When you look at a high-rise building, what do you see? Sturdy walls, beautiful architecture, stunning finishes, and so forth. But what you don’t see is the groundwork or base, even though the building’ s stability and longevity weighs heavily (excuse the pun) on the strength of its foundation.
Similarly, for your social media activities to succeed, you need a strong foundation i.e. a social media strategy. A well researched; developed and executed strategy can make a huge, tangible impact to the business. This article delves into the reasons why a social media strategy is a must for all businesses.
Why you need a social media strategy.
The first step is to look at the way you view social media. It is not just an online billboard to market your products and services. Think of each of your social media pages as a dedicated channel to showcase your brand to your ideal target market of prospects and existing clients. This information can take the form of different content and media types based on your priorities. Your social media accounts act as valuable business platforms used to promote your key objectives. Content on these platforms should therefore be strategically planned for maximum business benefits.
Here are some points to consider when it comes to brand’s social media presence:
All business functions should serve a purpose or achieve a goal. The same goes for social media activities. You need to define what business objectives you want to achieve via your social media platforms. Note that these are not limited to purely marketing goals, but rather, the core focus areas of the organisation as a whole. Bench-marking should be set by having expectations of the outcomes per objective.
Planning needs to not only focus on short- and medium-term business goals. It needs to also lay the foundation for long term brand objectives. These could include the way the brand is perceived, increased brand affinity, brand market positioning, other growth-related factors. Remember that your social media posts form part of an ongoing timeline, and this should reflect long term brand goals.
Brand Corporate Identity
Your social media pages need to reflect brand corporate identity (CI) and ethos. This is done by ensuring all content is in line with pre-defined criteria in terms of communication tone, visual factors, design style and type of content. In addition, all content needs to have a standard of quality. Consumers make snap judgements based on their perceptions – make sure your brand is perceived as a quality brand both offline AND online.
Unfortunately, many businesses put out content based on their needs and preferences. This tactic is not effective with online audiences. Instead, research into consumer wants and needs should form the basis of content planning. Social media platforms themselves provide insight into market, industry and customer behaviour. These reports and data metrics show the techniques that yield the best results. You are also able to set up your own A/B or marketing testing activities based on your required criteria or priorities.
Return on Investment – measurement
The success rates of most traditional business activities are assessed by analysing data and tangible outcomes. For some reason, the same approach is seldom used when it comes to social media. Whether your social media management is handled in-house or is outsourced, you need to know what you are getting out of it. As mentioned above, you first need to set objectives based on a defined timeframe. At the end of this period, you need to review the success of activities in order to ascertain your return value. Be sure to use reliable and useful engagement-based metrics that aid in decision-making (click here for more on social media metrics).
Many brands do not invest sufficient time and resources into their social media activities. Some companies assign the management of their accounts to junior staff members with limited experience on how the platforms work. Considering that a social media business page often has much more reach and impact than any other single business touchpoint, this is quite concerning.
Social media is a valuable business tool and should be viewed as such. Once you capitalise on the opportunities that social media has to offer for your brand, you will see the value of using your platforms in a strategy-based manner to drive your business goals.
Are you ready to take your social media to the next level? Contact Social Media 101 for everything from strategic planning to full scale social media content creation & management. CLICK HERE to get in touch with us.
As we kick off 2019, the energy and anticipation of what lies ahead in the social and digital media spheres is palpable. This includes both tech advancements and changes in the way that businesses incorporate these media functions into their operations. These are some of the social & digital media trends expected to make an impact on the business and marketing landscapes this year:
>> Integration: Social and digital media will play a much more integrated role within organisations. As opposed to being treated as separate marketing elements, brands are embracing the business functions and value offered by these media types. For example, there will be an increase in the use of omnichannel (multiple channel – e.g. traditional plus social media) marketing, and the use of social media for different business objectives.
>> Risk & Reputation Management: With the ease, speed and reach of social media communication, the potential risk to brand reputation has never been higher. And therefore, the need for crisis and reputation management has never been more vital. Businesses will be partnering more with experts in this field in an attempt to best avoid and/or handle a possible negative public backlash, scandal or crisis linked to their brand.
