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Social Media Trends 2017: What do they mean for small businesses in South Africa?

For many SMB’s in South Africa, social media remains a bit of a mystery. Although business owners are aware that it’s important to have a social media presence, they don’t know how to leverage it. And because social media is constantly evolving, it can be difficult to keep up. So here’s what you need to know about the major trends happening in social media this year and what impact it could have on your business.

  1. Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn will dominate the scene

Of all the social media platforms available, these three will be the most important ones for your business. There are currently 14 million active South African Facebook users. Of these, almost 10 million (85%) use their phones to access Facebook.

Instagram has grown by 31% to 3.5 million users in 2016 and LinkedIn now has 5.5 million active South African users.

What does this mean for your business?

You’ll need to focus your digital marketing strategy on these three platforms in the coming year. And, it’s clearly more important than ever to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly.

  1. Content marketing, video and social messaging are on the rise

For the past few years content marketing has emerged as an essential digital marketing strategy. Consumers are weary of advertising and are looking for brands that provide them with authentic, practical information that adds value to their lives.

That content takes many different forms and thanks to faster connection speeds, video is the new trend.

Consumers also want businesses to communicate with them in a more personal and efficient manner. This is where social messaging services come to the fore, particularly for younger users.

How can your business use this information?

You’ll need to look carefully at the content you currently create for your blogs and social media channels. Stop pushing sales and find ways to educate and entertain your audience instead. That may include experimenting with video. You’ll need to stretch your creative limits to stand out from the crowd.

Businesses should also investigate ways of using messaging services such as WhatsApp to provide their customers and clients with a more direct form of communication. It’s best suited to handling customer service and enquiries.

  1. Increased spending on social media advertising

At present, almost 92% of the biggest Brands in South Africa advertise on Facebook and 92% use Twitter. This year, these advertisers will increase their social media advertising budgets. This is a clear indication that advertising on these social networks is effective.

The good news for SME’s

Advertising on Facebook and Twitter is still affordable for small and medium businesses. And, there’s another advantage to advertising on these platforms as opposed to print, radio or TV. Social media platforms allow you to define your target market more effectively based on demographic and geographic features. This makes it more cost-effective than mass advertising which gives you little control over who sees your message.

  1. Email newsletters continue to be fashionable

With the addition of interactive elements such as gifs and video, email newsletters are more engaging than ever. And it’s no longer a secret that most consumers prefer to interact with businesses via email.

What should you do?

Dust off that database of emails you’ve collected over the years and get to work on creating the most eye-catching newsletter you can. Divide your email list into groups based on different markets and create targeted newsletters that get your customers clicking through to your website to find out more.

Developing a strategy and managing your spend

The biggest barriers for small and medium business owners who want to develop a presence on social media remain time and expertise. However, you can confidently outsource this aspect of your business to a company that provides professional social media management services.

It’s no longer a question of whether your business should be on social media or not. But rather how a well-defined social media strategy can improve your reach and ultimately, your bottom line. A professional will be able to help you find your niche, create compelling content and spend your advertising budget effectively.

Embrace social media and discover what a difference it could make to your business.

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