Mid-Year Intake. Applications for mid-year intake are now closed.

The fastest growing brands in 2022

Social media, technology, and manufacturing companies lead the pack as the fastest growing brands in 2022. A pharmaceutical and biotechnology company are also listed on the fastest growing brands list – largely, if not solely, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is the list of the 10 fastest growing brands, according to Statista in 2022.

  1. TikTok
    Coming in at number one, TikTok has grown by 215 percent. TikTok is owned and was created by ByteDance, a Chinese company. Known as Douyin in China, Tiktok offers content creators the platform to create and post short-form video content. This content is often viral dances, funny videos, and informative videos. TikTok videos can range to be between 15 seconds long up to 10 minutes long.
  2. Snapchat
    Snapchat has grown by 184 percent. This social media platform was created by Stanford University students and is currently an American multimedia instant messaging app and service. Snapchat allows its users to post photos and videos as well as send messages which are only available for a certain time period.
  3. Kakao
    Kakao has grown by 161 percent. Commonly known as KakaoTalk or KaTalk, this South Korean app is a mobile messaging app for smartphones. Run by the Kakao Corporation, Kakao is now able to be used on mobile and desktop platforms. The messaging app is used by 93% of smartphone owners in South Korea and is available in 15 languages.
  4. AMD
    AMD - Advanced Micro Devices
    AMD, Advanced Micro Devices, has grown by 122 percent. AMD is an American multinational semiconductor company that produces computer processors as well as other technologies which include microprocessors, motherboard chipsets, embedded processors, graphics processors, and Field Programmable Gate Arrays.
  5.  BYD
    BYD, Build Your Dreams, has grown by 100 percent. BYD is a Chinese conglomerate manufacturing company and has two subsidiaries which are BYD Automobile and BYD Electronic. The company manufactures automobiles, buses, electric bicycles, trucks, forklifts, solar panels, and rechargeable batteries.
  6.  Nvidia
    Nvidia has grown by 100 percent. Nvidia is an American multinational technology company. This software and fabless company products GPUs and APIs for data science and high-performance computing, as well as system-on-a-chip for mobile and automotive computing. This software company is also a leader in artificial intelligence hardware and software.
  7.  Twitter
    Twitter has grown by 85 percent. Twitter is a social media platform that offers a microblogging and social networking service. This American communications company has over 330 million monthly active users which use the platform to tweet text, image, and video content of their liking.
  8. AstraZeneca
    AstraZeneca has grown by 77 percent. AstraZeneca is a multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company. The company has developed the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine but has also created products to combat diseases and conditions in areas like oncology, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, infection, neuroscience, respiratory, and inflammation. The British-Swedish company is currently one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.
  9.  Coupang
    Coupang has grown by 72 percent. This e-commerce company, which is based in South Korea, is also incorporated in the United States. Coupang is the largest online marketplace in South Korea and is a leader in the video streaming field due to Coupang Play.
  10.  CDW
    CDW has grown by 71 percent. CDW Corporation is a multi-brand provider of information technology solutions. These solutions are offered to businesses, the government, the education sector, and the healthcare sector in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The secondary division of CDW, known as CDW-G, provides solutions to United States governmental entities.

In Conclusion

These 10 brands and companies are currently the fastest growing brands and companies in the world. The majority of which are operators in the social media and tech space.

How has the marketing industry changed over the past few years?

Marketing has never been simple, but marketing was much simpler just a few years ago. The main objective of marketing used to be to create a smart, attention-grabbing marketing communication and then strategically place it to get as many views as possible. Today, marketers have to be much smarter and more intentional. Consumers are discerning and need more than a clever advert to be swayed.

In today’s climate, marketers need to have a good understanding of human nature. Striking graphics, catchy slogans, and good copywriting aren’t enough. Marketers need social insight to truly capture the attention of their target market. Continue reading to find out how marketing has evolved over the past few years.

The rise of social media

During the early days of social media, the online platforms were used to solely to keep in touch with friends and family, share funny posts, and keep your followers up to date with which coffee shop you visited before heading to work. Today, all social media platforms have become a media outlet and a space where businesses can market themselves.

Social media has taken the world by storm, with over 3 billion people being active across the different social media platforms. Brands and businesses can easily reach their consumers and target audience over social media if the marketing is done correctly.

The rise of social media

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has evolved

SEO, in its infancy, was not as important as it is today. Now, thanks to the Panda update in 2011, SEO is now a tactical tool used by companies to ensure that their content showsat the top of search rankings on Google and other search engines. The Panda update was an algorithm adjustment that functions as a quality filter for websites. Now, websites that are of lesser quality are filtered out. Google is known for changing its algorithm from time to time, and companies that have mastered the art of SEO have benefited from this change as it eliminates black hat SEO practitioners. Black hat SEO is a technique used where search engine guidelines are violated to manipulate search engine algorithms and boost a site’s SEO rankings.

Smartphones are the new supercomputers

Smartphones have the same capabilities as computers, which has drastically changed the way products and services are marketed. The ease and convenience of smartphones have allowed the internet to grow and evolve, which meant that marketing had to keep up with the growth. Now, websites are designed to be optimised for smartphones so that potential consumers have added ease and comfort when navigating the internet.

