Social Media Strategies: Improve The Trust Equation

Social Media is the first Internet-based platform that has facilitated a people-to-people connection. It provided a structure to build a personal presence online that could be used to build personal relationships, broadcast to our entire network and, importantly, it helped us build that network. Over time social media and the Internet has begun to replicate many of the human interactions that we do offline. All of these advances in social media have made it easier to build relationships online. Brands are able to go beyond content distribution and towards relationship building. In building a brand persona on social platforms we are able to leverage these platforms and their technology to build relationship with our customers. At the very least, we can build the impression of a good relationship by leveraging social media. At the heart of building relationship lies the currency of relationships – trust. Relationships are built on trust and destroyed when trust is broken. So, our role as a brand on social media is to build trust with our audience, which in turn leads to relationship building, brand love and advocacy. There is a simple formula for trust, developed by Charles H. Green, which I have tested and applied to a number of consumer brand and B2B environments. Each time it helps highlight the gaps in a social media strategy and what we need to focus on to build more trust. Credibility has to do with the words we speak. In a sentence, we might say, “I can...

Are You A Natural Born Leader?

When it comes to your career, it pays to know your strengths. No matter what field you’re in or what job role you have, understanding your personality will always help you to succeed. This isn’t because you can sing your own praises, but it’s because you can play to your strengths, and work on your weaker areas. Because that’s the thing about life. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an employee, there will always be things that you’re naturally good at. And on the flip side, there are also those things that you’re going to struggle with. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll never be good at them, it just means that you need to work a little harder. This is very much the case with leadership. Sure, some people are born to dictate. But others can learn the skills so that they can become great leaders too. Let’s consider how. 1. Understanding People So first of all, you need to make sure that you understand people. And that you like working with people. And, that you care about how you communicate with them. The more that you can understand how people think and act and work, the better you’re going to be at leading them. 2. Proactively Aiming To Improve Next, you’re going to want to choose to improve. And you HAVE to be proactive about this because you are not just going to improve by accident. You are not just going to ‘end up’ a good leader. You need...

Developing Your Inner Guru

Stick or twist? Stop or go? Making business decisions can feel like a step into the dark sometimes and leave you wondering if you’re going to plunge headlong into a financial abyss or into something altogether more enticing. Unless you have the gift of seeing into the future, there can be no way of telling for sure what’s going to happen but is there such a thing as business sense? If you’re setting up on your own for the first time, it’s a leap of faith and you might make one or two questionable decisions during those early days. The stakes only start to get much higher the further along you go, so how do you avoid the snakes and climb the ladders? We’ll show you how to develop your inner business guru and make decisions that boost your business rather than harm it. Network For so many of us, the idea of making small talk in a room filled with strangers is torture but making contacts, particularly with people in the same boat as you, can help you to develop some sharp instincts. Don’t be afraid to quiz them on their decision-making processes, what’s worked and what hasn’t. If you can gain any insight into their practice, then use it to your advantage. If you build a strong enough network, you might even be able to call on them for advice when it comes to crunch time and decisions need to be made, just be willing to extend that...

Finding More Exposure For Your Brand

You can steward the most important business in your industry. You can innovate the best products. You can have the best working satisfaction, perhaps not measured but obviously apparent in the day to day culture of your office. But if your business isn’t exposed, marketed and advertised, it will struggle to find any standing in the modern market. This kind of difficulty is not warranted for many businesses, because they deserve to be seen. But it happens. Sometimes a bad marketing campaign is just as damaging as a campaign that was hardly seen. For this reason, you need to ensure that every shot you fire hits the bullseye. You want to ensure that people see your brand, but more importantly recognize it and understand it. You want to ensure that this happens repeatedly, even in the eyes of your regular customers. With the following advice, you might best be able to do this. Consider: Marketing Variance It’s important to find many places to market your presence. Simply choosing one option will be the same as only playing one chord on a guitar in order to contribute to a full song. You need to be present, and have confidence in your marketing strategy. This doesn’t mean you need content on television, on the radio, in magazines and targeting social media marketing in order to ensure everything plays out correctly, but choosing one or two to excel at can be a great idea, especially if encompassed in a three-sixty degree fashion. For...

