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A LARGE NUMBER of Barbadian businesses have a Facebook page. In fact, many of them have a dedicated space on this social media network but do not own a website.
In a general sense, this is understandable, since there is no start-up cost involved in having a Facebook page.
Like the average individual with a Facebook account, the joining up is free and it is an easy and quick way to reach out to existing and potential customers.
Companies, including those in Barbados, also use other social media platforms including YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn as a tool of marketing.
Arguably, however, the local business community’s use of these networks is still in the infancy, with traditional marketing and advertising modules more widely used. But there is no doubt that social media marketing is big internationally, and it is only a matter of time before its wider use is adopted in Barbados.
In terms of the Barbados perspective, James Skinner, founder and managing partner of Be Social, said recently that corporate Barbados’ use of social media was still “fragmented”. Be Social is a local digital marketing agency.
“Most senior executives and their marketing and communications professionals are aware of Facebook and LinkedIn, but now they have to deal with Instagram, Pinterest and other media that seem to spring up every day,” he said.
“To be fair, it can be a bit overwhelming, and many companies have not yet developed an overall strategic approach to making all the pieces fit.”
The Barbados Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators recently held a seminar, presented by Skinner, which looked at how businesses could make the most out of social media.
Speaking about two weeks ago in Trinidad at a seminar on Harnessing Social Media in Business, which was hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce, Robbie Burns, chief executive officer of Socialcore, called social media “a low-cost way to reach and engage with customers”.
“Younger audiences are being catered to by newer brands and companies need to digitalise to get where the new audience is. A 50-year-old is probably not online as often as a 25-year-old and so you will have to brand differently to cater for that,” he said.
“Facebook is important because it fulfils a big role in people’s lives. On average, Facebook users check their app 14 times a day. It’s the primary source for day to day news. It’s there hours before it gets to the press.
“Google and Facebook are the biggest advertisers in T&T, and a lot of companies have yet to realise it. There is a shortage in digital marketing in the Caribbean,” he added.
Internationally, new research produced by social media analytics company Simply Measured stated than many companies do not know where social media should fit within their organisation, how big the social media team should be and how it should be structured.
According to the research, about 57 per cent of respondents said that social media rolls into marketing, and most companies have no more than three people working on their social media team.
Additionally, a quarter of respondents said they had five or more people dealing with social media issues.
“The most common role across all companies is the social media manager, followed by the social media strategist, community manager and director of social media,” the report found.
In an article published by Business2community.com last week, companies were told that while social media marketing was vital, they needed to avoid several pitfalls if they wanted to truly benefit from it.
“First impressions are quick, powerful, and enduring – it’s very important to do everything you can to make a good one.
“Changing a first impression is doable, but it’s best to avoid making social media marketing mistakes in the first place,” the article stated.
It also said that “companies without a social media strategy whatsoever can never deliver effective messages to their audiences”.
“People who use social media expect companies to be responsive. They also want to feel like they’re dealing with a human being instead of a corporate robot.
“Responding to comments builds trust and intimacy between you and your customers.
“It’s also helpful to use a voice that’s interesting and witty versus monotone and off putting.”