Digital content creation trends for smart brands to build on in 2020 and beyond – #BizTrends2020

Year-on-year social media platforms tighten the squeeze on how their algorithms prioritise content across timelines in favour of user-experience, which in turn means companies and brands pay more for that space and the smart ones are changing their strategies. Content creation, customer interaction and brand communication online are turning more towards claiming a niche in various communities and evolving messaging from there, unlike sending multiple messages across the web in the hopes that some of it resonates.


Researchers predict that internet advertising will account for 22.7 percent of the total ad market with a value of over 700 million U.S. dollars by 2022.

Brands are seeing more value in focused and targeted strategies that lead to increased community engagement. The advent of 5G and the growth in video consumption will lead to the creation of more visual content that customers can utilise and easily share. There will be more investment in collaborating with content creators whose messaging can be easily linked with certain brands without a major change in narrative.

Short-form brand video ads

New entrant to the banking industry, and challenger brand (in its own right), TymeBank, had one of the most focused social media adverting strategies in 2019; where the brand displayed its card in short-form video format. These GIFs flooded timelines, mine and my immediate circle, resulting in improved brand recognition among social media users in a crowded marketplace. Their smart tactics from artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning to the intelligent use of big data saw them surpassing the 600k customer mark in less than a year.

This short-form, snackable, video content strategy will continue to grow as more brands see value in breaking down their messaging to take advantage of increasingly fast-paced timelines in a hyper competitive attention economy. Video is also one of the most competitive spaces among social media platforms with each trying to out-manoeuvre the other, which creates a gap for brands who understand their customers’ consumption patterns and interests.

Intelligently analysed digital data will be the great differentiator among brands that glean useful insights from those that utilise information at face value.



Increase in branded video content and collaboration

Researchers predict that internet advertising will account for 22.7 percent of the total ad market with a value of over 700 million U.S. dollars by 2022. The growth of 5G, increased use of Stories across social media and the spread of video content will lead to more brands creating original video content and collaborating with video content creators.

Unlike written content, video is more engaging and ensures that people interact with content longer than other mediums across digital platforms. As more brands realise the need to create current, shareable and continually useful content, we will see more quality videos. Some of these will be on the brand’s platforms which – for brands themselves – reduces some of the relative noise they compete with across social media.

With some content creators already working on quality video content, it will be easier for brands to plug into that rather than starting from scratch. Specialist content creators, from video to podcasts, will find it easier to collaborate instead of creating content for a brand outside of their existing portfolio and niche.

Black Twitter and other niche communities

South African brands have begun asking questions about niche communities and some have been successful in engaging with Black Twitter, which is largely characterised by political content. With the maturity of social media in South Africa, especially on Twitter, there is also growth among niche communities that develop around multiple interests.

Smart brands, armed with digital data, will craft their messaging around specific communities with the aim of better targeting.

Year of the micro-influencer (again)

Zara’s #DearSouthAfrica campaign was one of 2019’s most followed trends that had micro-influencers at the centre of it, which talks to how brands are now beginning to adopt a different strategy compared to the celebrity-influencer format. Micro-influencers whose content is focused around specific interests will be included in more campaigns, as brands and their industry peers realise increased value in this ever-growing space.

Smart communicators who will win over audiences across digital in 2020 are the ones that will be seen as enablers, as catalysts for the people they collaborate with and as brands that understand the communities they engage with.

Some micro-influencers create content around things they are passionate about, instead of messaging that a brand is interested in pushing. This is how micro-influencers remain unique and the reason why brands in 2020 will include them in their strategies instead of bigger names.

Intelligent data analysis differentiates

Data has been used by some brands to replace human truth and insights that inform strategy, in 2020 this has begun to change with the growth and influence of niche communities. Intelligently analysed digital data will be the great differentiator among brands that glean useful insights from those that utilise information at face value.

The maturity of social media has ensured that people organise themselves better, more effectively, into niche communities. Brands that invest in community understanding and collaborate will experience increased uptake and interaction, which will lead to more useful data.

There is a growing trend towards enabling content creators and communities to build on their existing efforts in collaboration with brands, instead of the brand taking over completely. Smart communicators who will win over audiences across digital in 2020 are the ones that will be seen as enablers, as catalysts for the people they collaborate with and as brands that understand the communities they engage with.

Finding and creating opportunities to collaborate easier with community insiders will enable brands and their communicators to build on their messaging. There are already content creators whose niche communities find them credible and as long as brand messaging matches the platform, this will be an easier choice. Collaboration, not just finding platforms to advertise, will enable better human connections with those that will lead their industry peers.

