Partnership, a possum and a flying bulldog

For this month’s Inspiration Day, we decided to get out of the office and get into “the nature”. It was a little chilly for skinny dipping in Silvermine dam so we went for a walk in one of Cape Town’s gems, Deer Park. It’s a tranquil forest nestled at the foot of Table Mountain, just a stone’s throw from the CBD.

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A classic case of a city photo bombing a forest.

We’d just started our stroll when I saw something dash into the brush to our left. It was swift and agile, moving low to the ground – not a rat or a dassie – but it was long and skinny – it definitely wasn’t a squirrel. I stood aghast, filled with the excitement of big game spotting, pointing at it where it was a moment ago, willing Sarah to see the creature but completely unable to find its name. Eventually, I uttered, “possum!” at which point he popped his head out from behind a bush and looked at me as if to say, “Seriously?” and Sarah doubled over laughing. After a few moments, she managed to get out the words, “It’s a mongoose!”. Satisfied that he had been correctly acknowledged, he scampered off again after throwing me a disdainful scowl.

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Sarah, the river sprite.

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Pondering the path of least resistance.

We clambered over some rocks to sit next to a stream in the wintry sun. With some exciting new things happening for Pomegranite very soon, we had the chance to talk about how we wanted our business to work and how we would work together. A guy ran past with a dog trotting behind, obscured but the long grass. Our conversation stopped abruptly when we witnessed a stocky bulldog flying through the air in mid bomb-drop. She landed in the little dam with a glorious splash and I’m pretty sure her flapping cheeks were curled upwards at the edges. Soon enough, she bobbed to the surface, under-bite first and paddled back to her human for more, curly piggy tail wiggling.

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The site of the flying bulldog

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We saw a path striking out from the clearing around the waterway and decided to see where it would go. Once I had got us properly lost and we were wandering around just trying to find our way back to the car park (all romance of the adventure long gone), it struck me how similar getting lost together is to running a business. Both can be tiring and uncomfortable situations where you have to negotiate choices and make decisions. You have to rely on your partner’s skills and trust them. There’s no one else but you and your partner to get through challenges and so you have to stand by him or her and figure it out. Most importantly, you don’t split up. Ever. Because that’s a classic start to a horror movie.

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]

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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.