Social thinking: transforming to meet the needs of consumers today
by Louise Marsland, Publishing Editor, TREND. (@trendlives) Exclusive extract from the TREND. Socialising Enterprise Report. There are many definitions of social media and as many misunderstandings about what social media can do for your brand.
Marketing 101 brand principles still apply. Social media just helps you do it better.
It is also about the mind set of an organisation: is it open and does it promote discourse and engagement both within the organisation and with customers, or is it closed and limited in its engagement, walling itself off from customers with a myriad of red tape and unfriendly call centres?
Socialising enterprise is about more than teaching staff about Twitter, it is about breaking down barriers to assist business in integrating social ways of doing business, says Kaitlyn Wilkins, EAME regional director of Social@Ogilvy who visited South Africa recently.
So what does it mean to a business to be social?
Wilkins describes it as really being about a 21st century brand, understanding the ways your consumers are changing and their behaviours are changing, and their experience, discovery, purchase and post-purchase experience with a brand and how they want to stay engaged with it.
“It is not about doing hot things on hot platforms, but transforming to meet the needs of consumers today.”
Wilkins believes that brands are afraid of social media.
“It is happening, customers are talking about your brand online and the question is: are you there to engage? Brands wait too long and end up being reactionary, engaging in a negative way.”
If brands are to understand customer behaviour, they need to understand first and foremost where their consumer is in social and what their consumer wants to do in your category on social media.
She points to the fact that in South Africa, for example, demographic behaviour can change every six months in an emergent economy such as this.
Brands need to do their homework on consumer behaviour and marketers need to understand where social interrupts the customer journey in experiencing a product.
Coca Cola decided to deliver more than product on student campuses with this campaign, making it about “delivering happiness” and presenting young artists in celebration of the London Olympics – creating content people want to see or experience and share on social networks.
Corporate South Africa is definitely aware of social media and has made some effort to incorporating it into consumer strategy, but only about half believe they are being effective, according to the South African Social Media Landscape 2012 study, released in September 2012 by technology market researchers World Wide Worx and information analysts Fuseware.
The study reveals that 95% of major brands surveyed have some form of social media strategy aimed at consumers, but only 51% rate their efforts on Facebook as effective and only 33% believe they are effective on Twitter.
“The survey shows that corporate South Africa has woken up to social media, but it hasn’t yet figured out how to dress for the role,” said World Wide Worx managing director Arthur Goldstuck. “Most large companies are still neutral on the impact of social media, and are still feeling their way.”
According to World Wide Worx, the report includes analysis of South African consumers’ use of Facebook, Twitter, Mxit, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Foursquare, as well as a survey conducted among corporate brand owners.
“We interviewed representatives of 61 major brands, and found that corporate use of social networks tended to be a case of responding to media hype,” said Fuseware managing director Mike Wronski. “The most popular social media platform in South Africa, Mxit, is used as a marketing tool by only one out of five large brands. This compares to Facebook, with nine out 10 using it, and YouTube, with two out of three.”
Other key findings by World Wide Worx and Fuseware included:
• 49% of South African corporations surveyed leave social media in the hands of a marketing team, while 18% allocate it to public relations and a further 18% outsource it.
• The most commonly cited reason for using social media is ‘as an effective PR channel’, with 70% of brands using it for this purpose, while 62% use it as a core part of their marketing campaigns.
• Sales represent a key element of social media for corporations, with 43% using it for customer lead generation.
• Only 13% of companies are using social media specifically because their competitors are using it.
• Most companies intend to make investments in training their current people in social media best practices. A full 36% intend to use specialist social media agencies to assist in their social media PR and marketing. Only 15% say their skills are optimal.
Latest research by Statcounter reveals that Pinterest has overtaken Twitter in terms of popularity and is now the world’s fourth largest social media site, behind Facebook, YouTube and Stumbleupon.
According to Simon Leps, CEO of Fontera Digital Works, the rapid growth of Pinterest in South Africa, combined with its ability to drive users to websites, makes the site an extremely powerful tool for local businesses.
It has been estimated that the rapidly growing social media site attracts close to 20 – 37 million unique users globally per month. “Pinterest also recently became the quickest website ever to reach 10 million unique visitors,” says Leps.
