World Social Media Day: how the communications phenomenon has changed the world and business
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30 June is acknowledged around the globe as World Social Media Day, which is dedicated to celebrating the impact that social media has had (and still has today) on how we communicate, how it helps people connect around the world, and how it brings people together.

Since its inception in 1997, with the site – where users could set up a profile, build a list of connections, and send messages within the network – social media has become what many consider the primary way we share news about our lives, achievements, successes, and adventures, and connect with other people. And in the business world, how we market our brands and products and engage with our audiences. 

A helpful business tool

For a business, social media does not only have to be used for social reasons – it can also be a powerful tool that can help elevate your business.

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“Social media has evolved to a point where we can use it for many reasons outside of the social realm,” says Keletso Mpisane, Head of digital insurer Blink by MiWay. “It allows us to see what is being said about our business, gives us a platform to speak as a business, and perhaps most importantly, allows us to connect with others.”

Recently, Blink by MiWay launched a WhatsApp chatbot called ‘Blinky’ that allows consumers to get a quote without making any phone calls. When a business understands social media, it opens up the possibility of improving service on both ends. By using it as a helpful tool, you can communicate transparently and directly with your audience, and give them insights into why your business is great.

Helping to cultivate meaningful relationships

Social media has evolved considerably, particularly concerning the importance of customer data and the true meaning of engagement.

A lot of traditional social media platforms have become quite “anti-social” – forcing brands and businesses to compete with each other for eyeballs, impressions, likes, and comments, says Lebo Lekoma, Director of Client Services at impact gaming company, Sea Monster. And many brands are using social media to do a lot of talking at their communities, through targeted ad campaigns, instead of talking with them. That’s a problem if brands and businesses want to cultivate meaningful relationships with their customers, build real communities, and promote brand loyalty.

It is critical that businesses also focus on guiding customers through the funnel – from awareness to consideration, and games offer an opportunity to do this, says Lekoma. “Gaming is a natural extension to our current digital media landscape and, as more people use gaming platforms to gather and socialise, an integral part of the contemporary social media ecosystem. As such, games have become very much a part of the modern marketing mix.”

“We’ve seen businesses explore the opportunity presented by games and gaming platforms as a way to foster deeper and more sustained engagement by tapping into gaming audiences through activations, and by creating their own environments on platforms like Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite, and others – much like how brands have established their own spaces on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.”

This approach enables brands to engage more deeply and authentically with their audiences for extended periods — minutes or even hours, as opposed to a few seconds, on some social media platforms, adds Lekoma. “That’s where the consideration phase of the customer journey is really unlocked and where customer data can be leveraged in a compliant manner to offer personalised and memorable interactions.”

Social media for social impact 

As a leading home services platform, SweepSouth uses social media for engagement and interaction with customers. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and X play an important role in communicating with customers, sharing updates and addressing queries. These platforms enable SweepSouth to have conversations with users by addressing concerns as well as building trust and loyalty.

By employing content marketing strategies on social media platforms, SweepSouth enhances its brand visibility. Consistent posts featuring cleaning tips, glimpses of the SweepSouth team and stories from SweepStars reflect the company’s dedication to providing top-notch service while building a positive working environment and an impact on society. Campaigns on Instagram and Facebook strengthen SweepSouth’s reputation as a service provider that truly wants to understand its customers’ needs. 

SweepSouth’s social media presence also serves as a platform for advocacy and corporate social responsibility. Updates on initiatives like the annual SweepSouth Report on Pay and Working Conditions for Domestic Workers highlight efforts to enhance the lives of workers in South Africa. By sharing these narratives SweepSouth raises awareness about issues and positions itself as a leader in driving change within the industry.

Encouraging connection and support

For African entrepreneurship education brand Anzisha, social media significantly reduces the distance between entrepreneurs across the continent – from Uganda to the tech hubs of Accra. According to Didi Onwu, Managing Editor of Anzisha, through effectively using social media, borders become invisible.

 “It also allows us to highlight the vibrant and often demanding world of youth entrepreneurship in Africa. Through platforms like Meta, TikTok, and mostly Instagram we share success stories, updates, and opportunities, fostering a sense of connection and support. On World Social Media Day, we celebrate the power of these digital channels in driving our mission forward and creating a positive, lasting impact on the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” says Onwu.

Crossing the borders between memory making and brand engagement

Many brands are aware that to make meaningful connections with their audiences, they will need to tap into an emotion or memory-forming aspect of consumers’ hearts and minds. For brands in industries such as the food and beverage and hospitality industries, many people visit a hotel or a restaurant with members of their family, friends or other loved ones. 

All a business needs to do is cultivate and create social media-ready spaces for clientele to take pictures to solidify memories. Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, for example, is one of seven areas across the Western Cape with an official Cape Town yellow frame. The yellow frames are situated in only the most beautiful locations in Cape Town, with backdrops of iconic landmarks such as Table Mountain. They also have social media hashtags written on them for guests to tag their location. This is both a beautiful memory-making experience for guests and an opportunity for the hotel to be tagged and shown off on social media. 

The unmissable yellow landmarks are set in locations such as Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront’s lawn, the Cape Town railway station, historical District Six, Signal Hill and Lookout Hill in Khayelitsha.