Leveraging Social Media for Business Success

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The power of the digital revolution remains one of the most potent tools of our time revolutionising the way we live and do business. For businesses, the unprecedented level of access that social media platforms has dramatically changed the way they sell and market their products and services online.

They are now able to connect directly with potential customers and buyers on an individual basis, at a much lower cost than would have been the case even 20 years ago. But with great power comes great risk as Paul Gillan, an American write and speaker who advises marketers and business executives on how to use social media explains, ‘conventional marketing wisdom has long held that a dissatisfied customer tells ten people but this is out of date. In the new age of social media he or she has the tools to tell ten million’.

So what should businesses be doing with their social media? RISKAFRICA chats to Chris Nezar, Technical Lead at Entelect for some valuable insight.

 

CHOOSE YOUR PLATFORM

“Different social media platforms call for different approaches in content. Ideally a brand should be represented across several of the most popular platforms that are accessible to their user base” explains Nezar. “Twitter is a fast moving platform great for a quick comment or insight into a topical matter as it unfolds. Timing is critical on Twitter. Facebook is also fairly responsive but allows for longer pieces of content. Instagram is great for a visual brand, whilst LinkedIn is great tool for experts in a field to spread their knowledge pieces in potential niche areas like new homeowners or small business owners for example. Once you have established strong presence backed with useful and insightful articles, your opinion on topical matters will have a great deal more weight”.

 

SAY IT QUICKLY 

Larger businesses can devote more resources to great content and engagement, but smaller companies can stay ahead on faster moving platforms like Twitter explains Nezar.

“When something is quite topical in the news, for example the budget speech, people look for a quick reaction from an expert that provides play-by-play insights” says Nezar. “On Twitter the half-time of a tweet is 24 minutes, in other words you can expect half your engagement on a tweet in the first 24 minutes, and this is 90 minutes on Facebook. Due to this fast reaction time, someone like a broker or a smaller company for example can stay very reactive whilst larger companies tend to battle with reaction time as they are faced with compliance and legislation issues”

In the Insurance industry the big brands continue to dominate the social media arena, with Nezar pointing out that the likes of OUTsurance, Hollard, Discovery, and First4Women doing remarkably well and active on several platforms. “The bigger brands who are doing it well are actively engaging with their existing and potential customers and are very support centric” says Nezar.

 

SAY IT OFTEN

Post content often to keep and grow your user base, advises Nezar, who advocates the use of a scheduling tools like Buffer to help automate this process across different tools. On average one should be tweeting about 4 – 5 times a day and post 1 – 2 Facebook posts a day. Commit upfront how much you are going to do and then constantly ensure content is out there.

“Content can be reused across different platforms” says Nezar. “The one pager knowledge piece on LinkedIn can link back to the longer article on your website or blog which can then be tweeted and posted on Facebook with a visual image to maximise exposure of the article across all platforms. This not only drives traffic from social media platforms to your website or blog but requires little work.”

 

SAY IT CAREFULLY 

We are forever hearing, seeing or following celebrities who have tweeted something insensitive or controversial, Gareth Cliff being a case in point. “You have to be careful what you say on social media – saying something factual is easy and safe but giving an opinion needs careful consideration. Whatever you put online, you should be as comfortable saying it to your CEO as to your family” explains Nezar. “That said controversy often generates high engagement and may even become viral, but at your own expense if you are not careful”.

 

SAY IT CREATIVELY 

There is a lot of opportunity for people and brands to collaborate on social media and create hype and interest. A great example happened recently in the automotive industry where Mercedes Benz wished BMW, who are celebrating their 100th birthday this year, a happy birthday by thanking them for a 100 years of competition on their Instagram account. Mercedes took a tongue-in-cheek approach by implying that they had been dominating the industry and the competition has been ‘quite boring’. This was followed by more cheeky banter via traditional media between the two brands and generated a lot of engagement.

“A great example locally is Nando’s who continually drive engagement through tongue in cheek humour, satire and customer participation. Collaboration is what social media is about; sometimes asking your customers to engage is all it takes” concludes Nezar.