>> Online & Asset Security: Companies have started to realise that online resources such as their audiences, content and databases are tangible, valuable assets. As such, the need for online security will increase exponentially to address the very real risks to such assets.
>> Budget Allocations: Let’s face it, not all business decision-makers were convinced that social media has a place in business. But now, the ROI and benefits are getting harder to ignore. Social media budget allocations are set to rise across all industries this year. SME’s in particular (even those with tight budgets) will be investing more in social media as the cost not to is too high in the current competitive market.
Brand Affinity & Customer Experience
>> Customer Experience & Service: There will be a notable shift towards a more Customer Experience (CX) approach by brands in line with consumer demand trends. Characteristics of this approach include customer-centric elements such as responsiveness, being “always-on”, interactive communication, quality content, targeted messaging & increased use of social media.
>> Brand awareness & affinity: In addition to price and quality, more emotion-based factors like customer sentiment and positive affinity will take centre stage. This is driven by CX-based factors such as ensuring excellent customer experiences throughout their journey with a brand. Positioning a brand as both client-focused and socially responsible is also a great way to drive awareness.
>> Social Listening: This year, egos will take a step back as social listening activities increase. It’s no longer about assuming what people think, but instead finding out how they really feel about a brand based on what is said online. This extends to comments on any platform, not just a business’s own pages.
>> Micro-influencers: You don’t need to be a celebrity to become an influencer online. In fact, as consumers increasingly demand authenticity and transparency, brands are looking more to micro-influencers to help market their products and services. This could range from a food blogger to a stay-at-home-mom, and anyone between. It’s all about expertise in a field and/or an engaged, relevant audience.
>> Influencer Vetting: As more awareness is shed on factors such as bought or “fake” audiences, brands recognise that there is a need to vet any influencer before creating a partnership. This due diligence includes verifying their audiences, approving content and ensuring that there is no conflict of interest (with a competitor, for example).
>> Employee Advocacy: Also known as Employee Amplification, it refers to using key employees as online ambassadors for their company. Techniques such as positioning certain staff as thought leaders and trusted advisors will gain traction in both the B2B and B2C spheres this year. This is great for both personal and business branding.
>> 360 Video: Businesses have started using 360 video to provide users with a panoramic, immersive experience. Industries that are already making use of this include entertainment and tourism companies. With customer experience being at the forefront, more businesses are likely to experiment with this video style in the upcoming months.
>> Vertical Video: As social and digital gains exponential market share over traditional marketing media, vertical video will be seen more and more. This is simply because such media is viewed predominantly on mobile devices. Instagram has even launched a dedicated vertical video platform, titled IGTV.
>> Native video: The use of native video (video uploaded on a brand’s own page or platform as opposed to a 3rd-party app like YouTube) will also increase. The launch of LinkedIn’s native video ad campaign options and Instagram’s long format video options further support this trend.
>> Automation, AI & Machine Learning: While the “social” side of social media is all about adding the human element to online activity, the tech side is all about reducing human contact points. More businesses will be incorporating automation into their service process, for example, social media bots. It’s all about streamlining processes, improving customer service and cutting costs.
>> Augmented Reality: Ok, so maybe this tech is not quite mainstream as yet, but it is definitely super cool. Augmented Reality or AR refers to digital, interactive technology delivered to the user in real-time. For example, apps that brings a child’s drawing to life when you position a smartphone or tablet above it. This video explains it much better – click to watch. From a marketing perspective, this technology can be used for anything from outdoor media (like a bus shelter) to wine bottle labels – click here to watch video.
Well there you have it – some exciting stuff in store this year. Keep watch as they start to shake up the business and consumer markets over the upcoming months.
For more info on these or any other social and digital media topics, get in touch with Social Media 101. We would love to chat to you about the best options for your business. CLICK HERE to contact us.
Customer Service Versus Customer Experience: The term “Customer Experience” or CX is often mentioned in business – more so over the last couple of years. But what exactly does it mean? Is it just another way to describe customer service or is it something else altogether? In this article, we look at what Customer Experience is all about, what sets it apart from customer service and what significance it holds for business. We explain why your organisation should adopt a CX approach, and also provide practical solutions, like social media techniques, to help kick start this transition. Intrigued? Let’s get started.
