Whether you are bringing a new venture to market or marketing an existing brand, sooner or later (probably much sooner) you will find the need to participate in some form of social-media engagement.
When you do, you better have a well thought-out strategic plan, a strong content strategy and have done your research. Conducting research is a major weak point where many brands frequently slip up – specifically, a lack of attention is paid to past mistakes made by other brands.
In my experience as a digital media professor and marketing agency founder, I have found there are five regularly occurring social-media blunders brands make.
I’m continually amazed each and every time a company repeats another brand’s previous mistake, sending their own brand into a tailspin of apologies, reparations and damage control.
1. Mixing up accounts.
Most native platforms and third-party apps make it easy to toggle back and forth between brand and personal accounts, which is convenient, but can also be an accident waiting to happen.
A good solution is to use separate and distinct apps for each account – this ensures there is no chance of confusing which account you are posting from.
2. Social media never sleeps.
In this digital age, consumers can interact with brands at any time, requiring companies to man their brand’s social media platforms 24 hours, seven days a week. At a minimum, someone should always be monitoring social chatter around the brand to pick up any early warning signs that something is amiss.
British Airways slept through a number of social-media customer service issues, including a case of lost luggage. The airline decided their Twitter feed was ‘open’ only during certain times of the day, even though Twitter is always up and running and the airline itself has planes in the air around the clock.
Had someone at the airline been listening, a quick tweet would have solved the issue. Instead, eight hours later (which equals about three months in social-web meltdown time) a response was made. By that time, what should have been a small blip on the radar became a viral headline.
3. Automate anything.
There is no shortage of apps and tools that enable your social accounts to automatically do just about anything and everything you want. These automated duties include sending scheduled posts, changing a profile picture, replying to messages with canned responses and following other accounts based on pre-set criteria.
If you lump enough of these automated tools on to a single social media account you in essence have created a social media robot. A robot may seem like a cool and cost-effective solution to managing your social media, but online interaction requires personal attention with a human touch.
Automated communications can come off as cold and callous, especially during times of crisis when members of your community turn to your social platforms for assistance and reassurance.
While in the midst of horse meat packaged as beef scandal, the UK supermarket chain Tesco fired off a pre-loaded automated post: “It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay!” Clearly not the language to use when under the microscope for a horse-meat scandal. Keep usage of automated tools to a minimum, turn off all automation when a crisis hits and always work to be human.
4. Leap before looking.
Savvy marketers seeking to extend mind and market share are always on the lookout for opportunities to leverage the relatively inexpensive reach and influence offered by social-media platforms.
Two frequently used strategies are tapping into trending topics and hashtag story sharing. Both can result in varying levels of success and sometimes, horrific failures.
Countless companies have used a hashtag without first checking to see if anyone else is using it and what it means. Worse yet are companies that lump their brand on a news trend in some unrelated way, making them look conniving and insensitive.
The largest of these failures though, are brands that develop a promotion for their community to share stories of brand experiences without realizing the interactions they are looking for might turn out to be horror stories.
GM and McDonald’s made this mistake, which could have easily been avoided had someone looked at past promotions gone awry as precedents.
5. Loose posts sink ships.
A growing number of South Africans now own a smartphone. This means there is a good chance that a large number of a company’s workforce is equipped with a mobile device capable of instantly capturing and posting ideas, photos and videos to any number of social platforms.
A number of companies, including Google and FNB, have all experienced rogue posts from employees compromising internal corporate workings, yet few companies have learned from these breaches and established guidelines for employees on what can and cannot be shared.
A social media policy probably won’t shore up every possible social leak, but it will certainly help reduce them as well as provide a framework to manage situations when they do occur.
There Is No Silencing The ‘Chatter’ Bots
In a world governed by technological advances, it is no surprise that the business world has adopted technology of their own to better their processes.
There has been a strong movement in the business environment towards automated processes through the use of Chatbots, introduced in order to support business teams in their relations with customers.
Chatbots are essentially personal assistants developed to assist you. They are artificial intelligence systems that we can interact via text or even voice interface. In the business world the idea is to automate repetitive tasks in order to lighten the workload for employees, allowing them more time to concentrate on more important tasks at hand.
As futuristic as this all sounds, the reality is that this is something that businesses are already using and the benefits are definitely worth mentioning.