Smartphones are the new supercomputers

Consumers have shorter attention spans

Due to social media and the internet being filled with content coming from every corner, the consumer’s attention span has shrunk. Having access to information, entertainment, and the products and services we desire at the tap of a few buttons has shortened attention spans, which has made marketing so much harder for those behind the scenes. Today, marketers need to ensure that the content and campaigns produced are attention-grabbing and that the grabbed attention can be maintained. A good way to do this is create messaging that is relevant and on point, which gets them emotionally engaged. Once this happens, consumers will form a bond with a brand.

Gen Z

Gen Z is extremely tech-savvy and this means that marketers need to cater to them as one of the primary audiences. As Gen Z enters the workforce, they have the power and potential to be one of the most profitable generations of our time. Marketers have had to consider data, trends, and the needs and wants of Gen Z during the conceptualisation process to create effective and lucrative marketing content and campaigns.

Gen Z

The bottom line

Marketing has experienced a developmental boom in recent years with all thanks going to the evolution of the internet and social media. As the internet grows, marketing will have to grow to keep up and it will be interesting to watch what new trends and tactics enter the mainstream for marketers. If you are a marketer, and you are able to evolve and adapt to new situations and environments, you are sure to succeed no matter how drastic the changes in marketing are. For those wanting to upskill themselves, look no further than the Institute of Marketing where you can sign up for one of our fast-paced online short courses.

How has marketing changed over time? From traditional to digital, the big shift!

How has marketing changed over time? From traditional to digital, the big shift

The shift from traditional media marketing in the form of newspapers, television, flyers, billboards and pole posters, to digital billboards, social media, google ads and other major forms of digital media has been both quick and big.

With the advent of services like MySpace and Bebo back in the early 2000s already, celebrities and brands found themselves using these age-old social media platforms to post fun personal photos, snippets of their thoughts and little albums or movie spoilers.

But marketing on MySpace and Bebo was never as big as it is on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter and TikTok today, especially with the birth of the influencer (read more about influencer marketing here).

To really understand what marketing looked like before and how it has evolved with new media, we take a look at what marketing is, what it functions as and how the evolution of social media and digital platforms has forever changed the industry.

Social Media Image

What is marketing?

Dictionary.com defines marketing as, ‘the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.’

For those that work in a marketing, it is often not that easy to fully define its function and roll in an organisation. At the IMM we believe that marketing is business and business is marketing. Therefore, marketing in its full sense is present in all stages of the business, beginning to end, not just advertising and not just sales.

In this way, we can begin to understand that marketing itself is a very general word that can encompass many different roles. In noting this, we can begin to understand how marketing has changed over time in just two simple ways:

What is marketing Image

1. Roles and titles

With the advent of social media, marketing has seen a major shift within the industry. What was once a role that was easily defined has now led to greater sub-roles that make up teams to put together or manage specific types of content or channels. Unlike before, digital creatives have become a major new title especially amongst Millennials and Gen-Z’s entering the workforce. Roles of strategists and marketers have expanded to Social Media Strategist – a role completely dedicated to social media strategy, and Digital Marketers that oversee all elements of digital strategy for an organisation (read more about the importance of digital marketing here).

Both these roles have been created to establish a greater understanding of how to push communication through social and digital platforms ranging from social media to digital

billboards, google and more.

Before social media, the role of a Community Manager or a 3-D Animator were not common specifically for the marketing industry, especially as animators were previously known to work particularly in the film industry. Today, we have seen the migration of these types of roles and titles into the marketing space, testimony to just how much the world of marketing has changed in the past 20 years.

Before social media

2. Traditional media and Digital Media shifts

In the world that we are living in, traditional marketing has not died out, but it has shifted to becoming dominated by digital marketing simply because more people spend more time on their devices now than ever before (read more about it here).

When looking at what was available 20 years ago to what is available now, traditional marketing itself has progressed over time to accommodate all forms of media available. From radio, to television, to theatre, to cinemas, to flyers and newspapers and even at some point in time, mobile apps.

Fast-forward to now and we have so many more types of media available to us. Its not to say that we should be using all of them to communicate with our customers though. In many instances, marketing has stayed the same. Best practice still dictates that before any communication channels or tactics are selected, the business first needs to identify who the desired audience or customer is. Then and only then can the right media be selected based on where this customer spends their time. This is space in this strategy for both traditional and digital channels since not everyone is online.


Marketing has changed over time because the access to greater audiences and larger target markets has increased and changed with new forms of media tools. The change in marketing has also gone from consumer-based specific to buying, to consumer-based-loyalty and brand desire. Marketing will continue to evolve and change as new trends pick up and new ways of accessing the mass audiences arise. However, the traditional modes of marketing are not to be misunderstood as dead. Marketing is an incredible industry with the potential of growth in every sector for every type or market. We can’t wait to see where the industry will be in the next ten years!

Robots vs Humans: A compelling story of a powerful and impactful experience

4 - Assegai CaseStudy-01

Ads24 won a bronze in the 2019 Assegai Integrated Marketing Awards for its Food for Thought experiential media campaign. In its third year, the 2019 event was themed Robots vs Humans. This is the case study on how the award-winning activation was conceptualised and rolled out.

