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Digital trends 2018

As I run a niche digital strategy agency working with clients in Dubai & Cape Town, a part of my work involves staying on top of digital trends so I can leverage them for our clients where relevant. Some of the recent digital trends that I've noticed include virtual reality, decentralized social media networks, and the explosive growth of messaging platforms used for business purposes:

 

  • When it comes to VR and social media, I believe Facebook Spaces is going to be big, very big. The social VR app allows users to connect with their friends and new people in a deeper way which will make for more meaningful connections and experiences. 

 

  • The rise of blockchain powered social media channels or ways of sharing content - just take a look at steemit. Blockchain protocols are decentralized, and offer a level of transparency and trust that might not be there with existing social media platforms. This offers an opportunity for startups and SMEs - they get to compete where previously they were dwarfed by corporates with bottomless budgets.

 

  • Instagram Stories are experiencing massive growth - a must for consumer brands and B2B brands alike (as long as backed up by a smart content strategy). From being able to live stream events to giving a look inside the brand, there's so much opportunity when it comes to Insta Stories. 

 

  • Messaging platforms will be utilized more and more heavily by businesses - take a look at the recent launch of WhatsApp Business. Simply put, it provides a platform for businesses to interact with their customers easily by using tools to automate, sort, and quickly respond to messages.

 

(Originally published over on http://amplifier.org.za/2018/03/20/staying-on-top-of-digital-trends/)

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Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy for Startups

After working with numerous startups and helping them with developing digital marketing strategies for success, we've compiled some of our learnings/questions for startups to consider when starting the process of conceptualizing and crafting the digital strategy to achieve their business goals:

1. Have you done your research?

It is vital to have a solid overview of the regional statistics and consumer trends relevant to the industry you're operating in - we focus heavily on researching current marketing trends and seeing what works best in terms of customer acquisition, growth, and innovation.

2. Have you defined your business goals?

Have you clearly defined your business objectives, target market and success criteria? So many startups just 'go for it' when it comes to digital marketing without doing the necessary groundwork first - so important to have specific targets in mind along with KPIs based on data, stats and benchmarking in order to achieve success criteria.

3. Have you explored which digital channels will help with achieving your business objectives?

Vital to delve deeper into the social platforms and digital marketing tactics to understand the best ways to use them as relevant to business objectives - where is your consumer? how does he/she interact with each digital channel? how can you leverage these interactions?

4. Have you created a content strategy plan?

We segment content strategies for each specific social media channel based on the target market, business objectives, and the way consumers utilize each social media channel. 

If you want to create a successful digital marketing strategy for your startup, then it's important to take time to explore these questions which will help you build the foundation for long-term growth and success.  

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How to build an online creative community

This week we interviewed Caylee Grey and Lauren Hooper, the co-founders of Get Messy, an art journaling community focused on inspiring, teaching and connecting. This membership site shares prompts, tutorials and inspiration each week with creating, learning, and community being at the forefront of everything they do. We chatted to the ladies to glean some tips on how to build an online creative community.

 interview with founders of an online creative community

You fabulous ladies are the founders of Get Messy (an online creative community) - how have you leveraged social media to grow and scale this community from its humble beginnings to where it is today?

Social media is how Get Messy was born and we owe ALL of our growth to it through organic sharing by our members. All of our members have found us through word of mouth from other members sharing about Get Messy. Each week we provide inspiration, tutorials, prompts, etc to help our members create artwork, then we encourage them to share it on their own social media and use our hashtag so they can share their art and connect with other members that way. Now, we have over 30,000 pieces of artwork under our tag #getmessyartjournal. We rely on members creating art and sharing it with their followers and friends, then those people getting curious and excited to make their own art and eventually joining Get Messy. 


The core ethos of your online community is to nurture creativity - which social media channel has been essential in helping you do just that?

Again, we rely completely on Instagram. Since its a visual platform, our members share their artwork and we are all able to connect over the beauty they create. 


Storytelling in social media is integral to have an impact - how have you incorporated that into your business?

One of the best things we have done is started doing 'artist takeovers' on our Instagram account. On a normal day, we repost beautiful art journal pages people have created and tagged with our hashtag. This is great and inspiring and gets a lot of likes. But! When we have an art journaler takeover our account, they will share their creative story. They show us their workspace, their favorite tools, share their best tips and tricks for creating, they go Live and use Stories to give a more intimate, behind the scenes peek into their art and it connects our followers to them and inspires them to make their own work. When we do this, we go from getting a lot of likes to connecting with other creatives and building community. We always find that story over likes is what builds a successful business and community. 

