9 ways African businesses can increase Sales with Social Media

Studies suggest that Africans spend much more time on social media than any other online platforms. Here are 9 ways to take advantage of social media to make more sales.


In the past, many overlooked the market Africa could bring to mobile phone industries and related businesses during the massive patronage of mobile phones in the developed world in the 90’s. The few bold ones that took the risk to invest and sell in Africa are still benefiting endlessly. The numerous cell phone users in Africa are now coupling their massive taste in cell phones with a more excessive interest in social media.

Studies suggest that Africans spend much more time on social media than any other online platforms. The major social media platform worldwide and the most visited social media website in Africa is Facebook; others include Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Why the need for social media for your business?

Social media platforms allow users to create, share and exchange information and ideas in the virtual world, therefore the active use of social media for your business allows you to stay connected to the consumer market or the consumer. First rule of business, without the consumer there is no market, to stay in business, the business must be where the consumer is, which is generally referred to as marketing or advertisement. Where is the attention of the customer? Social Media!

Money flows where the attention goes, social media is where the attention of consumer is currently and it is rapidly expanding, people carry smart phones that support and give instant access to the internet and social media applications. This is a great opportunity for every business, big or small to market their products or services right at the doorstep of customers or potential customers within seconds. Read more on this topic>>>

Where do I start?

You just took a bold and rewarding step by choosing social media. To start with, you must identify the most used social media platforms within your locality, it is advisable to narrow them down to at most 5 platforms to gain control and perfectly understand how they work and work hand in hand with each other before you proceed to other applications. We recommend Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and YouTube for a start. For these platforms you will be required to;

1. Create an Account

To create your business account, you need to have a username in mind, the username must be related to the name of your business as much as possible. A password will also be required, to successfully create your business account, you must agree and accept the terms and conditions for using the application. For the selected social media applications, it is advisable to use similar handles or usernames throughout, this helps users to easily locate your business account or handle on the social media platforms just by knowing the name of your business.

2. Create your bio

Your bio simply describes your business. As many words as allowed,  you are required to describe your business the best way you can, highlighting the product(s) or service(s) your business provides.

3. Get a business logo

This is very important considering that you are now creating a virtual store. Anywhere the logo is seen online, customers can actually trace and know that, this a product or service provided by your business. Get a logo that is appealing to the eye and best express your business. Upload and set this business logo as the display picture for the chosen social media platforms. Note that anytime your display or profile picture is changed, it must run throw the other accounts. Also, picture or video posts must have the logo watermarked or embedded in them.

4. Get a Website

As your business is expanding and growing, it is necessary that you get a website for your business, the website will be the virtual headquarters for your business, where files and posts are well organized and easily surfed. Unlike the website, the social media platforms come with restrictions on posts, a typical example is twitter which allows just 140 characters per post. Also it is very difficult to access old posts on social media.

How to stay on top, promote your business and increase sales

To increase sales and patronage your business deserves, it mostly depends on the number of people your posts reach and how convincing your posts are, there is therefore the need to strategize and plan, how best your posts can be seen and how best it can entice customers or potential customers. To help with that, here are some points to consider;

5. Scheduled posts

All posts must be well scheduled and timed, social media allow you to post blogs, pictures, videos and links about your business and also caption them. It must be considered the time of the day the posts are made and the time most users are active to see posts. Posts made with your business account appear on the timeline or “wall” of users that follow your business account. Three (3) posts a day at least is okay with one is the morning, one is the afternoon and one in the evening.

6. Graphics

All posts must be accompanied with well-designed graphics, watermarked with the business logo and contacts, this attracts users to appreciate and read posts.

7. Interactive posts

Interactive posts is the salt in the soup that gives it that splendid taste. These are not the usual posts that are reaching out in the form of advertisement, they are meant to be exciting, talking about new trends and engaging. They invite more likes, views, shares, retweets and comments than the usual posts. They can be in the form of quotes, riddles, jokes, fashion, questions etc. This is unlimited to your amount of creativity. All interactive posts must have the business logo and contact which indirectly informs users where they are enjoying such a post and where to come for more.

