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.
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While media platforms have always been used to attract public attention, it’s undeniable that social media has substantially increased the ability to drive publicity. This is great when it comes to desired communication like marketing content or positive messaging. But the problem arises when there is negative or controversial news that businesses would prefer to minimise. Many brands think that the best solution would be to avoid social media altogether. However, a lack of social media presence is not the answer. In fact, it’s likely to be a detrimental choice in the case of negative public fallout. If you are terrified of negative feedback on social media, read on to find out how you can turn a scary scenario into an opportunity.
Lack of Social Media Presence: Business Risks
Even if you are terrified of negative feedback on social media, not having an account does not prevent online commentary. It is actually likely to make things worse for a brand should unwanted publicity occur. Here’s why:
- The conversation happens whether or not you are there: if people want to talk about a brand, the discussion will take place regardless of whether or not social media pages for the brand exist. A brand can trend as a hashtag without having their own active social media accounts. Therefore, avoiding social media does not avert a possible scandal or bad publicity.
- Limited ability to respond: not having an established social media presence limits a business’s ability to respond should the need arise. Social media provides a way to communicate quickly and to reach large audiences. A brand without social media accounts will be at a disadvantage to every other online entity commenting on a matter due to a lack of infrastructure and existing audience.
- No crisis management plan or process: while no one wants to think about their business being in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, the reality is that it’s always a possibility. The difference between experiencing or avoiding major brand damage lies in being prepared. Having a crisis management system that includes internal processes, a social media response plan and contact list of advisers (legal, PR, HR, social media experts etc) is imperative.
- Prevention is better than a cure: the best way to protect brand reputation is to have a well-managed social media presence. Experienced social media planning and management aims at mitigating risk on an ongoing basis. This includes the content posted, responses to customers and other communication. And should an unforeseen issue arise, the impact will be minimised as well through the use of a specialist social media agency.
Social Media Risk Mitigation & Effective Management
The key to a positive social media presence lies in doing it properly. Platforms and activities should be managed by a team equipped with the necessary knowledge-based skills. In addition to publishing content in line with social media best practices and business objectives, great customer experience is vital. Customer service has to be responsive, agile and solution-based. When used effectively, feedback (both negative and positive) offer the following benefits:
Opportunity for improvement: Patterns in terms of negative feedback reveal areas that need immediate attention. Taking corrective action results in an improved service offering.
Opportunity to shine: The way that negative feedback or a complaint is handled can have a major impact on customer perception. Impressing an unhappy client by resolving a matter excellently is likely to turn that person into a satisfied ambassador singing praises about the brand.
Research & Business Development: Feedback provides valuable insight into consumer preferences and behaviour. By analysing the correct social media data, businesses can base future plans accordingly, thus maximising success potential and promoting positive business growth.
In a consumer environment fuelled by social media and public commentary, the importance of an online presence is inescapable. The “ostrich” approach (head buried in the sand, ignoring reality) just does not work for businesses. Avoiding social media does not reduce the chance of trending online for all the wrong reasons. It just reduces the brand’s ability to respond. You should not be terrified of negative feedback on social media. The real solution lies in having strategies in place to mitigate potential risk, as well as to effectively manage the situation should a crisis occur. If an organisation does not have the required resources, its best to call in the experts. Either way, effective management of feedback and activities can contribute to valuable business growth and positive brand affinity.
As part of our service offering, Social Media 101 are able to consult with your business with regard to implementing tools and process for crisis management and risk mitigation. Get in touch to find out more. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101
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.
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What is Disruptive Marketing?
Disruptive marketing refers to communication that is considered intrusive by the recipient.
These are generally outbound mass marketing messages, usually with a hard-sell approach. Traditional forms of interruptive promotional activities include unsolicited sales calls, print marketing and even billboards. Online pop-up ads, push-messages and spammy emails are digital methods that cause disruption.
Intrusive and Interruptive
Marketing Does Not Work
Well, for starters, it’s annoying. No one wants to be interrupted by an unwanted and/or irrelevant message. Think about the fact that movies on paid television channels are ad-free, or that web browsers have ad-blocker settings. Some businesses, however, still disregard this trend and continue to use push-marketing tactics. These type of “force-feeding” practices are not well received by consumers who feel that the brand does not respect their time or preferences as an individual.
