5 Digital marketing trends and hacks for brands and entrepreneurs to use in 2019

In the perfect world most brands and entrepreneurs start planning long before the beginning of the year, with the start of each year mostly set aside for some tweaks and updates. Digital marketing trends, social media and the odd social media crisis tend to trip even the most strategically insightful among us. It makes sense to keep the strategy document constantly updated while looking at some growth areas in digital marketing and taking full advantage of social media.

Five strategy hacks and trends for brands and entrepreneurs to improve their digital footprint in 2019:

 

1. Create a video content strategy

 

The consumption of video content across the internet continues to grow at a rapid rate with more social media users also creating their own content. Research shows that 93% of businesses got new customers and converted leads as a result of video.With so much content being created daily, it’s best to keep your brand content short, punchy and fun to ensure both impact and social sharing. This requires brands to be brave and to keep creating content to understand what works, which may take some time.One of the advantages is that owned content may cost less than other forms of advertising and increase engagement between the brand and its community. It also gives added insight into what customers like because platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram give you data.

Quick hack: Start creating videos, even using a mobile phone, and improve quality as well as content. This will get easier over time and post some of these as Facebook stories, then monitor feedback.

 

2. Understand and use IGTV

 

Instagram’s IGTV is the new popular kid on the social media streets and a promising entrant in the long-form vertical video space. Launched in June 2018, when Instagram also announced that they now have a billion monthly users, IGTV has already begun making strides with some brands and influencers embracing this platform. It’s nowhere near being a YouTube killer or a worthwhile adversary to the likes of Vimeo, but it’s changing the game.Some of the top global brands that took up IGTV creating some quirky and fun content include Netflix, Bacardi and Louis Vuitton which have all been creative in their use of the platform. IGTV with its largely youth audience enables brands to think more creatively, to be quirkier (yes, that word is coming up again) and a little “weird” in comparison to traditional strategies.Cisco predicts that video will account for 78% of mobile data traffic by 2021, in just 2 short years, and the early adopters will lead their industry peers. Some brands have already begun building communities on IGTV.

Beginner hack: Start by opening an account and following some of the most active brands for your own inspiration and ideas. You can also check some of these brands on IGTV that are making serious moves on the platform and how they are doing it.

3. Create a robust LinkedIn brand strategy

 

LinkedIn is the single most useful tool to gain access to the decision-makers in most organisations that matter and this is why everyone spends time networking. It enables users to have a better understanding of their potential clients and the platform has been improving its offering for professionals, brands and entrepreneurs.Over the past few years, LinkedIn users have been utilising the platform to share stories and original articles, which in turn improves engagement. It’s a more powerful platform for lead generation and general brand engagement for professional B2B services.

A hack to use: In addition to the company page, build a showcase page for a service or product because these showcase pages increase engagement for specific products. Some of the most interesting LinkedIn showcase pages include companies like HP, Cisco and a few others.

 

4. Personalise! Personalise! Personalise!

 

Next to customers wanting more customisation than ever, personalising the customer and client journey as much as possible with a brand strengthens the relationship. In 2019, personalisation from shopping data to search will evolve more.Leading brands like Amazon have been personalising the customer journey for years and they continue to make the individual experience more worthwhile. When it comes to improved customer interactions 96% of marketers say personalisation helps to advance customer relationships.

A hack to try: Instead of a broad strategy, personalise your email and social media marketing for a specific target audience. This may exclude some of the customers you want to reach but it will be impactful for the people to whom the message resonates. Try this a few times and track the results.

 

5. Work towards a medium to long-term micro influencer strategy

 

Big brands from Listerine to Cîroc Vodka had their share of major criticism in 2018 which made others approach influencer marketing with caution. Some countries have since created policies around influencer marketing where people should mention that they have been sponsored or even paid by brands. This will increase transparency in 2019 and increase awareness among consumers, as opposed to people believing that brands are used organically.That said, influencer marketing will continue to grow in 2019 with more brands potentially collaborating with micro-influencers. Instagram is the leading platform for most influencer and brand collaborations which will continue in 2019. Twitter and Facebook will also be part of this influencer marketing mix as the connected get access to brands.