CUSTOMER SERVICE VERSUS CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Customer service, customer experience – Aren’t they the same thing? Not quite. Both concepts deal with the interaction between brands and consumers, but the way in which this takes place differs from one approach to the other. Customer service generally refers to actual tasks and actions related to serving and servicing customers. Customer experience, on the other hand, focuses on public perception of the brand in its entirety. It is important to note that customer service remains a key component of customer experience. The difference is that with a CX approach, customer support activities form part of an integrated client-focused business strategy as opposed to being an independent department or set of tasks. Each term can be defined as follows:
> Customer service refers to support provided by a company to its clients. It generally includes services such as responding to queries (e.g. product price and stockists), sales support (e.g. sales consultants in-store) after-sales assistance (e.g. technical support) and complaint resolution.
> Customer Experience (CX) encompasses the entire journey or sum total of experiences that a client has with a brand. It includes everything from the first point of contact (such as seeing an advert on social media or a product in-store) to post-sales customer relationship. It not only includes physical factors such as the quality of a product, but also emotion-based elements such as customer perception and brand sentiment.
Customer Services versus Customer Experience – As a quick reference, here’s a comparison between customer service and customer experience, highlighting key characteristics of each approach:
WHY CHANGE TO A CX-BASED BUSINESS APPROACH?
The answer to that lies in understanding why the CX approach emerged in the first place. The customer experience approach was developed as a response to changing consumer demands. Recent changes saw purchasing behaviour being influenced by client-centric elements at an increasing rate. This shift in consumer behaviour led to companies changing their business models to suit these demands. The result was a highly customer-centric approach that not only catered to these client needs, but also the changing business landscape in terms of digitisation and alternate media. This was termed the Customer Experience approach. In the current market, convenience, user-value, personalised communication and brand image are slowly overtaking price as decision-making factors by buyers. In fact, according to statistics, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better brand experience (www.qualtrics.com).
So back to the question: Why change to CX? Well, it simply comes down to supply and demand. Customers demand a CX approach – and the better a brand supplies this demand, the higher their success potential. Studies show that this shift is not just a passing fad – they indicate that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (www.econsultancy.com). This is further backed up by Deloitte who state that a consumer’s decision to buy a product or service is impacted by their overall enjoyment of their experience. (www.econsultancy.com). In a consumer-driven business environment, failing to meet customer demands will not just lead to unrealised sales potential, but inevitably, losing market-share to competitors that satisfy said demands.
HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CAN HELP YOU TRANSITION TO A CX-BASED APPROACH
By design, social media platforms are ideally suited to a CX-based approach. Below is a list of business characteristics for a strong customer centric approach and details on how social media supports each element:
> Convenience: Consumer research shows that the preferred brand platform for communication is social media. This communication includes sales & marketing content, as well as customer-service-based interactions such as queries, complaints and technical support. Most web-traffic being mobile-based, and as social media is highly mobile-optimised, this increases convenience for customers.
> User Value: Customers support brands that provide some sort of value for them. Social media supports value-rich content such as articles, blogs and surveys. The ability to upload different media types (e.g. images, videos and slideshows) also boosts entertainment and enjoyment levels for consumers.
> Responsiveness, adaptability & interactivity: Clients expect quick turn-around times, responsive service and personalised two-way communication. Social media promotes all this and more. Brands can interact on a one-on-one basis with clients, as well as provide personalised marketing messaging to different client segments. By nature, social media response times are much faster than most traditional customer service methods. Brands can even change their native content in minutes should there be a serious negative response by consumers.
> Positive Brand Image & Affinity: Social media allows brands to position themselves in a desirably manner to boost sentiment. This can be done by increasing user-value through content (as mentioned above), as well as by highlighting positive elements such as a business’s community work or social responsibility projects.
> Customer Journey & Relationships: Social media supports the entire customer journey – from the first point of contact to every other interaction thereafter. This includes brand awareness, sales, marketing, technical support and after-sales communication. It also allows for consistency of experience throughout this journey.
