Social Media Marketing has reached unprecedented peaks internationally. Historical fashion houses like Dior and Chanel are perhaps the most famous examples of Social Media Marketing Strategies done right.
Even institutions that in the collective mindset stand as unshakeable have reached out to Social Media Creators, like Macdonalds, American Express and various breakfast cereals.
South African businesses are only now joining the party. South African Banks, juices, and even malls are beginning to put more effort into Digital Marketing, with varied results.
This is where things are generally quite weird.
What makes for a good Social Media Strategy?
Is it a spike in sales, increased awareness, or is there more to it, more you can achieve?
Big businesses like Fanta and Mercedes Benz can afford to leave these questions unanswered. Macdonalds does not really have to change their model, their food is literally addictive. The same with American Express, they have such a buffer when it comes to awareness and recognizability they don’t have to worry.
Small businesses do not have this buffer.
Near all the business owners nowadays are aware of Social Media Marketing, few know how to do it, what it is exactly they can do, and more than anything else, Marketing is not Advertising.
Buying a banner or putting a sign up on the Highway is Advertising. Putting your name in the Yellow Pages is Advertising. Marketing is something entirely different.
Part 01 Marketing
Advertising is a mini-presentation. It is a one-side conversation that is supposed to pass information from one party to another.
It’s placing a person at a robot with a fistful of brochures.
Advertising is a big part of our lives and is definitely worthwhile, it’s worked for generations.
But people have changed how they consume information. And this is where Marketing exists.
When creating a Social Media platform for your business you need to check a few boxes.
You need to state your business, share information, and present your product: in such a way that people want it. You are not looking for someone who already intends to buy, you are creating your own demand.
This is where Dollas failed, I am not going to lie.
After roughly seven or eight months of continuous marketing, sharing and posting people are finally aware of what Dollas is. Because I am finally stating that.
When you put something as recognizable as the Big Whopper in a picture, people know what’s going on. You do not have to explain, but when you are new, this familiarity does not exist. It is essentially the job of a Social Media Marketer to CREATE recognizability.
It took me some time to get this personally. We actively pursued recognizability over sales for months, both intentionally and by accident.
We wanted to establish a Lifestyle Brand. Now the word Brand is overused and I am not a fan of it, but when real people started asking us ‘What is Dollas, what do you do exactly?’ we knew something was working.
We achieved recognizability, ironically because no one knew what we were doing.
Then two weeks ago, I changed our strategy.
From sharing pretty pictures and going to events, I finally shared our story. Our business.
I did the boxes all askew.
I shared information, presented the product without context, and then made a business statement. So this puts me in an odd place.
We are making sales now, people are coming directly to us. Is it because of the months of ‘brand building’ or the much clearer statement of business? I cannot say.
But here is a simple truth; people like looking at beautiful things, and they want beautiful things.
Part 02 Purpose
Our model from the beginning was unsure, we did not know what we can do or how to do it. In all transparency, we did not have a ‘business plan’ when we started. Although staying fluid is also important.
Everyone told us to deliver meals, warm meals for locals. We did not want to, we wanted to sell salt and sauces, frozen vegan products, and now we make meals and we are operating within a new model, one that we make up as we go along.
It is my job to share the model, instead of as before creating something we did not entirely understand ourselves.
Social Media Marketing is only as good as a strategy, and a strategy is only as good as your Marketing.
In my work with Embroiderdee I got a chance to do things a bit differently.
Embroiderdee is run by Denise Grenfell, a lady who developed a passion for embroidery in her spare time and then took things seriously. She hired me as her Social Media Marketer, but I am an employee, I am part of her business, and as passionate about it as she is.
Her business has grown from one outlet in the Village to reaching out to Coffee Shops all over the Vaal, starting with Creative Talents Head Office in Vereeniging.
She is developing collaborations with local businesses and has reached 300 followers on her Social Media. She has gotten orders through the page and increased interest. The last couple of months Embroiderdee has grown exponentially, and most of it cannot be attributed to my involvement, but her bravery.
Yet, these two businesses are wildly different, with fundamentally different audiences and goals…
It is my job to best articulate the intentions of the owners, so the interested parties can find it.
Dollas work with vegan food, people like knowing where their food comes from, and recently people want it delivered directly to them, cooked and ready. Embroiderdee works with custom gifts and specialized personalization, people want reliable and unique, for things so personal, a different strategy is required.
Part 03 Input vs Outcome
Now, let me tell you exactly what it is I do.
I take beautiful pictures, I film videos, I edit the photos and make movies. Then I put them online, share them, and interact with people.
A good Social Media Marketer obsesses, stalks and constantly checks and re-checks. Tags and shares, posts and shares, and tags and shares. Every platform has a different audience, people respond differently to posts on Facebook than they would on Instagram. It is important to bear in mind every app and program has it’s own ‘language’ and you must get in with the crowd, and you have to find out where you stand in that market.
It sounds fairly straightforward like anyone can do it. As someone who believes anyone can learn anything, I agree but, unfortunately, the whole idea of Social Media Marketing centers around communication.
And for all humankind’s achievements we, collectively, men and women, mother and child, father and grandchildren, suck at communication.
It is a work that never stops, littered with pitfalls and easy mistakes.
But when done correctly, the outcome can translate into the Real World. Personally I think this is why South Africans are trepidatious about Social Media Marketing. Firstly, we are all a bit more paranoid than Americans, we tend to overthink things and platforms like Facebook are always going to be scary.
But everyone likes to be in on something, a secret, the VIP section, a promise, a surprise. And Social Media done correctly lets you in, into a community, into a business, into a million different things.