Micro-influencer marketing hack to develop: Follow some of the people who already engage with your brand and industry, then invite them, as early adopters to small pre-launch meetups. Let them be the first to sample products and experiences, as well as be the first to spread the word.

 

Budgets are tight and most brands are bringing things in-house with less to play with, and this may be the best time to experiment with a few ideas. A long-term approach is always key because it often takes time to see results and build the traction needed to grow a community behind your idea.

 

This post was first featured on WordStart. 

Entrepreneur Magazine Feature: Marketing Your Startup

The September 2017 edition of Entrepeneur features some marketing lessons we got from building WordStart and doing some client work. We often get so focused on clients that we forget treat ourselves and our startup as the client – or better. I know that things certainly fall through the cracks with focus sometimes all over the place.

This piece takes many hits and misses into account, as well as some experiments that we embarked on outside of budgets where we were able to collaborate and test some ideas.

I would love hear your what works for your marketing. What hacks do you have that we can learn from?

Entrepreneur magazine piece - September 2017 Get the September edition of South Africa’s Entrepreneur magazine, look out for page 59 and come share your thoughts. Or tweet me on @Mongezi.

On Talk Radio 702 about Facebook seeking scripted content in Hollywood

News of Facebook looking for content partners and talking to studios in Hollywood have been doing the rounds, Talk Radio 702’s Stephen Grootes asked me what the implications are. In my opinion, this is an opportunity for Facebook because people already consume more video in general across the web and longer videos at that.

The obvious growth of advertising revenue for the platform would mean that they get more into the space that YouTube has come to perfect over the years and more time will be spent on Facebook than anywhere else. This also increases the likelihood that Netflix might also feel the pinch if great quality content is produced for Facebook and competes for dwindling attention spans.

There is no lack of content, even great quality content which tends to rise above the noise and near data that comes our way. The challenge for anyone competing with Facebook or another influential social media platform is the fact that there are friends we trust using the platforms that we active on.

Please listen to the interview below and share your thoughts.

Don’t forget to share if you liked the interview.

Support your marketing and become a thought leader

With the economy being as it is, more companies cutting budget for communications and the saturated marketplace, how do you further differentiate yourself and support your marketing?

This is one of the questions I constantly grapple with and I shared my take in the January 2017 issue of Entrepreneur magazine. Please take a quick glance below, get yourself a copy before they run out and share your opinion.

Become a thought leader - by Mongezi Mtati

Become a thought leader – By Mongezi Mtati on Entrepreneur

 

Asics delivers a pair of Gel Nimbus 18 within 24 hours

After being in a bind and writing about Asics and Tekkie Town, where neither of them took the time to respond after I sent back a pair of running shoes. As it happens in these instances, I wrote about it and ranted a bit here, which was followed by the all-important and standard tweet.


Asics South Africa
Asics very quickly responded to the tweet where Dawid Visser took over the matter and owned it – with an apology. I appreciated how no one was badmouthing the other inside Asics, where resolving the issue was more important than who had not taken it upon themselves to act on an email and calls.

[Add crickets at Tekkie Town here]

The Asics sales manager, Craig also phoned to apologise on behalf of the brand and their management. They took it all seriously, especially the fact that it went public where most brands try to keep these matters private. It all seemed sincere, as though Craig and Dawid wanted to help and they did.

One of the expectations that I had, which very quickly changed, was that they would want to investigate with Tekkie Town and spend more time keeping me waiting. Instead, Dawid asked me about sizes [I’m a UK size 14 ;-)] and told me that the version I had bought was now out of stock and that he would send another one.

Asics Gel Nimbus 18

After talking to Dawid and sending him my humanly impossible running shoe size, they delivered a brand new pair of Asics Gel Nimbus 18 within 24 hours. It’s always great when a brand goes expectations and shows care where many others have disappointed their customers.

Thanks Asics. I’m taking this new pair for its first Soweto Marathon.

Community Manager Appreciation

Recent months have seen brands get their fair share of social media criticism, from Uzzi going viral because of xenophobic attacks in Alexandra, the ‘bestie’ post by Appletiser to KFC in Braamfontein, where community managers needed miracles to dowse the blaze. These are just a few of the instances that made it onto the radar.
Social media - mobile

On a normal day, social media community managers work their magic wands on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and the rest of the social web around brand reputations and fuming customers. My latest post on Marklives covers some insights from seasoned social media strategists who built some award-winning communities and campaigns. They all agree that trust and being more human – yes, even as brands – is what wins over brand-speak and policy.

