Seven ways for political parties to win on social media before South Africa’s National Government Elections

From Donald Trump’s tweets that make the news, to Helen Zille’s jaw dropping updates, and Jacob Zuma’s videos on Twitter, politics have become a staple across social media timelines. Election time is the perfect opportunity for political parties, and their leaders, to create a digital and social media strategy that resonates with their constituencies and keeps people engaged. Most political parties in South Africa tend to shoot from the hip; to approach social media only as a campaign tool, rather than a significant part of their strategy. This year, things will need to be different to convince the hyper-connected voter.

Social Media

How to change the existing approach:

  1. Research conversations from among key people in your constituencies

    Social media platforms give us the ability to research keywords, discussions and hashtags which are clues around what people feel about certain topics. One of the ongoing discussions among South Africans on social media is their uncertainty about which party to vote for, that most political formations are great on paper but fail to convince voters with their actions and interactions. Looking at some of these numerous updates, comments by friends, and others echo similar sentiments.

    Politicians, by the looks of it, are going on as though it’s business as usual.

    Campaigns seem to work off the assumption that this election will be the same as others, that manifestos and sloganeering are enough to sway the voters.

    Yet every other post tells us that people do not feel as though their views are being represented by a team that speaks to them. Basic conversation data is easily and freely accessible to inform a party that wants to stand for the change that individuals are calling for.

  2. Train a team of leaders across the social web and collaborate with them

    Most parties use their profiles to promote media statements and press releases, which are important but can also take away from human interaction (more about this later) and this is a hugely missed opportunity. Research we conducted on social media leading up to the election of ANC president, Cyril Ramaphosa, showed that parties with vocal members on Twitter drove a more powerful narrative.

    This was the case in ANC party narrative where the DA and the EFF had vocal individuals, which led to these opposition parties being nearly as visible as the ANC. This meant that, when people looked at ANC party election mentions, the DA and EFF would show up nearly as many times as the ANC. Opposition parties in this case had more influential party leaders speaking up against the ANC process, and adding to the narrative.

    While there may have been numerous contributing factors that caused this, one stand-out reason is that individuals are typically more trusted than brands or political parties. They are also able to disengage from a script, and can interact more meaningfully with their followers. Political parties tend to have a “safer” (read as boring) scripted approach in their response to user comments, which they feel might serve the party well, but in reality, it builds more walls between the party and its constituent base. Having individual voices and responses resonates more with people than media statements and strict, scripted party lines, and the resulting content feels more honest, authentic and transparent.

  3. Drive regular social media engagement

    Critics have pointed out that politicians and their various formations utilise social media to drive propaganda and party messaging. With over 2,7-billion people across social media, building an engaged audience is worth the time and investment – beyond just pushing messages.

    Political parties can see a lot of benefit from regular interactions with their followers, which can range from live videos on Instagram or Facebook, and ongoing Twitter question-and-answer sessions.

    Fake news has become part of our daily lives, so much that some people cannot tell the difference between honest reports and misinformation.

    As we head to May, when it’s estimated that South African national elections are likely to take place, open public interactions may be helpful for parties as a way of dispelling misinformation.

    Hosting these sessions every fortnight at first, then weekly as we close in on the elections, will contribute towards building and maintaining an approachable organisation. The ones who are authentic and honest may win voters over with their openness, which millennials appreciate among their chosen leaders.Voter comments

  4. Create videos for the social web

    Since joining Twitter in November 2018, former president, Jacob Zuma has posted many videos as interactions with South Africa and the world. The account has been one of the fastest growing ones in South Africa and has had its fair share of media mentions. This has, in some ways, increased brought the former president back to the nation’s consciousness without the need to seek media in traditional ways.

    According to the SA Social Media Landscape by Ornico and World Wide Worx, South Africa has over 8-million Twitter users.

    Video is also the fastest growing form of rich media content on across the social web with platforms like IGTV solely dedicated to this form of media.

    Unlike traditional media video, social media requires shorter, punchy content that makes its point quickly and succinctly. These can form part of ongoing messaging that addresses burning issues that come up in ongoing interactions from the previous point. It can also be used to breakdown the often wordy and complex elections manifestos that hardly resonate with the public.

  5. Be more human

    Since the days of former president, Barack Obama’s wildly successful campaign that many politicians and world leaders try to copy, social media makes political leaders accessible. And to win people over, politicians should come out from behind party manifestos, rehearsed speeches and spin.

    Social media, from Instagram to LinkedIn offers users the opportunity to connect at a human and approachable level, which is what’s missing – in some ways – in South African politics. This is arguably the case in politics across the world, because even some of the most active leaders are not responsive.

  6. Reach out to engaged micro-influencers and reward them

    Every community has its influencers, individuals who sway the conversations one way or another, and individuals whose mentions generate more chatter than average. As a party that’s paying attention to both data and people, you’ll begin to notice who these individuals are in your community.

    Some of these engaged individuals will be micro-influencers, people with a relatively niche following who are not big-name celebrities. Once they have emerged from the noise and clutter, whether they are card carrying members or not, find a way to reward them. This may be an invitation to a closed event where they get to ask questions, or another useful form of interaction.Voter opinions

  7. Consolidate all digital communication

    One of the great things about social media is its immediacy, the ability to disseminate a message in real-time to people across the world. It’s also arguably its curse because our timelines are so filled with messaging from everywhere that important communication drowns in a sea of ever-increasing noise.

    How can organisations address this? Build a platform that can consolidate these interactions into a single, owned platform that anyone, including the media followers, can get access to. Your digital team can then curate conversations, Tweets, Instagram images and video content that can be displayed on the site.

    A single platform for all social media interactions, such as a microsite, will ensure that you separate yourself from the noise and make content more visible. Some of this content can be referred back to for articles and other content.

The 2019 elections will be interesting with more political formations coming to the fore over the past few months, three of which are led by people with known public profiles. Parties need to stand out and prove to uncertain voters that they deserve a chance, which will largely be the product of creative and transparent communication with South Africans. Social media and digital platforms may prove to be most effective way to reach out.

This post was first featured on BizCommunity.  

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. 

Hire like Instagram, Facebook and Dropbox

Apart from the businesses they are in; Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox and Zappos know how to source and retain talent. Online MBA sent me this video below, which in less than 2-minutes, gives you the lowdown into how successful startups hire.

Company culture is what makes them common and, if anything, we all want to work with people who are similar – in some way – to us.

Have a look and share the love with your friends as well.

Which startups do you think hire and retain talent in a way that is worth following for inspiration?