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Research on Impact of social media on SMEs in west africa
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Research proposal

The Impact of social media on small and medium sized enterprises in west African 

Abstract

The aim of this research is to identify the impact of social media on the west Africa market and identify it uses and how it would assist businesses in reaching a larger customer base using popular or most frequently used social media platforms.

This research would further investigate the reasons behind the limited use of social media by some business owners and how it effects on sales, by using close ended online survey this study aims to aims to reach business owners at random through the online delivery methods

This study would identify the problems surrounding the use social media by business owners and come up with possible solutions, also evaluating the solutions by further establishing the use of social media networks in improving sales and reaching a larger customer base.

Social media is estimated to reach an all time high by the year 2027  According to www.statista.com in 2021 over 4.2 billion people were using social media worldwide, a number projected to reach almost 6 billion by 2027.

However, some businesses do not make use of the vast marketing strategies social media platforms explore according to the findings by Genevieve et al. (2022).

It revealed that Sme’s social media usage resulted in various affordance, brand visibility, sharing and relationship the study findings also show that these affordances result in customers acquisitions.

Introduction

Numerous SMEs in developing economies have benefited greatly from the broad adoption of social media (Dos Santos and Duffett, 2021). More and more people are thinking about how social media may help SMEs succeed in the West African market.

Opportunities for businesses to engage with clients and develop their market have arisen as a result of the adaptable and ever-expanding nature of social media platforms (Cant, 2016). The extent to which SMEs in West Africa have been able to use social media to further their own economic objectives is relatively known to a limited extent.

This study aims to analyse how SMEs in the West African market are affected by social media by analysing the opportunities and dangers they face and suggesting strategies for maximising these channels. The study's findings can be used by policymakers, investors, and SMEs themselves to increase their ability to compete and survive in the digital era.

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Background

The introduction and widespread use of social media platforms have revolutionised business procedures, corporate communications, and customer interactions.

Businesses now have access to previously unheard-of avenues for interacting with clients and advertising their goods thanks to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, among others (Rukuni, Maziriri, and Mofoka, 2020).

SMEs have been particularly affected by this transition because of their constrained manpower and lesser resources. SMEs are essential for the growth of the West African economy and the generation of jobs (Jokonya and Mugisha, 2019).

The absence of well-established business networks, poor infrastructure, and limited access to funding are some of the challenges. These issues have made the SMEs in the area perform worse and made it harder for them to compete in the international market.

Social media may be used to address some of the issues SMEs in West Africa face. SMEs may expand their reach using social media, improve their client connections, and break into new markets outside of their current area (Razak and Latip, 2016).

In addition, platforms like Twitter and Facebook offer small and medium-sized enterprises a cheap and effective way to promote their goods and services to a wide audience (Oji, Iwu, and Haydam, 2017).

The potential advantages of social media for West African SMEs has not been studied extensively. The unique difficulties faced by SMEs in the region have been overlooked in previous research (Rambe 2017).

Research into the effects of social media on SMEs in West Africa is required so that these companies may better understand how to make use of these platforms.

By examining how businesses in the West African market respond to the rise of social media, this study seeks to fill that information vacuum.

The overall objective of this study is to assist SMEs in maximising their social media presence by highlighting the benefits and drawbacks of doing so and outlining strategies for overcoming those drawbacks.

The results of this study will aid in the development of legislation that gives SMEs an advantage in the current global economy.

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Rationale For Research

The purpose of this research was to fill a need in our understanding of how social media influences SMEs in the West African market. Despite the obvious potential advantages of social media for businesses, there is a lack of research on the topic, especially in West Africa. The major aim of this research is to help Businesses reap the benefits of social media while mitigating its downsides. Policymakers, investors, and SMEs alike can use this study's conclusions to strengthen their digital competitiveness..

Aims And Objectives For Research

The main objective of the study is to determine how social media impacts SMEs in the West African market by identifying the benefits and drawbacks of social media promotion for these businesses.
•    To examine the current usage patterns of social media by SMEs in the West African market and to identify the most popular platforms used for business promotion.
•    To analyze the impact of social media on SMEs in West Africa in terms of customer interaction, brand awareness, and financial performance.
•    To identify the entry hurdles (infrastructure, rules, and skills) that prohibit SMEs (SMEs) in the West African market from successfully implementing social media platforms.
•    To create strategies for maximising the use of social media platforms in this environment, taking into account the peculiarities of the West African market and the challenges faced by SMEs. 

Research questions

1.    What social media platforms are most effective at promoting SMEs in the West African market, and which ones are the most widely used?
2.    To what extent does the use of social media impact the performance of SMEs in the West African market, and how does this vary across different sectors and business sizes?
3.    What are the main challenges faced by SMEs in the West African market when utilizing social media for business promotion, and how do these challenges differ from those faced by SMEs in other regions?
4.    How can SMEs in the West African market create social media marketing plans, and how can these plans be modified to account for the unique characteristics of the area and the particular challenges SMEs there face?

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Importance Of The Topic For Research

Since social media can have significant effects on the expansion of the continent's economy, it is vital to conduct a study on how it affects SMEs in the West African market. SMEs are essential to the region's economic development and job creation, but they frequently encounter significant challenges such as poor access to funding, a lack of formal business networks, and inadequate physical infrastructure.

