Tawanda Mashava

All things, without fear, and informational

Thursday, 7 January 2016

How Zimbabweans can Choose Which Social Networks to Showcase their Products and Services

This post is inspired by a lot of discussions I have seen on a number of social media platforms, the latest being my (Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn) friend Nico Abote's post on his Facebook profile. He was celebrating the kind of connections he is making on LinkedIn compared to, presumably, Facebook. Nico, by the way, is a renowned videographer.

After Nico’s post, many of his Facebook friends came in with their own thoughts, he is one of the Zimbabweans with a high engagement rate on Facebook, I must admit, and this post was no different. Some of the comments led me to write this post and try to demystify the concept of which social network is better than the other.

There are too many Social Media platforms to consider, and I would advise anyone not to try too many, an average of 2 to 3 networks and doing them very well should be enough for most businesses and freelancers. The question that then comes is: How do I chose which 2 or 3 to focus on. And it is this issue that I will try to address here. In social media, it’s about quality, not just quantity. Doing two or three channels really well with consistent, highly engaging content that is reaching and interacting with your target audience is what will lead to conversion and customers.

I used to talk of ‘The Big 5’ in Social Media, that is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+, but from now I will talk of ‘The Serious 6’, because Instagram has given reason to believe it must always be considered. Many people also want to talk of Pinterest, but personally I have never been a big fan of the network, and I’ve also realised that not many Zimbabweans use Pinterest. So for now I will leave it in my argument.

Who is Where?

Source: slideshare.net
Before you chose which 2 or 3 of these 6 you need concentrate on, you first need to know who your customer is, after answering this question, determine where this targeted buyer is found, and since there is no data specific to Zimbabwe on the demographics and usage of these social networks, we will use the international statistics, and accordingto a Pew survey in 2015:
  • ·         Facebook has wide, global usage, and surprisingly to me, fewer young people are staying active.
  • ·         Instagram is a favourite among teens and young adults.
  • ·         Twitter is home to many information junkies and tech savvy people (In Zimbabwe, it has become a discussion platform, especially from those who hate what the inept government is doing to our beloved Zimbabwe)
  • ·         LinkedIn is the playground for high income, educated professionals
  • ·         Google+ is a network with a predominantly older male user base (in Zimbabwe, we would just say male user, not OLDER male user)
  • ·         YouTube has an equal number of men and women, but men are more active users with wider preferences
  • ·         And though I didn’t want to list it, Pinterest has a user base which is 80% female dominated, most of whom are from a higher income background

Assuming these stats hold true for Zimbabwe as an individual demography sample, you now know where you are likely to get the most returns on your social media marketing efforts by targeting your personas.

What Content Do You Share?

For your content to go viral and have meaningful engagement, you need to post on the right platforms, written content performs differently with visual content on different platforms.

Written content has proven to be more effective on platforms that ensure readership. Whether it’s short or long, articles and blog posts get a lot of visibility and shares through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

On the other hand, if your business has a lot of focus on physical products, going visual can open up endless possibilities for you. Facebook (yes, Facebook again), Instagram (and Pinterest and Tumblr and  . . .) are great for visually oriented social media accounts which are usually dominated by girls.

If you create or can create a lot of videos about your products or services, then you have to seriously consider YouTube. Whilst other video sharing sites like Vimeo and Vine have proved very popular globally, I am yet to ascertain their popularity and effectiveness with the locals, but you can still try them. Consider creating ‘How To’ videos, as they can attract the right type of people to your channel.

Your Industry

There is a general trend on the type of industry that performs better on certain platforms, and you need to choose wisely if you are to get the desired engagement and eventually conversion of fans into customers.
Here are some of the industry based trends across social networks:
  • ·         Instagram — art, food, retail, lifestyle and leisure
  • ·         Twitter — news, tech updates
  • ·         LinkedIn — B2B, recruitment agencies
  • ·         Facebook — Almost everyone, but few Business 2 Business companies
  • ·         YouTube — Luxury products, DIY, Home improvement (How to videos)
  • ·         Google+ — SEO, IT

Which would you take?

So whats the best network?

Whilst Facebook is the largest social Network, it can never guarantee you the kind of exposure you might need as a business, especially if your clients are other businesses (B2B guys). Its Newsfeed algorithm will mean you post can easily get lost in a myriad of other status updates and 'weekend at the bar' photos. However, it is the best for customer engagement and building long term relationships.

For products based companies and creatives like photographers and videographers, visual is the way to go, with YouTube, Instagram leading the way (you can put in Pinterest there). They will work well in your product promotion strategy.
Keep you LinkedIn profile professional, and do all the funny stuff on Facebook, just do not jeopardize you chances at anything
Twitter (My personal favorite) is interesting; it works well for most of these businesses. It is an interesting hybrid with active usage by everyone from teenagers to famous athletes and actors to professionals, and companies using it to reach both consumers and businesses. Twitter is also the best if your business is up for constant interaction. It has also become a great platform to run a support center without any hassle. Econet used to use Twitter very well to solve their customers’ problems, although this side of their business has since dropped down dramatically.

What other factors are important in choosing the right social media network? Respond in the comments box below.

4 comments:

  1. I think internet connectivity is also a deciding factor. I want to start a vlog and the internet here won't allow. I think you also need to play to your strengths, whichever social network you feel confident using stick to that one. Otherwise well done. I learnt a lot from it. NB Try to proofread

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    1. Yeah, internet connectivity becomes an issue, but if you really need to market your products/services, you have to be willing to pay that price, esp considering the cost of connectivity has been going down.

      In as much as playing to your strengths and prioritizing the social network you're confident about works, being confident on Facebook will not necessarily help a B2B business, so we till need to consider where our potential clients are.

      Thank you on the proofreading note, tried to correct a few errors, if you find more, please highlight.

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  2. good piece. Very few Zim businesses realise the opportunity that these social media platforms offer to their growth and success. Tech is and always will be a tricky patch to farm. Generally Zim Business is scared of the internet with most thinking it is irrelevant. Our Businesses have yet to segment the netizens and fail to identify potential clients on the platforms availed. Also they are failing to realise new Global Markets because of this netphobia.

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    1. True that Victor, the corporate entities also need to educate their potential 'clientele' on the advantages of doing busines on the internet, that way, we can have more netizens, and we also need to buld the confidence

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