Business Informative & Scope Innovation

Online Marketing 101

by Su Aziz

The benefits of online marketing is numerous, the main one being cost effective. However, not many do it right. For effective online marketing, know which social media platforms are right for you, how to work with an influencer and how to involve employees in your online marketing campaign. Here are some leads.

Lately, quite a few things in people’s daily life have been influenced by what they come across on Instagram. For instance, what to eat for lunch, where to hang out after work and which Korean drama to watch next (normally governed by whichever actor whose popularity ‘breaks’ the Instagram). This is the universal reality. There’s no doubt in everyone’s mind that social media platforms are the easiest way to widen reach and create awareness of a brand, product or service.

Above all, the best part about social media is, it appeals to all, across the board from baby boomers to generation Z. Basically, it is marketing made simple. Or so it seems. To allay doubts (if any), first let’s look at some numbers, and they are pretty impressive.

Statistic by Statista shows that there were 243.6 million social network users in America in 2018, which was the equivalent of about three quarters of the country’s population. In America, social media usage accounts for 21.4 per cent of total mobile minutes, a trend driven by social media apps and mobile messengers. The number of social network users was forecasted to go up to 249.7 million by 2020.

Meanwhile, in China, statistic by Statista shows 673.5 million social network users in China during 2018, and forecasted to up to 740.9 million in 2020. Despite Facebook banned in the country, local social networking sites such as Tencent Weibo have been attracting users.

To put it into perspective, and to narrow it down to strength in numbers, China’s population makes up 18.41 per cent of the total world population and the United States makes up 4.27 per cent of the total world population. Only India stands in-between these two giant and internet-savvy populations.

Also, statistic by Statista shows that the social network penetration rate as of January 2019 for East Asian countries such as China, Japan as well as Korea, and North America were ranked first with a social media penetration rate of 70 per cent. This was followed by Northern Europe with 67 per cent where the global average penetration rate was 45 per cent. The most popular social network worldwide is (still) Facebook with more than 2.3 billion monthly active users. Social networking usage has also become increasingly mobile where a year ago, in January 2018, mobile social media had a 58 per cent usage rate in the United States, and 53 per cent reach in Mexico.

These numbers are testaments to just how effective social media, and in turn online marketing, can be. It’s hard to ignore the reach as well as influence of social media, and how all the different platforms available today will affect your business positively when done right.

So, let’s take a look at a few fundamentals.

Commonly Used Platforms
According to Zephoria, there are over 2.32 billion monthly active Facebook users in 2018, reflecting a nine per cent increase since the year before. This is despite China’s ban. As you can see, Facebook is simply too big to ignore and a powerful tool as part of your online marketing communications program. The main demographic for Facebook is between 24 and 35 years old, and with female users only being slightly higher than male – thus, gender is hardly something to consider.

Buffer, a social media management site, reports 1.9 billion people watch billions of hours of videos each month on YouTube. It’s the second biggest social media site and considered as the second largest search engine after Google.

The rise of Instagram has been one of the most significant opportunities for small, medium and yes, even large businesses. Numbers reached up to a billion users in 2018. Its popularity rose even more with the launch of Instagram Stories. In fact, statistics show that Instagram Stories garner 400 million daily users and 35 per cent more views for brands compared to Snapchat Stories. However, Instagram Stories has led to a decrease in regular post engagement. Therefore, using Instagram Stories definitely add value to a business and increase engagement among followers. Omnicore, a full-service digital marketing agency, reports 59 per cent of internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 use Instagram, and 33 per cent of internet users between the ages of 30 and 49 use Instagram.

Twitter, meanwhile, seems to have a decline in users. Hootsuite, an established social media management site, reports 500 million tweets are sent per day and 326 million people use Twitter each month. That’s nine million fewer than in mid-2018, and four million fewer than late 2017. While monthly Twitter users may decrease, its daily number of users increases by nine per cent consistently since 2016. One of the explanations given is that it aims to attract quality users while repelling bad ones. It could mean higher-quality audiences for advertisers. What’s more, 259 million of those 326 are international users, it operates in 33 languages and Twitter Lite is data-friendly as well as available in more than 45 countries. Twitter’s Chinese counterpart, Sina Weibo, garners 445 million monthly active users in 2018.

