Mike Saunders Recognised on Top Digital Marketing Experts List

With many digital marketing agencies and experts on the scene, receiving international recognition deserves to be celebrated. Inbassador, an Austrian-based brand ambassador solution provider, recently recognized DigitLab’s CEO, Mike Saunders, on a list of Top Global Digital Marketing Experts & Influencers in 2019 You Should be Following. They handpicked thirty digital thought leaders from around the world, with Mike being one of two South Africans being highlighted. Talking with Inbassador’s Head of Content, Melissa Chetty, Mike shared his thoughts and predictions for the future of digital marketing. “Businesses are realising that one digital solution doesn’t fit perfectly and will embrace the API business model,” said Mike, looking at trends to continue into 2020. “Influence is incredibly important, and brands should be looking to nurture long term brand trust instead of buying short term social media influence.” Being recognised as a role model for young digital marketers, Mike also had these words as advice for those aspiring to get into the field: “Let your first step be to critically assess the problem your clients face. Solve their problem first, then implement the digital solution. Too many businesses fail because they implement technology first without considering the solution to their problem correctly. DigitLab is incredibly proud of its CEO for being publicly recognised for his contribution to digital marketing. Be sure to check out the rest of the list of experts and influencers here: https://inbassador.io/digital-marketing-experts/

DigitLab Academy partners with Damelin Online to further digital education in Africa

Mike Saunders, DigitLab Academy founder, has a passion for education, particularly teaching people how to make the most of technology to improve their life and business. To this end, through the The DigitLab Academy, Mike has partnered with Damelin Online to bring this material to people in an online training environment. “At Damelin Online we found a partner who can help us influence the education industry into Africa and beyond,” says Mike Saunders. New course: Online Personal Branding The course is for anyone who wants to unlock the power in their network by leveraging the online world. If you have a sale to make, a business to build, a promotion to get, a message to share or a movement to start, this book will help you amplify and accelerate the work you do. Your personal brand is one of the most valuable assets you can control. First impressions are everything and your social media accounts are where people will be confronted by who you are. Like it or not, your personal online presence is now a vital part of your CV. This seven-week course, based on Renowned by Mike Saunders, is all you need to get your online brand putting your best forward and making those first impressions count. The course will cover everything from finding your online voice to which social media platforms are best suited for your needs and goals. This is a modular online course hosted by Damelin Online and will teach you to: Identify your personal brand narrative...

How Can You Improve Your Online Income

If you have a blog or website then you already know that it is more than possible to earn an income from online. But what happens if you’re not making as much money as you thought you would be by now? Sometimes it can be difficult to know whether we are using all the tools available to us or taking all the opportunities that we can do to bring in an online source of funds. Have a look below at some of the things you could do to improve your online income. Make Good Use of Social Media Platforms If you’re not already using the popular social media platforms that are available to gain traffic to your blog or website, it can be a really useful tool. Sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest have all been proven popular online, have easy access for business use and posting to the public, and best of all are free to use. Using these can really help to drive traffic to your website or blog, especially if you’re posting regular, relevant content that draws people in. Social media is fast becoming an essential part of marketing for any business so if you haven’t got time to deal with this yourself it may be time to think about using a service that can help. It would be a shame to miss out on a tool that could be very lucrative. Partnerships If you have a blog or website that has a successful traffic...

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...

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...

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...

Marketing Products on Social Media

Historically, product orientated businesses have struggled in social media circles. A focus on product promotion and sales have meant that these social presences have, historically, been very bland and boring. I mean, let’s be honest and acknowledge that a product page on a social network isn’t a top destination for people to go when looking for inspirational content. So, what can product orientated businesses do to build a more engaging and successful social media presence, without losing their mandate for sales and foot traffic to their retail outlets? Firstly, I suggest that you take a read of my last article, “Be Brave: Differentiate with Digital”, to come to grips with the importance of understanding your brand better. Every product has a brand persona that it portrays, whether it’s trying to or not. Doing the work to understand the brand will help you understand the best way to portray your brand on social media channels. Once your brand is clearly understood you should have a clear picture of the persona and differentiation you wish to display to the social media world. This will go a long way in informing your content strategy but there are a few more elements we suggest looking at to make the most of your social presence. Focus on your customer’s needs Too often products focus on functional benefits, like the features and prices of their products. Yet, we have never seen a successful sales strategy driven across social media that only promotes features and price. Instead,...

