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Social business is a 'must-have'

Speakers at ITWeb summit emphasise that businesses avoiding going social will be outpaced by competitors.

"Businesses need to be always on, always available, always different and always changing. Being connected is as important as having electricity. If you are not connected, you are going to be left out."

So said Ryan Hogarth, social business strategist and the keynote speaker at the ITWeb Social Media Summit, held earlier this month in Johannesburg. The event, attended by over 100 delegates, began trending on Twitter 20 minutes into Hogarth's presentation, and continued to do so throughout the day.

"Your customers and employees can be your greatest assets. You just need to allow them to be. We need to be looking after our people. The most successful businesses in the world realise that their greatest assets are not their plants, buildings and machinery, but rather their people," Hogarth added.

The emphasis on placing people at the centre of successful social business was another key takeaway from several speakers, including founder and CEO of Procliviti, Jamaaludeen Khan.

"Technology is useful, but people should be at the forefront of all things social. The technology is an enabler, but social media really is about people," said Khan.

A 'Platform Smackdown' featuring advocates for Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Mxit, Google+ and YouTube dispelled a few common social media myths. Zibusiso Mkhwanazi, CEO of Avatar, said while many people view LinkedIn's primary purpose as job hunting, 71% of its 2.3 million users in SA actually use it to network with other professionals. Just shy of 70% of the user base access it for research purposes.

Mxit, often erroneously viewed as no longer a growing platform, remains extremely pervasive, said Vincent Maher, chief marketing officer at Mxit. He added that mobile phones are the third-largest medium in the media landscape, behind radio and TV, and that 79% of mobile phones in SA are not smartphones. Mxit currently has 6.5 million active users in SA.

How to achieve and measure a return on social media spend was the over-riding theme of the analytics intensive session, held on the second day of the ITWeb Social Media Summit 2013. Brett Field, marketing executive at FedGroup Financial Services, said effective use of social media centred on reaching and engaging defined target markets, rather than how many 'likes' a brand received.

Listening and engaging with an audience using personalised content was critical, said Matt Barclay, senior client acquisitions manager: Africa, Meltwater Group. Among the various elements that could be monitored to derive a return on investment was net growth in social relationships, and conversations by channel, engagement volume, geographical spread, social activity and brand impressions.

For more insights from the speakers at the ITWeb Social Media 2013 event, click here.


ITWeb is South Africa's leading technology-focused publisher, with media products and services that span online, print and events.

ITWeb's online platforms reach over 200 000 unique readers a month and service a large client base through its Virtual Press Office offering. Its print titles include Brainstorm magazine, iWeek magazine and a series of ITWeb Informatica reference annuals. Its events, such as BI Summit and IT Security Summit, provide a knowledge exchange platform, addressing prevailing business technology trends and issues. /
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