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Letting Social Media Impact your Business

A move towards social business is vital for future growth.

Entrepreneur

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Social Media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may have dominated the social platforms in 2011 but as we move into 2012, it is vital for marketers and business leaders to begin thinking about social media in a broader sense, fully appreciating the impact of social dynamics on business.

Jason Xenopoulos, CEO of NATIVE, believes five core concepts will influence marketers and business leaders this year, the first being Social by Design.

“Social by Design is the term that Facebook uses to describe the new order of things where social dynamics now underpin every aspect of the web. But,” says Xenopoulos, “Social by Design is not limited to marketing. The effects of an increasingly-connected world are now being felt at every level of business. Companies are beginning to reorganise themselves around people; processes are changing and structures are mutating as businesses themselves become Social by Design. The question is no longer, ‘how do we create viral marketing,’ but, ‘how do we develop viral products and services?”

From social media to social business

2012 is the year in which industry leaders must look beyond social media and towards Social Business. This year will also see the emergence of a new planning discipline called Propagation Planning, which governs the way in which brand messages scale and spread.

Social media has rewired the planet’s electronic communication networks. No longer is information only consumed through bought-media channels like radio and television, but today, in the socially-connected mediaverse, people are discovering more and more of their content through friends. “Targeting consumers in this environment requires an understanding of how information flows through their social networks. Griffin Farley from BBH New York describes Propagation Planning as, ‘planning not for the people you reach, but the people that they reach, by giving them assets to propagate.’

The Social Media revolution is a consumer revolution. The democratisation of media has shifted power away from corporations and media owners and into the hands of the general public. Today, brands are co-owned by consumers.

Power to the people

The impact of this shifting dynamic cannot be underestimated. “For those business leaders who doubted whether consumers would really usurp their power, the Arab Spring came as a profound and shocking surprise. We live in a world where consumer-centricity, transparency, truth, and authenticity are now table-stakes.

In order to remain relevant in a world being redefined by social dynamics, business leaders will need to devolve their brands into the hands of the people that are most important to them – their customers. ‘Devolution’ is designed to help businesses adapt to the changing needs of their increasingly empowered consumers. They must take heed of this new consumer-led dispensation,” Xenopoulos warns.

Another key trend impacting business is mobilisation. He explains that Mobile media is not just about advertising on cell-phones. It is about understanding the implications of being an ‘always-on’ brand, available to customers anywhere, anytime.

“Mobilising your business is not about buying a few mobile banner ads or building a mobisite,” says Xenopoulos, “but rather about understanding the way mobile computing is likely to disrupt and redefine the customer journey within your industry… and then reshaping your business to meet these burgeoning consumer demands.”

Third world growth

The final factor to consider is the potential of E-merging Markets. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the world’s population will grow by another billion people by 2025.

While western markets have begun to buckle beneath the pressure of a global recession, the third-world has begun to emerge. Today 80% of the world’s consumers are moving into a new economic reality. As a result, global brands are now looking to tap into these emerging markets in order to reclaim the growth that once defined their success.

But from a marketing perspective, connecting with emerging consumers has always been a challenge. The sophisticated mass media infrastructures that forged consumerism in the west do not exist in many emerging markets.

Enter the mobile phone. “Suddenly, that reality has changed. In South Africa, for example, in 2009 we had approximately 4,3 million fixed-line connections, but well over 40 million mobile subscribers and the mobile phone is fast becoming the number one gateway onto the Internet. Suddenly, emerging markets like South Africa have managed to leapfrog decades of socio-economic development to arrive at a place where almost the entire population is connected. This radically changes the picture for marketers who now have the opportunity to engage with a whole new layer of the population,” says Xenopoulos.

Leaders and entrepreneurs who are targeting emerging markets must acknowledge the vital role that technology plays in harnessing these consumers… “because it is only through the appropriate and innovative use of technology that we will be able to fully realise the potential of our e-merging consumers.

