If the Nigerian government decides to shut down all social media platforms today, will your business survive, or is that the end for your growing business?
If that made you pause, then, I have written this really long piece about alternative platforms and strategies to deploy to grow your business online if the government bans all social media platforms today.
Last week, the Nigerian government made the decision to ban social media platform, Twitter from operating in Nigeria after the latter deleted a tweet by President Buhari.
Twitter, as most people know is home to a lot of influencer campaigns and business-building activities.
What that ban means is that businesses that rely on that platform will be stranded and unable to function. Influencer campaigns that have become the bedrock of many marketing outreaches will suffer and companies will now have to look for alternatives as an emergency action.
If you don’t want to be left stranded, you should take these alternatives seriously.
In marketing, there are 3 media channels and we called them POEM.
Paid, Owned, & Earned Media.
Paid media is the marketing effort that you pay for.
Owned media is the one you use your own existing platforms for.
Earned media is the type that you don’t necessarily pay for. It is organic and is the most trusted.
I’ll start with OWNED MEDIA because it’s the one that you own and probably your most affordable bet.
Some of the owned media channels alternatives to social media are:
1. Website: I think that everyone should have a website. It is your own. Nobody will censor what you say or write there. You can be as creative as you’d like with your marketing and selling.
No government can come and ask your website to be taken down too. Social media is borrowed land and if the owner does not kick you out, the angry government can ban you from using it.
You can display everything on it, all your reviews, your prices, answers to frequent questions, etc.
A website helps you build an audience of customers and potential customers who know where to find you, what you do and can comment when you make blog posts.
Websites are good for making blog posts too. If you already post regularly about your business on social media, all you need to do is move that attention to your website as well.
Get people to drop their comments on your posts on your own website instead of just on your social media post.
Ask questions on your website’s blog and get people to comment.
You can also optimize your blog posts to be discovered by search engines. That way, when someone searches for, say, “How to know my skin tone”, if you have written something about it on your blog, they will see it on Google and click the link to visit your blog.
When they visit, you can get them to check out your products on your website after finding out their skin tone with a link like “See List of Best Products for Each Skin Tone” and get them to either buy from you immediately or buy later.
The good thing is that websites are affordable.
2. Email Marketing is another great alternative to social media.
Imagine that you run an insurance company and someone joins your email list to get information about vehicle insurance.
From the time they sign up to that list, you can set up an email automation that is guaranteed to take them from merely looking around to paying for your company’s insurance plan.
Emails are effective. The data says that customers spend 138% more than their normal spend as a result of email marketing.
Imagine that you have someone whose interested in cakes and how they are made. You teach people how to make cakes.
So, you drop tips in their mails everyday or twice a week about this kind of cake or that kind of cake. They know that you know what you’re taking about.
When you send a mail about teaching this advanced cake making method for XYZ naira, you’ll get people that will pay for it.
Not all of them, but you’ll get enough people to pay for it that’ll make your investment into email marketing worth it. And it’s continuous. And profitable.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This should ordinarily fall under paid or even earned media but I’m putting it here as you control how people discover you.
If you sell Yam in Ikorodu and someone goes to Google to search for where to buy Yam in Ikorodu and they can’t find you, you need a decent SEO strategy.
A decent SEO strategy allows you to optimize your pages to be discoverable for relevant words that people you want to buy from you search for. It also helps you research and decide the keywords that you will insert in your blog post about “3 Types of Yam That Are Good For Porridge”.
All these things of course work better when you have a website and can get your business the visibility it needs if social media is no longer available.
4. Podcast: The way you use Facebook, Live, Instagram Live, and Twitter Spaces to build authority on a topic/industry or interview industry leaders to build your own credibility is the same way you use podcast to position yourself as an authority in that field.
If I run a fashion house and I have a podcast where I share fashion tips, opportunities, trends, interview fashion leaders, more people will want to listen and can easily visit my website to see what I am even selling. If they like it, they will become customers.
5. Google My Business: I’ve talked about this one before. If your business is not present on Google My Business, you should get it there. It’s free publicity for you on Google. First page straight.
You want to be on Google My Business so that when people Google “Where to buy asun in Kaduna”, they find you on the first page and can easily call you, get directions to your shop/stand or visit your website to order.
6. Optimized YouTube Videos: Look, your YouTube videos don’t have to get 10,000 views for you to get customers with them. Even with your 20 views, you can get your customer.
Research questions that people are asking on Google using tools like AnswerThePublic, Semrush, Ubersuggest and co and create a short video that answers that question or addresses that topic. Find a way to link it back to the product you sell or your services.
Optimize the video with the top 3 keywords/hashtag you want to be found for or that are relevant to the topic and post.
That way, if someone searches for that question on search engines, they’ll be shown your video and if it done well enough, it can lead them to visit your website.
Now, on to PAID MEDIA alternatives if social media gets shut down today.
Some very good examples of paid media that you can turn to are: 👇
1. Google Ads (Display Ads, Google Search Ads, Video Ads on YouTube): When you pay for Display Ads, Google takes your advert and puts it on a website where it is most likely to be seen.
Imagine selling land and you create a display advert. Google will take that advert and place it on a blog post about, let’s say “10 Best Locations to Own Property in Nigeria.”
That way, when that person that is interested in knowing where the 10 Best Locations to Own Property in Nigeria are, they can see your advert about Affordable property ownership and click on it, leading them to your website.
