day which users in the report said results are based more on luck than defined strategies.

Limited control of formal marketplaces 

Formal marketplaces, the research says, offer sellers a massive reach to e-commerce buyers, handle logistics, place sellers in categories, and guidelines on product descriptions and packaging.

Sellers on these platforms say they do not have full control over their products.

“Sellers mentioned having limited control over how their products are showcased on the platform; those selling niche products struggle to compete with products in categories that platforms are best known for,” notes the research findings.

With no direct connection to buyers, sellers struggle to build their brand and customer relations within the platform, hence turning to personal social media channels for answers.

The research that interviewed 22 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nakuru and Nairobi Metropolitan indicated that social platforms have a bigger marketing capacity compared to solo entrepreneurs; as such, sellers mentioned getting a lot of clicks and views on their products listed on platforms.

Turn views into sales

“While exposure does matter, sellers still need to figure out how to turn increased views into sales,” reads the report.

The research notes that aside from platforms’ listing guidelines, which entail specifics on having a quality product and making timely deliveries to collection centres, there is no information on ways to become competitive or what fair competition laws exist to keep vendors in check.

“Thus, some sellers feel helpless. Some engage in paid promotions through sponsored or featured posts on the marketplaces; others use their social media pages to redirect buyers to their listings,” the research reads.

“Commitment on the platform goes hand-in-hand with the amount of sales achieved. Low sales thus result in reduced engagement, for instance, from daily platform interactions to weekly to eventually forgetting to check listings entirely,” adds the report.

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