Whose Tweet Is It Anyway? : I don’t have all the answers

The ‘Whose tweet is it anyway’ editorial was a very interesting read and it touches on various points which are could be debated and discussed for hours on end, especially by people who are interested in social media and what it means for companies, its brands as well as it employees. Some companies have captured and understood the importance of putting in place different structures that better fit the changing times and generations and other have just disregarded the changing times and remained the same and made small and insignificant changes to a fast evolving society.

This editorial goes in to detail and gives examples of brands that have had encounters with the changing dynamics of the personal and business space, due to the exponential growth of online usage by individuals. All individuals who have online profiles whether on Twitter, Facebook and other social media are considered brands, and therefore one could argue that when they join a company the businesses brand and the individuals (personal) brand, are in partnership and therefore should be treated accordingly. Many companies I believe do not consider the importance of individuals brand and how it can easily affect its own brand, and therefore company policies should adapt to this new spread and access of information, in this current generation.

My favourite example in the book, was the example given of radio dj’s and how they used company time (Radio slots) to advertise their personal twitter handles and blogs, but when that individual leaves they take their following with them, Gareth Cliff and Anele Mdoda are examples of such. I know numerous people who watch cliff central and list to 94.7fm, simply because those two radio dj’s told their followers about their move and new journey, and stuck with them. Leaving 5fm with less followers, although had those two dj’s not have been 5fm dj‘s, the possibility that they would have such a huge following decreases largely, therefore the question is; who do the followers belong to?

5 ways to Benchmark on Social: Take notes

Measuring progress is critical, like any other marketing tools, social media platforms have metrics that can be used to measure the successes and failures of content that a brand posted, it cannot be left to guess work as measuring a brands progress is essential in improving a brands social performance and ensuring that things that do not work for the brand are not used. Reach and engagement although significant are not the only ways in which a brands performance on social media platforms can be benchmarked, there are 5 other ways in which brands can measure their performance and in doing so find methods that work and strategies that can be improved or changed.

  1. Direct competitor Benchmarking

This method of benchmarking is the most common, it refers to benchmarking ones brand against its real market competitors, brands that are competing with them for sales and face similar challenges in the industry. The goal of using this benchmark is to determine what makes your competitors thrive and fail and what insight can be taken from those findings, in order to give your brand the competitive advantage.

  1. Indirect competitor Benchmarking

It is essential not to measure yourself against just your direct competitor but against other industry competitors, the aim is to understand where your brand stands in relation to the whole industry. Seeing the bigger picture always helps in knowing the level of influence that competitors have, and the tone and style of your brands industry, to ensure you keep on par, with consumer expectations.

  1. Landscape Benchmarking

Landscape benchmarking, although useful is the least utilised method of benchmarking for social media performances. It requires researchers and analyst as competitors are created by dividing them into non-tradition segments. Ultimately tracking that market and establishing and benchmarking that share market to determine how those brands perform and how their messages are delivered.

  1. Historical Benchmarking

Historical benchmarking is undervalued; most brands do not understand the significance of analysing ones past performances, to improve current and future social media performances. Know how success is defined for your brand, by looking at past records, as well as avoid making similar mistakes made in the past. Unlocking insights in negative and positive engagement: Why people block, unfollow, mute the brand and why certain content is more successful.

  1. Platform Benchmarking

Each platform used for social media has its own metrics and specific means to measure various performances. This benchmark gives the brand an opportunity to see which brands, no matter which industry they are in, are excelling in that specific platform; what they do to cut through the noise, how platforms are being utilised and what content seems to work for the brands that are excelling on the various social platforms. Although at times the brand you use to measure your brand against may seem out of place the percentages are relevant regardless the size because at the end of the day, all the brand are competing for share of voice, on social media networks.

Ultimately the aim of benchmarking/measuring ones performance on social media, is to gain insights and in doing so learning more about the brands community; what they like, what works best, what they react to and ignore, knowledge that can and should help improve the social reputation and presence of a brand, on any/all social media platforms, that they exist on.

