Andrew Simumba, communications specialist and U.S. Embassy Lusaka social media manager, and Towela Phiri, entrepreneur and 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship alumna from Zambia, held a discussion, arranged by U.S. Embassy Lusaka’s American Center, on digital marketing tools and social media best practices for entrepreneurs. To watch the Facebook Live discussion, visit this page. Here are some highlights from the virtual event.
Have a Vision
To begin marketing yourself or your business online, you must understand your reason for creating a digital brand. Are you online to promote your service, make money by selling your products, or build a network or following? Make your intention clear.
Design a Brand Guide
Branding is just as important online as it is offline. Do you hand out business cards in person? Create your online brand to match your offline brand. Always include your business logo on the content you produce. Determine your brand’s colors and be consistent with color selection by using color HEX codes.
Additionally, respect others’ intellectual property. Do not post photos of services you do not offer or post pictures taken by others if you do not have permission from the owner.
Tools You Can Use to Build Your Brand:
- Canva (or paid service Canva Pro): Use this graphic design platform to create logos, social media posts, business cards, custom T-shirts and more.
- Wikimedia Commons: This site provides free-use media. Be sure to credit the creator.
- Google Images: While it is not a good idea to rely solely on Google Images, it can be a resource for inspiration and it can help you avoid creating a brand that looks similar to other brands.
Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy
Establish your target audience and appeal to your audience by using their preferred social media platforms.
For example, TikTok appeals to a predominantly young audience with lighthearted and amusing topics. LinkedIn is a professional platform with more serious content.
Maintain a schedule for social media posts and be consistent. Determine how many times a week you will post on social media and the best time of day for your audience to view and engage with your content. Remember, if you decide to schedule posts weeks in advance, be ready to respond to questions promptly at the time of publication and adjust your posts in response to events that might be taking place in your community to ensure your posts do not appear out of touch with the current mood.
Tools You Can Use to Create a Social Media Strategy:
- Facebook Creator Studio
- Twitter Media Studio
Have someone review your social media messages before publishing to catch any mistakes or offer ideas.
Observe Your Audience Demographics and Use Media
Pay attention to your audience’s age, gender and interests (on Facebook, you can view these analytics using Facebook Insight). Determine your target audience and make an effort to motivate them to complete your call to action (for example, ask your audience to follow you or purchase your product.) It is essential to know your demographics, even if you have a large social media network. If your followers are not actively engaging and supporting your business, they will not help your business grow.
There are three types of media:
- Paid media: boosted Facebook posts, Google Ads, Twitter Ads, paid social media influencers
- Earned media: Twitter retweets, blog shares, mentions
- Owned media: blog posts, emails, websites
When you are first starting a business, do not rush to pay for advertising. Instead, use organic growth through your owned media to determine your audience’s behavior. Strive to build organic growth to save your business money and build audience loyalty.
Towela Phiri is a skilled entrepreneur and has been a digital marketing strategist for six years. She once owned a digital marketing company. Currently, she is the co-owner of an online packaging company. In addition to the Mandela Washington Fellowship program, Towela is an African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative alum.
Are you interested in business, marketing and entrepreneurship? Learn how you can create, innovate and prosper on the YALIEntrepreneurs page.