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March 25 / Digital Marketing

Covid-19: Why your social media marketing can’t slack now

The world is finding itself in an uncertain whirlwind like we’ve never experienced in our lifetime. Even so, characteristically, South Africans are constantly on the lookout for the silver linings, the opportunities and the glimmers of hope.

While our extraordinary ability to stay positive is what will get us through this lockdown, the entire The Social Media Company team want to take a moment to express our deepest condolences to all those families whose lives will be irreversibly impacted by this situation. We would like to express our sympathies to all those who lose loved ones during this time, as well as to all the small and micro-business owners who are feeling the brunt of the economic impact that this situation is causing.

In the end, our country, communities and businesses will come out stronger and more united than ever before.

In times like these, the last thing you want to do is decrease your marketing efforts – especially your social media strategy. In fact, here are some very valid reasons why you should want to increase your social media focus during this time:

1. People will be spending more time on social media than ever before

We have already seen reports from Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon and Disney, saying that they are experiencing enormous increases in online traffic from all countries where social distancing is enforced.

With the country on lockdown, and most people staying at home, more time will be spent on social media than ever before. Never again will you have such a large audience simultaneously browsing the internet.

2. You do not want to lose the traction

As you know, everything on the internet works on algorithms. When it comes to social media, the key thing to remember is that when people don’t interact with your page over a period, they start seeing your content less and less. The longer the period of time since someone saw or interacted with any of your content, the smaller the chances are of them seeing any of your future content.

If you put your social media strategy on hold for two or three months, and only then pick up again, you will have lost most of the traction you’ve built up so far, and will have to spend additional resources to get it back on track. Whatever else people have been seeing online over that period will be foremost in their minds – not your brand.

3. People will only be able to interact with you online

Digital community management in a time like this is more important than ever! Since people cannot come to your store, visit your office or even contact your call centre, social media will probably be the only way for anyone to communicate with you.

4. You need to be a part of the conversation

More than ever before, people are checking social media for updates about the state of things and the latest news about the virus. We need to keep an eye out for the online trends and make sure that, where possible, we can be a part of the conversation.

5. Sympathy for businesses is high right now

The general public is very sympathetic towards business owners at the moment. They understand the tremendous pressure businesses are facing during this time. Where advertising can sometimes almost reach a point of annoyance, people are now encouraging business to promote themselves and their needs.

6. There are opportunities

This is the time to focus on some parts of your digital strategy that you might not always get time for.

Already, we are starting to feel a renewed sense of excitement. In a way, the current situation is forcing all of us to do some introspection and evaluate our lives.

This, situation, as nerve-wracking as it might be, again reminded us why we do what we do. We started The Social Media Company because of an unrelenting passion for helping entrepreneurs, businesses and organisations to reach their full potential. In these troubling times, we can do so, even more than ever.

You might be on lockdown, but that does not mean your brand has to be!


September 13 / Digital Marketing

Your online competitors are not equal to your offline competition

When launching a website for your business or joining a social media platform like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, an important consideration is the activity of your online competitors. This is not unlike how you would go about things when opening a brick and mortar business.

During the initial meetings between The Social Media Company and a new client, we always ask the client to list their competitors. We then conduct some research and compile a competitors list of our own. The two lists rarely, if ever, look the same.

For starters, the list compiled by our research team is almost always longer.

Why is this?

This is often one of the most challenging digital marketing aspects for businesses new to social media or the internet in general.

Let’s break it down…

An example

The businesses used in the example are real, respected, South African businesses. We are not affiliated with either of them, and while there are many other factors to consider, they will help to explain this scenario.

In the “real world”, Vodacom and Edgars have very little in common. Most people would not consider them competitors at all. For one, they don’t even operate in the same industry. Vodacom is a telecoms network, while Edgars a clothing department store. However, in the online space they do compete.

This is how…

Differentiators only matter once a person is already on your website or social media profile.
While Edgars is well-known as a clothing retailer, in recent years they’ve also started selling cellphones, tablets and even laptops. The offering, however, differs from Vodacom in the sense that Edgars only sells cash devices with prepaid SIM cards and thus do not offer monthly contracts.

Offline, these two businesses do not directly compete. In fact, the cellphones sold by Edgars are often supplied by Vodacom and come with a Vodacom SIM card. If anything, they are business partners and not competitors.

Nevertheless, they are competing for the same audience and the same clicks in the online realm. They both feature devices on their website and post about their cellphone deals on social media.

Words really matter on the internet

If you search for anything on the internet, you use words. You might, for example, type the following phrase into Google: “Samsung J1 for sale”. Google will then collect all the websites that contain those words or similar phrases. It also sorts all the results into an order it deems most relevant.

Since Vodacom features the words Samsung J1 on their website, they will be a part of the results, and so will Edgars, since they, too, have the words Samsung J1 on their site.

What other sites might be included in the results when you search this phrase? Perhaps other networks like MTN, Smartcom, Takealot, Gumtree, or FNB?

The results might even include a news site like MyBroadband and a cellphone repair shop which don’t sell Samsung J1s, but simply repair them.

This not only impacts your search engine rankings but also paid advertising.
When you run any paid advertising campaigns online, like Facebook ads, you are also competing with businesses you might not necessarily regard as competitors. A local veterinarian and a local pet shelter might both run an ad that includes the phrase: “Help to save cats”. While these two businesses do not offer the same service, the internet hardly knows the difference. Chances are they are also both targeting people who love cats.

This competition will affect the cost of your ad campaigns.

Location is more and less important online

Location, location, location. Offline, location is everything. Someone is most likely to shop at your business if your store or office is conveniently located. In other words, someone is most likely to shop at your business if it is, for example, easy to reach, located close by, located at a visible and busy spot in the mall and so on.

The internet has gotten very smart, and it mostly tries to provide its users with local options. Thus, it is important to make sure that the internet knows where you are based. With that said, the internet does allow people to shop for products and services outside of their direct environment.

This presents both opportunities and challenges for businesses. A candlemaker from Parys can sell their products over the internet to customers in Johannesburg. At the same time, a candlemaker from Johannesburg can also compete for customers in Parys.

On social media both businesses might be competing for the same likes and attention from the same audience, even though they are situated in different towns.

Think outside the box

When considering your competitors online, whether for SEO purposes, paid advertising campaigns or content creation, it is important to think further than you would with traditional marketing.

One way of minimising online competition is to find ways in which you can collaborate with business partners and businesses targeting similar audiences.

The internet is here to make friends, not enemies. It is called social media for a reason.