The recent success of international pizza company Domino's Pizza, which saw its UK earnings increase by nearly 29%, proves that social media marketing can lead to major bottom line returns.
Officials attribute much of its current success to Domino's social media initiatives. The company's earnings report shows that e-commerce business grew by 61,4% and that online orders accounted for one-third (32,7%) of overall UK sales. The company says Web-based activities inspired by its social media campaigns drive online pizza sales, while simultaneously building consumer loyalty.
This success comes on the back of survey results in Harvard Business Review in March proving Facebook fan pages are an effective marketing tool. Companies that use the fan page module to market themselves to customers can increase sales, word-of-mouth marketing and customer loyalty.
According to Dave Duarte, programme director of the Nomadic Marketing course run by the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB), these cases prove that social media marketing is an effective and low-cost way to market.
He adds that the finding comes at an opportune time as more and more South African companies are wising up to the power of Facebook and other social media as marketing tools.
“Despite some early movers, the vast majority of SA businesses have, to date, been under-prepared to capitalise on these new marketing possibilities," says Duarte. "here is now, however, a growing eagerness to find out more and integrate online and mobile into their existing marketing activities.”
To use the terminology of Forrester – a leading global market research company – many South African companies are fast moving away from being Sceptics and Experimenters, and moving into the Practitioner and Conductor stage. The Forrester’s model has four levels of online marketing maturity – sceptics being least mature and conductors the most.
“We are now starting to become more capable to take advantage of this new wave in marketing," Duarte says. "On the GSB Nomadic Marketing course, for example, we have seen an increase in the numbers of businesses ready to step up to become effective practitioners.”
Duarte’s course at the UCT GSB is a unique digital marketing programme offered by the Executive Education unit of the business school – it runs in Cape Town this September.
Keeping abreast of the latest technological developments, the course focuses on topics such as Internet and mobile marketing strategies, augmented reality, location-based targeting of consumers, engaging in blogs and social networks, branding across multiple media channels, and measuring the efficacy of online and mobile campaigns.
Duarte adds that what is promising with regards to social media in South Africa is the use of mobile phones to participate in social networks. “A significant proportion of the 2,6-million Facebook users in South Africa access it with their mobile phones, but local social-media player Mxit is larger still with over 9-million local users,” he says.