Customer needs and desires have also changed over the years. More so with the emergence of increasingly demanding consumer segments (such as Millennials), as well as the growing use of digital platforms by clients. These evolved audiences have little tolerance for self-absorbed interruptive brand messaging. An irrelevant or unwanted advertisement will be ignored and the marketer regarded with disdain. And once this negative view is established, it is very difficult to connect with such a client in the future as they become unresponsive to any further communication sent by the brand.
In addition to customer behaviour, mass marketing is not good for business. Media ad space is expensive, yet does not provide factual data in terms of returns. Untargeted messaging is not an effective use of resources due to excessive wastage. And with ad-blocking device and app functions on the rise, an increasing percentage of “push” communication messages will not even be seen by the intended recipients.
Alternative Solution to Disruptive Marketing
The essence of successful marketing lies in ensuring customer expectations are met. Social media is an ideal way to communicate with consumers in a non-intrusive and client-based manner. It allows you to connect to your audience, as opposed to just pushing promotional material onto them.
Social media is considered a permission-based form of marketing as clients can choose to opt in for more communication by liking or following a page. Engaging and interesting content that is targeted to a relevant audience leads to them choosing to continue receiving messaging from the brand. Quality page posts that add value (for example: articles, tips and guides) pulls consumers in promotes positive customer sentiment. Once users see that the business is client-focused and useful, they are significantly more open to brand marketing messages related to products or services.
Users are also able to discover a brand’s page through search engines. This generates inbound audiences that have an existing interest in the business’s offering. The interactive nature and two-way communication channels offered by social media further assist in allowing inbound communication from client to business. Also, the business’s page contains a history of brand activities including value-adds and information. This is a form of storytelling that lets new or inbound audiences see the “bigger picture” and get a sense of overall brand identity. And I’m sure you will agree that it is highly more effective than a traditional broadcast ad or print ad viewed in isolation.
From a business perspective, social media returns far outweigh other forms of mass marketing. As audiences can be targeted for maximum relevance, investment is efficiently used. Targeting is especially significant for brands with a niche market or a business-to-business model as it provides a viable way to reach specific clients without having high wastage typical of traditional methods. Reports provide measurable data so that you know what you are paying for.
Quite frankly, in the current market climate driven by client needs, there is no room for business-centric hard-sell approaches characteristic of disruptive promotional messages. Communication has to be focused on meeting customer demands in order for brand marketing to succeed. Social media supports the entire client journey, creating a platform to attract and retain customers. It also delivers positive results through effective, objective-based planning of activities. Invest in your social media presence and compare the results – we are confident that you will be pleased at the outcome.
We would love to chat you to about your business requirements over a cup of coffee.
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How can you provide killer customer service that attracts and retains clients? While this seems like loaded question dealing with a complex issue, the answer is amazingly simple:
Find out what your customers want and give it to them.
How, you ask? The solution is staring you in the face – literally. By using the social media platforms at your fingertips. Global statistics show an increasing use of social media as the preferred consumer service platform. We look at the reasons leading to this growth, as well as highlight some of the benefits offered by social media when it comes to your customer support services.
67% of companies believe social customer service is the most pressing short-term priority for contact centres. (Sprout)
Why social media?
Location, location, location. As mentioned, social media is where your clients are – therefore, it should be your base of operations as well. But that’s not the only reason. Social media opens up a wealth of functions and tools that can be used to substantially upgrade your service delivery. Used effectively, it not only elevates client satisfaction levels, but also supports your core business objectives.
What are the benefits?
Improved Customer Service
Customers have a single point of contact for basic service issues such as queries or complaints. This reduces frustration experienced via other methods (such as dealing with multiple people telephonically or via email). The written online conversation can be referred back to by both the client and business staff, thus avoiding miscommunication and eliminating the need for repetition. The higher speed and response rate typical of social media platforms also boost client satisfaction levels.
Inclusive Customer Experience
“Customer Experience” or CX refers to the client’s total interaction with a brand from the first point of contact and throughout all subsequent interactions. Social Media allows you to engage with all consumers i.e. not just those who contact you with a query or complain. Content such as product updates, tips, advice and information form part of the client support services provided by the brand. This inclusive ongoing flow of communication helps customers feel more connected and part of a niche “community”, as well as positions the business as a client-focused organisation.
