Vladimer Botsvadze - The Importance of Social Media for Growing Your Business in the Digital Era
Vladimer Botsvadze is a leading business & technology consultant as well as the No. 1 digital marketing thought leader who has been endorsed and featured by Forbes, Bloomberg, etc.
In this episode, we discuss the importance of leveraging social media for growing a business in the era of accelerated digital transformation and hyper innovation. We cover the strategies and skills for succeeding with social media, the considerations for multichannel marketing, and some of the main challenges and negative aspects of social media usage.
Links & mentions:
“Efficient social media plan can go a long way in changing the game for your business. And in recent times, social media has witnessed massive changes which have prompted it to change their algorithms. Businesses are making the most of the situation and using social media tactics.”
Welcome to the Agile Digital Transformation podcast, where we explore different aspects of digital transformation and digital experience with your host, Tim Butara, content and Community Manager at Agiledrop.
Tim Butara: Hello everyone. Thanks for tuning in. This time around I'm joined by award winning digital marketing expert Vladimer Botsvadze, one of the world's leading technology and business consultants and digital transformation influencers, who's also an advisory board member of Rethink Retail, as well as a member of the Marketing Judging Committee of the American Business Awards. He's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, Yahoo Finance, World Biz magazines and other well known media outlets. He sets the highest standards for marketing and he's a global audience favorite from New York to Sydney. Vladimer Botsvadze.
Vladimer Botsvadze: Hi Tim, thanks for inviting me to your podcast and I'm delighted to share my actionable and game changing insights with you today.
Tim Butara: Awesome. I'm excited to get into the topic with you. We'll be discussing the key role of social media in growing your business in this era marked by digitalization, by digital transformation. So Vladimer, my first question for you today is what is the role of social media in a digital strategy? Especially if we consider the accelerated innovation digitalization together with the always-on mentality and very high expectations from customers who are used to everything being perfect.
Vladimer Botsvadze: So a winning marketing strategy requires a balance of practicality and storytelling, and I bring agility to the way brands operate and a solid combination of creativity and social media understanding to organizations’ marketing efforts. I help events, brands, think-thanks and associations achieve unprecedented levels of success. And digital marketing strategies are rapidly evolving. And my clients are motivated to understand that digital marketing has become 24/7, 365 commitment.
Whether they need to build an entirely new marketing strategy from scratch, or executives are driven to build their personal brands, I fast track their marketing efforts for the best possible results. It is imperative to define precisely who you want to connect with. A social media strategy is a summary of everything you set your sights on social media. The more specific your strategy is, the more game changing it will be. It guides your actions and lets you know if you are succeeding.
Knowing who your audience is and their needs is key. Choosing marketing goals, objectives that align to your business. Each of your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable and relevant. Know your competition and ask yourself questions to keep your strategy focused. Find five social media platforms where you can build the strongest presence. If you want your customers to engage with you, you need to give them a reason for doing so.
Connect with your users. Find out what they want to hear from you, then develop and post content that fits their expectations. Use analytics to measure your social media performance. This will give you a complete view of your brand's presence on social media. Analytics found on social media platforms can provide in-depth information of the performance of your posts.
There are 4.6 billion social media users and Facebook is still the most widely used social media platform. 73% of marketers believe that social media is effective for their business. 99% of social media users generally access the Internet using mobile devices. Live videos, reels, YouTube short stories are some of the recent editions on social media platforms.
Social media commercial will be an 80 billion industry by 2025, and 50% of marketers are planning to increase their paid social in 2022. Social media managers bridge the gap between marketing and customer experience. As I mentioned, there are 4.6 social media users, and 2 hours and 27 minutes average daily time spent using social media by users, and each user uses 7.5 applications monthly.
Augmented reality is growing in popularity. Let's just look at Instagram filters, for example. Target relevant influencers and their followers, share content in a variety of forms. Users aged between 18 and 24 account for about 45% of TikTok’s global reach. Short form vertical video is here For the long run, make sure everything you share is going to be useful for your followers and evoke emotions with storytelling.
And last but not least, I would love to mention social media usage time per day by continent: South America 3 hours and 24 minutes, Africa 3 hours and ten minutes, Asia 2 hours and 16 minutes, North America 2 hours and six minutes, and Europe 1 hour and 50 minutes. So Europe needs to work harder in terms of social media penetration, make short term and long term goals better, understand your target audience, know when to post.
