Social Marketing in South Africa.

Ignore these guys at your peril.

These guys may have blogs one day.

Universal Mcann has just released a report on the “power of the mouse”. And according to the report social media is the new black. All the cool kids are doing it: blogs, podcasts, website competitions, playing around with 3G mobile tech. It’s the best way to hook your consumer. And that’s great – if you live in Europe or the States. But what if you live in South Africa?  

Recently, I worked on some creative for a national brand. The brief was ultimately to create an engagement platform for their consumers: an aspirational bunch who were being marketed to in a very sophisticated ATL campaign.  So for us the natural choice was to make use of social media: blogs, mobile-sites etc. The problem was that on further research, we discovered the consumer group was only earning R2000 a month. They didn’t have access to social media. They used “Please-call-me’s”. We had to restructure the campaign.

I’m not disputing Universal Mcann’s findings.  

All I’m saying is that the focus in this country needs to be on the fundamentals of social marketing: engagement. Forget telling consumers to come visit your blog. Go to where your consumers are. How cool would it be if Sunlight washing-powder actually brought the current ATL campaign (the TV spots where the salesman rocks up and washes a consumer’s laundry) to life? Maybe run a competition where someone would come and wash your laundry for a month for nothing. A lot of women – especially in the townships – would appreciate that.

Of course, if you’re only hunting middle-class money none of that applies to you.

But if Universal Mcann’s predicted Internet explosion actually happens, then you have to lay the groundwork now. Remember, that explosion relies on investment in infrastructure and consumers being able to earn more…and that relies on strong economic growth. That means that the people you’re ignoring now are going to be your customers in the future. So build the website and set up the blog. But go talk to your consumers today or risk them hanging up on you tomorrow.

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