I have always felt that Caribbean entrepreneurs weren’t making enough use of Social Media, I have written some articles about how they can take full advantage of the many opportunities social media offers for their businesses but always felt like I can do more.
When I was wrapping up my masters a couple of months ago, I had to conduct a research study; I looked at how storytelling and social media intersected In the nonprofit sector. That research got me interested in social media research in general. When a few of my entrepreneur’s friends from the Caribbean started asking me which social media platforms they should be on and what are the best practices for these I decided to conduct a mini research to find out.
Generally, when people ask me which social media platforms they should be on, my response is normally this; set up profiles on each one, so you own your name on them even if you don’t use it. However, only focus on those your ideal clients are on. If your ideal clients are on Facebook and not on the new platform Twitch, then no need to be on Twitch, however, you should own your name on there.
One year ago I did some social media workshops in Trinidad and Grenada and did some informal surveys on social media usage, and I found that people only used about 1 to 2 platforms. I decided to back this up with a mini research amongst Caribbean’s to figure out once and for all which platforms they use. The results were rather interesting. I surveyed a total of 128 people over a seven day period. They were asked to answer a short online survey about which social media platforms they used.
68% of the respondents reside in the Caribbean, and 32% resides outside of the Caribbean. The top 4 platforms used amongst Caribbean people are Facebook, Whatsapp, Youtube, and Instagram. Twitter and LinkedIn came in right after. 96% of the respondents use Facebook, 95 uses WhatsApp, 81% uses Youtube and 60% use Instagram.
So, the big question is, what does this mean for Caribbean entrepreneurs, well it means a lot actually. It means that If you are trying to attract potential clients on social media or using emerging platforms, then you need to focus on Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and Whatsapp. Some may argue that WhatsApp is a messaging platform but stick with me; we will get there.
Gary Vaynerchuk in his book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook states that people go to Facebook to connect, socialize, and catch up on what the people they know and presumably care about are doing. In the process, they also find out what their friends and acquaintances are reading, listening to, wearing, and eating; what causes they are championing; what ideas they’re hatching; what jobs they’re hunting; and where they are going. Facebook wants users to see things that they find relevant, fun, and useful, not annoying and pointless, or else they’ll abandon the site. Facebook tends to have an older demographic, with the highest percentage of users in the 30-49-year-old age range. Looking further into the demographic statistics of Facebook, the site tends to have a more female-heavy audience, with 72% of users being 10 females.
According to Vaynerchuk, organizations should create content that is related to their brand or at least one mental step away. Which means organizations need to create content that’s relevant, fun, and useful but should not always talk about their organization.
He further went on to suggest some questions to Ask When Creating Facebook Micro-Content; these include; is the text too long? Is it provocative, entertaining, or surprising? Is the photo striking and high-quality? Is the logo visible? Have we chosen the right format for the post? Is the call to action in the right place? Is this interesting in any way, to anyone? For real? Are we asking too much of the person consuming the content?
Youtube is a video platform that thousands of people around the world go to search, create, share and discuss content. Youtube is the second largest search engine, and it’s not even a search engine. But behind Google, it’s the place where people go to search and engage with content. Caribbean people love Youtube and Entrepreneurs should all have a presence on there, creating and putting out content.
Chris Ambedkar in his master’s research identified five factors for success on Youtube
Authenticity- Don’t be fake. You gotta be real!
Relatability- Resonate with your viewers. Share the same experiences.
Consistency- Post constantly and often! Stay top of mind!
Engagement- Be an active poster, commenter, and curator
Shareability – Post content that you or your friends would want to share!
Instagram is used mostly by 18-29-year-old women (Duggan and Brenner, 2012). The company can present a more personal picture of their brand, and by doing so, the company conveys a more honest picture of itself” (Bergstrom and Backman, 2013, p. 12).
Instagram is used best to portray a more transparent view of the company through photos. Users get to present updates through photos and videos and tweak them using filters. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Instagram works best via its mobile app. It has recently rolled out the ability to post via desktop. However, it is designed for smartphones. Using Instagram successfully involves the active participation of users and engagement on the platform takes the form of likes and comments. Likes and comments also make images visible to people elsewhere in the network, interjecting images into customized flows of content. (Carah et al. 2015)
Instagram also recently released the opportunity for users to share a post from other users directly to their stories as well as the ability to mute users they do not want in their feed.
I know when we talk about Social Media we talk about Facebook and Instagram and the likes, however messaging apps such as WhatsApp has caught up with the number of active monthly users (1.5 billion worldwide) as these platforms. From the surveys conducted, WhatsApp was the second most used app after Facebook, so it will certainly make sense for entrepreneurs to figure out how to make WhatsApp work for their business.
There are three basic ways to connect with people on Whatsapp, these are
- One to one chat
- Group messages
I am pretty sure you already know this. However, it doesn’t hurt to repeat. The reason to be using WhatsApp is simply that your customers are certainly using it. A Neilsen Facebook messaging survey found that 67% of the respondents said they expected to be communicating more with businesses on Whatsapp over the next two years. That means that you now need to figure out how to collect the phone numbers of clients and potential clients to be able to communicate with them over WhatsApp. Shortly I will write a complete guide on how to do this.
So hey, if you are targeting Caribbean people with your business, then you need to figure out really fast the best ways to use Facebook, Whatsapp, Youtube and Instagram to reach them online. You owe it to your business to learn how to connect, engage and build relationships with your potential customers on these platforms in a way that’s native to each one.