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Usage barriers and effectiveness of social media platforms by small businesses in the Cape Metropole, in South Africa
SMMEs have been touted as the major driver of any economy – they create jobs, reduce poverty level and generally improve the livelihood of a society. Even with these lofty advantages, SMMEs encounter numerous challenges. These range from lack of access to funding, poor education and understanding of small business management practices. Embedded in small business management practice, is the need to undertake proper marketing. Marketing has recently featured as one of the main challenges of small businesses. Lately several marketing channels have emerged in response to this challenge. These channels have been reported to have positive impact on the bottom line of businesses. This study sought to discover whether social media platforms are deployed within the hospitality sector in the Cape Metropole, Western Cape Province, South Africa, to enhance the growth of restaurants. The study was motivated by the lack of alternative marketing channels using social media platforms, especially in the hospitality industry in the Cape Metropole. Essentially, to achieve this aim, a survey was conducted of SMMEs with employment capacity of not more than 50 employees, specifically within the hospitality sector in the Cape Metropole. A quantitative methodology was applied, using a self-administered questionnaire, distributed to 100 SMMEs in the Cape Metropole. The method of data analysis was purposive. The findings of this research indicate that most of the sampled small businesses used social media platforms. The findings also suggest that SMMEs perceived social media to have moderately effective marketing tools, with WhatsApp as the most effective, followed by Facebook and Twitter. The findings suggest that most respondents used the platform to inform their clients about a business promotion; for new product marketing; for customer loyalty, and for socialising with clients. It was found that if the highest percentage, used for socialising, was then channelled towards strategic marketing, it would significantly boost small business marketing capabilities. This could fill the gap of sustainable marketing strategies.