To cut through the plethora of activations and events aimed at media agencies and advertisers, Ads24 required a single-minded reason for its existence. It was out of this that Food for Thought was conceptualised, packaged and promoted to inspire and inform targeted individuals about cutting edge developments impacting on their careers and their lives.

In Food for Thought, Ads24 created a brand and a vehicle for giving back in an impactful and memorable way, with a healthy return on effort and investment.


Campaign context

In an industry consistently exposed to trends, strategies and knowledge about its field of expertise i.e. media and advertising, Ads24 wanted to create a campaign in which it could influence business and leadership thinking as well as refocus attention to the critical role media owners, brand owners and advertisers play in bridging the gap in the minds of consumers between the now and the future.

The objective of the campaign was to position Ads24 as tribe leaders and critical business influencers within the communication space. It should strengthen business relationships and encourage collaboration through a powerful and impactful experience while reminding key industry advertising leaders about the influential nature of media. Ultimately, the company wanted to grow high-level involvement with top decision makers at media agencies and direct advertiser clients.

The strategy was to ensure Food for Thought stood out from industry clutter via a media industry event that encouraged progressive learning as well as debate around the economic, political, environmental and technological forces shaping the future of business in South Africa. Ads24 had to ensure that the event challenged everyone’s thinking and drove curiosity in an impactful way.

Enormous attention was paid to creating details that provided a full sensory experience. Tactics used to achieve this was through a hyper-personalised and carefully planned invitation process; creating a thought-provoking experience and journey on the day for all attendees; developing an integrated PR plan during and post-event, and maximising social media during and post-event


The big idea and its implementation

The world and its economies are experiencing unprecedented times. In every aspect of life, humans face a complex array of sensitive challenges that call for extraordinary responses and creative leadership. There is a massive shift in consumer mentality and media organisations need to proactively adapt to lead this dynamic environment.

Ads24 created an event positioned between a world dominated by artificial intelligence and technology, and one desperate for human connection.

The invitation was issued in the form of a book written by one of the speakers called We Are Still Human, by Brad Shorkend and Andy Golding. The book led to a hidden message in one of its pages, creating engagement and appealing to the natural human inquisitiveness. It also led to another very important feature: the RSVP

For this, Ads24 used hyper-personalisation by using real time data and leveraging of artificial intelligence to deliver a more relevant and surprising experience for the audience. This was done through creating an algorithm as part of the RSVP which predicted a personal surprise for guests to take home, further illustrating the impact of personal consumer centered communication.


The event

This event was designed from start to finish to engage every sense and challenge thinking. Every aspect was created to juxtapose the human touch with robotic interpretations. The starting point was a taste bud hack. Each person was invited to take a pill made from the ‘miracle berry’, synsepalum dulcificum. A glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice was then offered. The pill had the ability to mask taste and instead of eye-watering, tart lemon, each person experienced a sweet orange juice flavour.

This served as a metaphor on how we consume news and how easily we are fooled to digest fake news – the very opposite of what we pride ourselves in – the facts, the news and the search for truth.

Each food experience contrasted artisanal, handmade delights with a robotic version of the same. Fresh flapjacks topped with creamy mascarpone cheese and rich berry jam was paired with 3D-printed mascarpone cheese on spirulina-infused flapjacks with pipettes of berry compote. The delicious aroma of fresh-pressed coffee was served side-by-side with coffee cubes.

Each table setting was also designed to represent robots or humans and each attendee was assigned one or the other version of the main meal. Although the outcome of the meal was the same, each component was created by hand or by machine. This created an exciting atmosphere of curiousity and experimentation, culminating in desserts delivered by drones.


Content and speakers

Ads24 focused on different aspects of the future by looking at the incredible pace of AI and technology and how it’s reshaping our existence in an increasingly automated economy. With so many areas in which the media and communication is changing, from how we consume news to social media, fake news, hyper-personalisation and programmatic buying, if we don’t keep pace and remain agile to these changes, we face professional extinction.

The line-up included public speaker, entrepreneur and author of the best-selling business book, Legacide, Richard Mulholland, Brad Shorkend, one of the authors of We Are Still Human, and computer scientist, Rapelang Rabana.

Each shared their views on how to stay ahead of the game in a world where the word, ‘phigital’ (physical and digital), is the new normal. Comedian, author and speaker, Don Packett, refereed the debate by posing the questions: Where are we today in the fight between humans and robots? Where will our businesses be by 2030? And, how do we prepare for the journey? We explored the dangers of legacy thinking, how AI can be a tool to advance civilisation and how to be a good human in a technologically shifting world. They raised a few eyebrows, challenged the way we see our industry and our world, and opened the door to a spirited conversation around the future of media in 2030.


PR and social media

A series of thought leadership pieces were created based on each of the topics discussed at the event. Every week, for four weeks, a piece was circulated to media. Included in the pieces was a short 30-second video taken at the event relating back to the specific speaker/topic. This insured that when the article was published, readers would have full context to what was discussed/debated at the event.

Key messages were taken and posted on social media with either images or short 30-second videos from the event.


Return on investment

Ads24 Food for Thought 2019 provided insight into a world where human connection and artificial intelligence create new opportunities and challenges for the media industry and our world. The event solidified Ads24 as a thought leader among influential media partners and as a competitive media owner in a dynamic and constantly evolving industry.

