“This is the only way that they can deliver the truly consumer-first experience that today’s savvy users are demanding.”

Reacting to findings in the Social Media Landscape report that 68% of surveyed brands were only planning on implementing analytics in the next 12 months, she said it was inconceivable that a strategy could be successful without analytical foundations.

“Every single piece of content that is put out on social media needs to come from a deep understanding of the intended consumer’s context. This means knowing which platform they are on, when they interact and what type of content is most likely to create engagement,” she said.

Odgers continued: “Whether it is audience research, data and social media analytics, or focus groups, or a combination of those methods, it is important to underpin your strategy with a good knowledge of the user. At Soccer Laduma, we consider engagement and feedback to be a never-ending process, and we analyse every single story and piece of content we send out. We incorporate that feedback into how we engage in future, and never publish something that won’t wow the reader.

“The evolution of social media to incorporate multimedia content means that brand strategy has to also evolve to meet this demand. Our own research shows that most of our online users access our sites on an Android device as opposed to a Blackberry. That change happened in the last 12 months, indicating that there is a sharp rise in the use of smartphones. This growth is being driven by township residents,” she concluded.

Soccer Laduma’s consumer-first approach has been a resounding success: the paper is read weekly by 3.5 million users. The brand also boasts a strong following on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

According to the Social Media Landscape report, an article posted to Facebook on 27 May 2015 was the third most popular post by a brand for the year, garnering 41 626 likes, 464 comments and a reach of almost 700 000 people.

Soccer Laduma’s Facebook page passed one million likes in July, and now has 1.29 million likes.