Social media is a collection of online communication channels (websites and programs) that allow individuals to communicate and share information through dedicated forums and blogging using a computer or mobile phone. Social media networking seems to have a different meaning than it did years ago. People are not just connecting with family and friends but are interacting with brands, sharing their opinions on every product on the market and are more tech savvy than ever.

According to the 2016 internet live stats, there are currently over 3,424,971,237 internet users globally, with an internet penetration of about 46% of global population, a growth of 3% from the previous year. The trend is no different in Ghana as the 7,958,675 of the population can be found online (28.4% penetration) ranking the country as the 47th highest internet user base, closely following United Arab Emirates in the global internet user base rankings. Social media usage in Ghana is also continuously growing and estimated at 40% social media penetration (2.9 million social media users as at January 2016, wearesocial report).

Research also shows that the average Ghanaian spends not less than 3hours 30 minutes browsing the internet on his/her phone, out of which 3hours 13 minutes is spent on social media (wearesocial report, 2016).

When it comes to promoting businesses on social media, knowing the target audience is very vital, as it forms the bases. One cannot also neglect the type of commercial transaction. The two main forms of commercial transaction in business systems are B2C and B2B. Business-to-consumer (B2B) is a process of selling products directly to consumers whiles business-to-business (B2B) is a process of selling products or services to other businesses. It is important to implement the right system for customers since these two transaction systems differ in complexity, scope, cost and scale. Social media signals cannot also be overlooked when it comes to business promotions. Social media signals are reviews, likes, shares, votes, pins or links on social media platforms that indicate a brand is being talked about. These social media signals affect search engine optimization efforts in primarily four ways:

  • Increased online visibility and traffic to your website
  • Increased authority and brand recognition
  • Broader content distribution and longer content lifespan
  • Improved local SEO

Social media marketing really matters as it allows you to;

  • own your online real estate
  • access, assess and respond to customer service at one’s convenience
  • gain solid reviews

People may choose not to purchase from a company without a social media presence because they are denied the opportunity to see into the business. Based on the above listed categories, the top five (5) most influential social media platforms for business growth in Ghana are;

  1. Facebook

According to Statcounter, Facebook has recorded 80.14% usage from October 2017 to October 2018 with the average Facebook user having 155 friends. It has a huge audience cutting across a range of ages and social classes. This platform is best for B2C business mostly and in some cases B2B business.

  1. Twitter

The survey titled “How Africa Tweets” – conducted by Portland Communications and Tweetminster, indicated that Ghana recorded 2,150 tweets during the last quarter of 2011. This figure has massively increased over the years as twitter re-emerged as a hub for trends, political rants and news in all areas and sectors. Twitter is best for B2C and some B2B with the audience target being 18-29years for both females and males. It focuses more or is good for businesses with a big element of customer service.

  1. Instagram

Ben Landers, the CEO of Blue Corona, described Instagram as “all the stuff you like on Facebook and none of the crap you hate”. Instagram is a photo app hence great for businesses with visual products and those that can create high-impact images. While it may not seem to be liked much, this social media platform packs a punch, especially with Millennials. Majority of Instagram users happen to be females. Just like Facebook, Instagram has ads targeting options which make it an excellent option for brand awareness and engagement.

  1. Pinterest

This is a social network that allows users to visually share and discover new interests by posting images or videos on their own or others boards. It is basically a hobbyist’s paradise. It is best for fashion, arts and crafts, health and wellness, event planning, food and beverages, travel and hospitality, and home modelling industries. If you have visual products or offer services that have to do with visual planning then this platform is certainly for you. It has an age target from 18 to 45 with majority of the target audience being females.

  1. LinkedIn

This is a social networking site designed specifically for the business community. The goal of the site is to allow registered members to establish and document networks of people they know and trust professionally. It is a valuable resource for career and business professionals to network; obtain resources and support; and build relationships with potential customers, clients, and partners. It’s ideal for home-based business owners, freelancers, and telecommuters, as it can help them build their business and career, as well as stay connected to the outside world. This platform is best for B2B companies who target audience include the professional crowd. Research work has shown that four out of five LinkedIn members drive business decisions and LinkedIn’s audience has 2x the buying power of the average web audience. This platform is fast penetrating the Ghanaian market and will take over in no time. Target age is 25 to 45 for both males and females.

Social Media has truly changed the entire industry of marketing and advertising.  Social media can be demanding once activated – so ensure you have a solid social media maintenance plan in place. If used in the right way it will serve you, your brand, and your sales efforts well. Understanding which social media platform to use for what will not only save you time, it will help you get further down the path to your goals.