B2B Marketing - Social Media 101
Social Media Rules of Engagement [Business Guide]

Social Media Rules of Engagement [Business Guide]

Forget rules of engagement, when it comes to social media, the rule IS engagement. In fact, engagement is a huge driving force behind most social media activities including business pages. It is often used to measure the success of a post or campaign, as well as gauge overall sentiment. Read on to find out how to make your social media presence more engaging.

Social Media Rules of Engagement Bootcamp

In military terms, “Rules of Engagement” refers to rules soldiers need to follow when out in the field (for example: you are allowed to return fire if someone shoots at you). Well, social media has its own set of rules for interacting with users, and these apply to both the friendly and hostile users that visit your page. To help you navigate the online minefield, here’s our Social Media Rules of Engagement Bootcamp guide:

 

  • Content is the Captain: For content to be engaging, it needs to be useful, interesting and high quality. Dip into your creative artillery and use different media types (such as video, animation and static content). Make sure there is value for the user while still promoting business objectives.
  • Game-Plan: Start with a social media strategy. This should include content, scheduling, account management and related processes. Make sure your team members are well trained in their specific tasks, or bring in an expert to assist. For brands besieged with queries, there has to be a plan in place to deal with high message volumes (after all, you can’t go out into the social media field unarmed).
  • Going AWOL: Don’t let your social media visibility go AWOL (missing) due to not posting content for long periods. Posts need to be frequent enough to keep users engaged, but not so many that it becomes an annoyance in their newsfeeds.
  • Guerrilla Tactics: Using Guerrilla tactics like click-bait is risky. You may get the initial link-click engagement using this technique, but you are likely to lose the person altogether from this kind of method.
  • Patrolling: Patrol often by frequently checking your pages for comments or queries. People expect super-fast response times on social media, so make sure you have processes in place to provide it.
  • Battlefield: Don’t go into battle with users. Even if you are receiving hostile comments that are unjustified, stay on the high ground. Remain polite, professional and in line with brand tone at all times. Neither defensive nor offensive techniques work – there are no winners if you go into battle with customers.
When it comes to social media engagement, your primary missions are to drive user engagement and engage with users. And yes, sometimes it may seem like a battlefield when users start firing negative comments. But success lies in effective leadership, a strategic approach and professional responses at all time. Quality content and service should be your weapons of choice. And with the right team at your side, you will be on your way to winning on social media.

Need to call in the big guns? Get in touch with Social Media 101 – we can help lead your team to social media victory.

1 + 8 =

CUSTOMER SERVICE VERSUS CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

CUSTOMER SERVICE VERSUS CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

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.

11 + 9 =

LinkedIn in the South African environment

LinkedIn in the South African environment

Bobby Darnell, business development consultant said: “Active participation on LinkedIn is the best way to say, ‘Look at me!’ without saying ‘Look at me!” During the LinkedIn Indaba, held earlier this year, we learned just how much of an impact LinkedIn has on the on our South African setting.

From 6 000 sign ups in 2003 to an estimated 575 million active users today, LinkedIn has surely come a long way, although, in some circles, it is still considered the black sheep of social networks.

LinkedIn is a social network with a very specific audience: it has the aim of connecting the world’s professionals to make them more productive, more successful and ultimately more in touch with content and people that can enable the growth they seek.

On a normal day, LinkedIn boasts 15 million jobs, 50 000 skills listed, and 109 billion updates viewed. This is no small impact, considering that LinkedIn is only one of several social media networks currently available.

The LinkedIn Indaba was held in Johannesburg in October, and apart from sharing some insights on the platform, our dot on the map was the main focus: how does LinkedIn fair in the South African environment?

As proudly South African as braaivleis, the Cape Wine Lands and the word “eish”, so are Sangomas, known as traditional healers in African cultures. Sangomas are also found on LinkedIn; 85 of them to be exact. Also, 644 Sommelier’s can be found on LinkedIn, in South Africa. A Sommelier is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional: and thus, amongst the magwenja’s, also truly South African.

In South Africa, LinkedIn boasts seven million users, 75 000 jobs and 30 000 companies. There is a world of possibilities, in a country where the unemployment rate has increased from a staggering 37.3% earlier in 2018 to a worse still 37.7%.