Effective Influencer Marketing

Essentially, through any influencer marketing project, your brand is hoping to piggyback on a relationship that another has already built up with your ideal target market. And much like how someone wouldn’t introduce you to their friends in a good light unless they already had some sort of good relationship with you – it makes sense that you first have to build up the connection with an influencer on a brand to person level before you can hope to be introduced authentically to their audience. So basically it’s not going to be enough to simply identify who you’d like to work with and then throw product and money at them. If you really want their opinion of your brand to be honestly positive, and not just a sponsored advert, then you need to approach this interaction for what it is – building a relationship as strong as the one between the influencer and their audience. Step 1: Identify To identify the influencers 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 them to influence? Once you find your target audience, then it’s actually pretty simple to find your influencers – they will be the ones that your target market are already avidly listening to,...

Digital marketing trends coming in 2015

Digital marketing is a fast-evolving industry, and companies wishing to stay relevant and competitive need to stay abreast of developments. Even better, they should anticipate rather than react to them. In looking forward, I feel that the following four, exciting marketing trends are going to come into their own in a big way in 2015: 1. Personalisation The advantages offered by today’s technologies and online data mean that companies and brands are going to increasingly make the move from blanket marketing to personalisation – from mass consumerism to mass personalisation. We’re not talking about customisation in this respect, which is tailoring products to individual client requests, but rather customising specific products to specific groups of clients. Customers want personal value and personal assurance. When they get this then we’re going to start seeing some really great marketing taking place. With the technologies that are in place now, we can actually start to create this personalised service, both in content delivery and service delivery and in a variety of different other factors. 2. Actionable analytics Up until recently all online data took time to analyse; statisticians had to turn data into graphs so they could then be consumed and actioned upon by companies. Now, however, with the introduction of real-time analytics as well as crunching and visualisation tools businesses can understand data far better and far quicker. What this means for the world of marketing is that companies are empowered to move more quickly in the marketing space – they can...

Using digital to delight your customers

Customer centricity in business the art of making the customer the centre of decisions and processes in your business. Steering away from a product focus which aims to produce and sell products, a customer centric business looks at the needs of customers and solves them. The product literally sells itself because it solves customers problems or speaks to their needs as a consumer. Obviously its key to understand consumers in order to meet their needs and over the last year we are noticing some very clear trends among customers which are opening the door to better digital customer experiences. Humanising the company or brand People are getting tired of corporate greed and the quest for profits. Not that they are against people making profits, they just want to understand why. It’s the why and how that’s making the difference today. People want to see the personality of the brand, speak with people in the company and see important values like honesty, transparency and vision lead to trust. Social media remains a major force in communicating to customers on a daily basis and has changed the business landscape for almost every single consumer industry. Sainsbury recently saw the power of a social media conversation sparked by a 3 and a half year old. The young girl wrote into Sainsbury to suggest that their Tiger Bread looked more like a Giraffe. After social media channels found the letter the public response was overwhelming and the company decided to listen to its customers...

What does it take to succeed in a Digital World?

One of the biggest game changers in business (and life) this century has been the introduction of the internet. The internet created a world of connection, a world where its easier to connect and faster to connect. We’re connected to information and people which has lead to business moving quicker, consumers changing faster, messages spreading easier and business launching in less time than ever before. Today is the age where a new innovative competitor can rise within a year by tapping into the power of these connections, changing the way you do business tomorrow. We have seen this with Amazon, Zappo’s, Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, eBay and many other digital businesses. The connection economy, succeeded the information era about eight years ago with the invent of social media. Social media showed us it was possible to create and manage relationships online. In fact, it not only showed us we can but it helped us realise that this is something people have wanted for so long. A better way to connect. So its fair to say that any business that has utilised social media to connect with customers has done well recently, but many have been burnt by the social media world. Many business have declined using social media to connect with customers and have focused on providing strong mobile channels to deliver services and improve customer satisfaction. Almost every business will see benefits from digital connections between themselves and their customers and/or employees, but not every business needs to engage with...

