Social media for business is exploding. Everywhere one turns, it seems there is another online marketing specialist extolling the absolute necessity of a comprehensive social media strategy. A Facebook page, twitter account, LinkedIn profile, pinterest page… the list of requirements goes on and on.
Is this simply marketing hype from the social media industry, or an absolute imperative for business, and especially small business, in South Africa?
Before jumping in boots and all, the burning question should be: Is the return from social media investment justified? The starting point for a smaller organisation, consisting of a simple page across the ‘Big 3’ business platforms – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – will cost in the order of R5 000 to R10 000 depending on complexity, with an additional (optional) fee for on-going management and maintenance of content of around R3 000 per month. This excludes time for in-house staff to manage the social media platforms, planning time, and costs for inevitable upgrades.
With this in mind, is it all worth it? What real business benefit is social media bringing the average small organisation?
Cutting through the Hype
Understanding the cost/benefit of social media was a hot topic amongst entrepreneurs and small business owners at a recent interactive Understanding Social Media conference for small organisations, hosted by the Old Mutual Legends business development programme.
Catherine Wijnberg, CEO Fetola, which facilitated the workshop explains that the conference was hosted because every business needs to understand how to stay ahead of the pack, and because the concept of marketing is reinventing itself through social media almost daily. “We believe that one must first understand the basics in order to get the job done effectively, because without this it is too easy to be swept up by the hype and excitement of new technology and new social platforms,” she explains.
It’s clear that many organisations are feeling a pressing need for a social media strategy, but remain uncertain how to proceed, or how much time and money to invest in this channel. There is a real need to help people cut through the hype and get true value.
Conference attendee Phindile Mkhize, MD of Zan Zan Décor, concurs: “I have been aware that I need to integrate social media into my marketing, but was unsure where to start and what platforms were best for my business. I believe I now have a much better understanding of the dos and don’ts, and more importantly how to use social media in the correct way to grow my business.”
Experienced social media providers such as Lianne Byrne-Hammacott of Digital4Good, understand how to tackle digital media and mould it to benefit small businesses and non-profits. “People think that they can simply set up a Facebook page and post a few things here and there, and the sales will come flooding in. In truth, social media needs to be seen as an integral part of your overall marketing strategy and activities for it to deliver to its full potential,” she explains.
Lianne believes the rise of mobile technology, niche social networks, the ‘fan-sumer’ and increasing customer influence through online platforms are trends that all SMEs and non-profits need to take into account when assessing a social media strategy.
Dorian de Klerck, sales manager at digital media specialist agency Active Ice, agrees. “The mistake many people make is believing that their social media efforts will lead to the phone ringing off the hook and sales rolling in. This is simply not the case. Social media should not be seen as a quick return on investment scenario, but rather a medium to long term marketing and brand development solution.
“We reckon that a good social media strategy is 85% marketing and only 15% sales focused,” he explains. “This makes a proper online marketing strategy an absolute imperative. We advise clients to plan and think about every post, tweet or other communication, as well as the look and feel of their pages and platforms, for maximum impact.”
Beyond the Big Three
Facebook, LinkedIn and twitter are only part of an online marketing strategy however, and ensuring that your website is readily found by search engines still forms the foundation of any serious online marketing.
“There are two kinds of websites – those that deliver, and those that do not. People need to know how to structure their sites and take the necessary steps to ensure that they are found by major search engines, or the site can become a bit of a white elephant,” explains Jason New, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) consultant and Founder of Click Metrics. “This includes linking to other well-optimised and respected sites, and ensuring your content is fresh and compelling.
“Websites must be developed as part of an integrated online marketing strategy, making maximum use of the automated search tools, and if necessary using specialists to boost success. Almost no-one bothers to look beyond the first page on a Google Search, and often if you are not in the top three search results, you might as well be invisible,” he adds.
When to call in the Cavalry
Social media and online marketing still remains a grey area for many smaller organisations, and a common question is ‘how much can be done in-house, and when should one bring in a specialist?’
Catherine Wijnberg offers the following advice: “With any marketing or brand development, it is usually necessary to bring in experts for certain elements, such as logo design, copywriting, even assistance with overall strategy.
“Social media is no different. Just because it’s free to set up a Facebook page does not mean you should go ahead and wing it yourself. Managing social media badly, or simply ‘dabbling’ in it, can often be more damaging than having no online presence at all. My advice is that one should seek expert help to develop a strategy and get started, and then make it your business to learn what you need to know in order to manage things for the long term.”
