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. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For more information on how to make social media work for your niche business,
CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101