An eye into social media for business

The advent of the internet has changed the way business is done. It has greatly impacted business by just a click. It has also offered management of organistions a plethora of ways to effective organisational management by reaching out to multiplicity of people that their businesses are exposed to. The presence of an organisation on the internet means that the organisation is no longer limited to only its clients and/or customers but to all.

Social media enabled by the internet has long broken the ceiling of exponentially exposing businesses within a quicker spaces of time. Depending on the strategies employed by a business, a single business post on a social media platform can reach millions of people before the brink of an eye.

Businesses in developing countries that otherwise would never be known even in its home country can now boast of a global presence because of social media. The “likes” and “shares” on social media is the technological word-of-mouth marketing which increases the popularity of businesses.

Depending on the strategic plans of the business, it will be losing some opportunities without a social media presence. Considering that it is individuals who forms a business and those individuals use social media, it can be said that those individuals will in a way enhance their business prospects by their presence on social media.

My argument in this article is not the individual’s presence on social media but the presence of the business on social media and the benefits the business derives. In a quantitative research methodology approach to data collection, I administered a close ended questionnaire via WhatsApp to a sample size of one hundred and twenty six (126) collected within 24 hours of administering the questionnaire. Respondents are from Ghana, Benin, Nigeria, Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast, Mali, Kenya, Canada, USA, UK and Italy.

The question was:

  • Which of the social media platform will be your first choice for doing business?
    1. Facebook
    2. Instagram
    3. LinkedIn
    4. Pinterest
    5. Twitter
    6. Other / name it

In the following paragraphs, I will analyse the responses of the data collected from the sample size. The population for the study were WhatsApp users. None of the questionnaire was posted on a group platform. They were all administered on a one-on-one basis via WhatsApp. The response was collected and collated within eight (8) hours of broadcasting the questionnaire.

Table 1: Gender of respondents

Gender No. of respondents % of respondents
Male 75 60
Female 51 40
Total 126 100

Source: Author’s fieldwork, 2017

Table 1 shows the gender distribution of respondents. Out of the total of 126 respondents, 75 are male, while 51 are female. This suggests that more male will prefer social media platforms for doing business than their female counterparts. It also suggests that male interest on social media is different from female interest. Could security reasons account for less female interest since the male gender are higher risk takers as compared to the female gender. A future study will consider whether the female gender will rather patronize social media for other purposes rather than doing business.

Table 2: Age range of respondents

Age range (years) No. of respondents % of respondents
18yrs – 28yrs 36 28.6
29yrs – 39yrs 44 34.9
40yrs – 50yrs 43 34.1
51yrs and above 3 2.4
Total 126 100

Source: Author’s fieldwork, 2017

Table 2 shows the age range of respondents. 34.9% of the respondent are between the age ranges of 29yrs – 39yrs representing the highest percentage of respondents. The age range are the most active from the sample size of the study. They are more dynamic and interested in doing business on social media. The age range is considered critical because it represents a threshold of adulthood into maturity and therefore society expects those in that age bracket to self-sufficiency and acquired the necessities of life. This and other reasons will propel people of that age to stridently explore opportunities so as not be left behind in economic life.

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34.1% represents the second highest number of respondents who will do business on social media. Their age range 40yrs – 50yrs is considered life’s age. The popular saying that “life begins at 40yrs” compels people from 40yrs to assume a certain approach to life so as to make living worthwhile. Also people at that age have acquired good experiences in their employment history and are therefore expected to be strategic in making business decisions. For majority of them to have responded to do business on social media shows that they have carefully considered the options and concluded that doing business on social media presents a better advantage.

28.6% of the respondents are between the age ranges of 18yrs – 29yrs. This low percentage among other reasons may be because majority of the population may still be pursuing their education and are therefore not ready to do business.

2.4% represents respondents who are 51yrs and above and the lowest percentage of respondents in the study. At this age, people are less enthused about doing business since they are near retirement and would therefore not prefer high risk ventures like doing business. Majority of people at this age who would do business are those who are already doing business and will choose social media as another platform for promoting their business rather than for starting a business.

