African Dream: Tips from Tanzania’s ice cream entrepreneur

As part of the latest series of African Dream, businesswoman Mercy Kitomari – the brains behind Tanzanian organic ice cream company Nelwa’s Gelato – shares her top 10 social media marketing tips for aspiring entrepreneurs:

  • Start with a goal. Why are you active on social media? There are only three acceptable answers: a) increase brand awareness by growing your reach, b) build customer loyalty by providing more support, or c) increase sales by getting more people to purchase, more frequently. Don’t even start unless you can answer this question
  • Ignore your competitors. Trying to poach other people’s fans and followers is a flawed tactic. You’ll start making bad decisions because you’re trying to “keep up”. The best ideas and campaigns haven’t happened in your industry yet. See what untapped opportunities you can seize and gain an early lead. Look at what people are doing in other industries and try to experiment with similar tactics
  • Don’t be on every social network. Community management will deplete all of your resources. Each social network you manage will cost you exponentially more time, money and energy, so prioritise
  • You do have enough time and money. People always claim that they don’t have time or money to invest in social media. But the truth of the matter is that you can’t afford not to. If you’re short on money, then you should have more time to spend on content creation or networking

Mercy Kitomari has a Nelwa’s Gelato cafe in Dar es Salaam and supplies hotels and other businesses

  • Set an easy goal – for example, two extra posts each week – or reach out to one blogger a day. Also perform an informal audit of how you currently spend your time
  • Social media is wonderful, but people confuse being busy with effectiveness. Identify your highest “return on investment” activities, prioritise and set boundaries. Be disciplined and accountable to others
  • Eventually, you’ll have to make a tough decision. You’ll need to divide your limited resources and choose what you’re going to do (and what you’re going to ignore). But you’ll see that this decision is easy when you have a goal. Your social media use will now have a purpose. And you’ll find that you do have enough time for its strategic use
  • Understand what motivates your audience. “Industries” or “businesses” aren’t boring – the people who say that are. The way you come up with blog content ideas is to understand your audience, and the benefit your products or services is offering

Mercy Kitomari says customer service is as important online as it is face to face

  • Have a voice. People don’t want to connect with faceless corporations. They want to connect with real humans. No-one will like, trust or respect your company in the long run if they can’t get straight, honest feedback in a timely manner. Social media is much more than “engaging in the conversation”. It’s a new way of doing things, and a new set of tools to help you do it. But the same marketing fundamentals apply. You need to gain attention, build trust and keep people engaged longer
  • Go beyond Facebook and Twitter. Social media and internet marketing starts with your DNA, your product or service, and your people. So if you want to improve your social media presence, start by addressing the internal workings of your company.

First Published on 2 December 2014 by BBC News. 

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