8. Like, share, retweet, favorite, comment and follow

This targets to increase your post reach and increase your business page fan base or followers. The business handle must be used to like, share, retweet, favorite, comment and follow accordingly and responsibly, whatever the handle is used to endorse by liking or commenting reflects on the business. Adopting this strategy makes your business handle get noticed.

9. Use of hashtags

The power of hashtags should not be underestimated. To well explain how hashtags work and why they should be used, here is an instance: let’s say I am very active on Instagram and I am looking for shoes to buy, I can go to the search engine on Instagram and by choosing the hashtag search, I type shoes and a grid of posts appears, these posts can lead me to a shoe company’s page. Hashtags organize your posts like an album to improve search. It is good to have a consistent hashtags for all posts made.

4 Ways African Start-Ups Can Leverage On The New Media For Growth

You may doubt if you had been told in the 90s that the advent of fast rising new media will revolutionise the entire world in the new millennium. Let me take you through four reasons why you need to bank on social media for an exponential growth in your business.


You may doubt if you had been told in the 90s that the advent of fast rising new media will revolutionise the entire world in the new millennium. The ripple effect is clear to all and sundry. According to StartUp Grind, fast growing Silicon Valley companies leverage on social media as part of the ways of widening their horizon and garner for support for their startups.

Now, let me take you through four reasons why you need to bank on social media for an exponential growth in your business:

1. Community

There is a teeming number of people who are signed on to a social media channel daily. According to StatsMonkey, the most used social network in Ghana is Facebook with a usage of about 94.89%. This basic statistic means that, a large number of the Ghanaian community are connected to one social network or the other. Let’s demystify this, in as much you have people moving from one place to another to search for goods and services, there exists some equally large number of people who spend some time using the internet for social media and may bump into things to buy or a service to be rendered to them. This is one of the reasons why as an emerging business, you have the leverage of the social network community.

2. Cost-Effectiveness

Traditional marketing was what businesses took advantage of in order to break into their market. As a small business breaking into the highly-competitive market in this 21st century, there should be a considerable form of using the digital media to enter into the market. Both channels of marketing are essential but as an SME, starting the digital media way will save you some cash to take care of other things as far your business is concerned. For instance, a sponsored ad on Facebook for a week will cost not more than $70 (GHC280.00) for a reach of over thousands of people. On the other hand, a billboard will not be less than $254 (GHC1, 000). The cost of moving from one place to another to market your product will reduce since you are mostly immobile in using social media. You will agree with me that, as a typical African business, you are being handicapped by economic shocks like high inflation rate, high interest rate and so on; therefore, using the new media will be an add-on.

3. Measurability

The whole concept of digital marketing is interlaced with the ability to measure your performance over a period of time. The analytics that these social networks provide are vital to the growth and sustainability of your small business. Performance management is one of the major factors of business development and the new media makes it possible to measure your performance online for a defined period of time. The reason is that it helps you strategise and look out for innovative ways of marketing and if possible, a change of social media channel. You may not be able to measure the number of people who have watched an ad on the television but give rough approximations, you may not know how many people see that billboard on the street; the point is not to downplay the essence of traditional marketing but as an emerging business you can make a lot out of social media, thus the ability to measure result and performances.

4. Customer Support

Customer retention is to some extent, dependent on the speed of response given to customers’ complaints. One tool that characterizes the social media platforms is that there are ways to easily reach out to you. It is very simple for customers to for instance to mention your business’ twitter handle and tweet their problems or issues out to you on Twitter. Facebook users can also send messages to register their complaints or enquire about your services. One thing to consider is that, if prudent measures are not taken to address these customers’ issues, some may vent their frustrations via the social networks. They ripple effect is not something you would want to bear because a bad reference is a bad reputation for your business. As an emerging business, social media gives you the opportunity to respond to complaints quickly.

You cannot underestimate the effect of social media and how it is quickly creeping into our world.

Ignore it and you are bound to stagnate with your business.

Branding 101: Tips for Building a Killer Identity

Many get caught up with the word “brand” and believe it’s this colossal term reserved for corporate powerhouses. The reality is that every company—and in this day of social media, most individuals—can benefit from establishing what their brand equals.