  • 73 % of those invited attended the event
    • 80% gave us a perfect score for relevant content
  • Organic Social media engagement on the day of the event increased to 6.2% compared to the average rate for May of 1.8%.
  • Content series allowed for further organic reach:
    • Post reach increased by 107%
    • Post engagement increased by 300%
  • Page likes increased by 23%
  • Page views increased by 78%
  • Page followers increased by 14%
  • Average time spent on integrated content: 3 minutes

We achieved an overall PR value average of R6.8 million

Subscribe to stay informed whenever a new issue is published

Subscribe now

Are you measuring return on conversations?

Are you measuring return on conversations

Social media is a powerful channel to be taken seriously, one deserving of its own strategy and creative, says Cheryl Barnett. It plays a pivotal role in supporting above-the-line campaigns and achieving business objectives when executed correctly.

Engagement, engagement, engagement. We all know how important this is in today’s connected world, a world in which customers are empowered to have their say in the public space of social media. 

This exposure is 10 times more valuable than what an outdoor billboard can deliver, reaching more than a few passing eyes. In recent studies, 84% of customers will trust a stranger’s opinion online more than an online advertisement (Bloem, C, Inc.com, May 2017).

Social media investment should concentrate on the conversations being had and not just the ads being published online.

Not all conversations are equal: a ‘like’ (quick reaction to show satisfaction) is different to a ‘share’ (a digital endorsement of the message) or a ‘comment’ (physical action to engage) and each one offers a brand a unique benefit of reach and sentiment.

Despite these defined actions on a message, social media often gets the leftover budget and resized billboard creative to share on its pages. Social media is a powerful channel to be taken seriously, one deserving of its own strategy and creative. It plays a pivotal role in supporting above-the-line campaigns and achieving business objectives when executed correctly.

Today, the marketing department is held accountable for showing a return on all efforts, so until we can show that our digital efforts on social media have an important effect on our brands, it will never get a seat at the strategy table.

Reach on social media should result in an increase in traffic to a brand’s website and heightened brand awareness.

Return on conversation

Engagement on social media should impact the goals achieved on the site.

Have visitors actioned what you asked them to do? Whether your goal is a download, video views, or a form submitted, these actions are associated with the engagement on social media. For example: Fans are asked to view a video on Facebook or complete a form to enter a competition.

We should rarely take the ‘last click’ attribution – this refers to a web analytics model in which the last click is given credit for the action taken. Generally, people are driven to an action after a series of digital cues and encouragement. Smart marketers should rather look at the entire communication process and costs to achieve specific business objectives.

Are you measuring return on conversations B

Once an integrated campaign has been successfully executed, you should see these two numbers correlate.

Total engagement (likes + comments + shares) = ROC (return on conversation).

Total cost (design + time).


630 engagements


R750 (R500 + R250)

= 0.84 (84% return on your social efforts to engage)

15 engagements


R750 (R500 + R250)

= 0.02 (2% return on your social efforts to engage).

This, combined with a sentiment analysis on your pages, will give a good indication of your customer’s thoughts, experiences and attitudes towards the business and this is worth its weight in gold on the brand report.

It’s the only way social media will get the recognition it deserves in the role it plays in telling the brand story and achieving the objectives set out by business.

From the table to the market: Strategies used by food entrepreneurs to get noticed

Worth a whopping $82 million in 2019, South Africa’s food and beverage industry is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2019-2023) of 10.5%, claims Statista. While these figures may seem unattainable to our local, independent enterprises, becoming a household brand is proving less formidable thanks to digital marketing, writes Lucinda Jordaan.

The kitchen, they say, is the heart of the home. The designated space for preparing and sharing meals is also where the most innovative and inspiring creations are concocted – like Edward Molatela Kgarose’s sweet potato yoghurt. This innovative treat was dreamed up in the 29-year-old’s mother’s kitchen as she was cooking the nutritious root vegetable – and he was enjoying his favourite yoghurt.

“I asked myself: what if it is possible for me to produce a yoghurt with this sweet potato?” Kgarose recalls.

He set about experimenting with tastes and textures until he came up with a winning flavour. Following advice, he consulted with the Limpopo Agro-Food Testing Station at the University of Limpopo to ascertain whether the product was safe for human consumption. “I took my product and it failed four times at the laboratory,” notes the tenacious Kgarose, whose innovative offering – which he first sold at taxi ranks –  is now approved, available at two retail stores in Polokwane, and gaining traction in the market.

Food regulations aside, rigorous experimentation is the backbone of any successful commercial food journey. Former investment fund manager Ken Kinsey-Quick can attest to this: it took years – and about 60 attempts – before he could find the chilli oil that matched his palate.

“I’m a chilli wuss – I don’t like it too strong – but I’ve loved chilli oil since I first tried it in Paris in the 90s, where it was always served with pizza, something you didn’t get anywhere else in the world,” he says. The oil itself proved as elusive. “You could only find it in specialist shops and even then, it was just chillies in a bottle” – which, he adds, renders the flavour unstable and can cause the oil to go rancid.

