September 2013

Should you be on Twitter?

As far as social media platforms go in South Africa, Twitter is way up there. In fact – it’s third, with 5.5 million users, as of 2013. (In case you were wondering, Facebook is tops with 9.4 million users, and Mxit is first princess in the pageant with 7.4 million users).

The growth rates of active Twitter users in South Africa are phenomenal, jumping from 2.4 million in 2012 to 5.5 million in 2013. Saffas post 54 million tweets a month. I’ll give you a minute to get your mind around that figure.

Impressive stats aside, if you aren’t already on Twitter – in a personal or professional capacity – the big question you need to ask yourself is: Should I be?

To make your life easy, here is a flow chart to help you solve the conundrum. Because we’re nice like that.

If your answer is ‘yes’, and it terrifies you – give us a call. We’re happy to help you as much as you need, whether it’s with a few tips and a kick-start, or taking the whole thing off your hands entirely.

Twitter infographic

Life lessons from my gran

Don’t be afraid to raise eyebrows: Life lessons from my gran

Just over a week ago, my gran died. She was 84, and she was one amazing lady.

As the messages poured in from people who knew and admired her, I particularly loved hearing about people’s favourite memories of her. These memories – and the ones shared by family at her memorial service – paint a picture of an extraordinary life, and have given me a lot to think about.

These are the lessons she taught me; this is what inspires me – at Pomegranite, and in the wider world.

1)       Never be afraid to raise eyebrows.
In fact – my gran would actively encourage this. She was a gracious, charming woman. But man, she would relish any opportunity to cause a bit of a stir (in the best possible way). When I was a teenager, I was given some (very bright) purple and green, (very high) platform takkies for Christmas. Gran laughed when I unwrapped them. She thought they were quite ridiculous – which, of course, they were. Seeing her reaction, I dared her to wear them to church (she was an active and respected member of the congregation). And she did. Happily. Many an eyebrow was raised that day. And she loved it.

2)      Know who you are, but never take yourself too seriously.
My gran had the most infectious laugh. It would bubble out of her and fill the room, leaving everyone laughing too. She was always ready to laugh at herself, and I loved her for it.

3)      Enjoy yourself. This is very important.
It was always clear when my gran was having fun – which she did, often. Because she filled her life with people and things that made her happy. Life is short. If there’s something that is making you unhappy, change it. Actively build the life you want to live.

4)      Make the most out of every situation.
When she was in her 70s, my gran flew to Bucharest, Romania, to visit my aunt who lived there for a while. When the plane landed, she discovered that she was, in fact, in Budapest, Hungary. Not one to waste an opportunity, she quickly made some Hungarian friends at the airport, who took her on a city tour and put her up for the night, before she flew to the correct city the following day. She had the time of her life.

5)      Celebrate other people’s success.
My gran made sure that this was something that was cultivated in our family. Jealousy – big or small – was not tolerated. You knew that your turn would come, and as a result, you could take immense pleasure in celebrating with the person in the limelight.

6)      Be brave, be bold, be independent.
My gran’s life was not a walk in the park – although she would have been the first one to tell you how completely fabulous it was, and mean it. Difficult things were thrown her way, but she was undaunted. A feminist ahead of her time, she was fiercely independent. If the car broke down on a family trip in the middle of nowhere (they were always going to the middle of nowhere), the family would pile out and (husband included) would watch her fix it. She carved her own path in life, and encouraged us to do the same.

She would have been so proud of Pomegranite. I am.

Life lessons from my grsn

Social media

The future of South Africa’s social nation

Last week saw the South African social media briefing in Jozi, a platform for WorldWideWorx and Fuseware to release their latest figures on social media adoption in South Africa and a discussion with industry leaders. What emerged was an inspiring sense of momentum and a drive to understand how things are working now and, more importantly, how things are going to work in the future.

These figures show that things are shifting. Take a moment to wrap your head around these important statistics:

The number of Facebook users has toppled previous kingpin, South African platform, MXit, which has experienced a drop from last year. However, MXit’s active users spend an average of 95minutes on this platform every day. Yes, over an hour an a half.

South African active Twitter users grew from 2.4 million in 2012 to 5.5 million in 2013. We post 54 million tweets a month – 85% of those tweets are from mobile devices.

There are double the number of South African users on Instagram as there are on Pinterest.

This infographic whipped up on the day by @SheBeeGee gives a sense of the current social landscape:

Social SA infograpgic

For a sense of the briefing, search #socialSA on Twitter and for a great breakdown of all the statistics, check out this article over at Memeburn.

Our top 5 ways to stay inspired

At Pomegranite, finding ways to stay inspired does not mean goofing off for an afternoon, a token yoga session or casual Fridays. It’s an integral part of the way we work. Here is our strategy to work with inspiration:

1. Educate yo’ self

The tools in our industry are evolving so quickly that one new free app, one breakthrough in technology or one fresh approach can throw your strategy leaps forward in its effectiveness. We translate a brand in the real world into a presence online; a significant part of that translation is the technology available to provide the platform for that presence. Use new tools to stay inspired.

