Black is Back: adidas’ integrated launch campaign for new Orlando Pirates kit Orlando Pirates have gone back to their iconic black
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A new kind of customer engagement: smart connected interactions

The rise of smart devices and a focus on customer loyalty has created the proverbial "perfect storm" for enterprises that want to reinvent the customer experience around smartphones and tablets. These devices can help solve some of the challenges that have plagued the contact centre industry for more than 30 years. For example, caller identity, intent, and call context (what the customer tried immediately before calling) can be easily and passively established before a call begins. Caller expectations can be better managed, and enterprises can smooth the arrival rate of calls with intelligent, resource aware call-back.

Published in Networking
Monday, 29 July 2013 13:06

No social media quick fix

No social media quick fix

Social media has taken the world by storm, and most companies are anxious to cash in on its benefits. But there is no quick fix when it comes to effective social media use, says Karl Reed, Chief Marketing & Solutions Officer at Elingo.


There are huge potential benefits to using social media for sales and customer interactions. But companies that get it wrong risk cutting themselves off at the knees.

Published in Online
How to use social media to help generate sales

Sales, at its essence, is all about connecting with people and building relationships. “The rise of social media brings a new dynamic to the sales environment of any organisation and those wanting to be part of a new generation of industry leaders should invest in Social CRM,” says Keith Fenner, Senior Vice President for Sales at Sage ERP Africa and Middle East.

Published in Sales
Social media: an essential tool for internal communication

Social media is becoming more and more pervasive and has already been entrenched as a tool for external marketing. But what about internal communication? New research shows it might be groundbreaking there as well.

Thursday, 18 April 2013 11:00

Winning at social media is a team effort

Winning at social media is a team effort

As the evolution of social media marches on and more companies adopt it as a mainstream business tool, it is becoming clear that social media can no longer only be relegated to the marketing department, but requires a cohesive approach if it is to be effective and impactful. As companies scale up their use of social media on coming years, key areas where business leaders should take note include:


The leadership in any organization sets the tone for the company and should play a key role in how they communicate with the world. Executives can share insights on the direction the company is taking, but also draw in feedback and insight from employees as well as customers and suppliers. The great advantage with social media is that it allows this to be done more directly and speedily, both internally and externally.


Security is a key concern, the 2012 Norton Cybercrime report claims that 44% of users aren't aware that security solutions for mobile devices exist, and 40% social network users have fallen victim to cybercrime on social networking platforms. Such realities leave a company's Intellectual property vulnerable to attack and IT departments will have to take the lead in protecting companies from social networking related cybercrime.


The 24/7 nature of social media means that your workers are busy on social media during their leisure time, but also when they are on their desks. It is important to understand how your people use social media and how this impacts on issues such as productivity. Only 21% of companies report having a social media policy or guidelines, leaving them vulnerable to a wide range of risks. In addition to drafting guidelines, HR should also take the lead in ensuring that there is across the board training, so that staff understand the opportunities as well as the risks and challenges social media presents.


Customer Service

Are you tapping into social media to answer customer queries, to respond to complaints and chase up on orders? If your company is not using these tools, they are missing out on a huge opportunity. Your customer relations managers should start to understand how social media works, how to integrate it into the organization and create systems to drive such services. Read Is your company ready for the social customer? at the bottom of this page, for tips on how to get started and How to use social media for customer service... from Kwazi Communications


For most companies, social media has been a line item that falls under marketing, however as the scope of social media widens, financial managers need to be aware of the costs of running a successful digital operation. Awareness would range from procurement of specific software, such as dashboards and other analytical programmes, as well as increased overheads in the realm of increased data costs as content generation increases. Additionally, the costs of staff compliment as social media teams are created in-house. Understanding the implications of this is imperative for any company.


While legislation around social media is still in its infancy, legal departments should be aware of the risks around litigation if staff members leak information, or if a suit of defamation or libel could arise. Lawsuits can become very costly, for example Symantec's 2011 Social Media Protection Flash Poll states that on average cost litigation costs for litigation due to social media law suits can rise to approximately 5 million Rand. With more and more employees on social media, the legal representatives of any organization should be ready to advise and act on any transgressions with clarity and certainty.