About two years ago, Kinsey-Quick finally found a chilli oil he liked, in a pizza restaurant up in the Alps. “It came in sachets and I stole a whole lot and brought them back.” His brother-in-law, Adi Meintjies, a dedicated foodie, noticed him agonising about his pilfered stock running out – and offered to make it for him.

“He started experimenting in the kitchen and 60 variations later, came up with the right formula,” Kinsey-Quick relates.

This September, the financier will be retiring from his day job to focus solely on a business that has grown exponentially: Banhoek Chilli Oil now has a national footprint, is available in over 200 stores in South Africa, and is delivered anywhere in the United Kingdom via Amazon. The company is also looking to extend its product range by launching a tonic water later this year.

Reducing barriers to entry

The adage goes that – regardless of the state of the economy – if you’re in the food and beverage industry and not making a profit, you’re doing something wrong.

While the country’s scale and reach – and comparably limited marketing and advertising budgets – mean South African food brands are unlikely to dominate the global market, that does not mean they don’t have the cojones to compete with them on the local stage. The journey from home kitchen to formal market may follow a tried and tested recipe, that does not guarantee instant success, but social media has significantly reduced the barriers to entry.

“It’s much easier today – you can just take a photograph with your smartphone and post it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter – then you are in the market,” notes Anat Apter, Founder of Anat Foods, a household name in pitas, breads and Middle Eastern fare that famously started out with a falafel stall at Joburg’s Bruma Lake market in the early 1990s.

“When I started, I didn’t have a vision – I had an emergency; I needed the money and had to pull up my sleeves and do something. I never wanted to be in the food business. I started with falafel because that is what I knew best, and I had only two weeks to prepare and present the product, and make it excellent,” she maintains.

“If you start a business, you have to be serious, honest, dedicated and committed – especially with food, as it’s very emotional: when you eat, you want to know your food is good, healthy and fresh. I’m a strong believer in clean cooking.”

Hands on in growing her family’s brand – “I opened 22 stores myself” – Apter has always had a tight marketing budget and focuses on in-store promotions to attract customers. “As a niche market, I cannot compete with the bigger companies. I don’t do radio or TV, and my marketing budget is so small, I have to be creative. I have to innovate all the time; I listen to my customers and innovate all the time; I listen to my customers – my franchisees are my ambassadors to the public and I take a lot of ideas from them,” she explains.

Innovation, reckons Kgarose, is what sets entrepreneurs apart from their competitors in building a brand. “Social media makes marketing easy for us small producers, but innovation is one of the keys to being recognised in the industry,” he stresses.

How social media boosts awareness

An official launch one year after starting out, and a minimal investment in social media, proved the boost Banhoek needed to grow awareness of their product, says Kinsey-Quick. “We’ve just started using social media, and we’re still learning as we go along. It’s not rocket science, just getting brand awareness out there. We spent about R5 000 boosting posts on social media – split evenly between Instagram and Facebook – by putting out a post every week and engaging with respondents.”

It led to calls for stock from as far afield as Clocalan in the Free State – and the company to explore e-commerce. Banhoek Chilli Oil is now available online and delivered countrywide.

They also gained a new niche supplier: butcheries. “Oddly, they are very keen on the product and sell it very well – we didn’t think about it at the beginning. Now, 90% of our clients are butcheries and delis.” Poetry stores came next, giving Banhoek a national footprint – and the rest is history.

Social media may have boosted brand awareness, but the journey to the formal market is still a complicated process that requires footwork.

“Local brands struggle for space in the formal market because most retail stores won’t allow small producers to supply them due to low production capacity. It’s very difficult because you are introducing a new product that is not known,” says Kgarose, who does in-store promotions to grow the brand.

“Obviously, the first thing was to get the right product, and packaging was the next thing. But you can have best product – if you don’t get the marketing and advertising right, it won’t sell,” avers Kinsey-Quick. So, what would he do with an unlimited advertising budget? “I wouldn’t do things differently – though I would definitely increase our social media boosts to reach more people – and possibly consider putting some ads in print. I’d love to do a cookbook though: hire five top chefs to come up with five recipes – and use that on social media – but to do that properly would be quite expensive.”

What is an influencer and how you can spot a fake one

Social media is constantly evolving and has become so integrated into our personal lives that many people start their day by scrolling through their social media feeds to read the latest updates. From a business perspective, a social media presence creates brand awareness and a connection between the customer and the business.

However, there is a different side to social media, where an individual can reach an almost celebrity status by establishing credibility within a specific community. Social media influencers have followers in a particular niche with whom they interact on a daily basis. An influencer is able to influence purchasing decisions of his/her followers because they believe he/she is an expert on a particular matter or because the follower desires to emulate the influencer.

The majority of influencers fit into one of the following categories:

  • Celebrities – Individuals who have achieved fame in a particular sphere usually (but not always) outside of the internet. These include actors, musicians and sports personalities but could be anyone who has achieved fame in their field
  • Bloggers and content creators – Technically a blogger is anyone who creates a blog but in the context of an influencer it would be someone who is considered to have expertise in a particular field, has a large following and actively promotes their blog/online content.
  • Industry experts and thought leaders – Individuals or groups who are perceived to be leaders in their field and be able to provide credible insights to their followers
  • Micro influencers – Micro influencers could fit into any of the above categories but on a smaller scale and they usually have a very narrow field of expertise. Because they often are not professional full-time influencers but have rather gained a following due to their passion and perceived expertise, they are considered to be the most credible form of influencer.

