For the first time, SICCI in partnership with PTI Australia delivered the Social Media Masterclass for around 50 business representatives via zoom.

SICCI partners with PTI Australia to deliver ‘Social Media Masterclass’ free for local businesses

To help local businesses in the Solomon Islands take advantage of the growing digital market, Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) Australia partnered with the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) to deliver a free Social Media Masterclass training in Honiara on Tuesday 4 August 2020.

In addition, with the COVID-19 global pandemic highlighting the importance of digital connection in a first for SICCI, this training was conducted via zoom.

For the training, participating local businesses were taught about how to set up social media counts and use content marketing and advertising to grow their business and carry out successful marketing campaigns to drive sales.

It was facilitated by Heather Porter, a social media expert who specialises in helping businesses grow online by optimising their social media marketing.

SICCI’s Export Industry Development Officer (EIDO), Mr Ronnie Golopitu stressed that initially the training was targeted for export-ready and exporting businesses but was opened up due to the high interest from other businesses particularly Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

“Participants were appreciative for this great opportunity to gain better understanding of how social media could help grow their business.”

“E-commerce has the potential to open up opportunities for local businesses in regards to the international market and with Solomon Islands expecting faster and more reliable internet services soon as a result of the Fiber Optic Cable Project, involving in e-commerce and e-marketing will become an important way for business in the country to connect globally,” Mr Golopitu said.

Pacific Trade Invest Australia’s General Manager- Exports Jeremy Grennell said that social media provides a cost-effective channel to engage international markets especially when physical travel isn’t possible.

“Over the last few years there’s been a real shift in the trade sector with online platforms creating opportunities for our exporters to access international markets. There’s still limited understanding on how to use Social Media for more than staying in touch with friends but to effectively engage to drive sales. PTI Australia’s Social Media Masterclass is helping to build the skills of exporters,” he said.

Mr Grennell said compared to traditional marketing channels like print, social media allows businesses in the Solomon Islands to reach an international audience at a relatively low cost.

“Our 2020 Pacific Islands Export Survey found that 31% per cent of exporters aren’t using online channels due to a lack of skills/expertise, it’s a missed opportunity, especially while borders are closed.

“This is why we pivoted PTI Australia’s Digital Trade program, so even though we physically aren’t able to travel to Solomon Islands we have partnered with SICCI to deliver our Social Media Masterclass via zoom and empower businesses in the Solomon Islands with the tools to use Facebook and Instagram to drive product awareness and ultimately sales,” Mr Grennell said.

Mr Bernard Kemakeza owns and operates Sunset Lodge, a budget accommodation and day tour provider on the Island of Savo which is about an hour away from the capital, Honiara. And developing an online presence and increasing its profile with local and international trade are two of the priorities for Savo Sunset Lodge.

“Having a professional presence on social media helps you reach a broader target audience to secure potential clients and convert them into loyal customers and this training has definitely thought us how to do that better,” Mr Kemakeza said.

Adkonect, a Marketing and Advertising business operating in Honiara, registered their media officer for the workshop.

“The training has made me realize the value and importance of social media in today’s commercial world. As someone working for an SME, especially under current harsh conditions of the COVId-19 Pandemic, this training is crucial so that we make the most of the online tools available in promoting our business products and expand our customer base,” Mr Douglas Saefoa, from Adkonect, said.

Mr Carlos Saliga is the Communications Team Leader at Solomon Water, one of the country’s leading State-Owned Enterprise (SOE), and this was his team’s first zoom training.

Mr Saliga described it as an excellent session and an opportunity to learn the importance of social media and understand the various functions that come with it.

“My take on it would be on the content plan and how we can use it to proactively utilize our social media platform to educate, inform, and help customers know our business. Also, as an organization that deals with different types of customers every day, developing different conversation hooks is vital to connect with our customers,” he said.

The interest for the Social Media Masterclass and the need for it was demonstrated with the notable high turnout of around fifty (50) participants including also representatives of some of the biggest companies in the country.

“The social media masterclass was very helpful in the sense that it helped remind us of the fundamentals on social media marketing while also giving an insight into some of the latest features on Facebook itself that will help our business improve on how we reach out to and engage with customers,” John Wopereis, Marketing Manager at Tongs Coporation, said.

“Having a certified Facebook trainer also made the Masterclass more relevant and was a good opportunity to hear about what’s actually working for those on Facebook,” he added.

Mr Alex Waimora from Solomon Breweries Limited said the training was very helpful in the sense that it enables frequent Facebook users or people responsible for their company’s social media accounts as well as private businesses to realize how much there is to offer from facebook.

“I believe after the training it opens more possibility to where business especially in Solomon Islands can go. Personally, I feel like it is a very worthy training and the fundamentals of knowing who we interact or market our products to on facebook is just well timed and the way forward,” Mr Waimora said.

SICCI acknowledges PTI Australia for this initiative and the partnership which enabled the delivery of this training for Solomon Islands businesses.

Founded in 1979, PTI Australia is an agency of the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat and is the Pacific region’s lead trade and investment facilitation agency; funded by the Australian Government.

About the author

Philip Lilomo is the Chamber's Media & Communications Officer. Philip writes most of the Chamber's media releases. He also manages the website contents, designs the Chamber's monthly newsletter, brochures and maintains the organisation's visual branding. 

Philip can be contacted on email: media@solomonchamber.com.sb 

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