Social Media - Money maker or money spender - Some tips (August 2017)

Published August 2017

What are the top tips I can offer to improve your social media accounts for business?

Can you become an Instagram celebrity?

Can your company benefit from social media?

There are so many question related to this relatively new form of marketing, but for me there really is only one good question when dealing with a client’s social media.

“Is adding your company to the social web a money making or money spending exercise?”

There is nothing ‘social’ about Social Media Marketing. Let me explain with fruit. How you eat an apple is not the same way you eat a banana. Sure, you can try eating all fruits the same way, but chances are it won’t be as good and you might look like a fool eating an unpeeled banana because you’re trying to eat it the same way you eat an apple.

My brother, one of them anyway – there are eight siblings in total, is convinced that he can become a product ambassador if he reaches enough followers on social media. He works in the modelling industry and has a very active YouTube channel. If you consider that what he is trying to achieve has happened to others, as well as my experience in endorsements and corporate brand promoters, I am hopeful for him. However, I know that it is not a walk in the park…or even a stroll up a hill or even a mountain climb up the steepest slopes on Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

The amount of people on the social web that make it big, compared to those who try and don’t, are such a small percentage it has to be similar odds to winning the lottery, which, if you want to know, is 1 in 13,983,816 or 1 shot in almost 14 million.

The first recognizable social media website was Six Degrees and was created in 1997. The website allowed users to upload a profile and make friends with other users. It was very simplistic, nothing like Facebook. Then in 1999 the very first blogging website started to become really popular, which created a social media buzz. In my opinion, however, it has taken a backseat to online sharing platforms like Facebook.

Social media, by my definition, is a platform that uses the Internet to post information about oneself, either by way of text, image or video in either static or live streaming methods, which, in one way or another, allows people to share or comment on the content.

Social media for business operates in a similar way. However, depending on the platform there is generally a limited or reduced experience or offering of functions. You could also group business networking websites to this category, which are more focussed…but which, in a broad sense, could still form part of social media.

There are many platforms out there, but we can still broadly divide the social media platforms into websites and apps. Yes, some have both. For those of you that are interested, the current list, at the time of this article, can be viewed on this page. (LINK)

There is greater usage and attention on the individual user platforms than business or work based platforms.

Currently the top social media apps are:

  • WhatsApp: the most popular way to talk to people around the world. I believe this app will be able to compete with Facebook if, somehow, it designs and incorporates a platform integrated with its current user-base that allows for sharing of profiles and creates a website platform simpler and more trendy than Facebook.
  • WeChat: Its biggest usage is in China. I’ve never used it, but I know it’s a biggy with Gareth.
  • SnapChat: Some people believe this social media platform is the future, but I don’t think so.
  • Twitter: This platform is not really doing very well for individuals but is still excellent for news, in my opinion.
  • Vine: This is a social platform for entertainment really.
  • Kik: This one makes messaging easy and (potentially) anonymous.
  • Facebook: It is the most popular app of all time…depending on how you define popular.
  • Tumblr: This is social blogging. It came before Instagram, and appears to be used for less controlled and sometimes even less tasteful media.
  • Instagram: it is doing great for both personal and business brands. A more edited and neater version of Tumblr, but with fewer functions.

Visual overview:

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

Some stats:

Most popular social media websites: You can click on the links to be directed to their platforms online.

Monthly visitors
Facebook 2,000,000,000
YouTube 1,000,000,000
Instagram 700,000,000
Twitter 313,000,000
Reddit 250,000,000
Vine (In January 2017, The Vine became the Vine Camera) 200,000,000
Pinterest 150,000,000
Ask.fm 160,000,000
Tumblr 115,000,000
Flickr 112,000,000
Google+ 111,000,000
LinkedIn 106,000,000
VK 90,000,000
ClassMates 57,000,000
Meetup 30,300,000


Visual representation:

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

Worldwide representation:

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

What is interesting is that the FB has a monopoly of ownership for the most used platforms.

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

I thought it might be interesting to take a quick look at the landscape of social media accounts in South Africa. In terms of the amount of users and taking into account that we have a population of over 54 million, usage is really very high.

  • 13 million Facebook users.
  • 8.28 million YouTube users – this I found interesting.
  • 7.4 million Twitter users.
  • 2.68 million Instagram users. I really expected this to be closer if not higher than Twitter. I hear so many people say Twitter is dead … apparently not.

Those with Big Followings:

The biggest twitter accounts in SA are Elonmusk, Elon Musk (@elonmusk) with 10 651 118 followers. Followed by Trevornoah, Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) 7 110 097 followers. All the top positions are individuals. The largest business profiles are News24, News24 (@News24) with 2 299 543 followers and SuperSportTV, SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) with 1 871 364 followers.

It is perhaps of some interest that the top profiles are males, followed by businesses, then followed by females.

On Instagram, which has far less users, there are five that are doing well.