Through the use of social media platforms, some of these challenges can be minimised, and SMEs might be better prepared to compete on a global scale. Research in this area is crucial in order to develop policies and strategies that assist SMEs (SMEs) in remaining competitive and viable in the contemporary digital economy.

Research Methods 

The research procedures used for this proposed study have a significant impact on the validity and dependability of the outcomes. The two primary research paradigms in social science are qualitative and quantitative (Gerring, 2017). While both qualitative and quantitative methods have their place, the quantitative portion of this study will involve surveys.

Quantitative methods excel in finding connections between variables and spotting trends in the data (Salvador, 2016). Surveys, in which a questionnaire is given to a representative sample of the population, are a frequent technique for doing quantitative research. Using surveys, researchers may quickly and efficiently gather enormous amounts of data that can be statistically analysed.

Justification

The decision to employ surveys as a research method is justified by the need to get quantitative data on how SMEs in the West African market use social media platforms (Nardi, 2018).

This data can be used to identify the platforms that SMEs prefer, how frequently and widely they use social media, and how big of an impact social media is believed to have on their bottom line.

A survey, for instance, can be used to examine the relationship between social media use and business outcomes.

Moreover, surveys are a very useful tool for cross-sectional studies, which focus on a phenomenon at a particular point in time (Salvador, 2016). For capturing the present level of social media participation among SMEs in the West African market, a cross-sectional survey is recommended. This data can be used in future polls to better comprehend how people's social media habits have changed over time.

Checking the validity and reliability of survey data is essential for minimising errors and bias (Nardi, 2018). The researcher has designed a standardised questionnaire to guarantee consistency in answers.

Also, a trial run of the survey will be conducted in order to identify any issues early on and fix them. To reach a larger audience and obtain a more representative sample, the poll will be conducted online, and participants' privacy will be safeguarded.

Research Instrument

1.    What is the primary social media platform your SME uses for business promotion?
2.    How frequently does your SME post content on social media platforms?
3.    How many social media platforms does your SME use for business promotion?
4.    What percentage of your SME's sales can be attributed to social media platforms?
5.    How long has your SME been using social media for business promotion?
6.    How many employees does your SME have?
7.    What industry sector does your SME operate in?
8.    What is the annual revenue of your SME?
9.    How much time does your SME dedicate to social media marketing per week?
10.    Does your SME have a dedicated social media marketing team?
11.    How many social media followers does your SME have?
12.    What is the main reason for your SME's use of social media platforms?
13.    How would you rate the effectiveness of your SME's social media marketing efforts?
14.    What type of content does your SME post on social media platforms?
15.    Have you noticed an increase in brand awareness and recognition as a result of your SME's social media marketing efforts?
16.    Have you noticed an increase in website traffic and sales as a result of your SME's social media marketing efforts?
17.    Have you received any negative feedback on social media platforms?
18.    What strategies has your SME used to increase engagement on social media platforms?
19.    Has your SME utilized paid advertising on social media platforms?
20.    Would your SME consider increasing its budget for social media marketing in the future?

Justification Of Design Of Survey Questions

The survey questions were carefully crafted in order to gather accurate information on how SMEs in the West African market are utilising social media (Nardi, 2018). Because the questions are closed-ended, the information gathered is uniform and can be easily assessed quantitatively. Also, the way the questions are set up enables a thorough analysis of the study's objectives.

The survey questions cover a wide range of topics, including how frequently people use social media, which social media platforms are most commonly used for business promotion, how much of an impact people perceive social media to have on their perception of business success, and the types of information shared on social media.

These questions were developed with the help of the research objectives and theoretical knowledge of social media marketing. Also, there was little possibility for ambiguity or misinterpretation on the part of survey respondents because the survey questions were crafted to be brief and explicit.

The use of multiple-choice questions ensures that respondents are given explicit and lucid choices, which eliminates the potential for ambiguous or confused responses.

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References

Cant, M.C., 2016. Using social media to market a promotional event to SMEs: opportunity or wasted effort. Problems and Perspectives in Management, 14(4), pp.76-82.
Dos Santos, J. and Duffett, R., 2021. Exploring social media usage as a communication channel among independent food retailer SMEs in South Africa. Small Business International Review, 5(2), p.e392.
Gerring, J., 2017. Qualitative methods. Annual review of political science, 20, pp.15-36.
Jokonya, O. and Mugisha, C., 2019, June. Factors influencing retail SMEs adoption of social media for digital marketing. In ECSM 2019 6th European Conference on Social Media (p. 145). Academic Conferences and publishing limited.
Nardi, P.M., 2018. Doing survey research: A guide to quantitative methods. Routledge.
Oji, O.N.E., Iwu, C.G. and Haydam, N., 2017. The use of social media marketing strategies by SMMEs in the hospitality sector in Cape Metropole, South Africa. African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure.
Rambe, P., 2017. Social media marketing and business competitiveness: evidence from South African tourism SMMEs. Problems and Perspectives in Management, 15(2 (c. 2)), pp.411-423.
Razak, S.A. and Latip, N.A.B.M., 2016. Factors that influence the usage of social media in marketing. Journal of Research in Business and Management, 4(2), pp.1-7.
Rukuni, T., Maziriri, E. and Mofoka, T., 2020. Social media strategies on brand awareness at a small business consultancy firm in South Africa.
Salvador, J.T., 2016. Exploring quantitative and qualitative methodologies: A guide to novice nursing researchers. European Scientific Journal, 12(18).
 

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