Business owners are now able to plan and run their own advertising campaigns without breaking the bank.
This, thanks to a new advertising platform for small businesses launched by Twitter in May.
Twitter’s small and medium enterprise (SME) advertising platform allows businesses to engage with existing customers and to reach new audiences by creating, managing and reviewing their own advertising campaigns.
Barry Collins, director of small business at Twitter, says business owners who advertise on their platform only pay if Twitter users retweet or reply to their promoted products or click on a link in a promoted tweet.
Collins points out that the cost of an advertising campaign depends on how users engage with the advertiser’s content and how an advertiser chooses to run specific campaigns.
“But you can set your own budgets. There are no set costs. You can spend as much or as little as you can and you can start and stop your advertising campaign at any time.”
Collins recommends that business owners make an effort to refine their advertising campaigns based on the responses they get via the analytic reports generated on the platform.
“The analytic report provides insight into what works and doesn’t work for your target audience, and you can then tweak your campaigns accordingly, as much as you like. There is no minimum spend, so business owners can try things out to their hearts content.”
He says with more than 500 million tweets a day and 255 million active users on Twitter, small businesses stand a good chance of connecting with new people who want to hear from them and who can spread the word about their business to others.
Collins says about 13 000 people have followed the related Twitter handle @TwitterZA_SME since the platform was launched in South Africa.
So what makes Twitter so sure that the SME advertising platform, already in use in Israel, US, Canada, UK, Ireland and Japan, will be embraced by South African small businesses?
Collins says Twitter’s research shows that there is a high level of digital marketing, innovation and creativity among small businesses in South Africa which indicates that the advertising platform will be useful.
“South African Twitter users are also highly mobile, mostly accessing Twitter via their smartphones on the go. This is ideal as Twitter itself is a mobile-first company, and its platform and advertising services have been built for mobile.
He says the advertising platform is very easy to use and that business owners can set up an account in just a few minutes. Twitter also runs a series of seminars and videos on its webpage that break things down into bite-sized chunks and talk one through both the service and the advertising platform.
Online and social media marketing specialist Leon Marinus agrees and says business owners should have a clear strategy in place before they commit to an advertising platform such as Twitter’s one for small businesses.
Marinus, whose company Atka SA provides social media marketing solutions for small businesses, says business owners must be able to pinpoint whether they want brand exposure or if they want to generate new business leads when considering an online advertising platform.
“Also you need to know who your target market is and on which social media platform you would want to target them because each social platform has a different audience and targets people differently.
“Then you need to work out how you are going to track and measure your results from your campaign. If you can put this in place then you can easily launch a pretty successful online campaign.”
Marinus also advises business owners to make sure that the content they publish is relevant and that their users are able to engage with it.
“If your content is good you will get more hits but if you do not have quality and engaging content you will go unnoticed.”
He says the advantage of social media advertising is that business owners can target potential customers more directly. They also have a much larger potential audience than is the case when placing advertising with conventional print or broadcast media. It also comes at a much lower cost.
Marinus warns however that business owners should be careful of the content they release in their advertising campaigns as it could either boost or damage the reputation of their business.
He says business owners need to understand that marketing online is a full-time job.
Marinus suggests that in order to run more effective advertising campaigns business owners should consider employing someone with the appropriate knowledge and expertise or an agency that knows the online marketing industry.