How small businesses can use social media to pivot in 2021

With the Jamaican economy contracting by 9.4 per cent in the December quarter of last year, small businesses need to stay afloat.

While most small businesses are attempting to limit their interaction with the customer, because COVID-19 is known to be spread by direct contact, social media has become critical to marketing in the pandemic.

Kesi Gardner, the chief storyteller of The Storyteller Agency. Co, which consults medium to small businesses operating as a collective of creatives that focus on food, travel, and lifestyle, specialising in creating robust, integrated campaigns to help brands stand out above the noise.

“Our ethos is rooted in brand storytelling. Storytelling when used correctly, is a powerful business tool and skill that every business building a powerful and long-lasting brand should aim to master,” she says.

Gardner who has over 20 years experience working in marketing and advertising, has a blog,  www.kesigardner.com, that has been hailed as one of the top 200 marketing blogs on the web by FeedSpot.

Here are some tips, she suggests medium to small businesses can use to boost their visibility online with a limited budget:

Use the art of storytelling

Use storytelling to bridge the gap between brand and consumer. According to NPR, “When you listen to a story, your brain waves actually start to synchronise with those of the storyteller. And reading a narrative activates brain regions involved in deciphering or imagining a person’s motives and perspective, research has found.”

“Telling stories about what inspired you to start your company really resonates with people and personal branding is becoming more and more important as people need to feel connected,” she says.

Use the original content

Using original content is key to building customer loyalty. According to Google, the world’s biggest search engine, takes notice of original content and takes it in as a factor for contributing to a website’s credibility, which increases its likelihood of ranking higher in search engine results for the keyword involved in the text. 

“If you want to be seen, you need original, relevant content. Jamaican photographers are making some interesting content these days, but if you can’t afford one, don’t hesitate to use your smartphone,” she says.

Use free photo-editing apps

Once you’ve taken the photos in the most natural light possible, you can edit with free photo-editing apps downloaded from the Apple or Google Play store. Some suggestions include Snapseed, Lightroom, VSCO, Adobe Photoshop Express, and Lightroom.

You can use royalty-free stock images

If you can’t afford original content, Kesi recommends using some royalty-free stock image sites like Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay. Check the site’s privacy policy, which will cite if permission is given to use without credit.

Invest in influencer marketing

 According to Harvard Business Review: “The allocation of marketing budgets towards influencers is on the rise, up to 7.5 per cent from 6.5 per cent a year ago and expected to rise to 12.7 per cent in the next three years.

“As online traffic continues to increase, it will be critical for brands to identify the right influencers to attract target customers and identify growth segments.

“It will also be important for social media managers to invest in influencer training and relationship building. Influencers are a great way to build trust and authentic relationships with followers, who may end up being paying customers. Scheduling individual and group touchpoints with influencers to discuss product updates and gain feedback on trends they are observing will go a long way toward fostering a mutually beneficial partnership.” 

Says Gardner: “Influencer marketing is still very new to Jamaica but we are seeing more culturally diverse creators talking about  topics such as travel, fashion and food. I’m interested to see other kinds of influencers come to the fore in other industries like technology, the environment, business and even medicine.”

Guest Blog: How to Pivot Your Business During #COVID19 Like KFC Jamaica

Photo Credit: @kfcjamaica

Industry: Fast Food | Company: Restaurants of Jamaica

Managed Brands: KFC, Pizza Hut |Years In Operation Locally: 45 Years

When the first confirmed COVID19 case hit Jamaica, on March 10, like many businesses,  Restaurant of Jamaica, owners and operators of KFC scoped the landscape and saw how to best to pivot given the unprecedented times to make ‘painful decisions’.

A week later, on the heels of the Government shutdown which brought the limited operation with a 12 hour curfew, the once high trafficked and high volume stores saw sales plummet by 50%; fewer persons were eating out given the restricted public gathering to 20 persons and out of fear and uncertainty of coming out into public places. According to Director of Marketing Tina Matalon who noted in a July Zoom session, “our biggest challenge was accessibility; we’ve been looking at the delivery channel for a couple of years, the right model and approach to enter it with a brand like KFC; we accelerated that, rapidly”

This spawned two news releases in April:

·       The brand added a delivery option.

·       The brand announced temporary layoff of staff.

Social Media Backlash

Once social media got wind of the layoffs, the brand came under severe backlash online.

Thousands of Jamaicans online begged for their fellow Jamaican workers who by that time would have received lower working hours and possibly been laid off. The challenge? Jamaicans saw no reason to lay off staff when the demand for the brand’s key products was still very high. Jamaica’s Largest food chain, amidst a tight curfew which brought “early closures of our restaurants during some of our most patronized times of the day the options were very slim.