POPI: The Evolving SA Law

Protection of Personal Information (POPI) act is a bill, which hopes to be passed soon in South Africa and it effect social media in South Africa. The POPI act aims to protect individuals’ personal information from misuse by companies and was established in order to ensure that private information is securely collect, processed and stored, to ensure that keeping private information is a priority to South African businesses. The POPI act consists of eight information protection principles, that will be discussed briefly, with some of mine own personal thoughts of the act and how it will affect the social media in South Africa.

The POPI act includes principles such as accountability, processing limitation; which states that a company may not use consumers’ personal information without their consent and their awareness of the purpose of how the information will processed and used. Purpose specification and further processing limitation are other principles that make up the POPI act, and they limit the use of private information unless the company is specific and defines what it will be used for as well as ensure that what the information will be used for is explicit and legitimate.  The quality of information is essential, it must be update regularly and on the request of the individual and when the information becomes no longer relevant to the company, the information may no longer be processed. Openness and security are important principles in ensuring that the private information gathered is safe guarded, kept secure and that it is the company’s’ responsibility to ensure that there is openness between the business and the individual, who supplied the private information, and that this information is not compromised. Finally the data collected can and should be changed and/or deleted upon request of the person, who has supplied the company with the personal information; the company must assist with this request and adhere to the demands of the consumer.

When the above principles that make up the POPI act are applied to social media in South Africa, it is evident that social media agency’s need to be aware of the information that is governed under the POPI act and act according to the necessary principles. All information shared privately, via instant message, and direct message are governed  under the POPI act and therefore brands, need to ensure that they do not accidently publicise information that was meant to be private, between the brand and the consumer, although information that is put on a public platform automatically falls outside the POPI act protection. Companies in South Africa will have one year to comply to the rules and principles of the POPI act, with a few exceptions, the editorial concludes by sharing information about practical steps to follow to ensure that your brand (personal or otherwise) complies with POPI act.

The social gap: Keeping the Brand Promise

Before the times of social media platforms, such as twitter and Facebook, after going through a bad customer service experience or buying a product that didn’t live up to the standards advertised, a customer could only complain to their family and friends, and since the rise and acceptance of various social media platforms, individuals are able to complain and the possibility of thousands of people hearing about it are exceptional. Brands who have social presence have to be careful the kind of service they promise and the kind of service is received, as this creates frustration within their customers and the convenience of have social media to complain to and about the brand, increases chances that the brand image will take a hit. As great as social media is, especially its ability to make brands “available” around the clock, it does have its disadvantages and if not dealt with in an efficient manner, social media can make a brands image worse rather than better.

Two problems that are identified in the Social service gap editorial are:

  1. Marketing is the promise department

This means that the marketing department creates adverts and campaigns that exaggerate the quality of the product and services of various brands, and often fall short in delivering this promises that have been made.

  1. Forget to tell client service what has been promised

A lack of communication between departments’ results in a divide, and this because of the industrial business age, the separation of departments creates more trouble for the brand and the consumers. Therefore two separate brand promises come through from the different departments, which create a brand that is schizophrenic and lacks consistency in its various touch points with the customer.

The quality of the customer experience should be consistent throughout the consumers contact journey with the brand, and the social service gap becomes incredibly more evident, when looking at the customers’ offline and online journey. The online experience is often more efficient, as there are community managers who manage brand social platforms, who are well trained and therefore can assist more effectively, to someone who tweets a problem and ask for assistance and the gap is when the same efficiency and sense of urgency is not practiced at the physical touch points of the brand customer journey.

Brands need to realise the significance of not just advertising online, but become more humanised, especially when dealing with customer service queries; such as investigating a query and finding out who is wrong, the customer or the brand, and if the customer is wrong make them aware of their mistake and let them know they can still contact the brand for help and if it is the brand that is wrong, the brand needs to admit it’s wrong doing and apologise, because people are more understanding and forgiving than brands give them credit for.