Social Media Strategies: Nurture Advocacy

Building advocacy has always been a priority for brands in the past and today is no different. Brands engage social media influencers to become brand ambassadors or to help distribute content to a wider audience. However, social media provides a more valuable opportunity for brands. As Meghan Whalen Turner says, “Sometimes if you want to change a person’s mind, you have to change the mind of the person next to them first.” Social media presents the opportunity to build and nurture relationships at various levels of advocacy for the brand. The common plan is to look towards recognised social media influencers, which is akin to celebrity marketing albeit, more cost-effective. We can and should look further though. When looking to building and nurturing brand advocacy online we should look towards: Mega and minor celebrities Social media influencers Journalists Our customers Our employees All these people and more can provide and nurture brand advocacy. Outlined below is a framework developed at DigitLab that looks at how you can start nurturing your social media influence, instead of always having to buy it through campaigns, influencer fees and giveaways. Step 1: Identify To identify the influencers with whom you wish to build a relationship with, you first need to identify your ideal target audience: Who do you want to be speaking to? How old are they? What are their interests? What are their online behaviours like – which social platforms are they on? Which part of the consumer journey would you like to influence them...

3 Basic Tips for Gaining Customer Trust as a New Entrepreneur

No business will be successful for more than a heartbeat, unless they are capable of obtaining and maintaining client trust. You could be the most savvy businessmen in the world, you could have the most impressive product, and could have marketing graphics and videos that would make the finest artists of your day and age weep tears of joy. But if your customers or clients think that you are manipulative, untrustworthy, or otherwise exploitative, it is only a matter of time before your entire business venture sinks. On the other hand, even if your product or service isn’t the most advanced, streamlined, or pioneering in your field, customers and clients will give you a lot of slack if you are known to be trustworthy, supportive, and to have a high degree of professional integrity. So, since gaining customer trust is a fundamental part of your job as an entrepreneur, here are some effective but basic tips for gaining that trust. Be mindful of “qualifiers of professionalism” “Qualifiers of professionalism,” are those things that let your prospective clients or customers know, or at least cause them to believe, that you are highly professional, sophisticated, and know what you are doing. It certainly doesn’t hurt if they also think that you are well established in your particular niche, even if you aren’t yet. Of course, it should go without saying that you should never deceive your customers, or claim to have certain accolades which you do not. Nonetheless, you should be extremely...

Essential Trends That Future-Forward Business Need to be Aware of in 2019

It tends to be businesses with their finger on the pulse that do the best. Therefore, if you want your company to be considered among these, and reap the rewards, you will need to educate yourself on the most important trends of 2019. So let’s explore a few of the big topics impacting business today. Automation It does not quite mean rise of the robots yet, but automation will be playing a big part in business in 2019. In fact, if any repetitive and mundane tasks are still being done by humans in your business, the likelihood is that you are not working as efficiently as possible. Of course, a lack of efficiency has a direct affect on your bottom line and limits your capacity for growth. Therefore it’s crucial to examine the application of automation to areas such as marketing and sales, accounting, and even document production in your business. Outsourcing Another business trend that will continue to dominate in 2019 is outsourcing. This is where instead of doing things in-house you send particular projects to specialists that work independently of your company instead. There is massive trend in freelancing and this is set to impact many industries as many top line thinkers move out of organisations and begin freelancing their services. Of course, the value of outsourcing is tremendous because not only does it ensure you get the best people for the job that needs to be completed, but it also frees up your staff to focus on...

Are you Getting in the way of Your Product’s Personal Brand?

If you’ve been here for a while, you’ll already know a little something about the power of personal brand. This is the thing which can boost your sales and see you to success. It’s the story you tell customers to get them onboard. And, it’s the thing which ensures they never walk away empty-handed. Though it might sound easy enough, many entrepreneurs stumble over getting their personal brands just so. When this happens, failure is often inevitable. As such, it’s something you want to avoid at all costs. And, to do that, it’s worth considering why entrepreneurs before have fallen here. A lot of the issue here is in the semantics. The phrase ‘personal brand’ suggests that your efforts here should be personal. AKA, they should be about you. Many entrepreneurs think they can secure sales by putting themselves out there. But, that’s rarely the case. Think about it; posting personal updates is unlikely to lead to increased sales. That doesn’t mean that your personality doesn’t come into this. A decent business narrative often has an intensely personal struggle behind it. Look at Apple and their humble beginning in a garage. Rather, the trick here is to strike a fine balance between how much you and your product each dictate that personal brand. Rags to riches story aside, you’ll often find that your product should take the limelight. That’s because it’s the main event. It’s the thing you want customers to notice the most. As much as you need to...