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Social Media Marketing for Restaurants

This week we interviewed Dareen Charafeddine, owner of BookMunch Cafe (sidebar: BookMunch is one of our clients and we love this special cafe) as part of our weekly series of interviews with creatives, innovators, and small business owners focusing on the power of social media for their businesses. If you own a restaurant or a cafe and looking to implement a social media marketing strategy for your restaurant, this is a must read. Dareen's background is the perfect fusion of both the literary and culinary worlds. Her literary experience comes from a prestigious career in education and publishing, and her culinary know-how comes from a specialization in the bakery and catering business.

 social media marketing for restaurants in dubai 

 

You founded, own and run BookMunch, an award-winning family cafe in Dubai - what role has social media played in launching and running your business?

We are a small community-focused business, and always looking for ways to reach new customers, while keeping our brand on the radar of our existing customer database. Social media, in general, has helped us in marketing the café, and in associating a certain voice/style with the brand. Instagram, in particular, was very helpful when launching our business. Customer tags and posts of our food, interiors, etc, had a great impact on our initial footfall. Facebook and Twitter are naturally more interactive and help us understand the market better, communicate with our customers and help enhance our image and ultimately bring in the customers. 



How has storytelling evolved in social media for F&B brands?

BookMunch is very much a community café (and bookshop), and storytelling is at the heart of our brand. Fortunately, our social media partners understood that instantly, and designed their strategy accordingly. Through social media stories, we were able to build a solid personality and a warm character for our brand, and from that created a more interactive connection with our customers. Our followers particularly like when we share short and personal stories from our team members, like the Humans of BookMunch campaign, which worked because it was real, authentic and sweet.

 

Which social media channel has resulted in a tangible ROI for BookMunch and why do you think this is?

I think it’s quite difficult to measure ROI accurately for our kind of business. However, we know Instagram brought in actual numbers into the shop when we opened. Facebook is more for brand awareness and connecting with our customers, rather than direct revenue. Facebook has been mostly organic, and a bit of advertising has helped give it a nudge. 

 

 



 

 

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Social media marketing and PR for films

Second installment in our weekly series of interviews with creatives, innovators, and small business owners focusing on the power of digital marketing & social media for their businesses. We interviewed Lynnaire MacDonald (founder and head publicist for Film Sprites PR, a publicity consultancy which specializes in film). Lynnaire hails all the way from New Zealand and shared wonderful insights into leveraging the power of social media marketing for indie films:

 social media marketing and PR for films

 

You specialize in PR for the indie film industry - how did you end up working in the entertainment industry?

All my life I have had two passions: writing and film. For years, I had wanted to work in film, but it seemed like a pipe dream. When the Lord of the Rings trilogy was released, it fired up my imagination...but I chose to heed the call of working in the film industry and instead went into a teaching degree (which I didn't finish). Many years down the track and with a Bachelor of History behind me, the devastating earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011 hit. Like many people in Christchurch, I was affected badly to the point where I lost a lot of joy in my life. One July evening I was coaxed into going to the cinema, and the film I saw was so inspiring that it was like an epiphany. I knew that I had to go after my dreams. Subsequently I obtained a Certificate in Public Relations and Business Communications and began networking, but ironically I didn't want to work for myself! Everything changed in 2014 when after networking with independent filmmakers primarily via Twitter I sent out a single tweet, asking if there were any filmmakers in need of publicity and digital marketing. The response was overwhelming and the first incarnation of Film Sprites PR was born. Eventually I'd love to be head-hunted for a studio or distribution company in NZ or the UK, but we'll see!

 

Film marketing for indie films - what are some of the key challenges and how do you overcome these?

One of the advantages of the digital age is also a bit of a catch 22- indie filmmakers now have the ability to self-distribute via various streaming options and cut out the middle man, but because of this ability it means there are indies being released frequently. How does a viewer choose one indie over another, or watch an indie over the latest Marvel release? Just as with the days prior to blogs, websites and podcasts, you find what's newsworthy about the film. What makes it stand out? Each film has a special mix that can be leveraged to make journalists want to review or feature the film, and have audiences watching it. It's also vital to build an audience very early on in production (pre-production if possible). Blockbuster films have the advantage of having a built-in audience based on the genre of the film, and the actors and director. For instance, I know I would absolutely be front and centre at a film with Tilda Swinton in it, because she's fantastic. So marketing of indies (especially low-budget indies) is a marathon, not a sprint. 

 

When looking at the holistic digital marketing mix for the film marketing industry which digital channel or method would you say has the most success and why?

