Organised by CADEK Media, the conference was led by keynote speaker Femi Adebanji. The event’s Cape Town edition takes place on Wednesday, 1 November and the Durban edition on Thursday, 23 November.

The seven speakers of the day shared a multitude of tips and secrets. media update’s Nikita Geldenhuys attended the conference and shares six important points that can help more marketers make a success on social media:

1. Use keywords on social media to improve SEO

In his presentation, Simon Lloyd, director and managing partner at Algorithm Agency, discussed why social media as an SEO tool should be a key part of every content strategy.

"When people talk about search engine marketing, they say ‘You need to align your keywords with your organic strategy’. What I’m suggesting is that social media is a lot more useful from a paid media point of view."

Lloyd pointed out that marketers are not planning their social media strategies based on what people are searching for on web search engines. He suggested that brands should identify which of their SEO keywords are not delivering results and use social media to plug these gaps.

He noted that bidding on keywords through Google AdWords can be more expensive than advertising on Facebook. "It’s infinitely more cost-effective to drive traffic from Facebook than it is from Google."

He warned, though, that brands who follow this approach should not expect Facebook users to buy a product on their website straightaway. "Add these users to a remarketing list and [serve them your adverts] the next time they are on YouTube or Google Search."

2. Cash in on user-generated content

Speakers pointed to the high value that user-generated content (UGC) offers brands. "UGC is often a lot more profound for brands than the content they create themselves," Adebanji noted.

Ashleigh Burton, lead social media manager of FCB Africa, discussed best practices in using content that users have created for or about your brand. “Choose a very unique and very powerful hashtag for your submissions,” she said.

With this step done, it might take time for submissions to appear, Burton reminded conference attendees. "Don’t wait for content to come to you. In the beginning, you might not have a steady stream of UGC, but you might find a post that’s absolutely perfect for your brand, but [the user] hasn’t mentioned you. Go out and ask them if they mind you sharing it to your platform."

Most of the time, users will agree, says Bruton. 

3. Capture moments

Irma Karsten, digital marketer at the agency TCHM, pointed out that while social media statistics are readily available, the challenge is for marketers to apply this knowledge.

She suggested that brands identify the topics and moments that are important to their audience. Cooking and eating are one of these top moments, Karsten explained. "People take photos of their food. Why do they do that? Because food is important to people. It’s a social happening that happens every single day."

"If we need to touch people every single day when things are happening to them, food is a good place to start. The challenge is to make a connection with your brand."

The key, according to Karsten, is to target people based on the emotions that drive them; fear, greed, or lust.

4. Consider an account for each of your branches

Karen Petersen, founder of Network Explosion, discussed corporate social media accounts, and the pros and cons of having multiple store accounts.

"Should individual stores have their own accounts or just one corporate account?" she asked. She pointed out benefits, including that Facebook users, for instance, can check into stores on the platform and leave reviews. Individual store accounts can also help the brand create a sense of community among local users.

Because not all demographics respond to marketing messages the same way, individual pages can also help to tailor messages to specific audiences.

The downside to having pages for each branch is a lack of control, coupled with risks to the company’s pages if the staff post harmful content on their social media page. Multiple accounts also require monitoring from a corporate marketing manager and training of the employees that manage the accounts.

5. Position yourself as a professional

"Being on the Internet means being exposed," explained Wesley Madziva, a social media consultant and trainer. His presentation explained how to take advantage of this exposure as an individual.

Madziva noted that some professionals shy away from building their social media presence, comparing them to "a business without a sign". "A business without a sign is a sign of no business. What is your sign on social media?" he asked.

His advice is to get the basics right by using a professional profile picture, write an informative biography about your expertise, and start spreading your expertise by sharing your knowledge online.

6. Listen to social users and deliver

In Adebanji’s presentation, ‘Shifting Customer and Brand Perceptions through Social Media’, he explained that in today’s world, it’s not about a company’s products anymore, but about giving customers experiences.

 To illustrate the concept, he mentioned an example from the early days of social media. In 2011, Peter Shankman mentioned the steak restaurant Morton’s in a tweet, which read: "Hey @Mortons – can you meet me at the newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks. :)"

He sent the tweet before boarding a plane. When Shankman arrived at his destination, he was met by a Morton’s employee carrying a bag of food from the restaurant – on the house. Read the story here.

Want to know where South Africa’s social media industry is at? Read our article Three things SA’s latest social media stats can teach brands.