The involvement of employees as brand ambassadors for businesses is one of the key trends expected to shape social media marketing in 2023, a new report says.
The report, State of Social Media 2023, by Meltwaters, a Norwegian-founded market intelligence company, notes that marketers should expect more evolution in the social media landscape as the platform takes on new roles and creates new trends as well.
The report, which gives an outlook on the future of social media in the continent puts a lot of weight on influencer marketing, which it says will continue on rapid growth.
It notes that owing to the predicted possible recession in 2023, organisations need to maintain or increase their presence online. By doing so, they might sail through economic turbulence. “By raising awareness and building loyalty, businesses can create a solid basis for increasing revenue,” the report reads.
One way of building loyalty, the report notes, is including employees in social selling.
While the most common aspect of social selling has been the utilisation of celebrities or influencers, the report says this year might witness a trend where employees attached to the business or company are also incorporated.
“Among the trends predicted, influencer marketing will continue its rapid growth, and organisations will invest further in encouraging their employees to take part in social selling, driving employee advocacy,” the report says.
It predicts that budgets for social media channels will either increase or remain at the same level in most organisations, which emphasises the importance of social media. The report collected views from about 170 marketing and communication specialists in the continent.
The respondents responded to questions on background information such as location, company represented, number of people involved in social media within an organisation and the type of the business: business-to-consumer (B2C), business-to-business (B2B) or Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).
The report states that since social media transcends geographical boundaries and respondents were located across the continent, the findings are applicable throughout Africa.
Additionally, organisations everywhere can benefit from increased visibility and additional opportunities to create revenue. According to the report’s findings, the most used social media channels in Africa (top three) are Facebook (88 per cent), Instagram (76 per cent), and LinkedIn (74 per cent). Others are Twitter (67 per cent) and WhatsApp (58 per cent).
“In terms of growth, the use of TikTok is rapidly increasing (28 per cent),” the report says.
When it comes to exploring niche channels like Telegram, Pinterest or Twitch, marketers should be analytical of both pros and cons.
“While the audience might be limited, the competition is as well, with less than five per cent of respondents using these apps – so if your target group matches the user (group), it might be worth exploring,” it adds.
The report states that the importance of each social media channel varies depending on the industry, as the channels take on different roles for each target audience. For example, LinkedIn is considered the biggest B2B network. “It’s no surprise that within B2B, marketing and communications professionals ranked it highest – 40 per cent of respondents indicated that LinkedIn was the most important channel, followed by Facebook with 28 per cent,” reads the report.
Interestingly, it adds, short-form content platforms played a bigger role in B2C and NGO, with significant importance on Facebook in B2C (54 per cent), followed by Instagram (20 per cent).
For NGOs, Facebook is also the most important (37 per cent), followed by Twitter (26 per cent). “As paid options increase and Facebook-owned channels become more integrated, this will have an impact on how people use the platforms in the future,” the report says.
It adds: “Despite TikTok being named the fastest growing social media channel, it seems that it has yet to prove itself as an important channel for businesses both globally and in Africa.”
The 33-page report states that in the current climate, attention is currency, noting that as consumers become more discerning and marketing budgets tighten, reaching audiences and standing out has never been more important.
“With the majority of companies now using at least four of the most common platforms, both paid and organic social media have truly established their place in the mix,” it says.
“One of the most important findings of this report is that social media is deemed more important in Africa than globally; implying that African social media marketers recognise the value of social,” reads the report.
The main challenges for marketing and communications professionals, it says, are measuring the impact or return on investment of social, and gaining social media followers.
It notes that organisations are keen to create more awareness of their brand as well as engage with their audience.
“In order to gain more traction, organisations need to be open and willing to invest more time and resources in social media and its development. However, with further global economic uncertainty, organisations are being more cautious and increasingly deliberate with how they use paid social,” the report says.