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.
Despite varying opinions regarding the origins of our species, there are certain inalienable truths that dominate our existence. Certain human attributes contribute greatly to the way people make choices, as well as interact with each other and their environment. Our entire survival is based on these core rules. Businesses, since they operate within a (human) consumer-driven ecosystem are also governed by these “laws of nature”. One of the most fundamental of these “laws” is that for any entity to survive, it has to be well suited to its surroundings. And should this habitat or environment change, continued survival is dependent on the ability to adapt in line with these changes. In the wild, it’s adapt or die. In business, it’s no different. Read the article below to find out why.
“When you don’t innovate, you die. When you don’t change, you die.”
– Gary Vaynerchuk
The Theory of Evolution – Human | Nature
Consider this: why is it that in the current age of mind-blowing technological advancement and unmatched levels of human intelligence, it is an undeniable fact that “sex sells”? I mean, we consider ourselves highly evolved, intellectual beings, right? So why do we remain under the power of such base instincts and primal forces? It’s because certain genetic traits still dominate human behaviour. Since the origin of the human species, there have been inherent characteristics that have been carried forward. These include innate survival instinct, a competitive nature, an impetus to grow and a constant drive to improve our surroundings and quality of life. When it comes to both ourselves and our environment, humans have always looked for ways to innovate (hey, we invented the wheel AND sliced bread). We have also consistently been attracted to those that make our lives better or more enjoyable in some way. Throughout time, chosen leaders were those that knew how to best thrive in a given environment and had the most to offer his (or her) followers.
Despite centuries of evolution, these basics have remained the same. Survival and success still come down to excelling in a certain setting. People are still loyal to those who offer them security, peace of mind and the best benefits. And not being able to adapt to a changing environment still means certain death.
“We all grow. We’re made to grow. You either evolve or you disappear.”
– Tupac Shakur
Adapt or Die – A Guide To Business Survival
Ok so this would all be very nice if we were studying human biology and psychology, but what does it have to do with business? Well, businesses are not exempt from these fundamentals of nature. For a business to succeed, it also has to adapt to changing environments and consumer demands. Failure to do so leads to poor performance and, ultimately, the death of a business. One key area where businesses fall short relates to digital transformation. Statistics, studies and even companies’ own research show that consumers are increasingly moving towards digital and social media channels. Yet many organisations have still not adapted their business model in line with this change. They still use predominantly traditional methods and are reluctant to invest in social and digital media. This is impeding their ability to thrive and compete in a tough consumer landscape. These are some of the reasons why:
- Natural Selection: Consumers will naturally choose the brands that best meet their needs and desires. Customer experience is becoming the key factor impacting purchase decisions. Consumers want the convenience, interactivity, personalisation and responsiveness offered by social media. Not giving clients what they want is likely to eliminate you as a natural choice from a consumer point of view.
- Evolution: Life and business are all about innovation and progress. Social and digital media not only offer the opportunity and tools to move your business forward, they also provide valuable benefits. These include more cost-effective options, better success rates and higher return on investments. And it’s not just about marketing and advertising. Using digital methods can help with the evolution of your business as a whole, assisting with both growth and longevity.
- Survival of the fittest: When it comes to business, it’s a dog eat dog world. The market environment is highly competitive, and therefore only the best will survive. You may not be on social media, but your competitors sure are. This means that they have a huge advantage in terms of visibility, reach and customer satisfaction, amongst other things. If you want to be an alpha wolf within your industry, you not only have to be on social and digital media, but also make sure that your presence is superior to that of your competitors.
- Extinction: Businesses that have not yet embraced this brave new world of digitisation and social media could face possible extinction. Besides the risk of being annihilated by your competitors, you will simply get left behind. You don’t need to suddenly mutate your business into some high-tech monster, you just have to make simple changes to your processes and tasks. For example, adopt a multi-point strategy that includes social and digital media, adapting your existing operations in line with market trends and so forth.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
– Charles Darwin
Not the end…
… but the start of a new era.
Business and nature share certain fundamental characteristics that relate to success, growth and survival. One of the most crucial survival mechanisms is the ability to adapt to changing environments. The current business environment is highly consumer-driven, competitive and increasingly digitised. For businesses to succeed they need to evolve their processes to be in line with the current landscape at any given time. Failure to do so is likely to result to the eventual death of a business. And that, unfortunately, is just the nature of the beast we call business.
