WASHINGTON DC —
Most companies worldwide used to rely on traditional media for marketing various products but this has changed dramatically following the introduction of the internet which has led to the proliferation of social media platforms.
Some companies and non-governmental organizations have taken advantage of these social media to reach different markets.
According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) more than 2.7 billion people worldwide use the internet.
The ITU says Europe has the highest internet penetration rate in a world where at least 6.8 billion people have access to mobile phones which have become a key instrument in enhancing global relations.
Africa has become part of this internet village as 650 million people use mobile phones to buy and sell commodities. A large number of companies have taken advantage of this lucrative social media sphere to hook with customers through Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and other social media platforms.
According to Abdullah Verachia, director of Frontiers Advisory South Africa – a research, strategy and investment advisory firm, almost all the 500 firms on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange use social media for marketing purposes.
Mr. Verachia says social media are being used to engage mass audiences in a fast and effective way.
He says the target audience is normally the middle class in most African countries.
The emergence of what social media experts call seriel twitters has energized some companies that are now crafting relevant marketing strategies for reaching audiences that respond instantly to messages.
For Zimbabwe’s Limbikani Makani, director of TechZimbabwe - a news blog focusing on covering information technology issues – some of these platforms have transformed ways of conducting business worldwide.
But Mr. Makani says in Zimbabwe there are few companies that conduct business using social media.
He says some firms still rely on traditional media for marketing purposes due to internet limitations in the country.
Not only that, some international companies do not even believe in using social media like facebook for conducting business.
Kenneth Conor, marketing director of American General Supplies – a commercial aircraft spare parts supplier based in Maryland, USA - says some social media are not good enough for selling products.
Mr. Conor says his company prefers to use professional social media like Linkedin instead of other platforms.
Verachia agrees saying some messages posted on these platforms are difficult to filter.
Limbikani adds that in other cases companies fear that anyone can create anything related to their products and ruin their brand.
Despite these challenges, social media appear to be playing a critical role in the buying and selling of goods and services worldwide.