A few months after moving to Toronto, I went to a networking event for entrepreneurs. I met some fantastic people, some of whom I am still in contact with today. I remember speaking to a business coach at that event; we talked about my business aspirations. I told her I wanted to work with Caribbean entrepreneurs; I felt a need to help them, I felt the Caribbean was getting left behind where Social Media was concerned. The advice I got was, don’t do it, Caribbean entrepreneurs are not a good market if you want to make money. Fast forward a few years, I didn’t listen, I still decided to work with Caribbean entrepreneurs and businesses and even though the advice wasn’t bad advice. I am Grenadian, and home is where the heart is.
After being in the social media game for a few years, I think I have the ideal social media strategy for Caribbean businesses; the different elements are as follows:
Define Your Social Media Goals
One of the biggest disconnects I observe in organizations is the person setting the overall goals and objectives of the organization and the person executing on social media is not communicating. This results in posting content and using social media in a way that does nothing to improve the company’s bottom line or help with its overall goals.
There needs to be a complete alignment of the company’s overall goals and its social media goals. Social Media goals must support the overall goals of the company/business. For example, if the goal is to increase sales by 20% by December 2021, then the social media activities are supposed to be in alignment with that goals.
Be very careful of vanity metrics when defining your goals and objectives and your measurement of whether they are achieved or not. Vanity metrics are surface-level metrics that look good on paper but do nothing to improve the bottom line of the organization.
The following are some of the goals that organizations can strive for:
1- Awareness – Making sure your brand is properly positioned in front of your target audience to achieve some level of familiarity.
2- Traffic – driving traffic to your website of other digital assets to encourage further actions.
3- Engagement – generating interaction from your audience to help people know, like and trust you.
4- Sentiment – helping to shape how people perceive your brand online to build loyalty from and to your audience.
5- Conversion – Generating subscribers, leads, and purchases to help with your bottom line.
6- Customer Experience – If you are not using social media for marketing, then use it for customer service and turn your customers into loyal brand evangelists and supporters.
Additionally, when designing your goals, ensure they are S.M.A.R.T.
Identify Your Target Audience
Every marketing plan starts with identifying your target audience; you can’t write a business plan without defining it. For example, whenever I am consulting with a client, and I ask, who is your ideal client or who is your target audience, most times the responses are, I don’t know. While this might sound cliche, it is important to know who you are targeting before you start executing your strategy.
To begin the process of identifying your target audience, develop a buyer’s persona by looking at
- Why they will benefit from your product/service
- How will this product/service solve customers’ pain points?
Here is a guide to further help you with this process
Find out Where Your Target Audience Is hanging Out Online
This one is easy, I have done the research for you, but let’s not jump ahead. These are some social media platforms where they could be hanging out
Based on your buyer personal above, you can start choosing which platform to be on, but again don’t worry, I have done the research and found the platforms most Caribbean people use.
The top four platforms used by Caribbean people both at home and in the diaspora are
As a Caribbean business, you need to focus your attention on these four, although you do not need to be using all four at the same time. Yes, I know Whatsapp is a messaging platform, but it’s the second most used app after Facebook by Caribbean people, so you better figure out the best way to use it for your business. Below, you will find a breakdown of the big four:
Gary Vaynerchuk in his book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook stated 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 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 suggested 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. It is the second largest search engine, and it’s not even a search engine. 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 regularly 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 undoubtedly make sense for entrepreneurs to figure out how to make WhatsApp work for their businesses.
There are four fundamental ways to connect with people on Whatsapp, these are
One to one chat
I am pretty sure you already know this. However, it doesn’t hurt to repeat. The reason to be using WhatsApp merely is your customers are indeed 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.
Create a Content Plan For Each Platform
One of the biggest mistakes I see businesses make is using social media strictly for distribution. They create a piece of content, whether video or image, completely ignoring the nuances of the platforms and try to distribute that piece of content all over. That’s a bad idea; you need to be creating content for each platform in a way that people want to be communicated with on those platforms.
The reason for this is even though we are the same people wherever we go, depending on the context of the situation we act differently. You do not act the same way in the church as you will at a party. In the same way, when we are on Facebook, we are in a different mindset than when we are chatting on Whatsapp.
One of the popular questions I get asked a lot though is, how do I create content that goes viral? The truth is, focusing on trying to go viral may not be the best approach. A more appropriate course of action is to learn to tell stories that people are interested in and will want to share. Jonah Berger, in his book Contagious, stated that content gets shared when
1- They provide practical value to users
2- They make the sharer looks good
3- They are emotional, in particular, action-oriented emotions such as anger, excitement, and happiness
4- And the big one, Stories, stories get shared online
Henry Jenkins, in his book spreadable media also stated the content that gets shared the most online are, humor, shared fantasies, parody and references, mysteries, timely controversy, and rumors. He stated one or two more, but I do not fully understand them.
Create A Budget For Paid Social Media
Like it or not, organic social media is pretty much dead. However, there is some life in it and I still get good engagement on some of my pages. However, we can no longer depend exclusively on organic content. Nevertheless, social media ads are your secret weapon. In particular Facebook ads. In the Caribbean, Facebook ads are the cheapest and most targeted way to reach your target audience.
In North America, the cost of reaching people online through Facebook ads is increasing. However, that’s not the case in the Caribbean because it is still underutilized. Every Caribbean business needs to be running ads on Facebook. With these ads you can
1- Sell products and services
2- Increase brand awareness
3- Drive traffic to your website
4- Get more engagement on your page
5- Generate more leads for your business
Oh, and try not to click the boost button at the bottom of your content when you post something. I recommend that you go into the ads manager and set up your ads from there. I also recommend starting with a budget of about 5 to 10 USD a day.
Now that you have your strategy in place go out and get busy and if you need help, let’s talk.
Updated: June 25th, 2021