Small businesses learn how to get consumers’ attention online

Attention was the new currency, said Linah Maigurira, one of the speakers at the National Small Business Chamber Summit. For brands to get customers, they had to pay attention to consumers’ behaviour and be where they were.

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Linah Maigurira of Google South Africa says engagement on social media with consumers is important. “Invite your audience to connect.” (Image: National Small Business Chamber, Facebook)

Melissa Javan
Grabbing the attention of consumers online was vital for your brand, Linah Maigurira, the industry manager of Google South Africa, said at the National Small Business Chamber Summit, held on 15 and 16 February 2017 in Midrand, Johannesburg.

Maigurira was one of the speakers who shared valuable knowledge and expertise with the more than 30,000 attendees.

The National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) said that by 7 February, a total of 32,127 people had registered for the conference. Of them, 14,806 were existing business owners and 17,321 were about to start a business.

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Nadia Malan and Erick Letshwene of Easy Debit at the NSBC Summit business expo in February 2017. Their business has been running for five years and specialises in collecting payments from business’s clients via debit orders. (Image: Melissa Javan)

The summit also hosted the My Business Expo, Business Start-Up Expo, Access to Finance Indaba, The Franchise Show and Trading Across Borders.

Is your business mobile-ready?
Maigurira spoke about rethinking marketing for the digital age. She said that customers no longer went online – they lived online. “Audiences are looking for authentic connections.”

Customers were increasingly mobile, she added. For example, 55% of queries to Google came from smartphones. “Use technology and make sure your business is mobile ready.”

In addition, consumers were more empowered. “They are doing preliminary research, narrowing down people or brands they might buy from.” She gave statistics, including that 73% of South Africans found information of a brand online, and 88% had discovered products or a brand online.

Be visible online
Maigurira’s advice to entrepreneurs was that they should be present where their customers hung out online. “Be there when they (the consumers) are searching and browsing for ideas. Decide on the moments you are going to claim for your business.” For consumers, those moments included “I want to know”; “I want to buy”; and “I want to find”.

“Think about your customers, their needs and how you are going to capture them,” she said.

The role of social media
Leanne Rhodes, head of creative and social media at the NSBC, spoke on the topic: “Fast-track your business success with social media”.

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Leanne Rhodes, head of creative and social media at the NSBC, says business owners and brands should tell their stories on social media. “Nothing beats passion. Social media is word of mouth with a microphone.” (Image: Melissa Javan)

Social media gave you access to a large audience on a shoestring budget, Rhodes said. The NSBC didn’t use traditional advertising for the summit; instead, it mainly used social media and its newsletter.

She warned though that social media could be overwhelming. “Remember social media is only free if you don’t value your time. Clarify how much time you are willing to spend on social media per week. Set a timer if you have to.

“Clarify what you want to achieve and who your audience is. Who would you like them to become?”

Entrepreneurs should think about how they wanted their audience to think and feel, Rhodes said. “If you have given them what they want, you can sell to them what they need.”

Other information she gave included how the Facebook algorithm worked. Not many of your followers would see your posts unless they had great engagement. “Great images and videos are seen by more people on Facebook. So make use of video and creative visuals.”

It took three seconds to get someone’s attention on social media, Rhodes said. “Give people something that they won’t get anywhere else. Facebook Live, for example, is getting seen by more and more people.”

More about the NSBC
The chamber was established in 2007 as a non-profit membership organisation. It fuels small business growth.

small business easy biz quickbooks
Pride Maloba and Mothusi Kibe of Easy Biz Quickbooks exhibit their business at the NSBC Summit Business Expo, in February 2017. Easy Biz sells accounting software and courses related to it. (Image: Melissa Javan)

The real purpose of the organisation is fostering the sustainability and growth of the SME sector, growing job creation, alleviating unemployment and nurturing the country’s entrepreneurial spirit.

It has a base of more than 106,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises and 50 big brands as national partners.

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