“Look Ma, No Fingers”

Lately I’ve been faced with the prospect of aging but not of the Olay selling-point persuasion, rather how well equipped I will be to efficiently adopt new technologies. The question plaguing me has been quite simply:

Will I be the super smart Grandmother who gets the hang of every new piece of tech, or will I be the Gran who needs to be coached through every hoop that an innovation holds up to me?

The truthful answer is that I could easily fall into the latter by means of completely underestimating the leaps and bounds away from the familiar navigation we use today. Kids are no longer well coordinated with a mouse, but can tilt a smartphone screen to perform an action with remarkable accuracy.

So how will technology be such a far cry from what we use today? Allow me to make a calculated prediction.

Many people think that we’ll move onto technologies like voice recognition, I disagree with that acceptance as something for the ‘future’, we are very much using voice recognition daily in the form of Siri. I’m of the opinion that we’ll be using gesture control so intricate that as touch-screen gurus, will have us flailing while our grand-kids attempt to explain that all we have to do is touch the first crease on our pinky finger to select an option. And to be realistic, we’re not so far off thanks to the okes over at Thalmic Labs with the Myo band (and a bunch of other tech  innovators) which registers commands by changes in the muscle usage in your forearm. Gesture control currently results in all of us looking like knobs in front of our TVs, waving our arms around just trying to turn the damn thing off.

Now wouldn’t it be nicer if I could give the twelebs on Vuzu a solid middle finger to change the channel?

Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized

Instagram South Africa: The Breakdown

Instagram, the ultimate symbol of the superficial human condition, where we go to boast our bests and make our worsts look a bit better with a rose-tinted filter, it only makes sense that brands have caught on.

As usual though, local brands are being incredibly stubborn at using Instagram to expand and further establish their audience, and of the few brands that have decided to tick off the “full social media experience” box, only a handful are making the effort to use it to its fullest. This is especially sad for the media industry, where headlines can make their way away from the flood that has become Twitter and onto an image and video stream which will give people enough information to be informed, but also little enough to drive followers to your pages.

Instagram usage in South Africa doesn’t make it the largest or most significant social network, but at 680 000 users and growing, it’s definitely a good place to cement your presence. The question isn’t why though, for most brands I think the question that needs to be answered is “how” Instagram can benefit brands.

The answer comes down to one basic point, that it should be every brand’s goal to be as involved as possible in the lives of their target audience.

To put all of this into perspective, let’s take a look at what your content strategy should look like in order to work on instagram:

1. Growth on Instagram is all about the Hashtag for me. It’s the one place where there is no such thing as too many hashtags, or hashtagging yourself out, or cramping your hashtag. (It’s a rich area).

2. Let your images be good! Lots of Social Media ‘experts’ preach that the key to Instagram is exclusivity, and while that is a very crucial element to consider, you can’t be posting mediocre, Martha Stewart type shots. Like any social platform, Instagram only enhances, and does not work magic.

3. Search and engage with fans. Instagram isn’t as easy as Twitter or Facebook, people may not even know you exist if you don’t have a call to action outside of the platform. The key to staying engaging on Instagram is to make an effort to look for fans and then put their images in the spotlight in order to spark a chain reaction among followers.

So who are the brands who are getting it right?

Channel O with an average of +60 likes per image, for not only uploading exclusive event and interview content, but also remembering that it’s not all about the pictures you take, but also the relevant (good quality) images you can find.

Mr. Price Fashion with an average of +100 likes per image, for being the best in my opinion on Instagram, showcasing their products, while also posting relevant industry related content. By far the most consistent local fashion account on the platform.

Topshop SA with an average of +80 likes per image, for upholding the global position of the brand as being one of the most social labels in the world.

Now, onto the brands that I think could be performing a lot better:

Tourism SA with an average of +40 likes per image but only 901 followers, which is very disappointing considering the fact that they attempted to launch what I think was a brilliant concept for Instagram, the #MeetSouthAfrica contest which should have driven traffic to their account in the truckloads. Their mistake was not making their links between social platforms more fluid, and thus allowing for campaigns to gain traction on Facebook at the very least as well.