They also maintain that the responsibility lies with both the brand the social media who represent them online.

Have a look at the post on Marklives here and get chocolate for that community manager on your way to the office.

Five startup lessons

Since everyone feels the need to offer entrepreneurial advice to startups, anywhere from motivational the odd motivational talk to how you should build, it’s hard to know what to take and what not to. The August 2015 issue of Entrepreneur magazine has a piece with some of the most timeless advice that I received from seasoned entrepreneurs. These continue to be relevant and some I wrestle with from time to time.

Have a look at the piece below and grab yourself of Entrepreneur:

Turn Critics Into Brand Evangelists

In recent news, a certain deep-fried chicken franchise went viral for the wrong reasons and if you followed the story, as I did for a while, you would have realised that the brand tried to engage. The unfortunate part was that as viral news stories go, the brand that’s a villain gets it the hardest.

I’m not saying I didn’t go to KFC a few times after the stories spread. You know. . . . . just to test at a few branches whether it was all true. How could I write about it if I didn’t test the chicken myself?

Meanwhile, there are brands whose communities grow, who are committed to adding one memorable customer story at a time. Brands like Rocomamas that I wrote about on Marklives. And yes, once again, I had to see whether any of what Brian Altriche, founder and chief operating officer of RocoMamas, told me was true. The hardest part was taking the stairs instead of elevators

The hardest part was taking the stairs instead of elevators and sitting out the next weigh-in later that week.

Read the piece I wrote on Marklives.com and find out how RocoMamas creates a street team of evangelists behind their burger shop and restaurant.

 

Five Things To Consider When Starting A Business

Sunday Live, a talk show on SABC 1 recently me to talk about some of the pains and joys of starting and running a business. The viewers started calling in later during the show, some with valid concerns and the rest seemed to think money was their ultimate challenge. There is no getting away from the need for capital when you start, but in most cases, plans tend to not reflect the realities of growing a fledgling business.

Most things that contribute to growth can be learned, let’s get into some of the things that you can consider if you want to build a new business:

1. Capital is the least of your problems

Take capital out of the business idea equation, have you got everything else that you need to build on your idea?

 “Huxley Don’t make excuses and Don’t talk about it. Do it.” ~ Melvyn Douglas

In his book Art Of The Start, former Apple chief evangelist, co-founder of Garage.com – a seed-stage and early-stage venture capital fund – and now the chief evangelist for Canva, Guy Kawasaki encourages startups to bootstrap. His advice, which I also lean towards, is that entrepreneurs should consider starting as a service business while they build their offering and test it in the real world.

Art Of The Start - Guy Kawasaki

The notion that capital makes a business is one of the killers of many great ideas that never get to see the light of day. Don’t fall into that trap.

2. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle

In the movie Horrible Bosses 2, the side-splitting team starts a business and, following a TV interview, they get their first client. The client also happens to be a billionaire who gets them started with a huge order. Up to this point, this is the story that most of us buy into when thinking of starting a business. Aside from the great idea that we bet on, it’s also the notion that slot machines will pay out sooner than the usual salary run.

There’s another side. A side that does not get mentioned a lot. This alternative is seeing entrepreneurship as a journey, one filled with successes and some false starts. Part of the fulfilment is in building the idea and the value that it creates in the marketplace, not just the money that is likely to come in boat-loads. That is not to be confused with going against making a decent living, which takes us to the next point.

Are you ready for the change lifestyle which includes working late nights and early mornings in the early stages?

3. Put the mask on yourself first

How often do you ignore flight attendants as they take passengers through the all too familiar ‘pre-flight safety demonstration’? They tell you about the mask that drops if the worst happens and they mention that you should put the mask on yourself first, then help others – not vice versa. While this happens, most people send their last few text messages or check the time.

I struggled with this when I first started, I wanted to take others along with me and help them without realising that there was a fun and equally challenging journey ahead. A journey that needs the business owner to make a mask from nothing and put it on themselves first.

