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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digital marketing, Facebook, Marketing, Social Media, Twitter

Social Media Under Traditional Control

So I got to thinking this morning, about how Social Media success is defined, by other agencies, and by clients, and the sad truth is that there are polar opposites in the way that success is defined, and therefore, the way that a strategy is formed.

A brand may decide to join Social Media to ‘engage’ with their consumers, but let’s face it, it all comes down to an ROI and a way to drive sales, and this is where the problem starts. When brands first became interested in the Social Media phenomenon, the need to engage with fans and consumers was what fueled the strategy at the time, but old habits die hard and brands are starting to look at Social Media figures like advertising ones.

Does the brand you manage really care about your engagement beyond how it affects the reach and number of likes it gets in return?

Have the number of Likes and Followers you have on Social Media become the modern day interpretation of what circulation figures were/are in the print advertising industry?

It’s this set of criteria that is based on huge numbers and not on content and authenticity that is coercing agencies to buy Like and Followers, because truthfully, who would ever find out right? But that’s the issue for me, how does 47% of inactive followers help your brand build awareness, affinity or drive sales? You may be meeting or surpassing your KPIs, but you’re killing the benefits of Social under the guise of how it can (mainly) only bring an ROI indirectly.

As someone who is passionate about Social, I’m not interested in the numbers, they mean very little to me compared to what the reaction to content is. Social Media is MEASURABLE, and that makes it better than print, but that certainly isn’t the be all and end all, not when delving into what makes your consumers tick is far more beneficial to you as a brand than knowing how many people saw your post.

Social Media isn’t here to be your brands bulletin board, no one wants to read your print-focused copy on an image that makes me feel like i’m sitting through an endless stream of print ads. Learn to use the medium, it isn’t a mag or a billboard, learn to get personal, learn from your fans, and remember that reaction always trumps the silly numbers.

I look at the Top Performing South African Brands on Social Media (now isn’t that a pleasant mouthful for brand managers?) and evaluate their content and the sort of feedback they get when they aren’t any incentives for fans or followers, and it makes me wonder how many agencies are cooking the numbers and getting away with it, and that there is a growing need for Social Media Legislation in SA.

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Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized

Instagram South Africa: The Breakdown

Instagram, the ultimate symbol of the superficial human condition, where we go to boast our bests and make our worsts look a bit better with a rose-tinted filter, it only makes sense that brands have caught on.

As usual though, local brands are being incredibly stubborn at using Instagram to expand and further establish their audience, and of the few brands that have decided to tick off the “full social media experience” box, only a handful are making the effort to use it to its fullest. This is especially sad for the media industry, where headlines can make their way away from the flood that has become Twitter and onto an image and video stream which will give people enough information to be informed, but also little enough to drive followers to your pages.

Instagram usage in South Africa doesn’t make it the largest or most significant social network, but at 680 000 users and growing, it’s definitely a good place to cement your presence. The question isn’t why though, for most brands I think the question that needs to be answered is “how” Instagram can benefit brands.

The answer comes down to one basic point, that it should be every brand’s goal to be as involved as possible in the lives of their target audience.

To put all of this into perspective, let’s take a look at what your content strategy should look like in order to work on instagram:

1. Growth on Instagram is all about the Hashtag for me. It’s the one place where there is no such thing as too many hashtags, or hashtagging yourself out, or cramping your hashtag. (It’s a rich area).

2. Let your images be good! Lots of Social Media ‘experts’ preach that the key to Instagram is exclusivity, and while that is a very crucial element to consider, you can’t be posting mediocre, Martha Stewart type shots. Like any social platform, Instagram only enhances, and does not work magic.

3. Search and engage with fans. Instagram isn’t as easy as Twitter or Facebook, people may not even know you exist if you don’t have a call to action outside of the platform. The key to staying engaging on Instagram is to make an effort to look for fans and then put their images in the spotlight in order to spark a chain reaction among followers.

So who are the brands who are getting it right?

Channel O with an average of +60 likes per image, for not only uploading exclusive event and interview content, but also remembering that it’s not all about the pictures you take, but also the relevant (good quality) images you can find.