By Lou Imbriano | CEO, TrinityOne, Inc


My roots are in sports, so I sometimes use sports references to help me get my business points across. When it comes to Branding 101, it’s like getting hits in baseball. If you hit the ball well and cover all the bases, you can hopefully score with a winning brand and excel in the game of growing your consumers.

Know What Your Brand Means

To build your brand, you need to know what your brand equals or what you want it to equal. Write down all the characteristics that describe what you are and how you would like to be perceived. Once you compile that list, you could fine-tune it and make sure you have full command of your brand in order to reach your customers and, more importantly, your potential customers. The adjectives and characteristics that make up your brand ideally differentiate you from your competitors and provide a clear understanding of what your business is not only capable of doing, but also what it is known for, and how you successfully sell your products and services.

The adjectives and characteristics that make up your brand ideally differentiate you from your competitors and provide a clear understanding of what your business is not only capable of doing, but also what it is known for.

Many small-business owners believe their business serves a need for a particular audience. But the problem is knowing if that potential customer base is large enough to build a business. A neighbor of mine came back from the Caribbean after a wonderful week of fun and lounging on the sunbeds that were all around the resort. He’s a carpenter and thought it would be a cool idea to build and sell them to folks on the lake. He built a prototype and figured out the cost per unit and what he would price it at retail. Due to production costs and the number of potential buyers on the lake, even if he got everyone to buy, the profits were not going to be sufficient enough to operate a business. He wisely chalked it up to a cool idea and not a business. My neighbor was smart enough to realize that to build a brand, you need an audience.

In this resort bed example, the target audience and the product need weren’t great enough to build a business and a brand around the concept. A viable business may lend itself to building that solid brand and assist the business’s growth.

Make Your Employees Brand Ambassadors

Your employees should know what the brand stands for and be true to the brand in everything they do. Often the owner and management know what the brand equals, but the people actually interacting with customers may not fully grasp the brand and its intent.

Many company leaders do not know who they are or how to convey what the brand equals, and employees at these companies have brand confusion and questions. Instead of being sure when it comes to their brand interactions, they may guess how they should represent the brand. This is an area where small businesses have the potential to outshine large corporations. Your employees can have a much deeper relationship with consumers, and, because of the multiple hats they wear, should be able to absorb the brand to the fullest.

The key is keeping your employees engaged, informed and empowered. Capture the brand so they understand it and know what you want to convey. Don’t just assume they will get it. Train them with examples that are both pro and con so they are fully schooled to represent the brand properly. Once they are trained and understand the brand, encourage them to support the brand message and reward them for acting in your brand’s best interests. The systems and protocols should help reinforce the importance of representing your brand. This is less about what they are saying to customers and more about how they are acting and embodying the brand. For example, if the brand is all about precision and cleanliness, then undocked and soiled uniforms are not properly displaying the brand.

Communicate Your Brand to the Public

Communicating your brand positioning is not just about the adjectives you choose to support what the brand equals. It also involves the methods and manner in which you are communicating the brand to the general public and, more importantly, to your target consumers. This has to do with the messaging and communication of the brand to others.

To aid yourself and your employees, you might create phrases, copy and descriptions that hit the bull’s-eye when communicating with customers or clients. It may help not just to know what the brand stands for but also how to properly communicate that in order to avoid brand confusion. Create a checklist of points to touch on while engaging with customers, to stay in line with the brand and what it represents. It might include situational encounters where a customer makes a request or has a question and the employee has a guide to the appropriate answer or response.

Also consider ensuring there is a set opening and exit when communicating to punctuate the brand and its positioning so the first and last impressions are always on brand. Lead them to the right path in consumer engagement and help them support the brand.

Get Target Customers to Amplify Your Brand

Finally, when your target consumers understand the nuances of your brand and can distinguish how your brand differs from the competition, you might have hit the ultimate brand goal.

To help ensure all brand communications and associations are consistent, try having a brand filter or a systematic questionnaire. This filter might have questions that help you determine whether or not your brand is being properly communicated and represented.

For example, one question might be, “Is the vehicle or manner of communication consistent with how the brand is perceived?” If you are selling pizza dough, you may not want to promote it in a restaurant review magazine that is more targeted to people who enjoy fine dining, whereas a baking, cooking or trade publication may make more sense, depending on your brand filter.