Although social networks are great sources to encourage conversation with current and prospective customers, they are also cheap and easy ways for brands to get customer feedback, in order to better their products and services, yet not having a social presence may reduce negative impact on the brand, as the brand is not as accessible and therefore does not invite criticism on social networks it does not exist on. Even if brands do not have a social presence it will not stop a disgruntled customer, they will complain to whoever is willing to listen including Facebook friends and twitter followers and the only way to ensure the social service gap is decreased is to ensure that departments are not separated, as they need each other to ensure that one brand promise is portrayed to the consumers.

Social Identity: The way I see it

We all need and want to know who we are, what we feel and think because these are factors that contribute to our identities as individuals. Our identities allow us to know, how react to people, how we act, how we talk; by a certain age, we (hopefully) become more self-aware of whom we are as individuals. Some people often have different personalities on and offline, and they say and do things online that they wouldn’t offline.  When discussing a brands social identity it becomes bad practice for brands to be schizophrenic, meaning they say and do stuff online that they would never do or endorse offline.

A Brands identity needs to be consistent, when dealing with both offline and online communication with its consumers and/or followers, its personality, actions, reactions, speech and other factors that make up a person’s/brands identity have to remain recognisable on all its communication platforms.  The social identity editorial discusses the importance of ensuring that a brand is not schizophrenic and that the brand remains consistent on all its various platforms of communication. It further includes a Cerebra framework on how a brands’ social identity can be created and the factors that are important to consider before a brand is active on social networks.

What I have drawn from this editorial is that when dealing with a brand , a social profile on a social media platform, is not as simple as having your own social profile; as you can tweet, post statuses and post pictures as you please, not being held to any accountability besides by maybe a few family and friends. A brand as big as Coca Cola is accountable to all its shareholders both internal and external, and therefore will be held accountable by millions of people, therefore Coca Cola cannot afford to have different identities across different communication platforms. People and/or brands that have different personalities when it best suits them become untrustworthy, because nobody trusts somebody who is not consistent and who has too many identities, who chops and changes who they are when it suits them.

This is one of my favourite topics; it’s amazing how much goes into creating a social reputation for a brand and the admin behind sending out one single tweet and Facebook post as well as replying to queries and complaints, before I got to Cerebra (and read this eBook), I really thought I could have run Absa’s, Vodacom’s, Coca-Colas, Nando’s, and Woolworths social media platforms but now I find it hard to run my own (personal) social media platform because of the knowledge I have gained, and I don’t even have more than 600 followers, friends and page likes.

There is just so much more to be learnt.

We are community : The review

This is a great read for someone who is not aware on how to transition a brand into the social media community. It discusses a great analogy of how brands act in the social space in relation to real life examples, and how some of these brands do not follow the correct online decorum. Most people think that they can run any brands online profile, but there is varying factors that come together to ensure that a brands online presence is managed effective, such as evaluating progress, knowing the community, knowing the platforms, using content that people can engage with.  There are three main steps needed to transition into the social media community are, 1. Build 2. Engage 3. Activate.

Build, the first stage, this when the brand builds its followers, likes and its overall community presence on all social media platforms it wishes to exist on. At this point, the brand should not be shoving content about available products and basically trying to push its own agenda. The analogy used to best explain this scenario, is having a dinner party with your friends, and you invite various brands, such as Oros, McDonald, Cadbury, you would not expect them to sit at the table and during starters just start trying to sell you guests their products, that would be considered rude and that is exactly how it should be seen on online, brands need to first build a relationship with its community before going on to sell its products and special offers.

Engage, this is the stage where I believe creativity and mutual interests are shared, the time where the brands engages with its community, asking questions, discussing trending topics and current affairs. I believe engagement is about both the brand and the community members, a chance to understand the brand and the for the brand to try to understand its community as whole, to gain leverage on how it would best go about communicating with its community the most effectively, to reach objectives.  In the dinner part analogy the engagement, is the part where people are discussing, what they do, they likes and dislikes, religious and political beliefs, values etc.; for everybody to get a better understanding of who each person is and how to best go about engaging with them in the future.

