So we have established that America has left me with an epiphany. We are not American! Great you say, she flies thousands of kilometers to figure out something we already knew. Well, I believe there is more to it.
Why the difference matters
Being different might be an established fact in your mind but wherever I look I see the same international laws and premises being applied to our local culture. There are a growing number of individuals who offer their services and expertise on the Social Media Communications front but they are all doing the same thing. Reading the same Mashable posts and tips, using Google and finding resources like Social Media Examiner and imposing their truths on the South African market. If we agree that the South African market is different then we need to accept the implications of that statement. We cannot impose their rules on our market. We simply aren’t ready for it yet. To refresh yourself on why I believe our market is so different, read this post.
So what do we do?
Take a deep breath. We will be fine. We will also probably catch up with the American (and other international) markets but until we do we need to make our rules stick.
The American market (and home to the famous reference sites like SME, Mashable and others) uses social media as an accepted communication platform, they use multiple platforms without going into shock and private users accept that businesses and brands will communicate with them socially.
The South African market is still debating whether or not to jump into the social pool. Individuals are still obsessed with the threat of identity theft. Once we decide to venture into the pool, we fret about which platform, how often, why, and what to say. We are still living in fear of the social media revolution. I do believe that this will change but it doesn’t change the fact that our approach should be different.
How to communicate with the SOUTH AFRICAN market SOCIALLY:
- Stop obsessing about frequency and timings of your posts / tweets or pins. Focus on being authentic. Don’t waste time with irrelevant updates that are both annoying and time-wasters. American trends have taught us that interaction is most effective when FB post happen at least daily and tweets are sent at least 8 times per day – true for a country that has enough happening to fill the space.
- Look at the game plan. Social media is here to stay. It will grow and evolve with time and so will you. Just because you communicate via Facebook today doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind in the future. It is a free world and we live in a country that encourages democratic opinions. Decide what will work for you now, use it, try it and adapt.
- Remember the local-is-lekker consumer. South African consumers are by nature more distrustful. We are hesitant to engage with internet sites, we doubt most of what we read (unless it is a SPAM-chain-mail that offers millions if you only send it on and CC IOL!) and we have only a small percentage of our market represented on the internet. In the bigger scheme of things, don’t drop all your communication efforts in favour of a social media strategy that will exhaust you. Perspective….
Was it all for nothing?
Of course not. Like I said. Social media is here to stay. Get used to it. Incorporate it into your marketing mix but remember that we are a proud country with a unique, diverse population. Don’t obsess about Facebook, Twitter & YouTube. Relax. Remember that social media, more than any other communication platform available to you, is about creating a conversation with your market. So start talking.
That isn’t so frightening, is it?