Social media has connected the world and has provided a platform for consumers and businesses to engage, publicly and privately on an open platform. This provides great opportunity for all involved, and also great risk.
A social media crisis management strategy is critical for businesses of any nature or scale and should be considered very seriously and with high priority. This strategy will assist your company in navigating a potential social media crisis, providing pre-prepared guides and best practices to weather the storm. Effectively anyone is at risk and everyone should be prepared where we should all hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.
How to mitigate online risk:
1. Hire skilled social media managers, whether in-house or outsourced, who are able to identify a potential storm. They will act as your early warning system; however, it is also important to note that not every negative comment is a crisis and so a grading and escalation system should be decided ahead of time.
2. Draft, review and implement social media policies for all employees within your organisation. Education is key, so ensure to upskill your staff to keep themselves safe online and your company free from risk. Your team will also need to know what to do in the event of an online crisis.
3. Implement an employee advocacy program where you upskill and enable your employees to be first line of contact. Equip them to be able to refer potential clients within their network, respond to queries and detect any potential crisis on the horizon.
4. Consider industry scenarios that could expose your business to online scrutiny and prepare for these ahead of time. Ensure your organisation is able to be agile in these instances and implement processes to support this.
5. The best way to mitigate risk is to be transparent and truthful. Clients, customers and consumers want to feel like you have their best interest at heart and know that where they are investing, they feel valued.
It is important to be prepared and recommended to enlist the support of a team of professionals to assist in implementing a robust social media crisis management strategy. Consider your legal team, HR Managers, PR consultants and social media specialists to assist and also ensure that they are agile to respond and support in the event of an online crisis.
Get in touch with Social Media 101. CLICK HERE to contact us.
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 Engagement
Social media engagement refers to different types of actions across the various platforms. These include: likes, shares, comments, retweets, clicks and other reactions to social media posts.
For businesses, the engagement need is twofold:
>> Firstly, you need to post content that your users find engaging. This helps you retain existing fans as well as attract new followers. But it’s not just about a great online presence. This positive sentiment extends to real-world benefits such as increased sales and new customers.
>> The other crucial factor is engaging with your audience. This includes acknowledging positive feedback, responding to messages and providing efficient service.
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:
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. CLICK HERE to contact us.
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
Social media influencers, as the term implies, are entities that have some sort of influence or persuasive power on online audiences. This is achieved through amplifying content via various social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. Accounts with large followings are paid to promote brands via their posts on these platforms.
While the concept of brand ambassadors or endorsers is not new, what makes social media amplifiers different is that you don’t have to be rich or famous to become one – you just need to have a substantial audience base. However, a big account is not all it takes. Here’s a short crash course on the world of social media amplification.
What is Social Media Influence?
Social Media influence or amplification takes place when content is shared online within (and across) social media platforms. This includes both paid and unpaid (organic) sharing by stakeholders like your employees, your customers and your online audience. It also includes sharing by influencers such celebrities who may not even use your product or service but are paid to promote your brand online.
Types of Social Media Influence or Amplification
There are many categories and sub-categories of influencers online, but we will look at the three main types of amplification, namely: Social Media Influencers, Employee Amplification and Customer Amplification.
Social Media Influencers
The most well-known type of social media influence is endorsement by celebrities or people who are in the public eye. These include actors, musicians, sports stars, politicians, prominent business people, well-known thought leaders and other public personalities. Notable celebrity influencers include former First Lady Michelle Obama and pop sensation Selena Gomez. But, unlike most traditional brand endorsement, fame alone is not enough to make you a social media influencer. Celebrity or not, you still need a large online audience to your name. Conversely, if you are not well-known but you have a substantial online following, you can earn yourself “celebrity” status on social media purely due to your audience size. Some social media users are even “anonymous” yet get paid to endorse products or services. How is this so? Because it’s all about leveraging off the existing relationship between the influencer and their (sizeable) audience.
Micro-influencers are another type of social media advocacy. These are accounts that may not be huge but have a significant following within a certain industry or niche market. For instance, consider a food blogger that has an audience of a few thousand people. While this may not seem much in comparison to the major players, such a person has the potential to make a tangible impact within a given market. For example, by posting about the quality of food and service at a specific restaurant.
