Is social media worth it? The World vs. South Africa

17-Dec1Let’s be frank, in any first world country if you asked this question it would be answered with puzzled faces, raised eyebrows and dismay. Not because the answer is complicated but because the answer is so straight forward that the person being asked might think you’ve fallen too many times out the silly tree.

The answer is yes of course it’s worth it, and if you think anything to the contrary then their response might sound something like “Where have you been for the last decade?”

Ask the majority of South African SMME’s the same question “Is social media worth it?” and the answers you get can be vastly different. Some might say “Yes”, but that is quickly followed by “we let our PA handle it” or worse they answer “No” and follow it up with something like “Social Media for business is a waste of money”.

Email Marketing has been around since the first electronic mail was sent in 1971 and Online Marketing has been around since the Internet was made available to the public in 1991.

Since then businesses around the globe have been steadily increasing their marketing budgets, and since 2007 the same can be said about their Social Media budgets.

Readily available statistics paint a clear picture of the penetration of not only the internet in South Africa but of social media platforms as well. There are approx. 21 million internet users in South Africa alone, 12 million Facebook users, YouTube has an estimated 7.2 million users, Twitter sits at around 6.6 million users. LinkedIn has had a massive growth of 40% from 2013, and now has an estimated 3.8 million users, while Instagram has approx. 1 million users. Scrutinise the South African e-commerce market and you will find that it is an industry worth over R4 billion. Take a second to let these numbers sink in, that’s a massive target audience isn’t it?

It’s not a question anymore of whether or not you should have an online presence, it’s a no brainer, If your business is not online you will be forgotten, it’s as simple as that.

Take a look around, how many business’s do you know that use emails or social media as a medium to communicate their specials or promotions? And how many companies sell their products or give you the option of booking and paying for anything from your car service to your year-end holiday online?

Social Media is everywhere you look, from specials at your local food retailer to it being used to cover international wars and market contenders for elections. USA President Barack Obama himself attributed his overwhelming success in 2008 to his activities on Social Media. The kicker is that his election team weren’t necessarily forward thinkers, no extraordinary geniuses either. They simply understood that the majority of voters were spending countless hours of every day online, using their mobile devices, laptops and PC’s as preferred tools to stay up to date with current events. So where best to reach them than on a social media platform that they were already using and were already accustomed to? What better way to “Market” the then presidential candidate than on Social Media.

The question to our country’s SMME’s is then, do you employ professional staff or outsource to an agency to maintain your online marketing? The responses are once again varied, from the point blank “No” to a “Yes, my PA does it”. That’s effectively saying that you would let your Doctor take a swing at fixing your car. The good doctor might be brilliant at fixing your health, but might not have a clue of what fuel injection is.

Online Marketing has become a specialist field, there are simply so many elements that go into effectively implementing a digital marketing strategy, that to burden any one person with it, who already has a job role, is online marketing suicide. Each element of a digital marketing strategy is effectively an individual job role and to get these roles to interlink takes skill.

Content creation takes finesse, Graphic design takes flair, Website and targeted Email design takes mastery and, knowing when and how to communicate/ engage on the various Social Media platforms available, takes a level of tactical thinking and ability to subtly handle each situation. If just one of these roles are incorrectly used the results could prove disastrous for your business’s online reputation.

Accurately being able to measure the effectiveness of your online performance is also critical, without a solid base of understanding, important metrics can be overlooked or incorrectly analysed, which would mean statistics that could assist in important decision making going awry.

Understandably this seems very technical and therefore very expensive; you are only half correct however.

Yes, the areas of online marketing are very technical but, when considering the benefits that your business’s bottom line would see from it, the costs are extremely low.

An example of the benefits that effective online marketing can have is in a successful campaign by Jimmy Choo, They used Twitter to promote their footwear. They used Geo-location to target potential customers, and promoted stores that stocked their products. The results? A 40% increase in positive tweets, while their sales went through the roof by 33%. Toblerone, the chocolate company, ran a carefully targeted campaign in the Philippines, persuading people to say it with candy for “National Thank You Day”. This resulted in half a million website visits, while sales of their products increased by a whopping 132%.

Let’s be honest, social media is not going to answer all of your marketing challenges, it’s also not a quick fix that can be implemented over night. But if you want to develop and qualify existing leads, build or improve your online reputation and streamline your sales cycle, which will save you money by cutting your traditional marketing spend as well as costly labour practises down the line then social media is for you and it is certainly worth it South Africa.

Should you need any guidance or further information we invite you to contact our team of specialists here or on any of our social media platforms below.
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