Written by – Siyathma at OmeBiz
The social media ban took effect on the 7th of March across Sri Lanka in order to curb the violence that occurred in Kandy. There had been many mixed messages on when exactly the ban was to be uplifted. Some officials had stated that the ban would be lifted within 72 hours while telecommunication companies had stated that there was no said timeline for the ban. It had been more than a week since the ban had been placed and there had been no news of the social media ban being uplifted on apps such as Facebook and Instagram. Finally, on the 15th of March 2018 the ban on Whatsapp was lifted. On the following day, the ban was uplifted for Facebook and Instagram as well.
There had been many mixed opinions amongst the population of Sri Lanka on the social media ban. Some were for it as they saw that it was vital at the time to ensure everyone’s safety and that the situation does not end up becoming worse. Others saw it as a short term solution which would have no long term implication to the problems that keep repeating themselves. It was a violation of their freedom of speech.
How has this affected businesses?
Without a doubt the violence in Kandy has begun to drastically affect the tourism industry as more and more tourists have cancelled their reservations. The peak season in Kandy is during February to April which has taken a huge hit. Most tourists are unwilling to visit the country due to the violence but moreover due to the social media ban they are unable to contact their families.
Most businesses and e-Commerce businesses carry out their promotions on social media which brings in the most amount of traffic. The best way for businesses to communicate and get feedback from their customers is through social media. But when this channel has been blocked off businesses would not be able to get as much traffic on their sites or even sell their products.
Digital Marketing Companies and small businesses that operate on social media are having a difficult time during this shutdown as it leads to them making huge losses. However, you would be surprised at how much reach promotions gained due to the use of VPN’s.
The Opportunists Amongst Us
Some businesses took the situation into their advantage. They used it to advertise their companies more or even just to get more customers. A few examples of such instances are mentioned below:
Some small shop owners even started charging for VPN’s when all they had to do was to download an app for free.
At Bakes by Bella they mentioned on their social media how customers could come to their café as Instagram works there. This would attract more and more of the younger crowd to come visit their café.
Midnight Divas who are known for their scandalous advertisements that are always humorous and grab everyone’s attention, also got on board with it.
Backup plan for the end of your life (Social Media)
We were all taken by surprise when the Social Media Ban happened. So, the question is should businesses not already be prepared for such situations?
Businesses would have to start working on their offline marketing. This would consist of doing more campaigns and promotions using eye-catching banners and flyers, directly going to customers, email and SMS marketing. The better your service is the more chances that your customers would tell others about your product. The most important and crucial target is to ensure that word-of-mouth happens as this will boost your sales.
Moreover, going for meetups where startups meet or even when business officials meet up for business networking is vital. The more you interact with your customers, competitors and other companies in your industry the more business it will bring in.
Read our next article about how the mass use of VPN may affect Sri Lanka