Some years passed and the reality became that to own a successful retail business, you must have had the opportunity to acquire a good capital in order to do that. In this part of the country, accessing loans and funds have been only possible for most people who have evidential collateral. Because of this phenomenon, it could be reasoned that owning a retail business was only possible for people who usually were older and have had enough years to gather capital. If you were young, there was no way you could successfully start a retail business in Ghana because then, where would you get the capital.
To start a retail business then you need to get a location, get an edifice that would house your products, and then restock, and then you can consider a form of marketing if necessary depending on your location. All these initiatives come at a cost, hence, the need for an almost hefty capital depending on who is starting the business and the nature of their pockets.
The narrative that you could start a business with no money was merely a myth and quite delusional for most people, especially the younger population because it didn’t support the reality on the ground. Now, that narrative is very widespread and quoted by many business mentors because in our age now, you can almost start a business with no capital. How is that possible? Social media.
Social media has allowed people to start businesses without worrying about the other costs involved in the setups described above. It has as a result increased the chances of almost anybody starting their businesses irrespective of their age, and experience.
Below are some tips to becoming a successful social media entrepreneur.
1. Start with a plan
It is uncommon to notice that when people generally are getting ready to start any business, they either begin researching a business plan, putting some documents together as their plan towards how they are going to treat and run the business, and you see them do that mostly because they might be in need of funding and that need necessitates for you to plan. But for most social media entrepreneurs, a lot of time planning is done shabbily.
Before you leap in feet first, remember: every good business strategy starts with a good plan. Yes, you can use social tools for free. But the time and effort involved still represent an investment in your business.
Without a plan, you have no clear goal for what you’re trying to achieve. That means there’s no way to know if you’re getting a return on that investment. Here are some goals you want to take notice of
- Set social media goals and objectives
Create goals that follow the SMART framework. They should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
- Specific means they should be simple, sensible and significant. Specific goals means there should not be ambiguity in your definition of what you want to achieve. For instance don’t just say you want to sell clothes by the end of the year. Rather, you want to sell x number of clothes by the end of the year. That is specific enough. Don’t just say you want to be on all social media platforms. Be specific you want to launch on x and y and z platforms. When your goals are clear and specific, you are able to focus your efforts and you are also motivated to achieve them. So you can try answering these questions on your goals?
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who is involved?
- Where is it located?
- Which resources or limits are involved?
So subject your plans to these questions, and draft some specific goals for your social media business.
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating) : Measurable means that it should be something you can track it’s progress. You want to have a plan where you can easily sit down and have a review of them. When it is measurable, you are motivated to work hard to meet those targets you set. For instance you can begin to target the number of prospects you want to reach out to about your product in a specified period of time. These are some questions you can consider if your plans are measurable?
- How much? (This is usually in reference to costs and revenues that may appear)
- How many? (This may be in reference to the quantity of the product)
- How will I know when it is accomplished? (This is in reference to duration)
- Achievable (agreed, attainable): Attainable means it should be plans you are most likely to achieve. It might not be fully attainable because then it would mean that they were not ambitious enough, but they shouldn’t be goals that are so difficult you can’t even attain an average of what you set. It should stretch your abilities but still remain possible. When you set an achievable goal, you may be able to identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it. An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based). So a relevant goal means that the goal is something you actually care about and that you find it reasonable enough to pursue, and you are able to achieve some results and get other people to buy into your plans. For example, if you are going to select a particular product that you would want to sell to your customers, you want to be sure the product is one that people would love and want to buy. You don’t just start a social media business on a whim thinking it will make sense to everybody. You have to carefully consider your plans and that they are something you understand and will matter to you. Then you are able to sell to other partners and to your customers as well. A relevant goal can answer “yes” to these questions:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Is this the right time?
- Does this match our other efforts/needs?
- Am I the right person to reach this goal?
- Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?
- Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive). Every plan needs a target period, so that you have a specific time period to focus on and something to work toward. This part of the SMART goal criteria helps to prevent other miscellaneous tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals. A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions:
- What can I do six months from now?
- What can I do six weeks from now?
- What can I do today?
Base your goals on metrics that will have a real impact on your business. For example, you could aim to acquire customers or raise your conversion rate, rather than simply racking up likes.
B. Learn from your competition
You want to find out how other people who are offering similar products as you are using social media. It will be great to learn from them and learn some things they are doing right and implement them. Most of the time there is always someone who has gone ahead of you in your space, so take some time to research your competition or other people with social media businesses, and learn from them.
C. Conduct a social media audit
You can re-evaluate previous strategies you have used in starting your social media business. Study them, and strategize again how to take it to a different level. You may also want to figure out if you have some social media knowledge gaps you have to cover. Social media tools are improved and updated and gets better as the days go by so you want to always evaluate what you have been doing to know what you need to know and need to do the next time.
D. Create a social media calendar
Your business model is going to be you posting your products and services on your social media platforms a lot. A social media calendar helps you post the right content to the right social channels at the right time. It should include a plan for your content mix.