According to the release ‘it has been struggling to cope with significant declines in sales and transactions of more than half of its business.” The company went on to say that it will re-engage employees as quickly as possible. adapt and find creative ways to sustain its operations in order to ensure that it can continue to support its employees for as long as possible.

Digital Shift

“The Jamaican marketplace is behind on a lot of trends that are globally successful when it comes to technology or in the digital landscape; one of the immediate opportunities we saw was opening our access channels”. As delivery partners were small in operation catering to casual dining, the infrastructure was not equipped to take on the robust nature of a high-demand, quick service fast-food model like KFC. The brand worked with partners to scale up and meet the demand quickly with an excellent package, on-time delivery and fast turn-around time.

Thankfully, amidst the flurry of COVID19 and the backlash, not only did the team “keep everyone employed and on the team which was an incredible feat”, social media sentiment  has been returned in a favorable light and  the brand accelerated business models in 3 weeks to:

✔️Adapt to the shift in consumer behavior (stay-at-home or WFH).

✔️Get the product to them (online ordering via 7Krave )

✔️Redefine customer acquisition via digitizing.

The business now has three models – walk-in, drive-up, or order in. Digital ordering and delivery will be a ‘permanent channel moving forward’.

#HowToPivot: Advice to the Caribbean Biz

·      Review your operations and spreadsheet.

·      See where you can meet customers where they are in terms of delivery.

·      Make a big deal of the new options to drive awareness, trial and uptake.Be agile in your approach, listen to feedback and follow all guidelines stipulated.    

About The Guest Blogger

Shane Bennett is the co-founder of Social Media Day Jamaica. A media and marketing strategist by profession, he focuses on digital, experiential and public relations for personal, corporate and SME brands. Find him on Twitter and on LinkedIn sharing tips for digital branding at his @iamsgb handle.

5 Reasons you Need a Website Now More than Ever Before

The reasons why you might be resisting building a website for your business: “I’m not tech savvy”, “they’re too expensive”, “I don’t have the time”, or the infamous “I have enough business and I don’t need one”. The reality is, you don’t need to be tech savvy, getting a professional website for your business can be cheap and easy, and to make it even simpler for you – not having a website is costing you time and money.

According to Hootsuite’s We Are Social 2019 report , released for in January of last year , 1.58 million of Jamaica’s 2.9 million population are active internet users. The median age online is 31 years of age, and they like to shop!

1.You Need to Be Discoverable in Search Engine Results

People don’t just browse the Internet to discover companies they want to do businesses with; more specifically, they visit search engines. Google is the number website for Jamaicans, and when they search with keywords, you want your business to be on the first page. 93% of online experiences start with a search engine. And nearly half of these searches are for local businesses.

So, you need to have a search-optimized company website that can rank well in search engine results. This will ensure consumers are able to find, and connect with, your business.

2. It Can Help You Build Credibility

The 21st century consumer is a skeptic; and they like to look at reviews and testimonials. Having a good website instantly boosts your credibility as a legitimate business.

First impressions matter and websites allow you to make a very strong impression with a well designed introduction for your business.

A website can help showcase your expertise and better position your business. A website can be your number one tool for standing out in a crowd!

3.Your Website Stays Open 24 Hours Per Day

Unlike your business, which most likely does not operate or communicate with customers after-hours, your website stays open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. This means that even when your staff is not available to interact with people looking to do business with you, your website is accessible and able to provide helpful information, serve as a point of contact or even allow customers to make purchases or submit orders.

4.Your Competitors Probably Have One

Most small businesses don’t have their own website. Majority of small businesses DO have a presence online like social media, and it’s likely that your competitors have a website that is appealing to people in your area.

If you want to stay relevant and competitive within your field, it’s important that your business have a footprint online—it not only helps you stay competitive, but it also helps cement your role as a forward-thinking, tech-savvy business.

“If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business.”

Bill Gates

5.  It’s not as hard, or as expensive, as you think

You don’t need to be tech savvy to get a website. I can create a custom site for a reasonable cost.

It can be very cost effective. Websites offer a better return on investment than any other form of advertising. If you’re planning to market your business, a website should be your first priority.

To summarize… You need a website, and it’s easier than ever to get one.

In the 21st century, every person including a person should have a site. I have packages avaialble at my company’s website, The StorytellerAgency.co and there is a massive opportunity to help grow your business.

If you’re going to do one thing today to help your business be more successful, it’s to make getting a website your top priority.

It’s easy to be a better business. Get a website.