Activate, finally the brand should become active on the various platforms, show their personality and use the information and relationships gained in the previous steps to ensure that they communicate efficiently to its communities to get the desired effect.  At this point the brand should be mindful of its audiences and know how to use its different platforms for different objectives and/or needs. At the dinner party this is the time where people are more comfortable and at ease with each other, and therefore more open to hear what each other have to say, this would be the time for the invited brands to approach the other guests as they would have a better understanding of who is who; who doesn’t eat McDonalds because they on a diet or have health issues but would rather buy Oros as it serves as a means of drinking water that just tastes better, and therefore now exactly what to say to convince them to buy the Oros.

All these stages require planning and strategy; you cannot just enter on a social media platform without making the proper preparations in order to know exactly what has to be done to reach the final activation stage. Social/Online is a place that embraces progressive values,  whilst cultivating a culture, it is essential for brands to be mindful of that and not attempt to transition too fast onto social without taking into consideration all the necessary and significant factors of the online community as a whole.

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

Different people in Cerebra have different roles and perform a function in the company that helps it run smoothly on a day to day basis, whilst ensuring that objectives for clients are reached. When I think of my the role I want to play at Cerebra I am often faced with various questions, that require me having to look at myself and determining, honestly, what I am good at and what I think I can excel in, during my time at Cerebra.

When people ask me, what I want to pursue here at Cerebra between; client service, strategy and Community management; I literally go into a calm and internal mental breakdown, because I am not sure yet what it is that I have, that is needed to ensure that what Cerebra brings to the table is better simply because I am part of the team. This kind of decision becomes incredible taxing, because you want to bring a valuable role and functionality, to what is an already extremely successful team.

I guess in the next few weeks, that is what I want to explore and hopefully be certain in, what kind of a direction I would like to take at Cerebra.  It is all dependent on making decisions every day, I have to ensure that I make a decisions whether small or big that will lead me in a direction that will make me more confident and happy in which ever role I decide will best suite me and my personality but also which will ensure that I am able to make a significant difference at Cerebra.

So much to learn. So many decisions to be made. So much excellence to be reached.

GOODBYE

Monday the 5th of January was my first day back at Cerebra and it was the saddest for sure. We had to say goodbye to such an amazing person, beautiful heart and intelligent mind; Lloyd.

First time I meant this particular soul, I was called back to Cerebra after my interview for a second written grammar interview, I don’t what it was about him but he made me smile, literally for no reason, just for existing. From the time I started my internship at Cerebra to the day Lloyd left us, it was a short 7 weeks yet in that time I feel like I can draw a conclusion about the kind of person Lloyd was and something about his personality and my personality, just made sense.

He once said “If I had a little sister I would want her to be something like you, without all the turn up”, I laughed so hard but I think that shows you the kind of relationship we had, from such little time knowing each other. Lloyd is and was such an incredible human and I wished I had more time to get to know more of him and learn more than I did from him.

This time last week we said goodbye and I guess all that is left to say is, I hope it was a goodbye forever but a goodbye for now. I wasn’t ready for either goodbye, but it is what it is.

I wish Lloyd all the happiness, madness and success in his life. BUT above all else I wish I never had to say Goodbye at all.