> Quality Service: The combination of the above factors, along with other related functions, means that social media helps improve the overall quality of service that a business offers. This ties in to the overall experience that a customer has with a brand, which is what CX is all about.
To summarise, the core goal of the customer experience approach is to promote positive brand perception that leads to long-term customer relationships. This in turn helps achieve brand objectives such as sales generation, customer retention and business growth. CX is rapidly becoming the primary factor influencing purchasing decisions and customer loyalty. For business success, it is imperative for companies to implement a CX-based approach as part of overall business strategy. Social media is excellently suited to support customer experience and business goals. It is also a cost-effective and non-disruptive way to transition businesses from a purely customer service approach to a customer experience approach. And in a relatively short period of time.
Need assistance with your CX-based activities? Social Media 101 can help with customised solutions to suit your unique business needs. CLICK HERE to get in touch with Social Media 101.
At a recent roundtable discussion comprising marketing professionals from a range of industries (including hospitality, music and banking), we investigated the challenges faced regarding social media marketing. We asked marketing professionals what their single biggest problem was when it comes to marketing their brand on social media. We expected responses such as “understanding algorithms” or “measuring return on investment”. Instead, the leading answer was (surprisingly): getting approval for a social media budget. Some marketing managers had difficulty getting sufficient funds allocated towards social media activities, while others struggled to get a budget at all.
Most of the marketers surveyed attributed this problem to their organisation’s decision-makers’ lack of understanding regarding the business value offered by social media. The rest simply didn’t know where to start in terms of approaching their business’s CEO/Director/Owner/Financial Manager about investing in social media. Based on the insight provided by this focus group, we have put together some tips to help marketers when it comes to getting your social media budget approved.
Getting your social media budget approved – tips for marketers
Before approaching your company’s decision-maker about social media budgets, make sure that you have the required information and insight at hand. These are some tips and techniques designed to help you motivate your case for social media investment:
Take an integrated approach: Instead of approaching social media as a separate marketing component, integrate it with your overall marketing plan. Social media has the capability to support virtually any other marketing activity. For example, driving foot traffic if you have an in-store sale or boosting awareness and ticket sales for an event. It should therefore form an integral part of your marketing mix. Presenting a well-designed marketing plan that includes social media may be more favourably received than a separate social media plan in isolation.
Do the research: Social media is able to support your brand’s needs, wants and priorities. Shortlist your company’s business objectives and look at how social media can promote each of these goals. This includes tangible factors such as sales generation, as well as promoting goals such as increasing brand awareness or positive affinity. Both short- and long-term company goals should be taken into account when ascertaining how social media can be used to benefit the business.
Do the legwork: Consult with social media specialists to gain insight into solutions that would work best for your brand. Speak to more than one expert so that you can get a balanced idea of the options that you have. Thereafter, get quotes that are in line with an appropriate social media strategy for your brand. By doing this, you will be able to explain how the requested social media budget will be spent, as well as the underlying rationale of the plan. If hiring an in-house team is not a viable option, look at outsourcing this function. That way you can get the benefit of excellent social media management without the hassle of employing more people. This will save time, effort, money, company resources and other overhead considerations. Read more…
Rands and Sense: Social media has the potential to provide high return on investment. Again, this is both in terms of bottom-line results as well as factors like brand positioning or customer satisfaction. It is an efficient, cost-effective marketing method. A well-executed social media strategy is one that is highly result-driven. This means that funds allocated towards social media should be viewed as an investment in the business, not as an unnecessary expense.
It’s all in the numbers: Most decision-makers are fans of reports and statistics. While traditional marketing does provide some data, social media does not shy away from the numbers and is rich in qualitative and quantitative metrics. Social media platforms are able to provide measurable results, accurate data, comprehensive reports and even information like insight into consumer behaviour and market trends. Emphasise the science behind social media, and how it can improve the business in general – not just marketing tasks. This alone may be the key to winning over the financial gatekeeper.
Re-allocate Marketing Budgets: If your company has budget restrictions and simply cannot increase marketing spend, consider re-allocating existing budgets. Analyse the returns you are receiving from your current marketing platforms (e.g. billboards, television and print). Then look at re-allocating some of these funds to social media activities.