This post by Mongezi Mtati was featured on BizCommunity’s #BizTrends2020.

Participate in a Trail-Blazing Study on Black Twitter in South Africa – #BlackTwitterInSA

Social media is filled with opinions and debate around countless issues. As a result, Black Twitter in South Africa has become one of the most influential communities whose impact has the power to sway public opinion across the social web.

Join the conversation, share your insights and perspectives on what and who makes this sub-culture a shifting community. As a survey participant, you will be among the first people to receive the inside scoop on this multi-faceted piece of research.

BETWEEN 1 JANUARY 2017 AND 1 DECEMBER 2019, OUR RESEARCH SHOWS OVER THAT 16-MILLION BLACK TWITTER ASSOCIATED POSTS WERE SHARED ON TWITTER.


Between 1 January 2017 and 1 December 2019, our research shows over that 16-million Black Twitter associated posts were shared on Twitter.

The inspiration behind the survey and research stemmed from the curiosity of WordStart founder and MD, Mongezi Mtati; on what makes the local Black Twitter community influential, a perspective from data to people’s outlook. Early research insights already reveal a picture of a community that is driven by various thought leaders from legal minds, celebrities, journalists to social media influencers who built their reputations online with little to no mainstream media.

Early findings

Our initial survey findings show that Black Twitter is more than just about popular TV shows and celebrity news, there is also a narrative of what and how brands can engage with socially-savvy and connected black professionals. These are the people whose views contribute to shaping media narratives and turn the tide in how brands communicate in a way that is not tone-deaf. They command some of South Africa’s most sought-after spending power and have a positive contribution to how we consider our diversity as a society.

From brands being more sensitive and considerate of people’s differences, because of possible backlash and positive engagement that adds towards revenue, to people losing their jobs because of offensive and racist social media banter. Black Twitter in South Africa is positioned as a microcosm of the temperature of the country.

Debunking myths

Our ongoing survey debunks the myth that Black Twitter is focused on entertainment, celebrity news and calling out certain individuals. Instead, we are finding that politics, how politicians can be instrumental to societal change and the government take centre-stage.

Between 1 January 2017 and 1 December 2019, our research shows over that 16-million Black Twitter associated posts were shared on Twitter. Results show that June 2018 was by far the most active month with posts about Cassper Nyovest going to the BET Awards; Bonang Matheba’s reality show (Being Bonang); and rapper, AKA’s album release – on June 15, were among leading topics throughout the month. June 2018 shows that over 300 000 posts were shared including, South African telenovela, The Queen, taking up much of the conversation.

Leading topics in June 2018: Word Cloud provided by Crimson Hexagon
Leading topics in June 2018: Word Cloud provided by Crimson Hexagon

Most brands have stayed away from Black Twitter for fear of coming under fire, and yet the survey reveals that early respondents think brands should interact with the community. When asked whether brands should target Black Twitter with their marketing, 73% think brands should engage with the community. Most people cited authenticity and being aware of what is happening in the community as being significant when engaging with Black Twitter. Some also believe that if brands pay attention from a distance, they are more likely to have positive human interactions outside of social media.

Above is a snippet of earlier responses from the Black Twitter survey: Provided by WordStart
Above is a snippet of earlier responses from the Black Twitter survey: Provided by WordStart

Add your voice

The maturity of social media in South Africa has led to people to curate their experiences, media consumption and interaction with news stories around their lives and Twitter timelines. This makes shining a lens on communities and their resultant sub-cultures evermore significant in for both brands and society as a whole. Some brands understand this and engage courageously while others fall behind.

We would love to get your opinions on Black Twitter in South Africa, which will give you early access to the summary of our findings and ensure that your views form part of the report. When the report is launched, you will also be the first to be notified. To participate, please click here: https://jo.my/bt-survey.

This piece was first featured on WordStart.

Focus on the Smallest Viable Market: This Is Marketing by Seth Godin

Marketing has come a long way from the days of targeting as many people as possible and hope that some might fit the perfect customer or client demographic. In fact, Seth Godin’s latest book, This Is Marketing clearly speaks to focusing on the smallest viable market. It opens the reader up to a world of possibilities.

This Is Marketing - a book by Seth Godin
This Is Marketing – a book by Seth Godin

If you have followed Seth Godin’s thinking over the years, you realise that This Is Marketing derives a lot of its inspiration from some of his other books. He takes it leaps ahead this time. From the idea of Tribes to Unleashing the Ideavirus, Seth Godin demonstrates how marketing has evolved and continues to be about the community you seek to serve. In this book, marketers are persuaded to listen more, to create meaningful connections between their brands and the people they have identified as their customers.


