Social-media marketing: Old is the new new [Social Media World Forum]

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At the Social Media World Forum Africa, held in Cape Town on Wednesday, a panel explored the often-asked question: “How can social media be integrated into traditional marketing strategies?”

The panel, moderated by our own Memeburn reporter Michelle Atagana, included Siphelele Sixaso, Head of Marketing at national news radio station SAfm, Bellinder Carreira, Senior Manager of Digital and Direct Marketing at one of South Africa’s largest banks, Standard Bank, and Sifiso Mazibuko of Habari Media.

The first point raised by the panel was a clear one: The consumer found on social media is not your average consumer.

They cannot be spoken to in the traditional way marketers have always spoken to consumers. Put succinctly: The social media consumer has the attention span of a goldfish. Be prepared to fight for their attention. Quality wins over quantity. Be different and be relevant.

It was said elsewhere in the conference: “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs explains the success of social media: The need to belong.”

The panel stressed that an individual who uses social media doesn’t do so with the intention of interacting with brands and companies. They join Twitter, Facebook or Mxit to communicate with friends, network with colleagues or to belong to a global community. Note to companies: Be real.

For a social-media campaign you need to plan ahead. An average marketing campaign may last three months but a social-media one is continuous, based around communities.

Facebook and Twitter may be free to join and use, but that does not mean that a company’s social-media execution will be free. Good social-media campaigns need good ideas, execution and community moderators.

Speak to your customer on the appropriate platform. This may be the mobile app platform MXIT for younger audiences or Twitter for an older, professional and tech-savvy audience.

Brands have to “communicate in a real way” with the social-media consumer. Mazibuko pointed out that brands need to have conversations with their customers, and added that they must know their customer and speak to them in the manner that they speak to each other.

Not so new, apparently

Social media may be new, and social-media marketing even more so, but Mazibuko stressed that “knowing your customer” is in no way new to marketing.

When new technologies come around, we tend to throw out the rule book, knowledge and expertise gathered over years. This is wrong. In many respects, all the rules that exist in respect of marketing still exist and are just as applicable to the brand-new world of social-media marketing.

Social media may be new but marketing is not. The rules that have applied for years are entirely applicable to the social-media environment. As Mazibuko put it: “Social media marketing isn’t about re-inventing the wheel. It’s doing what you’ve always done, just on a new platform.”

So when you consult the next “social-media guru”, make sure they understand the fundamentals of marketing. And if you’re confused, they’re confused.



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