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ESSAY: Standard Bank #WhatsYourNext Social Media Campaign

ESSAY: Standard Bank #WhatsYourNext Social Media Campaign

The Standard Bank’s #WhatsYourNext campaign was a campaign many marketers can learn from. Its success and flaws ought to provide guidance to maneuver the world of digital marketing specifically on social media. With that said, this essay seeks to firstly define market segmentation and kinds of segments by examining the context of Standard Bank. Secondly, one will define and discuss the PESTL analysis of Standard bank and how those factors affect the campaign aforementioned. Thirdly, one will also discuss the marketing communication channel used and its advantages and disadvantages and lastly, one will define needs, wants and demand also looking into Abraham Maslow’s Theory of needs and how Standard Bank used that theory in the #WhatsYourNext campaign. 

Market Segmentation 

According to Dr. Lars Perner of the University of Southern California, market segmentation refers to discovering what types of buyers with various needs exist in the market. (Perner, 2014). Philip Kotler articulates that market segmentation holds that the market consists of groups of consumers with different needs. For example, Standard Bank offers student accounts, business accounts, premium accounts, and private accounts, all are bank accounts however tailored to cater to different segments with different needs. 

There are different kinds of segments. Benefit segmentation is grouping consumers according to similar benefits they seek. For example, those who seek low prices. Occasion segmentation means grouping consumers according to the purpose of using that particular service or product. For example, companies who open a Standard Bank business account to be used for business purposes. Demographic segmentation means grouping people who share the same demographic characteristics such as race, age, gender. Usage level segmentation means grouping consumers according to how often they use the product or service. (Kotler, 1999). A segment can be grouped in any way as long as that group can represent a profitable market opportunity. 

The Standard Bank’s #WhatsYourNext campaign that took place on the 16th of June 2017 was targeting the youth of ages 16-35 using demographic segmentation. South Africans are spending over 8 hours a day on Social Media. (Businesstech.co.za, 2019). Standard Bank was strategic in targeting their consumers on Social Media on Youth Day. The campaign’s objective was to provide financial support to the youth in desperate need of money by incorporating elements of viral marketing also known as online Word of Mouth which involves sharing, co-marketing and interactivity whereby competition participants had to gather ‘retweets’ of a minimum 1600 but more importantly, consumers were marketing the Standard Bank brand to each other. This process is called co-creation, whereby marketers and consumers co-produce media text to effectively market a product or service. (Miller and Lammas, 2010). Just like how Standard Bank has successfully done with the #WhatsYourNext campaign. However, a disadvantage of co-creation or viral marketing is that messages are more at risk of distortion and misinterpretation just like it happened with the standard bank campaign whereby they received backlash for hijacking a day meant to commemorate the youth of 1976 and reduced the youth to beggars.

Broad Marketing Environment

The marketing environment refers to the factors that affect the running of a business. These can be internal or external factors which are also called macro or broad factors. Conducting a marketing environment analysis using PESTL means that analyzing the marketing environment by looking at political, economic, social, technological, environmental factors which will be excluded in this context, and legal factors that might impact the campaign in this context.

Political Factors

Political factors refer to the extent to which the government intervenes in the economy. This can be through policies, political stability or lack thereof, and trade restrictions. This has an impact on organizations on how they do business. Businesses need to be able to anticipate future political climate and anticipate how should they structure their marketing strategies. (Academy, n.d.). South Africa is a democratic state and the Youth day commemorates the 1976 youth which was massacred by the apartheid government for protesting against compulsory usage of the Afrikaans language. Julian Brown of the University of Witwatersrand terms what is now famously known as the Soweto Uprising as the beginning of a political transition from the apartheid hegemonic regime to the popular resistance. The Soweto uprising helped shape the socio-political landscape of South Africa. (Brown, 2016.). Standard Bank strategically chose to run this campaign on Youth day. That was however met with mixed reactions as the current political state of South Africa is unstable hence the high rate of unemployed. One might argue that Standard Bank capitalized on the desperation of the South African unemployed youth as a marketing strategy overshadowing in disrespect, the youth of 1976 memory. In contrast to that argument, this led to the success of the campaign. 