Listen and see

All marketers purport to understand their customer, to have a handle on who their potential clients are and to have messaging that reaches the right people. Some brands get it wrong about their customers, about people in general and this is because most companies don’t invest enough on learning about who they are targeting.


“Marketing isn’t a race to add more features for less money. Marketing is our quest to make change on behalf of those we serve”, says Seth Godin.

He goes on to share how companies that are devoted to understanding the culture of their audiences are more likely to win than those that focus largely – and mostly – on product improvements.

The more we listen and truly see our customers, the more likely we are to communicate authentically and create a marketing message that resonates.

The Smallest Viable Market

We have long been segmenting our customers, analysing demographics and communicating with people based on these. Or least who we believe are the most relevant people. The market we choose needs to be smaller, more specific and clearly defined.

Your work is not for everyone, it shouldn’t be and the more clearly defined your audience the smaller that community is. Part of the challenge Seth talks to is the fact that marketers dilute their messaging by trying to be more inclusive, while missing out on the opportunity to connect better with the right people.


“It’s impossible to create work that both matters and pleases everyone.” – Seth Godin (This Is Marketing)

From: This Is Marketing

Invest in trust and earn enrollment

Many brands invest getting their message out there, in making promises that they fail to keep which causes damage and destroys the affinity that people had. The opposite is to build trust, to encourage connection and to create unmatched customer experience through positive action. Especially when the worst happens. 


 “The goal isn’t to maximize social media numbers. The goal is to be known to the smallest viable audience.” – Seth Godin (This Is Marketing)

Trust, Seth Godin suggests, leads to enrollment. In this case the idea of enrollment is when people lean in, when they effortlessly connect and become part of the change you are working towards.

This book signifies a shift in marketing, in how we interact and connect with people for change to happen. Whether that change is to make a sale or to increase newsletter signups, this book has a compelling message about why you should focus on a small audience and grow that community. It also comes with a unique code to join a community of peers from across the globe who are changing the status quo in marketing.

Seven ways for political parties to win on social media before South Africa’s National Government Elections

From Donald Trump’s tweets that make the news, to Helen Zille’s jaw dropping updates, and Jacob Zuma’s videos on Twitter, politics have become a staple across social media timelines. Election time is the perfect opportunity for political parties, and their leaders, to create a digital and social media strategy that resonates with their constituencies and keeps people engaged. Most political parties in South Africa tend to shoot from the hip; to approach social media only as a campaign tool, rather than a significant part of their strategy. This year, things will need to be different to convince the hyper-connected voter.

Social Media

How to change the existing approach:

  1. Research conversations from among key people in your constituencies

    Social media platforms give us the ability to research keywords, discussions and hashtags which are clues around what people feel about certain topics. One of the ongoing discussions among South Africans on social media is their uncertainty about which party to vote for, that most political formations are great on paper but fail to convince voters with their actions and interactions. Looking at some of these numerous updates, comments by friends, and others echo similar sentiments.

    Politicians, by the looks of it, are going on as though it’s business as usual.

    Campaigns seem to work off the assumption that this election will be the same as others, that manifestos and sloganeering are enough to sway the voters.

    Yet every other post tells us that people do not feel as though their views are being represented by a team that speaks to them. Basic conversation data is easily and freely accessible to inform a party that wants to stand for the change that individuals are calling for.

  2. Train a team of leaders across the social web and collaborate with them

    Most parties use their profiles to promote media statements and press releases, which are important but can also take away from human interaction (more about this later) and this is a hugely missed opportunity. Research we conducted on social media leading up to the election of ANC president, Cyril Ramaphosa, showed that parties with vocal members on Twitter drove a more powerful narrative.

    This was the case in ANC party narrative where the DA and the EFF had vocal individuals, which led to these opposition parties being nearly as visible as the ANC. This meant that, when people looked at ANC party election mentions, the DA and EFF would show up nearly as many times as the ANC. Opposition parties in this case had more influential party leaders speaking up against the ANC process, and adding to the narrative.

    While there may have been numerous contributing factors that caused this, one stand-out reason is that individuals are typically more trusted than brands or political parties. They are also able to disengage from a script, and can interact more meaningfully with their followers. Political parties tend to have a “safer” (read as boring) scripted approach in their response to user comments, which they feel might serve the party well, but in reality, it builds more walls between the party and its constituent base. Having individual voices and responses resonates more with people than media statements and strict, scripted party lines, and the resulting content feels more honest, authentic and transparent.