And I will add some useful information about statistics. Social media ad spend is going to overtake TV ad spend in 2022, reaching $177,000,000,000. TikTok was the most downloaded social media network with 28 billion global downloads. And the global social commerce industry is expected to grow three times as fast as traditional ecommerce from 492,000,000,000 in $2021 to $1.2 trillion by 2025. Top social media networks for making purchases: Facebook 80%, Instagram 11%, Pinterest 2%, TikTok 1%. And last but not least, top social media marketing challenges nowadays: engagement is 63%, measuring ROI 55% and having enough content 36%.
Tim Butara: Yes, it certainly seems, Vladimer, like right now, if you want to have any kind of position in the digital space, you need to be using social media, at least to some extent. And let me ask you this in this context: how can you use social media if you want to stand out among the really tough competition that we're seeing today?
Vladimer Botsvadze: Efficient social media plan can go a long way in changing the game for your business. And in recent times, social media has witnessed massive changes which have prompted it to change their algorithms and businesses are making the most of the situation and using social media tactics. In the age of the first competition and rapidly changing trends, you need to step up your game to stay ahead of your peers and have a plan before you start. Be consistent, be a good social media citizen. Make it personal because one size does not fit all.
Civility costs nothing. And when people promote you to their network, always show gratitude. Organize contests, set your goals, choose social networks and contest entry structure. Define contest rules and promote and engage.
I think everyone should bet on influencer marketing. And 98% of marketers say that ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing channels. And 28% of marketers found that influencer marketing is the fastest in acquiring customers online. Developing an online persona and a unique brand identity for your business is a must. Create a content calendar; sharing great content is essential, but it is equally important to have a plan in place for when we share content to get the maximum impact.
Tim Butara: Yeah, that sounds like a lot of the things that should just be kind of logical, but I think that people and businesses who are just now entering into this space are understandably still trying to find the best strategies and the best way forward. So I'm sure that to any listeners right now who haven't yet implemented that, this will be some great tips and great kind of pointers to get started.
Vladimer Botsvadze: Yes, and Tim, social media has created so many successful entrepreneurs and influencers and thought leaders. And we used to live in a time which was dominated by lawyers, doctors and engineers. Now we live in a time which is dominated by thought leaders, influencers, content creators and programming. So if people don't have an active presence across four – six social media channels, they don't exist. They missed a great opportunities, great deal of opportunities. And if they want to maximize their success, they need to be active everywhere.
And I also started my whole journey with a single tweet in 2014. But I surrounded myself with many renowned and successful entrepreneurs and settlers. So when you surround yourself with five successful people, you are going to be six. So I believe that we need to be finicky, choosy and selective when it comes to our circle in business because they inspire us all the time to hit the ground running, to leave no stone unturned and to reach new heights in business.
Tim Butara: Yeah, I think that's a great point here. I mean, they do say that you're basically the product of the five people closest to you.
Vladimer Botsvadze: Tim, I absolutely agree with you. And I studied in the UK and everywhere and I was not taught that, Vladimer, you need to be on social media, create content, surround yourself with great renowned thought leaders. And I think if you– networking can make you a billionaire nowadays. Someone with a high school degree can build a million dollar business and they will drive big brands out of business.
Because it's all about fast and slow, Tim, nowadays, it's all about Goliath versus David, because Goliath is slow and David is fast and David is firing on all cylinders across all social media platforms and disrupting everyone. And then slow brands, Goliath, are questioning their business models because they are managers where strategies existed like 30 years ago and they still applying those outdated strategies to their business and they go out of business.
So we are in a costant disruption nowadays, we work in a costant disruption. And I have witnessed so many brands went out of business because I work with Fortune 500 brands, accelerators, like, professors and so many, but only a few professors are willing to tweet and to keep their fingers on the pulse what's going on in digital transformation and how they can benefit from the latest trends. So education is a sinking ship. Whatever they learned and studied at business schools ten years ago is no longer relevant in 2022. So we always need to address the elephant in the room and to make tough decisions to maximize our business success.
Tim Butara: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I think that we talked about this before, that you need to have this mindset of continuous learning if you want to keep up with all the new knowledge.
Vladimer Botsvadze: Absolutely, Tim. Because active daily learning is a number two top skill by World Economic Forum and people, managers, executives, board advisors don't learn daily and keep up with latest trends and technologies, they will be left behind. So in 2000, out of top ten valuable companies, there was only one technology company. Now there are seven out of ten in 2022. Because technology has disrupted almost every industry. If brands want to stay competitive and to survive in the age of disruption, they need to act like a startup.
Tim Butara: And what are the best strategies for growing your audience and gaining reputation through social media?