“According to Chinese Astrology, 2012 is the Year of the Water Dragon. If this is anything to go by, businesses will have to exude power and ambition, like the Dragon, while at the same time remaining flexible and pliant, like water. This is going to be the year where businesses need to focus on forging strong interpersonal relationships through communication, persuasion, and collaboration,” concludes Xenopoulos.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

Online Marketing

The Seven Rules Of Social Media

Here are 8 tips from the proverbial digital playbook.

So Interactive

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Social media has become indispensable when it comes to marketing and PR. Smart, carefully thought out, and well implemented social media strategies have shown to increase exposure and engagement, improve search engine rankings, increase turnover, encourage brand loyalty, and improve lead generation. Converting social media followers into true fans is the key and will set you well on your way to creating long term customer advocates and “ideal” customers.

Here are 8 tips from the proverbial digital playbook. They lay out exactly what brands can do and the ground rules that they should follow to prevent social media faux pas:

1. Don’t Over Promote Your Brand

Your profile or page on any social media platform should clearly communicate your brand message and offering to your target audience. Your social media posts need to be more than overt marketing tactics. Offer your audience relevant, interesting, and engaging content. Overly sales orientated content is a sure way to lose followers. Conversational and on trend content is the way forward.

2. Think Before You Post

Always take the time to properly consider your content before posting it. Think it through and ask yourself if it is relevant to your target customer, if it uses the correct tone, and does it put your brand message across accurately. Consider the purpose of each social media platform and the content that is generally consumed on each of them.

Plan, evaluate your messaging, and use relevant hashtags.

Related: Social Media Marketing For Start-ups: Essential Tips

3. Always Fact Check & Cross Reference

Fact checking isn’t just for journalists and TV news. Always fact check your content, especially when trying to tie in news and current affairs into your messaging. A careless mistake in your content can be extremely damaging to your brand. Making time to fact check can save you at the end of the day.

4. Damage Control

It is important to react quickly and professionally, be careful not to respond with knee jerk reactions. Never delete a post, comment, or response. It is important to own your failures and mistakes. Address issues out in the open and hold yourself accountable if need be. How you respond will make all the difference at the end of the day. You need to be prepared to take immediate action, to act fast, and at any time.

Take the time to properly assess the situation and make a calculated decision that is in the best interest of your business and brand. Transparency is key and showing that you managed a situation flawlessly will only reflect positively on your business.

5. Post Regularly

Manage and maintain your social presence effectively while promoting your offering by posting regularly. This ensures that your brand is kept top of mind while increasing brand exposure. It is important to keep in mind that over posting is not in your best interest and will only hold your brand back from gaining traction in the online space.

Your online audience and social platforms including social media could very possibly view your content as spam and flag it as such, including on Facebook. One to three posts a day are best practice and a formula used by most brands the world over.

6. Invest In The Time To Do Solid Research

Researching your customer personas, target market, your niche in the market, and so forth, should be researched very early on in the making of your business. However, going forward research makes for amazing content that is tailored to your target audience. A few hours of solid research can go a very long way in the process of creating quality social media content. Posting social content for the sake of the act itself is simply not an effective strategy. Posting carefully curated content for your target audience will yield higher engagement and conversions.

Related: 4 Key Social Media Mistakes You Might Be Making – And How To Avoid Them

7. Never Ignore Enquiries & Comments

Social media allows for two-way communication and conversations between businesses and their potential customers. Social media goes beyond simply putting the content on your timelines and onto the news feeds of your audience, it includes engagement between brand and customer in the online space. It is important to acknowledge your followers and your fans, every single time. This encourages brand loyalty and gives the impression that you value your followers. Answering messages and responding to comments shows that your brand is present and listening to the needs of the customer. Personal engagement and a speedy response speaks volumes.

Your first step is to consider getting a respected social media specialist onboard. Johannesburg based So Interactive is a highly respected digital marketing agency with an excellent reputation in South Africa and across borders. So Interactive is a boutique studio offering clients quality digital solutions. Get in touch to get your next digital campaign off the ground. Talk to So Interactive, and together you can create a winning social media marketing campaign.

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Online Marketing

The Six Second Sweet Spot

Six-second video has been all the buzz since Google showcased the best of its six-second hackathon at Sundance in January 2017.

