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Using Veteran and Rookie Social Media Platforms for Brand Success

by on June 26, 2010

On June 5, 2010, Friedel Coetsee posted a blog about “Why Social Media in South Africa Will NOT Fail,” briefly highlighting some great points about statistical trends in the South African digital world. Part of me suspected this was his rebuttal to Mario Olckers’ “Why Social Media In South Africa Will Fail” posting from a couple years ago, stating (in a nutshell) that South Africa’s online demographic is not representative of their people and culture, thus not viable.

Coetsee’s and Olckers’ words, in addition to my own research, led me to explore where South Africa as a country currently stands in the social media realm, and then determine what brands can do to leverage these (veteran) platforms AND explore new (rookie) ones to further expand their reach into this exciting market.

Coetsee references Alexa’s top ten social media sites in South Africa, with the top three being Facebook, Google, and Yahoo – all of which are globally renowned. Brands can certainly make the most of these sites by promoting their products or through targeted advertising, etc. These promotional-type efforts will in turn improve South Africa’s social media presence.

Through some independent research, I found that lesser-known sites like Zoopy (video social media) and Independent Online (South African news source), though based in South Africa and targeted towards South Africans, were not as big of a hit in the country as I originally assumed they were. This is where I think opportunity resides.

Let’s first take a quick look at South Africa’s online demographics. Olckers notes that South Africa’s online presence is not representative of its offline presence, thus the main reason why social media won’t take off. I have to respectfully disagree; while the demographics online are in fact inconsistent with offline demographics (e.g., 55% of South African internet users are male, 63% are of white ethnicity, and 31% are between the ages of 25 and 34), brands need to strategically determine how to reach out to the rest of the population, preferably within the younger generation who have a greater ability to influence others in the digital realm.

More specifically, though, if brands want to grow in South Africa’s digital sphere – they must initially do the following (keeping in mind their target audiences):

  • Stay engaged in the conversation. Read other blogs and stories in your market. Comment on them. Promote your brand’s site via links. Keeping open, consistent, and transparent lines of communications will ultimately build interest and trust, and increase participation.
  • Keep your content interactive. It’s one thing to post a blog; it’s a whole other thing to post the blog and include sharing links (BrandSouthAfricaBlog’s “Bloggers Wanted” page is a perfect example of this). This leveraging of all possible platforms is essential in staying connected and allowing the users to do the legwork in getting your brand name out.
  • Try something new. Okay, so maybe Zoopy isn’t that popular yet. But it’s using mobile technology which is said to be an up and coming market trend within South Africa. The worst that can happen is that the technology will eventually flop – but at least you made use of something different. Then move onto something new!

If brands want to succeed in the South African market, I truly believe that they strive to find the perfect mix of popular social media with newer, less-known platforms – tailored to the brand’s objectives and goals. They should also put trust in the possibilities for South African social networking platforms, which I believe will be a success if and only if brands are smart about how they go about doing business in this expanding market. Accomplishing all of this, while keeping audiences in mind, should brew a perfect formula for visibility and, ultimately, success!


From → South Africa

One Comment
  1. I liked your three suggestions and I think they work as guiding principles for much of the digital efforts that any of us might try to do using social media and social networks. Your title and initial part of your post suggests that you might be digging a bit deeper into the tools and platforms and which fit into the Veteran versus Rookie categories. You start to do so, but stay on the surface without getting into them in particular. At the end, your tips are good and on target, but stay a bit too basic in relation to the research and analysis that you did. (3)

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