Wednesday, 19 January 2022

In Business

Waterhole Theory: On Social Media, African Businesses are Hunters

Social Media is hunting ground for brands and businesses, to get unsuspecting consumers for the consumption of their goods and service – a waterhole. A waterhole is a depression in the ground in which water can collect, or a more permanent pool in the bed of an ephemeral river. 

In Zambia, of the 18 million people, there are 16 million active mobile phone users, 4.43 million Internet users, and 2.3 million Social Media users (12% of population), as at January 2020. 

As is with most African countries, the most important thing in Zambian social media, after chatting is doing business, and there are so many social media groups and pages created over the years that created the need to understand how to get more customers.

Enter the Waterhole Theory.

The Waterhole Theory dictates that social media has brought people into what are called Waterholes, as in where internet consumers spend more time socialising online regardless the gadget in use. The Waterhole Theory dictates that the brand or business now needs to go back to the basic of living in the wild – hunting of consumers, cash, and brand loyalty, within the waterholes.

The frequent visiting by internet consumers to a specific waterhole is based on what kind of animal they are and forest terrain they live in, as some animals like elephants want deep waterholes in comparison to monkeys that just make due with shallow waters.

The Waterhole Theory calls for Marketers and Public Relations people to convert their brands into predators, even so, to also build their product lines and services around waterholes.

Animals are most vulnerable at the waterhole, and that is so for humans on Social Media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. These social media platforms are places of gathering of some sort; and therein the hunter strike.

The Savannah has two unapologetic predators that thrive in taking down prey in crowds - the Lion and the Crocodile. The crocodile is the uncover hunter that hides under water and pounces on prey from beneath, dragging their prey into the depths of the river. Is it not so with the terminologies of Digital Marketing called Engagement and Conversation, that are encouraged by Marketing experts? At the waterhole of a river, the crocodile like brand can create conversation to lure the unsuspecting Facebooker and in a few lines they are paying for a product or at least moving further down the Marketing Funnel. 

Enter Lions. 

In general, there are two known methods that Lions employ to hunt their prey. The first one is by stalking them. This is when the male Lion also joins the hunt together with the Lionesses. For the second method, there is no hiding or stalking involved, they go for the big prey and then corner it strategically. In the same light, marketers and business owners must use these two hunting methods – direct (lion cornering) and in-direct (lion stalking). 

Lion Stalking on Social Media

A marketer must make sure their social media channels has enough content that lures their prey, drawing closer and closer to them, making sure they come so close for a sales pitch. This is essentially best described as the Buyer’s Journey or the Marketing Funnel – moving from Attraction, Consideration, and Conversation. 

In the Attraction stage, content to use on Social Media channels includes Blogs, Social Media updates, Infographics, Digital Magazine/Books, Audio Podcast, Video/Video Podcast, Microsite, Print Magazine/Newsletter, and Primary Research. As a lion stalking on social media, these will draw your visitors closer and closer to you for the next stage. 

In the Consideration Stage, content to use include Educational Resources, Useful Resources, Software Downloads, Discount/Coupons, Quiz/Surveys, Webinars/Events, as lure them even further to your ultimate goal.

In the Conversation Stage, content to use includes Demo/Free Trials, Customer Stories, Comparisons/Spec Sheets, Webinars/Events, and Mini-Classes.

Lion Cornering

As does the lion corner its prey, direct selling is a great way to achieves business or brand goals on social media. As the consumers are in groups, and on pages, you can directly send messages to them or get into their comments and sell to products or services. There is however a thin line between selling and trolling on social media. Some may feel offended when they are interrupted by a salesman, but others do not mind. It is a matter of tactic. 

Tone of Voice and Analysis

Two most import things when hunting on Social Media is that you must "Set a Proper Tone of Voice", and you must always remember to "Analyse" your progress, and then repeat the Marketing Funnel.

Now that we know what your audience looks like, you have to set a tone of voice. The tone of voice somehow shows the personality of your brand and speaks to your target customer in the language they prefer. The tone of voice will tell your customer from the first few posts if this page is suitable for them, consequently, if they will find the products that will help them on your page. The tone of voice is also a great idea to show your values. A brand with purpose is getting more and more popular.

Just as you must analyse your competitors and your audience, however, do not forget to analyse your activity as well. It can happen that the form of content that is popular among your target audience is not really popular on your page. Try to look for reasons why. 

Should you change the content, change its form, or try something new entirely. If you see that content that is considered to be unpopular among your target audience is flying high, do not be afraid to create more of that. After all, we are not trying to just follow the trends here. We are trying to create things that your audience is interested in.

Hunting is the only way to achieve business goals on Social Media, and that must be done methodically and repeatedly. 

Source: Hootsuite, Bali Safari Marine Park, TheBehaviourReport, Paldesk

Cabanga Media Group is a media and business services company with interests in Botswana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.