Revlon South Africa with an average of +20 likes per image, for not having a more enthusiastic call to action outside of Instagram because their content is excellent and the brand has the potential to be one of the biggest in the country on Instagram. I feel like someone at Revlon is just a little lazy to make the effort between social platforms, and that seems to be a big problem with a lot of brands.


Grazia with an average of +20 likes per image, purely because they can do so much better than that. Here is one of the country’s leading fashion publications, with endless resources, a mere stones throw away from Sandton and tonnes of exclusive content, all ruined by erratic posting but even more so by image quality. If I had a rand for every terrible photo they took at exclusive events and of upcoming items for the mag, I’d be a lot less broke than I am.

So the point is this, use your hashtags, advertise your content outside of Instagram, and always keep the quality and quantity of your content consistent.

Here is my infographic for you to eat up 🙂

(ps: the stats presented here do not represent the 3 best and 3 worst brands, but rather, the brands I thought should be mentioned.)

credits: NATIVE VML, World Wide Worx

instagram infographic


Meme of the Day

So i’m a little pissed off today. Because I’ve had it up to here *makes relevant gesture* with sassy ass bloggers who run “social media agencies” because they’re too afraid to call a spade a spade and a freelancer a freelancer. I’m not one for Twitter wars though, so i had to be civil.



Some Tow Trucking Advice

Road to Maloof - Copy

So you aren’t employed by an agency (whether by choice or because your little pink net-book makes you look like the Indian version of Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde) and that means you have to chase clients down by yourself. You’re like the side-job oke from the East Rand who does everything from fridges to fashion (supposedly). What’s painful is that you simply can’t chase down the big wigs. You’re stuck chasing down the little guys, the hipsters who think that vintage means contemporary and seeing life through an Instagram filter makes everything better. And yeah, they pay the bills, but let me tell you something about the young scene in JHB.

Nobody knows what the f*** is going on. What’s more, nobody really cares.

So here are a few pointers young people. If you’re holding an event, and you want to be so professional that you make people sign contract, DON’T ADD ON TO THE CONTRACT AS YOU PLEASE. If you’re a little label pretending to be big, don’t make me pitch, sign on for my services and then disappear. If you’re a label that requires me to do Social Media Management, remember that there is only so much material i can pull off the web before fans start asking what the hell this clothing label actually  does.

Don’t talk up an idea which hasn’t taken off yet. Don’t talk, just do dammit. And don’t get into fights with your venue’s owner, thus ruining any future of hosting an event there.

Most importantly though, if you’re running one of the biggest events on the SA alternative sports calender, don’t pitch me an idea at the bank without an email to back it up, don’t demand a design before the end of that week, don’t criticize the design because you don’t know what San rock art has to do with your event’s location, but most importantly, don’t get me worked up on an awesome opportunity, and then disappear off the face of the earth.


To Blog Or Not To Blog

Take a walk through Maboneng on a  weekend, and ask every person you meet what they do for a living (although living isn’t really the operative word). I would bet my new long-board that every second person’s response will be “oh, I’m a blogger”. I always end up saying “that’s cool man..” but the real follow up question in my head is always “but does blogging really pay the bills?”.

The Internet is a blessing and a curse, because while it provides infinite opportunity, it also means that people can remain in a state of denial regarding their supposed talents for years before they realise that they should never have quit their day jobs. Let it be known, perseverance should be exercised by the skilled and not merely the impassioned.

If you’re a company though, blogging could be your chance to gain an edge over your competitors, because instead of consumers hearing things about you through the grapevine, they’ll be able to hear your take on the industry, your company and the best of what you do straight from the horses mouth.