Another example question in the brand filter: “Does the association help or hinder the brand?” Using the same example of the pizza dough, you may not want to sell your dough in a bakery that has terrible reviews. Sure, the fact that it is a bakery provides relevance, but their terrible reviews could assist in eroding your brand. Also remember, it may work best when one person or group is in charge of determining the relevance of the association, to keep the interpretation of the brand filter more consistent.

If you communicate your brand message to your target audience properly and your brand positioning is easy to understand, hopefully your employees will be great brand ambassadors, along with your most avid consumers. When your consumers are fans of your brand and identify with it, they may become vocal in spreading your brand’s message. Word of mouth marketing has always been important, but it can be even more crucial in this age of social media. Just as you reward your employee, you might give perks and special treatment to those avid customers and fans of your brand that promote your products and services. Their endorsement may be more powerful than any commercial or copy you could produce.

When I was a kid, my mother always used to say that you are the company you keep. So hiring the wrong employees and aligning with the wrong vendors and partners may erode your brand. A strong group of caretakers of your brand may lead to further reaching brand ambassadors with your consumers. When you build that consistency and integrity and it flows through your customers, you just may hit a Brand Grand Slam.

 

81% of hotels in Accra have no active websites – GN Research

A study conducted by GN Research in Ghana’s capital city, Accra has revealed 81 percent of hotels do not have a website or up-to- date one as well as an active facebook account for review by both domestic and foreign travelers.

The research conducted over a period of almost two (2) months revealed that, out of a total of almost 500 hotels located in the Greater Accra region, only 93 have functional websites, of which 51 hotels regularly update them. 84 hotels also have facebook accounts but more  than 50% are dormant.

Only 20 out of a total of 284 budget hotels also have websites but more than half do not update them. Only 20 of these also have facebook accounts, of which 11 are dormant.

The situation for guest houses is no different as just a little above 20% of the 54 engaged have websites but about 80 percent regularly update them. About 28% have facebook accounts, of which over 50% are however dormant.

With 1-star hotels, only 27% out a total of 84 have websites but less than 10% regularly update them. Only 18% in this category also have facebook accounts with less than 5% keeping them active.

The advent of internet technology has proved useful in the hospitality industry across the world.

Nevertheless, almost all 3 to five 5-star hotels in Accra have regularly updated websites and Facebook accounts. This includes Kempinski, Labadi Beach, Mövenpick Ambassador, Fiesta Royale, La Palm Royal, Novotel, Alisa, M Plaza, Oak Plaza, the African Regent and the Royal Richester Hotels.

Some 57% of 2-star hotels located in Greater Accra region have websites but only 36% regularly update them to meet the needs of travelers. 47% of hotels in this category have facebook accounts, of which more than 60% actively engage prospective clients on their page.

These also include Coconut Grove Regency, African Royal Beach, Airport View, Airport West and Maxlot Hotels.

The hotels without websites (generally Ghanaian-owned) site the excuse of being interested in only domestic clients and/or their facilities remotely cited from the airport and therefore unnecessary to run a website.

Only a few renowned hotels (predominantly with international partners) are thus currently benefiting from the increase in international tourist arrivals in the country. In 2014, Ghana recorded the highest growth in traveler numbers – 37% from neighboring Cote d’Ivoire, 30% from Italy and 29% from the Scandinavian countries.

In an interview with JOY BUSINESS, the Head of GN Research, Samuel Kofi Ampah explained the current situation where most hotels have no website could therefore affect the potential growth of Ghana’s tourism and hospitality industry as well as investor confidence in the economy.

“The advent of internet technology has proved useful in the hospitality industry across the world. Consumers have increasingly been using the Internet to search for accommodation-related information on hotel websites,” Mr. Ampah said.

“An investor might come in with a budget and if he/she is unable to have first-hand access to relevant information on hotel accommodation and location to help him decide how many days he could spend in the country, it does not promote whatever growth agenda for the industry and the country at large. It is against this backdrop, GN Research sought to understand the importance of establishing a content-rich and user-friendly websites by Ghanaian hotel industry players with this study” he added.