While the role of PR, marketing and communications in this arena will continue to intensify, the support and input of the other departments is key for reaping the benefits of social media in the long term.

Published in PR & Communications
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 11:34

Create your own PR plan

Create your own PR plan

As PR professionals we are well aware of the world of opportunities that social media platforms have provided, hence the reason why we spend our time encouraging our clients to tweet, blog and post. We research their industries, seek opportunities to establish them as thought leaders and make sure we’re always one step ahead of the pack. Why then, argues MD of Livewired PR, Lucinda Boddy, are we so slow to build our own media profiles?

Published in PR & Communications
Thursday, 21 February 2013 12:24

Taking Your Small Business Social

Taking Your Small Business Social

Social media has provided small businesses with the opportunity to market their brands on a big scale at a fraction of the cost. This said, in order for social media to work to your advantage, you need to understand the various platforms and know how to use them effectively to see the benefits for your business.


“Make sure the time you spend using social media is time well spent by familiarising yourself with the different social media platforms and devising a solid strategy that will contribute to your business growth, customer engagement or sales support,” says Carolyn Holgate, General Manager of MWEB’s Connect Division.


Here are a few tips to help you along the way:

Engaging Content

While social media can benefit your business, posting anything and everything on your social media platforms may well turn potential and existing customers away. When you engage on social platforms, you must be mindful that you are entering an open community which is bombarded with information. Keep your content relevant to your area of business, current and around topics that are likely to be of interest to your target audience. 


Less is more

Think quality not quantity. Your fans and followers would rather read two good Tweets a day than two hundred bad ones. Don’t post for the sake of posting. If you continually bombard your fans and followers with information, they will most likely unfollow you.


Choose the right platform

The “big five” of social media are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest, but not all of them may be suitable platforms for your business. If you are a legal advisor, for instance, LinkedIn is a great space for you to interact with other people in your industry, and share your contact details with potential clients. However, as a legal advisor, it makes little sense signing up to Pinterest, which is more suited to a lifestyle brand. Before embarking on a social media strategy or campaign, ask yourself which platforms your target market are likely to be using and which platforms your target markets would most expect to engage with your business on, and focus on these.


Consistency is key

When using social media, remember that your target audience may well be engaging with your brand across more than one of the social media platforms. Ensure your brand voice and key messaging is consistent, no matter whether you’re using one, two or three of the “big five”. Consistent key messaging and brand tone will help your target audience to quickly identify your brand, and better understand its personality and positioning. 


Get analytical

You may think measuring the success of social media requires little expertise, but this is not the case. If you want the best results from your social media campaign or strategy, you need to analyse the results of your efforts properly. Google Analytics and Facebook Insights are two free tools with which you can track your progress. These tools will allow you to determine how many people you are interacting with, what content is best received and the growth of your fan base. The great thing about Google Analytics is it’s a simple three step process – setup your analytics account, identify your main traffic sources and create advanced segments which will allow you to compare and see the difference of your user’s interaction.

There are also many paid for analytics platforms. Using these analytics tools will help you improve your strategy by showing you your social media strengths and weaknesses. 


Interact with others

In order to get more followers on social media, you need to engage more with others. Look for relevant or like-minded brands and businesses in your industry and start interacting with them online. Posting comments on their social media pages will alert them to your online presence and encourage them to check out your page. You will also be tapping into their fan base, which has the potential to help you grow your own.


Find MWEB on Twitter or on Facebook at . 

Published in Online
Tuesday, 19 February 2013 15:23

In the past few weeks, I’ve been interviewed on eNews Africa, 702, BBC World Service and BBC World, as well as commissioned to write an opinion piece for the Sunday Times – all thanks to Twitter. That’s the power of being present in on a platform that carries more and more influence. Twitter is useful, not so much because it gives you access to customers or potential clients, but because it’s where the media increasingly choose to hang out and share the stories they’re covering.

Published in Online
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 10:28

10 lessons every business can learn from FNB

10 lessons every business can learn from FNB

Not every business has the budget or inclination to run a brand campaign. But there are some useful learnings for businesses of any size from the FNB You Can Help debacle. Whether or not you agree with the idea of big business wading into politics, it’s hard not to escape the conclusion that this campaign completely ran away with one of South Africa’s savviest marketers and left anger, misunderstanding and confusion in its wake.


