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Putting Facebook in its Place

Deciphering social media and online marketing myths in business.

Anton Ressel

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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.”

Integrated Approach

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

 WHY?

  • Pages provide analytics
  • Pages update fans on upcoming events or product releases.
  • Pages allow custom landing tabs. 

2. Track your Facebook activity and analytics

WHY?

  • 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

Anton Ressel is a business strategist, social commentator and writer as well as the founder and Director of ARC Consulting, a small business specialist agency that offers mentorship, support and other services to entrepreneurs and emerging businesses nationally. See www.antonressel.co.za for more info.

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Online Marketing

The Top Ten Marketing Trends To Look Out For In 2019

With 2018 behind us, there is no better time to start looking to the future.

Jandre de Beer

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chatbots

Most people start making their new year’s resolutions this time of the year, goals to make things better for themselves in the coming year. This is something that businesses need to look at doing too.

Running a digital marketing agency means one needs to keep ones finger on the pulse.

The world is continually changing and developing, and if businesses want to survive and thrive, then they need to grow and develop too.

As with everything else, marketing is also continuing to change over time, so it is important for businesses to be on top of the newest trends. Even if 2018 was a successful year for you and your marketing team, don’t get left behind by ignoring the latest trends. Make the necessary adjustments to ensure that 2019 is just as successful.

Maintain an advantage over your competitors by preparing yourself and adjusting your marketing strategy before they do. Whether your current marketing strategy is working for you or not, this article will help you by identifying the top ten marketing trends that businesses should look out for in 2019.

The first few trends look at technology that you have likely already heard of, but with constant advancements in technology, it is still worth taking a look at.

1. Chatbots and live chat

Although this is not a new technology, chatbots and live chat is becoming very popular with businesses all over the world. People are interacting with more and more chatbots on a daily basis. This technology has become so popular because of the benefits it offers businesses in terms of customer interaction and better customer service.

In a very conversational way, chatbots message back and forth with customers for a number of tasks, such as suggesting products to customers and ordering the items. Chatbots enable businesses to provide a 24-hour service to customers by providing customers with an instant response to questions, providing an easy form of communication, resolving complaints quickly and providing a good customer experience. It is a lot easier for customers to communicate with chatbots online than it is for the customer to phone or send an email to a company representative.

According to research, live chat makes it three times more likely that customers will complete the purchase process. With so many benefits to businesses, it is very likely that the use of chatbots and live chat will continue to grow in 2019 and beyond.

If you want to experience chatbots, feel free to visit this link and click on the chat button that appears on the screen.

2. Enhanced personalised recommendations

This technology has already stared becoming the way of the future. Personalising the customer experience is a trend that most businesses are already starting to implement, whether it is recommending movies or series when watching Netflix or recommending other products that the customer might be interested in based on previous buying behaviour, this technology can help businesses enhance the customer experience by giving the customers more of what they want.

This artificial intelligence algorithm is constantly being bettered and is making more accurate recommendations as time goes on. This is a trend that should not be ignored in the coming year.

Related: The Complete Guide To Writing A Marketing Plan

3. Facebook and Instagram adverts

The trends around paid social media ads are constantly changing. With these changes it is becoming obvious that businesses prefer to focus their attention on Facebook and Instagram ads over other social media platforms.

Social Media Examiner published the following data to show how ads on social media sites like Snapchat and Pinterest are becoming less popular with businesses, while Facebook and Instagram are growing in popularity.

social-media-marketers-paid-social-usage-trends-graph

As we know, Instagram is owned by Facebook, so it is not a surprise to see these two social media sites growing in popularity together. Businesses are able to manage ads on both these social sites in the same place. The format of these sites make it much easier for businesses to create ads that target the right audience, based on its needs.

Although it is a good idea to advertise on as many social media sites as possible to ensure that you are reaching the largest audience possible, it would be wise to focus most of your attention on these two top trending sites. If you are only looking at making use of paid social media ads in the coming year, then these two sites are the ones to start with.