Economic Factors

The economic environment refers to the economic conditions of a country that indicate whether the economy is growing, stagnant or declining. This affects the consumption patterns of consumers since people buy when they have money to buy. In developed countries, the economy is stable and that often means that the markets are saturated and there is more competition. In contrast, developing countries such as South Africa have economies that are growing, often unstable, which means there is a lack of purchasing power from consumers. (Belch and Belch, 2018). For example, in South Africa, we have a growing economy however the youth targeted by Standard Bank is mostly unemployed individuals and students. This however also provided an opportunity for Standard Bank because unemployed people are desperate for money which contributed to the success of the #WhatsYourNext campaign. This would therefore negatively and positively impact the campaign. Positively, in an opportunistic sense of a growing economy, an oligopolistic financial sector environment and the high need for quick money. It impacts the campaign negatively in a sense that the consumer spending is not sustainable in a long run, therefore, employing the viral marketing strategy has short term return on investment as people might be more interested in the money and not the bank nor the brand due to poverty, unemployment, and an unstable economic environment. 

Social Factors

These factors are the social conditions of the population and more precisely those of the target audience. Hence marketers need to comprehend their clients’ needs and needs based on social conditions. Variables incorporate changing family socioeconomics, training levels, social patterns, the frame of mind changes, ethics and trends. These factors have an impact on the marketing strategy because what might be ethical to another country, might not be ethical to another country. Social factors include the education level of the target audience which determines the ability to comprehend marketing messages. Standard Bank was targeting the youth that has access to the internet, literate and ambitious in a sense of having a plan what to do next with their lives. This is evident in how the campaign was received by many students who needed their university outstanding fees paid off which is one of the societal factors that are pertinent in the target audience, the fact that they mostly have outstanding university fees. This worked to the advantage of Standard Bank because it positioned itself as a bank that cares about the social conditions of South Africa by allocating funds to needy individuals. One may argue that as much as the intentions were to financially assist the youth in their ‘next’, however the terms that they would allocate these funds depending on the number of retweets an entrant received defeats the purpose because there is a possibility that one receives that number of retweets because they have a larger following and influence, not because they are needier than the rest. 

Technological Factors

New technologies are continually emerging. This can be artificial intelligence, algorithms, development of communication infrastructure. That affects how marketers structure messages. There are 4.39 billion internet users in 2019, an increase of 366 million (9%) versus January 2018, and there are 3.48 billion social media users in 2019, with the worldwide total growing by 288 million (9%) since 2018. (Businesstech.co.za, 2019). Also, the government is in the process of making data more affordable in attempts to bridge the digital divide. This will see an increase in the number of people connected to the internet, therefore, work in advantage for Standard Bank to be able to reach a wider target audience through social media campaigns. Standard Bank used Twitter to reach its target audience by using a hashtag. This saw the hashtag trending in South African top trends, therefore, being exposed to a wider audience. 

Legal Factors

The goal of the government is to protect consumers from false or misleading advertising. Thus, the judiciary and government put laws that aim to protect the consumers and marketers. These range from copyright laws, restrictions and the consumer protection act. In South Africa, there is the Consumer Protection Act which came into force on 31 March 2011. Promotional competitions such as the #WhatsYourNext campaign would be affected by this act because they are compelled to prepare competition rules before starting the campaign. In the case of Standard Bank’s #WhatsYourNext, they had to state that entries need 1600 retweets, must have a valid motivation how would they spend the R10 000 and lastly, they must have a Standard Bank account. Failure to do so may result in litigation and discredit the campaign and the brand of Standard Bank. 

Marketing Communication Channel

Marketers use advertising mediums as channels of communication. Mediums can be defined as nonpersonal means used to present sponsored messages to a larger audience. Marketing communications can be radio, television google, and social media. Even though word of mouth is a communication medium, advertisers do not regard it as an advertising medium. However, due to the rise of social media as an online word of mouth platform, also integrated as a powerful advertising medium, they are forced to reconsider this argument. Social media as a marketing communication channel, it is powerful because it allows interactivity and customization using algorithmic data. As all other channels, messages are prone to interruption by noise. Noise are distractions that hinder the full delivery of sponsored messages. Standard Bank also incorporated integrated marketing communication methods by having a television and billboard advertisement about the “Next”. The main message was to position Standard Bank as a bank human enough to care about its customers’ goals and plans. 

