Twitter is a friend with benefits, says Brand SA

2010-06-30 09:20

South Africa, which is hosting its first World Cup, has discovered

unexpected benefits, courtesy of the age of Twitter, in its campaign to market

the country.


South Africa spent $100 million on its marketing campaign, paying

for television commercials around the world.

But glowing comments on Twitter and

Facebook by legendary sportsmen, Hollywood stars and ordinary fans were having

just as big an impact, said Miller Matola, chief of Brand South Africa, a

government agency tasked with marketing the country abroad.

“Social media has revolutionalised word-of-mouth marketing. We are

thrilled by the kind of feedback some celebrities have been giving to the world

about the country,” Matola said.

“People tend to trust information that comes from their idols. What

they say is like some sort of a stamp of approval.”

Twitter said on Friday that World Cup football kicked the number of

“tweets” fired off at the microblogging service to a record of 3 283 per second,

a high hit right after Japan beat Denmark 3-1.

The normal rate of tweets averages 750 per second, according to the

company, which has warned users to expect outages as it tries to copes with the

heavy traffic during the World Cup.

With South Africa hoping to use the tournament to transform its

image overseas, the country is beaming as celebrities share scenic pictures of

top tourism sites and vow to come back.

Will.i.am, of the music group Black Eyed Peas, posted pictures of

himself and singer Alicia Keys celebrating South Africa’s first goal at the

opening match, and enthused: “Twenty years ago, no one would have thought that

the whole world would come to South Africa for the World Cup. This is

historic.”

They were among the litany of celebrities who visited South Africa

for the tournament, including British Princes William and Harry, hip-hop artist

K’Naan, rapper R Kelly, Mick Jagger of Rolling Stones fame and former model

Kimora Lee Simmons.

The model gushed to her fans about the city, posting pictures of

the landmark Table Mountain from her room.

On her departure, Kimora promised to come back and stay longer. “I

am very sad 2 b leaving the gorgeous S.Africa! Thank u 2 all 4 ur luv and

kindness! We’ll b back very, very soon! Team Fabulosity SA rocks.”

Singer Akon declared his love for the country and the continent by

posting mini videos shot at different locations around South Africa.

“South Africa rocks! This is the place to be,” the star

tweeted.

“Thank You S. Africa!!!” said R Kelly on his departure.

Distinctly South Africa words like vuvuzela, the noisy plastic horn

that has become a signature sound at World Cup matches, have become a trending

topic on Twitter.

Even world football president Sepp Blatter has a Twitter account,

where he enthuses about the games and the organisation of the event.

But a researcher at IMM Graduate School of Marketing warned that

the celebrity social networking hype could easily fizzle if not supported by

aggressive mainstream marketing.

“These avenues only create a short-term hype. There is still a

strong need for diverse marketing,” said Tony Chetty.


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