A new research study on influence in social media has revealed that 50 of South Africa’s major brands enjoy the attention of more than 5-million social media users - of which 355 000 can be described as influencers.
Facebook is the best social network for brands to reach mass markets in South Africa, Instagram offers much better engagement. Twitter has become a medium driven by politics and events.
The study also reveals that, while Facebook is the best social network for brands to reach mass markets in South Africa, Instagram offers much better engagement. Twitter has become a medium driven by politics and events. This means the short-form social network works best for authentic brands that are clearly differentiated, that represent social movements, are political or are uniquely authentic.
Those are some of the many findings of new research conducted by World Wide Worx with Continuon on the social audiences of 50 South African brands on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Launched today, 14 March 2018, at a Heavy Chef event in Sandton, #OnlyConnect2018 - The Power Of Brand Influencers is an unprecedented analysis of the interactions and relationships that 50 top brands enjoy with local social audiences. The research allows brands to measure the quality of their social media communities, in order to set benchmarks for success.
“This is the first time that South Africa’s marketing and business communities have been let into the private workings of brands and their social communities, and what we’re learning will upset the notions that marketers and brands have had about social media - how to use it, how to measure returns,” says Arthur Goldstuck, Managing Director of World Wide Worx. South Africa's leading independent technology market research organisation, World Wide Worx is headed by Goldstuck, a pioneer in the South African market in the use of the internet as a tool for productivity, and in measuring usage and the impact of the Internet in business.
World Wide Worx and Continuon spent three months poring over more than 100-million data points from 5,25-million Unique Engagers and 355,000 Unique Influencers, in the social communities of 50 of South Africa’s most recognised brands.
Continuon uses a homegrown technology, built in Cape Town, that builds elaborate algorithms to analyse social networks and data to forge better connections between brands and people. At a time when humans are losing trust in brands and advertising, Continuon’s vision is to reinvent marketing so that it is more useful, authentic and meaningful.
“For the first time we are able to look across multiple categories, and at brands of different sizes and budgets, from an equal perspective,” says Goldstuck . “This not only gives us a much better view of the social media dynamics in this country, but addresses the massive disconnect between big budgets for social spend and loose measures of success. Marketers need to be more rigorous and accountable for their decisions, and knowing what ‘good’ looks like in terms of social media will help raise the profile of digital marketers in the boardroom.
“Now we are able to talk about the power of a brand’s community – to identify real consumers in a brand’s community, who can drive messages for the brand regardless of the size of their following or network. This is something the local marketing community hasn’t been able to do before,” he says.
“We’ve learned with this research that the real influencers, rather than supposed celebrity influencers, can be harnessed and turned into advocates for brands. They can also help recruit audiences that can be migrated out of the big social networks and into branded CRM, loyalty, ecommerce and other programmes that are owned by businesses,” Goldstuck adds.
Bradley Elliott, founder of Continuon, believes that the sheer size and robustness of the study will redefine how brands assess their digital marketing strategies.
“It does not replace strategy and execution, but informs and assesses its impact,” says Elliott. “Influencer marketing is gaining massive popularity and use amongst brands, because it works and yields results.
“But the big learning from this massive research study is that the old metrics for measuring social success aren’t good enough.”
Continuon identifies, segments, and connects brands to the people who most matter in their social networks to create real relationships that last.
“Not all influencers are the same,” says Elliott. “This means brands will have to employ smart technologies to segment social audiences, and to dig deeper into audience categories and what they mean, to get better benefit from investments in social media.
“Brands have traditionally used what metrics are at their disposal to define performance. The current metrics used for measuring social success by brands is a limited view of the power of influence on social networks.”
Elliott points out the fundamental flaw in Influencer Marketing uncovered by the research: celebrities - well known personalities with big reach - and micro-influencers - unknown, everyday people with smaller reach - are qualitatively assessed, but then quantitatively measured by their reach.
“This is flawed. Brands and marketers need to use technologies, methods and tools that create data-led insights to social, in order to deliver winning campaigns that connect brands to humans, and that help brands migrate social audiences off the big networks and into environments like CRM, loyalty programmes and ecommerce initiatives.
“Brands have spent millions building audiences on big social networks. But, in return, the titans of social networks — Facebook, Twitter and Google — have pulled a massive bait-and-switch. They’re making marketers pay to engage with the very audiences that brands have helped to grow. This means that brands will need to smartly wrestle back control of these audiences, or at the very least employ the smartest technologies, strategies and tactics to make social work for them.”
