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.
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.
Hiring a social media agency remains unchartered territory for many businesses. What factors are important when it comes to finding the right partnership for your business? What separates a good agency from a great one? How do you know what to look for when choosing a social media agency? We have put together a collection of key aspects to consider when selecting your social media agency. Read on for insight and advice to help guide this critical business decision:
References, recommendations & research
An excellent starting point is checking out an agency’s references. Who are their clients? What services did they provide these clients? Do they have case studies and testimonials? If so, take a look at these case studies and past services, including campaigns (where relevant). This will provide you with insight on whether the agency would be a good fit for your business based on your priority needs. It’s also a great idea to ask your own professional network for recommendations. People often only refer you to a business that they have had a good experience with themselves.
A bit of research on your part is also required. View the agency’s own social media platforms. Ok, so sometimes a business may neglect its own needs somewhat (I’m sure you’ve heard the term “the shoemakers kids go barefoot”). But you should be able to see the type of social media content they put out, the frequency of posts and if content is value-rich (not just salesy). You will also get a feel for the quality of the material they produce in terms of both visual appeal and engagement potential.
Means, motives & opportunities
Ensure that the selected agency has the means and resources to fulfill your business’s requirements. Do they have the internal resources, tools and systems to successfully manage your brand, along with their other clients? When enquiring about their capacity and capability, take into account future needs such as upscaling based on changing business demands. In addition to volume and expansion, well prepared agencies can cater to most, if not all, creative requests. For instance, supporting your entire digital presence and activities e.g. website optimisation, dynamic content, videography, animation etc.
Analyse their business model to find out what motivates their actions. While all agencies exist to make a profit, do they also take a client-first approach? For example, being agile; responsive and adaptable instead of having a rigid service structure. Customer-centric agencies are flexible in matters such providing personalised solutions, being available outside of normal business hours and adjusting in accordance to varying client and market needs. An efficient agency will also continually look for opportunities to boost your brand. Not just when it comes to marketing, but also factors like business growth, increased market share and so forth. This type of above-and-beyond attitude creates a mutually beneficial relationship between your company and the agency.
Expertise, execution & ethics
Social media management is not simply about posting pretty pictures and nice words. It requires practical experience, industry knowledge and in-depth expertise. To be a potential candidate, an agency should have a team of experts, each a specialist in their field AND in social media. This includes graphic designers, copywriters and strategists skilled at creating content for social media. It also extends to the execution of social media activities and campaigns. The implementation of solutions should be done in a highly strategic way, taking into account social media best practices as well as your business and its clients. Skillful agencies understand the various elements such as timing, frequency, algorithms, audiences, design and specific nuances per platform.
The social media landscape can be a minefield if not managed correctly. Partnering with an agency with questionable ethics not only poses a financial risk, but a legal one as well. Not to mention the possibility of serious brand damage at the hands of an ill-equipped agency. This applies to the service they provide to you, as well as how they represent your brand on the public platforms. Consider their level of legal compliance, industry knowledge, business acumen and customer service quality. How to they respond to a negative comment or complaint? Do they have a crisis management plan? Are they knowledgeable about the various social media legal requirements?
ROI, results & reporting
Effective social media management should be result-driven and based on your business objectives. Before committing to an agency, find out what their internal KPIs are. Ask them how they measure the success of activities for their clients. Do they analyse and understand the metrics that matter? (Click to read more about social media metrics). In order for you to track the performance of your social media presence, you need an agency that is able to produce reports showing the relevant data sets. This will determine your return on investment, as well as promote informed business decision-making.
At Social Media 101, our aim is not just to meet expectations, but to exceed them. Consistently and continually. We would love to get to know each other better over a cup of coffee. CLICK HERE to set up a meeting with the Social Media 101 team.
Firstly, to clarify, a website is important for every organisation, across all business types and industries. But in isolation, a business website is just not enough when it comes to online visibility for brands. Furthermore, a website alone is not able to drive business objectives. Changing consumer behaviour and evolving markets dictate that businesses need a multi-point strategy to succeed in the current landscape. In this article, we explain why a website should not be your only online platform. Instead, we propose an integrated approach, with social media forming a central part of your digital strategy.
