Firms should be clever about social media, says insider

2013-12-03 12:20
Facebook. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Facebook. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - Companies should use social media to engage with customers individually rather than as simply another marketing channel, a reputation manager has asserted.

"Some of the biggest missteps companies make these days is to treat social media as just another marketing channel, similar to broadcast media," Gordon Geldenhuys, head of Online Reputation Management at Acceleration Media.

Companies have jumped on social media as a marketing channel, driving brand awareness and content online, but the results have not always led to an increase on the bottom line.

Geldenhuys said that messages on social media should appeal to an informed consumer who may not have brand loyalty.

"Today’s customer is ever connected, always on, highly opinionated and on the move. This is a customer that now understands that they have power and they know how to use it. They have expectations and they have choices if those expectations aren’t met."


In South Africa big brand retailers like Pick n Pay and Woolworths have embraced social media and have a significant presence on Facebook.

However, the strategy doesn't always result in positive feedback for the companies, even though Pick n Pay and Woolworths have around 477 000 and 308 000 likes respectively.

Customer posts on the Woolworths Facebook page centred on complaints about clothing items to call centre agents, while on the Pick n Pay page, complaints about competitions and pensions were posted.

People use the platform to complain about shopping experiences they have had on the platform, and if brands don't respond, consumers are often offended.

Geldenhuys said that customers who utilise social media could use the medium to report on their experience in a way that could have far-reaching consequences for the company.

"They also have a voice and it is loud and far reaching. To earn their loyalty goes way beyond a loyalty programme. You need to earn their trust."


A Pew research study recently found that sentiment on social media can shift quickly. In the US, Twitter sentiment on same sex marriage shifted from 55% negative to 43% positive in a period of just one month.

The research noted that social media sentiment may match public opinion, but it was not a reliable indicator.

Geldenhuys warned that social media has equalised the landscape and companies had to accept that their social media properties were controlled by customers.

"Social Media is all about bringing the company closer to the customer. Customers choose to engage with organisations on their own terms."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Read more on:    pick n pay  |  facebook  |  woolworths  |  social networks

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


'Zuma's legacy will be judged by Nkandla'

The legacy of President Jacob Zuma is contingent on how he deals with the issue of upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, says Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Canon EOS 600D

The Canon EOS 600D Digital Camera puts the widely respected...

From R5389.95

I'm shopping for:


Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.