Despite the massive investments in social media, brands have no control over the algorithms or management of these platforms. And they certainly don’t own the data for the audiences that they connect with on social media — Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn do. But technologies like Continuon enable brands to better connect with social audiences and to leverage influence for brand growth.
KEY TAKE OUTS #OnlyConnect2018 - The Power Of Brand Influencers
The three month research study by Continuon and World Wide Worx covered:
- 100,000,000+ Data Points
- 5,25 Million Unique Engagers
- 355,000 Unique Influencers
- 50 Brands
- 9 Categories
- 3 Social Networks
INSIGHTS ON THE GIANT SOCIAL NETWORKS
- While Facebook’s dominance, especially in the consumer goods market, may come as no surprise, there were some specific eye-openers for the brands that participated in the study.
- Many brands get more engagement ‘bang for buck’ on Instagram, which also has more influencers than expected for its ‘size’.
- Twitter, which has a similar audience size to Instagram, has negligible engagement compared to Instagram. However, many brands have an audience on Twitter that they do not appear to be leveraging at the moment.
INFLUENCER MARKETING INSIGHTS
- Influencer marketing is on the rise, but brands need to be mindful that engagement comes from fans and followers, as well as people who are not fans and followers.
- Not all influencers are the same. What Continuon’s software has enabled is the segmentation or differentiation of categories of influencers. This means that brands are going to have to employ smart technologies to segment social audiences to get better benefit from their investment in social media.
- Fans and Followers aren’t everything and engagement does not equal influence.
- Influencers can be ordinary people with small followings.
- Brands have traditionally used what metrics are at their disposal to define performance. These have been the number of fans and followers on social networks together with the reach and engagement rates of content that is put out. This is a limited view of the power of influence on social networks.
- In Influencer Marketing, celebrities [well known personalities with big reach] and micro-influencers [unknown, everyday people with smaller reach] are qualitatively assessed and then quantitatively measured by their reach. This is flawed, and brands and marketers need to use technologies, methods and tools that create data-led insights to social.
- Technology, algorithms and artificial intelligence will yield new metrics that will build on the old ones
- Using technology to assess the relationship between fans and followers as well as engagers and brand influencers will allow brands to work meaningfully on social media and ensure that they know if they are just creating content to spray into the market, or if they are building a community of consumers who engage with their content and spread the word in the digital domain.
- Authentic brands with a strong social cachet — brands that are uniquely differentiated, respected and authentic — win, when it comes to influence.
- Mass market brands with a unique voice dominate engagement and influence, particularly on Facebook.
- Humour wins. Small brands can outsmart bigger brands if they have a distinctive voice and strategically employ clever, crowd-pleasing personas to engage. A big brand learning here is that humour can help brands punch well above their weight.
- Political and cause-related brands can dominate Twitter if they use political relevance intelligently to connect with social audiences there.
TAKE OUTS ON THE NINE INDUSTRY SECTORS
- In retail, clothing dominates in terms of the audiences looked at, as well as engagement overall, although Goldstuck notes that the results may be skewed due to the fact that a high number of clothing brands participated in the survey.
- Alcohol and Health & Wellness brands are particularly good at drawing engagers from outside their audiences. Is this due to the quality of their content?
- Few brands appear to even be trying on Twitter. Retail – Non-clothing has a large Twitter audience that it is not currently capitalising on.
- Categories that rely on authenticity tend to feature higher up the influence pyramid, and as we enter the mass market, we find categories with more ‘bottom heavy’ shapes.
About World Wide Worx: World Wide Worx is South Africa's leading independent technology market research organisation. It is headed by Arthur Goldstuck, a pioneer in the South African market in the use of the internet as a tool for productivity, and in measuring usage and the impact of the Internet in business. For more information go to www.worldwideworx.com
About Continuon: A smart marketing technology, Continuon uses computational algorithms, social networks and data to forge better connections between brands and people. At a time when humans are losing trust in brands and advertising, Continuon’s vision is to reinvent marketing so that it is more useful, authentic and meaningful. When brands better understand and serve people, this enables valuable social connections, and builds trust. Used by smart marketers, Continuon identifies, segments, and connects brands to the people who most matter in their social networks to create real, win-win relationships that last. A homegrown technology, built in Cape Town, find out how Continuon creates smarter connections between brands and social communities at https://continuon.co