Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  17 Mar 2010

INFOTECH: Facebook and Twitter Are Being Rapidly Adopted for Marketing


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South African businesses are rapidly adding social media marketing sites like Facebook and Twitter to their advertising and marketing budgets while the list of those using Skype to cut travel and call costs is rising rapidly.

Nando’s as an example, has 307 461 fans on Facebook, marketing manager Sylvester Chauke says “media is free but attention is not.” He says it requires persistent thought and hard work. A newcomer to Facebook marketing is cellphone payment company, Pocit, managing director, Dave Reynders said,”growth was initially slow, until we realised that this is not a static medium, it requires consistent thought and attention.”

Liza van Wyk of AstroTech whose training company runs a new course on social marketing media said: “we began devising the course when we began considering using social media marketing and realised neither we nor our consultants were very certain about what to do or which social marketing media were the best to use.

“Once we began investigating it we realised it was a challenging undertaking that turns traditional marketing and advertising concepts on their heads. Creating a “buzz” makes social media marketing work – it is whether you can provoke conversations with the public in ways that grab their attention. Hard sell is a turn off.”

And social marketing media popular now could lose favour in a few years; both MySpace and LinkedIn are seeing dwindling popularity, as examples. Futurist author, Raymond Kurzweil says that in the first 20 years of the 21st century we will experience as much technological change as in all of the 20th century and by 2027 it will take only seven years to experience as much technological change as in the entire 20th century.

Ford now spends a quarter of its marketing budget on digital and social media and Kodak employs a ‘listener” to track and respond to social marketing media. A key trend is that consumers, newly empowered by social media marketing use it to hail good products and good service and to slam those they don’t like.

Dell computers, as an example, found that when it first had a Facebook presence it was inundated with complaints, however, by promptly responding to them, it has turned the tide from overwhelming complaints to praise and it has used feedback to help it create better products.

“Many companies grow their initial exposure on Facebook or Twitter by offering discounts or special deals, having competitions or give-aways. It is a good starting strategy but over the long term it has to be backed by a brand that consumers trust and like,” Van Wyk says.

Nando’s, as an example, trades on its cheeky television and print ads to drive a reasonably tame Facebook site that tells consumers about special deals. “Social media marketing builds a fan base on existing goodwill to the brand, it then further influences consumers on sites like Facebook and Twitter,” Van Wyk said.

Web commentator, Mitch Joel of Six Pixels of Separation writes that: “Making the social channels 'work' for you takes months of providing value and being a part of their community. Social Media is not a silver bullet. There are not countless uninformed consumers floating around in some world called Web 2.0 just waiting for you to sell them your wares. People engaged in these online social channels are not looking for your advertising, they're looking for engagement.”

Jennifer Laycock of Search Engine Guide says any business who values social media traffic solely by looking at how many buyers or leads it produces is short sighted. “People don't wake up one day, decide they want a widget, take a direct route to get to it and make an immediate purchase. Tracking social media metrics as if they do leaves far too much value sitting out in the cold.”

Van Wyk says, “Consumers are much fussier, in future 60% of them will access social media marketing on their cellphones, they can switch off and on at will. Already 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations and only 14% trust ads. Social media marketing taps into that.

“Other changes are coming: already 100m Facebook users (Facebook has 500m users) access it from their cellphones. So the challenge is to make small, high impact messages. And video is becoming increasingly prevalent – YouTube, as an example, serves up 1bn videos a day and by 2013 most online traffic will be video.”

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