Social media gives you the opportunity to connect with customers on a one-on-one basis. Personal, direct contact helps clients feel that the business cares about them as an individual and appreciates their support. This fosters positive feelings towards the brand, promoting customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Improve Business Quality
Using social media for customer service does not just improve your support in isolation. It leads to uplifting the quality of the organisation as a whole. The interactive nature of social media gives consumers a voice to state their needs and wants. Considering that a business only exists because of its customers, the value of basing actions on customer preference leads not only to happier clients that are loyal to the brand, but also business success and growth.
Customer service is rapidly becoming the definitive consumer consideration impacting business success. Businesses that fail to meet customer expectations are likely to lose out to competitors that do. Social media provides the solution you need to not only boost service quality, but positively enhance overall brand experience for your customers.
Why use social media? The real question is: “Why not?”
It’s surprising how many companies out there have not yet adapted to changing client and market conditions, and are subsequently damaging their brand without even realising it. Although global trends are moving more and more towards digital media channels – specifically social media platforms – some business owners have still not adjusted their business processes to embrace this market evolution.
Here are 5 ways you could be hurting your brand without even realising it:
Neglecting Social Media
Reluctance to adapt to change is a natural human response. In business, one of the key areas of neglect is a brand’s social media presence. The risk? Underestimating the impact of social media could leave you a step behind at best or, at worse, prove to be detrimental – regardless of the size of your organisation. By not using social media to its full potential, you are limiting your brand’s growth opportunities and losing a valuable competitive advantage. When used effectively, social media activities substantially contribute towards organisational goals such as increasing brand awareness, improving customer service and achieving bottom line objectives. Critically assess your marketing plans and ensure that your social media platforms are used optimally to support your various business functions.
Poor Customer Service
Clients are growing increasingly demanding, expecting service at a continually higher speed and quality level. Whether the communication is a general query (such as product availability) or a serious complaint, customers insist on quick and personal resolution. Inefficient customer service processes are likely to cause serious damage to your brand’s reputation due to resulting negative commentary from unhappy clients. Social media offers an excellent way to connect with customers in a speedy, direct and solution-driven manner. In addition to dealing with customer complaints and queries, you are also able to respond positively to compliments by clients, thereby showing appreciation to your supporters and promoting continued brand loyalty. The personal touch offered by social media can go a long way to improving customer sentiment and brand positioning based on the content and service that you deliver to clients via this channel.
Lack of value-add to clients
The brands that get ahead in the current tough economic climate are those that take an intensive customer-centric approach. By employing value-add elements that benefit the client in some way (e.g. social media messaging that includes tips or advice), the business is seen as useful and worth following. Such value-rich content tends to be shared by followers, resulting in the brand being exposed to a larger audience organically. Pure product or service promotion does not have the same share potential, and is likely to result in audience members un-following your page after a short period of time. A balance between marketing communication and enriching content needs to be carefully strategised to achieve maximum business benefit.
Non-targeted or generalised marketing not only wastes money (as only a part of the audience reached is of relevance to your brand), but it also does not provide sufficient data regarding the success of each marketing activity. For example, are people buying your product because of a television ad, print ad or because your store-front is attractive? Or maybe it’s none of the above at all? Targeted marketing such as audience selection, on the other hand, serves a dual purpose: it not only ensures that you invest efficiently by focusing spend on your core target market, but it also shows you the success of each marketing campaign or advertisement by providing accurate and detailed feedback data. Thus, you get a higher return on investment as well as crucial insight in terms of your customer base.
Use of Insufficient or Inaccurate Data
Statistical information is core to every business decision: whether the objective is to save a struggling business, grow a successful one or diversify an existing organisation. Using assumptions, insufficient or inaccurate data are clearly dangerous practices. Plans built on such “bad intel” could result in a substantial financial loss and even complete failure of the business entity in question. Effective planning requires relevant, accurate and qualitative data that can assist with decision making, such as demographic breakdown of actual purchasing customers, market segmentation and consumer behaviour. Reporting based on engagement metrics are an excellent source of indicative and precise figures to aid in business strategy and development.
Success-driven business strategy incorporates all elements that have the potential to positively impact organisational goals. Make sure your brand is utilising the tools and resources available for maximum benefit and to gain an invaluable edge within your industry.
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