  3. Drive regular social media engagement

    Critics have pointed out that politicians and their various formations utilise social media to drive propaganda and party messaging. With over 2,7-billion people across social media, building an engaged audience is worth the time and investment – beyond just pushing messages.

    Political parties can see a lot of benefit from regular interactions with their followers, which can range from live videos on Instagram or Facebook, and ongoing Twitter question-and-answer sessions.

    Fake news has become part of our daily lives, so much that some people cannot tell the difference between honest reports and misinformation.

    As we head to May, when it’s estimated that South African national elections are likely to take place, open public interactions may be helpful for parties as a way of dispelling misinformation.

    Hosting these sessions every fortnight at first, then weekly as we close in on the elections, will contribute towards building and maintaining an approachable organisation. The ones who are authentic and honest may win voters over with their openness, which millennials appreciate among their chosen leaders.Voter comments

  4. Create videos for the social web

    Since joining Twitter in November 2018, former president, Jacob Zuma has posted many videos as interactions with South Africa and the world. The account has been one of the fastest growing ones in South Africa and has had its fair share of media mentions. This has, in some ways, increased brought the former president back to the nation’s consciousness without the need to seek media in traditional ways.

    According to the SA Social Media Landscape by Ornico and World Wide Worx, South Africa has over 8-million Twitter users.

    Video is also the fastest growing form of rich media content on across the social web with platforms like IGTV solely dedicated to this form of media.

    Unlike traditional media video, social media requires shorter, punchy content that makes its point quickly and succinctly. These can form part of ongoing messaging that addresses burning issues that come up in ongoing interactions from the previous point. It can also be used to breakdown the often wordy and complex elections manifestos that hardly resonate with the public.

  5. Be more human

    Since the days of former president, Barack Obama’s wildly successful campaign that many politicians and world leaders try to copy, social media makes political leaders accessible. And to win people over, politicians should come out from behind party manifestos, rehearsed speeches and spin.

    Social media, from Instagram to LinkedIn offers users the opportunity to connect at a human and approachable level, which is what’s missing – in some ways – in South African politics. This is arguably the case in politics across the world, because even some of the most active leaders are not responsive.

  6. Reach out to engaged micro-influencers and reward them

    Every community has its influencers, individuals who sway the conversations one way or another, and individuals whose mentions generate more chatter than average. As a party that’s paying attention to both data and people, you’ll begin to notice who these individuals are in your community.

    Some of these engaged individuals will be micro-influencers, people with a relatively niche following who are not big-name celebrities. Once they have emerged from the noise and clutter, whether they are card carrying members or not, find a way to reward them. This may be an invitation to a closed event where they get to ask questions, or another useful form of interaction.Voter opinions

  7. Consolidate all digital communication

    One of the great things about social media is its immediacy, the ability to disseminate a message in real-time to people across the world. It’s also arguably its curse because our timelines are so filled with messaging from everywhere that important communication drowns in a sea of ever-increasing noise.

    How can organisations address this? Build a platform that can consolidate these interactions into a single, owned platform that anyone, including the media followers, can get access to. Your digital team can then curate conversations, Tweets, Instagram images and video content that can be displayed on the site.

    A single platform for all social media interactions, such as a microsite, will ensure that you separate yourself from the noise and make content more visible. Some of this content can be referred back to for articles and other content.

The 2019 elections will be interesting with more political formations coming to the fore over the past few months, three of which are led by people with known public profiles. Parties need to stand out and prove to uncertain voters that they deserve a chance, which will largely be the product of creative and transparent communication with South Africans. Social media and digital platforms may prove to be most effective way to reach out.

This post was first featured on BizCommunity.  

5 Digital marketing trends and hacks for brands and entrepreneurs to use in 2019

In the perfect world most brands and entrepreneurs start planning long before the beginning of the year, with the start of each year mostly set aside for some tweaks and updates. Digital marketing trends, social media and the odd social media crisis tend to trip even the most strategically insightful among us. It makes sense to keep the strategy document constantly updated while looking at some growth areas in digital marketing and taking full advantage of social media.

Five strategy hacks and trends for brands and entrepreneurs to improve their digital footprint in 2019:

 

1. Create a video content strategy

 

The consumption of video content across the internet continues to grow at a rapid rate with more social media users also creating their own content. Research shows that 93% of businesses got new customers and converted leads as a result of video.With so much content being created daily, it’s best to keep your brand content short, punchy and fun to ensure both impact and social sharing. This requires brands to be brave and to keep creating content to understand what works, which may take some time.One of the advantages is that owned content may cost less than other forms of advertising and increase engagement between the brand and its community. It also gives added insight into what customers like because platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram give you data.