No marketer ever wants to be in a situation like that unless it’s for very good reason (see lessons 5 and 6). Here’s how to avoid it:


Lesson 1: Have a clear objective

Was FNB’s objective purely to inspire the nation? Or did it want to attract business? Did it want to trigger debate? Or just have everyone feel better about life? The “switch to FNB” message in the middle of a campaign that seemed to focus on being more socially responsible was confusing and sent out mixed messages.


Lesson 2: Align your communication objectives with your creative execution

FNB’s stated objective for this campaign was to inspire the nation and help South Africans find the greatness within. But in practice, this message did not come through. The live ad featuring a schoolgirl reciting an impassioned speech was too negative, and the highly political tone of the supporting video clips on the website focused attention on lack of government delivery rather than our power as individuals to make a difference. Initially, the campaign achieved the opposite of what it set out to do – by reminding us of exactly what frustrates and depresses us.


Lesson 3: Don’t set up expectations you can’t deliver on

Calling a campaign “You can help” sets up certain expectations, especially when you launch it with a teaser campaign and then an unprecedented live broadcast across multiple channels. The website felt like a letdown after this – it simply doesn’t deliver on the promise.


Lesson 4: Look at your campaign through someone else’s eyes

One of my roles as a strategist was to play devil’s advocate, looking for any possible reason that someone might feel offended by an ad, and formulating scenarios to manage any potential fallout. It’s all too easy for agencies and clients to lose sight of how a piece of communication might look to others who haven’t been part of the process, and won’t understand the thinking that went into it.


Lesson 5: Controversy only makes sense for certain brands

Nando’s is a brand with a long and distinguished history of making satirical ads that talk as much about South African society and culture as they do about chicken. In contrast, FNB’s brushes with controversy (like those of Woolworths) are accidental. Both are mainstream brands whose values don’t sit well with ruffling feathers.


Lesson 6: If you’re going to use controversy, be strategic

Many advertisers think that being controversial or offensive is a way to attract publicity. But if you’re going to risk being hauled before the ASA, do it for the right reasons. Angering people for the sake of a bit of coverage is a short term strategy and not recommended unless it’s relevant to your target audience or your brand.


Lesson 7: Yes, there is such a thing as bad publicity

FNB generated what must amount to millions in coverage as a result of this campaign. But it was for all the wrong reasons, and in focusing on the ANC’s response to the campaign, it undermined what the bank was ostensibly trying to achieve with it.


Lesson 8: Use social media to get your message out

When news reports suggested that FNB CEO Michael Jordaan was planning to resign, he turned to Twitter to put out a message in his words: “I am not resigning as CEO of the world’s most innovative bank”. And when The New Age put out an inaccurate story, they were able to tackle misperceptions directly without having to rely on the media to put the message out. FNB did look like a deer caught in the headlights for a while, but when they did use Twitter to clarify their position, it made a real impact.


Lesson 9: Check, check. And check again.

When deadlines loom and you’re dealing with a campaign with multiple elements, it’s easy to lose track of what you’re putting out into the world with your logo attached to it. Most of the time it’s nothing more embarrassing than a typo, but sometimes the consequences can be much more serious. Don’t leave anything to chance.


Lesson 10: Employ people who are able to exercise good judgment

Senior management don’t have the time to check and double check – so they have to trust the people they employ to do that for them. Exactly who thought it was a good idea to post highly political video clips onto a brand campaign site when FNB has had previous run-ins with the government, and the ANC is notoriously sensitive to criticism, isn’t clear. What is obvious is that somebody someone somewhere in the process made a judgment call, and it was a bad one. Senior management had to take the flak for trusting people who shouldn’t have put them in that position in the first place.

Published in Advertising
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 12:06

A majority of businesses have or are considering using Facebook pages to promote their companies. Many of them resort to tactics such as bribery, encouraging users to ‘like their page’ in order to enter a competition or win a prize. The aim is to either stir up support or grow a larger fan base. All this is often done without the use of a third party application.

Published in Online
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