digital marketing, Facebook, Marketing, Social Media

Social Media Incentives: Breeding Inauthentic Engagement

Content is King

The slap-dash solution for a lack of reach and engagement (I really do use those words way too much) always seems to be running a giveaway. But to what end?

For the brands I work with, nothing scares me more than when my client wants to run a giveaway, especially after months of perfecting the brand’s content, and it really is just an issue of how much inauthentic engagement you end up receiving.

People who aren’t interested in your product will flock en masse to your page, engage, engage, engage, and then just like a hot guy with no personality- will leave you feeling empty and shoot your stats down so fast and far you’ll be back at square one, just trying to get into a good space content-wise.

It’s all good and well that I whine about what shouldn’t be done, but what should the actual solution to increase reach and engagement be?

  1. Think about who the brand speaks to, who the target market is and what sort of content they consume online.
  2. Target bloggers, publications and personalities who your audience will resonate with and collaborate (emphasis on the word collaborate, not to be mistaken for “take my product and my creative and make people love me without any creative input”).
  3. Launch a campaign, it can be on little to no budget, but if it’s well thought out and passionate enough, people will respond. 
  4. Keep the momentum going even after the campaign is done, analyse which parts of the campaign worked best and capitalize on them.

Good social isn’t rocket science, but being one with your consumer takes a bold set of stress balls.

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Facebook, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media

Social Media Strategy: Keep It Custom

The other day I found a Social Media agency bio that claimed being able to increase a fan base from 1k to 100k in the space of a few months which naturally made me throw up, but then I realised just how many agencies get big bucks based on bold (but not impossible) claims like this. I ranted on Twitter for a little while and reached the conclusion that South African brands and businesses need to be educated on what Social Media is, what it can do and what they should consider a success so that people aren’t being conned out of their money anymore.

Most brands and businesses in SA are still largely traditional, and are thus taken for a good old ride by agencies who will present them with a standard Social Media offering awash with buzzwords and bullshit statistics. More often than not, these agencies will convince client that Social Media is all about reach (maybe a little footsie talk about engagement too) and ultimately, they’ll get a nice fat sum to work with.

But that’s not how any of this works in my opinion.

Sit down with you client, acquaint yourself with their business, what their inspiration is, their goals and exactly what they expect to get out of Social Media. And then customise your strategy, target according to their desired audience, work your ass off so that their ROI is meaningful, so that their brand is positively affected by your work.

Establish whether they are local, regional or national, who they want to reach and where, then apply your knowledge of the industry, of influencers and the tone the business needs to take on. Social Media is so far past the point of every brand being witty and clever and sarcastic, it’s a way to reach consumers and fans on a human level beyond the theatrics we’ve become so used to.

Keep in mind that the nature of content differs from brand to brand and then requires optimisation from platform to platform, don’t be a doos and put a hardware business on tumblr, not unless it’s owned by top-knotted beardos who listen to Vance Joy.

Are they an international publication? Let them get reach, engagement and a kick ass CTR.

Are they a family run bakery? Help them engage with their customers, promote their yummies and reach new fans who are able (read: in the area) to visit.

Ain’t nothing standard about Social people, if it isn’t custom, it isn’t working.

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Facebook, Marketing, Social Media, Twitter

When Mediocre Content Becomes Awesome

Ever wondered how viral videos go viral? How memes appeal to a global audience and not just a niche one? The reason I love seeing people’s reaction to what I would consider being mediocre content lies in the cross cultural psychology of it all, and how the same principles apply to the way Social Media Managers should start creating and curating their content.

How is it possible that people from distinctly different walks of life and location can converge on one video or concept without any direct contact?

It’s a matter of How, What and Where that makes decent content go B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

In my mind, the way content is received forms the basis of your audience’s expectations. Remember, in the age of the spambot, people are very reluctant to click on anything suspicious, so your strategy to get them interested enough is just as important as what they’ll be clicking on.

If you tweet a link for a video and say “funniest video by far!”, the people who click on the link will have already fallen victim to the same disease that makes people who go to comedy shows laugh at material that wouldn’t ordinarily be funny at all.

The great thing about viral content is that you don’t need agency or big brand backing to make it. This means that pulling buzzworthy stunts as a Little Guy could get you laid (in terms of fans and sales and what not, obviously).