Quick hack: Start creating videos, even using a mobile phone, and improve quality as well as content. This will get easier over time and post some of these as Facebook stories, then monitor feedback.

 

2. Understand and use IGTV

 

Instagram’s IGTV is the new popular kid on the social media streets and a promising entrant in the long-form vertical video space. Launched in June 2018, when Instagram also announced that they now have a billion monthly users, IGTV has already begun making strides with some brands and influencers embracing this platform. It’s nowhere near being a YouTube killer or a worthwhile adversary to the likes of Vimeo, but it’s changing the game.Some of the top global brands that took up IGTV creating some quirky and fun content include Netflix, Bacardi and Louis Vuitton which have all been creative in their use of the platform. IGTV with its largely youth audience enables brands to think more creatively, to be quirkier (yes, that word is coming up again) and a little “weird” in comparison to traditional strategies.Cisco predicts that video will account for 78% of mobile data traffic by 2021, in just 2 short years, and the early adopters will lead their industry peers. Some brands have already begun building communities on IGTV.

Beginner hack: Start by opening an account and following some of the most active brands for your own inspiration and ideas. You can also check some of these brands on IGTV that are making serious moves on the platform and how they are doing it.

3. Create a robust LinkedIn brand strategy

 

LinkedIn is the single most useful tool to gain access to the decision-makers in most organisations that matter and this is why everyone spends time networking. It enables users to have a better understanding of their potential clients and the platform has been improving its offering for professionals, brands and entrepreneurs.Over the past few years, LinkedIn users have been utilising the platform to share stories and original articles, which in turn improves engagement. It’s a more powerful platform for lead generation and general brand engagement for professional B2B services.

A hack to use: In addition to the company page, build a showcase page for a service or product because these showcase pages increase engagement for specific products. Some of the most interesting LinkedIn showcase pages include companies like HP, Cisco and a few others.

 

4. Personalise! Personalise! Personalise!

 

Next to customers wanting more customisation than ever, personalising the customer and client journey as much as possible with a brand strengthens the relationship. In 2019, personalisation from shopping data to search will evolve more.Leading brands like Amazon have been personalising the customer journey for years and they continue to make the individual experience more worthwhile. When it comes to improved customer interactions 96% of marketers say personalisation helps to advance customer relationships.

A hack to try: Instead of a broad strategy, personalise your email and social media marketing for a specific target audience. This may exclude some of the customers you want to reach but it will be impactful for the people to whom the message resonates. Try this a few times and track the results.

 

5. Work towards a medium to long-term micro influencer strategy

 

Big brands from Listerine to Cîroc Vodka had their share of major criticism in 2018 which made others approach influencer marketing with caution. Some countries have since created policies around influencer marketing where people should mention that they have been sponsored or even paid by brands. This will increase transparency in 2019 and increase awareness among consumers, as opposed to people believing that brands are used organically.That said, influencer marketing will continue to grow in 2019 with more brands potentially collaborating with micro-influencers. Instagram is the leading platform for most influencer and brand collaborations which will continue in 2019. Twitter and Facebook will also be part of this influencer marketing mix as the connected get access to brands.

Micro-influencer marketing hack to develop: Follow some of the people who already engage with your brand and industry, then invite them, as early adopters to small pre-launch meetups. Let them be the first to sample products and experiences, as well as be the first to spread the word.

 

Budgets are tight and most brands are bringing things in-house with less to play with, and this may be the best time to experiment with a few ideas. A long-term approach is always key because it often takes time to see results and build the traction needed to grow a community behind your idea.

 

This post was first featured on WordStart. 

Finishing the Comrades 2018 Marathon and Finding Great Curry

Descending on Durban on 8 June 2018 filled many runners with hope, promise and it was one of the most fulfilling moments in our lives – as some of us took on this famous race for the first time. One of the countless rewards of the Comrades Marathon is the spirit of this race, the camaraderie that comes with being among the individuals taking on this challenge. It was to be a huge turning point in how I would later understand my body, mind and overcome pain.

Yes, some pain. I wish that last was “spirit” and it would have been all poetic from there with the breeze gently in my face, running in slow motion on a cloud, with a smile the whole way and feeling like it was much shorter than 90-kilometres. But no, there were many great moments, not all of them as poetic as all that.
Mongezi Mtati at the Comrades Marathon 2018
Every race before this point was preparation it seems, except the Loskop Marathon, Two Oceans Marathon and Om Die Dam, which are all amazing and can be grueling. Every other one was preparation, a way to get a sense of the difference between the toughest long effort and reaching the next small town after losing count of hours on the road.  Waking up just before 1am means I had to sleep just after 7pm, which is unnatural in itself by many imaginable standards.