Need an ally to help you take on the challenging business landscape? Contact Social Media 101 – we dive into the shark tank and surface triumphant. Why? Because when it comes to social and digital media, we are the leaders of the pack.
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.
Social media success – does your business have what it takes? Let’s say you need a new accountant or sales manager for your business. You shortlist candidates based on experience, skills and knowledge specific to the position in question. You then choose the best person based on your criteria as well as their proven ability for such a role. Great! Now let’s say you need someone to manage your social media. Do you research and select employees with the same level of scrutiny and detail? Is your business aware of what selection criteria to consider for a social media manager? How would one even measure competency for this role?
For most companies, the ability to perform basic social media tasks such as uploading posts and replying to messages would seem sufficient when hiring. Worse still, many companies assign their social media management to in-house staff members that are not qualified for the role. In our book, this is not just unfortunate, but also decidedly risky. Here’s why:
Risks of not hiring the right team to manage your social media
The risks of leaving your social media management to a junior or non-skilled employee are many and can have serious consequences. These are just some of the problems that occur:
Although seemingly simple, social media is a science and entails a steep, on-going learning curve. Yes, most of us are capable of populating and managing our personal social media pages. However, it is not quite the same when handling a business page or brand online. The impact of a business’s social media presence is far reaching, and involves company staff, clients and stakeholders. Pages should be managed with a great level of maturity, power and responsibility on behalf of the brand. Furthermore, this field is evolving at a rapid pace. Most social media platforms themselves are striving to keep abreast of their own advances to ensure user safety and online integrity. And social media managers need to stay on top of these changes. An effective social media manager needs to have impeccable business acumen, a hunger to constantly learn and upskill, as well as high EQ and risk mitigation abilities in order to protect the brand’s best interest.
Content published via social media (including replies to comments) has the potential of enormous reach, regardless of your page’s audience size. Usually such viral reach occurs in response to something negative or controversial and could even result in a crisis. This power lies with your community manager, so think carefully about who is placed in charge of this impactful public touchpoint. Aside from an actual crisis, a poor quality or poorly handled social media account leads to a negative portrayal of the business. It may even cause serious brand damage. Companies spend large amounts of money on impressive traditional advertising, yet all efforts could be undone by a low quality social media presence. The role of brand sentiment and perception is huge when it comes to consumer decision-making, and should not be taken lightly.
Social media should be used strategically to drive organisational objectives. It is a business tool that provides return on investment when used effectively. Simply putting out posts without any clear strategy does not offer much benefit to the business. It becomes an inefficient use of funds and resources. However, when used correctly, time and money spent on social media becomes an investment that offers tangible business value and boosts growth.
Components for a successful social media presence
To ensure a successful social media presence that offers real business value, you need the following:
- Strategic content planning & execution
- Content (images, videos and text) created by skilled designers & copywriters with in-depth knowledge of social media platforms, rules, specifications, algorithms etc.
- Posts that are both aesthetically pleasing & are structured around customer-centric principles
- Excellent audience targeting
- High quality, responsive community management
- Ability to meet agility & adaptability demands
- Skills to generate, analyse & understand the data behind the platforms
- Keeping abreast of technological advancements & industry trends
- Apps/tools to manage & report on different aspects of activities & campaigns
Practical solution for social media success
Major or global brands have the resources to employ the team needed to achieve all aspects mentioned above. However, most companies lack the resources to hire staff to fulfill all their social media needs. The cost of employing the different specialists required becomes too excessive to be a practical option for many. But yet, a high quality social media presence is becoming increasingly imperative in the current competitive market. The solution is to outsource this function to a social media specialist agency. By doing so, you get the benefit of an entire team, with each person an expert in their specific social media function. You get a digital strategist, community manager & data analyst. You also get designers and copywriters that specialise in creating content for social media. In addition, other needs such as live event coverage, videography, animation, social media legal advice and more form part of the service offering. That’s a great deal – as I’m sure you’ll agree.
If you are ready to take your social media presence to the next level, get in touch with Social Media 101. We provide custom solutions to suit your specific business needs. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media.
Are you unknowingly hurting your brand on social media?
How agile is your marketing strategy?
