Five things I love about doing work that’s worthwhile

We’ve recently built three different websites for an NGO called STEPS. STEPS does amazing work treating kids in southern Africa who are born with clubfeet. It was started by Karen Moss, whose son was born with clubfoot when the only treatment option in South Africa was surgery. She did some research online, found an amazing doctor in the States who could correct her son’s feet without surgery, and flew all the way over there to meet him and have him treat her son.

She was so impressed at the results of this gentle method of treatment that she wanted all children in southern Africa to have access to the same treatment. And so, she brought it to them.

Inspiring right?

The work she has done since she founded STEPS in 2005 is quite amazing, and we have loved being a part of the process of telling the story of STEPS through their websites: www.steps.org.za (focused on the charity and the work they do), www.clubfoot.co.za (more medical info), and www.ponseti.co.za, which is still in the final stages of being built (where parents can buy specialised products for the treatment of clubfoot).

So, now that you have the background, here are five things that I have loved about being part of such a worthwhile project:

1. Helping to frame a story that is so uplifting is good for the soul. It just is.
2. Working with people who spend their days improving the lives of others is good for you.
3. Perspective – reading stories about the struggles of mothers whose children are born in rural areas with no access to medical treatment will put your trivial “problems” in perspective pretty quickly.
4. Unforeseen extra work – which is pretty standard with any project – somehow doesn’t bother you.
5. It’s wonderful being a part of the creation of something really meaningful. You know that feeling you get when it’s cold and rainy outside and you’re sitting on the couch with a cup of tea and fuzzy socks on your feet? It’s kind of like that.

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Why Search Engine Optimisation is Dying

Randy Milanovic of KAYAK has just released a new e-book, “Findability: Why Search Engine Optimisation is Dying”.

The blurb reads:

Are you ready for a new world of search engine optimization, social media, and content marketing? You had better be, because Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other popular Internet marketing tools are changing fast… the companies that adapt are going to find more opportunities, while their competitors are going to be left behind. Following these rules will help propel you in front of those who don’t get it… yet.

The title may send many an SEO expert into a tizz but it seems that rather than minimising the importance of keywords, Milanovic is highlighting the importance of using content to develop community loyalty where search algorithms can change on a whim. With good content marketing, your investment is never lost. Here are Randy’s 21 top tips:

21 rules of content marketing

[Image source]

sceptical baby social media

5 simple ways to engage your audience on social media

Ever wanted to have your own shop selling stuff you love or be a radio presenter recognised and adored for your sense of humour? If you’re active on social media, you’re already taking on roles like these.

Social media is space we all curate – whether it’s our personal brand (of life being amazing all the time) or a business’s brand (of the business’s values, products, lifestyle). Visual platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr can be compared to custom magazines and you could say that Twitter is like having your own transcribed podcast beaming out to followers who are tuned in. So what are you doing with your curated spaces? Getting people to participate is one of the best ways to build loyalty. Here are five simple ways to get followers to engage.

1. Polls

Polls are a great way to get feedback from your community while not asking them to make much of an effort. There are plenty of apps out there to facilitate them – just be aware of your settings: pranksters can have (hilarious but) devastating effects when you allow the public to add suggestions.

2. Competitions

For as long as society has used pronouns, people have loved free stuff. Facebook recently slackened the rules for running competitions which has made life a lot easier. By using an entry mechanism where ‘liking’ your page is a condition, you can build follower numbers quickly. After that, it’s up to you to keep them around.

3. Videos

Generally, we’re a pretty lazy society and there’s no better example of this than our internet habits. We would much rather watch a short clip than read a paragraph of text. Film is a multi-sensory experience and, while it’s expensive in relation to writing text, the impression it gives is incomparable and you can get a lot of mileage out of it. A short, captivating clip to introduce your brand and a number of key points can be used in presentations, on your website, and shared on all of your social media platforms.

4. Links

Your curated space doesn’t have to be made up exclusively of original content. While a certain amount is crucial, your brand’s online presence can also be a hub for relevant and useful content. You can be the go-to place for all things [insert your field here].

5. Photos

Because they communicate immediately and powerfully, images are some of the most shareable content on the internet, especially when overlayed with text. There are plenty of easy-to-use, free tools out there such as PicMonkey which make creating this kind of content a cinch.

If you’d like to take your social media to the next level, check out 26 Facebook Fan Engagement Tips or get in touch about our social media workshops and social media management.

The one where we go surfing at Muizenberg

Once a month, Pomegranite leaves the office for a morning or afternoon, and spends some time out in the world, talking about the business, coming up with new ideas, and just having fun, doing something we will remember with more clarity than answering emails and drawing up invoices.

For our March inspiration day, we decided to visit one of my favourite places in Cape Town, Muizenberg Beach. Liz, who grew up in Durban and hence knows how to surf (the two are synonymous aren’t they?) agreed to teach me the art. Let me just say that I am the biggest Vaalie. Having lived in Cape Town for nearly a year and a half, I still get SO excited when I see the sea and feel the sand between my toes. So, when Liz suggested the surfing idea, let’s just say that I was on board (Yip. That just happened).

If you know me at all, you will know that I am something of a perfectionist, and I am unlikely to quit anything until I get it right. Surfing was no different.

So, from my (vast) experience, here are 10 things every beginner surfer needs to know:

1) Trying to carry a surfboard in the wind is bloody difficult. Have you ever watched someone trying to bath a cat? Ja – it’s kind of like that. Just harder. Top tip: let your business partner carry it. She loves it. And you’re a novice, remember? Do not be afraid to play that card.

2) Set aside a good hour to put your wetsuit on. It’s an acquired skill apparently.

3) Don’t skip the embarrassing “lesson on the sand” part. People have come to the beach primarily to people watch. Do not deprive them of some quality entertainment.

4) You will feel like a child initially. A special needs child. Embrace it. Everyone needs to feel ridiculous from time to time.

5) It is likely that your “teacher” will speak to you in a soothing voice you’ve once heard her use while babysitting a screaming child. She will tell you that you are doing “soooooo well!” And she’s right. Obviously. That nine year old kid has nothing on you.

6) Make sure your wetsuit is the right size. The guy at the surf shop underestimated my height a bit, so I kind of felt like my wetsuit was trying (and succeeding) to choke me the whole time. Not ideal.

7) You will get a lot of sea water up your nose, which is ever so slightly unpleasant. Ever so slightly. On the plus side, no blocked sinus issues for what I can only assume will be the rest of your life.

8) Don’t be afraid to just kneel on the board in the beginning. People may tell you to “stand up, dammit!” But what do they know? You’ve got some moves. They’re just jealous of your lunge.

9) Make sure that you yell loudly at people in your way as you cruise into shore at break-neck speed. They need enough time to throw themselves out of your way. Be considerate.

10) It’s not the most comfortable experience you’ll ever have. But that feeling of riding that final wave right into shore, casually hopping off and dancing a wild victory dance glancing nonchalantly at your “teacher” as she cheers you on… It’s pretty damn amazing.

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Office for the afternoon

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Putting on a wetsuit is HARD

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As I said…

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Post-surf smugness