Vladimer Botsvadze: Social media is one of the most cost efficient digital marketing methods used to syndicate content and increase your business visibility. Executing your social media strategy will immensely skyrocket your brand recognition. Every blog post, image, video or comment may lead viewers to your company's website and increased traffic.
Social media marketing allows your brand to give a positive impression through a humanization factor. Social media marketing is possibly the most cost effective part of an advertising strategy. Creating a profile is free for almost all social media networks and any paid promotions you decide to invest in are relatively low cost. So customers appreciate knowing that they receive a personalized response rather than an automated message.
And improve your marketing strategy. Communication is key to implementing a strategy because you need to consider all the people involved. Create videos which are favored by customers than blog posts because they are easier to understand. Cross promote your contest. This means that allowing other businesses to post on your page and having them to do the same for you. And last but not least, get to know your customers. And because it's imperative to get a feedback from your customers.
Tim Butara: What about– we're seeing a rise in multichannel and omnichannel marketing right now. I assume that this is closely related to social media. What are the new, like, specific considerations that you need to take into account because of that?
Vladimer Botsvadze: Yeah, omnichannel strategy focuses on a brand’s presence across channels during consumer buying process and how to make this a seamless consistent experience. The brand voice, storytelling and service must be consistent throughout all departments. Be customer centric. Have content that speaks to different personas of your brand. And social media helps improve brand awareness and it is a key part of an omnichannel customer experience. 62% of customers expect companies to adapt based on their behavior, needs and expectations for a more personalized experience. Humanize the omnichannel by addressing digital identity makes them feel seen and well served.
Tim Butara: What about the new skills? I mean, as we already talked about, the last two years have really changed the game for the digital, for how people and businesses use the digital, interact with it. And I would assume that this means that there are now new skills, new traits necessary to mastering social media content as opposed to the pre Covid times.
Vladimer Botsvadze: Absolutely. Essential social media skills required to create world class marketing content. For example: time management, multitasking, attention to detail responsibilities, strategic thinking, problem solving, good decision making, innovation and emotional intelligence. For example, creativity: bringing new concepts and ideas to the table for solving existing problems, either images or words. Leadership: inspire a team towards achieving a common goal through experience inside and collaborative effort.
Masterful copywriting skills; sound journalistic writing skills are a must for anyone employed in content marketing. Successfully driving engagement and increasing website visits only happens with captivating and poignantly worded storytelling. Market research; find out who and where your customers are. Love for tech, because social is tech oriented and always changing. Analytical thinking; monitor social media behavior and develop strategies. Aesthetic sense: essential for social media visuals. Storytelling: ability to craft unique, compelling stories and develop content for various media channels to reach and connect with target audience. And risk taking; the only way to learn what works in social media is to test different things out and always keep on experimenting.
Tim Butara: It's interesting, right? It's a field that requires a very good balance of analytical skills and creative skills, right? It's one of those–
Vladimer Botsvadze: I think, Tim, listening is very important in social media because, for example, I always listen to my tribe and my followers because it is important to engage them and to build a relationship with them in the long term to show gratitude. And when someone leaves a comment, I always try to reply to them and to show my gratitude. I always learn a lot from my followers’ comments– because listening, we need to be in the listening business.
For example, Brian Chesky listens to Airbnb’s users on Twitter because he has so many followers and he improves Airbnb’s product by leaps and bounds through listening. Because we need to be listening. And Fortune 500 brand executives rarely willing to listen to their consumers and users on social media. That's why they go out of business because of their outdated business models. So listening is very important. Listening, showing gratitude, going extra mile for our followers. And social media, we live in a time which is dominated by influencers and thoughts leaders. So if people don't like social media, they should put that in their pipes and smoke it.
But everything has changed. They need to change their mindset, their attitude in order to maximize their success. And I'm sure they are in this business to stay ahead of the car. So if they want to maximize their success in the long term, then they need to be in social media in the long term. Because for example, nobody forced me to be active on social media. But I discovered in 2014 that social media was the only way to win in the long term. That's why I built up my social media platforms from scratch. I connected with everyone and I shared content that was in followers’ best interest.
And I'm in a brand building business, Tim, brand building business. For example, why Nike is Nike? Because Nike has a strong brand, like, “Just do it” campaign has taken its success to the next level. It's same for us, like, people who build personal brands, building your Twitter is tantamount to “Just do it” marketing campaign because listening and connecting with my audiences builds my personal brand in the long term and takes my success to the next level.
So I'm in a brand building business, now my expertise is put on a pedestal throughout the world because of my audience centricity and whoever is close to audience is always wins and mobile device is what holds the attention of our society. We are, marketing is all about winning attention, winning their attention across social 8, 10 media networks.
