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.
Look, this story has been doing its rounds for a while now, how irresponsible the NEF was in granting the funds etc etc, but the truth is, the SA Fashion Media Industry did very little to speak out against it. This meant that little old ignorant me, had no idea which boutique the news was on about until a little while ago.
Here’s the problem with the new-school fashion media in SA (and by new-school, i’m referring to GRAZIA, and the countless fashion blogs that push for an elitist Fashion Industry in SA):
The average upcoming fashion designer needs around R200k (maximum) to manufacture and market a line of their own, the NEF loan of R34.1 million could have helped 170 designers (or any other worthy small business owners) realize their dreams.
The SA Fashion Media industry blatantly ignored this glaring fact, preferring to take to their instagram accounts (do note that a bad image looks worse in a shitty filter), their blogs and hashtags to promote the huge step forward for South Africa.
And this really is the problem with the fashion industry in general, we organize our fashion weeks pretending that Cape Town is Milan and Jozi is NYC, when really, we’re just a tiny country. Our Fashion Weeks are tainted by trends introduced on European runways, and our main concern is to make foreign luxury goods available instead of encouraging (yes, that means financially helping) SA designers towards building a World Class luxury goods industry in this beautiful place.
But no, nevermind, we’d much rather open up another store in Hyde Park, even though 2A (which stocks everything from Louboutin to Carven), Max Mara, Nicci (Vivienne Westwood and other high street brands), Burberry (SA flagship store), Pringle and countless others in the same mall do the same damn job.
R34.1 million people. We gave it to one lady. When we could have given it to 170 people.
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.
Ever wondered how viral videos go viral? How memes appeal to a global audience and not just a niche one? The reason I love seeing people’s reaction to what I would consider being mediocre content lies in the cross cultural psychology of it all, and how the same principles apply to the way Social Media Managers should start creating and curating their content.
How is it possible that people from distinctly different walks of life and location can converge on one video or concept without any direct contact?
It’s a matter of How, What and Where that makes decent content go B-A-N-A-N-A-S.
In my mind, the way content is received forms the basis of your audience’s expectations. Remember, in the age of the spambot, people are very reluctant to click on anything suspicious, so your strategy to get them interested enough is just as important as what they’ll be clicking on.
If you tweet a link for a video and say “funniest video by far!”, the people who click on the link will have already fallen victim to the same disease that makes people who go to comedy shows laugh at material that wouldn’t ordinarily be funny at all.
The great thing about viral content is that you don’t need agency or big brand backing to make it. This means that pulling buzzworthy stunts as a Little Guy could get you laid (in terms of fans and sales and what not, obviously).
So the first step is deciding HOW you’re going to deliver your content, and that doesn’t just mean tweaking your goods (please do not misread as “twerking”) but rather, thinking carefully about what your audience will want to see more of. Don’t underestimate the power of well-thought out content but don’t overwork it.
The best content is often stuff that provides followers and fans with a revelation of sorts. Make the revelation out of their reach, and it will be ignored. Give too much away in your post, and you won’t be directing traffic anywhere.
Step 2 is ensuring that WHAT your content is, is not only up to be viewed, but something worthy of being shared. Whether it’s funny, controversial, or (God forbid) edutainment, you have to be certain that what you’re putting up is nothing short of brilliant. Some of the best viral content was the sort of stuff someone looked at and went “Wow, I like that”. If you dig it when you look at it the first time, and then a little more the second time, run with it.
Step 3 is all about playing to the present trends in the way you market your content. There will always be a part of the internet that will LOVE your content, you just have to find WHERE and capitalize on their love. People are into some weird shit, if naked Lola Bunny can make it, so can you.
How, What, Where people. Get wit’it. And let your shit go Bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S.
(dear reader: excuse the excessive Stefani-ness. Hollaback Girl is stuck in my head and I’m hoping this will get rid of it)
This is a piece I wrote a while back about the SA Fashion Industry.. enjoy.
Why South Africa? Why? Why would you make a client pay for services that do nothing to grow their label, expand their brand’s reach or showcase what makes their brand’s product The Best?
This is my bone to pick with South African Fashion PR agencies, if your client isn’t blowing up, you aren’t doing enough.
PR in fashion is not just about maintaining good relations with your consumers, it isn’t about merely representing your client when an opportunity arises. The goal of PR is to pursue opportunities that will benefit your client’s image, extend their consumer base and put them above their competition, so why oh why, are there so many talented designers in SA who are represented in the most mediocre manner?
Like, dude, what’s with David Tlale’s PR girl? Her tweets (or severe lack thereof) compounded with glaring PR white noise shocked me in the time leading up to NYFW. The country should have been on their toes for at least a month before Fashion Week, the twitter-sphere should have been on fire with congrats and motivation and most importantly, Tlale Traffic! But we heard nothing. WHY? Two tweets a day just isn’t enough for a designer of that caliber.
It isn’t just David Tlale’s twitter rep though, it seems like our designers have no presence outside of Fashion Week, something that needs to change and fast.
We don’t see nearly enough campaigns from our designers, we don’t see nearly enough interaction between local labels and consumers. We aren’t forced to take notice of the upcoming powerhouses because their representatives act as though they should only do something worthwhile if approached. Where’s the initiative? People, you get paid to initiate great things for your clients, so what are you getting paid for?
I do take my hat off for designers who understand that a fan-base goes far beyond being a Diva and engage with their consumers on social media, most notably, Thula Sindi and Gavin Rajah, it gives me hope that SA designers will pull themselves out of this elitist hell-hole and get to know the people they dress.
A final word to the wise PR agents.
Make an effort.
Your number one priority as a PR agent should be to see your client be successful beyond measure. Let your clients’ victory trump how much you charge and not vice-versa.
So you’re a go-getter? Cool.
And you’ve tweeted for a number of labels? Nice.
Does that make you an agency all by your lonesome?
Now before anyone attempts to accuse me of being bitter, let me explain why pretending to be an agency when it’s really just you and your buddy working from home is bad.
1. You’ve reeled your clients in by pretending to have the resources of a credible agency, but when your client expects a brilliant campaign from you, you’ll end up sounding like a swindler.
2. Social Media Marketing is about a lot more than pushing out brand appropriate tweets and posts, and when a (smart-ish) client requests Analytic Reports from you, they don’t want an Edgerank Image and raw insights from Facebook either. Merely graphing a bunch of shit up doesn’t count as good Analytic Skills. Social Media Marketing is about analyzing trends, layering your stats to draw correlations between content, timing, date importance, tone and context (to be brief), and then, to be able to show your findings to your client in a way that’s easy for them to understand.
Does the other half of your supposed agency know this? Do your clients know that they’re paying between R4-7k a month (if not more) so you can tweet as you please with no direction or attention to what works and what doesn’t?
If it’s just you and a friend landing clients, kudos, but then call yourselves a team of freelancers, don’t dupe your clients, because when you fuck up on a campaign that’s important to them, your name will be so tainted in the industry that you won’t land another client or job again.
Want to know what a brilliant little agency looks like? Look no further than these pint-sized PR genii.