Putting Facebook in its Place
Everyone is talking about Facebook timeline as an absolute must-have for business (this week at least), but it’s important to put Facebook in its place. Like social media itself, Facebook is just another marketing tool to get your message to your client. Don’t be fooled into letting social media override your core business prerogatives – integrate it into a properly designed and fully integrated marketing and media plan, and remember that at the end of the day your clients are not your contacts on LinkedIn or your fans on Facebook, but those who actually buy your products and services.
Facebook Dos and Don’ts
Using Facebook for your business is simple – you just need to know what to do.
What you should be doing:
1. Use Pages instead of Personal Profiles for Businesses
- Pages provide analytics
- Pages update fans on upcoming events or product releases.
- Pages allow custom landing tabs.
2. Track your Facebook activity and analytics
- Set goals, for example:
- “Let’s increase our fan base to 1 000 by the next quarter.”
- “Have 2 wall posts every day and continue to engage with fans.
- “Run three contests this month.”
- Track the success of your campaigns – which days were successful? Which days were not?
- See who is listening and discover your target audiences.
- Post 80 characters or less ( Thursday and Friday are the best engagement days – most people are on social media towards the end of the week
- Stay engaged, consistent, and always respond to comments.
- Make sure a link to your website and newsletter is well-placed
- Create a Welcome page for first-time visitors so they don’t land directly on your wall. Introduce yourself first!
- Post questions, polls and conversation starters – engagement is key!
- Create an editorial calendar (or content matrix) that includes a plan for posting a mix of content (industry articles, blog posts, photos, videos, etc.) – have a plan!
What you shouldn’t be doing:
- Don’t be sloppy! Fill in everything on your Page – profile, events etc
- Don’t post the following :
- Personal Information – refrain from posting phone numbers, email addresses, addresses, or other personal information.
- Draw a distinct line between personal and business. This happens more than you may think!
- Sales Pitches – do not be the folks on Facebook whose sales posts are annoying– let your fans’ interactions drive the sales.
- Post deals or special offers respectfully, without clichés.
- Don’t be overly promotional or pushy.
- Don’t turn off your user comments function.
- Don’t use Facebook Events tabs for RSVPS. Always have users sign up on your own site.
- Don’t send out mass messages to your entire network.
- Don’t post an update more than twice a day (max).
- Don’t delete negative comments. If you’re being transparent (and you should), use this as an opportunity to reply with intent on correcting the problem helping the customer.
- Don’t have your Twitter updates auto-post to Facebook.
- Don’t be shy about inviting people to “like” your page.
- Don’t post your website link on someone else’s wall
- Don’t forget to drive your customers outward—to your website
- Don’t take yourself TOO seriously!
For more information on the Old Mutual Legends programme and the support it offers small businesses and non-profit organisations, visit www.fetola.co.za
The Launch Of Instagram TV
Giving a run to other institutions for their money, Instagram today has launched IGTV, a new application that will allow users to upload videos on its Instagram facility.
Commencing with one minute long videos, speaking at the launch today, Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom, announced that users can now upload up-to an hour long video. This application will allow famous videos from celebrities. However, with IGTV, one does not necessarily need to be a big-name or famous, since creative individuals and groups can upload videos.
For now, everyone who enjoys the clutter free, easy to navigate Instagram, will be able to upload an hour-long video, except the smaller and new accounts that will enjoy this application after the expansion of the facility. This application will be globally available on Android and IOS and will allow viewers to browse through many longer videos, as well as visit the browse tabloids or suggest followed videos.
Furthermore, viewers will have the choice to watch ‘old’ videos and also get notifications on recent uploads. IGTV will also allow creators and inventors to develop Instagram Channels with various videos that other viewers can subscribe to, drive traffic of viewers to particular videos, granting the inventors the capability of uploading clear links of the video.
Systrom confirmed that there will be no advertisements on IGTV for the meanwhile. He added that this is still a great platform to put up advertisements at a later stage, as creators or inventors put in more time into videos for IGTV. This translates into an opportunity to make money. Instagram will not pay creators for the IGTV videos at this stage. IGTV has so much potential since creators will be from the over 1 billion current Instagram subscribers. At the same time, this could be big business, since the number of subscribers may rise.
Expectations are there to add to the monetisation option, and these include the potential of Instagram getting profits close to $5.5 billion in 2018, as compared to Facebook, which is just above $202 billion.
Moving up from just filtering and sharing photos, today Instagram has advanced from mobile networks, screens, and cameras, of which neither the longer videos could be supported. This has opened a new mobile TV for teens and families.