The energy in Pietermaritzburg just before 5am when we arrived for the race was electric, it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. People shared stories of their last Comrades as motivation for both peers and themselves, which helps to calm the nerves. Some were there for one sole reason; to finish the race before cut-off with no strict finishing goal time. We felt connected as a community that wishes every participant well.

There was a point after the halfway mark when the mind and body had left me to my devices, I was just wandering spirit at this point with no idea what to do next. This is where the training comes to play. You tell yourself to just keep going and the slump subsides, if only for a moment, and the energy around you helps to regain momentum. Along with the tough hills later in the day also comes the heat, which was not as bad as I expected.

After being on the road for over 70 kilometres, sometime after 8 hours from the start, my running shoes felt unbearably tight. It was as though I would lose the top of my foot if I kept going, so I loosened the shoe which now had too much play and the pain was ever more consistent. Of course, I thought this was my foot just acting up for no reason begging to be left on the side of the road. It later turned out to be a circulation cutting compression sock by 2XU, but luckily this didn’t take me off the road for too long.

As we progressed further into the Ultimate Human Race I began to see why it’s called that. We encountered peers with injuries and some who needed more serious medical assistance. The inspiration of being on the open road, seeing people push themselves past what looks like “a wall” encouraged me to push past my own boundaries.

Family and loved ones will always be encouraging, and after crossing the finish line, seeing the light in my fiancé’s face while attempting to walk through the Moses Mabhida Stadium, made it all worth it. The medal is the small part of the race now that it’s over, the journey is the biggest part. Knowing that I took my mind and body through 90-kilometres on foot and I now sit here able to tell write about parts of the tale is the ultimate achievement.

Mongezi Mtati at the Comrades Marathon Finish Line
She told me that she had met a lady whose husband was nearing the finish, that this was his fourth attempt and that he did not make it across the finish line on time the first three instances. They sat there talking about the stories of previous races and the wife’s hope that he finishes before cut-off and gets his medal. They were there with their kids, who were all very eager to see their dad soon. I was now rooting for this man whom I’d never met and everyone else who was still on their way.

Just a year ago I had no idea that I would take on this challenge, in fact, I thought it was crazy that anyone would put themselves through this sort of thing. Now. . . although I’m the first to point out my craziness, after many others have done so to much debate and denial, this is one of the least crazy things I have ever done. There is something about completing one long ultra-marathon after marathon in preparation for the Comrades that takes me past some of my own known – and unknown – hurdles to achieving more.

In search of a reward some days later, not cake this time I still owe myself that, I asked friends from Durban for a good place to have curry and one of the recommendations did not have the ambience. By chance, I then asked the Uber driver where he would suggest we go and he proposed Mali’s Restaurant in Morningside. Upon arrival at this house-turned-restaurant we welcomed by a friendly security guard who lets through the gate.

As you enter, it feels small enough to need to make a reservation and big enough to still be cosy. We were accommodated immediately by the host. Long story short, when the food arrived it was the most divine, mouth-watering – even as you eat it – thing I’ve ever tasted. I would definitely recommend the Lamb Rogan Ghosh any day, especially if you love tomato-based sauces that may have you licking your plate.

This was one of the most memorable and worthwhile weeks I’ve had, in June at least. It hit me for the first time when I saw a friend recently who said “you are the first person I know who finished the Comrades Marathon”, that’s when it occurred to me that all those people who finished, within the cut-off time and after, are heroes in their own right. That this is a special moment in any person’s life.

The road to the Comrades Ultra Marathon 2018: Registering on impulse

On one random Friday afternoon while having coffee I registered for the Ultimate Human Race, the 89km Comrades Ultra Marathon. If you are shaking your head, I’m with you, I would do the same thing. There must have been something in the WiFi that day and some of us got it bad. Over the next few months after December, I’ll increase my training to meet Comrades Marathon levels. Not that I want to, I’d rather be siting with a whole cake and bottomless cappuccinos.
Telling the family 
After delaying the announcement and expecting fireworks when I eventually told, my sister and mom just said ‘oh’ or something even more unceremonious. I know, I know what you’re thinking. There should have been a huge song and dance, applause and cheers everywhere. They missed the whole 89 kilometers at the end of my announcement.
Instead, it became less about me and more about the picnics the family will have in Durban along the stops.

After Marathon High Knee

“We can have a roadtrip two days prior, we should organise the picnic stuff” said my sister, to which mom nodded and added something about food to include.

