Everyone is using social media these days- and some are doing it better than others. Social entrepreneurs, in particular, are taking advantage of the audience, reach, and potential virality of the numerous social media platforms they have to advertise their products. Statistics show that businesses have leveraged social media tremendously in the last ten years.

According to marketingcharts.com

  • 6% of small businesses report using social media to promote their businesses, and among them, Facebook is by far the top platform used.
  • 44% of local businesses said they depend on social media to generate brand awareness, and 41% rely on it to drive revenue.
  • Almost 90% of marketers say their social marketing efforts have increased exposure for their business, and 75% say they’ve increased traffic.
  • More than 50% of marketers who have been implementing social media marketing tactics for two years have reported improved sales.
  • More than 1 in 3 Internet users say they go to social networks when looking for more information about a brand or product. However, the likelihood of doing this is linked very strongly to age.

 

What exactly is a social entrepreneur?

The Schwab Foundation defines social entrepreneurship as practical, innovative and sustainable approaches to benefit society in general, with an emphasis on those who are marginalised. The people dedicated to finding these approaches usually identify problems and kick off entrepreneurial activities to solve them. The term “entrepreneur” shows that these social solutions have full business structure and financial implications. These solutions usually range from agriculture and healthcare to education and global eco-friendliness. Just like entrepreneurs change the face of business, “social” entrepreneurs merge entrepreneurship with social impact to change the face of society. So why should such social entrepreneurs use social media?

Social media has turned out to be the most productive means of engaging customers – current and potential- in most businesses today. This is most important for social enterprises because their businesses centre on people and their satisfaction or improved living.  For effectiveness, these people must be carried along by sincere sourcing feedback on the services offered.

Engaging customers on social media gives a chance for the most real feedback because of the human behavioural patterns. Everyone has an opinion but in many cases, the average customer gives a bias feedback when an identity is put to it. Social media has become that haven where customers fearlessly voice their sincere opinions about your product and services.

The availability of social media engagement analytics tools also makes it a productive platform to employ in business. Social media engagements with customers can be analysed extensively and the outcome of these analysis are used in making key business decisions and projections. Customer behaviour is studied and changes can be made to business models to influence market penetration.

There are close to 20 social media platforms in the world, although just a few are in common use. The nature of the product and content should determine which platforms you channel more resources into.

Take Budgit as an example. Founded in 2011, Budgit is a civic organisation that allows citizens to have insight into budget and it’s expenditure on national projects. Budgit has 110k followers on Twitter and close to 5000 on Instagram. There is a more active engagement on Twitter and this is strategic. Nigerian Twitter users engage in political and national discussions more than Instagram. This is because Twitter is designed in an Instant Messaging format. It allows chit-chat engagements. Budgit tells a story of how our funds are being spent from the national treasury. It gives the average citizen a sense of participation and transparency in the handling of public finance. This is something everyone wants to have insight into due to the increased rate of corruption and a strategic storytelling of this subject carries citizens along and increases engagement with the organization, Budgit. Since this social innovation thrives on stirring up and providing answers to discussions around public finance, it is smarter to engage more on Twitter.

Social media experts say social entrepreneurs and non-profits have a secret weapon of social media. According to Jay Baer, social entrepreneurs just need to “tell the story. Don’t try to sell to anyone. Let the story sell for you.”

Examining Charity Water (an organisation that funds water projects in the developing world) as another example, beneficiaries of this project are encouraged to make videos of the water sources they have been provided with. These videos circulated on social media and created more verity than polished, edited video from the business or organisation itself. With this proper storytelling, donors, grant givers and investors see value for their money and more of such people are encouraged to support.

In Nigeria, Farm Crowdy and Thrive Agric are two of the most significant social innovations with their focus on the agricultural sector. These companies crowdfund farmlands and empower farmers for increased productivity and higher scaling. On the other hand, these funders receive returns on their investments. With this, every Nigerian can be a farm owner or farmer, either actively or passively.

The organizations have a brilliant storytelling formula on their social media pages, especially Twitter and Instagram. A proper documentation of the progress of their farmers creates a storyline that makes citizens eulogize these businesses for improving the lives of ordinary peasant farmers. Also, a proper storytelling of how a single income earner now has an improved cash flow and livelihood is something social media users are interested in.

In 2018, internet users in Nigeria hit 98.3 million (about 50% of the entire population). Therefore, social media image goes a long way in your overall public image as a brand in this part of the world.  A global company like Facebook lost $120 billion in less than two quarters of 2018 because of privacy issues that led to a dent in public image.

Social Media Fundraising

Another value that social media presents social enterprises is fundraising. Over the last few years, social media fundraising has become the go-to for so many start-ups. Crowdfunding and other public funding is being explored like never before. Although there is no legal or global structure to this yet in some parts of the world, the turnout and returns have been encouraging.

How to Harness the Power of Social Media

  1. Post often
  2. Have a structure and sequence for posting.
  3. Post Snippets of your work
  4. Engage customers by replying to comments and messages
  5. In cases of criticism, respond with respect for the customer, whether you are right or wrong.
  6. Post outside the box. Sometimes engage customers in relatable and fun activities outside your product.