Chatbots in Business
The main aim of any business is to keep the customer happy – that’s where the money comes from after all. In such a fast-paced, technologically advanced world, customers are expecting so much more from businesses in terms of service delivery, so this is where Chatbots come in.
Unlike humans, Chatbots can work 24/7 without a break and without the added expense, two factors that will definitely benefit any business, never mind the improved customer satisfaction that comes with that.
Customers no longer have to wait to be put through to the next available operator; Chatbots are replacing live chat with other forms of contact such as text and emails, ensuring that customers are dealt with faster than was previously possible.
Chatbots can have conversations with thousands of people simultaneously, something that humans just can’t do.
Dealing with difficult customers is also a thing of the past. Chatbots are bound by rules and specific instructions so they will always deal with customers in a polite and professional manner, another positive for customer satisfaction.
In the travel and hospitality industry, dealing with customers that speak other languages is also a possibility with a Chatbot trained in different languages.
The Long-Term Cost Saving
There is major movement in all businesses to keep costs down, especially as the business grows. A major monthly expense for businesses is the paying of salaries. Although it isn’t possible to completely cut out this expense, Chatbots can help businesses reduce the amount of staff needed.
Chatbots can deal with simpler customer queries and only escalate more complex queries to agents. Chatbots can also lighten the workload of a sales team by engaging with customers and gathering information about what the customers want, supplying the sales team with valuable information to help in the sales process.
Chatbots are a one-time investment, and any company with a website can make use of them – simple and cost-effective in the long term.
There are so many benefits to using Chatbots, and as technology continues to advance, who knows what these bots will be capable of in the future.
10 Content Marketing Tips For Start-ups
Suzanne Stevens, BrightRock’s executive director for marketing , shares her top content marketing insights for entrepreneurs.
1. Nothing worthwhile is free
There’s a misnomer that using social media is an easy, affordable marketing approach. Don’t be fooled! It takes specialist skills, hours of effort and experimentation, and therefore money to run a successful content-based marketing strategy. It’s a strategic and financial commitment to succeed in the highly competitive content space, so don’t just jump in without proper consideration.
2. Know exactly who you’re talking to
You have a plethora of choices on where to place your content. Define who you want to reach as narrowly as you can, identify exactly where you will find those people, and then select only a few of the best platforms or channels to place your content. Lots of content, in lots of places, reaching lots of people that aren’t key to your business, is of no value.
The right content delivered to exactly the right people will have an impact. Today we have excellent data available, so interrogate the numbers to make informed choices.
3. Know what you want to say
For your content to be credible and authentic, it must have clear editorial pillars directly linked to your business, your product and your marketing strategy. These editorial pillars provide the strategic framework within which you can be creative.
4. Don’t copy; create
It is important to have your own voice, tone and style. People have so many choices of when, where and what content they consume. If you want to compete for their time and attention, you need to serve them something unique. This is important if you want engaged consumers that come back for more.
5. To insource or to outsource, that is the question
If you possibly can, insource a significant portion of your content creation. Your content will stay on strategy, turnaround times are quicker in the 24/7, always-on world of content, and it can be more cost-effective.
But make sure you get out: Avoid becoming myopic and repetitive by making sure you expose your inhouse team to “outside world” experiences regularly.
6. You need a team of rainbow unicorn kittens
Harness as much diversity of thinking, talent, skills and demographics in your content team as you can garner. The world of content is fraught with pitfalls that can cause reputational damage if you get it wrong. The wider the variety of inputs you have, the more in touch you are with the different views that your content can evoke. It’s demanding, it’s fun and it’s worthwhile.
7. It’s not on top, it’s inside
Forget the old-style marketing approach of placing big brand logos all over the place. It’s all about the subtlety of what we call “in-content branding” which is captured in your tone, style and messages linked to your strategic editorial pillars.
Like a good news service, always think about ‘the story’ first. It’s the story that grabs peoples’ attention.
8. Don’t get stuck on repeat
Don’t use exactly the same content on every platform at the same time. Each platform is used differently by its consumers, and for your content to perform optimally, you need to tweak and change your content to suit the platform it is being placed on. You will soon see that some content it better suited to some platforms and should rather not go on others at all. But, once you have a repository of on-strategy content, you have an asset that you can repackage in new and different ways on the same, or new platforms.
9. Measure, experiment, measure, experiment, measure
It’s all about learning and iterating, and keeping an eye on the numbers. News, social media, stories are constantly changing: super-relevant today, completely redundant tomorrow.