So many people think that Facebook is a great platform for their indie film, but over the past few years and with the change in algorithms it's been harder and harder to have organic visibility and engagement with people who have liked your film's Facebook page. I've found Twitter to be a consistently effective channel; especially in terms of being able to engage one-on-one with audiences. It also helps that there is a passionate community of independent film fans on Twitter who will actively engage with indie filmmakers and re-tweet. Instagram is also useful, especially for films that have a younger demographic. My own marketing mix tends to be all three platforms, with careful monitoring and evaluation throughout a film's marketing campaign to see what's working and what isn't, and adjusting it accordingly.

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Social media marketing for beauty brands

We are kicking off 2018 with a weekly series of interviews with creatives, innovators, and small business owners focusing on the transformative power of social media and digital marketing for their brands and businesses. Our first interview is with Catherine Williams, Founder & Brand Manager of ''My Natural Hair''.  Catherine's passion for natural hair and beauty can be traced back to her time as a flight attendant in the Middle East, where she spent significant time traveling the world and subsequently discovering natural hair products and learning about the beauty revolution. Upon returning to South Africa, the lack of such products inspired her to launch a locally produced beauty brand for natural hair. 

 social media marketing for beauty brands interview with expert

 

You are one of the innovators in the hair industry in South Africa. How did you get to this point and what was the inspiration behind ''My Natural Hair''?


I have naturally curly hair that comes with a story of having my hair relaxed from the age of six. Curiosity of my authentic self and a new found gym routine at the age of 21 saw me stop that routine and grow out my own hair. This was prior to any knowledge of the natural hair movement. It was only once I moved abroad to work as a flight attendant in the Middle East that I came across natural hair products on a layover in New York. Since that day, I was a product junkie, trying every US natural hair care brand and nurturing my passion for this category. The challenge that sparked my journey into My Natural Hair came about when I returned to South Africa to discover that there were hardly any suitable product ranges available for natural hair. There were two brands in retail and I felt that we needed more. I was also perplexed that there were no South African brands in retail. This brought me to the point of presenting my initial brand idea to the FMCG company I was employed with in a marketing role, in 2014. They didn’t quite understand or feel that it was an opportunity at the time, but asked me to present again in Dec 2015 and I got the go ahead to start in Jan 2016. 

 

When you were looking to launch a new line of products in the beauty industry, how did social media play a part in launching these successfully?


Launching on a digital platform made the best sense at the time and I continue to leverage the power of digital platforms today. I’ve done marketing research and found that the target consumer is a digital native and the natural hair movement has grown because of the sharing power of social media. Technology and media are constantly changing - just a few years ago hardly anyone would’ve thought that apps and social media would transform consumer behaviour with brands and that smartphones would replace TV screens and desktop computers as the main source of searching for information. Attention is still on screens but now it’s the screen in the palm of your hand.


What are some of the challenges for marketing beauty products using social media?
 

The main challenge is reaching all our potential consumers and standing out in a world overloaded with digital content. Content management has been key in our online success. With big international competition and budgets to compete with, we needed to be very creative with the campaigns we run. We’ve chosen to be authentically South African and try to stay away from using stock images. This is just our strategy but for beauty brands, my advice would be to understand your consumer to the finest detail and find out what would capture her attention for your product or service. Create content that is different to the mass of standard content being thrown at consumers all day. While we may think that everyone has a smartphone and surely
consistent access to the internet. Data remains a problem in South Africa. Data prices and internet access are still core issues in South Africa and the rest of the continent. Because of the shift to video content online, these factors need to be seriously considered when creating content for your audience.

 

Which social media channel was the most integral in achieving your marketing objectives?


For My Natural Hair, the most integral channel has been Instagram because it is so visual making it the perfect beauty brand partner. We’ve observed a high level of engagement from the right audience and have gained strong influencer relationships from this platform. That said, I can’t fail to mention the power that Facebook still has as a strong social sharing platform, especially for video, maintaining brand exposure and targeting a specific audience, particularly the older market. Both Instagram and Facebook are powerful channels for pushing your customers down the sales cycle as well. I am excited to see the new developments on the Instagram platform. I am an advocate for leveraging the power of social media marketing and will always keep up to date with fast-moving changes in digital. The beauty industry has become increasingly complex for long established brands, they either choose to adapt or they will be left out. For new brands, barriers to entry have been reduced because of digital and we start on this path giving us great opportunity to succeed alongside giants.

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How Blockchain will transform social media

Something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately is how Blockchain will transform social media - it’s almost inevitable. If you look at conventional social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) their main focus is to monetize the data collected by gaining insights on their users. Social media platforms such as Facebook want your data so they can market to you. Yet if you’re building a social media network on Blockchain, you own your data - which is a game changer. Blockchain is open source, transparent and available to most businesses.