In the current age of information, statistics reign supreme. Organisations rely heavily on data metrics for almost all business processes, from product development to marketing – and everything between. But what if the social media data that you analyse is the wrong kind of data? How would that impact your present business operations and your plans for the future?
What are social media metrics?
Metrics are quantity-based measurable data sets that can be used to provide information on a range of business activities. However, not all data metric types are created equal. Some figures are accurate and indicative while others, although they may be correct, provide irrelevant and/or misleading information. Based on the type of info provided, these data sets fall into two broad categories, namely: Vanity Metrics and Engagement Metrics.
Metrics: Vanity vs. Engagement
Vanity metrics: Vanity metrics are statistics that provide general information, and are usually too broad or vague to have tangible business impact. Figures such as page likes and average user time are examples of vanity metrics. While on the surface theses stats may seem impressive, they don’t actually tell you much about your active client base. For instance, “average time spent” includes the time that your page may be left open for hours by users that have no intention to purchase. But, the bad news doesn’t stop there. As vanity-based records are easily manipulated, the figures you see may be fabricated altogether. This is done by unethical methods such as buying bulk followers. Such followers are not actual people, but rather fake or automated accounts. Unfortunately, the rude awakening for businesses is only likely to arrive when it’s too late.
Engagement Metrics: Engagement metrics are relevant and factual statistics that provide valuable insight into your market. While these numbers are much more conservative that vanity data, engagement metrics are reliable and functional when it comes to practical application within the business environment. It is not only to the type of data, but also the level of detail that engagement metrics offer, that promotes knowledge-based decision making.
Engagement metric sets reflect how real people interact with your brand. Reports can be customised to show only relevant audience sectors in terms of your business’s geographic areas of operation and defined customer criteria. This helps to provide a more realistic indication of your actual consumer market. Furthermore, analysing your engaging audience demographic may reveal additional untapped audience segments to target for expansion. You can can review the success rate of different marketing approaches to maximise the efficiency of future activities. In addition, you can gain access to competitor social media information as well.
Engagement Metrics & Business Strategy
When it comes to business strategy, it is clear that the data type used has a serious impact on the success or failure of a venture. Make certain that the reports provided by your social media team reflect engagement metrics customised for your organisation’s specific requirements. Such statistics need to be critically assessed and interpreted by decision makers. Social media activities should be aligned with your business objectives, and marketing campaigns reviewed to determine return on investment. The analytic tools offered by social media are incredibly valuable, but only if they are used correctly. Tap into the wealth of information offered and reap the rewards that follow.
CLICK HERE to set up a meeting with Social Media 101
Social Media Employee Amplification is one of the three main categories of social media advocacy marketing. The other two categories are influencer marketing and customer endorsement. Influencer marketing relates to promotion by traditional brand ambassadors like celebrities or affluent personalities. More recently, social media accounts with a large follower base have been added as influential entities. Customer endorsement refers to positive public commentary by clients and is considered word-of-mouth marketing.
This article focuses on the third and most intriguing form of advocacy, namely employee amplification. We will explain what this concept means, what the benefits to using it are, and highlight key considerations for implementation.
What is Social Media Employee Amplification?
In short, this approach centres on harnessing the power of your staff as brand ambassadors for your organisation. The process itself involves tapping into the value offered by employees through social media activities. This is done by encouraging staff members to publish or share brand messaging on their personal social media pages. The concept of employee amplification certainly adds a whole new dimension to the term “human resources”…..
“76% of survey participants said they were more likely to trust content shared
by their network (people they know) versus content shared by brands.” (Adweek)
Who should use employee amplification?
Theoretically, any brand could use this technique, regardless of organisation size or business industry. But success of employee amplification hinges on how your staff feel about the brand. Are they passionate about it? Are they proud to be associated with it? Do they believe in the service or product offering? The more loyal an employee is, the more authentic their endorsement will be. No staff member should be forced to publicly support their employer via their personal platforms if they are not keen to do so. Unhappy or unwilling individuals are likely to cause more harm than good.
“79% of firms surveyed reported more online visibility after
implementing a formal employee advocacy program.
65% reported increased brand recognition.” (Hinge Marketing)
Benefits of Employee Amplification
Reach & Exposure: Earlier is year, Facebook made a change to its algorithm that had a major impact for business pages on the platform (click here to read more). The change meant that users see more posts from their friends rather than business pages, drastically reducing organic reach by brands. Employee amplification means that you can counter-act this change as content shared by staff will not have the same restrictions as posts shared by your business page.