Mr. Price Fashion with an average of +100 likes per image, for being the best in my opinion on Instagram, showcasing their products, while also posting relevant industry related content. By far the most consistent local fashion account on the platform.

Topshop SA with an average of +80 likes per image, for upholding the global position of the brand as being one of the most social labels in the world.

Now, onto the brands that I think could be performing a lot better:

Tourism SA with an average of +40 likes per image but only 901 followers, which is very disappointing considering the fact that they attempted to launch what I think was a brilliant concept for Instagram, the #MeetSouthAfrica contest which should have driven traffic to their account in the truckloads. Their mistake was not making their links between social platforms more fluid, and thus allowing for campaigns to gain traction on Facebook at the very least as well.

Revlon South Africa with an average of +20 likes per image, for not having a more enthusiastic call to action outside of Instagram because their content is excellent and the brand has the potential to be one of the biggest in the country on Instagram. I feel like someone at Revlon is just a little lazy to make the effort between social platforms, and that seems to be a big problem with a lot of brands.

Lastly.

Grazia with an average of +20 likes per image, purely because they can do so much better than that. Here is one of the country’s leading fashion publications, with endless resources, a mere stones throw away from Sandton and tonnes of exclusive content, all ruined by erratic posting but even more so by image quality. If I had a rand for every terrible photo they took at exclusive events and of upcoming items for the mag, I’d be a lot less broke than I am.

So the point is this, use your hashtags, advertise your content outside of Instagram, and always keep the quality and quantity of your content consistent.

Here is my infographic for you to eat up 🙂

(ps: the stats presented here do not represent the 3 best and 3 worst brands, but rather, the brands I thought should be mentioned.)

credits: NATIVE VML, World Wide Worx

instagram infographic

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Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, South African Fashion

What The Luminance Store Loan Did

Look, this story has been doing its rounds for a while now, how irresponsible the NEF was in granting the funds etc etc, but the truth is, the SA Fashion Media Industry did very little to speak out against it. This meant that little old ignorant me, had no idea which boutique the news was on about until a little while ago.

Here’s the problem with the new-school fashion media in SA (and by new-school, i’m referring to GRAZIA, and the countless fashion blogs that push for an elitist Fashion Industry in SA):

The average upcoming fashion designer needs around R200k (maximum) to manufacture and market a line of their own, the NEF loan of R34.1 million could have helped 170 designers (or any other worthy small business owners) realize their dreams.

The SA Fashion Media industry blatantly ignored this glaring fact, preferring to take to their instagram accounts (do note that a bad image looks worse in a shitty filter), their blogs and hashtags to promote the huge step forward for South Africa.

And this really is the problem with the fashion industry in general, we organize our fashion weeks pretending that Cape Town is Milan and Jozi is NYC, when really, we’re just a tiny country. Our Fashion Weeks are tainted by trends introduced on European runways, and our main concern is to make foreign luxury goods available instead of encouraging (yes, that means financially helping) SA designers towards building a World Class luxury goods industry in this beautiful place.

But no, nevermind, we’d much rather open up another store in Hyde Park, even though 2A (which stocks everything from Louboutin to Carven), Max Mara, Nicci (Vivienne Westwood and other high street brands), Burberry (SA flagship store), Pringle and countless others in the same mall do the same damn job.

R34.1 million people. We gave it to one lady. When we could have given it to 170 people.

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Uncategorized

To Blog Or Not To Blog

Take a walk through Maboneng on a  weekend, and ask every person you meet what they do for a living (although living isn’t really the operative word). I would bet my new long-board that every second person’s response will be “oh, I’m a blogger”. I always end up saying “that’s cool man..” but the real follow up question in my head is always “but does blogging really pay the bills?”.

The Internet is a blessing and a curse, because while it provides infinite opportunity, it also means that people can remain in a state of denial regarding their supposed talents for years before they realise that they should never have quit their day jobs. Let it be known, perseverance should be exercised by the skilled and not merely the impassioned.

If you’re a company though, blogging could be your chance to gain an edge over your competitors, because instead of consumers hearing things about you through the grapevine, they’ll be able to hear your take on the industry, your company and the best of what you do straight from the horses mouth.