Tim Butara: Yeah, and it's nice that we are already now moving into the last question that I have for you today, Vladimer. And so far we've mostly discussed the positive aspects and strategies of social media and I want to take a minute to play the devil's advocate for a bit here and touch upon some of the negative aspects of social media.
So for example, the addictive nature, the double edged sword of instant gratification, the potential privacy issues and the potential for abuse there. Can we explore this a little bit? How do we address and approach all this?
Vladimer Botsvadze: Four big things we do online: email, shopping, searching and social media. And 62% of Americans believe that companies collect personal data daily on the Internet. Information, there are– 4.6 billion people use social media worldwide and information is collected from personal information, likes, posts and other user behavior. And this huge data is collected most of the time without the users’ awareness.
And there are like 376,000,000,000 emails sent daily and all these emails go into permanent storage. Information is collected by providers, private companies and other entities about the type of emails received. And the data breach explains why targeted ads may linger around your email. So 2.1 billion people shop online. So online shops collect personal and user behavior data aggressively. They track all user activities, including their location. 9 billion searches in a day. So Google stores search history, IP addresses and other private data. Consequences. Breach of data privacy and digital platforms can lead to unethical advertising and sale of private information.
So I believe that 88% of people believe that people are less polite on social media than in person. For example, three in four witness an argument on social media. So there are so many negative behaviors nowadays on social media. So I think anyone should stand as steady as a rock and to cope with what's going on in this world and move forward and put in the work.
Tim Butara: Yeah, it's the same as with most technology, right? It has negative aspects and positive aspects and it's up to the people using it and to the people kind of managing it to make sure that as little of the negative gets through as possible.
Vladimer Botsvadze: Absolutely, Tim. And you know, social media, for example, 20 years ago, this opportunity did not exist. It used to cost a fortune to reach global audiences 25 years ago. But we can turn the tables on everybody and the shoe is on the other foot. Why? Because we are in a cat-bird position, cat-bird seat nowadays. Because everything is available at our fingertips and we can download Twitter, we can download TikTok and we can reach millions of people worldwide and we can reach almost any person in the world if we are good enough, if we create content, if we have podcasts, if we blog.
For example, I uploaded my 40 videos to YouTube three years ago and now I'm represented as a speaker by more than top 20 speakers bureaus throughout the world. And I have been booked by social media and marketing events worldwide. So I'm very happy to benefit from social media platforms to maximize my success, to reach my goals, to connect with my audiences and to explore, because everything is all about exploring. So we need to be open minded, business, adapt to everything what is coming, and never stop testing.
Tim Butara: I think, Vladimer, you’re a perfect example of somebody who was able to really capitalize on everything that social media offers and you used it to your best possible advantage.
Vladimer Botsvadze: Absolutely. And because I was 18 when I was exploring all avenues in New York City and nobody knew me and I have had this kind of feeling in my bones since 2006 that I wanted to turn the table and to build a world class awareness about my passion, about my commitment, about my goals, to show the world what I'm made of. I'm my own master and I'm as regular as clockwork everywhere. So I use my intelligence just to capitalize on these opportunities. So I will not waste my $200,000 on MBAs at top business course because it's useless for me and a dime a dozen. But I will put my heart and soul into everything as long as this social media networks exist.
Tim Butara: So if any of our listeners would like to connect with you, or if they'd like to learn more about you, where can they do that?
Vladimer Botsvadze: They can connect with me on LinkedIn. I'm open to new connections. And if they are organizing an event, or they want to pick my brain, or if they are building a startup and they need a strong marketing adviser and they can connect with me and I will do my best to– you and I will go extra mile for them to help them maximize their success. I'm also very active on Twitter, @vladobotsvadze. I have around 56,000 followers and they can also follow me and they can keep up with the latest trends in digital transformation and marketing. They can also like my Facebook page, of course they can visit me at vladimerbotsvadze.com where they can have a bird's eye view of my services, biography, credentials and social media links. So I think everyone benefits from my expertise and it is always a win-win when I partner with brands. And of course, it's my duty to turn the marketing managers of today to the global marketing leaders of tomorrow.
Tim Butara: Awesome. Well, I hope that this podcast episode leads to some awesome connections for you, Vladimer, and I have to say thank you so much for joining us. This has been a great conversation. I'm really glad that we get to share your awesome expertise here on our show. So, yeah, thanks for being our guest.
Vladimer Botsvadze: Thank you very much for this opportunity. I wish you the best.
Tim Butara: You too, Vladimer. And to our listeners, that's all for this episode. Have a great day everyone and stay safe.
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