Try starting with the 80-20 rule. Use 80% of your content to inform, educate, or entertain your audience. Use the other 20% to promote your brand or sell your products.
2. Decide which platforms are right for you
You will have to be careful where you may think your audiences spend most of their time. You need to do a bit of research on which platforms are most ripe for you.
Your instinct might tell you that if you’re targeting Gen Z, you should skip Facebook and focus on Instagram and TikTok. But the data shows that nearly a quarter of Facebook users are aged 18 to 24 according to hootsuite.
Source: Digital 2021
If you’re selling to baby boomers, social might not seem like a top priority. But it should be. Facebook and Pinterest are the top social networks for boomers. Adults over age 65 are Facebook’s fastest growing audience segment. Baby boomers are people born in the years following the second world war, that is in a more ghanaian context, people born in the periods of 1939-1945 and upwards.
Tiktok appeals a bit more to a lot of Gen Zs and millennials and can be your go to platform depending on the products you have. Keep in mind that TikTok saw 56 million new app downloads in December 2020 alone. Whatsapp has been another great social media tool for a lot of businesses to target their contacts.
To make sure you’re using social media for business effectively, you’ll need to conduct some research of your own. This will help you to understand how your specific audience spends their time online.
Choosing your platforms doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. You can use different social channels to reach different audiences, or to meet different business goals. For example, you could use Facebook to build your audience and generate leads, and Twitter for customer service.
3. Know and expand your audience
One reason using social media for business is so effective is that you can micro-target your audience. But first, you need to understand who your audience is.
Start by compiling data on your current customers. Then, dig deeper with social media analytics. You’ll soon start to understand who’s buying from and interacting with you online, that is if you have an online shop, it becomes a bit easier to prospect which kind of customers visit your website. Sumundi Keepsales allows you to create an online shop for yourself free and in easy ways that does not require complex skills. Some platforms like linkedin allows you to see who has been viewing your profile. And you can also check out the likes and comments you get when you display certain products and services. You are able to quickly get an idea who your audience might be.
Once you have a clear picture of who your audience is, you can revisit your social media plan. It’s time to look for ways to reach more people just like them.
5. Build relationships
The unique benefit of social media marketing for small businesses is that it allows you to talk directly to customers and followers. You can build relationships over time, rather than asking for a sale upfront. According to hootsuite, more than 44% of internet users use social networks to research brands. Part of that discovery is getting to know who you are as a brand and what you stand for. When people engage with your organic content or ads, it’s a great idea to engage back. This helps to build trust and form a loyal following. As fans share and like your content, you rise in the social algorithms and gain new, free, exposure. Another example is also that, engagement is one of the signals Facebook uses to help identify which posts users are likely to see. When you establish relationships with your followers, they are more likely to see your other subsequent posts.
Nurturing relationships can also help you build a loyal community that will lead to ongoing sales over time. New customer acquisition is great, but don’t downplay the value of customer retention.
So how do you build relationships, beyond responding to follower comments on your posts? Try these strategies:
- Create social media groups, pages or youtube subscribers
Social media groups and pages are another great way to build community and brand loyalty. Whatsapp allows you to create a group for people that are on your contact. You can even share the group link around to other people and they are able to join your whatsapp group. There are others like Linkedin, Snapchat, youtube channel subscriptions, facebook groups and pages, Instagram, etc. These platforms allow you to build a following of fans who you can later market to. Anytime you post a content, or any kind of post, you are sure to have views and interactions on these contents.
- Connect with other entrepreneurs and influencers in your niche
Think your business is too small to work with influencers? Micro-influencers and nano-influencers with as few as 1,000 dedicated followers can be effective for establishing brand trust. That has become a model in itself now, where people work hard to create followings and then they allow businesses to take advantage of that.
If you have some capital, as a bonus, they are often well within the budget range of smaller brands. This is why you need a plan for your social media businesses that allows you to budget for all these. You can target these influencers to hoist your products for you on their profiles and you are sure to get target reaches.
- Mention followers in your posts and Stories
Even better, sharing your followers’ content on your social channels (and tagging them, of course), helps you establish relationships with some of your biggest fans.
If a fan tags you in an Instagram Story, you’ll get a notification in your direct messages. Be sure to reshare—it’s an easy win-win.
- Use the social platforms’ built-in interactive tools
From Twitter polls to interactive stickers in Instagram Stories to youtube subscriptions, there are plenty of ways to spark specific interactions with your followers. What we usually notice on twitter for instance is people taking advantage of trending hashtags to post their products and services. These are interactive tools built in by social media companies to drive interactions to specific contents and users always find themselves interacting in those trends and your product and services are likely to be seen. You can promote a hashtag or interaction yourself by awarding giveaways to customers who use certain hashtags, or subscribe and share a certain content of yours. Once these are set in motion, it’s easy to draw others into it as well.
These are some strategies that are outlined to help you attain Social media success as a social media entrepreneur. Your social media business can expand and rake in lots of revenue for you if you treat it with utmost seriousness and with ambition.