Standard Bank used social media for the campaign and specifically ran the campaign on Twitter. Twitter is an online social network microblogging network that enables users to send and receive text-based messages (tweets) up to 280 characters in length. (Belch and Belch, 2018). Every second, on average, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year. It is further reported that Twitter grows on an average of 30% a year. (Internetlivestats.com, 2019). This indicates the magnitude of Twitter in the global context. Twitter in South Africa, however, has a market share of just over 8%, falling third behind Pinterest and Facebook. (StatCounter Global Stats, 2019). Marketers find Twitter a useful tool for communicating with their customers and potential customers and is the best tool for establishing connections with customers. Which is why one can justify that Standard Bank made a good choice by choosing to use Twitter for their #WhatsYourNext campaign because as much as it was to provide financial assistance to the youth, it also allowed Standard Bank to interact with their customers and potential customers who are planning their ‘nexts’.

Advantages of Twitter is that it allows for a bigger target audience reach. Reach can be defined as the number of different audience members exposed at least once to a media vehicle in a given period. Another advantage is that Twitter provides easy sharing of content which contributes to the success of a viral marketing strategy employed by Standard Bank. Before social media, companies had to pay exorbitant amounts to send sponsored messages in various marketing communication channels. With Social Media, specifically Twitter, companies can reach millions of people without spending exorbitant amounts, which is a cost-effectiveness advantage. 

Disadvantages of Twitter is that there is a high possibility of the distortion of messages. Messages can be received by the audience in a way they were not intended which often leads to backlash. This is evident with the #WhatsYourNext campaign which was seen as hijacking a day meant to commemorate the Youth of 1976. Even though Twitter has been working tirelessly to rid of spam accounts however they are very prominent on Twitter. Spam accounts are social media accounts often run by programmed bots that post repetitive unrelated content and malicious links to sites that can steal data or to drive traffic to other sites. These spam accounts can temper with the accuracy of campaign analytics report because they also can count as engagement and reach however, they are not. Last disadvantage is that Twitter is limited to only 280 characters. One cannot expand the content to include more information marketers may desire to include. 

Needs, Wants and Demand

Needs are defined as circumstances in which one can require to consume something. There are two types of needs. Psychological needs and physiological needs. Psychological needs are learned from other people, social environment and interactions with others. Psychological needs include self-esteem, prestige, affection, and power. Physiological needs are biogenic and primary fulfilling them sustains our biological existence. Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”, arranges these needs from the most pressing to the least pressing in a hierarchal triangle. These include the need for food, water, air, sex and the protection of the body through clothing and shelter. (Schiffman and Wisenblit, 2015). A want is a desire for products or services that are not necessary, but which consumers wish for. Demand is the economic principle that depicts a purchaser’s desire and capacity to pay a cost for a product or service. Firms in the market economy get by producing goods that we in demand by consumers hence it is important that firms establish the demand for products and services thereafter, producing to meet the demand. 

Standard Bank based the #WhatsYourNext campaign on what is according to Maslow’s Theory; self-actualization. Standard Bank was encouraging people to be brave enough to take the next step in life and achieve their goals. These dreams and desires are that of reaching one’s full potential whether it is by academically advancing and/or entrepreneurial. This is evident in the youth that needed money to pay for their higher education fees and start their small businesses. 

In conclusion, one has defined market segmentation as an act of grouping audiences according to various factors and one had mentioned the kinds of segments by examining the context of Standard Bank. Secondly, one has defined and discussed the PESTL analysis of Standard bank and how those factors affected the campaign. Thirdly, one has also defined and discussed the marketing communication channel used and its advantages and disadvantages and lastly, one defined need, wants and demand also looking into Abraham Maslow’s Theory of needs and how Standard Bank used that theory in the #WhatsYourNext campaign. 


Blogger, Media and Marketing student at the University of KwaZulu Natal.

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