Why we Banned Whatsapp at Work

I absolutely love my work. I have spent the last few years pouring all my spare time into doing work, thinking about work and talking about work. While many people applauded my “work ethic” I have since learnt that all work and no play leads to a pretty crummy life and a tired soul that has no energy to put into work anymore. The old adage “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” forgets to remind you that pushing the limits on your personal resources today may mean you have nothing to give in the future. Energy is finite and so is time. It’s how we use these resources that will dictate how successful we are in life. I personally no longer believe it’s about packing as much as possible into the time you have. Instead I believe that there should be a rhythm in life that both energizes you and allows you to spend that energy.   It was through these learnings that I started to appreciate the times of life when my phone didn’t ring, when Whatsapp didn’t ping and when my email was far away. I found that distance from work and the barrage of communication made me a better problem solver when I was at work. I found that I handled the pressure better with simple routines that put my health first and created space away from work. In general I found that to be the best leader, strategist and entrepreneur I could be, meant that I need...

Social Media Strategies: Apply the 80/20 Rule

Brands are chasing every single platform. Wanting to be everywhere, making sure that each platform has their voice, their content and their flavour. Organisations are chasing down the next app, the next network and the next digital trend. I’m all about being innovative and cutting-edge but being everywhere doesn’t make you innovative. It just makes you everywhere and being everywhere can be a very expensive and resource-intensive challenge. Twenty percent of your marketing is, most likely, contributing to eighty percent of your return. Tracking and measuring all your initiatives will help you find the twenty percent that counts. Then, you invest heavily into what matters – building an incredibly strong brand that is valued by its customers. In essence, we are talking about finding the touch points that are valuable to customers and choosing to invest there. Finding these touch points is a two-fold process that in practice becomes more an art than a science. First, ask yourself how your social media presence contributes to the customer: Does it make their life more convenient? Does it add to their personal brand or projected persona? Is it entertaining? Then cross match that with your social media objective: Are you driving leads? Are you building Share of Voice? Are you trying to educate people about the problem you’re solving? When you find the intersection where a customer values your social presence and you achieve the objective you’re aiming for – you will now have a true win/win scenario that you can invest...

Success Belongs to the Tech Savvy Broker

Technology has made a massive impact on business and the insurance industry is no exception. The majority of tech news will point to mobile technology, virtual reality, augmented reality, cloud, the internet of things and chatbots. There is a very real opportunity in driving social media relationships as a broker. There is good news for brokers in today’s connection economy. Your relationship building skills are the competitive edge you need to succeed in a digital economy. As the digital world facilitates more and more human connections it’s your ability to leverage these connections that will lead you towards success. Add to this the prevalence of fake news and we find ourselves in an environment that we need relationships of trust to help us decipher the good content from the fake content. In a world of information overload, the world needs trusted advisors, curators, and editors to help them make decisions. Your product knowledge, people skills, persistent high energy and honest personality are the things that bought you success to date and they will serve you well in the digital economy. In taking yourself online we would advise the following steps to getting the most out of your digital presence. Choose a Platform We get caught up in thinking we need to be everywhere, we don’t. We need to choose a platform where our customers are, where we feel comfortable expressing our opinion and where the type of content we produce matches the technology of the platform. It’s obvious to choose...