Finally, there’s LinkedIn. It’s not only a networking platform of choice for recruiters and those seeking employment but it’s also a content platform with over 100,000 articles published each week and has more than 500 million members.

Involving Employees
Numbers show that the majority of the world’s population uses social media. It’s time to capitalise on this. Here’s how. ‘Encourage employees to become company advocates by sharing interesting, valuable and impressive information about the business, including successes and thought leadership content,’ writes Global Banking and Finance Review. Furthermore, the article mentions that to include posts about life at the office and employee profiles give your company an identity, putting a face to a name, so to speak.

Score, a free business mentoring service and low- or no-cost workshops, reminds how personal accounts can be better at generating social buzz and quite a few businesses in the west, namely America, have asked employees to do this, ‘making it the second most-used tactic outside of hiring designated sales and marketing people’. However, now without some guideline. Score listed out a few things that’ll maximise your employees’ social media efforts:

  • Provide some kind of training including best times of day to post and what to include, or not include, in their posts.
  • Establish a company-wide social media policy and how to handle a controversial topic that arises.
  • Create a culture where people will want to voluntarily share their work and they’ll do so happily, with great results.
  • Help employees identify people they can follow and be followed in return, hashtags to use and topics to comment on to help build proper audience for their posts.
  • Don’t overuse the system and erase the goodwill you’ve earned.
  • Ensure all your content has easily accessible share buttons to all major platforms.

Working with an Influencer
Another way to maximise on online marketing, is to work with an influencer. Instagram generally ‘owns’ the most popular and influential influencers. Where do you begin to look for, and work with, an influencer? Let’s hear an influencer’s advice. Do your research and find out if the influencer’s brand aligns with your business’ values as well as personality, quality of their content and if their audience is engaged. Once you’ve ticked off this list, move on to bridging communication and an initial contact via direct message is acceptable. However, if the influencer provides an email address on their profile, emailing is a better option.

Keep in mind that influencing on social media is an influencer’s bread and butter. So, put aside a budget and plan to pay a fee, especially when their posts generate income for your business. Also, as the norm, fees may vary and negotiating on the amount upfront may be wise. Although, there are influencers who may be starting out and in the midst of building their followers, these ones may accept complimentary products in lieu of fee. In this case, it may be influencer with less than ten thousand followers, but if their followers seem to be your target audience, give it a go.

Most influencers, prefer to have creative control over their posts. Giving them basic guidelines on your product is a good idea but leave them to govern the shout-outs. You picked them for a reason and obviously, like their content, let them do their job and keep it authentic rather than scripted.

Lastly, don’t forget to request for shout-outs on Instagram Stories and for feedback on your campaign from the influencer.

Other Helpful Tips
Six tips you can apply to create opportunities via digital or online marketing by Ariana O on Medium:

  1. Get your business in the digital world: The first thing to do is to create a website for your business is essential these days.
  2. Having a profitable blog theme with SEO content: Be very specific in describing the issue which you intend to treat your blog. Two examples: Travel fleeting millenials, Fashion for women petite.
  3. Generate leads: You need subscribers in your website for prospecting and giving them incentives of value.
  4. Presence in social media: Do promotions for your communities and take care of the quality of the photos you upload and everything you share.
  5. Get your followers in love with you: Do this using email marketing campaigns to generate confidence.
  6. Solve the problems of your market as an expert: Take this issue seriously, do research and look at what your followers say about their problems.

Finally peek at what’s been considered as effective social media marketing tools of 2019. It includes social media platform schedulers, online campaign managers and online community builders.

The next WBN Online Marketing Workshop will be in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on 15 – 18 April 2019. Details on registration and programme, here.


Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash


15 Mar 2019
Last modified: 12 Apr 2019
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