But let me curb my negativity (a little), because a good personal blog can be the stepping stone to better things, and by things, I mean money. In order to reach these better ‘things’ though, you must remember that to set up a stellar blog that will shine through like a diamond hidden in horse shit, you’ll need to have the following things locked and loaded.

1. Damn Good Content

Believe me when I say that crap content leaves a lasting impression, and if you maintain a low standard of content (this includes being a truly lazy writer), you will attract nothing but bad vibes. Bad Content reflects badly on you, so make your effort evident, and your new visitors will become returning visitors.

2. Consistent Posting

Nobody likes an impulsive blogger, especially because we treat blogs like credible publications these days, which means you can’t post as inspiration strikes, you need to post so that you can have a sustained viewership. I have abandoned countless blogs because of erratic posting, 5 posts in one week, and then no posts for the next half a year. I don’t want to visit a blog that makes me feel like an under-appreciated reader. Make the effort to think about how many posts you’ll want per month, and then follow through on that promise.

Remember that Instinctive posting can still be strategic.

3. Interact With Your Readers

Elitism has no place in the online sphere. Sure, we like drooling over the stuff we can’t afford, and there’s nothing like a good dose of Eddie Redmayne to remind you that he’s an actor and you’re not but we connect with what feels real and honest, you acting like your blog is Vogue and you get to play Anna Wintour isn’t going to win you any fans.

Bloggers need to swallow their pride and understand that the road to success is not a cut-throat one, instead, it’s a road fueled by interaction, association and networking. Build a community of followers who feel appreciated and they will do the marketing for you.

4. Get Ready For A Long Haul

There are 70 Million WordPress blogs worldwide and 39 Million Tumblr blogs, so when you start blogging, you really are a drop in an ocean of content. You will not make any money off of your blog for a long time, you will have to write good pieces for years maybe before you build a worthwhile audience, and you will be known as just another blogger before you’re considered an industry treasure.

5. Don’t Compromise On The Content You’re Passionate About

Far too many bloggers start as literary artists, writing with a fervor and eagerness that reflects so well in their posts, but end up compromising their content for page views.

Above all though, remember that at the heart of every good blog is the sense that its content, tone and timing revolves around it’s readers. Because we’re special.


Social Media Success Is About Instinct Not Formulae

A request that includes clearly stating the nature of content I will be posting and tweeting not a week into the future, or a month, but for the next 6 months is the sort of mindset that makes my stomach turn.

It’s the worst kind of notion expressed by a lot of people who are still sold on the processes of traditional PR, these poor souls have been indoctrinated by the old school protocol of scheduled action, but we need to save these sheep from their heathen ways, through, erm, education.

Here’s the deal:

Social Media is volatile purely because of the nature of its users, therefore, unless you are a master of mass psychology or a psychic, you will not be able to predict what content will direct the most traffic to your pages and website. It is impossible to predict what trend will be sweeping the globe in 4 months time, Social Media does not operate on a formula, it operates on instinct.

Want an example of how agencies can be instinctual on Social Media? Two words, Harlem Shake. What was just a viral video was seen as an opportunity by the genii at Gorilla Creative Media, who made an Astronaut Harlem Shake video as an online buzz-building event for client Axe’s “nothing beats an Astronaut” campaign.

Was there perhaps an oke in their office half a year ago who had a That’s So Raven vision, jumped up and said “brothers, 6 months from today, a moving picture series will have taken over the internet as we know it. This video will be called….

The Harlem Shake”?

No. There wasn’t, because Digital Marketing is unpredictable, and while a trend can be anticipated, it cannot be predicted. Anyone can draft and send out a press release, schedule industry related tweets for the next decade if need be and RT every mention, but what makes an agency the best is when a trend is not just something to laugh at, but rather, something to capitalise on.

So my response to the request is as follows:

I am unable to state ‘clearly’ the nature of my content for the next 6 months. Because I am not Yoda.


Atiyya Karodia

PR & Social Manager for The Second Most Taxing Client I’ve Ever Had