“Based on Alexa traffic data, Pinterest is the 19th most popular website in South Africa. South Africa has the 12thmost Pinterest users globally and is responsible for 1.6% of all Pinterest page views worldwide. In January alone, 328 000 South Africans visited the social media site.”
And according to a recent Ericsson report on TV and video, 62% of people use social media while watching TV – an 18% increase in one year. Consumers are now using social media to discuss what they are watching while they are watching it, amplifying the experience. Mobile devices are an important part of the TV experience – 67% of consumers use tablets, smartphones or laptops in their everyday TV viewing, both for video consumption and to enable a social media experience while watching TV.
The results of Ericsson’s ConsumerLab annual study reveal that social TV is becoming a mass-market phenomenon and, more than half of consumers surveyed want to be able to choose their own TV and video content. Ericsson reports that people are looking for aggregated services that can bring everything together to allow consumers to mix on-demand and linear TV, “including live content, facilitate content discovery, leverage the value of social TV and provide seamless access across devices”.
Ericsson conducted research in Brazil, Chile, China, Germany, Italy, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, UK and the US.
Engagement overall in social media is rising in countries on all continents, according to worldwide magazine media association FIPP’s World Digital Media Factbook 2012 – 2013. Internet users are spending more time on social media today than in the past. In China, 80% of internet users are engaged in social media (Nov, 2011), with activities such as using social networking sites, blogging, uploading videos, sharing photos, micro-blogging and visiting forums, according to the GlobalWebIndex. This was up from 78% in 2009. Numbers in Russia and India are similar to those in China, but in Brazil, the change was more significant, from just over 70% in July 2009 to more than 80% in November 2011.
Microblogging site Twitter is seeing global ad revenues climb steadily, the FIPP report notes, as active user numbers reached more than 500 million in 2012. Ad revenue from paid advertising climbed 83% from 2011 to 2012 to $259.9 million, predicted to rise 55% to $399.5 million in 2013 and by 36% to $540 million in 2014, according to figures from eMarketer as quoted by FIPP.
FIPP also quotes Microsoft as reporting that top social media advertisers will increase social media ad spend in 2012/13:
Social networking in South Africa has crossed the age barrier, the urban/rural divide and even the relationship gap, according to research findings by The South African Social Media Landscape 2012 study. It shows that the fastest growing age group among Facebook users in South Africa is the over-60s. From August 2011 to August 2012, the number of over-60s on Facebook grew by 44%, compared to less than 30% for those aged 30-60, less than 20% for those aged 19-30, and less than 10% for teenagers, the study reports.
At the end of August, 5.33 million South Africans were using Facebook on the web, 2.43 million were on Twitter and 9.35 million on Mxit. Because Facebook does not measure mobile-only usage among those who have registered via their cellphones, however, the full extent of its penetration is significantly understated: primary research by World Wide Worx shows that 6.8 million people access Facebook on their phones.
The report puts Twitter use measured in this primary research at 2.2 million by the end of June, or 100 000 new users a month since August last year. Fuseware data, collected directly from Twitter through an API (application programme interface), shows that the number reached 2.4 million at the end of August, exactly matching the growth rate measured by World Wide Worx, and validating the earlier data.
Other key findings announced in September include:
- Both Facebook and Twitter have grown at a similar rate in South Africa, at around 100 000 new users a month, for the past year.
- LinkedIn has grown substantially, but at a slightly lower rate, to reach 1.93 million South Africans.
- Pinterest is the fledgling among the major social networks, with 150 000 users in South Africa.
- *WhatsApp has become the leading instant messaging tool among South Africans aged 16 and over, living in cities and towns, with a user base of 4.6 million.
- The youngest mobile instant messaging tool to emerge on the measurement radar in South Africa, 2Go, has close to a million adult users.
- The most common ‘Check In’ sites for Facebook in South Africa are airports and shopping malls.
- The biggest tweeting day of the week is a Monday, with an average of 9.6 million tweets sent by South Africans on the first working day of the week. Friday is next, with 9.6 million, while Saturday is the slowest Twitter day, with 8.4 million tweets.