  1. @theworldsyoungestman – Images of Cape Town.
  2. @Bonang_M - Female TV celeb.
  3. @drizzleanddip - Lifestyle.
  4. @rowaneva - Also lifestyle.
  5. @ben_kaufman - Photographer - a lot of attention on Cape Town.

It is interesting that none of the big names have anything to do with business.

In fact, during my research it was hard to find success stories of large companies that have made it big due to social media. Social media, it appears, is generally more helpful for SMMEs.

Now that a broad picture is painted of our local social media landscape, what advice can I give a business wanting to use social media to improve sales?

First of all, I do not believe that social media improves sales for most businesses. I believe it can foremost improve brand awareness for most companies. It costs less than traditional printed media and it is certainly more effective, because it offers shareable information.

That is really the greatest value for a business. Repeat marketing at no extra cost. Considering that a banner poster, around 1.5m x 3m in size, at an international airport in South Africa costs roughly over R250 000 for the space, and that’s before printing costs. Compared to a Facebook post that targets travellers who use airports will cost as little as R25 000 and achieve the same amount of eyes, and at a time in which people are more prepared to hear the message. If they like the message the method of online marketing allowed them to share the information.

Social media for businesses, therefore, has to be shareable, to maximize money and time used as well as be likable by target clients, at the same time.

The hard part is working out who you want to be liked by. As with life, you don’t want to be friends with everyone… some people are just not good for you.

Not to complicate things, but there are two side to every coin. I can also advise if you don’t want to be likable, for whatever reason. Perhaps because it is irrelevant for your product, let’s say, for example, toilet paper. Your social media can rather focus on communication. Social media allows for communication and engagement with the business. Again this is an advantage over traditional marketing. Rather have social media than not, even if its purpose is to speed up customer complaint resolutions.

With that said, in order to get social media to work for your business it is important that you understand its abilities, know its limitations and have a strategy that compliments your target clientele while boosting your brand, product or service almost simultaneously.

You have to be both social and clever. This is not something everyone can be… I know I can’t. This means, I might want to assign certain tasks to someone who is socially witty and enjoys chatting to other people hour on hour. Don’t be the weakest link in your chain. It’s not only to be a social butterfly. Rather find someone who is happy to be paid to do this and is happy to learn your product or service. Accept that old style marketing methods, companies and personal just don’t know what they are doing. Remember, how you eat an apple is not the same way you eat a banana.

Whoever runs your social media has to ensure your target audience’s interests come before your service or product. Their likes are more important than your wants.

Their likes are your foot in the door.

Once they are in your shop you can get them to look at what you have on offer … not before.

The ways in which you propose your product or service also need to come across differently than traditional marketing. First and foremost, it has to be entertaining, likable and shareable, and finally offer a solution to their wants and needs.

Business has changed. Previously, your client might have taken a drive to your nearest competitor, now they are simply a scroll away, a click at most. Social media might be more intrusive, more in the face of potential shoppers, but it is also allows them to totally ignore you and move without hesitation. It’s less effort now with more choice of clients. While clients have the power to move on to something new quickly, we have the power to track them, their trends…build a profile and use it to build the perfect marketing. There are ways of tracking what you like, dislike, where you go and who you spend time with. There is, as you read this article, a digital profile of you, on many social media sites and company databases. Social media has to learn who you are and can then offer you what you want. The user has no control of this. It is twenty-four hours, ever tracking.

This twenty-four hour social web day creates a new challenge. An average work day is eight hours…not for social media. For social media it is a twenty-four hour a day…constantly working. Remember, putting your business online and allowing people to like you also means you allow them to dislike you. So while you might be prepared to only answer a sales order the next morning, you might not be so happy to leave a negative post up all night.

With all the above said and done, it is time for advice and it comes with the following disclaimers:

  • What I have written here is not about getting thousands of followers, it is about getting as many potential clients as possible.
  • I believe rather have less traffic with greater interest in your service or product, than higher traffic who don’t give a damn about your offering. It is not going to serve your business at all. (unless you are a model, and the goal is simply to have lots of fans, their common like being you)
  • Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for how to get social media followers. I know there are services out there that will artificially boost your follower numbers and some dodgy shortcuts, which have become the norm, but what’s the point?

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

My tips:

  1. Profiling.

    This is the most important step for a business. It will maximise your investment of time and money and increase chances of engagement with those who are likely to become clients.

    Research. Create a profile of who you want to attract, of those who actually want your product or service.

    Ages, languages, likes, dislikes, locations. Let this information influence all your posts and branding.
  2. Purpose.

    Be very clear to yourself about the purpose of your social media. Keep true to this purpose.
  3. Planning.

    Don’t skip steps:

    Create strategy,
    Set up,
    Roll out,
    Reasonable targets,
    Assessments and tweaking.

  4. Use your accounts foremost to offer first time viewers the opportunity to offer feedback, to communicate their experiences … everyone loves sharing their opinion.
  5. Extend your social media reasoning to offer value added return:

    First to know about promotions, or
    First to know about updates on options,
    First to know about awards or gifts.