HondaRoboticLegs_1

Who knows when you might need to know about the social media equivalent of bicycle legs?

2. Drool over international trendsetters and then strip them

You may not have Coca Cola’s budget or marketing team, but you do have the internet and a brain. Check out the biggest and the best, slobber at the indulgence, then figure out what they do well and how they do it. Learn what you can from their strategy and put it in your pocket for an appropriate campaign.

Emma-Watson-get-the-look-copy1

In the same way that fashion magazines help you get celebrity looks at retail shops, it’s about understanding how the elements work together.

3. Let the client be the challenge

Every job is as different as the client. We like to treat every client as a fresh challenge to translate the offline to the online more accurately. This requires some discipline; let go of all your assumptions and listen generously to what they need. Let the client and their unique needs be the source for inspiration and then draw from your knowledge base in order to understand how best to help them.

Ninja-like discipline

Ninja-like discipline

4. Be a human being

This is an age of social business. Anything digital is only as powerful as the response it generates from the user – the user who is (most often) a human being. This is a great advantage as you are a human being and you have the ability to conduct research on other human beings around you. Content is now driven by the user: it’s no longer about what the CEO wants to post, it’s about what the customer wants to engage with. Listen carefully and they will inspire you.

listening

Here’s some Clipart to give you the willies.

5. Drop drive and adopt unbridled creativity

Innovation is a tired concept. It’s been thrown around so much it’s practically threadbare. Let’s go back to a definition to remember its former glory:

in·no·vate [in-uh-veyt] verb, in·no·vat·ed, in·no·vat·ing.

Verb (used without object)

1. to introduce something new; make changes in anything established.
verb (used with object)

2. to introduce (something new) for or as if for the first time: to innovate a computer operating system.
3. Archaic. to alter. Origin: 1540- 50; Latin innovātus  past participle of innovāre  to renew, alter, equivalent to in- in-2  + novātus  (novā ( re ) to renew

To truly innovate demands an intimate knowledge of your tools and the creativity to use them in new ways, undaunted by established practices and the status quo. This approach doesn’t come naturally when you’re working to deadlines and focused on client feedback. You need to make a conscious choice to dedicate some time to allow creativity to flourish at the expense of results. Google gives their employees 20% of their week to work on their own projects – and this “time to explore” has delivered 50% of their new products. Read more about that here and we’ll give you a blog soon about how to give yourself this time in a small business.

Innovation

You guessed it. A thinking hat.

Content marketing: what is it?

Simply put, content marketing is the creation and sharing of relevant and valuable content in order to attract, acquire, and engage customers with the objective of driving profitable customer action. Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers ostensibly without selling and it’s touted as the future of online marketing.

Struggling to see it in your world? That’s because you use it without even registering it. ‘What’sfordinner?’ is perhaps one of South Africa’s strongest examples. With well over 3.5 million followers on Facebook, the page has a strong influence on many household kitchens in South Africa.

 

What's for Dinner FB page

 

And would you look at that logo? This content is created and distributed by food brand, Knorr. So by providing valuable content in the form of menu inspiration and recipes, Knorr also draws an audience to their products.

Take today’s recipe, for example: “Crispy Chicken Burgers with Cheese Sauce: a delicious family dinner made with skinless fillets in a super-crunchy crust of Knorr’s new Crispy & Tasty chicken coating. Serve with roast potato wedges and all the usual yummy burger toppings.”

 

What's for Dinner Recipe

 

What’s great about content marketing is that it’s shifting the nature of the marketing landscape. Rather than the hard sell of thrusting a brand in your face (like a billboard for example), content marketing is client-focused, prioritising the offering of information that an audience wants and needs over a sale. It’s investing in the customer rather than banking on their ignorance and it develops good relationships and loyalty as opposed to generating quick sales.

At Pomegranite, we thrive on content marketing. It’s often about being able to translate accurately sometimes complicated subjects in ways that people not familiar with technology will understand. The skill of accurate translation is something we take pride in. We love getting our teeth into the translation of a brand from an offline space to an accurate presence online through creative design, clever copy and cutting-edge technology.

What content can we offer your brand’s audience? Get in touch to find out.

Behind the scenes update: Life on crutches at Pomegranite

injuries

The nice thing about working for yourself – and being able to work from home – is that, when the doctor says: “I’m afraid the answer is surgery,” at least you don’t have to worry about bringing it up with your boss to arrange time off work. Because work can be done from bed. On painkillers. And your boss – well, she’s you.

While you aren’t thrilled at the prospect of crutches for another six weeks, you know that there will at least be morphine in your near future. And sympathy. And who doesn’t like morphine and sympathy? Exactly.

