Data reveals that South Africa has shown a 23% increase in active, mobile social users and a 7% increase in internet users. South Africans spend an average of eight hours and 32 minutes every day using the internet via any device. Online shopping for fashion-related items increased by 25%, and there was a 22% increase people buying furniture and appliances online in 2018. E-commerce sales revenue increased by 16%.
Although television still plays a huge role in marketing in a South African context (91% of the country’s internet users watch television on a daily basis), digital marketing has become a focus area for most brands.
The traditional digital marketing landscape of paid media, search engine optimisation (SEO), content marketing, social media, community management, influencer marketing, and more, is experiencing dramatic gains with the development of technology.
The future of social media
Social media isn’t going to disappear. Rather, ‘the new social’ doesn’t aim to target everybody. The future is niche, as more networks begin to unite people who share a mutual interest – neighbours, parents, shoppers, entrepreneurs, or members of any other group.
Many internet users are looking for smaller platforms, and more genuine interactions with their friends, families and followers. Users want platforms without algorithms, and with a higher purpose.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots
Chatbot marketing has become one of the biggest growth opportunities in the digital marketing space. 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human by 2020 (Gartner).
Using a chatbot as part of your digital marketing execution has several advantages: it can reduce labour costs, unlike humans they are available 24/7, and they can manage multiple clients at the same time.
But if you don’t get it right using a chatbot, it can lead to a frustrated customer and loss of the sale. This often happens with fixed chatbots that cannot relate to a query if a response was not previously ‘taught’.
The importance of adding value
All in all, it is unquestionable that brands should have a presence in the digital space, but what they must remember to ask themselves is: “Is my brand adding value?”. Consumers of social are over-communicated to, and there are few things more alienating than a brand seeking relevance in a space or conversation that they aren’t part of.
We process in excess of 50 000 mentions per month across various social platforms for one of our clients. We maintain a response time of under 10 minutes at a response rate of 91%. This adds value on social, as opposed to adding to the noise, because the brand is engaging with purpose where the users already are.
The future of digital marketing lies in one-on-one conversations with fans and followers and exchanges in which they not only want to take part but where they can take the lead. The less intrusive you are as a business, the higher your chances will be of building a strong community around your brand, generating new leads, and improving conversions.
Amanda Lambe is the managing director of Hero, a full-service advertising agency based in Cape Town. Having worked both client and agency side, she has experience across traditional and digital marketing, social media and strategic communication, and has worked with a variety of brands, from Old Mutual to the City of Cape Town, including on the city’s drought crisis campaign. She is also Chairperson of the board for Soapbox Films.
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