4. Voice search

Voice recognition software has been around for a while, but the technology is evolving at a steady pace. Google Home now has a 95% word accuracy which shows how the technology is gradually getting better and more accurate. Voice search makes it easier and faster to search apps, to conduct web searches and even conduct image searches. Very soon, voice searches may represent the majority of total searches.

With voice search technology, people are searching for information, making purchases and even interacting with websites using only their voice. In time businesses will need to rethink how information is presented to audiences and may even be forced to come up with entirely new structures to keep up with this change.

In was reported that as of January 2018, voice searches were conducted 1 billion times a month, and in 2019 this figure is expected to grow. As a business, this should be flagged as technology of interest.

5. Mobile payments

Marketing your products and reaching potential customers is only half the battle won, the other half is completing the sale. Being able to offer customers a variety of payment options is something all businesses need to look at. A growing trend in this regard is mobile payments, so this is another option that businesses need to look at offering customers.

One portion of mobile payments allows customers to pay for goods and services directly from a mobile app, another portion of mobile pay comes from alternative payment options.

In 2018 an estimated 440 million users across the globe used contactless pay options, and this number is expected to increase in 2019.

The following graph shows exactly how this trend has been growing.

mobile-pay-is-expanding

Your business should be prepared to accept these types of payments because consumers are getting used to it. If you don’t have their preferred payment option, they may take their business elsewhere.

Related: Free Sample Marketing Plan Template

6. Interactive video content

Video marketing is a trend that has been on the rise for many years. More and more videos are being uploaded to social media and websites as part of marketing strategies. Video blogs (vlogs) have also been taking off in this regard. In 2019 we will start seeing changes to the way video is consumed with an increase in interactive videos.

An example of an interactive video is a 360-degree video that allows users to view the whole area being discussed in the video by clicking the navigation button in the top left-hand corner of the screen while the video is playing.

interactive-video-youtube

This 360-degree video was uploaded to YouTube by Washington Post.

Offering interactivity with videos means that more people can engage with your content. Interactivity also makes your videos more exciting for your viewers to watch than traditional videos. Research has shown that 360-degree videos have a greater click-through rate than traditional video formats, offering a higher return on your investment.

This is a trend that will continue to grow due to its popularity, so it definitely worth looking into now.

7. IGTV

Instagram has decided to re-envision mobile video with the introduction of IGTV. This new standalone platform has been developed specifically for mobile phones. Instagram has caught onto the fact that people these days are watching less TV and more videos. They have decided to develop this trend and cater to the growing wants and needs of the masses.

Instagram is definitely evolving with the times and its popularity has continued to grow because of this since its launch in 2010. Instagram currently has over 1 billion active users on its site, so even if a small percentage of these users download IGTV, it is still a large audience for marketers to target.

instagram-marketing-numbers

It will be highly beneficial to have an active presence on both Instagram and IGTV in order to use the large number of current users to your advantage. With the IGTV platform being so new, try to get a step ahead of competitors by getting to know the platform and producing content for it.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

8. Beacon technology

In a mobile era where mobile apps are becoming more and more popular, businesses need to get onboard with the latest technology if they want to stay current. Beacon technology is a great way for businesses to improve the profitability of their mobile app. This new technology works in a similar way to GPS, just not quite as complex.

Firstly, with this technology retailers need to encourage their customers to download their mobile apps. Once the customer has downloaded the app on their mobile phone, the app will be able to track their location. Retailers can then strategically place beacons around the shop so when the app users walk past a beacon, the business will know exactly where the customer is and what the customer is shopping for. With this information businesses can then send the customer a promotion via push notifications.

This technology can even be used by businesses that only have an ecommerce platform. Beacons can be placed in public areas relevant to what the business offers. Promotional push notifications can then be sent to the user when they are in the vicinity of the beacon.

Below is a visual representation of how the beacon technology works.

beacon-technology-diagram

2019 Will see a rise in popularity with this technology because of the rise in popularity with mobile apps.

9. Predictive analytics

Predictive analytics is very much related to personal recommendations in the sense that it uses a variety of statistical techniques that analyse current and historical facts to make predictions about the future. Businesses can use predictive analytics to gain a competitive advantage by uncovering new opportunities. Predictive analytics are used to determine customer responses or purchases and help businesses to attract and grow their customer base.