Real vs fake influencers

Influencers have been proven useful to brands and businesses but it’s important to note that they are not simply marketing tools, but rather social relationship assets that can help brands achieve their marketing objectives. Influencers can create trends and encourage their followers to buy the products they promote. As great as it may sound, influencer marketing has its drawbacks with influencer fraud being one of them. Unfortunately, brands that fall victim to influencer fraud often suffer both reputational and financial damage.

A fake influencer can be defined as a social media user who artificially increases their following and engagements to imitate influence. They are considered scammers looking to make easy money by “buying” followers. These followers are usually bots designed to increase a profile’s follower count making it seem as though the profile in question has a large online following.

Naturally, brands don’t want to be associated with fake influencers but identifying them can be quite difficult. Here’s how to spot them.

Their follower growth: Growing a large online following takes time and effort – it doesn’t just happen overnight. Tracking an influencer’s follower growth can reveal whether or not they purchased their followers. A relatively new account with 200 000 followers is likely to be fake.

Their follower vs engagement ratio: Look at how many likes and comments they receive per post in comparison to their number of followers. Generally, fake influencers only receive a small number of engagements per post. This can be calculated manually or by using an online tool designed for this purpose. 

Their follower to following Ratio: On Instagram, when looking at an influencers profile, compare the number of accounts he or she follows with the follower amount. If you see the number of followers is far exceeding the number of followings, be careful. This is probably the most common way to spot a fake account.

Their activity on other platforms: While most influencers have a preferred social media platform, they don’t limit themselves to only one. A real influencer will have a similar number of followers on all their platforms while a fake influencer won’t.

Google them: This may sound obvious but a good way to weed out the fake influencers is to simply Google them. Influencers are often well known online so their names or social media handles will be present in search results.

See also:  2019’s Top 10 Social Media Influencers

How influencers can benefit a brand

As a brand, it’s important to do your research before choosing an influencer. If you are a lifestyle brand, work with a lifestyle influencer. That way, your target audience is already following the influencer, so you don’t have to search. Influencer marketing is a direct, sure shot strategy for reaching your target audience.

Moreover, influencer marketing can establish brand trust. A product endorsement from an influencer can boost your reputation as his or her infusion of credibility by association is extremely valuable for moulding a leadership position within your industry.

Would you like to learn more about how influencers can fit into a well-balanced and complete marketing strategy? Why not upskill with one of IMM’s short courses in Strategic Brand Management or Social Media Marketing. For more information on these and other short courses offered by IMM, call 0861 466 476 or visit www.immsc.co.za

Big things often have small beginnings

The role of social media in content marketing

By Wendy Monkley

CEO Digital Content Lab

Attention with a Capital ‘A’ is what every marketer wants for their brand, especially online. But what makes people follow or unfollow a brand? Much research has been done in this area. Time and time again we are told what we probably already knew – that people follow brands that are interesting and entertaining. The term interesting not only refers to the products and services that are on offer or their relevant promotions and discounts, but also the content associated with that brand. This should make sense, since people (in general) do know what they want, right?

When I first began my transition from ‘traditional marketer’ to ‘digital marketer’ some 6 years ago, I wondered what the point of this endless and seemingly useless supply of content was that brands seemed to produce faster than consumers could read. How does an inspirational quote like “Big things often have small beginnings” contribute at all to the marketing strategy and objectives? Quite honestly it all seemed like a massive waste of time and resource. It took me years of learning and on-the-job practice to fully grasp the power of content. Now, when asked the questions “What is the point of all this content?” and “What does social media actually do?” by brand managers, marketers and CEO’s alike, I answer with this simplified three stage explanation:

First, as with any promotional strategy, the objective for your social pages should be to build awareness of your brand and your product or service offering. In social media speak, your efforts of raising awareness builds a community of like-minded people. Unlike traditional marketing, this effort is extremely measurable by the number of likes/loves and followers you collect along the way. The content that you create for this purpose needs to appeal to your ‘perfect customer’ so that when the time comes for them to consider purchasing, your brand is already top of mind. If fact, eighty percent of social marketers say increasing brand awareness is their primary goal on social (Sprout Social Index, 2019). And for many, this is where it stops.

But, building a community is just the beginning. You now get to speak to your followers – your captive audience. Again, unlike traditional channels of marketing social media provides you with the incredible opportunity to engage with your future customers and have them speak back to you. At this stage of the game, it’s got to be all about them. You need to be listening, observing, learning what they like and love so that you can give them more of the types of content that appeals to them. Now is not the time for hard-selling offers – that will come later. You rather want to be educating your followers about your brand, what you stand for, your company culture and you want to introduce them to and educate them about your products and services. Essentially, you are building trust. If you do this part well, the magic starts to happen – increased traffic from your social pages to your website. After all, isn’t this really where you want your customer to be? If you need further convincing, know that when asked what content type they want from brands on social, the majority (thirty percent) of consumers surveyed said they wanted links to more information (Sprout Social Index, 2019).