 

At this point, I stopped hearing them over sensation of numb thighs at the thought of passing their victory picnic in the middle of the race.

14 October 2017, the evening before running the marathon to qualify for the daunting Comrades Ultra Marathon, wasn’t the quietest night with nerves at an all-time high. It was as though the taxing ultra-marathon was that Saturday, as though the challenge only became real that evening.

Seeing my relatively slow-ish time of 4 hours and 29 minutes was a relief, because even though I like this running thing, don’t get for a second think I never feel like giving away my running shoes. It’s the gift that keeps giving numb sore legs. And yet it’s sssoooo good. There is a beautiful sense of accomplishment that I don’t quite get from finishing my dessert. Okay……finishing dessert comes with sadness. But you know what I mean.
Friends were surprised and most, like friends and loved ones shouldn’t, keep telling me how I should definitely go. “It will change your life” they say. And I appreciate it. I’m still waiting for that string of massage vouchers and training partners among them. Except Brian, Brian says I’m crazy and offers a juicy piece of steak to cure me of this long distance running thing.

You know where I’m going when I return from Durban.

Now that the qualifier is done, I’ll go for seeding times and make improvements. Much like the seasoned Comrades runner, I now nod in conversations while saying things “when I qualified for my first Comrades” and exit quietly before they ask how many I’ve completed – and other incriminating questions.

For now, before the intense training kicks off with a marathon in January, we eat (a lot of desserts), drink and hopefully convince others to give up their desserts in preparation for the change that’s coming my way. You must also go enjoy all your delectable eats these holidays, that way none of us judge the absence of summer bodies in others.

Social Media Race to the ANC Presidency: The resignation and the presidential hopefuls

This article was first featured on WordStart.

As the ANC presidency campaigns intensify, often marred by scandals, violence at the Eastern Cape Electoral Conference, renewed calls for President Jacob Zuma to step down by some corners of society and opposition parties. The question of succession is a pressing one, and it’s interesting to monitor social media chatter as it relates to the South African political scene.

Two recent events created quite a stir online. On Thursday, 21 September 2017, ANC presidential hopeful, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, was sworn into parliament, on the same day, Dr Makhosi Khoza, dropped a bomb that sent shock waves across social media by resigning from the ANC.

WordStart, in collaboration with Crimson Hexagon, have investigated, tracked and analysed the social media conversations, the sentiment and public social media perceptions, as they relate to these two events. This specific analysis forms part of a larger piece of social media research that will investigate the race to ANC presidency that will be decided at the electoral conference due to take place in December this year.

An analysis of social media data for the period 1 September to 1 October 2017 reveals just over 16 000 posts on the topic of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Makhosi Khoza, with the most mentions happening on Twitter on the 21st of September 2017. Some people on social media felt the move to swear in Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma would position her campaign more effectively in the running for the party’s top post.

The graph below shows the total number of posts that mention both Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Makhosi Khoza throughout the period and the 21 September spike is clearly evident. Leading up to 21 September, social media conversations were dominated by the public’s choice of ANC candidates. As factions within the ANC, and the public at large align with their candidate for party president, we see more linked social conversations, with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa often mentioned alongside Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Makhosi Khoza began making a greater appearance in social media mentions from 5 September, with some public mentions speaking about her redeployment from chairperson of the Public Service and Administration Committee to the Economic Development Oversight Committee. We see social media making more mentions of Khoza on the 10th and 11th of September following her non-attendance of a disciplinary hearing.

Total posts for the period: Data made available to WordStart by Crimson Hexagon

Total posts for the period: Data made available to WordStart by Crimson Hexagon

One day in September

21 September saw most of the posts being shared on social media, where 90% of the 4 954 posts that were picked up came from Twitter and the majority of these were by members of the public who watched parliamentary proceedings. The surnames ‘Khoza’ appears 3 805 times mostly from Twitter, followed by ‘Dlamini’ which makes 717 appearances and ‘Zuma’ which accounts for 760 mentions.

Zuma has overlaps between the president and Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma both of whom come up a lot in social media mentions on 21 September. When looking deeper into the social media data we also note mentions of ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa whose surname comes up in 108 mentions from the media to the public.

Top 10 Tweets on 21 September: Data made avaialable to WordStart by Crimson Hexagon

Top 10 Tweets on 21 September: Data made available to WordStart by Crimson Hexagon 

 

Top 20 sites with the most mention on 21 September: Data made available to WordStart by Crimson Hexagon

Top 20 sites with the most mention on 21 September: Data made available to WordStart by Crimson Hexagon

 

Twitter mentions still largely referenced media houses as they were the ones who shared most near real-time stories and happenings from parliament. The public sentiment on most social media data sourced by WordStart and Crimson Hexagon on 21 September are negative towards the ANC, while suggesting that the resignation was a positive move on the part of Makhosi Khoza, which in turn also supports her arguments and her perspective on the corruptness of the ANC.

