South African advertisers are only now waking up to the boundless opportunities that exist with the use of social media marketing, says writer Lilian O’Brien. O’Brien gives four ways to make profit using social media marketing.
Four ways to profit from social media marketing in SA
Social media marketing is slow in taking off in the Southern African subcontinent. When compared with the rest of the world’s rapid use of social media for marketing goods and products, Africa, as a whole, falls short.

The reasons for these are not unconnected to the infrastructural problems that have plagued the African continent from time immemorial. The structures in place cannot match the standards of first world countries, and this, in part, has contributed to the slow rise in the use of social media for marketing in Africa.

Another challenge is a lack of knowledge of the inner workings and intricacies of social media marketing. In Africa, there is predominantly a reliance on the use of traditional modes of advertising, i.e. the television and radio.

A foray into the world of social media marketing would mean discarding the knowledge previously held and learning the peculiarities of social media marketing.

The truth is that social media marketing has come to stay. According to UNESCO, in 2016, more than 50% of the world’s population has access to the Internet.

With the emergence of various social media platforms and the considerable followership garnered by those platforms (generally, there are over 400 million social media users in Africa, according to the United Nations), it is now counterintuitive for any business not to advertise using the platforms.

The question now is: how can you profit from social media marketing in Southern African countries? Well, the one thing to keep in mind is that the methods that are taken to make social media marketing profitable in any climb can be tailored to meet the specific needs of any particular location.

Here are four such ways on how to make some profit using social media marketing:

1. Decide on the right channel

Undoubtedly, there is a proliferation of social media platforms in the world today. Facebook currently has the highest number of users with its 1.7 billion monthly subscribers; however, Facebook with its large following might not work for you.

What determines the social media marketing platform that you should engage with is the nature of the business you operate. There are several business models, such as the Business to Business, Business to Consumer and Consumer to Business, for example.

For Business to Business, the platform that would most likely yield the best benefit is LinkedIn. This is because it is primarily a site for professionals. Africans are generally involved in the provision of goods and services; these types of businesses fall squarely within the realm of the Business to Consumer.

Ideally, Facebook and Instagram should be the go-to site for social marketing for the average business owner then. You have to identify what works for you and stick to it, or else you run the risk of spending your money without any visible outcome.

2. Create a unique brand identity

You should pay close attention to the content you put on your social media handles. Social media is a crowded and noisy place; for you to stand out and command the attention of users, you need to have a brand that is unique to you and which the users identify with.

This necessarily would mean having a dedicated staff member who makes sure that the content on your site is tailored to amplify your business. The person also works to communicate with users in real-time, responding to comments and questions that may be asked by potential clients.

3. Incorporate influencers

These days, social media influencers cannot be ignored in the discourse of social media marketing. From comedians, who produce daily skits on Instagram, to individuals with huge followings on Twitter, influencers have come to stay.

Influencers may include African movie stars and celebrities who leverage their popularity to advertise for certain goods and services. Admittedly, if you run a small business, you may not be able to afford the services of some of the high profile influencers.

However, there will be some who are within your reach and can also help you advertise.

4. Measure your effectiveness

When you have started making use of social media for marketing, you need to have periodic evaluations to gauge the efficiency of your actions.

You can use such metrics as engagements, follower growth, etc. to determine if the marketing strategy being employed is successful. Analytics is the soul of every social media strategy.

Social media marketing is the new cool. As a business owner in the South African subregion, you cannot afford to be left behind. So, go for it!