Most LinkedIn users in South Africa are based in Johannesburg, followed by Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and then Polokwane. This means that the major business centres in South Africa are all covered with LinkedIn users, which indicates that the platform is being used in all corners of the country.

In South Africa, the majority of LinkedIn users use the site for networking. It is indicated that 56% of South African users use LinkedIn to network with other professionals. While 60% use the platform to stay up to date on what their colleagues are doing. 61% of South African LinkedIn users use the platform to keep up to date on industry discussions, meaning that LinkedIn as a social media networking site for professionals, gives individuals the opportunity to not only connect with others but learn and update their skills and knowledge, staying on top of what the trends are in a specific industry. While 28% of users in South Africa use the platform to actively seek employment opportunities.

In South Africa access to social media is quite literally in the palm of our hands. Just over half of LinkedIn users (55%) access the platform from a desktop computer, with 15% accessing LinkedIn from a mobile phone. While the remaining 30% access the platform through a combination of devices. This points to the type of LinkedIn users in South Africa: most likely professionals, people for whom popping onto LinkedIn isn’t about a quick catching-the-latest-memes-on-the-move, they are active participants in their professional community with an engaging commitment to their job and profession, with the aim of bettering themselves and staying on top of movements happening in their industry.

The top job titles listed on LinkedIn in South Africa are as diverse as our country. These include teachers, sales representatives, IT consultants and software developers. Top skills listed on LinkedIn by South African users are Microsoft abilities, customer service, management, leadership, project management and strategic planning.

The leading industries in South Africa, according to LinkedIn are financial services ranking first, followed by information technology, mining and metals, retail, construction and higher education. This shows a clear indication of where most LinkedIn users are employed. Walking hand in hand with these industries, three of the five top employers in South Africa, based on South African LinkedIn users, are in the financial industry, with Sasol and Eskom Holdings completing the Top five.

Company sizes in South Africa differ quite extensively, according to LinkedIn with the majority of companies employing over 10 000 people, and the second largest range between 1001 and 5000 employees. The third largest company size comes from companies employing between 11 – 200 people. Although this shows big institutions as the majority employer, it also points to the small businesses that employ people, a welcomed sight and a sign of innovation and entrepreneurial skills in South Africa.

In the South African market, Operations and Business development are the largest job functions on the platform, followed by Sales, Information Technology, Engineering and Finance. This means that the largest amount of South African LinkedIn users identified their primary job functions as Operations, Business development and Sales.

LinkedIn offers a portal, an opportunity, a hope for businesses and individuals to connect, learn, enable themselves and ultimately find like-minded individuals to build futures with, more so in our sunny South Africa.

We have noted some welcomed updates to LinkedIn over the past 8 months, proving this professional platform to be innovative and striving forward in providing value to its users.

Social Media 101 can assist B2B businesses with winning strategies on LinkedIn as well as offer personal branding workshops to assist professionals with their LinkedIn profiles. Contact us to learn more.

5 + 12 =

Social Media: The Marketing Solution for Niche & B2B Brands

Social Media: The Marketing Solution for Niche & B2B Brands

The economic climate is tough to navigate in general, but when it comes to businesses with a niche market base, there are even more challenges to face.

One major issue is marketing. Most traditional methods are based on advertising to mass audiences, which does not suit brands that service a niche client base only. Such specialist companies have largely come to accept that these kinds of difficulties come with the territory….….

….… but what if there was a solution that could be fully customised to suit each organisation’s unique requirements and objectives? One that is both cost-effective and result-driven?

If this sounds good to you, keep reading – it gets even better…

Challenges Faced by Niche Brands

Organisations that service a very small consumer market are known as “niche” brands. Their small market size could be as a result of a limited consumer demand for their business offering, for instance. A company that offers a highly specialised product or service is an example of such a niche brand. Most business-to-business (B2B) based organisations, as well, fall into this category.

While marketing is important for all businesses, the small consumer bases that these companies service makes it even more crucial to connect to right audiences. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, most advertising methods focus on mass communication to a generalised audience. As only a small percentage of message recipients are relevant to a niche company, the result is excessive wastage of investment and low returns.

Other more targeted options are print ads in industry-specific publications or exhibition stands at trade shows. However, these techniques are expensive and yield poor results. Not to mention they grow increasingly outdated as market trends progress.