Technology like this can be so beneficial to a business, and that is why more businesses are making use of it. Its popularity is growing and will definitely continue to grow throughout the coming year and many years to come.

10. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is by no means new technology, in fact, many of the trends discussed in this article make use of AI and machine learning. It is so important for businesses to learn the marketing skills needed to survive in this age of AI as it is the fastest growing technology and no business can afford to ignore it. Ignoring developments in technology could mean that businesses will not be able to keep up with competitors.

Related: The Curious Case Of AI And Legal Liability

Conclusion

It is so important for all businesses to recognise the newest trends and to keep developing their marketing strategies along with new technology in order to be able to compete in such a competitive, ever-changing market.

2019 Is sure to be a very big year for marketers so I hope that by following these trends, your business will find success in the coming year.

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Now’s The Time To Go Digital

The digital age has completely transformed the way businesses market their products and services to their customers. As a result, the playing field of industries both big and small has forced companies to relook their strategies.

Digital School of Marketing

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lisa-schneider

Vital Stats

Digital marketing is a broad term covering digital channels that people use to market their products. But what makes digital marketing different and unique compared to traditional marketing channels?

It gives the marketer or advertiser the opportunity to hone in on specific audiences that are more likely to purchase or see value in their offer, says Lisa Schneider, Managing Director at the Digital School of Marketing.

“Because digital marketing is computerised, it allows the marketer to get accurate analytical data about their campaigns, both in the research phase and when their campaign has finished. This makes digital marketing an easy way to gauge ROI of marketing and advertising efforts.”

Do you know how to market your businesses online?

Regardless of the size of your business, to remain successful, you need to have a good understanding and grasp of what digital marketing is and train your organisation on the skills it involves. According to Lisa, digital marketing skills encompass aspects that include:

  • Analytical skills
  • Social media skills
  • Search marketing skills
  • Copywriting skills.

“Without a doubt the most important element is understanding who your customers are and what makes them tick. One of the biggest advantages by far in digital marketing is the ability to market to an audience, assuring that your message will be seen, heard and appreciated,” says Lisa.

“The technology that is made available to market products in the digital realm is sophisticated software that allows the marketer’s message to be seen as widely or as granularly as they would want. A solid understanding of your target market is absolutely one of the most fundamental and important elements of digital marketing.”

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

Advance digitally without breaking the bank

Marketing is an expensive exercise no matter how you look at it, says Lisa. “Digital marketing requires a solid understanding of many different areas that are quite broad, and how to manage and understand a multitude of platforms and analytical data is imperative. This will allow the marketer to extract the most value without burning a hole in their pocket.”

As a business owner, you must look at what is out there in terms of online education providers. It’s important to do your homework about the company and what accreditation and endorsements the company holds.

Lisa suggests contacting the accreditation body to find out the legitimacy of the educational provider. The Internet provides a wealth of information regarding different institutions and how their courses can benefit the company.

What defines a reputable online marketing education provider?

Authentic online education providers have a third-party accreditation or endorsement. In a nutshell, accreditation means that a third party, that is usually government regulated, has looked through the institution’s educational material and internal business procedures to see that it has met their standards of approval.

What this means is that the education provider is not self-governed but is regulated by higher government authorities. This makes your course more credible, recognised and respected compared to a non-accredited provider.

For best results, choose the experts

“The Digital School of Marketing stays on top of trends through solid research,” Lisa explains.

“Google is constantly updating algorithms and adjusting their online marketing platform capabilities. Social networks also come and go and adjust their marketing and advertising platforms.”

Related: Free Sample Marketing Plan Template

DSM prides itself on the ability and appetite to constantly research trends by reading industry journals, attending workshops and seminars, but only publishing what is relevant and has longevity. “We also benchmark the changes that are made on online learning platforms, so we can offer our students an experience that is unique and truly fulfilling on their educational journey,” says Lisa.