It is an always-on, live environment where you learn as you go, tweaking and adapting your approach as you publish.
10. Like a great cake, create layers
Try to reach the people you want to talk to more than once on your key platforms with different, yet on-strategy content. We call this “layering”, and it’s an effective way of amplifying your message and business. When the right people see your message more than once in different contexts, they start to understand your message better, and your business becomes more relevant and impactful. “I see you guys everywhere”, you will hear them say.
Suzanne is a founding director of BrightRock and heads up all its brand and marketing activities. She has over 20 years of marketing and communications’ experience and has been involved with the launch of new entrants into five sectors of financial services. BrightRock’s content-led marketing strategy is the subject of an international business school case study.
Pay Per Click Advertising. When, How And For What?
When should your business be using Pay Per Click advertising? To answer this question, you first need to understand what paid search is all about. If used correctly, it could benefit your business in a measurable way.
Can you remember a time before the internet? South Africans might still be hampered by the high cost of data, but a significant 65%of us can access the internet every single day.
This is a great thing, as better internet access is a proven positive driver of GDP growth. It’s no wonder then that savvy local businesses have been steadily cranking up their efforts with marketing their businesses online, and competition will only get more intense as the current figure of 18.43 million local eCommerce users increases to 24.79 million in just four short years’ time.
If you’re a business thinking of heading into the fray, you’ll know that you have many tools at your disposal, including social media, SEO and of course, Pay Per Click Advertising.
When should you be using Pay Per Click Advertising – and why?
Why businesses love it
Pay Per Click Advertising is an established player in the digital marketing landscape and a popular type of paid search advertising, but what exactly does that mean? To summarise, it will direct traffic to your website or webpage when you place ads or product listings on search engine results pages, most commonly in Google, or on one of the thousands of websites that make up Google’s Display Network. The prominence and position of the advert is determined by the quality of the ad (as judged by a predefined set of criteria) as well as the Cost Per Click (or keyword competitiveness) of the ad in question.
What makes Pay Per Click Advertising unique (and attractive to businesses) is that you can set a budget for a campaign and only start incurring costs when someone clicks on it, giving you unprecedented control over what you spend. A credit card and Google account is all that’s needed to get a Pay Per Click Campaign successfully up and running on the most popular Pay Per Click Advertising platform, Google AdWords – which is also free to use.
On top of being relatively affordable, quick to implement and somewhat easy to set up, Pay Per Click Advertising works, and the wealth of trackable Analytics data it generates can prove this. Google estimates that businesses who use it make an average of $2 for every $1 spent, increasing their brand awareness by up to 80% and increasing the likelihood that the person clicking on the ad in question will complete their purchase in store.
When to use it, when to lose it
At a glance, Pay Per Click Advertising ticks all the right boxes as an all-around digital marketing winner. It’s quick, highly manageable and gets results. But does that mean it should be broadly used by all businesses? Not exactly. Like most types of digital marketing, Pay Per Click Advertising shines more in certain situations than others. To squeeze the most value out of it, you should work with its qualities and not against it.
The first thing you should take note of is that it will generate the best results for you as part of a hard, fast targeted marketing attack. For example, when you’re trying to clear old stock with a time limited sale, need your traffic to kick up a notch or just want to dominate a certain search result. One of the key features of PPC advertising is that it is extremely intent-based meaning that people are more likely to click on it when they’re ready to make a purchase. Keep that in mind.
What Pay Per Click Advertising isn’t necessarily great at is improving brand identity: it’s not intended to make your business look good. And as nice as the immediate ROI boost it provides is, it’s not sustainable in the long run. For your business to remain standing, people need to do more than buy what you’re selling. They need to have a reason to come back again and again (you can ensure this by giving them a wonderful customer experience and an awesome range of stock to choose from), and to form a connection with your offering.
For that, you need to build the value of your website (marketing strategies like boosting your website’s UX are invaluable here) and be seen as an authority in your field (something that expertly written and value-laden blogs on your website will ensure), and perhaps most importantly, you need to consistently be turning up in the appropriate search results (this will take time and can only be accomplished with the help of an effective and well run SEO campaign).
If you’re a new business or just new to digital marketing, Pay Per Click Advertising can certainly help you make a splash. But if you hope to be more than a flash in the pan, then you need to consider it as part of a broader digital marketing strategy with eyes on the horizon.
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