Although Twitter was the most dominant platform on 21 September accounting for 90% of total mentions (or 4 482), there was also a general dominance of known media outlets that South Africans generally follow for daily content. It is also worth noting that most news content ends up on Twitter and other social platforms, which further adds to the overall mentions among the 16 084 for the month. Most Facebook content is kept private and not available for usage or analysis by outside platforms, as a result the numbers remain low due to the platform’s restrictions.

Most active content drivers

People on social media were vocal throughout the month, from Khoza’s public criticism of ANC processes citing that the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruled that the party’s provincial leadership was unlawfully elected to her invitation of media as she prepared for the announcement on 21 September. The most influential Twitter content was driven by media outlets which account for 15 of the top 20 most influential authors and the Democratic Alliance was also among the most influential authors over the period.

Top 20 most influential authors (1 Sept – 1 Oct 2017): Data made available by Crimson Hexagon

Top 20 most influential authors (1 Sept – 1 Oct 2017): Data made available by Crimson Hexagon

We begin to see an even split of individuals and media in the top 10 of the most active Twitter users over the period. The list below is a collection of Twitter accounts that had the most number of tweets on the topic of Makhosi Khoza and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in September 2017.

Top 10 most active Twitter accounts

Top 10 most active Twitter accounts

 

 

 

Most prevalent social media topics

Social media data shows President Jacob Zuma as the common link in all mentions about both Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and former ANC MP, Dr Makhosi Khoza. In the case of Khoza, people make mention of the president in association with the resignation and the reason for the disciplinary hearing. It is also perceived that Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma goes into parliament as a way for the president to enable her party presidency campaign to gain momentum.

Most prevalent topics in 10 000 posts: Data made available to WordStart by Crimson Hexagon

Most prevalent topics in 10 000 posts: Data made available to WordStart by Crimson Hexagon

A snapshot of the first 4000 thousand posts shows Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa with greater prominence, who was mentioned a lot in relation to his campaign now that Dlamini-Zuma is in parliament. Some of the data also alludes to allegations of an affair which some people think may affect Ramaphosa’s run for ANC president.

The first 5 000 posts also show themes that include ANC corruption, the Gupta family and the ANC elective conference in December. Some earlier and less prominent themes begin to decline as more post data is included.

As the ANC pre-election campaign for presidency takes shape among various candidates, some of the big occurrences of September brought up many assumptions across social media. People are referring to strategies that are being employed by candidates that are in the running for presidency, some of which Khoza’s resignation is seen to have impact in. The president is perceived by social media as being aligned with Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign with some ANC structures also coming up in conversations.

WordStart and Crimson Hexagon will bring more data as the campaigns intensify leading up to the December 2017 ANC elective conference.

Mongezi Mtati chats with Arye Kellman about social media and influence on TouchHD

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of chatting with the inspired Arye Kellman about my personal and business journey through social media in South Africa, which brought back many memories. We discussed a few lessons from both a brand marketing and personal branding perspective, though I can’t tell you what ‘personal branding’ is if you asked.

This was one of the most fun and relaxed media interactions I’ve had in my young life [insert: as a Jedi in training]. Arye’s style is easy get engage with, without feeling like you may say the wrong thing and as such you need to be at the top of you game.

The discussion included how WordStart came about the opportunity that took existed when we started  as a digital word-of-mouth firm which in turn led growing into most things digital. It was built out of a genuine need that we had to spread the word about our own work and the work of other brands that realised that there was another way, outside of traditional media platforms.

Have a listen below and let me know what you think.

Entrepreneur Magazine Feature: Marketing Your Startup

The September 2017 edition of Entrepeneur features some marketing lessons we got from building WordStart and doing some client work. We often get so focused on clients that we forget treat ourselves and our startup as the client – or better. I know that things certainly fall through the cracks with focus sometimes all over the place.

This piece takes many hits and misses into account, as well as some experiments that we embarked on outside of budgets where we were able to collaborate and test some ideas.

I would love hear your what works for your marketing. What hacks do you have that we can learn from?

Entrepreneur magazine piece - September 2017 Get the September edition of South Africa’s Entrepreneur magazine, look out for page 59 and come share your thoughts. Or tweet me on @Mongezi.