Jørn Lyseggen, founder and CEO of the Meltwater Group recently hosted their Brain Food event at 15 On Orange Hotel, in Cape Town, to share “topical insights on managing brand reputation from around the globe”. Bettina Moss reports.
The speaker line-up of heavy hitters in marketing and media included the irreverent and hugely entertaining Toby Shapshak, editor and publisher of Stuff magazine; Claire Cobbledick, head of marketing for Gumtree South Africa; Lauren Haslewood, head of marketing at Vide e Caffe and Ahmed Kajee, head of digital marketing, Old Mutual SA.
Lyseggen explained that he founded Meltwater in 2001 with the purpose of helping executives make more informed, powerful business decisions by harnessing public information living on the internet, and using it to deliver valuable insights that weren’t accessible without technology.
The company transformed the traditional press clippings service into an automated, intelligent media monitoring service. It anticipated the importance of social conversational data in conjunction with traditional news coverage, and presented a new way to build media databases, allowing customers to hyper-target their journalists by the content of their articles – not just beat or publication.
Meltwater quickly grew into Norway’s and then Europe’s leading media monitoring solution. They expanded their services beyond monitoring to include engagement and analytics features and today they are one of the world’s largest media intelligence companies, headquartered in San Franciso, with offices around the globe.
“Our clients include all the big name brands, governments, universities, NGOs and my personal favourite, the Vatican,” says Lyseggen.
Today’s data-driven marketing allows brands to monitor conversations, track the market, engage with influencers, drive conversation and benchmark performance using real-time insights to drive the decision making process.
“Every day we all leave digital breadcrumbs. Our software takes all the digital breadcrumbs, connects the dots and extracts powerful intelligence that helps us understand who’s saying what, where, and how,” said Lyseggen. “External data is becoming one of the richest sources for business insights. The future of decision making will be like a massive A/B testing exercise, in real-time as events unfold.”
We’re living in what’s been called the ‘Attention Economy’; we’re bombarded with messaging and information overload, all clamouring for our attention and retention.
In today’s hyper-connected world, with the proliferation of media and messaging channels, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for brands and organisations to achieve the holy grail of audience and customer engagement.
Digital influence and the challenges of getting it, guiding it and growing it, is now a major priority for all marketing teams.
Brands, organisations and governments are all competing for share of influence, alongside anyone and everyone with a social media account.
“We’re all living with a deluge of information. I spend too much time fighting with my Inbox and filtering out the amount of noise. Less is more,” said Shapshak.
“Facebook has become the way that most people communicate. Peer to peer recommendation is powerful word of mouth marketing. But don’t take the so-called influencers so seriously,” he said. “Most so-called influencers out there like Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton are just a bunch of wankers.”
Old Mutuals ‘s Kajee believes everyone now has a voice. “Anyone can set up a blog and write absolute rubbish, with thousands of followers. And anybody can build an audience, effect change and make a difference. Technology and social media are ways of having a conversation with millions of people around the world.”
When it comes to building an influence strategy, Gumtree SA’s Cobbledick says the critical component is trust and credibility. “The digital environment has created the opportunity for the trusted message delivered by a trusted spokesperson to explode exponentially in terms of reach,” said Cobbledick.
“Without trust, it is just noise. Only when there is authenticity in the message, can we really achieve engagement.”
Building trusted relationships with the desired audience is crucial to facilitate engagement. With information overload, whether we tune out or tune in to messaging, depends on the relationship.
“Journalism, marketing, business – it’s all about relationships,” said Shapshak. “If you don’t have a relationship with someone, there’s no way you’ll have a chance at marketing to them.”
The digital revolution has levelled the playing field for delivering high impact influence strategies. Now it’s not for only brands with massive marketing budgets. “At Vida we don’t have big budgets for above the line advertising. We generate a lot of social conversation through lifestyle driven content. We make use of brand ambassadors – bloggers, musicians and photographers, who are posting on all social media channels and this creates much more successful engagement for us,” said Vide e Caffe’s Haslewood.
Using social media to build, deliver and maintain influence is essential for marketing teams, especially in Africa. “Social media far outweighs editorial media in Africa, due to mobile internet penetration,” says Robyn Triegaardt, Meltwater country manager for Africa.
Lygessen is excited about the marketing landscape in South Africa and the opportunities it offers for brands. “South African business, the big companies, SMEs and NGOs – many of them are world class. South Africa is an important region for us. We continue to grow and we continue to invest,” he said.
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