MAGIC MIKE

Now, now ladies. Breathe. Relax. That is not how this Mike gets the girls screaming. The skills that this magic mike has, are more along the lines of creating strategies rather than dance routines, his intellect, understanding of brands and his eagerness to teach are but a few factors that could have plenty of girls screaming and holding up 1 dollar bills (R11,12) and I must admit it, the crystal blue eyes don’t hurt either. This week we had a sit down with Mike.O and he took us through the advisory pillar of Cerebra and how strategies are created and implemented specifically on social media platforms. The session was informative and interesting and often led astray buy numerous questions about what is currently happening, with the brand and consumer relationships, in the market and how social media can be a tool to assist relationships with consumers and brands. I found the essence of strategy in social media is brand identity and creating a persona that consumers will want to engage with, an identity that will not fall through the cracks, and that is where the strategy comes in, to ensure that the personality that the brand takes on does not lead away from the core promise and the above the line personality that already exist, but rather amplifies this personality and make it come to ‘life’, ensuring that there is a golden thread which is consistent throughout all forms of communication with the brands audiences. Consumers in the information age are often bombarded with knowledge and information, from various brands, screaming and making noise in attempts to grab the audience’s attention, and in doing so, brands miss the plot because the way to capture the minds and attention of the audiences is not just by means of creativity but also as Reece would say ensuring that the conversation and information is “RELEVANT”. In the conversation with Mike.O, the importance of relevance became alarmingly significant, and now I really get it, no matter how great your brand and product is,if you are not speaking to your audiences about what is relevant to them, then the chances of high and conversational engagement decreases. A gap analysis must be undergone before a strategy is created, a gap analysis determines the difference between the promise made by the brand and what they deliver, and strategies are put in place to decrease this gap. Brands need to communicate a promise that is more aligned with their product quality and be careful not to over sell what their brand offers, and social media platforms aim to manage expectations and increase quality offerings of various brands. By communicating with its audiences and/or communities on social networks, brands are able to improve their customer service and in doing so hopefully decrease the gap between promise and delivery. Communication is essential in any relationship and brand and consumer relationships are no exception, communication is key.

Wait… Its them!

A borgy is a meeting that is set up by any person(s) that requires the efforts of other members of the Cerebra team, some are open to all and some are private and only accessible by invite. This is the time when people’s ideas, no matter how outrageous and extravagant are discussed and built on. An open discussion takes place, where your authority or lack thereof doesn’t matter; all that is considered is the quality of your ideas and thoughts.

Personally I have only been to one borgy and that was last week, it is such an overwhelming feeling, to want to raise ideas or even voice your opinions on other ideas, because you are in a room, full of people who either have experience, intense knowledge or extremely high IQ levels, or all the afore-mentioned and some of us have neither, (well that’s how it feels).

What I am trying to get at with this is; I recently had a groupie moment at my first borgy, that i had attended with the other interns, this particular borgy was for ABSA. We were all deep in conversation and throwing around ideas, until it randomly came up that the people I work with and want to learn from where front and centre in creating the ABSA #RooiBokke campaign. At this moment I almost started crying, I was in absolute shock, the first thought that entered my head was- Wait… it’s them, these are the people who created havoc, on all different types of media forms, and I didn’t know that. I am sharing a work space with them, ideas, conversation, laughter and breathing the same oxygen as them, and I had no idea until then, the level of genius I am surrounded by is beyond me.

I remember April 1st 2013, like it was yesterday, I started my morning with my morning ritual, getting up to date with what I had missed, whilst I was asleep and the rest of the world wasn’t (naturally I went on twitter), and I was greeted by so much intense anger and passion. It had been awhile/never since I saw my peers involved in such a heated debate; about a bank- I was absolutely lost, until I got caught up. I joined in and voiced my outrage, how could this be possible, would South Africa even let this happen? When people found out that this was an April fool’s Joke, I can remember my relief and  admiration for whoever had thought of such an amazing campaign to raise awareness, create conversation and give ABSA a more light and approachable personality online.

Below is a brief video that explains the whole concept and the rewards of the #RooiBokke campaign. Watch it, no seriously don’t just scroll past, watch the video.

This week my lesson at Cerebra was profound, yet simple; never underestimate where your knowledge and inspiration may come from. Take in your surroundings and learn; as everything and everyone who is presented in your life, is an opportunity to learn something extraordinary. My hunger for knowledge has been awaken, and I all I want to do is learn and when I feel like I have learnt as much as I possibly can, I want to take a break and then… I want to learn some more.