Three Strategies for Digital Marketing

Over the past few years, I’ve been working at refining a number of digital marketing strategies. We’ve found three fundamental strategies that can be used in isolation or integrated. I speak about these strategies in some detail in the video below and will also share an excerpt below the video of the original article on my digital marketing blog. Inbound Marketing This is a tried and tested strategy that has been adopted across many industries and businesses. Hubspot marketing have probably done the best work at making this a popular marketing strategy. In essence, inbound marketing techniques aim to drive interested people to your website through interesting and informative content. Read more… Social by Design A big part of digital campaigns is designing social concepts that build communities of interest around the work you’re doing. Understanding Social by Design is key to designing social media strategies. A strategy becomes social when it leverages the social aspect of life rather than merely using a social network. There are three primary social elements that we should be thinking about when we develop a social media management strategy. Read more… Mobile First  We’ve noticed that digital strategy needs to be re-thought in many ways. The challenge is not to include mobile in your existing strategy but rather to “mobilise” your strategy. To lead with mobile, to make sure your platforms, ideas, creative, and social are all mobile. Read more…

Mobile Marketing and Social Disruption

I am currently in the middle of a simple series exploring mobile and the impacts it has in life, work and society. When asked to look at the future of mobile I believe that you need at look at three main aspects: The internet of things Social Disruption Infrastructure In my last post I presented the concept of “The internet of things,” a look into how mobile technology is being use to enable machine to machine communication. Today I will explore Social Disruption. The impact of social technology on a mobile consumer market and employee base. Social Disruption Roughly seven years ago social media thrust our world into a brand new digital dynamic. I believe that this technology helped us break into a new era, out of the information era and into the connection economy. In the information era data helps us build competitive edge providing better value to our customers with custom solutions to custom problems. Data enables us to act quickly with the right information to meet a customers needs. Many industries have been working hard to make this a reality and this ‘data service’ in many cases has almost become the norm. Ecommerce is a great example of tracking purchases to provide customised future purchasing suggestions. Retail data has been used extensively to take the stock management power away from the supplier and place it firmly in the hands of the retailer. A better understanding of purchase patterns has helped retail outlets stock correctly and branch out...

Social by design: Good advice to take

Facebook believes in “social by design.” In other words something is not social unless your deigned it to be social. Social needs to be a core part of what you do and not just utilizing social websites. Understanding this concept is key to designing social media strategies. A strategy becomes social when it leverages the social aspect of life rather than uses a social network. There are three primary social elements that we should be thinking about when we develop a social strategy. 1) Personalisation A social strategy will look to customize a campaign with a personalized interface for the user that enhances their experience by highlighting what’s important to them. The users identity then defines a large part of what their experience becomes. This is easily achieved by integrating with existing social networks, and by designing space on your online platforms for personalised content. 2) The reason to share Viral campaigns become viral because they have something that people want to share. The trouble is that people don’t always share content in the same way all the time. People are more complex than that. Sharing is dependent on the content, the emotional context of consuming that content and so many other uncontrollable factors. When designing for social, we should not ‘hope’ that people share content. We should design the strategy to encourage the sharing action. I recently consulted a company who was showing me their ‘social’ application on Facebook. Yes, it was on Facebook. Well done. The app however...

Social Media empowers Citizen Journalism

After my last article about the role of social media in journalism I received an email through a friend from a journalism lecturer who shared this TED video with me. The video is a great description of a new layer of journalism that social media has empowered. A form of journalism that places the knowledge of the crowd into the hands of responsible reporters. This is a great example of how people can use technology in a small way to make a big difference. If enough people were to capture, record and share the happenings of a controversial event then it would be possible to bring accountability into the situation again. Another example of how transparent our world is becoming and how shared information can be filtered through social networks to generate information from events that have already passed. The question that sits in the back of my mind is “could a skilled social media journalist be digging deep into the social media archives of your business?”

Lessons from a 30min conversation with Wikipedia Founder

Last night I arrived in Lagos to present a session on social media strategy. I was met at the airport by the a very professional and very friendly man who guided me into that parking lot outside. The parking lot reminded me a lot of the back alley of a night club, and there by an unmarked white van with tinted windows we stopped. I realized this van was my transport to the hotel and a kind gentleman opened the door. To my dismay, sitting in the van, catching up on email, sat Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. Who would have thought I would have the incredible opportunity to meet Jimmy sitting in a parking lot in Lagos. Anyway, I seized the opportunity the chat to Jimmy about his experiences with Wikipedia and was able to draw out a few gems for those who read this blog. Behind every success is a failure where alot of learning took place I experienced this in my own life and it was nice to hear Jimmy talk about the same experience. Jimmy started a project similar to Wikipedia before starting the popular encyclopedia. It was there that he learnt how to succeed with the project by learning from the mistakes he made. My advice to anyone looking to start something big would be to keep going no matter how much you learn (fail). It can only get better from here. It’s all about community Jimmy chatted about the idea that Wikipedia succeeded...