Also – you know that your business partner will be there to take the reins where necessary. You can call her from the hospital bed when clients get hold of you and pass meetings on to her. When you escape are discharged, she will spend the afternoon working next to you so that you feel like you’re contributing, while, gently high on painkillers, you gaze out the window and ask very helpful questions like: “Is today Wednesday?”

When concerned clients enquire after you, she will stoically reply: “Oh don’t worry. She’s still high in bed.”

A couple days later, when you are trying to get your head back in the work game, weaning yourself off the good drugs, she will tease you sweetly, with enquiries like: “Do you think we could apply for a disability grant on the days that you’re feeling mentally challenged?”

In much the same way that men sometimes get sympathy pains when their wives are in labour, your business partner will gallantly throw herself off a bike on the Seapoint promenade, causing an impressive roastie. Just to make you feel better about the screw artfully inserted into your ankle by the surgeon.

And I’m sure, as the weeks go by, I can expect glowing compliments on the impressive guns that I’m developing, while my calf loses all definition, shrinking elegantly to the size of my arm.

When they advise you on the kind of person you should choose to go into business with, you don’t often hear advice on what to look for in a partner should you have ankle surgery twice. But they should. Because it’s times like these – when you’re making tea in a gym water bottle just so you can carry it to your desk in your teeth – that you realise just how important it is to be able to say to that person: “Please take over.” And you know that she will. And that she won’t mind. And that she’ll do a great job. And that, in the end, the only thing that will matter is that you can blow her away with your skills on crutches.

And, let’s be honest, isn’t that a quality you look for in an online presence consultancy – crutch competency? Yip. We have it at Pomegranite. In SPADES.

Listen up: How active listening can improve your business

Today’s blog is going back to basic, crucial skills. No, not how to post an image on Facebook. Today is about the most important, fundamental skill anyone providing a service, creating a product or running a business can have: the ability to listen well.

listening

Image source

What is active, empathetic listening?

Have you ever met someone who makes you feel like you’re the only person of concern in the world and that what you are saying is truly heard? You want to share more with him or her because s/he gets you. You are on the receiving end of active, empathetic listening and it is so important for any business.

An article called “Active Empathetic Listening and Selling Success: A Conceptual Framework” breaks it down for us. It asserts that listening has three stages: sensing, processing and responding. “Sensing refers to the actual receipt of messages, processing refers to activities that take place in the mind of the listener, while responding involves acknowledging receipt of messages”.

Empathy can be defined as “the ability to discern another person’s thoughts and feelings with some degree of accuracy and involves listening on an intuitive as well as a literal level”. In the context of listening, empathy operates as the ability “to perceive the internal frame of reference of another with accuracy, and with the emotional components and meanings…as if one were the other person, but without ever losing the ‘as if condition”.

Why is active, empathetic listening important?

Any business interaction starts as human engagement and the way you communicate lays the foundation for your professional relationship. The article argues that “[e]mpathetic listening is a critical part of the communication process and provides a supportive environment for the flow of messages between senders and receivers”.

It’s not just cold callers or people behind product counters that are salespeople. Whether you’re a freelance journalist or make craft beer in your garage, we all sell our product or service and we can all sharpen our sales skills. Active empathetic listening is a key skill in terms of your ability to sell. Here’s how empathy affects your ability to listen as a salesperson:

“When ‘sensing’, salespeople with strong empathy are more likely than those less endowed with empathy to be aware of more subtle cues from customers. When ‘processing’, salespeople with strong empathy are more likely than are less empathetic salespeople to understand the significance of messages, more likely to interpret and evaluate them correctly and, consequently, more likely to commit correct information to memory. When ‘responding’, empathetic salespeople are more likely to send back messages that assure their customers that they are on the same wave-length”.

For us at Pomegranite, translating a client’s real-world identity and resources into an online presence requires trust: we are the translators and representatives of a brand.  We need as much information as possible. Small businesses are generally small teams and often work very intuitively. This means that, often, a lot is assumed between the team rather than explicitly articulated. This type of listening allows you to tune into that relationship and bring up ideas for discussion.

How do I use it in my life?

Don’t be spooked by the big words. They were just to impress you. Active, empathetic listening is not difficult; in fact you probably do it all the time. But being aware of it will only make this sense more acute.

Let Shelley Sacks take you on this journey and try it out sometime:

[T]o really hear what another has to say we have to remove the agreement and disagreement. We have to try and stay with the person, with their pictures, with their thoughts, and see what they see and feel, without agreeing and disagreeing and letting our own thoughts run on internally. A good way to do this and focus more sharply on what someone is saying – to become a more active listener – is to consider what is being said in three ways. We can listen for the content of what is being said, we can listen to the feeling with which it is being said, and we can try and get a sense of the impulse or motivation in what is being said (from her handbook for her social sculpture Exchange Values).

When it comes down to it, the smoother and more satisfying your interactions are, the more repeat business you can ensure, the fewer dissatisfied customers you will have,  the deeper your relationships and the greater your feedback and opportunities.