The social media wave has hit each industry and it is being used for all sorts of reasons. Politicians to root for support and sell their ideologies, preachers to reach those that didn’t make it to church and each business trying to get that extra customer. Each tweet, status update or comment is aimed at engaging the youthful African.
The corporate world has also seen the sharp rise and the need to ride on the wave. Social media “experts” are also on the rise and since no school certified any, they are judged by how much they can promise. Some have ended up getting it right, either learning on the job or taking case studies from the west. This will in most cases work, especially if your study was based on your industry.
Marketing managers have gone out of their traditional cocoons and thought of exploring the possibilities that social media brings. From my African social media experience, there are a few tips I have learned and I will try share what I think would make most sense for the African corporate.
1. Generic Responses Don’t Work
Each case or conversation is unique, while you may want to make your work easy by using a few generic answers to respond to questions, you will actually realize attention on you will soon start decreasing. The world is more informed now, if someone chooses social media to engage with you either for information on a product or a support case, realize they are already a smart click. Treat them as such, generic answers can be found on Google. I am the organizer of WordCamp Kenya and social media is one of the channels am using to root for sponsorship. I realize Kenya Commercial Bank is on Twitter and decide to ask them for an email address I can use to send them a proposal and the first response was actually a little annoying, the person tweeting decides to send me to the KCB foundation website. I could easily Google that if I found my way to even finding their Twitter account. I decided to engage him further and explained that I needed an email address for someone in marketing or PR. This should have clearly told the person that I was specific and I knew exactly what I was looking for from him. He decided to go further and give me another generic response (see tweet here) with the firstname.lastname@example.org email. My next response was “I give up” and I honestly stopped pursuing it.
2. Social Media Combines Sales, Support and Customer Service
Social media is a one on one conversation. There are tonnes of advantages that come with that, including direct feedback as opposed to using research companies to get product feedback. The person representing the company needs to understand the products 360 degrees. They need to be part of a marketing structure that can sell, support and give guidelines on product choice. It is better not to have social media presence that to have uninformed reps.
3. Third-party agents CANNOT run your social media presence
Am a consultant. I have a small team of people I work with to deliver to my social media clients. Our services do not include making decisions for clients, we cut across industries, we cannot understand all the industries. I can give a different strategy for different industries but running of a company’s social media presence should be left to dedicated staff. If you intend to get social media working for you, get in the mud. Understand your fans and followers and engage them directly. 3rd-party agents like myself will only give you a strategy, probably assist in growing your followers/fans but not execute it. You will fail badly if you cannot get into it yourself.
4. Facebook is not Twitter and Twitter is not Facebook
A rather oblivious statement here but trust me, I have seen businesses that use one of the above and aggregate content to the other. There is a thick line between conversation on every social network. Each is unique in its own way and how I interact on Facebook is not how I do on Twitter or Google plus. Get a strategy for each social network separately.
5. Do not spam, engage
The definition of spamming may be slightly different from what am referring to here but social media is meant to be a 2-way conversation. You post something, I respond to it – unless it is a conclusion, I expect you to continue with the conversation. Unfinished conversations end up discouraging anyone to respond to your posts even when you really need feedback. I have also seen timelines that only have links and posts that are repeated over 20 times. This is where it becomes spamming. When you post something on to my timeline, it will get my attention if it interests me. If I ignored it first time, I will ignore it the 99th time, in fact, I could just unfollow you to make sure I ignore it permanently. Spam is annoying and in most cases, people will avoid spammers.