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I Built A Social Media Following Of 1 Million In 30 Days. Here’s How You Can, Too

By applying these social strategies you can build a huge following with high levels of engagement.

Brendan Kane

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Many people want to share messages with the masses to gain exposure for their brand, product or service on social media. But, with over 60 billion messages shared each day on mobile platforms alone, most content gets lost in the noise. For the last 10 years I’ve worked on improving online strategies for people like Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Disney. I’ve learned how to optimise analytics, data and paid media to help companies achieve massive growth.

When I set out to gain my own One Million Followers, I was aware that the people I work with had the advantage of fame and influence. But, I wanted to see if I could use what I’d learned to build an audience for someone unknown – someone building a following from scratch. That way I could gain validation and credibility for anyone that wanted to achieve their dreams. So, in June of 2017 I put into practice all my tools and by July of 2017 I had a million Facebook followers.

The experience changed my life and now hopefully it can impact yours. If, as an unknown digital strategist, I can create this type of social following so can you. By applying the social strategies below you can build a huge following with high levels of engagement. For the purposes of this article, I’ll focus on strategies for Facebook, but many of the tactics can be applied to the other social channels as well.

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

1. Hypothesise and test

Aim to create shareable content with your audience. Do research about what gets people to share and come up with a hypothesis about the type of content to create. Identify a format or theme that will engage your audience around a specific message. Then create a low-cost proof and test it.

When I built my following, I used a lot of picture quotes. They are fast and easy to create and are highly shareable. However, if you have the means to create short videos, between 30 seconds and four minutes, they usually perform the best.

2. Learn from your tests and pivot when necessary

My ability to learn from the tests I conducted was essential in reaching a million followers. Take the time to understand why certain content works and why other content doesn’t. Be very specific with your tests – I tested thousands of variations of content and segmented out as the variables to truly learn what was optimising performance. I also didn’t waste time; as soon as I saw that something wasn’t getting the engagement I desired I pivoted. For example, I posted viral videos of dogs and kittens performing cute and funny actions as well as prank videos. Although they all performed really well, I decided to pivot because they didn’t align with my brand’s theme of thought leadership.

Analyse the results from your tests and allow them to drive both your short and long-term content strategy. Test until you find a format or theme that truly works.

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

3. Find a hooking headline

Imagine walking by a newsstand in the supermarket. What is it that makes you stop and stare at an article in a magazine? Usually it’s a headline that communicates the story’s hook-point in a succinct and exciting way. It’s a short sentence or phrase that stands out, grabs attention and leaves your audience wanting more. A good headline helps communicate what makes your brand, message or content different and valuable to your customers.

When creating the headline be specific and find relevancy to your audience’s lives. Linking content to celebrities or current events is a great way to grab people’s attention.

4. Target the right audience

You can have great content, but without reaching the right audience you won’t develop a following or find the people who will champion your message for you. As Nike‘s CEO Mark Parker explains, “It’s our obsession with serving the consumer that sharpens our focus and drives our growth.”

One of the benefits of using the Facebook ad platform is the level of niche targeting it provides to find your ideal consumer. When creating ads, segment out your targeting by: Gender, age, location, interests, lifestyle (married, single, occupation, yearly income and products or brands they like) and target some of your competitors’ fans.

Related: Why You Should Sort Your Social Media Policy (Like NOW!)

5. Invest the time and money necessary to reach your goals

Reaching a million followers has gotten me opportunities to speak at conferences, but getting to a million isn’t necessary for everyone. Gaining a following requires an investment of time and money. Where you put your energy depends on how quickly you want to grow.

To determine how much you need to invest, analyse the benefits you want to receive from building a large following – the return on investment (ROI). Imagine your end goal and work backward. Sometimes the ROI isn’t a dollar amount – instead, it’s more validation or credibility that gets you into a meeting with a casting director, modelling agency a music producer or an investor. Ask yourself how many followers you truly need and invest what’s necessary to reach those goals.

We live in a digital world and social following numbers matter. Hope to see your content on Facebook soon.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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