Search Ads on the other hand guide those searching on the internet to your website or landing page.
If I search for “Where to Eat Akpu in Ishaga” and you have a Google Search Ad running about selling The Best Akpu in Ishaga, Google will show me the link to that your advert as a search before showing me other organic links and blog posts about Akpu sellers in Ishaga. You get?
For Video Ads, you create the video and check out YouTube ads. When people who have not paid for YouTube premium are watching videos, they see your ad that is relevant to what they watch or are watching and can click the link to your website or app.
The key – and I should have said this at the beginning, is to have a proper keyword strategy that ensures you use keywords that your potential audience use to search.
2. Now, let me move to RADIO. If social media gets shut down, you should get creative with radio. Depending on your line of business, radio ads, when you’ve selected a station or show that your audience watches is always a good way to go.
If you make or sell dresses, find a show talks fashion and either pay for your advert to run on it or partner with the show runner for you to pay so that you can come on and talk about your offerings. Create plans and offerings that fit the audience.
You can also sponsor prizes and gifts on shows that your audience watch. The amount you’ll spend may be the equivalent or even less of what you’d pay influencers to get visibility if social media was still available.
3. Podcast Ads: Podcasts continue to grow in Nigeria. They were almost crushed with the growth of Twitter’s Spaces, but with Twitter out of the way and other social media channels potentially out too, Podcasts will pick up again.
You can either pay a popular podcast host that has your audience to talk about your product or services or pay them to play your ad on the show.
4. Promotional media articles: Have you ever been going through Pulse Ng or Punch Newspaper and you see a title like “XYZ Farm Set To Give 20 Bags of Rice Away to Help Nigerians Through Covid-19”.
It looks like you’re just reading the news, right? That’s what I’m talking about.
That’s probably a promotional article designed to both show the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that the farm is doing while also advertising their farm. Things like that work very well and can often direct people to visit their website and take action.
5. Job Boards: See, this one is a bit dicey. It’s not supposed to be a selling opportunity but companies do it.
You pay to post a role you want to hire for on LinkedIn or Jobberman. It may not be a big role. It may be one you can easily get someone else somewhere to do without posting online. But you post it all the same. Why?
Because it gives you a kind of visibility. It introduces your business and created awareness about what you do all over the internet.
Because once LinkedIn or Jobberman publishes it, you can be sure that no less that 10 fringe job sites will publish it too and link it to your website.
That does two things for you: it creates popular backlinks for your website (it’s an SEO thing, but it improves your ranking and trust on search engines) and it brings people to your website.
That means instead of telling people to send an email to HR to apply for that job, you integrate a Job plugin on your website, post the job on your website and ask people on the Jobberman or LinkedIn job boards to click on the link to your website to apply. When they’re done applying, you set the link to take them to your homepage.
This may not necessarily bring you new customers, but it creates awareness for your business and puts links that link to your website on the internet.
6. Text Ads/SMS Marketing: This is often overlooked but when you add the personal touch to it, it can work even better than email.
You can use it to direct people to check out the link to your new products on your website or a landing page.
You can use it to get them to read a blog post on your website that can convert them into customers.
If I like buying classy shoes and I get a text that asks me to “Check out these new shoes that people can’t stop talking about” with a shortened link to click, I’ll click it and see the shoes and if I like it, I’ll buy. The key is to pace the messages. I don’t want to get 3 messages from you in a day. I’ll send you to my spam messages folder.
Finally, EARNED MEDIA. Some of the earned media alternatives to social media are:
1. Partnerships/Sponsorships: This often comes off as something huge when you mention it. People think it has to be the big sponsorships where you sponsor BBNaija or the likes.
People sometimes forget to niche down. If I manage an events center, I can always partner with or be a location sponsor for a popular event that I know always get media attention.
I can always ask them to either use the place for free or for half the price. That way, I am not only on their banner and event publicity materials, I also get visibility when the media is reporting their event.
2. Contests/Giveaway: Running a contest is a good way to get word out about your business as long as it’s done with an end goal in mind.
If you want to offer free training, you can get people to share the link with 3 of their friends to be a part of it. That way, the word spreads. Giveaways or contests have to be deliberate.
3. Reviews: This is important too. You have to prioritize customers dropping reviews either on your Google My Business page so that people can see it on search engines or have them send a 30-second video review of your product that can go into the review section of your website.
4. Word-of-Mouth: Word of mouth marketing is free and is still one of the best. You can say you’re good, your ads can say you’re good, even your influencers can say you’re good but the most believable thing people will believe is when someone that is not paid by you, is not your friend, says “that person is good” or “that business’ product is great”. Always work in a way that will make people that do business with you say “That business is good” even when you’re not paying them referral fee.
5. Get creative with souvenirs: On major holidays or anniversaries, businesses often give their customers gifts. Get creative with it.
Let the gift be one that won’t ‘expire’ after a year (this is not a rule though). But make it one that they can always see and other people can always see. And don’t give fake gifts. 🙄
Let it show/say what your business is about in the most non-selling way and have details on how they can reach you.
That way, if someone picks up your souvenir in 2 years, they can still see your email address or phone number and call or mail you.
Phew! You should not wait for social media to be shut down to start running helter skelter, looking for emergency solutions. You’ll be billed haaard! Start now.
Choose the ones that your budget can afford for now and start putting it into place.
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