Using business networking platform LinkedIn as part of an Employee Amplification strategy is also a great way to gain exposure via employees’ professional networks. The platform has a viral quality to their algorithms in that every post that a user likes, comments or shares is directed to their contacts timeline. Content shared by users has a generally much wider reaching when compared to a business’s own page.
Organic reach: As mentioned above, posts shared by employees will have organic (free) reach. Such exposure would result in better social media figures that are unlikely to be achieved via any other unpaid method. It is therefore a financially beneficial technique.
Credibility & Engagement: Content shared by a staff member is largely seen by people that know the person thus adding a level of credibility to the message. Posts by network contacts will also have a higher engagement percentage (views, likes, shares, comments) than those sent directly from the brand’s account.
Business & Marketing: Other tangible benefits include increased sales, improved brand awareness and affinity, and a higher level of consumer trust in the brand. Not only do these elements positively impact bottom line objectives, but also support other company activities like recruitment due to favourable positioning.
“Company branded messages reach 561% further when
shared by employees versus branded.” (www.postbeyond.com)
Ways to promote staff support & activity success
Position relevant/key employees as thought leaders and trusted advisors. This not only impacts the brand positively, but also helps elevate employees’ personal brands. For certain companies, this could also lead to more business. For example, a high-level or high-involvement sale often relies heavily on the relationship between sales consultant and potential client. As most people research new acquaintances online, the more impressive; credible and trusted the brand’s employees look, the higher the possibility of closing the deal.
Include value-rich content for users: Centre messaging should on interesting or useful content such as articles or tips. If you need to send out direct marketing posts, incorporate some sort of value for the recipient, such as a great offer or valuable resource.
Craft posts in a way that makes staff want to share it with their audience. Again, valuable and interesting content is key. This includes posts shared directly from the brand’s page, as well as employee-generated content. Visually appealing, good quality content is imperative to encourage staff advocacy.
Make the process as simple as possible. This means providing them with suitable high-quality, correctly sized images. Written content for posts can be provided as well should certain employees prefer a less time-consuming option.
“33% of employees agreed that relevant content would
encourage them to share.” (postbeyond.com)
Employee Amplification Strategy & Risk Mitigation Tips
Start by getting staff trained on social media fundamentals. Training will provide them with a basic knowledge of social media etiquette (such as do’s and don’ts), as well as best practices per platform. This upskills and empowers staff. It also ensures a level of quality when it comes to social media activities. These skills will benefit them in both in their personal and professional capacities.
Have a social media policy in place to mitigate potential risk. This is an imperative requirement that needs to be in place before employee amplification activities start. It provides staff with rules to abide by and sets out company recourse if they fail to do so (including possible legal action). It is best to consult a legal expert knowledgeable on the social media legal landscape for advice.
Implement an internal social media procedure. Structure a plan that includes an approval process so that all content is screened prior to publishing. Each participating employee’s personal accounts should also be screened before they share any company posts. This will prevent the brand from unintentionally associating themselves with undesirable viewpoints that the employee may have on their page (such as prejudicial or controversial content).
Offer employee incentives. While you may be fortunate enough to have staff that are happy to share brand messaging out of sheer loyalty, use incentives as effective motivators. Whether you measure trackable data (e.g. clicks to website) or engagement statistics (such as comments, shares and likes), the choice is yours. You can also have specific rewards for a certain outcome, such as lead generation or recruitment referrals. You are likely to find quite quickly that the value gained from leveraging off staff resources far outweigh the incentive expense.
“31% of high-growth firms have a formalized employee
advocacy program.” (Hinge Marketing)
Social Media Employee Amplification is an under-utilized method that could open up vast opportunities for your organisation. However, it is a technique that requires planning, research and infrastructure before implementation. Statistics clearly reflect that the effort and resources required are a viable investment with attractive returns. In this context, being a statistic is a good thing – so get started now!
Need assistance with employee amplification? We can help with:
- Social media training workshops (employee amplification, personal branding, social media etiquette, how to understand and analyse data)
- Structuring customised social media policy and procedure documents
- Screening employee social media platforms
- Complete content and platform management
- Influencer marketing
…..and much more.
CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101