October 2013

Soho offices in China

Content marketing (part 2): Property and publishing

So, you’re familiar with the subject after our introduction to content marketing. Now we’re going to look at how the approach is affecting traditional advertising and how it’s being used to impressive effect in the property development industry.

Eprop, a local property website announced that, going into 2013, “content marketing will replace traditional advertising”. They go on to explain that “marketing’s new mantra of ‘brands must now acts as publishers’ has arrived in part because of social media and its potential to engage in meaningful conversations with their loyal fan base and potential clients alike.”

One example stands out above the rest: Chinese property development company, Soho, has become a desirable brand because of its chairman Pan Shiyi’s remarkable flair on his blog and social media. His online presence has translated into a community that has bought into Soho’s brand.

soho logo

“If you become a public figure, you communicate on your blog, you make some comments on the market, and you make yourself famous, people will not be just buying your units. They are buying your brand,” says Margaret Ng, the director of research at E-Commercial China in an interview about the property magnate. This rapport it noteworthy enough for Forbes magazine to have dedicated series of articles to it.

While Soho exemplifies the huge potential of content marketing, Eprop emphasises how economical online marketing is compared to traditional advertising and the risk you run in ignoring your online presence. They reckon that:
“[Y]our SEO efforts will be affected if you ‘opt out’ of being a producer. Google is now weighing current content, social proof and author scores in their results ranking. Simply put, you need to create and share content, while being of interest to lots of people to even be a player going forward.”

home office

Lock the fridge – and other tips on how to make working from home work

While Pomegranite is small, we have decided that it makes sense to work from home initially, rather than rent office space.

I’m not going to lie. When it’s cold and rainy and dark, there is something so-good-you-feel-guilty about not having to get up, shower and fight through immovable traffic to get to work. Instead, you carefully sit up in bed, reach for your laptop, sign into your email – and ta da! You’re at work.

While I have only done that once twice on a handful of occasions, and don’t recommend it on a regular basis, there are definitely some perks to working from home. There are also some cons – like checking your email at 11:05 pm because, well… your desk is right there.

The internet is full of tips on working from home. Having worked from home for four months now, I have tried ALL the things. Here are five things that I try and stick to to maintain some sense of normalcy.

1)      Have a designated work space

Ok – so this is a tip you will probably find on just about every article on working from home. You know why? Because it’s a true story. It gets pretty hard to separate work stuff from your home life (especially when you live in a tiny apartment). But if you don’t have a proper office to go to, it helps having a desk to “go” to. It’s easier to “leave” work when you get up from a work space at the end of the day.

2)      Try and stick to “normal” work hours

For me, it’s all about maintaining a sense of normalcy and routine when you don’t interact with the outside world as often as those poor humans with office jobs most people. It’s easy to sleep late if you don’t have a boss waiting to look at you disapprovingly, or to get caught up in a task and work late into the night. Try and stick to the usual eight to five where possible. It helps with sanity. And stuff.

3)      Install a lock on your fridge and kitchen cupboards

But really. When your “office” is basically your lounge and kitchen, and the fridge is five steps away (if you take small steps), it’s hard not to visit it every couple hours, just… you know… to see. I swear, sometimes my fridge calls to me softly across the room. SHUT THAT DOWN. Otherwise there will come a day when elves shrink all your pants. And that’s never fun.

4)      Get dressed (in clothes that are not pajamas)

So ja. I may or may not have worked in my pajamas for the first week. One day our business cards were delivered. In my excitement, I rushed outside to get them forgetting that I was in my dressing gown, moo cow pants, and slippers. I decided then that it was time to break the cycle. I’m not suggesting you wear a collared shirt and tie to your desk. But maybe some tracksuit pants, you know? Getting “dressed” for work helps get you into a work frame of mind. It’s also less awkward if your business cards arrive.

5)      Remind yourself of the outside world

When you’re in an office environment, there is stuff going on around you all the time – office gossip, people’s comments on the news, your colleague’s stories about her ridiculous flatmates. When you work from home, it’s easy to get sucked into your screen and forget that there are actual, three-dimensional people out there. Take breaks. Step outside and remind yourself what sunshine feels like on your skin. Go to the gym – and be shocked at how many people are there at 10am on a Thursday morning. (Seriously – who are these people? Are there that many freelancers/students/housewives in Cape Town?)

Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy those rainy days where your most stressful moment is trying not to let too much cold air in as you reach for your laptop.

work space

No, this is not my desk. Yes, I wish it was.
Image source

 

Five things you didn’t know about Mxit

If you think it’s just a place where people’s spelling and grammar abilities go to die, you’re wrong. Here are five things you didn’t know about Mxit.

bigstock-Bright-Idea-Kid-1024x860

1.    It’s a solution to a gaming problem.

Mxit originated in Stellenbosch when Swist Group Technologies was developing a massive multiplayer mobile game named Alaya, which was a flop because it was sms-based and too expensive for the user. They reassessed and released the game and MXit in 2003.

2.    It’s not just for teenagers.

Mxit is now Africa’s largest mobile social network, boasting 750 million messages sent per day and 10 million active subscribers.

 3.    It’s helping money move safely.

teenager on phone

You can send money to people, buy airtime and electricity, deposit and withdraw from your bank account. Check it out here.

4.    It gives free access to counselling and educational material.

Mxit offers counselling to youth via text by partnering with LoveLife (which focuses on HIV and AIDS), Childline (which focuses on abuse) and Angel (which focuses on gang members and substance abuse). Learners can also access Maths and Science textbooks made available by publisher, Siyavula.

 5.    It’s proving to be a serious marketing tool.

Kimberly Clark has used Mxit to launch a global Kotex campaign. If this sounds familiar, it’s because we featured Kotex’s Pinterest campaign on the blog just last week.

This Mxit campaign targets young females aged 13 to 35 with brand splash screens (full screen ads that display each time a user launches the site), leading users to a customised and branded app where it’s reported that users hung around for as long as 14.7 minutes.

Through the app, users were offered a gateway to the exchange of product information, polls around sensitive feminine topics, prizes and coupons, and they could engage in one-on-one sessions with a trusted gynaecologist, offering a free, private, safe and anonymous resource for advice and information.

kotex Mxit campaign

Three free really useful apps for your iPad

Your iPad can be a really useful toolbox. These are my top three free apps that have proved to be really helpful.

1. Unstuck

Sometimes a part of your life just stumps you. It’s difficult to find a way through and you feel stuck. Dr Seuss knows what we’re talking about.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump. And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

slump (1)

“Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr Seuss

Unstuck is a great app that helps you lay out your feelings, the situation that’s bothering you and ways to take action to work through it. Basically, Unstuck is “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” for adults. It describes itself as “combining personalised digital tools with tips and know-how from a community of other people facing stuck moments,” and “on-demand coaching whenever you need it”.

781-1-unstuck

2. SuperNote

Unobtrusive and easy to use, this app has a voice recorder with notepad functionality. Perfect for fast-moving interviews and meetings where you just want to jot down the odd detail and focus your attention on the conversation, SuperNote has proved super handy. You can email yourself and others the audio and notes and it saves them together so you can browse through meetings where the material is saved together. Simply, it works.

Super-Note-medium-icon_66853. Google Drive

Having this app on your desktop and iPad makes accessing files a breeze. Not only do we backup our business there, work on documents simultaneously and share material instantly, but having the app on your iPad means you can pull up something really easily during a meeting or presentation. You never have to worry about saving things in the right place. Easy peasy.

google drive

Winning pinning: Three great Pinterest campaigns

Pinterest. It took a while for people to catch on to this social media platform in South Africa (and to be able to pronounce the name – “pin-interest”? Awkies.), but it’s growing rapidly. There are currently just under 50 million users worldwide. My mom is one of them. Just saying. Yip – best you get on that, if you’re not already.

Because it’s such a visually-rich platform – Pinterest is like a big digital pinboard that allows users to create and curate theme-based image collections, in case you weren’t sure – it has been used very creatively by brands in some nifty campaigns.

There are loads of examples of great uses of Pinterest floating around the internet. These three are of our favourites:

UNICEF ‘S Ami Musa

UNICEF Pinterest

The whole attraction of Pinterest for many people is that it is a platform of aspiration. It allows them to pin pictures of items that, in a perfect world, they would love to have: a dream wardrobe here, an ideal home there, places they’d love to travel to – the list goes on. And then UNICEF showed up and turned the whole concept upside down. They created a fictional character, Ami Musa, a 13-year-old girl from Sierra Leone. She has one board. It is called: “Really want these”. “These” are running water, soap, basic food, shoes, an education – things that we take for granted.