So Interactive

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In June last year, Fox announced it was on board with six-second bumper video ads. Google recently performed a study which established that nine out of ten bumper video ads drive ad recall while 61% increased brand awareness. Six seconds is proving to be the perfect time frame within which to tell your brand story.

The six-second video amplifies the beauty of storytelling in that it creates a much faster, more accessible and memorable way to communicate messages. The time constraint can be quite daunting and, at first, some would consider it a creative hinderance. However, a short sentence, a single word, a stand alone image, or a six second visual is often more than enough to catch and keep the attention of your audience as it pushes creatives to think differently and with more focus.

YouTube recently challenged creative agencies worldwide to retell fairytale classics by using only six-second video. The challenge was met overwhelming enthusiasm and creativity. From Bollywood classics to local folktales, every entry proved, for the first time, that short, powerful stories have much broader impact and memorability than their longer counterparts.

Related: The Launch Of Instagram TV

Six-second video is a snackable content trend that is paving the way forward for online content. Respectable industry leaders and key players in the field are predicting that six-second video ads will continue gaining traction at the end of 2018 and through into the coming year. Short form video has literally become the six-second sweet spot and will continue reshaping the way digital marketers address their audiences.

So Interactive, based in Johannesburg, are known for their work in video. If you are looking to create a six second band message or a short series of six second videos that form a single brand story, then So Interactive is a fantastic fit and brilliant option. Go with the professionals, get a brilliant creative team on board, and get your six second video out to the world. Get in touch with So Interactive to discuss your next six second video marketing campaign.

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Online Marketing

3 Reasons You’re Not Seeing Tangible ROI With Your Social Media Efforts

Not telling your brand story, posting inconsistently and missing out on paid advertising opportunities could sink your brand.

Colton Bollinger

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When people hear these numbers, they don’t wait long before they too dive in head-long, eager to have their own slice of the huge pie. Typically, they open one social media account after another, in the hopes that one or two platforms will somehow convert and compensate for their overall investment of time and money.

But is “the more the merrier” approach delivering the desired social media returns?

Social media success has little to do with the number of profiles you have, the photos you like or the people you follow – just as the success of your dating life isn’t based on how many Tinder profiles you swipe right on. With so much content out there and just so much time in the day, the mindshare of the consumer is becoming more and more competitive among brands.

It is no longer just a numbers game. Quality over quantity will win every time, which all comes down to your content and how you make it resonate with your target audience. So, create content you know your audience wants to see on their feeds. It’s not about you or your company; it’s about them.

How an online product could be the focus of a “share-able” joke

Just as happens in real life in our efforts to meet that special someone, most of us also go on a blind date with social media: We settle for the “one-night stand” of a few likes and reciprocated follows, then hope to find true love with great returns.

But true social media success stories are not developed over a night. They are built with strong foundations and strategies in place for sustainable, value-adding content creation that engages with target audiences. Imagine how much more successful you could be on those blind dates if you had your date’s entire life history pulled up in front of you to stir conversation, instead of awkwardly sitting there for half the night twiddling your thumbs.

In today’s world, you don’t step into the batter’s box hoping to hit a home run, you step in with a strategy based on the limitless data at your fingertips, expecting to hit one. Successful content opportunities don’t just pop out of thin air into your lap, they are facilitated. If you take the time to understand not only who your target audience members are, but their correlated interests and passions, you’ll be on your way to effectively preparing a unique content-creation strategy that will lead you to those returns on social everyone is buzzing about.

Related: 4 Key Social Media Mistakes You Might Be Making – And How To Avoid Them

So, if you’re not seeing enough returns on your social media efforts, here are three possible reasons why:

branding

1. Not telling your brand story

Stories are powerful, because they engage the mind. If well-scripted, they can attract visitors to your product or service, engage their emotions and get them doing exactly what you want – without being salesy or downright “in your face.”