And now the unveiling! Because your future customer visited your website, you have the privilege of getting to know them better. Through Google Analytics you can delve deep into several visitor insights; Who are they? What are they interested in? What technology do they use? Where do they live? How old are they? What media to they read? Where do they spend their time when online? And more. It’s here where the true power of content marketing is unleashed. It’s time for those great offers and hard-working ads. Here’s the thing, with all this information about your prospect, you have the power to create an offer that truly resonates with them – and with remarketing technology you can show them your offer in the online spaces that they frequent (outside of your social pages and website). And since they already know you and trust your brand, it’s an easy step for them to click back to your website and make a purchase. None of which would have happened if not for the small beginnings of an inspirational quote.

The three stages above do not necessarily happen in sequence. That would be far too easy. This means that at any time social marketers should be creating three types of content; content that builds communities, content that engages and educates and content that sells. All of which should be aligned to the needs of the customer you want to visit your website and buy your products or services.

The above three stage approach to social content is a sure way to drive real, measurable returns, but it takes time and persistence.

Should brands try to change the world? What the research says.

Should brands try to change the world? What the research says.

Psos researcher Nick Coates examines some of the recent adverts placing themselves in the firing line and the long-term consequences of aligning themselves with these messages, as well as some considerations prior to launching campaigns.

It is the remit of advertising to elicit a reaction from consumers, but in the era of increasingly volatile public backlashes, brands are navigating very rough waters by placing themselves in the political or “social issue” space, especially with public feedback channels rapidly multiplying on social media.

 Gillette’s controversial advert

Gillette is the latest to use its significant reach to address an issue that has been increasingly top of mind for many over the last decade. With the release of ‘We Believe: The Best Men Can Be’, the brand took a firm stance on the need for a more positive definition of masculinity.

The ad has garnered over one million dislikes on YouTube and a sentiment analysis of social media commentary by Ipsos shows 36% negative comments, compared to 16% positive, about the campaign in the days following its release. Many detractors don’t like the perceived stereotyping of male behaviour and accuse the company of trying to ‘shame’ all men.

On the other hand, those that do like the advert applaud Gillette for “making people think” and urge critics to reflect on why it makes them mad. Many defend it, saying that it is simply calling for men to be better human beings. In fact, ad testing done by Ipsos indicates the commercial could reap rewards for the brand long after the negative social media backlash has passed.

The analysis shows that the ad has done quite well to address themes that matter personally to consumers, and pull at the heart strings. This brings about two positive outcomes; a strong desire for the brand, and of course, a buzzworthy piece of content.

So, here is an advert from a major advertiser, taking a somewhat controversial stance on a social issue, that seems to perform well in an ad-testing vacuum, receiving a large volume of polarised responses on social media in the days after launch.

Nike’s ‘Dream Crazy’

Much of this summary falls in line with the firestorm that surrounded Nike’s ‘Dream Crazy’ spot, featuring Colin Kaepernick. The social response was similar to the early returns for Gillette, with Nike seeing a big spike in interaction – and far more of it negative than positive. There were calls from some for boycotts, just as Gillette was facing.

Interestingly, ad testing of the Nike video also shows similar positive results to the ‘We Believe’ ad. The Nike ad is a little stronger overall, driven by better branding – it has a natural fit with Nike positioning, and better integration of Nike equipment, sportswear, and brand ambassadors.

Time, and the markets, have shown this campaign to be a success for Nike, despite the early objections from some critics.

So, should we expect the same win for Gillette once the social media backlash moves on to the next target?

Not so fast. Let’s examine a local example that yielded immediate positive results.

Carling Black Label, ‘Bold. Brave. Strong.’

A South African campaign for Carling Black Label is the perfect case study to follow of how to go about playing in this space. ‘Bold. Brave. Strong.’ is an impactful new campaign that has already garnered praise from the media for showing “how powerful brands can be as catalysts for change”.

What did they do right?

By conducting the right research, at the right moment, a stronger idea can be revealed, which is a catalyst for creativity and can support the brand teams in launching a bold and purposeful campaign that drives their business successfully.

On Carling Black Label’s path to reinvention, in-depth investigation of modern South African males revealed a tension: masculinity has a lot to do with strength, yet male strength is often stereotyped by society as brutal muscle, mindless sexual appetite and violence. South Africans do not recognise themselves in that  stereotypical way, and masculinity can thus become something to be ashamed of, rather than celebrated.

Carling Black Label seized the opportunity to paint a 21st century portrait of masculinity that could rally all men under its banner: bold, brave, strong men are those who are true to themselves and use their strength to do the right thing. This sensible message required research-driven content to ensure the right chord was struck by the advertising.

Three months into the launch, Carling is showing record growth in South Africa, with major positive volume changes and significant improvements in image attributes.

What does this mean for brands?

It’s too early to say whether Gillette’s campaign is going to be a surefire win for the brand and Gillette, Nike and Carling are very different brands. Time will tell whether this works out for Gillette, or not. But if they think it will, and they back the work they have done to get to this point, then they should stay the course.

Stop, think and smooth the waters

When thinking about marketing and advertising placing itself in a cause-based or political space, some considerations would do well to make the waters smoother for these brands.

Broader understanding of political currents in your market and country.