DigitLab recognised in KZN as a Top 100 Business

On the evening of 22 June, KZN’s premier businesses gathered to support and promote the province’s top companies and entrepreneurs. The Standard Bank KwaZulu-Natal Top Business Awards have firmly established themselves as a highlight in the KwaZulu-Natal business calendar. This year the awards once again celebrated successful companies and organisations in KwaZulu-Natal. The awards event provides an excellent opportunity for all business sectors to meet, be inspired and showcase their achievements to their peers. Each of the award categories celebrates and recognises business and organisational success across economic sectors in both the private and public arenas. The awards evening also saw the launch of the next annual edition of the KZN Top Business and Top Leaders Portfolio. The portfolio is an online portal to KwaZulu-Natal’s top businesses, organisations, municipalities and government departments. The website also includes a profile of the province, as well as insight into successful governance and the economy. It also highlights current investment possibilities in the province and provides regular news updates. KwaZulu-Natal offers you great opportunities for growth, expansion, trade and investment. Digital marketing agency DigitLab is proud to have been included in this Top Business Portfolio for 2018 and to have their CEO, Mike Saunders, highlighted as one of the province’s top leaders in the KZN Leaders Portfolio. “It has always been part of our vision to build a significant business on KZN soil and we will continue to chase our dream of building an international digital agency with its head office in Durban,” says...

Personal Branding: 16 Apps to make your life easier

Design and Editing Tools Canva Canva makes design simple for everyone. Create designs for Web or print: blog graphics, presentations, Facebook covers, flyers, posters, invitations and so much more. Lightroom Access, edit, organize, and share photos on your iPad, iPhone, or Android device. Changes sync seamlessly so they are available in your Lightroom CC desktop app and your Lightroom CC account on the web. Snapseed Make every photo extraordinary with Snapseed. Snapseed provides the precision and control of professional photo editing software, in the palm of your hand. Unsplash Beautiful, free photos. Gifted by the world’s most generous community of photographers Productivity and Management Tools Evernote Organize your work and declutter your life. With Evernote on your desktop and mobile devices, your notes are always with you and always in sync. Facebook Page Stay informed and respond to customers immediately with the Pages Manager app, available for iOS and Android. With the Pages Manager app, you can: Post updates, photos and videos, and respond to comments on your Page. View and reply to messages. Get push notifications for Page activity, tips and reminders. View your Page Insights and manage your settings and Page admins. Mailchimp Staying on top of your marketing is even easier when you can do it from anywhere. MailChimp gives you the power to create and send campaigns, manage subscribers, keep tabs on your account activity, and more—all from your mobile device. WordPress Publish blog updates from any corner of the globe, like travel writer Chérie King,...

Personal Branding: The Value of a Platform

Shakespeare wrote “All the world’s a stage” and his words ring more true today than ever. If you have something to say or something to sell, whether you are speaking to one person or many people, essentially, you’re on a stage. (Hyatt. M, 2012) The Internet has created a stage like no other before it. People can find groups of people to speak to easier and faster. They can research information and form opinions more efficiently. Ultimately the Internet gives people an opportunity to scale their platform easily, giving people the opportunity to influence more and sell more. Needless to say that as more people have taken advantage of this platform the more cluttered the Internet has become. Leading to people struggling to be seen amongst a sea of content created and shared by millions of people around the world. Social networks sued to be a great place to share your messages and while they are still effective, they lack the credibility that a personal brand needs to establish itself. People who take personal branding seriously are looking to build their own platform, instead of simply using other platforms to share their message. Building you own platform can be as simple as a blog or as elaborate as developing a website and a host of services that develop content. Whether you prefer a simple or elaborate approach it’s increasingly important to understand that there is more credibility in developing your own platform, than leveraging someone else’s platform. In our course...

Online Personal Branding: Establishing Narrative

Narrative is story, your story. The reason you do what you do, the way you choose to do it and reasons behind why you do these things. Establishing your narrative is important because it becomes the lens that you view success through, it directs and guides almost all the decisions you make as you develop your personal brand. Almost every business leadership book has touted the importance of having a company vision, writing a vision statement, and clearly communicating that vision so that you can lead a group of people in the direction you need. Vision statements are an important part of leadership. They are also an important part of your personal brand. A personal vision will help you frame where you plan to go, and will help you begin working out how to get there. Narrative is, however, different. Narrative brings something new to your vision and message. “Narrative tells the story of why you exist and everyone loves a good story. Good storytelling draws people in; gives readers or listeners something to connect with; and has an underlying moral that teaches a lesson or challenges a thought” (Saunders, 2016). Questions that help you develop your personal vision (FundingSage, 2017): • What problem do I plan to solve? Why do I believe this problem needs to be addressed? Does this problem matter to other people? Do I honestly believe we have the answer to that problem? What changes do I believe I can affect? What are my greatest strengths?...