  6. Depending on the type of service or product, you can also let followers know they will also be the first to know about problems for service.

    I know this might sound odd, but rather a client be notified of issues by you first than have to investigate and report issues. The truth is, no logical person really believes a service is without risk.

    If you can advise a client of a problem in advance a lot of damage can be reduced.
  7. Always follow through.

    This means when there is a published offering, and a follower responds, likes or engages make sure you reply. If you don’t, it can be social media suicide and the death of a follower.
  8. Remember, followers start to like you for a reason.

    This reason is often once off.

    Only 50% of your work is done. You need to continue to add value to keep them as a follower.

    This requires a plan, work and some brains. So many people work hard to get followers.

    You need to almost spend 75% of your time servicing your current followers and 25% of your time gaining new ones.
  9. Ask yourself before you click post or publish:

    “would this help my profiled client?”

    “would this entertain or invoke an emotion in my profiled client?”

    “is this relevant to my brand or product - complementary?”

    “is the information current and trending?”

    – if you can answer yes to all four, you are going to get a good result in the long run.
  10. Do not spam your followers.

    1-2 posts a day… MAX
    This is a good general rule across all platforms.
  11. If you are taking over an old account, try removing bad posts or posts that suggest repetition.

    A lot of people view your social media history over a few weeks before they follow. Make sure it shows an original story or variety.
  12. Delete negative posts from users that you cannot constructively respond to. Keep a few.

    Delete the rest.
    Writing this suggestion makes me feel like I am censoring media, but you need to paint the very best picture possible. Keep a few negative posts, which you have constructively responded to. Anyone abusive or comments without supportive fact, remove.
  13. Start with viewing your online competitors. If you can, use a private account.
    See who their followers are, see what they like, where they go. Use this data to expand your target follower’s profile.
  14. Balance act.

    Try and balance your posts.

    No one wants to hear only about you. 5 posts about their likes, (based on client profile)
    2 posts about what you like, (based on client profile)
    1 promotional post.

  15. Time and location.

    Target locations that your profiled follower prefers. This not only means physical locations but also devises and the types of social media platforms.

    What time is best to post? See when your followers are most active. Again, this comes from creating a profile from your target clients. If you sell sleeping tablets don’t do a post in the afternoon. Try late evening, early morning, when you know your insomnia client is wide awake on Facebook because they can’t sleep.
  16. If you can, don’t tell your story all at once, always tease. Offer pieces of cake. Then make them get a little hungry. Sort of like when a waiter walks past your table at a restaurant with someone else’s food. Let them see the food, but don’t always put it on the table.
  17. Our brains process images faster than text. Apparently.

    So, always try adding a visual. It is fact that images are shared on social media more than text.

    Here is an excellent guide in creating visuals and posts: https://coschedule.com/blog/non-designers-blog-graphics-guide/
  18. Create simple post structures in your text and images.

    It takes 2.5 seconds to view one post on average. How is your post going to stand out from the 1500 posts they might see on that day? How….Relevance and evoking an emotion. Be original. this can sometimes be difficult, for example:

    “The sun is shining bright today”
    “Man, it so bright out here I have to wear sunglasses”
    “Put on sunscreen today, everyone”

    All three of the above suggest it is probably not a rainy day…

    Some of the lines are more entertaining or original in the way they suggest this information.
  19. Use promotions to boost engagement. Obviously.
  20. Post about trending events or news.

    Write the news in your own message.

    If you can piggy back the trend. Do so.

    do not surf a wave when you really should not be surfing. If your service has nothing at all to do with the topic, wait for the next wave.
  21. Ask for a response.

    A call to action is so important.

    It might sound simple but few people do it.
    Normally asking for an opinion gets the most responses.
  22. Tag, tag and tag.

    Tag relevant interests to your profiled followers. This will increase followings a lot more than tagging trends only, and the follower is more likely to stay with you longer.
  23. Some tricks to get more follows are to participate in popular conversations, or hang out in digital spaces your competitors do.

    Liking other people’s posts, and leaving comments – sure win.
  24. Work on ways to get your account easily discoverable and make sure your bio / profile is excellent.
  25. When you do paid advertising, focus only on your profile client.
  26. Save time.

    Don’t reinvent the wheel.

    Check what competitors are doing, and improve on that.

    Synchronize accounts to save time. Use technology.
  27. Video up.

    This is going to be SO important. No videos…. Less traffic.


    Edit videos easily using:
  28. Remember free momentum.

    Platforms can punt your posts for free.

    16 million businesses are using Facebook marketing.
    Social media is going to grow. Family and friends get priority with natural rankings. Facebook ranks content in terms of priority of the below points, and most other platforms will also add priority.

    • Who posted it.
    • How people engaged with it.
    • Nature of post.
    • When it was posted.

    Bounce rate and relevance is also important.
    Live posts are also given priority at immediate time.
    Reach drops if u post more than 3 times in 24 hours.

Published August 2017

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