- Both Facebook and Twitter have crossed the urban/rural divide. The proportion of urban adults using Facebook is a little less than double rural users – but rural users are now at the level where urban users were 18 months ago. Twitter’s urban penetration is a little more than double its rural penetration, but the rural proportion has also caught up to where the urban proportion was 18 months ago.
Social media is really about understanding what needs to be done for your brand and your messaging, says Angus Robinson, director: mobile,
content and community divisions at Native SA. Robinson says it is not about having a Mxit, Facebook or Twitter presence; it is about what we need to do for our brand to do the best for our customers.
He says brands should become allergic to hype, fearing that if they don’t immediately jump on social media, they will go out of business. It is not about the platform, it is about how to apply social thinking around products, in the way brands interact with employees, in the way staff are rewarded and how they engage with customers.
Developing beautiful products that are easy to use, with shareable elements is what brands like Apple are so good at, Robinson asserts.
Apple is referenced often by interview subjects for this trends report, as are Nike and Coca Cola – all great brands with great social strategy that integrates seamlessly with their marketing strategies.
Starbucks is also a brand that understands customer engagement, drawing customers in by encouraging them to share their ideas for new Starbucks products and experiences. Starbucks was also one of the first brands to engage with Foursquare, providing vouchers to customers.
Social media is tightening the circle around customer care, CRM and communications. Wilkins urges brands to take a holistic view of the customer to avoid being forced in to the social domain before they are ready, through consumer behaviour.
The need for effective response in customer care in the social domain has also spawned new tools, such as Brand Embassy and Spredfast to monitor brands’ own eco-systems, particularly where customers interact with a brand across various touchpoints.
Brands that are built to be social will find it easier in this brave new world. Businesses need to move from being ‘closed’ to ‘open’, Robinson advises. An open business is one which wants to engage with clients and both employees and clients have a say in how the business is run. Robinson references First National Bank as a good example of a local South African business that is ‘open’.
A ‘closed’ organisation is one which remains rigid in policy and procedures, with a command and conquer model reminiscent of the top down management structure with centralised control, which is not open to engage on social networks.
‘Open’ organisations tend to be flatter in hierarchical structures, more flexible and open to change, allowing for internal discourse and emergent processes, encouraging of innovation. The Google way of doing business is a creative example of this.
Nielsen’s 2011 report into social media demographics and habits, pegged active social media users as being very influential offline. We all know by now that consumers often trust the recommendations of their peers, making social media an ideal platform for influencers to spread their ideas and purchase power.
Nielsen quotes NM Incite research showing that 60% of social media users create reviews of products and services. Consumer reviews and ratings are the preferred source for information about products, service, value, price and product quality. Another interesting fact is that active adult social networkers are also more likely to be active in other spheres of their lives as well, attending political rallies, professional sporting events and working out at the gym.
Global brands like Redbox, ABC News, Sears, Kraft, Coca-cola, and P&G are leveraging the power of social influencers to develop engagement and trust with potential customers, according to a report by Blogfrog on ‘Why Influencer Marketing Matters to Brands’.
“Brands now have the ability to identify key social influencers, mobilise them to create trusted content that goes beyond banner advertising, distribute that content at scale across the web on all social platforms, and measure the entire process. The combination of these trends is driving the explosive growth of ‘influencer marketing’.
Longevity is no longer a precursor for brand success, as is apparent by the latest Interbrand global Best Brands index for 2012 which includes many ‘young’ companies such as Google and Facebook in the top 100, and more established brands like BP and Blackberry falling rapidly in the rankings after blotting their brand copybook in recent years.
It’s not just the emergence of social networks over the past few years that is enabling the ‘open’ organisation, but the proliferation of smart mobile devices to enable the flow of information and content.
Angus Robinson points to a trend of ‘BYOD’ (bring your own device): “People are saying, f**k that – I want to use a device of my choosing. Business has to make a plan. People are far more able to work on tablets and far more freely. And tablets have to have those apps which are socially focussed to allow employees to collaborate on projects and ideas in an organisation.”
This is an exctract from the TREND. Dissect Socialising Enterprise report by Louise Marsland. For the full report click here.
The TREND. Dissect Socialising Enterprise report is sponsored by Quirk Education
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