Employee Amplification (also known as Employee Advocacy) is a powerful yet somewhat untapped form of social media influence. It refers to harnessing the endorsement value and online presence of key employees. It starts with positioning your expert staff members as thought-leaders and trusted advisors within their field. The employees then act as passionate and knowledgeable brand ambassadors through their posts on their personal accounts, positioning the business in a positive light. Not only does this boost desired public sentiment for the brand and the employee, but it also promotes extensive organic (free) audience reach through the employee’s personal audience as users are more likely to share content received via their own network than a business page. In fact, statistics show that company-based messaging reach is 561% higher when shared by employees as opposed to the business itself! (www.falcon.io). Click to read more on Employee Amplification.
We all know the importance of customer service, but the growth of social media has now exponentially increased the impact it can have on businesses. Your customers also have the potential to be brand ambassadors and influencers when it comes to your products and services. Brands can make the most of this opportunity by ensuring that positive customer experience is at the core of all business activities. Excellent business offerings, engaging social media content and responsive client-centric service is likely to result in your brand receiving glowing recommendations online. Think about personal experiences – if a business impresses with its quality of service or products, the user is more likely to talk about the experience with friends and family. The same applies to their online community. Only when it comes to social media, its word-of-mouth marketing on steroids. Not only is it great for promoting positive brand affinity, it also acts as free advertising through authentic client endorsement.
Implementing an amplification strategy
Navigating the social media influencer landscape can be tricky. Here are some points to keep in mind for a successful campaign:
Creating great customer experience at all touchpoints (through advertising, in-store and especially social media activities) can promote loyalty and affinity for the brand. This then drives customer endorsement online.
Social media posts should be highly customer-centric and hold some sort of value for the user, such as informative, intriguing, attractive and high-quality content. This promotes customer engagement and sharing of the content – resulting in increased organic reach. Content should also be optimised for each platform as well as for mobile viewing to increase engagement and share potential. Responsiveness and personable communication are crucial elements of good customer service as well.
While both Employee Amplification and Customer Amplification are driven by the users’ loyalty and passion for the brand, a little incentive doesn’t hurt. Employees can be incentivised (financially or otherwise) to publish posts about the business on their personal networks. Customers can also be encouraged to engage and share through polls, giveaways and rewards (such as accessing online resources).
Type of Influencer
Choose the type of influencer based on their strengths and how well it meets your objectives. For example, social media advocates like celebrities have extensive reach as well as influence over their audience. Micro-influencers can be highly valuable due to their niche (and usually highly-engaged) audience. Employee advocacy is an excellent way to position the brand and its employees as industry thought-leaders. And your customers can act as (unpaid) brand ambassadors that promote your business through their genuine love for the products and service you offer.
Influencer Vetting & Content
When using the services of an influencer, you need to partner with people that are credible and genuinely resonate with your brand. You also need to do thorough due diligence to ensure that their audience consists of real, engaging human beings (as opposed to a bought audiences or bots). You are, after all, paying them based on the number of people a post from them is estimated to reach.
Also, it’s not as simple as just telling the influencer the product or service to pitch – you need to craft the actual post content in terms of your objective or, at the least, review and approve content prior to publishing. The digital community is a discerning bunch, so make sure your content has a level of authenticity. It’s also imperative that the influencer does not post messaging from competitors or publish contradictory posts (for example, tweeting about how amazing your restaurant’s steak is, and then the very next day mentioning her vegan lifestyle).
Brands can send their employees on courses such as Personal Branding and Employee Amplification training to aid in positioning staff and executives as thought-leaders. Business decision-makers can also be equipped with knowledge regarding online risk mitigation and understanding social media data metrics – both of which are valuable when it comes to social media amplification. Beyond training, there are software systems that can be implemented to assist employees with resources, such as pre-approved content, from the company they work for. This improves efficacy of the content and cuts down on time taken to create content.
While there are pros and cons to social media influencers, the one thing that’s undeniable is the sheer impact it has on the business and consumer landscapes. And whether you “like” it or “unlike” it, it is certainly here to stay ?.
Social Media 101 assists businesses in driving online influence, whether that be improving customer sentiment or sourcing, vetting and managing macro and micro influencers. We also offer training for: employee amplification, creating content and implementing software tools for an employee advocacy programme. Get in touch if your business needs influence and amplification. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101.
What is the function of social media when it comes to business? If you answered, “it’s an advertising platform”, you are right….. and wrong. While one key role is marketing, social media is actually equipped to underpin the complete customer journey. In this article, we are going to look at these functions when it comes to sales in particular. Below is an outline of how social media can support your entire sales funnel.
