Empower Your Citizens to Brand a Nation

SASMAfter researching numerous websites about social media in South Africa, two big movements are readily apparent:  1) the Brand South Africa campaign, and 2) interest in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. I have never seen a similar branding campaign for a country before, so it was interesting to learn how the country is creating a unified, positive marketing movement for an entire country. A campaign of this nature will certainly help stabilize local marketing efforts, and plays an important role in the prevalence of World Cup news and information on many Websites. FIFA soccer is a huge event worldwide and puts everyone’s eyes on the host country, much like the Olympics do. By teaching South Africans to unify their overall message, and incorporate a bit of the soccer mania, the country is poised to become a center of attention, all while keeping focus on the offerings of South Africa. The Brand South Africa site even gives tips on how to take advantage of the coming World Cup. The Brand South Africa campaign as a whole delves deeper into social media with a full toolkit of Web 2.0 applications (picture at left), including videos, a Twitterfeed, Podcasts, Share buttons,  and a blog. In terms of using social media to advance a brand, this whole campaign has overarching possibilities because if the country of South Africa as a whole is looked upon favorably, it follows that the companies and the economy should benefit as well. So in terms of social media being used advantageously, South Africa really took the use of new tools to a high level.

In addition to a nationwide branding campaign, the South Africans went a step further with an entire “series of logo_movementforgoodcampaigns aimed at mobilising South Africans to get involved in creating the country they want to live in” comprised of a “network of organisations that have come together to inspire and mobilise South Africans to become active citizens for good.” Known as the Movement for Good, this campaign provides tips on how all South Africans can help spread the good name of SA. Furthermore, within the Movement for Good, there is the Social Networking Platform For Good. On this Website, people can join the campaign and receive SMS messages providing details and information on how to take action to show South Africa in the best possible light. (SMS was the chosen medium of delivery because only 10% of South Africans have access to the Internet, while many citizens have mobile phones.)

Overall, this campaign is interesting because it allows the citizens to share their stories and thoughts about South Africa through the blog and by uploading videos and participating in social networks. Conversation is a cornerstone of social media and active participation from somebody other than a PR or marketing person is key to a successful campaign. But more interesting is that these campaigns are about an entire nation participating in social and traditional media. There is no blog of the United States like there is a blog for South Africa. Nor does the United States have a Facebook page. So in that regard, South Africa is using social media in one of the most interesting ways that I’ve ever seen—marketing the country, as a whole, as a unified brand. Though other countries have tried similar campaigns, South Africa’s approach is unique because of the social media implications and I will be curious to see if other nations follow suit.

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3 Responses to Empower Your Citizens to Brand a Nation

  1. Alex Greenbaum says:

    The Bahamas did a “nation branding” campaign a few years ago with enormous success, but nothing on the level of South Africa’s “Movement for Good.” I wonder if, under the Obama administration, we could use social media to brand the US?

  2. capetonian says:

    i find this rather interesting, however i see it as a social tool to brand us, yes
    but to make it feel like we are a safe haven for 2010

    well, if you live here 🙂 its a whole different story,
    so i guess branding does help
    kinda like

    nike – just do it

    but dont tell em about free-market systems – you know the way we make them kids in india work so so cheap- aaaaah capitalism
    you can smell it

  3. Interesting choice to focus on the brand of the country and you rightly call out some interesting examples of how social media is being used to promote the entire country. The interesting question I started to wonder in reading your post was if their online and social media efforts helped South Africa to win the World Cup in the first place, or happen to be influenced by it. The example of the Movement for Good is also an interesting example of how people in South Africa are using social media to connect. What was missing in this post was a strong connection between the three examples you shared and how they might apply to brands that cannot count on a feeling of national pride to carry their efforts. Overally, a great topic and post. (3)

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