“This is the absolute perfect time for small businesses to be accessible virtually as the latest global media report shows that 100% of the people who have access to the internet on Montserrat are also on social media,” said Nerissa Golden, Editor of Discover Montserrat.
Golden, a media and business strategist who helps clients communicate more effectively online, said the current shutdown of the island and the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic is proof positive that companies cannot rely solely on people to walk into their store or get on a plane to serve them.
The latest annual global Digital 2020 report by We Are Social showed that there is a 60% internet penetration in the Caribbean with 51% of those also using social media. The region’s mobile connectivity is 77%.
According to the report there are 9,122 mobile phone connections on island which is 183% of the population. Montserrat has a 60% internet penetration rate with 3000 internet users and 3000 active media users. (Using 4995 population statistics of 2011)
64.2% of the population use their mobile phone to access the web, 30.5% on a laptop or desktop, 5.3% on tablets and 0.02% on other devices such as game consoles.
According to the report, the number one searched term on Google by locals is Montserrat, followed by YouTube and Amazon. “People are searching for information on what is happening, they are looking for entertainment and they are also shopping. Further down that list is the Bank of Montserrat. Cricket information is the top sport query,” she said.
“These numbers are as of January 2020, so you can imagine what they will look like post COVID-19. You have a captive audience to share information, entertainment, teach, promote your service or business,” the expert suggested. “We saw how supermarkets used WhatsApp and Facebook to take orders to assist with social distancing. These types of options need to be increased across the board for other business sectors. It is time to be more than consumers of online content, we must generate it ourselves and leverage that to increase business opportunities.”
100% of social media users access Facebook. 68% only use a mobile device to access Facebook while 32% use both computers and other devices to access. 53.8% are female and 46.2% are male, the report noted.
“There are a lot of abandoned business pages on Facebook. Setting one up is not enough, you have to actively manage it. Share interesting information about your business, your expertise and about the island where you live. People choose to do business with people they know, like and trust. You can no longer believe that because we are all here we will buy from you. Everything we need is accessible to be purchased online and delivered in a myriad of ways. You have to be visible to stay top of mind with customers.”
“Don’t be overly concerned that people aren’t engaging with your posts, liking your page or sharing your content. The stats also show that these numbers are low across the board for Montserrat. Facebook ads however, are showing an increase and also engagement. People will see your work and not make a visible indication that they do online. The proof will be in how many reach out to you to ask for the service or product over time. It is important to be patient and put in the work,” added Golden.
“This is important as you may have clients abroad and need to know which device they prefer to communicate on,” explained Golden. “You also don’t want to spam their WhatsApp or Messenger service. Ask if they wish to be communicated to via these mediums. They should also have the option to opt out of receiving any promotional communication from you.”
Golden also advises business owners to invest in developing a website, which they can consider their virtual office. “Facebook and the other social media spaces do not belong to you. If you are restricted in anyway, you may be unable to access your photos, videos, or messages to serve your clients. You want to make sure clients have more than one way to reach you.
“Another thing to keep in mind is that people prefer different spaces and younger users are migrating to TikTok for teens, Twitter for the young adults and Instagram for young professionals. Business consultants or companies who are looking to work with other companies should consider focusing their efforts on building a presence on LinkedIn.”
For more tips on growing a business online, visit nerissagolden.com