If you sell umbrellas, for instance, you could post a picture of your product and say, “Buy this umbrella now.” But no one would like that post. However, what if you took a picture of a man opening an umbrella for his date and helping her out of her car? You’d be telling a story that aligns with your product in a way the consumer can relate to: “This month’s forecast calls for rain, and lots of it … and as our fathers used to say, ‘Always keep protection handy in your car; you never know when you might need to use it, but she’ll appreciate it.’”

Without directly asking people to buy your umbrella, the picture you paint with words generates the feeling of desire for the umbrella. If you’re targeting single men, they’ll chuckle at the witty spin on sexual protection and put themselves in the situation most have been in when their date asks, “Do you have an umbrella?” And because the answer is typically “no,” next thing, they’ll be clicking “Purchase” and sharing the joke with friends.

The message? Compelling, brand-optimised stories that your target audience can relate to are key. 

A brand that does this well: Warby Parker doesn’t sell just glasses, but fashionable glasses that don’t break the bank, especially for the millennial generation. To do this, Warby Parker turns every post on social media into a story, and allows customers to relate and “see” themselves in the product, illustrated by this recent Instagram post showcasing the brand with kids.

A brand that’s missing the mark: Lincoln Motors sorely misses the mark on its marketing, especially in telling stories. Lincoln is not always top of mind in many car-buyers’ decision process, in contrast to its parent company, Ford. If class and high-end appeal are Lincoln’s goals, storytelling will be how the brand reminds the market it still exists – and let itself be a consumer’s “second thought.” In contrast, Ford dominates, because of how its creative team connects with consumers through social strategy efforts.

social-media-engagement

2. Not engaging consistently

Consider the expression “Out of sight, out of mind.” In that context, any business with a “when I can” approach to engaging online customers will eventually see its brand buried. The reason is that even more crucial than crafting persuasive content is consistent content.

In the fast-paced social media space, you must consistently push out compelling content (by developing a content marketing strategy and sticking to it).

The message? If you post content today, then skip several days or weeks before posting the next one, your overall online engagement efforts will fail to deliver desired returns.

A brand that engages its audience consistently: Look at Wendy’s Twitter feed to see how consistent the brand is in engaging with fans. These tweets are the humorous go-to source for laughs, and often get into play “fights” with other brands. All eyes are on Wendy’s because it “gets” engaging consistently.

A brand that’s missing the mark: American Airlines had an automatic responder go out on Twitter to all that mentioned the company. But this was a big error because many tweets looked out of place and responded to offensive messages. The automatic responder wasn’t doing any favours for the brand, which clearly needed to have a real person engaging the audience.

Related: Social Media Marketing For Start-ups: Essential Tips

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3. Missing out on paid advertising opportunities

Captivating copy + consistent posting = successful engagement, but are you engaging the right online audience? Facebook, alone, has an impressive 2.2 billion active users daily, but that’s just traffic if you’re not targeting and generating the right leads (those more likely to buy from you).

Paid advertising offers a great opportunity to target your ads. For as little as $1 a day, you can advertise effectively and affordably on a platform of choice like Facebook. But 62 percent of small businesses still fail with Facebook Ads. This is because (a) the target audience isn’t spending time on Facebook; (b) The business doesn’t understand its audience; or (c) The business doesn’t have the right hook.

Again, businesses must tell a story that gets into the heart of the audience, and tell it strategically and consistently. To do this, they should take advantage of paid ads on social media. This can result in impressive returns on ad efforts almost immediately.

The message? If you aren’t continually testing new content ideas behind your ads, you will lose to a competitor who is.

A brand that does a great job with Facebook ads: One of our own advertising success stories centres around the product Gorilla Bow. With creative content, the mix of perfect targeting offered by our Facebook advertising manager together with a team making sure the product was stocked and ready to resulted in a 3.5x return on ad spend, a 350 percent increase in total sales and a 450 percent decrease in cost-per-click.

A brand missing the mark: This would be any brand on Facebook now that doesn’t have an advertising budget. With Facebook’s limits on your business page’s reach, businesses are left with no “air space” on the Facebook feed. If you have a product or service worth sharing, then paid advertising on Facebook is a must.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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