Additional points to support social media investment:
To substantiate your “pitch” for a social media budget, these are some of the additional benefits offered by social media:
> It offers custom audience targeting – meaning that there is little to no wastage on unsuitable consumer segments. This makes it a highly targeted and cost-efficient marketing method.
> It is versatile and supports different media types (image, video, slideshows etc). You can also provide value-rich content (such as tips, articles, insight) in addition to marketing content.
> You can interact directly with your clients as social media supports two-way communication, which is great for improved customer support services.
> In today’s digitally rich business environment, it is imperative that brands have a strong social media presence and are active and agile to respond to comments, queries and complaints which assist in reducing risk for the company.
The key to getting senior decision-makers to invest in social media lies in demonstrating the business value offered by social media. Also, social media is not a passing fad – it is here to stay. Therefore, not being on social media leaves a business at a disadvantage. This is both in terms of competitors, as well as business progression. Social media is no longer a “nice-to-have”, it is a “must have”.
We hope that the above points help with the challenge of getting social media investment – both in terms of finances and interest. For additional insight and advice, get in touch with the Social Media 101 team. We can also assist with effective social media strategy planning and execution, as well as platform management. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101.
With the ever-increasing use of social media, comes an ever-growing list of social media related words and phrases. In fact, the sheer volume of these use-specific words is enough to warrant the compilation of an entire dictionary dedicated to this field! Such a publication may be a bit overwhelming to us mere mortals at this point, though. So instead, as a starting point, we’ve put together a glossary of key terms related to social and digital media. To keep you in the loop, here’s our:
A-Z of Social Media
Analytics: Social media analytics refers to data generated from social media platforms and activities. This data (including both bottom-line stats like sales, as well as elements like customer sentiment and brand affinity) can then be collected and analysed to track performance and ROI. Read more…
Bots: A bot is a social media “robot” that generates an automated response or behaviour. For example, sending a message like “How can we help you?” when someone visits your site.
Crisis Management: This refers to a plan of action in response to a social media scandal or crisis, such as a situation that attracts bad publicity. Crisis management usually entails internal processes, as well as the involvement of third-party specialists such as social media, public relations and legal experts.
DM: DM stands for “Direct Message”, most commonly used on Twitter and Instagram, for an instant message that is sent privately to another account and is not publicly visible. On Facebook, the term “private message” is used instead.
Employee Amplification: This relates to the process of harnessing the influential power of your employees on social media as “ambassadors” for your brand. Key employees are positioned as thought leaders and trusted advisors to boost both positive sentiment and reach for your business via their personal accounts. Read more….
Followers: Followers are people that opt in to view content from your account in their Newsfeed. They form a page’s audience and contribute towards valuable organic (free) reach. They are also generally more engaged than other users, which is great.
GIF: GIF stands for “Graphics Interchange Format” and refers to short video clips, generally without sound. GIFs are often used to convey emotions and can be found on most social networking platforms including Facebook, Twitter and even Whatsapp. Here’s an example of a GIF (courtesy of giphy.com):
Me trying to meet my writing deadlines:
Handle: Your handle is your social media “ID” or username per platform and begins with “@” e.g. @Social101SA. You can have the same handle on different platforms, but no two users can have the same handle on the same platform. Its best to have a handle that describes you or your brand rather than some clever but unrelated word like @Hotstuff (unless you’re an Indian curry restaurant 😊).
Impression: Impressions are the total number of times that your post has been seen by social media users. This differs from reach, which refers to the total number of unique users that have seen a post. For example, if a 100 users have each seen your post twice, your reach would be 100 but your impressions would be 200.
Join: Joining a group on social media is another way of opting in for content. Most people join groups to engage with people with some sort of shared interest or viewpoint. Getting users to join a group is another great way for businesses to gain organic reach and grow core target groups on a platform.
Keyword: Keywords are commonly used in relation to Search Engine Optimisation, and refer to primary words that relate to a topic. On social media, keywords are often used with a hashtag (#) in front of such a word or phrase. It is used to group conversations about a certain topic e.g. #Christmas. Large scale use of the same keyword by many users at the same time leads to a trending keyword or “trending hashtag”.
