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Sri Lankan exporters told how social media cuts costs, expand markets

ECONOMYNEXT – Use of social media can help exporters reach wider markets at lower cost if they use the right tools and have the right approach, Muhunthan Canagey, Chief Executive of the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) said.

Social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram have opened up audiences of several hundred million people, who can be reached at the click of a button that traditional shopping malls could never do, he said.

Companies that use social media also won’t have to have large marketing departments or large advertising budgets, he told an economic policy forum held by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, where he spoke on driving exports using social media and technology.


“There’s no limitation,” Canagey said.

“The limitation was connectivity. That’s why the government is investing to bring broadband to every village and every home in this country.”

 Exporters need not think of having 20-30 products but instead try one or two and try to sell to specific markets that social media tools enables them to target far more accurately than in the past, he said.

“How does this social space work? Firstly you need to listen, find out where the people are hanging out, who are their influences.

“You have to do research to identify your market. The information is available. There are behavioural patterns you want to target.”

The usual practice of ‘blast marketing’ through traditional newspaper and television channels that involve high spending is not necessary if social media is used effectively.





“Only the big boys can afford to do that. That’s the difference in this social space – whether you are big or small you have the same equal opportunity to play.”

Canagey said it was important for exporters, instead of trying to directly sell their products, to instead talk of how it’s made and the people behind it. 

“That’s the kind of personalisation social media would bring across to you.”

What is important was the engagement exporters have with their audiences.


Canagey spoke about what he called the three Cs – “the connection you make with all these people, the conversations you have with these people and the conversions that you do.”  (Colombo/August 5 015- Update 1)

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