Couple of years back, businesses needed serious conventional advertising or marketing to grow their brands, attract clients and connect to more people. This included the “usual” venues for media placement such as newspaper, radio broadcast, television or outdoor billboards. Also, typical materials needed for businesses included brochures and business cards.

These were useful products that people normally expected from established businesses to build successful brands. However, they came with big budgets that so many start-ups or small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs, could not afford. The situation kept them struggling to gain traction and most often relegated to the background.

Today, the game has changed. The advent of social media platforms such as Instagram, twitter, Facebook and others, has introduced a different level of engagement. Small, medium and large businesses are now on a level playing field. They help brands grow identities and organically reach new and more customers globally. Interestingly, statistics from 2018 Global Digital report by We are Social and Hootsuite, indicate that more than three billion people around the world now use social media every month.

Meanwhile, there are strong indications that majority of these three billion users engage the social media for business rather than social purposes. Usually, social media was characterised with chat messages and personal/ social conversations on the internet, but today, it appears the case is different. Businesses are transforming social media outlook to real digital business.

At least, discussions at the recently-concluded Social Media Week, SMW, in Lagos, supported more of that school of thought. The SMW is one of the world’s premiere conferences and industry news platforms for businesses. It provides brands, agencies and technology providers with the latest insights, trends and best practices together with access to a global community of marketing decisionmakers. At the opening of the one week event at the Landmark Event Centre, Oniru, Lagos, Penultimate Monday, new generation bank, Stanbic IBTC seized the stage to introduce some of the innovative, social media- based banking packages it has introduced into the financial sector and how they have revolutionised the financial sector.

At a session themed: Positioning the Digitization Agenda,  Manager, Business Management Processing Improvement at the bank, Wale Ojo, said to achieve the optimisation, Stanbic IBTC deployed Artificial Intelligence, AI to improve service delivery to its customers. He said the AI deployment was in addition to Internet of Things, which the company has embraced in order to ensure that people, processes and systems are connected. He argued that there was the need for digitisation of all banking services as the only way to optimise quality service delivery to customers.

A Digital strategist, Mr. Sunkanmi Ola, also agreed that social media has not only become part of everyday life for people but also for businesses. He said once a brand is able to understand how to effectively leverage on the advantage social media gives, it is quite able to drive sales more effectively. However, Ola said: “This is not to say that social media is here to replace the regular market, they go hand in hand.

It is about understanding the blend of the different channels, addressing them, knowing how to meet customers in different parts and combining them all to have an effective marketing for a brand. He explained that social media has become the new business driver of the 21st Century.  “It has changed the way brands and consumers interact.

Companies are able to create and tailor their marketing strategies through analysis and understanding of the demands, likes and dislikes of their clients. Businesses around the globe have realised that social media is an essential part of their business marketing strategy. From multinationals to startups, social media marketing is being adopted to increase brand awareness, connect with consumers and boost sales.”

Instagram, Facebook leading social media platforms for SMEs However, investing in social media, on its own, does not do the magic but the platforms that will give returns on such investments. Meanwhile, a recent study, says Facebook and Instagram are the top two channels that SMEs use for communication with customers. According to the statistics, 98 per cent of respondents say they use Facebook and 82 per cent use Instagram to interact with their customers.

Majority of SMEs that exhibited their products and services at the Social Media Week Lagos also told Hi-Tech that Instagram builds their businesses and promotes their brands faster. Creative Director, 24 Apparel, Mr. Temitayo Eyitayo said: “Instagram gives SMEs more opportunity than any other.

It helps businesses remain focused because people see pictures of the advertised products or services as well as  read texts accompanying them, giving complete information to a prospective client,” he added. Sunkami Ola also agreed with him. Although he argued that the social media platform SMEs should adopt basically depends on the type of products or services they offer, he said the general knowledge is that Instagram builds businesses faster no matter the genre.


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