Additionally, Instagram can become the dependable place to view something on that small screen via creators’ and publisher video content curation, as opposed to YouTube, which always has a wider breadth of content.
5 Steps In Adwords Competitor Analysis: A Practical Case Study
In the second part of this article, we’ll be getting practical. What steps to take and what to do in each step.
In PART ONE of this article on the importance of competitor analysis in an Adwords campaign, we demonstrated to you the value that can be uncovered by performing a proper analysis of what your foe is up to on Adwords and how they can actually help you do better.
In the second part of this article, we’ll be getting practical. What steps to take and what to do in each step.
Pens sharpened? Batteries charged? Lets go!
As a case study of a local Adwords campaign, we’ll be taking a look at one of the main spenders on PPC in South Africa, booking.com, and see what information can be gathered about their competition in paid search results.
Step 1. Find out who your client’s true competitors in paid search are
First of all, let’s get on the same page, by stating that your organic and paid search competition is not the same thing. If you know who you share the SERPs with, it doesn’t mean that you’ll share the paid ads section with the same set of companies.
Booking.com knows what we’re talking about.
Here’s the organic part of the SERP for ‘book a hotel’. Booking.com shares it with Trivago, hotels.com and Agoda.
They could have thought: Okay, so these are my competitors, I know what they’re up to, I’ll look into their strategies and I’ll be fine in both organic and paid search. But wait, what is happening there at the top of the SERPs? Who is this dark horse?
It’s Expedia! In organic search it stands further down from booking.com than the rest of the domains from the first page, yet in paid results Booking and Expedia are the closest rivals.
But that is just one keyword. There are many other keywords for which the companies want to advertise in Google, so to know whether you’re actually competing with them, you need to evaluate your competition level.
It’s a simple process of comparing the number of keywords you have in common versus the number that are unique with that competitor.
By estimating this value, you can distinguish your true competitors from big generic brands, niche competition and temporary distractions in the paid search.
Jokes aside, Booking and Expedia share a relatively similar online presence and are, of course, familiar with each other’s PPC strategy. That said, if you’re not a huge domain and know your usual competitors, it is even more frustrating to miss an audacious market newcomer or an organic outsider trying to cut the line and get to the top of the SERPs with an aggressive PPC campaign. So, the analysis of your true competition should be performed regularly. For the agencies that we support, we usually revise the competitors list once every quarter.
Step 2. Estimate your competition PPC budgets
Now that you know who you are rubbing elbows with in paid search, try figuring out how much they spend on PPC. There’s no way to know exactly what their budgets are (except for corporate espionage, but we don’t recommend that), but you can still make use of an estimation.
For that, you need to know how many keywords they target in paid search, what their cost-per-click values are, as well as their estimated search volumes. That is practically impossible to reveal manually, but the competitor analysis tool in SEMrush for example provides you with an estimation of the company’s PPC budget based on the data from their keyword database. Similar tools should be found in whatever quality software you’ve opted for.
Here’s the info we could gather about Booking.com by solely analysing the keywords for which it was showing up in paid search and the CPC values of those keywords.
Though it is a rough estimation, this info is helpful in planning your PPC campaigns in a way that meets with market trends.
Step 3. Find out your competitor’s unique keywords
What’s even better about competitor analysis is that it will help you save time by not needing to do the tough jobs yourself by letting you (legally) steal the best ideas from your competition and dwell on them. Remember, if you’re doing it to them, they’re probably doing it to you as well! All’s fair in love, war and paid advertising!
What’s the practical value of this? Well, your competitor’s unique keywords can be your missed opportunity.
By comparing the keywords that Booking and Expedia are bidding on, we see that there are a lot of keywords related to means of travelling and travelling companies in Expedia’s portfolio, but they are missing in the Booking.com set. It is obviously just another tactic for such a big brand, but for a smaller company, this comparison list could be a golden goose of new ideas.
Step 4. Research your competitor’s ads and banners
If you have ever been online, you know that the SERPs are crowded. The served results in both organic and paid search have to constantly overcome the viewer’s lack of attention, so the message in your ads should be short, clear, and actionable.
Your competitor’s copy can be a great source of information.
Comparing your ads to your competitor’s allows you to see the context and the standards of messaging in your niche and adjust your voice to or diversify from the usual tone.
Also, sometimes you need to develop multiple ad copies with similar content. Whenever creativity abandons you, you can look into your competitor’s copy and borrow a few ideas from them.
Step 5. Check your competitor’s target URLs
Imagine running an online retail business. Summer sales are coming, and you want to promote your goods with an AdWords campaign. Apart from the keywords that you want to bid on and creating appealing ad copy, you also need to think about the page which your ads are going to take your leads to.