Live Stories: Live stories, such as those on Instagram and Snapchat, are photos or videos posted by users that last only 24 hours. As it disappears after this time, it does not form part of profile content. It prompts immediate views of content by users that “don’t want to miss out”. It can be used for content that is only relevant at a certain point in time, or by people that have a lot to share but don’t want to “clutter” their feeds or profile.
Mentions: A mention is just that – it is a mention of you or your brand on social media. This is generally done using your handle (also referred to as “tagging”), and a message is sent to you notifying you that you have been mentioned. You can then respond to the mention if desired.
Notification: Social media notifications are messages sent directly to you by a platform, informing you of an occurrence or event (such as someone tagging you in a post). Other (highly useful) notifications include reminders of birthdays of people you are “friends” with on that platform, and upcoming events.
Organic Reach: This refers to content seen by users through free reach (i.e. not paid promotion). On Facebook, this is often restricted to views by your own audience and group members. On other platforms like Twitter, this reach can be a lot wider, especially with the use of hashtags.
Paid Reach: Paid reach relates to paid advertising on a platform. The reason for using paid promotion is so that you can reach your core audiences through targeted campaigns. It allows you to find and serve content to key segments within their newsfeed, as opposed to waiting for them to find you.
Quote Tweet: A quote tweet basically a retweet on Twitter, with the difference being that you can add your own comment before sharing. This allows you to share your views when sharing curated content. Below is an example of a quote tweet:
Reach: Reach is the total number of unique users that see a particular post. In other words, the number of individual people who have been exposed to your brand’s post. This is a figure that should be viewed objectively and considered in relation to your industry market size.
Share: Reposting content from another account is called sharing on social media. This includes clicking the “share” button on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, and the “retweet” on Twitter. By sharing, content from another page is added to your timeline on a platform, allowing your own audience to view the post without going to the source page itself.
Trending: When a topic gains extensive attention and engagement on social media, it is said to be trending. It refers to widescale popularity at a given time, which can be for both positive and negative reasons (although usually when it comes to the latter, its called a crisis or scandal). The use of a hashtag associated with a topic allows for it to trend as more and more people join the conversation.
UGC: UGC or User Generated Content is content created and posted directly by users (as opposed to crafted, promoted content by businesses). For example, a user posting a photo of a new pair of designer shoes purchased and raving about how awesome they are. UGC is closely tied to customer influence the user becomes a sort of ambassador that the mentioned brand can tap into.
Vanity Metrics: Vanity Metrics are figures such as the number of page likes and followers which can be easily inflated and misleading. Although these figures make a social media page look successful, it does not necessarily equate to business value or ROI. For informed decision-making is best to look at more tangible data sets such as Engagement Metrics. Read more….
Webinar: A webinar is basically a web-based or online seminar. It refers to a live or recorded presentation, and can include video, audio or combined content. Webinars are very popular when it comes to disseminating business, educational or informative content in particular.
eXperience: Ok so maybe we cheated a bit here. But “X” stands for “experience” when used in relation to CX (customer experience) and UX (user experience). Both refer to the move towards more client-centric approaches by businesses. It’s all about creating an amazing experience for the user throughout their journey with the brand, and is becoming the primary focus of social media strategies globally.
YouTube: YouTube is a video-based social networking platform. Users can watch content on virtually any topic, as well as upload their own videos. The monetizing functionality offered by YouTube also makes it an ideal advertising platform for certain brands, and even users themselves can make money if the videos they post generate enough views.
Zealot: Social media zealots are users who are highly engaged and often emotionally invested in a brand online. They interact with the brand itself, as well as other users that engage with the business. There is a potential for such consumers to be harnessed as ambassadors for the brand, but this should be approached with caution due to their “zealous” or passionate nature.
And there you have it – our A-Z of social media! We hope that you find this guide useful and informative (you can even show off your knowledge around the coffee machine). Feel free to get in touch with us should you require more insight into these or any other social media and digital concepts.
CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101 – we look forward to hearing from you.