WHY A WEBSITE ALONE IS NO LONGER ENOUGH
In a highly competitive environment, the brands that win are those that best meet customer needs and wants. As these change, so should business activities. Recent developments such as millennials entering the market and increased digitisation resulted in a changed consumer base. Characteristics of this evolved market include a change in:
Customer demands: Customers expect brands to be client-focused. These demands include convenience, responsiveness, personalisation, user-value and relevance. Customer experience is based on how well these needs are met.
Purchasing behaviour: Purchasing decisions are increasingly being based on the above-mentioned customer-centric values. As a result, improving customer experience has become a primary business objective globally.
Digitisation: Increasing use of digitisation by both businesses and consumers have changed the commercial landscape. This includes the rising use of e-commerce, mobile, social media and other technologies.
Business Trends: Trends indicate a growth in the customer experience approach, and a decrease in disruptive marketing tactics (such as unsolicited calls and untargeted messaging).
Based on the above, it is evident that a business website alone simply does not satisfy present customer needs or brand objectives. Fortunately, you can overcome these shortfalls by incorporating social media into your business strategy.
SOCIAL MEDIA AS PART OF YOUR DIGITAL STRATEGY
In terms of customer satisfaction, market trends, business objectives and overall brand growth, social media offers a wealth of benefits over a website alone. Such customer experience and business benefits provided by social media include:
- Business Visibility & Exposure: Your website being seen depends on users finding it themselves. This means they either have to explicitly search for it, or it needs to show up on search engine results. Even with SEO optimisation, the search phrase used has to match the wording on your website. This means only a small percentage of users will come across your website. And what’s the point of having an awesome website if no one sees it? However, you can use social media to drive traffic to your website. You can even customise posts so each one links to a specified landing page to showcase different elements e.g. a list of your services or your contact page.
- Outbound & Inbound Customer Targeting: Again, as a website relies on inbound traffic, only people actively searching for your brand or product will potentially become customers. Social media, on the other hand, allows you to find and target your core demographic. Messaging is placed in front of your selected audience, even if they have never heard of your brand. In addition, social media targeting uses advanced data and algorithms to determine other users that are likely to be interested in your business offering. This promotes customer growth and could even reveal new untapped customer groups.
- Sales: Social media can be used to drive online sales – both directly via a social platform, as well as by channeling traffic to your website. It can also be used to generate in-store sales through marketing and advertising messages. Studies show that a multiple-touchpoint approach is effective in driving sales, and social media is an integral part of the client journey. It also supports the non-linear way in which content is consumed – its about speaking to the right person at the right time with the right message. Ads on social media play a huge part in influencing purchasing decisions. In fact, statistics show that 90% of shoppers use social media to research products and services as part of purchase decision-making (Sprout.com). In terms of a basic marketing rule of thumb, 6-8 touchpoints are required to convert a sale. Social media speeds up this process, and as a result, can shorten the entire sales cycle for businesses.
- Client-focused approach: Social media is customer-centric by nature, and able to achieve customer experience goals. For example, by communicating directly with clients when it comes to customer service tasks, or publishing value-rich content such as articles or tips. This enhances customer satisfaction and leads to an increase in both sales and client retention.
- Location & Convenience: Social media is where your customers are – and therefore where you should be. It is where consumers research brands, consume content and even make purchases. Customers also prefer to interact with businesses via social media when it comes to queries and customer service requirements. Consumer preference of using mobile devices for online activity makes social media a convenient option as it is highly optimised for mobile.
- Relevant content: Unlike website content which is quite generalised, social media allows you to send targeted information to relevant market segments. For example, marketing your men’s range to men, and women’s range to women. Post links can be used to direct users to the related section of your website instead of them having to navigate. When needed, social media content can be adjusted with ease to ensure constant relevancy. Making changes to website content is a less viable process.
To summarise, a static website alone does little to aid in marketing, customer satisfaction or business goals. On its own, it is just not enough for online visibility. However, by integrating it with social media activities, you can develop a strategy that meets both client demands and brand objectives. Social media also provides data and insight into customer behaviour, promoting informed business decision-making. The convenience, responsiveness and value-rich approach of social media position the business as being client-centric. And as customer behaviour indicates, a positive image boosts brand affinity and, ultimately, sales. Coupled with its advanced marketing and business functionality, social media is vital for brand visibility and growth.
Ready to take your digital strategy to the next level? CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101.