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Social media to overcome digital skills gap

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With 13-million South Africans on Facebook, 2,68-million on Instagram and 7,4-million users on Twitter, social media marketing is a key tool for reaching new audiences and boosting sales for any business.
“It’s not just about ‘doing’ social media,” says Kiara Havenga, social media marketing head tutor at GetSmarter. “It is about the ability to strategise innovative social media solutions to support brand awareness, recognition and conversion and impacting the bottom-line of business by using social media as a powerful marketing tool.”
She adds: “The social media environment is ever-changing and there are still many misconceptions that businesses, managers and marketing professionals still believe when it comes to social media marketing.
“Workforces often lack digital skills, despite most of our everyday being online which leads to a digital skills gap in the workforce,” she says. “An important focus which companies should place emphasis on is social media and ensuring that employees are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills set to assist businesses to promote services or products.”
With nine out of 10 businesses having a social media presence, equipping their workforce with the necessary skills can boost their brand, products, and audiences as well as transform the way businesses operate internally, she explains.
“Social media education does not only help employees cope with the changes in their industry but it benefits the business and marketing efforts overall,” Havenga adds. “Employee advocacy, and engagement within a properly educated workforce reduces the likelihood of a reputation management issue online.”
She points out that businesses are often reluctant to give their brand a social media presence because they believe that it exposes them to more criticism. But with good online reputation knowledge, strategies in place and a knowledgeable workforce she says that it can be a powerful form of marketing for a brand or business.
This is why it is so important for companies to invest in social media courses to equip their employees with the know-how. “This knowledge is not only beneficial to social media specialists or marketing departments but to all employees involved in the brand and development of a business,” she says.
She continues: “Business owners and marketers of brands are often guilty of doing social media marketing on an ad hoc basis without a strategy. As with most things in life, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
“Using social media to market a brand or business when there isn’t a strategy in place, will not only be a waste of time and resources, but it could be damaging to your brand.”
She says that the social media landscape is evolving daily, and business and brands need to ensure they have a strategy and staff that can evolve with it.
“It is therefore key that businesses provide employees the opportunity to learn and feel equipped with the necessary social media skills that can ultimately benefit the overall bottom-line of a business.”
And it doesn’t take long to master the skill. “For example, in just eight weeks through the GetSmarter social media marketing online short course, which is in partnership with UCT, employees can master some of the most necessary social media marketing skills needed to to create, execute, measure and refine a high impact social media strategy,” she adds.
“So, whether you are a sales manager, PR manager, office manager or a small business owner, the comfort in delivering on effective social media strategies, campaigns and implementation will increase any businesses brand power.”