The bottom line is that traditional marketing methods have never been effective when it comes to niche audiences. But as market minorities, specialist brands have not had much choice but to use the options available, as unsuitable as they were. Until now…… (I told you this was going to be good)

Social Media as a Marketing Solution for Niche Brands

At this point, you may be thinking, “why the big build-up – everyone knows about social media”. BUT, do you, as a niche brand, fully understand what this type of media offers you?

Let us explain why we are so excited about the capabilities of social media when it comes to niche brands. Arguable, niche brands have the most to gain by transitioning from solely traditional media to social media marketing. This is because such brands experience the most wastage when using mass promotional methods (versus more mainstream brands). The highly customisable nature of social media allows you to substantially reduce wastage, and therefore increase return on investment. But it’s not just a financially beneficial option – it opens up a wealth of information, insight and audience tools that promote overall business growth.

Key social media benefits for Niche Brands

Below, we have listed a few of the core characteristics of social media that make it the ideal solution for niche and B2B brands. We also provide practical examples of how each of these factors can be used for tangible business benefit:
 

  • Fully customisable and agile: Social media offers highly customisable options – meaning that niche companies are able to tailor functions to suit their needs. This relates to a range of factors, including: targeting different audience segments, options regarding spend per message, control over campaign duration and growing a client base.
  • Detailed targeting: Targeting on social media supports detailed, multi-level criteria that can be used to streamline audiences. For example, you can specify geographic regions, then restrict to an age group within these areas and further target based on specific interest (such as a sport or activity). The result is a high quality, custom target group.
  • Different audiences: If you have different audiences within your market, you are able to customised messaging to suit each group. Let’s say your business sells to both end-user customers as well as other businesses. You can advertise a product to B2B clients with technical info and specs, and then promote the same product to consumers with details of where they can purchase.
  • Client connect: With a niche market, customer engagement is even more important. These client bases are minority groups sharing something in common, and therefore they relate to each other more in comparison to mass market bases. Common ground could be due to shared interests, knowledge, experience or business activity. Social media allows you to connect with relevant people and tap into their expertise and experience to improve your business. It also gives fans a way to connect to people they relate to, providing an enhanced customer experience.
  • Billed for actual exposure: Paid advertising on platforms like Facebook is based on actual message exposure (as opposed to traditional media platforms that cannot provide data in terms of views). This means you only pay for content that appears on a user’s news feed. In addition to the financial benefits, this provides a realistic indication of your online market size based on audience response.
  • High-involvement – expensive or technical: Some sales are considered high-involvement purchases. This could be due to their pricing or complicated application. Social media campaigns provide a way to market these. For instance, educating the audience on functions and benefits first, and thereafter driving sales. Again, this is a great approach for B2B or technical products. Social media platforms are also a viable and practical way to generate leads for your technical sales team.
Social media is an inexpensive, effective method that provides high returns and measurable results. In a niche market, a well planned and executed platform could give you a competitive edge based on customer loyalty, as well as allow you to tap into new markets. It is definitely a winning option for B2B and niche-based brands.

3 + 8 =

Can a B2B Company Drive Sales Through Social Media? (Short Answer, Yes)

Can a B2B Company Drive Sales Through Social Media? (Short Answer, Yes)

If you read the title of this article, then you know the answer to this (presumably) burning question is yes! The questions that follow however are why and how?

Why Would a B2B Business Need to be on Social Media?

The short answer is that you, as a B2B company owner/operator, have come across this article through social media.

You did not find this article by searching through your social media platforms in the hopes of finding us. Instead, we found you because of clever targeting and an equally clever article title.

Our business too operates in the B2B space and so we completely understand the perplexity of the opening question. The point is that your customers, much like ours, are active users of social media since this space is fast entrenching itself into the way the world operates today.

We are sure that you have social media pages set up and their links imbedded on your website, so it is clear to say that you understand the necessity of these platforms. You might, however, not quite understand the hype, be totally sold on the presumed benefit or know how to use these platforms to build and drive a sales funnel.

And there it is again, the word sales. How on earth can one drive sales through social media? We will tell you…

How Does a B2B Business Drive Sales Through Social Media?

The very short answer is data. Rich data that has been gathered through all the years spent on social media providing insights into your ideal customer and then targeting them with the right content.

