There has been a tremendous change in the way businesses run in Africa. Different sectors have restructured and realigned with the advancement in social media. The evolution of social media has really affected the way businesses are done on the continent. This has brought businesses in this part of the world up to speed with latest developments in the business world.

Social media is a platform for interaction that helps users communicate directly with their friends and even strangers. In fact, in recent times it has helped to increase the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the continent. Social media has become like a forceful wind, moving people in the direction of change, and any business that does not tap into this will be left behind. The transformative potential of social media in Africa is a step that should be noted by entrepreneurs and investors alike.

A report published in 2013 by McKinsey & Company titled, “The Internet’s transformative potential in Africa,” places the internet contribution to GDP at $18billion. Another report by Pew Research Global Attitudes Projects, states that approximately 78 percent of internet usage in Africa is for the social media. This information is a major key that can transform the face of any business if taken advantage of. All these prepare the ground for Africa’s estimated $14billion social media industry.

With the increasing rate in adoption of social media in Africa, it is projected to add a minimum of $300billion to Africa’s GDP by 2025. Entrepreneurs are expected to take advantage of this trend to direct their businesses in the direction of growth relating to social media. Despite the heightened awareness about the use of social media to promote business growth, so many entrepreneurs are yet to come to terms with this reality.

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As a business owner, here are simple ways you can take advantage of this trend to enhance your business growth

1. Get acquainted with the process

One of the challenges most business owners face is accepting “new changes.” Most of them get so comfortable with the old and traditional way of doing business that they find it so hard to accept the trend of change. Some are of the opinion that, “Why should I change a process that has produced results for me?” If you have been getting results with the traditional media, harnessing the social media will help you do better. Also, it will give your business global exposure. There is no limit to what a business can achieve once it goes online. One of the ways of getting acquainted with the process is by going for relevant trainings that can help you automate your business transactions and other processes. For instance, getting to know how to send emails, and use other platforms to get connected to your clients and prospects will help you simplify a process that would have taken longer.

2. Stay abreast of new developments

This is very important because social media is constantly evolving with new tools for businesses and social interaction. As an entrepreneur, you can do this by attending seminars, trainings, conferences and workshops that expose you to the use of new social media tools. You can also be up to date by reading ebooks.

3. Use the right channels

To achieve the right results, there are channels you are expected to use. If you don’t use the right channel, you won’t get the right result. This is the challenge some business owners have faced. They’ve tried using social media, but with the wrong channels and then they didn’t get the right results. So, they got discouraged and went off the media. The social media, like every other areas of life, has rules, procedures and principles. If one disobeys these rules, one will not get the right results.

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4. Separate your business identity from your person

So many business owners mix their personal identity with that of their business. What happens is that there are conflicting results when someone searches for their organisation. It is advisable that the business should have its own identity and profile. It will enable the business owners to post only professional content on the business page and not personal content. There are so many platforms online which you can use to create a profile for your business. For instance, Google has a programme called “Get Nigerian Businesses Online” (GBNO). It is a platform which an entrepreneur can use to give his business online exposure; most especially for Small Scale and Medium Enterprises (SME’s).

5. Know that you are on global platform

The social media is not a local platform, but a global platform. It connects the whole world. What that means is that a business can be based in Liberia and yet do a transaction with another business in Malaysia. If you are into the sales of goods, you can decide to make use of ecommerce on your website. Once you are able to get all other factors right, what it means is that the business will outgrow your locality. Business transactions have gone global. An organisation in the UK could be offering services to an organisation in Uganda. You can use your digital identity to call for global investors depending on the kind of service you render and your level of business. There are investors waiting to penetrate the African market but want to be represented in Africa by another organisation. Organisations in the Western countries are looking to give authorisation to companies in Africa to sell their company’s goods or services in Africa; that is a franchise.

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If you are an entrepreneur and you’re yet to accept the social media as a platform to promote your business, you’re doing your business more harm than good. It is only a matter of time before competitors who have accepted social media will outrun you in business. Have a rethink and take advantage of this multibillion dollar social media industry to boost the growth of your business.

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.   – Colin Powell