6 pins. 1550 followers – all left with something to think about.

Kotex pop-up store

So this is pretty clever. Kotex and Tel Aviv marketing agency Smoyz got together and created the first ever pop-up Pinterest store. Intrigued? I was too. The store was designed to look like a Pinterest board, and local women lined up for a chance to “pin and win” whatever was inside the mystery gift boxes. Each box had a sentence on it, and ladies had to pick a sentence that inspired them and pin that sentence to their Pinterest board in order to win the contents of the box.

Free stuff + Pinterest – what’s not to love, right? The store attracted a decent amount of attention pretty quickly. Never underestimate the power of an excited woman and a smartphone. Marketing mileage for days on social media.

Clever Kotex, clever.

GIRLS fan art

GIRLS fan art

There are a lot of great series out there that get under people’s skin and crawl into their hearts. Most of these series inspire awesome fan art – but HBO’s GIRLS actually showcases it on their fanGIRLS board. Great use of Pinterest, girls.

P.S. Watch this show. If you haven’t – where have you been?

GIRLS fan art

 

P.P.S. Follow Pomegranite on Pinterest and check our our boards of things that inspire usbeautiful office spaces, useful infographicssocial media laughs, ALL the pomegranates, and all things proudly Cape Town.

massage

Hitting targets and reaping the rewards

Which Downton Abbey character are you? And other important conversations

When you start your own business, it’s important to step back from time to time and see how far you’ve come. It’s equally important to set targets in order to ensure that you actually put enough distance between yourself and the starting blocks – otherwise it’s not much of a view when you do take that step back.

When Liz and I first sat down together to write our business plan, we made sure to include targets we wanted to reach – and rewards we would claim when we got there.

We reached our first target ahead of schedule, and didn’t waste time in enjoying our reward: a 30 minute back, neck and shoulder massage. Ok, originally it was a foot massage, but, being on crutches (still – I know), my ankle wouldn’t have appreciated that very much. So, being accommodating and adaptable, we graciously opted for a back, neck and shoulder massage.

The problem was – we both badly needed haircuts too. I know. Dilemma. So we spent a blissful Wednesday afternoon attending to our tresses and stresses.

The nice thing about these kinds of days is that they give you the opportunity to have really important conversations. Case in point: If you were born in the Downton Abbey time period (early 20th century), would you have been upstairs (upper class) or downstairs (a servant)?

We quickly decided that Liz would have been downstairs and I would have been upstairs. It became important to decide which character we would be in the series, and, interestingly, we came to the answer within seconds, and agreed completely. Liz would be Mrs Patmore, the mouthy, bossy cook, and I would be Mary, the aristocratic ice queen.

Am I right??

We then proceeded to cast everyone we knew in the series, which kept us entertained for quite some time.

That evening, we went to our monthly girls’ dinner, which was hosted by the lovely Vanessa. We were telling her about our day and showing her our new haircuts – to which she said: “Oh, did you cut each other’s?”

Yes, well. You can’t win them all.

Facebook thumbsup

Three brands getting Facebook right

Slowly but surely, brands are shifting their approach on social media from shouting about themselves to as many people as possible, to having a deeper relationship with their unique community. Here are three brands on Facebook who we really like having around – not because they have massive followings, but because they really connect with followers and paint a great picture of who they are and what they do.

First up, the boys at Chandler House.

Chandler House

If you can’t make it over to their wonderland down a little side road in Cape Town’s CBD, you can definitely get of a sense it on their Facebook page.

Chandler House

Michael and Jeremy use the page to show off new products and promote upcoming events such as First Thursdays, where all the galleries in the CBD are open until 9pm. They also share the life of the shop – their experiments, who’s popped in lately – and Michael’s keen photographic eye makes the page richly visual.

Next up, a UK fruit juice brand.

innocent

My affection for Innocent Drinks started when I lived in London but I keep them around on Facebook because, well, they’re pleasant. Though they are international, this brand is a great example of a voice on social media – their presence has a clearly defined personality which reflects the fruity product.