So the first step is deciding HOW you’re going to deliver your content, and that doesn’t just mean tweaking your goods (please do not misread as “twerking”) but rather, thinking carefully about what your audience will want to see more of. Don’t underestimate the power of well-thought out content but don’t overwork it.

The best content is often stuff that provides followers and fans with a revelation of sorts. Make the revelation out of their reach, and it will be ignored. Give too much away in your post, and you won’t be directing traffic anywhere.

Step 2 is ensuring that WHAT your content is, is not only up to be viewed, but something worthy of being shared. Whether it’s funny, controversial, or (God forbid) edutainment, you have to be certain that what you’re putting up is nothing short of brilliant. Some of the best viral content was the sort of stuff someone looked at and went “Wow, I like that”. If you dig it when you look at it the first time, and then a little more the second time, run with it.

Step 3 is all about playing to the present trends in the way you market your content. There will always be a part of the internet that will LOVE your content, you just have to find WHERE and capitalize on their love. People are into some weird shit, if naked Lola Bunny can make it, so can you.

How, What, Where people. Get wit’it. And let your shit go Bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

(dear reader: excuse the excessive Stefani-ness. Hollaback Girl is stuck in my head and I’m hoping this will get rid of it)

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Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, South African Fashion, Twitter

South African Fashion PR: Nothing But Mediocre

This is a piece I wrote a while back about the SA Fashion Industry.. enjoy.

 

Why South Africa? Why? Why would you make a client pay for services that do nothing to grow their label, expand their brand’s reach or showcase what makes their brand’s product The Best?

This is my bone to pick with South African Fashion PR agencies, if your client isn’t blowing up, you aren’t doing enough.

PR in fashion is not just about maintaining good relations with your consumers, it isn’t about merely representing your client when an opportunity arises. The goal of PR is to pursue opportunities that will benefit your client’s image, extend their consumer base and put them above their competition, so why oh why, are there so many talented designers in SA who are represented in the most mediocre manner?

Like, dude, what’s with David Tlale’s PR girl? Her tweets (or severe lack thereof) compounded with glaring PR white noise shocked me in the time leading up to NYFW. The country should have been on their toes for at least a month before Fashion Week, the twitter-sphere should have been on fire with congrats and motivation and most importantly, Tlale Traffic! But we heard nothing. WHY? Two tweets a day just isn’t enough for a designer of that caliber.

It isn’t just David Tlale’s twitter rep though, it seems like our designers have no presence outside of Fashion Week, something that needs to change and fast.

We don’t see nearly enough campaigns from our designers, we don’t see nearly enough interaction between local labels and consumers. We aren’t forced to take notice of the upcoming powerhouses because their representatives act as though they should only do something worthwhile if approached. Where’s the initiative? People, you get paid to initiate great things for your clients, so what are you getting paid for?

I do take my hat off for designers who understand that a fan-base goes far beyond being a Diva and engage with their consumers on social media, most notably, Thula Sindi and Gavin Rajah, it gives me hope that SA designers will pull themselves out of this elitist hell-hole and get to know the people they dress.

A final word to the wise PR agents.

Make an effort.

Your number one priority as a PR agent should be to see your client be successful beyond measure. Let your clients’ victory trump how much you charge and not vice-versa.

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Facebook, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter

Pop-Up Social Media Agencies (Bleh)

So you’re a go-getter? Cool.

And you’ve tweeted for a number of labels? Nice.

Does that make you an agency all by your lonesome?

Funkmercedes

Now before anyone attempts to accuse me of being bitter, let me explain why pretending to be an agency when it’s really just you and your buddy working from home is bad.

1. You’ve reeled your clients in by pretending to have the resources of a credible agency, but when your client expects a brilliant campaign from you, you’ll end up sounding like a swindler.

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2. Social Media Marketing is about a lot more than pushing out brand appropriate tweets and posts, and when a (smart-ish) client requests Analytic Reports from you, they don’t want an Edgerank Image and raw insights from Facebook either. Merely graphing a bunch of shit up doesn’t count as good Analytic Skills. Social Media Marketing is about analyzing trends, layering your stats to draw correlations between content, timing, date importance, tone and context (to be brief), and then, to be able to show your findings to your client in a way that’s easy for them to understand.

Does the other half of your supposed agency know this? Do your clients know that they’re paying between R4-7k a month (if not more) so you can tweet as you please with no direction or attention to what works and what doesn’t?