 

4. Build on an idea that you believe in

This seems easy enough when thinking about it. Of course you believe in your idea, you wouldn’t be thinking of taking this course of action if that weren’t true, right?

Wrong.

The sense of belief should be closer to a form of madness. This is what converts others to your world-view and how you do things.

When the iPhone 1 was released, there were mostly Nokia phones and other companies that did not have touch-screens. They were well known. They owned the market. Most of us had one of their devices.

Over time, for most of the world’s population who now use iPhones and Android, these were adopted. We all wonder how we coped before and forget that we thought the iPhone was a fad. Now people wait for the next launch and delay their upgrade.

“Stay hungry, stay foolish.” – Steve Jobs

As daunting as this may seem before you start, it’s something you cultivate as you build your idea. Before you begin collecting assets, no matter how small, check competitive business insurance quotes online as this will ensure that you have a sense of what you need to set aside to secure your assets in the foreseeable future.

5. Be prepared to ask for help

Building a new business without some of the resources that we are told we need is enough and it does not have to be. Find someone who has walked the path, someone who has built something meaningful in business, or an aspect thereof. Most people are willing to offer their insight and give guidance.Whenever it’s possible, find ways to collaborate which helps to strengthen your business offering and give you access to more clients and customers than you alone can find.

Helping Hand

There is a lot more this list and, at times, too much research can lead to never starting and building what the world needs. These are some of the things that I find to be true as I speak to many other people who have started and expanded their businesses over time.

What has been helpful for you? What took you from an idea to what you are working on today?

Build Your Business Idea at Lean Startup Machine in Johannesburg

If you’ve spent a few weeks (months or years) around the block working towards building an idea into a business, you might have also heard many business buzzwords. If not, don’t bother with them. It’s not the buzzword vocabulary that builds startups, it’s the work. Afterall, small business challenges don’t care for how much you speak of scalability or anything else that was used at a seminar this week.

Look below for most of the buzzwords that you might have heard before and ignore them as you read on. Deal? Go!

Lean Startup Machine Johannesburg

Business Entrepreneurial Buzzwords

 

The truth of the matter is that it’s nimble, lean businesses that start well and thrive for longer. In the spirit of steering clear of the flavour of this week’s jargon, the simpler you keep your offering and the quicker you test – the easier it becomes to prove your model and go to market. Or to fail fast and hit the ground running. These are some of the lean startup principles which gained massive traction following the release of Eric Ries’s book The Lean Startup.

Since the book was published in 2011, the Lean Startup Machine built a community to put some of its principles through real-world testing and proof. Part of the iAfrikan team have joined forces with other local minds to bring those principles to Johannesburg. Now you can you can pitch your idea, test it in the real world, with real potential customers and collaborate with would-be team members.

You can also test new ideas for an existing business, or use these principles in your business to build a day-to-day lean startup culture. It focuses on what’s important now to test if the idea is viable and enables you to take it to market – with the least amount of unnecessary fuss in the process.

Companies Google, Facebook, Dropbox and other global organisations use the lean startup principles. It’s a way thinking and executing work in your business.

Does this sound like something you would want to learn and include into building your next idea?

Is it something you would like to cultivate as a way of thinking in both your life and business?
Lean Startup Machine, Johannesburg
If not, this is where you read on before sending this piece to that forward thinking friend. To you, forward-thinking friend, click here to register and share the love. Let’s say you know another two forward-thinking people and all three of you want to attend, you can use the promotional code ‘flashfree’ to get one free ticket.

What you are paying for

The Lean Startup Machine weekend is not a conference, it’s a whole weekend of both practical learning and testing some of the new concepts. It includes both keynote presentations and being matched with a team of people who either gravitate towards to your idea, or whose ideas appeal to you.

The team that implements the lean startup methodology the best stands to win an incubation deal.

You will:

–          Pitch your idea for feedback

–          Work on a high level plan test your idea

–          Go outside to speak to potential customers and find out if the idea would work.

–          Build webpage that would showcase the product, service or idea.

It will be an interesting weekend that promises to far surpass most (if not all) conferences you’ve been to.

Are you in? Register here: http://ctt.ec/fM8HF+

If you buy two tickets, you’ll get the third one free by using the promotional code ‘flashfree’.