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Social media, the young entrepreneur's new friend

By Kynesha Robles, The Philippine STAR Published Jul 08, 2022 5:00 am

It was late last year when my mom helped me with preparations for my first business venture. Having been raised by an entrepreneurial mom, I anticipated all the late-night paperwork, the constant calculations and mental math, and all the labor that goes into maintaining and boosting a business.

But an unexpected, differing business strategy between my mom’s generation and mine appeared in marketing. While my mom focused on strengthening direct sales, customers’ word-of-mouth, and print advertisement, I studied and committed to what appeals to my generation — social media marketing.

We felt the direct impact of our social media activity on our boba shop’s sales: when we alternated posting about hot and iced drinks, when we encouraged people to borrow from our book collection and to utilize our dine-in service, and when we launched our recent book drive project online as part of our advocacy. Despite being a brick-and-mortar store, we reach out to new customers and chat with our regulars more and more every day because of our online presence. 

I once considered social media to be my online memory archive. But accessibility might just be social media’s most preeminent feature, its main appeal to entrepreneurs aspiring to boost their businesses. 

YS asked a mix of Millennial and Gen Z entrepreneurs about the power of social media marketing, its role in their business’s success, and their practical tips and advice for aspiring business owners. 

Hiraya Pilipina 

Hiraya Pilipina is an advocacy brand known for their statement T-shirts, tote bags, and abaca facemasks. With their products and graphics of encouraging quotes and empowering statements, Hiraya Pilipina has dominated social media feeds and inspired women all over.

Cleo Loque

What is social media’s role in Hiraya Pilipina’s success? 

CLEO LOQUE: We use social media for different purposes. Number one is to send out our advocacy. We’re an advocacy brand; we try to send out our advocacy through social media by empowering women to use their voices and speak up. 

Number two: Of course, we use social media for advertising. We’re on TikTok — video marketing is really huge right now, so we’re making use of Instagram Reels as well. 

@hirayapilipina Reply to @hotdogngakasi How I Started a Business at 15 Years Old #storytime #smallbusinessowner #hirayapilipina ♬ To Build A Home - The Cinematic Orchestra

Number three: We use social media to build our community. In building a business, it’s very important to have a community na loyal sa’yo, and loyal ka rin sa kanila. We attract the audience na naniniwala rin sa kung ano yung pinaniniwalaan namin. They’re our tribe. 

Do you have any practical tips on how to grow one’s social media engagement?

Go where the audience is. If they’re on Instagram, we’re on Instagram. If they’re on TikTok, we launched on TikTok as well. 

Hindi madaling mag-maintain or mag-grow ng social media (account). Huwag magpadala sa sinasabi ng iba; kailangan may tough heart kung gusto mo mag-business. 

We put out content that is relatable. Alam namin kung ano yung problems nila. We put out content that helps them and lets them know they have a brand that they can go to for guidance and empowerment. We’re very huge on that, on value-driven posts. 

What would you advise aspiring young business owners?

I’m taking up BS Entrepreneurship in Enderun Colleges. Aside from my college program, I still read a lot of business books. Overtime sa pag-acquire ng knowledge, especially kapag mas bata ka and wala kang experience. Ang magiging kakampi mo is yung knowledge na matututunan mo.

Tala by Kyla

The acclaimed local jewelry brand is all over social media platforms and online shopping carts, and with good reason. Tala by Kyla’s signature dainty and refined quality translates to their product photos and social media platforms. 

Kyla Cañeta

Do you have any practical tips on how to grow one’s social media engagement?

KYLA CAÑETE: Make sure na maganda or presentable yung visuals mo. Personally, pag hindi ko gusto yung picture, sina-swipe up ko lang. Pero pag maganda yung picture, mapapatingin ka and macu-curious ka. Huwag din parang robot; pakita mo sa audience mo na human ka and nakikipag-interact ka. Important din na alam mo yung target market mo; dapat may branding ka.

What would you advise aspiring young business owners?

Ang dali sa age natin ma-invalidate yung hard work natin. Tingin nila, “bata lang tayo” or “social media lang ’yan.” Hindi madaling mag-maintain or mag-grow ng social media (account). Huwag magpadala sa sinasabi ng iba; kailangan may tough heart kung gusto mo mag-business. 

Jungle Base Grounds

Jungle Base Grounds is a local coffee shop in Pampanga. The team behind Jungle Base shares how their digital community, consisting of regulars, new customers, and content creators who make the most out of their picturesque space on social media, has grown organically since they opened last November.

Nicole Aquino-Bernabe and Aina Aquino.

How did you utilize social media as a marketing strategy?

NICOLE AQUINO-BERNABE: The brand and the products have to be good for it to gain traction. You can have all the marketing strategies you want, pero kailangan strong talaga yung word-of-mouth presence pa rin. From word-of-mouth it translates to, “Someone talked about it, and I also see it online.” With that, parang na-amplify lang yung social media presence because people also talk about it. More than just sponsored and boosted posts, kailangan may word-of-mouth aspect rin siya for people to really want to go and visit it. 

How did you grow your online community?

AINA AQUINO: How we see social media is that it has to be a reflection of what the brand is and who we are. When you do that, you get to attract people with the same interests. When we post, we try to inject stories about the space or about the things we care about, like sustainability or locally made products. It so happens that the people who follow us are also interested in those things. That’s how the community kind of grew from there, because they believed in the same things we believed in, or they were interested in the things that we shared. 

Do you have any practical tips on how to grow one’s social media engagement?

BER GARCIA: A practical tip is to know your audience. Hindi puwedeng naka-focus ka lang sa brand itself. Like, kung ikaw may ari nito, hindi puwedeng yung gusto mo lang. Especially sa inquiries and reviews, doon mo malalaman kung anong hinahanap nila, at doon ko rin bine-base yung mga pino-post. Learn to listen: know what they want, and know how you can help. 

What would you advise aspiring young business owners?

NICOLE: Just keep trying and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Personally, I’ve had brands that have closed; I have brands that are still there — and so many lessons talaga from trying and learning. As long as you’re not scared to try and to adjust, you’ll grow. 

When you’re a business owner, you have to be able to accept criticisms all the time and not take it personally. Sometimes people will say to us, “The food is like this,” or “The drinks are too sweet.” You have to take it as a fact and then check it.

AINA: It’s important to have the willingness to learn, whatever field you’re trying to get into. Even though both of us weren’t baristas or chefs — we didn’t have that background — it was important that we took the time and investment to learn those things so we could understand the everyday operations. 

You can plan all you want, but at one point you’re just going to have to take the lead and figure things out as you go. I think that requires a lot of courage, because you’re used to wanting everything to be perfect. You’re going to learn along the way. You have to allow yourself to make those mistakes and figure it out as you keep on going and growing. 

NICOLE: There will come a time when you don’t have to know everything. Even ako, when I started my first business, feeling mo pag hindi mo alam, parang mali or palpak. But ask any business owner, they always make mistakes but they always learn from them.