#Neknominations: Why South Africans WIN at this (ridiculous) social phenomenon

This week, my Facebook timeline has been taken over by two things:

1) The whole “My Facebook Film” phenomenon, which I actually love more than I would like to admit (that emotive music – it just gets me every time); and

2) #Neknominations. ALL the #neknominations.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, people who are nominated by friends on Facebook are required to make a short video of themselves downing a drink before nominating two more people to do the same within 24 hours. The concept started in Australia but has spread around the world over the past couple of weeks.

Don’t let the title of this blog post mislead you. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching my timeline fill with people downing drinks in increasingly creative ways. From Power Ranger dance moves to tiger suits, (manual) beer fountains, sheep(ish) farmers, risqué bubble baths and swan dives off boats in exotic locations – it’s been hugely entertaining.

People who are not active on Facebook at all have come to the party, answering their nominations, sometimes most impressively. What interests me is what it takes to get such a vast community of people so actively involved on Facebook, when they are otherwise somewhat indifferent to the platform: the call to down a drink in the most entertaining way, to be watched by, one would hope, by a considerable audience.

Humans are strange creatures.

Don’t get me wrong – I fully include myself in that judgment. Downing a beer and dancing around in a Power Ranger suit while someone dressed as an Arab sits in the corner reading a newspaper, while a cat looks on confusedly? Love it! Play it again! Comment! Like!

But where this social phenomenon really won me over is when people (read: South Africans) starting turning it on its head, harnessing the momentum of a (somewhat ridiculous – let’s be honest) viral movement and adding to the beer-downing-crowd-pleasing nominations the challenge to do some good too.

Most of the #neknominations I’ve watched over the past two days include people handing meals to those who need them, pledging to clothe people in need, give soccer balls to underprivileged kids, or challenging those they nominate to give back in any way they choose. And that’s in addition to the element of the ridiculous that made the #neknomination concept go viral in the first place.

And this is why I love South Africans – a nation full of people who are not shy to look like idiots if it means making someone laugh. People who have such big hearts.

Unfortunately I can’t show you the videos I’ve been loving on Facebook, because, well, Facebook. You know. But here’s the one that started the whole giving back vibe in SA.

The internet of things

Did you know that more things are connecting to the internet than people? That’s right. In 2010, that number stood at over 12.5 billion devices. And do you know how long ago 2010 was in internet years? Flipping ages!

The infographic below tracks Cisco’s predictions of the number of devices that will be connected to the internet by 2020 – and what that might look like. All I can say is, if my meeting was pushed back 45 minutes, and this was communicated to my alarm clock, which then allowed me to sleep a bit later, I would be quite a fan of the internet.

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Infographic source

Life on Long Street

When I worked from home, there was a school next door, and the sounds that would drift in through my window were excited shrieks and yells of break-time games and netball matches. (Side note: teachers should get paid ALL the money.)

Now, in our new offices, it’s the sounds of life on Long Street that filter in through the window – traffic, conversations of pedestrians (both foreigners and locals), sometimes singing, laughter, taxis calling out their destinations, people getting on with things. It’s not that hard to choose which I prefer.

Stepping out onto the pavement, there is so much to see and explore on this vibey street. Each day I notice something different that I haven’t seen before, even though it’s been there all along.

Here is a little taste of life on this famous street.

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It's called Long Street for a reason. The right footwear is crucial for exploring.

It’s called Long Street for a reason. The right footwear is crucial for exploring.

Social Media trends for 2014

So we’ve all finally got our heads around the fact that the working year has begun, and the trauma of early mornings and no afternoon naps has been faced. Let’s get our grown-up pants on, stay on top of our game and check out the trends forecast for social media in 2014.

Stop following me!

Like we used to hang out in our parents’ cars and play CD’s during their lame dinner parties, teens are fleeing social media platforms where their parents (gah just leave me alone!) are encroaching and are carving out their own social spaces online. The fleeting nature of Snapchat seems most appealing – Fast Company reports that “with more than 360 million photos shared – and deleted within seconds – this company is proving that a younger generation is in fact cozying up to the idea of private moments.”

If you can’t beat ‘em…

Google Plus had a rough start with a reputation for being unintuitive and obscure but an obligatory SEO tool for anyone wanting to please the great Google. Brafton predicts steady growth on the platform and hails its unique features: “Google+ offers a lot of functions that other networks don’t have, such as Communities, Hangouts and the ability to share specific content with targeted groups.”

Content is king

To kick off the year, Mashable asked nine successful entrepreneurs how they are planning on altering their social media marketing strategies in the next six months, based on their predictions for the new year. Here’s what Andrew Howlett from Rain had to say:

“To achieve a deeper connection with your customers, a company needs to engage on a deeper and more intelligent level. Short videos, infographics, quality imagery and polls are all ways to engage deeper. Companies need to look at the content they put out and ask themselves, ‘Is this shareable?’ […] Also, companies need to focus on the fans they have and not the fans they want. If your message is always trying to reach out, you’ll bore the fans that have chosen to connect with you.”

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