How much does going viral on social media really help a new business?
New kid on the block VayaTaxi, a taxi hailing startup, had a chance to find out after they trended on Twitter following the launch of its pilot in August this year.
The app is the brain child of Sternly Simon, an ‘appreneur‘ and founder of mobile application development company, Cyber Development. The company has a number of apps in its portfolio including mobile office app, Cyber Office, navigation app, Loxion SA and mobile commerce platform for the agricultural industry, Agricom.
VayaTaxi, which is competing with heavyweights Uber and Taxify, has not officially launched, but has since April been in the “proof of concept, in-service pilot phase,” says Simon and is currently available in Johannesburg around Sandton, Fourways, Randburg and Rivonia.
#VayaTaxi peaked at number 14 in the Top20 of South Africa’s trending topics, according to analytics website, Trendinalia.com with majority of the posts coming from Johannesburg.
The startup launched their Twitter account in April this year, their first post went up the following month. The majority of their posts focus on educating their followers about the app and its services with links to their website and Google PlayStore page also included in the posts. They also leverage off events such as DStv’s MVCAs and public holidays like Youth and Heritage Day.
#VayaTaxi trended after highlighting that the company was black-owned. This caught the attention of their followers, with many posting that they would be switching from the internationally-owned services like Uber and Taxify to support a local startup.
Some users commended the app for being an affordable alternative to Uber and Taxify which are seen as more expensive. There were some who voiced skepticism about the app, bringing the taxi debate into the fray, while others questioned if the service was safe.
Increased brand awareness, popularity, sales? Simon shares with SME South Africa what trending on social media really meant for the business.
According To Plan
Going viral on social media has the potential to drive awareness and engage your audience, which can help build trust and long-lasting loyalty. This, the VayaTaxi CEO says, was the motivation behind their social media strategy.
“Overall, it was an enlightening experience. [We did it as a] planned marketing strategy to increase brand awareness, like a movie trailer before you see it in the cinema.”
#VayaTaxi seems cheap. R240 from Aspen Hills to Sandton, whereas Uber is a staggering R440. It’s Bye-Bye driving & hello Chauffeured Life!
— Bassito Panache (@BassitoPanache) August 28, 2017
“If [‘marketing gold’] means return on investment, definitely no. [But has] the marketing strategy to [increase] brand awareness worked? Yes it did.”
So what procedures are put in place to ensure that these drivers are more than qualified and they’re cars are properly maintained? #VayaTaxi
— You know (@iPearlK) August 27, 2017
Data An Added Benefit
Along with generating brand awareness, Simon says they were also able to use the data from the increased social media engagement to build a stronger business model. This social data has the potential to help your business gain insights such as identifying brand affiliations, as well as uncovering new ways to reach your customers and identifying opportunities for partnerships or campaigns, according to a Forbes article.
“Yes, the number of users has increased and we getting more value out of our data analysis to create a [stronger] business model,” says Simon.
— lushian (@Lushovah) August 27, 2017
So if I take #VayaTaxi to Soweto my life is at risk??
— Aneliswa (@FanOfJSKXXVI) August 27, 2017
Increased engagement can also help with gaining customer feedback, which according to a Forbes article can be invaluable in understanding whether customers like your product, and also why and how they’re using it. VayaTaxi were able to iterate and iron out some of the bugs in the app.
“Yes, on the technical side we are happy our app is bug free thanks to the reviews and feedback from users. Yet [for] the business, we still have capital and resource challenges,” Simon says.
Leveraging Viral Into The Future
Going viral is quite a feat for any business, however making sure they gain tangible results for the business afterwards is something that Simon says they placed particular focus on.
“As the pilot still goes on we are getting tangible [financial projections] and target market segment as our proof of concept to potential investors,” he adds.