Developing a Reading Habit

I have always been a reluctant reader. Mainly because it hated the idea of conforming to the ideals my school wanted me to adhere to. At school reading was a chore and so I hated every minute of reading a book. Later in life, I started to realise that books were one of the best tools available to progress your knowledge, career and self confidence. Especially considering that I work in an industry that consistently changes at a rapid rate, reading became one of the most important aspects of success. Reading become something I enjoyed however it still did not change the fact that I battled to develop a discipline of reading. I would read a book and then take a break for almost a year sometimes. It seemed ridiculous that I couldn’t find the time to devote to something that was such a great self development tool. So at the beginning of 2017 I decided to fix the problem and made some big changes to my approach to reading and my life. This lead to me spending many hours reading and taking my reading average of 2-3 books a year to 23 in 2017. So if there are any people out there looking to build a reading discipline I though I’d share the changes I made. Mindset Change: You don’t have to finish a book This was big for me. One of the reasons I would stop reading is that I would use the fact that I hadn’t finished...

The Power of Personal Brand

Your personal brand is one of the most valuable assets you can control. Your brand helps your build a career, sell better, start a business or even start a movement. No matter what you’re trying to achieve in life, your personal brand can help you achieve it. In today’s hyper connected digital era we see big potential in helping your personal brand reach new heights. The Internet has become a powerful platform to build a brand on quicker and stronger than we could before. Great brands and celebrities have used the internet to launch their careers and build their influence and many people are seeing the value in building a personal brand online. Personal brands help establish credibility, increase your online influence, secure work and grow your career, generate sales, attract potential partnership conversations, attract employment opportunities and expand your professional network. The boost in image will open opportunities and conversations that would ordinarily be unavailable. While there are practical aspects to your personal brands there are also some more intangible gains in building a personal brand. Building a personal brand will help set you on a path for personal development, it challenges you to improve, to collate your thoughts and to have a clear vision of success. A personal brand will help you find focus and drive your ability to take steps to achieve your goals. If you’ve already started pushing your personal brand but don’t know how you’re doing, a digital marketing agency can help you with a brand audit to measure...

The Extravert Growth Path

Extraverts are often deemed to have natural leadership ability, especially in business structures. While they are strong with communication and networking functions of business there are many areas of success in business that seem to allude the extravert. In a previous article I expressed my ideas that extraverts could learn and grow for their introverted colleagues as much as we expect introverts to learn from extraverts. In my experience working with extraverts there is a growth path for self development that reveals itself to those humble enough to consider the possibility. Learning to be comfortable alone Extraverts are more comfortable in group settings but can benefit a lot from learning to be alone and examining their inner thoughts. Although they will find this a tiring exercise the benefit can be enormous as they uncover a better understanding of self, which builds confidence and their ability to communicate their ideas more effectively. Being alone also helps people focus on the task at hand, and extraverts can often come across as unfocused and easily distracted. Finding ways to be comfortable alone in order to think and focus will help extraverts produce better results in the long run. Deep thinking and consideration When issues require deep-thinking, look to enlist the help of an introvert. Deep thinking comes naturally to them and as the extravert you can learn about what it takes to unpack and consider an idea in its fullness. Allow the introvert to lead you on this journey as they are better...

The Introvert Growth Path

Introverts are some of the most misunderstood people groups in business, often over looked due to the way they process information, socialise and contribute to teams. In general extraverts are more visible in the work environment in comparison to introverts and this inevitably leads them to be front of mind when decisions are made regarding who should lead projects or receive promotions. According to Jennifer Kahnweiler in her book “The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength” there are number of growth paths introverts should take to be more successful: Talk about your performance Introverts prefer to let their work speak for itself however many leaders are too busy to stay in touch with every project, especially in enough detail to let them see what a good job you’re doing. Introverts should learn to develop the skills to clearly communicate their performance to their leaders. Using opportunities as they arise to be seen as a valuable contribution to the team. Plan solitary time carefully Most business activities are very social. Meetings, collaborations, networking and open plan environments can become exhausting and overwhelming for introverts. Its common for introverts to choose corner desks in open plan environments or to never exit their office unless necessary. This can be quite detrimental to an introvert as it cuts them off from people and can leave them with weak business relationships that limit their ability to affect positive change in the organisation. However if introverts simply just embrace social gatherings and activities all day...

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