The page keeps things light and really enjoyable, it’s rarely inane but rather quirky, gentle and positive. My favourite feature is #Dadjoke.

innocent joke

Dear Rae Jewellery manages to evoke a really beautiful, soft aesthetic consistently through their brand’s Facebook page.

Dear Rae

While running great competitions, announcing new ranges and interacting with customers, they accurately evoke their style and personality as well as goings on at the store. All in all – it makes you want to go visit.

Often, they’ll show pieces especially designed for people – engagement rings on the big day, etc. This builds a real sense of community and shows how they’re passionate about the fact that their work makes people happy.

dear rae jewellery

Step. Away. From. The. Computer.

When your work revolves around the bright and shiny space that is “the internet”, and digital platforms that are constantly evolving and popping up all over the place like mushrooms after a soaking rain, it’s hard not to get sucked into your screen and forget that there is actually a real, live world out there. I’ve found that, when working from home where there are no office happenings to distract you, it’s important to remind yourself to take a moment to step. away. from. the. computer. From time to time.

During September, we were pretty busy with client projects and kept pushing some internal Pomegranite work aside. I’ve also found myself becoming increasingly jealous of all the runners taking advantage of the beautiful weather in Cape Town. I glare at them malevolently out of my car window, crutches firmly on the seat next to me. Most of the time, all I really want to do is climb a freaking mountain.

So, when I woke up on Wednesday and the sun was shining, cabin fever was in full swing, and there was a gap in our diaries allowing us to give Pomegranite some love, it was pretty clear what needed to be done.

I got hold of Liz. “Pack a picnic and the sun cream. We’re working from Silvermine today.”

(She forgot the sun cream – sorry shoulders.)

It was so lovely to be in such a beautiful place, surrounded by peace and quiet (except for the frogs – and you can’t get annoyed with frogs when you’re blissed out next to a lake in the sunshine).

The result of dedicating a day to getting away from our desks and out into the (natural) world – apart from working on our tans – was that we were in exactly the right mindset to focus on the work we needed to do on Pomegranite. And we were ridiculously productive, if I do say so myself.

It was such a great day that we decided to make it a regular outing. Once a month, we’ll go somewhere beautiful in Cape Town and spend the day working under a big sky, taking stock of Pomegranite and life in general.

Yip – being your own boss is tough. It comes highly recommended. As does Silvermine.

Silvermine 2 Silvermine 3 Silvermine 4 Silvermine 5 Silvermine 6

Pomegranite first quarter

Coaching, crack and foot massages: A look back at Pomegranite’s first quarter

Pomegranite started as an idea keeping me awake one night when I felt particularly lost and unsure of how to make my way in the world. It quickly became a business plan in an old notebook by lamplight with the working title, Pomegranate, because it’s my mum’s favourite fruit and I needed something that would give this fragile idea a sense of life and vibrancy.

Very soon, I had a conversation with Sarah about this crazy idea I had thought up and invited her to join me. She worked her seemingly-never-ending notice period and we’ve been working together ever since. Here are my top five memories of our first quarter together as Pomegranite.

5. Accidentally deleting our first website 48hrs before showing it to the client

This is number five because, while I’ll NEVER forget the feeling, it wasn’t particularly pleasant! Sarah did well to keep a firm grip on tranquility. Very firm. We did some amazing crisis management, delivered on time and the client loved it. Whew.

4. Business coaching and seeing how far we can go

We went to see fantastic business coach and the experience deserves a whole blog post in itself – that’ll be coming up soon – but what struck me was how far I felt we had come in one day. The workshop took how we thought about the business to a whole new level and we’re still feeding off the motivation.

3. Laughing and laughing together

One of my favourite comments from Sarah came last Friday talking about a troublesome CMS: “It makes me want to shoot crack into my veins or whatever you do with crack!” That Sarah, she’s such a badass.

2. Getting our Pomegranite business cards

It was a gloriously sunny Friday. They had been delivered to Sarah’s house and we were meeting a client together. They were so clean, so bright! But most importantly, they were ours.

1. Reaching our first financial milestone

Seeing the businesses grow makes us pleased as punch but reaching our first financial milestone earlier than expected – that’s a really special feeling. Its confirmation you’re on the right road, that the work is good and that clients are happy. To celebrate, we’re off for our first incentive – a fabulous foot massage!