Online reputation is currently regarded a major driver for hotel performance in many advanced and emerging economies. Most travelers use online sources to take decisions on hotels they may want to lodge in rather than the usual recommendations from friends and work colleagues which later turn out to be a wrong choice.

A vibrant hospitality industry is generally said to impact directly on the development of any economy, by creating jobs and generating foreign exchange and tax revenue for the government.

According to Mr. Ampah, the Ghana Tourism Authority must thus as a matter of urgency move to ensure that hotel facilities in the country necessarily establish websites and regularly update them on their operations.

“We have done this research to show the Tourism Authority that we still have a long way to go if we want to promote tourism in the country. The authority’s mandate is to promote tourism which requires making checks easier for tourists and investors. It therefore only needs to engage the hospitality industry players to impress on them the need to incorporate this international best practice in their operations for maximum benefits to their operations and the economy as a whole,” he concluded.

How we are helping

As part of our commitment to help businesses in Africa grow securely but competitively, we have introduced the Ghana Hotel and Tourism Program (GHTP).

For all hotels and guest houses that sign up to the Program, they will benefit from our GHTP e-Suite which includes a free domain name (e.g. www.examplehotel.com), a free website hosting for 12 months , a free listing on our online shop, EsiCom.Net and a tailor-made training program (GHTP Training).

Learn more here

5 Good Reasons To Take Your Business Online

The internet is a fact of business life, so even small firms need a presence online to hook customers. Despite the ever-increasing importance of an online presence for businesses of all sizes and descriptions, many smaller businesses are not adjusting their strategy accordingly.


By Jane Williams | Demand Media


Giving your small business an online presence means more than simply putting up a little website with your company’s address and phone number. It means setting up a virtual version of your business, with a welcoming, informative website, a Facebook page and Twitter account. In this electronic era, more people search online for the products and services they need as opposed to searching through a phone book. Ignoring this important potential marketing platform is akin to saying, “I don’t need any new business.

I. Accessibility

The Internet never sleeps, and every portal you offer online gives your business a virtual 24-hour showroom. This allows potential customers to research your product or service after business hours, and in the privacy of their own home. If you sell products, an online store allows for 24-hour order placement to capture a sale as soon as a customer is interested, as opposed to waiting for your brick-and-mortar store to open, by which time the urge to buy may have passed.

II. Brand Building and Identity

At its core, “brand building” actually means building a potential customer’s trust in your company or product. Providing an online presence not only gives a customer access to your product or service, but it also provides a way for the customer to “check out” your company. Online reviews, your interactions with other customers and the frequency and quality of your posts help to form a positive impression of your company in the potential customer’s mind, making a future sale more likely.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]At AWC, we often see fledgling businesses that have spent significant amounts of cash – at a time when they can least afford it – on marketing materials that end up offering a poor return on investment or, even worse, damaging their brand. When cash is tight, the temptation can be to go for the cheapest option – for example, through low-cost business cards and websites. But companies can end up paying twice when they realize the cheapest option isn’t the right way for them to communicate their business brand.[/su_pullquote]

III. Greater Audience

The Internet encompasses a much larger area than the few miles local to your business’ office or store. Your Web presence reaches out to everyone who passes by your virtual doorstep, which could include people from right next door or in another country. Depending on your specific industry and offerings, this could open up a much wider customer base than relying on face-to-face interactions would.

IV. Reviews

Some may consider reviews a double-edged sword of conducting business on the World Wide Web, as there will always be that possibility of receiving a negative one, fairly or not. But if you run your business honestly and treat your customers well, these should be isolated incidents, outnumbered by the many raving reviews left by your satisfied customers. Potential customers often check for reviews of a company or product before using either, so always encourage happy customers to leave reviews on rating sites such as Yelp or Google Places.

V. Easier Selling and Marketing

It’s a well-known marketing fact that people like to buy but don’t like to be sold. A well-written piece of copy for your products or services on your website allow buyers to make a more relaxed, informed decision to purchase, as opposed to feeling pressured by a possible pushy salesperson. Marketing your business is also easier and more far reaching, as the electronic format allows for a wider, more cost-effective distribution as opposed to traditional marketing, which usually included printing and mailing costs.

At West Cape Strategy Group, we say your website is your first office and your online presence is your first location. Se how we can help you