How will digital freedom transform businesses in South Africa?

Over the past years with the preamble of social networks to be specific Facebook, I witnessed that more persons were becoming responsive to social networks, yet not fully aware of how Digital/Social media can breed both pessimistic and optimistic feedback to help them enhance their businesses.

                                                 Digital Advertising is ALL ABOUT CUTTING COSTS 

I wrote this copy being encouraged by small business with huge financial challenges yet they do not know that there are cheaper and exciting new methods of advertising like Digital marketing.

Traditional advertising methods:

First a definition: Traditional Advertising is a message or commercials communicated through then (Historical) established channels such as the following,

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Newspapers
  • Posters/outdoor branding,
  • Print and,
  • Direct mail (postal)
My prime examples in this case will be television and radio:

With television the communication can be both effective and ineffective depending on the time slot you want to buy in. For example advertising for the duration of the morning (6:00am-12 noon), afternoon to prime time slots will differ in terms of the costs and audience involved. With the aforesaid I fully recommend small or larger businesses to use media analytics to help identify and exploit the most responsive airtime at the right conversion price. You can read here about Media Tenor South Africa a company that specializes in international media analysis.

When we are talking about radio advertising the most effective time slots are the morning which captures the attention of a listener who’s preparing and driving to work. The afternoon drive captures the listener on long traffic roads returning home (They are tired but they have no choice but to listen to these ads). In the case above, Radio Audience Measurement Survey (RAMS) will be needed which is accessible at the South African Advertising Research Foundation SAARF, and they also host RAMS information day annually. For this year’s hosting dates and venues you can contact them here:

54 Queens Road, BRYANSTON
Tel: (011) 463-5340/1/2
Fax to email: 0866 353 592
Fax: (011) 463-5010
[email protected]

With “emergence” or to a certain extent highly active digital space it is hard to really determine how effective the traditional methods are, unless you’re targeting the traditional vs. modern people. The competition is hard especially with the world-wide mobile technology growth which resulted in short message advertising bulks (SMS), emails, website adverts and companies constantly buying and sharing database (receiving calls and SMS’s from unknown companies) to feed that need. See the illustration below:

Digital Marketing Tools

In the above methods as expensive as they are do not attempt to advertise unless your business is well established financially and you are fully aware who’s your targeted consumers, ranging from how effective is your competition, market price of what you’re selling, profit and the trading prices of your nearest competition.

Digital Marketing and Advertising:

First of all before I dwell much on digital marketing I would like to make an example about how cost effective it is:

With traditional advertising methods you need to leave your office in order to seek out:

  • An ad agency for the production of the ad
  • Packaging and,
  • Distribution channel of the final product

With digital marketing you can advertise without actually leaving the office:

  • You can situate your target market
  • You can develop the ad yourself (Production)
  • You can distribute the ad (Website, Social Networks, blogs etc)
  • All you need is to budget for internet access data

With the internet as an information superhighway, now you need to carefully consider which platforms to use when advertising online and how effective they will be in terms of growing your business. There’s a huge danger here, but yet cheap to use to your advantage and it can be successful if used well.

There are many platforms available at your disposal when it comes to digital marketing, but without a proper marketing strategy it can be a huge challenge to utilise the platforms. Part of your strategy should be the following:

  • What budget do you have for digital marketing?
  • This budget will be used for data purchase,
  • Is Vodacom, Cell C, 8.ta or MTN offering data specials this month, if so, for how long and what are the terms?
  • So what is my expenditure on data purchase compared to traditional advertising?
  • Is there ad going to be there forever or just for 30 seconds?

As a business your main focus is to reach your consumers, so I suggest you start seeking where they are? Do they spend most of their time on social networks? If so, then digital marketing is the future as fast as its emergence. As I have mentioned above here’s a list of platforms that with a proper strategy can be used to benefit your business:

  • Facebook (Create pages, groups, profile badges linked to your business website etc)
  • Twitter (Here updates are very instantly and can help you keep up with other businesses, so you need a business twitter handle)
  • YouTube (Here you must first register your channel, then you will be able to load your videos)
  • LinkedIn (Here you create your professional profile by your business-type and you can also find other professionals/different industries and you can also use your profile as a Digital Marketing Hub)
  • Flickr (Here you can register and manage your business photos successfully and share them with the relevant people that matter to your business)
  • Blogger and Word press

In terms of blogging platforms I will recommend Blogger because it is easy to use compared to word-press (Personal experience). It provides you with easy accessible progress reports including your adsense account if you have one. And you totally don’t need to be an internet guru to use this Google service.

In terms of picking a social network, well, I would go with Facebook because it is easy to use and most South Africans are not twitter friendly as they are still getting used to the network. I have been using Facebook to market my news publication and it has done me wonders in achieving the results I wanted in terms of upping my stats (For this continue to read below about GoXtra News). I constantly get people talking or rather say providing feedback about my online work and that takes away the worry that no one liked or commented on the links that I share on Facebook. So minus that worry from your list and use Facebook to your advantage as a digital marketing tool.

You can as mentioned above use your LinkedIn Profile as a digital Hub

With the instant feedback platforms that the above tools provide do you think it will take you more than 3 weeks to see if people are interested in your products? Do you think people have time to call your business wasting their airtime re-advertisement? Well, you thought wrong because they use these social networks to inquire via the comment boxes about your products, these are free remember and anyway it is where they spend most of their time on digital space.

Here’s an interesting read about the future of digital marketing in a South African context, the future of Digital Marketing lies in cross platform strategy

Take a look at this Marketing Budget by Zoomerang and see the increase on Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing:

Just for you to take that key decision to make your business visible on the digital space and what you need to budget for in terms of their digital marketing, Zoomerang conducted a survey in 2010 regarding the subject matter; here is a full survey report

So if you’re still stuck with the traditional advertising methods, well, I suggest you start looking more on the digital space and that can be done with no high budgets, but the relevant people to consult on how to best utilise the tools I have mentioned above.

To substantiate my recommendations to digital marketing and its power here’s my example according to personal experience:

Last year February I started an entertainment news website call GoXtra News and 3 months down the line the publication reached 10 countries. I kept on marketing the site using tools such as Facebook and twitter and today I can happily say that the site reaches 51 countries. So imagine if I utilised all the above mentioned tools. Since then the publication has more than 155, 800 page views and the numbers are ticking like clock on daily basis.

You might also be interested: Trends in Digital Advertising in South Africa DMMA

One of the major benefits of Digital Marketing/Advertising is the creation of links whether internally or with other businesses:

Digital Marketing is the future…



  • Nuffdotty – where thoughts on the subject of education, mostly relating to South Africa, are shared
  • Diski4Life – a blog about development of South African soccer post World Cup 2010

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