But let me curb my negativity (a little), because a good personal blog can be the stepping stone to better things, and by things, I mean money. In order to reach these better ‘things’ though, you must remember that to set up a stellar blog that will shine through like a diamond hidden in horse shit, you’ll need to have the following things locked and loaded.

1. Damn Good Content

Believe me when I say that crap content leaves a lasting impression, and if you maintain a low standard of content (this includes being a truly lazy writer), you will attract nothing but bad vibes. Bad Content reflects badly on you, so make your effort evident, and your new visitors will become returning visitors.

2. Consistent Posting

Nobody likes an impulsive blogger, especially because we treat blogs like credible publications these days, which means you can’t post as inspiration strikes, you need to post so that you can have a sustained viewership. I have abandoned countless blogs because of erratic posting, 5 posts in one week, and then no posts for the next half a year. I don’t want to visit a blog that makes me feel like an under-appreciated reader. Make the effort to think about how many posts you’ll want per month, and then follow through on that promise.

Remember that Instinctive posting can still be strategic.

3. Interact With Your Readers

Elitism has no place in the online sphere. Sure, we like drooling over the stuff we can’t afford, and there’s nothing like a good dose of Eddie Redmayne to remind you that he’s an actor and you’re not but we connect with what feels real and honest, you acting like your blog is Vogue and you get to play Anna Wintour isn’t going to win you any fans.

Bloggers need to swallow their pride and understand that the road to success is not a cut-throat one, instead, it’s a road fueled by interaction, association and networking. Build a community of followers who feel appreciated and they will do the marketing for you.

4. Get Ready For A Long Haul

There are 70 Million WordPress blogs worldwide and 39 Million Tumblr blogs, so when you start blogging, you really are a drop in an ocean of content. You will not make any money off of your blog for a long time, you will have to write good pieces for years maybe before you build a worthwhile audience, and you will be known as just another blogger before you’re considered an industry treasure.

5. Don’t Compromise On The Content You’re Passionate About

Far too many bloggers start as literary artists, writing with a fervor and eagerness that reflects so well in their posts, but end up compromising their content for page views.

Above all though, remember that at the heart of every good blog is the sense that its content, tone and timing revolves around it’s readers. Because we’re special.

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Facebook, Marketing, Public Relations, Twitter

To The Personable Mass Psychologists

Lots of people tell me that my job isn’t really a job, that I don’t actually ‘work’, that Digital Marketing is just a bunch of geeks fiddling around at their keyboards. So here’s what Social Media does, and why you need people who, quite frankly, know their shit, if you want your brand to go anywhere worthwhile.

I’m talking about The Pass On Effect of Social Media, as explained for people who think that Social Media Marketing is a joke and unworthy of a job title.

Let’s say you own a Nokia 3310, you eat a Red Velvet Cupcake (in the time BH: Before Hipster which therefore makes them unpretentious) and you love it so much that you write about it in your journal. At your next book club, you tell your 5 best friends about the bakery, and they tell 5 of their friends so that within a week, 25 potential customers are drawn to the bakery.

That’s how Marketing is meant to work.

It’s called Word of Mouth and when you use these tactics on Social Media, it’s the same concept as the Cupcake Scenario, only magnified significantly. Instead of 5 women at book club, you can tweet something at hundreds of people, who can retweet it to hundreds more, expanding your reach as a brand within minutes.

But here’s why you have to give kudos to Social Media Marketers, good Marketing takes exceptional content, and even more exceptional timing.

Anyone can schedule a tweet, but knowing which times will attract the most views by your chosen demographic, the text:visual content ratio that your target market responds to, the key words to initiate interaction and tailoring your posts and tweets accordingly is not something any keyboard junkie can do. We’re in the business of making Mass Psychology look friendly, it isn’t numbers or big terms, but instinct and opportunity recognition.

So count this as a shout out to the Digital Marketers who do more for their brands than just tweet and post, but interact, associate and network, in order to set their clients apart from the millions of robots putting up mediocre content. We see you. And we appreciate.

**by ‘we’ I mean me, along with my alter-ego Portia Menendez who is an illegal immigrant living in the US in T.S. Elliot’s poems. #NotaTrueStory

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