If it’s just you and a friend landing clients, kudos, but then call yourselves a team of freelancers, don’t dupe your clients, because when you fuck up on a campaign that’s important to them, your name will be so tainted in the industry that you won’t land another client or job again.

Want to know what a brilliant little agency looks like? Look no further than these pint-sized PR genii.

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Small Girls PR

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Facebook, Public Relations, Twitter

Social Is For The Little Guy (Mainly)

Digital Marketing is the type of industry that sometimes gets carried away with the superficial benefits of its purpose. Strategy meetings and articles are packed with Facebook Likes, Twitter Followers, Retweets, Mentions, and a bunch of other stuff that makes companies like Pepsi wet their pants.

And yes, Brand Building is what we do, we showcase the best parts of a brand, we turn cold corporates into people we know (and like), our job is to engage, win people over and become a part of each person’s community, to be as close to them as their local butcher or beautician. But for the little guys, Digital Marketing isn’t about some complicated Trickle Down effect.

The guy who has a little artisan bakery in the new part of town isn’t really concerned about how Brand Building works, if your services don’t result in a direct ROI, the oke will see very little substance in your fees.

What the Little Guy doesn’t understand though, is that Social Media is the one place he will excel, because it’s the one place (and probably the only) that will enhance the spirit of his store, and the appeal of his product. Little Guys have an edge over big brands in the digital sphere, not in terms of fan numbers or post and tweet reach, but in a direct impact on his business, and that’s all the Little Guy wants.

And that’s why Social works for the little guy, because the wall that big brands set up unintentionally doesn’t exist. People want to order from the business that makes them feel welcome in the realest sense.

The heavyweights have to settle for a trickle down ROI impact, for a growth in Online Brand Popularity before they will ever see a direct increase in sales.

For the Little Guy though, his online presence results directly in an increase in sales, the comments on his Facebook page link almost immediately to the number of customers and clients he’ll pull in.

I recently started managing a fashion label, and the sales via the brand’s Facebook page and Twitter account make up for the majority of sales per month. With Social Media, the Little Guy wins.

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Marketing, Public Relations, Twitter

The Rise of the Freelancer

You know the type, lurking around in restaurants, buttering potential clients up, always in work-mode, never not networking, rubbing their tow-truck driver ways in your face because they have no overheads and you have just so bloody many.

I’m one of those. And I’m only a freelancer because no one else will take the risk of hiring me. (being 20, a part-time student and a slight nut is not advantageous).

But I’m not posting to whine, freelancing is the kind of job that forces you to be disciplined, there isn’t a boss who lights the proverbial flaming tissue paper between your butt cheeks in order to motivate you to meet your deadlines. All the progress you make is geared towards benefiting you, and that means putting anything else before your client is suicide. You ruin your own reputation, not an agency’s. And you can’t fire yourself if you mistakenly tweet a link at a porn-star instead of the designer you just did a feature on. (true story)

Now here’s why freelancers are doing decently at the moment. Signing on with an agency that employs a good 50 people is a financial schlep, especially if what you’re looking for is a fraction of what they’ll actually charge you. Everybody’s a hustler these days, and more people are recognizing that talent is not confined to the industry heavyweights.

And so. We outsource.

With the rise of freelance web developers, social media managers (everyone is a social media manager/DJ these days) and copywriters, why burn a hole in your pocket on “full service” when you can pick what you need and gooi the rest out?

Now you might think that freelancers are a cheaper (read: better) option but here’s what freelancers won’t tell you.

1. They might have the skill, the tenacity and flair, but they simply do not have the resources for anything brilliant.

2. Where a big agency has multiple employees to deal with the various needs of a client, a freelancer has to focus on every need of every client all at once. Don’t be surprised if you’re the client who has to take a back seat.

3. Freelancers are essentially Tow Truck Drivers. They will make you feel like your brand needs to be towed and fixed (by an oke who’ll give you a good deal hey). That doesn’t mean you need everything that they propose. But then again. Maybe you do.

Hire a freelancer if you’re in the mood to scream F*** the system. But if you want stability, go to one of the pretty places in the Northern Suburbs, they’ll make you feel safe, but you’ll have to pay for it.

(if a potential employer/one of my clients is reading this, know that I am not of the Tow Truck Driver caste and have more than enough insanity reserved to love each of my clients equally)

 

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