Table 3: Occupation of respondents

Occupation No. of respondents % of respondents
Lectures 6 4.8
Administrators 30 23.8
Entrepreneurs 9 7.1
Marketers 7 5.6
Accounting & Finance 3 2.4
Bankers 5 3.9
Insurers 2 1.6
Media 5 3.9
Civil Servants 8 6.3
Clergy 4 3.2
Security 2 1.6
Teachers 6 4.8
Students 20 15.9
Others 19 15.1
Total 126 100

Source: Author’s fieldwork, 2017

Table 3 shows the occupational distribution of respondents. Administrators represents 23.8% and constitute the highest percentage of respondents who will do business on social media.  Is it the case that administrators by the nature of their work have to use social media to enhance their clients’ services or they have ample time at hand for which reason they will want to do business to increase their income flow? These are mostly administrators in private organisations. Do they want to quit their jobs or are probably looking for other organisations that will give them better conditions of service?

Students represent 15.9% of respondents making it the second highest respondents for the study. It is important to state that all students’ respondents are in different universities studying different courses. The introduction of entrepreneurship in universities has precipitated students’ interest in doing small businesses while in school.

The development of e-commerce has further made entrepreneurial strides easy by eliminating lots of human involvement in the business process. Soon the efforts of universities at teaching entrepreneurship will begin to yield great harvest as graduates will prefer to do their own businesses rather than seeking employment in organisations. When this happens, the increasing levels of graduate unemployment in many developing countries will reduce significantly.

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Also worthy of mention is the number of people who fell in the category of “others” representing 15.1% cumulatively. This category of respondents are different professions ranging from lawyers, educational workers, diplomats, farmers and what have you. Their response to the study shows how varied and wide people will use social media for business.

All other professions represent 39.6% of respondents. This is a broad spectrum of professionals across very important sectors of the economy who are willing to do business on social media. This further supports the argument that social media has more to offer for business development than mere social chats.

Table 4: Which social media platform will be your first choice for doing business?

Choice of social media platform for business No. of respondents % of respondents
Facebook 89 70.6
Instagram 13 10.3
LinkedIn 13 10.3
Pinterest 1 o.8
Twitter
Other / name it 10 8.0
Total 126 100

Source: Author’s fieldwork, 2017

Table 4 shows the distribution of the choicest social media platform that respondents will prefer to do business on. Of the sample size of 126 respondents, 89 respondents representing 70.6% chose Facebook as their first choice of social media platform for doing business.

Facebook is estimated to have about 2 billion active users which means that doing business on Facebook has a higher propensity of reaching many Facebook users. Facebook as a profit making entity makes it difficult for other business users of the platform to generate organic traffic rather it is the best tool for targeting specific audience through paid campaigns. Facebook has a viable database of its users and therefore able to use that information to the advantage of businesses who purchase advertisement space for boosting their businesses on Facebook.

Besides the huge popularity of Facebook, some mobile phone networks in Ghana offer free usage of Facebook without credit. This makes its affordable as compared to the usage of other social media platforms. Some social media users thinks that some social media platforms are expensive to use hence they will prefer platforms which costs less and gives them most exposure for their business.

Instagram and LinkedIn had an equal respondent rate of 10.3% each. Pinterest 0.8% respondents with no respondents for Twitter. It is amazing how Twitter is not popular as a social media business tool among respondents in this study. All 8.0% respondents mentioned WhatsApp as their “other” social media platform tool for business.

Conclusion

Doing business via social media platforms has come to stay. The growing world’s literacy population makes social media viability and usage more pronounce. Social media speedily spreads businesses globally when the social media strategies are adopted. In Ghana, social media has gained popularity and usage for many reasons of which business cannot be ruled out. With the growing percent of social media users, it is important for businesses particularly in developing countries not to be left out in the social media for business revolution.

Maximising your business potential on social media will require that businesses choose the best social media channels to engage the customers and the public. They need to have firm understanding of the various social media networks particularly demographics of users of the various platforms. This can be obtained through analytics from the social media network companies. Investment in social media for business does not compete with others forms of business promotion strategies rather it complements your efforts to enhancing the business potential.

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