African Renaissance Conference  24- 26 May 2018



    Can you design a social media strategy?
    Digitlab Digital Strategy

    Social media, a powerful resource and a potential crisis waiting to happen. In business
    today it is impossible to ignore the weight of social media conversation. This conversation
    builds or destroys our reputation, promotes our products, demands new services, highlights
    delivery issues and ultimately forces business to learn the art of leveraging relationship.


    Mike Saunders

     Relationship is your new competitive advantage. The ability to listen more intently, converse intelligently and speak directly into the hearts of your customer will become your edge in the industry. This
    is the power of social media, and it cannot be ignored. Social media resonates with people because it connects people with what matters most to them, other people. Their loved ones, family and friends. More than that, social media resonates with people because it presents us an opportunity to present ourselves to the world. It plays to our ego’s, our self image our own view of self worth. This is the world that business enters into when they embark on a social media strategy.
    Social Media Strategy?
    The idea of a social media strategy generally conjures up ideas of Facebook and Twitter content campaigns. Deciding which updates and tweets to send out when. While this is an important part of
    social media strategy I’d like to take the time to highlight a key aspect of a social media strategy. Design!
    Design is the key, it implies that social media has a structure that can be replicated and reused in creative ways.
    Design implies that if we take the time to understand the design, we can find ways to leverage the design for our own messages and objectives. Design helps us walk into the social media world with confidence because we have a robust plan of action.
    Facebook believes in “social by design.” In other words, something is not social unless you deigned it to be social. Social needs to be a core part of what you do and not just utilizing social websites like Facebook and Twitter.
    Understanding this concept is key to designing social media strategies. A strategy becomes social when it leverages the social aspects of life rather than simply using a social network.
    According to Facebook, there are three primary social elements that we should be thinking about when we develop a social strategy. These three elements are the basis of much of what Facebook is built on.
    1) Personalisation
    A social strategy will look to customize a campaign with a personalised interface for the user that enhances their experience by highlighting what’s important to them. Personalisation aims to understand the customer better in order to deliver better marketing and services to them. The users identity then defines a large part of what their experience becomes. The uniqueness of the customer creates a more
    unique customer experience. This is easily achieved by integrating with existing social

    Mike Saunders

    networks, and by designing space on your online platforms for personalised content. In other words, you don’t need to use social networks to create personalised experiences. In many cases you can take
    your existing marketing ideas and business strategies and create more personalized engagements with your customers.
    The use of social media tools will however immediately give your business and your customer a personal interface to engage each other through. An interface that customers can customize to their needs whilst still allowing businesses a better more intimate understanding of their customer.
    2) The Reason to Share
    Viral campaigns become viral because they have something that people want to share. The trouble is that people don’t always share content in the same way all the time. People are more complex
    than that. Sharing is dependent on the content, the emotional context of consuming that content and so many other uncontrollable factors. When designing for social, we should not ‘hope’ that people share content. We should design the strategy to encourage the sharing action. I recently consulted a company who was showing me their ‘social’ application on Facebook. Yes, it was on Facebook. Well done. The app however never utilized, encouraged or designed any reason for people to share the content of the app. Therefore no-one will share it. There is no incentive to do so. A good example of an app that is in social, but not social.
    3) Connecting Community
    Just because you have a community does not mean that people want to be a part of it. So many companies are pursuing the numbers game in social media strategy. I would suggest that this metric will only decrease your opportunity to connect with people and their communities. Remember that a social strategy aims to connect your company or brand to the community of people who ‘like’ you. In
    other words, a focus on your community is important but needs to be balanced with a serious focus on connecting into the communities of your fans.
    Sharing content often introduces you to your fans community but there needs to be a strategy design to connect their community to yours. This is a complex idea. I am not suggesting that you need to own the community. I am suggesting that you need to find ways to influence it. Remember that the bigger
    the community the lower the engagement levels. Social works best in smaller, tighter and more interesting communities. Connecting community has more to do with empowering ambassadors to build new communities than to add people to your database. A designed social experience can put the
    power back in your hands.
    When it comes to social media, businesses will never be in complete control of the conversation. A successful social strategy will however position your business to spark new and positive conversations
    about your products and services. It will bring you closer to the conversations, allowing you to listen and understand your customer better, giving you the power to deliver better services to your customer.
    Ultimately a well designed social media strategy will take your business confidently into a valuable, mutually beneficial and exciting journey with your customer.