Social Media & Sales Funnel Functions
While specific sales steps vary from business to business, we look at the main considerations that form part of a basic sales funnel:
Social media plays a crucial role when it comes to marketing, but it should not be used as an “online billboard”. Instead, it should be used to educate and inform the audience. Examples are showcasing unique selling points or providing valuable information through article content.
As both the number of consumers and time spent on social media platforms are increasing exponentially, it is the obvious choice when it comes to brand awareness. But it’s not just the sheer audience reach that makes it so powerful for business. It’s the ability to target your core demographic – to an impressive extent. In addition to audience-based targeting, you can also customise your campaign to suit your primary campaign or business objective(s).
Targeted advertising means that your brand is placed in front of selected audiences on their devices (cell phone, tablet, computer) when they are next active on the platform. Which means that you don’t have to rely on the client finding you themselves (via an online search, for example) – you find THEM. How’s that for brand awareness generation?
Stat: 52% of survey respondents had discovered a new retail product on Facebook that they were interested in buying, rising to 78% in the 18-34 year group. (blog.hootsuite.com)
Social media is excellently suited to drive interest in products and services through the type of content published. It allows for displaying aspects of the business that traditional media isn’t able to. This includes real-time updates (e.g. promoting lunch-time special specifically at lunch time), social responsibility projects, online articles, tips and advice. It also supports different media types including images, text and video content that can be used interchangeably and even combined. This keeps the recipient interested and engaged – two key elements to attract and retain audiences.
Well crafted, high-quality content leads to improved brand affinity. Businesses are able to show their “character” and what they are all about. This makes them more personable, and marketing messages sent are likely to be received more favourable. An important factor to remember is that content should be customer-centric. People are interested in brands that are interested in them. And strategic content does just this, while also maintaining brand objectives. Win-win for everyone.
Stat: Today, 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally. And decision makers consume at least 5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. (www.superoffice.com)
Social media is where consumers interact with their friends and family, as well as brands. Many decisions are influenced by the content they are exposed to. This includes actual marketing messages from businesses, as well as what other people are saying about a brand.
The multi-step approach of social media (educate, inform, market) plays a major role when it comes to impacting decision-making. Even in-store purchases are influenced by posts seen on social media first. Customer service via social media also promotes sales as potential clients can get quick, personal feedback to questions or concerns (e.g. stockists, specifications, use etc).
Consistent useful, relevant, well-structured content can position the brand as a thought-leader or trusted advisor in their industry. The use of employee advocacy and social media influencers can also be pivotal in brand positioning. Online influencers, including a brand’s own clients and fans, are forms of word-of-mouth marketing that guide purchasing decisions. Along with great customer service, having excellent content and social media endorsers also contribute to total customer experience.
Stat: 57% of consumers say social media influences their shopping, led by Facebook at 44%. (www.wordstream.com)
And…. action! The above strategies all come together to persuade the user to take action. Social media has built-in options for different call-to-actions. These include driving online-based activities like promoting website traffic or direct purchases, as well as influencing offline actions like in-store visits. CTA messaging also can be customised to suit each businesses’ sales objectives.
Stat: Facebook is the preferred social platform of supermarket shoppers—89% use (www.wordstream.com)
And for those of you who think this is not for you because you have human sales consultants, think again. Social media can also be used for lead generation as well. Different strategies can be employed dependent on your business objectives and market, resulting in high-quality, up-to-date leads that your sales team can use to close the deal.
The best part is that social media provides accurate statistics that provide insight into the performance of activities. This includes actual social media stats (e.g. online conversions), as well as linking a business’s sales figures to social media activities to gauge purchase decision attribution. It gives you a snapshot of which activities result in the highest sales, providing insight for future activities.
Stat: Social media is fast becoming the go-to channel for sales people to find new prospects and reach their sales targets. In fact, 90% of top performing sales people now use social media as part of their sales strategy. (business.linkedin.com)
Social media has the tools, functionality, versatility and ability to support all phases of your sales cycle. When implemented correctly, it has the potential to increase sales results and return on investment. If you do not have the required expertise and resources within your business, consider consulting a social media specialist. It is worth the investment if the result is improved sales figures. Especially since social media strategists don’t just focus on once-off purchases, but on long-term relationships required for customer retention and repeat business.
After all, when it comes to business success, the bottom line is….. well, the bottom line.
Want to give your sales figures a boost? Make the call – contact Social Media 101 now. CLICK HERE to get in touch