The best social media policy is based on values – not rules

I have been meaning to write about developing a social media policy for some time now. This is something that I believe can make or break your internal and external social media campaigns. A good social media policy does not restrict people from social media but rather equips them to use social media in the most beneficial manner. When looking at your social media policy it is a good idea to understand how people are already engaging with you. How your customers are talking to you or about you, and how your employees are doing the same. Do your best to get a clear picture of the technology your employees and customers are comfortable using. I would then suggest you look at what you would like to see happening with you company and social media. Then take a hard look at what needs to be allowed for, encouraged or discouraged. Don’t simply create a “rule list” of do’s or dont’s. This would be very ineffective because you will simply look as though you are trying to control something you don’t have control of. One of the best social media policies was written by IBM. It’s great because it empowers people to share company values. A value based policy will always go further than a rules based policy. Staff at IBM have hundreds of blogs and in 2005 IBM released this guideline for bloggers: Speak in the first person. Respect copyright and fair use laws. Safeguard confidential and proprietary information. Protect...

How social media is changing the role of journalism

In their latest book Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, these two men explore the new role of journalism that has been created due to the way that people aggregate news today. Social media has opened up a world where peers and colleagues decide what news is valuable and important. Articles that are shared most by your friends on Facebook show up in your Facebook news feed and Google+ highlights search content in Google that has been shared by your Google circles. Most social networks use this algorithm to highlight news. The higher the ‘share’ volume the more popular the article and the more exposure it gets on the networks. The problem is that these articles may be popular but they are not necessarily providing verified facts about the news subject. Twitter has gone a long way with their new Twitter iPhone app by identifying trends in the most tweeted keywords and then linking that trend (or news item) to a reputable news source like CNN or BBC. This bridges the gap by highlighting the most ‘shared’ content on twitter and providing the best, most reputable source of news available. Two thumbs up to Twitter. Aside from the steps Twitter has taken, most networks have become aggregators of popular content instead of good, reliable and verified journalistic content. This presents two scenarios that need to be addressed: 1) News readers need to learn how to apply journalist type skills in...

Social Media principles from The Green Apron Book

I recently came across the Starbucks Green Apron book and read through their 5 principles for turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. I found it very interesting that the 5 principles can be applied directly to a social media campaign or strategy. The Green Apron Book is a booklet that Starbucks gives its baristas.  It outlines Starbucks mission: “To provide an uplifting experience that enriches people’s daily lives,” along with 5 Principles for doing exactly that: Be Welcoming: Offer everyone a sense of belonging. Be Genuine: Connect, discover, respond. Be Knowledgeable: Love what you do. Share it with others. Be Considerate: Take care of yourself, each other, and the environment. Be Involved: In the store, in the company, and in the community. The principles promote that good business and great customer experiences come out of a personal connection between people. Social media management relies on this principle as fundamental to your social media strategy. Without being personal and considerate you will struggle to build community. Community is the centerpiece of your social media strategy, everything said and done by people inside your community will shape and define how your community evolves. By applying principles like the one’s outline here you can be sure that your community online and offline will grow and evolve into a very valuable business proposition. Yes, this does mean that you need to allocate resources (mainly people) to manage the social media engagement for you business. Automation will just create a flat community with no energy...

Favourite iPad Apps for Social Media

I use my iPad for almost everything in my life and most people who meet me know all about it. This has caused a few of my clients, friends and family to ask me for my favourite apps on the iPad. I have always found this a difficult question to answer simply because what I use my iPad for is not necessarily what other would use their iPad for. Most people like games, and I don’t play any games on my iPad. So for the purpose of this exercise I thought I would share with you my top iPad apps that I use to consume and respond to the social media channels in my life. This list is not in order of preference. Social Media iPad Apps Facebook – all things Facebook related Twitter – all things twitter related Hootsuite – I mainly use this app to schedule updates to my social channels. It’s great for social media management Showyou – a great interface to all video/YouTube content shared by your social community WordPress – manages post updates and comments moderation for my WordPress blogs Analytics Pro – a great tool I use to dive deeply into google analytics Yammer – a fantastic internal social network tool that I use to keep my colleagues up to date on my work and actions as a colleague of theirs Skype – the iPad is the best Skype tool in my personal opinion. Especially with a pair of headphones with a built in...

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