What is the brand’s history and purpose: Does the brand sit comfortably in that space? Nike has a history of targeting youth with edgy adverts and pushing the boundaries with an audience who are aligned to their message – Just Do It. They also famously live up to their messages, with carefully selected sponsorships and are quick to pull out of sponsorships that do not align with these social messages.

Is there a tone of positivity and partnership: Carling Black Labels’ campaign has a positive tone that avoids any misinterpretation of the campaign as a criticism of masculinity as it is today.

Imagining the advert from a different perspective: Would the advert be received more positively or more negatively if a different type of person were used in the advert, women instead of men for example?

Will the message have a positive effect on sales, based on the product? There is a loose upper limit on how much Nike gear a fan will buy, likewise with Carling but unfortunately for Gillette, the rate at which people need to replace razors does not increase, even if they have nothing but praise for this ad. People are unlikely to wear Gillette branded apparel as a badge of honour, so there seems less obvious upside in immediate sales.

These are questions that research prior to launch will help answer. Playing in this space can be hugely advantageous for brands, but being bold also requires being prepared.

Blooming Business – NETFLORIST

Blooming business: NetFlorist has a rich, 20-year e-commerce history

NetFlorist was the talk of social media on this year’s Valentine’s Day, for all the wrong reasons. But this was just a blip on the e-commerce company’s history. Michael Bratt spoke to the company’s managing director, Ryan Bacher.

Having geared up for 45 000 deliveries on the day of love, load shedding and heavy rains severely impacted NetFlorist’s operations. Non-delivery of orders or the delivery of sub-standard gifts left many consumers fuming, and they weren’t shy about relaying their experiences on social media.

The backlash was handled very professionally by the brand, with Bacher issuing a video apology, which was posted on social media, and the company responding to all complaints.

“My gut is we haven’t recovered as a brand,” Bacher honestly responds, “because we upset our customers… I don’t know that you can always recover. All we could do was control how we tried to recover and learn from this and ensure we plan better for next year,” he adds.

This incident was a knock to NetFlorist, which has built itself up to become one of the largest e-commerce retailers in South Africa. Marketing has played a huge role in the brand’s growth over the years, and it’s interesting to see how their strategy has evolved.

The evolution of NetFlorist’s marketing

In the early days, NetFlorist didn’t use any brand marketing, instead relying on affiliates (partnering with large companies) to gain traction.

“We lost our brand in that space, but we were so new to the e-commerce retail journey we didn’t understand that the brand is important,” comments Bacher.

These relationships later morphed into co-branded environments, before NetFlorist launched its own brand journey. Radio was the chosen medium to begin with to get the message out, but nowadays Google AdWords dominates, followed by digital and social media, radio and out of home billboards and vehicle branding.

Having had a childhood friendship with current FCB Africa CEO Brett Morris, NetFlorist partnered with the agency for advertising campaigns. Bacher stresses that this was an important step, as FCB really understands the essence of who NetFlorist is, and that great creative is vital for marketing success.

“From day one it’s really been about getting NetFlorist to become a household name through the marketing. There obviously have been changes in strategy and product innovations and many other developments along the way, but the marketing has always been true to building the equity of the brand,” explains Morris.

This has led to a situation that Bacher describes as “the brand being bigger than the business”.

“Our brand has been overweight in terms of the success of our business. Our name is everywhere and people think it’s this giant business, but we’re relatively small. We’re lucky to have a brand that’s punched above the business, because people need to trust us to deliver and a brand helps that tremendously,” he elaborates.

Realising that NetFlorist would probably never have big advertising budgets, Bacher and Morris had to ensure that the end product, of whatever was being spent on marketing, stood out. This was where creativity and humour were incorporated, with NetFlorist becoming known for its mischievous, irreverent, tongue-in-cheek tone in adverts, which entertain.

Harold, based on the father of a friend of Bacher and Morris, has become synonymous with the brand and its advertising, arguably reaching the same level of celebrity status as Steve from FNB.

Complaints about adverts 

But many times, this advertising approach has landed the brand in hot water with consumers lodging complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority. The most recent one happened at the beginning of this year, with NetFlorist winning that case.

“We won the case, but we pulled the ad. We’ve done that before quite a few times. We’ve never lost a case against our ads, but we always pull the ads. If it gets to that stage we do that, because our aim is not to offend,” comments Bacher.

Morris says that NetFlorist is a fantastic client to work with because “they are not afraid to have a point of view and are brave enough to put their point of view out there. We have had some criticism in the past for being a bit too risqué, but you can never please all people all of the time,” he says. “As the saying goes, if you stand for something you may have some people for you and some against you and if you stand for nothing you will have nobody against you… but nobody for you either.”

Differentiating selling points

NetFlorist currently does on average 3 000 deliveries a day, with two thirds of those being same day. Same day delivery is a key differentiator for the brand, as is personalisation of gifts (across 1 000 different products), which is the fastest growing part of the business.

“What we try and do is provide what we think our customers want, even if it’s hard, because it raises the level at which competitors are going to have to take us on. For example, we moved the same day delivery cut-off time from 12:00 to 16:00 and we also introduced home delivery,” explains Bacher.

Future plans

Bacher says the business will continue to be the best it can be, with personalisation remaining a key driver. On the floral side, there are two focus areas over the next year; the introduction of home delivery and the scaling up of wedding deliveries.