Is it common in your client’s niche to have a specific landing page for a promo like this? Or is it enough to have banners on the home page? Take a look at your client’s competitor’s target pages and find out.
The Value Of Competitor Analysis On A South African Adwords Campaign
If you have doubts about the efficiency of an AdWords campaign being run in South Africa, here are some stats about the South African market to convince you.
Running a successful AdWords campaign can sometimes be like trying to understand the maths that Elon Musk is using to put a human being on Mars: you’re pretty sure it will work, but trying to figure how and why burns too many brain cells.
Well, help is at hand! In this TWO PART article, we’re going to demonstrate to you the value of performing a competitor analysis on an Adwords campaign, and show you just how and what you should be looking for.
As a digital marketer of any kind, you’ve probably had a crack at running and managing an AdWords campaign. Let me guess:
- Predicting the results and outcomes was impossible;
- You outsourced to an agency this one time. It cost you a fortune and they kept asking questions you couldn’t possibly have answers to;
- Setting the budget was more complicated than understanding the nature and purpose of Snapchat;
- And speaking of budget…it’s NEVER enough and always runs out too quickly.
Nobody is arguing with the fact that AdWords is one of the most complicated digital marketing efforts that you can undertake on behalf of a client or yourself. However, if done right, it could also be one of the most rewarding, effective and business-altering activities you could do.
If you have doubts about the efficiency of an AdWords campaign being run in South Africa, here are some stats about the South African market to convince you:
South African PPC market in numbers
In 2017 the total spending on Google ads in South Africa across all industries reached $30 million. The market’s thriving!
And these websites were the most generous spenders on Google ads. If only your budgets could compete, right?
However, these were the industry’s spendaholics.
Generally, businesses are way more careful with their PPC budgets: only 3.8% of all the companies spend more than R50 000 monthly, and the majority of 34.1% is just indulging their curiosity with somewhere around 1000 bucks a month.
And if you worry about your ad copy, take a look at the most popular phrases and CTAs used in South African ads:
So, how do you enter that market AND, at the same time, save your money?
Well, that’s like eating an elephant — get help and do it in pieces.
If you thought that running and managing an AdWords campaign was complicated, try getting advice from the pros on best practices to net best results. Just like deciphering that Musk math again.
- Split test your copy
- Use different ad extensions… or all of them
- Try out different calls to action
- Manage and track your budget daily
- Get your targeting on point
But also don’t forget about the foundation of any marketing campaign, digital or not: research your competition.
As wholesalers of digital marketing services to South African digital agencies, by far one of the most important and most advised best practices we suggest to the agencies that we support when running an AdWords digital marketing campaign is to ensure that they practice comprehensive and thorough competitor analysis.
What is competitor analysis for your Adwords campaign and how do you streamline it?
Running a competitor analysis during an AdWords campaign is like having a video camera in your competitions training session. It’ll help you pull back the curtain, see what they’re up to and adjust your efforts accordingly to ensure optimum results from your AdWords campaigns.
In our experience, many companies do not perform PPC competitive research, or don’t do it as often as they should. However, not having the full picture about your PPC competition is risky and can result in running ineffective campaigns. That means wasting your or your client’s budget without netting tangible results or missing the opportunities available to your client by underinvesting.
But recognising the difference that competitor analysis can make in your AdWords campaigns is only the first step. The next step is to find the right tool to help you perform your competitor analysis on a regular basis. The stats and data provided in this article were pulled by our team using SEMrush. It’s a software that we have found invaluable in helping us to provide white label, wholesale digital marketing services to the South African and international digital agencies that we support.
That being said, there are a wealth of similarly effective and powerful digital marketing tracking tools on the market worth investigating. We encourage you to get out there and see what works best for you.
The data that you should drill out of your competitor analysis
On all the levels of digital marketing, there’s a constant rivalry between best practice and revolutionary ideas. The question of whether to follow a well-trodden path or to do things differently in an effort to distinguish the brand you’re working on is always on the table. Or desktop in the case of digital marketing.
However, to make an informed decision you need to know the niche you are playing in as well as its main players. These questions will help you gather that information:
- Who is your true competitor in paid search?
- How much do they spend on PPC?
- What are their most profitable keywords?
- What do their ads and banners look like?
- What URLs should your ads target?
Now you know WHAT to ask. But what do you do with the answers and how do you use them to improve your own Adwords performance.
In PART TWO of this blog, we’ll be diving into just that. CLICK HERE TO READ ON!
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