The longer answer is through specialized targeting and carefully created and curated content, a business to business company can find their ideal prospect and then convert them into a long standing client.

But I already have long standing clients and my focus is to nurture and grow these accounts.

Much the same, through specialized targeting and carefully created and curated content, a B2B company can communicate with their existing clients, building long term relationships, position themselves as a thought leader and drive growth within these accounts.

Although both approaches are similar, this is not a copy and paste. Each business requires careful thought and consideration when planning their social media strategy. This strategy needs to be aligned with the overarching business strategy so that those unique objectives can be met. Social media is simply another way to communicate with your clients and prospects and should be considered with as much investment as your sales teams, customer service center, marketing plans and business objectives.

Social media offers a platform for companies with niche products and services find and engage with their niche customers and clients, an opportunity that few other traditional marketing mediums can offer. The secret here is to seamlessly marry your business in the real world with your business online.

Since you have made it this far, perhaps you are interested in finding out more on how your business can win on social media. Let’s set up some time together to discuss this further since we are confident you are an expert in your field, we are experts in social media.

14 + 14 =

My Business is on Social Media. So, Now What?

My Business is on Social Media. So, Now What?

There is this saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” We can all resonate with this statement but what relevance has this to social media?

There might need a little tweaking in this instance to make better sense, however, the sentiment is all the same. Before we reinvent the wheel…

Here are 3 tips for businesses when posting on social media:

 

  • Your customer is not interested in the day-to-day of your business: We get it, social media is all about just that – being social. Most of us get this with pinpoint accuracy in our personal capacity, but how does this translate for my business? In most cases, companies use the social element of media to share with their customers the daily going on’s in their office – a social and vibey place, right? Realistically thinking though, unless your customer works at your company, there is very little likelihood that they are interested in your staff packing up stock for your next delivery, or your team’s new uniforms or even the golf day for your suppliers which they inevitably weren’t invited to. I think you get my point. It is easy for me to presume that you are an expert at your business with a wide knowledge of your industry. What kind of valuable information could be shared about your product or industry that would ignite interest in your customer, enough for them to think “Ha! That’s interesting, I’m going to hit share.” I know and understand that most of us hold precious the intellectual property that we have so painstakingly gathered over the years, but sometimes, when we have the courage to share this, we give ourselves credibility and also our customers something to talk about.
  • Don’t be the guy (or business) who only talks about them self: We have all been succumbed to that egotistical (I shall refrain from the rest of that statement) person who has no utterance of empathy to their company in even bothering to ask them how their day was. Instead, you are now up to your ears with unnecessary information about them right down to the fact that they have noticed sleeping on 6 000 thread Egyptian cotton is better for their seasonal asthma than 3 000 thread. Social Media is littered with these types. Being a social environment boosted by cost efficiency means that brands have the opportunity to post multiple media messages to wide audiences within a short space of time. The power, which is often overlooked, is that social media enables brands with two-way communication to their customer base. What I notice often from business pages is too much talking about themselves where customers can get easily fatigued by repetitive messaging. This is not to say you should never promote your product via social media, but rather embed a careful balance between product push and value-add.
  • You really don’t have to post every day: Again, I reference back to my opening statement; if what you want to say doesn’t add value, it is better to shelve that thought for when it is more refined into something that must be said. In quoting the classics, communication is two-way and in order to have the other person speak, you need to allow them the space to respond. When brands inundate their followers with overdone one-way communication it becomes inevitable their unlikes hit an all-time high. People don’t unfollow pages because they don’t post, they unfollow pages because they post too much, since it seems they are constantly reminded of the irrelevant content. Social media had birthed a disruptive age giving power back to the consumer. Consumers are demanding less clutter and as a result, corporate has countered this disruption by using technology to identify what each user is interested in providing them only with the content they wish to see. Consider this as a consumer yourself, it would be overwhelming to see content from all of your estimated 250 follows plus 50 business pages in a single social media sitting. Be selective, be bespoke, be strategic with your content, and remember the key here is value.
In closing, people are so inundated with information thanks to the miracle of the internet. This is both extremely powerful and at the same time can be detrimental. As a result, most of us are starved for value, especially coming out of old era sales and marketing tactics. It’s really about thinking what’s in it for the person on the other side, and if you can’t see the value that you would appreciate, its likely no one else will.

5 + 4 =