When it comes to traditional/current methods of social media marketing, so many companies are hemorrhaging money as their efforts are resulting in significant revenue losses (uncertainty and lack of transparency when it comes to impressions, bidding, ads competition, budgets). Blockchain protocols, on the other hand, are not controlled, are decentralized, and offer a level of transparency and trust that might not be there with existing social media platforms. This offers an opportunity for startups and SMEs - they get to compete where previously they were dwarfed by corporates with bottomless budgets.

Whilst there are quite a few businesses already using Blockchain, when it comes to social media there are few and thus great opportunity exists in my opinion. I believe we will soon see an emergence of Blockchain protocols focusing on specific areas of social media marketing. These will be built on protocols such the Ethereum system due to Ethereum's decentralised blockchain and its native digital currency Ether that are proving perhaps the most widely used tools for dapp building. 

I’ve started experimenting with Steemit, a Blockchain-based social network that rewards its users for creating and sharing content (it is this content that exists over a distributed, decentralized network based on Blockchain technology). This social network still seems in its infancy phase but I am excited to see how it will evolve and grow.

I also believe digital marketing and strategy agencies will pivot in terms of their offerings and will start to explore how they can leverage these new Blockchain protocols to better serve their customers. Digital agencies will look at their current and potential customers’ business models in order to 1) either offer marketing services on Blockchain technologies or 2) will create Blockchain-based business processes, payments, and transactions. This is something I’m also planning for ‘Boguslavsky & Co’ in the near future.


 

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Social Media for Dubai Interior Design client

We have recently wrapped up a year long project working on social media strategy and implementation for a Dubai Interior Design industry client. Love That Design showcases regional interior and industrial designs across multiple industries in the Middle East and Africa so it was phenomenal to have been part of their stellar growth showcasing these designs and helping this publishing platform grow and scale, along with securing partnerships which resulted in revenue for the brand. 

 social media for dubai interior design

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Digital Marketing Trends

The way we see it there are two digital marketing trends that are going to be dominating in the next few years (and already making an impact in 2017). One of them being storytelling (be it video, customized artwork, animation, social media, social commerce, etc, etc - at the end of the day it comes down to content marketing in the form of telling and sharing really great stories that have an impact and that resonate with your target market). 

 digital marketing trends - storytelling

The other one being performance-based marketing (PPC/CPC/CPL/CMP - all relevant when it comes to social & display advertising along with SEM and SEO campaigns). Performance marketing tends to show a clearer ROI when it comes to generating leads and making sales thus more and more brands are investing in performance marketing. 

 perfomance marketing agency dubai

Whilst our passion lies in content marketing (storytelling is truly at the heart of an effective social media content strategy), we're also tech savvy to know that our clients like to see direct results in the form of performance based analytics. 

Get in touch to see how we can help grow your business. 

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Content marketing & copywriting - Dubai case study

Majority of small businesses in Dubai cannot afford the luxury of hiring a full-time copywriter yet they are in dire need of copywriting/content creation services for lead generation. This is where our niche digital marketing agency comes in - one of the services we offer our clients is content marketing (i.e creating smart, useful, interesting content that will further grow their business and attract their target market). 

One of our content marketing projects involved working with Love That Design, which showcases regional interior and industrial designs across multiple industries in the Middle East and Africa. We added value to the client by conceptualizing content topics for the Articles section on their website, along with creating the content in the form of copywriting the different posts. 

Some of the posts we've worked on included an 'Inside the mind of ….' series, exploring the state of the design industry in the UAE, taking a look at ergonomics (yes, we somehow managed to make ergonomics sound sexy, we're that good), along with a variety of design tips

 content marketing and copywriting services dubai

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Social Media Marketing for hospitality sector-Case Study

One of our key services as a digital marketing agency is helping with social media marketing for the hospitality sector in Dubai - with one of our favourite clients being the much beloved Dubai restaurant, BookMunch. 

 social media marketing for dubai restaurants 

About: BookMunch is an award-winning Dubai cafe & restaurant - unique combination of great food in a reading room environment has attracted and entertained impressive numbers of customers of all ages, and with five awards in tow.

Social Media Objectives for BookMunch: To build brand awareness amongst those new to Dubai (usually expats) along with retaining current customers and attracting new customers.

Facebook & Instagram: We developed a specific tone of voice for this family friendly cafe brand to reflect the ethos of the brand along with attracting its target audience through Facebook and Instagram content that focuses heavily on much loved dishes, customer experience, the warmth of the place, and always going over and above for customers - be it at the cafe or via social media channels. BookMunch even made it on the Hotelier Middle East's ''30 F&B brands to follow on social media'' list!

 social media marketing for hospitality sector in dubai 

Popular Campaign: One of the campaigns Boguslavsky & Co came up for BookMunch was to utilise one of their most popular social media channels, Facebook, to showcase their team from a storytelling, narrative perspective by launching a new Facebook series of posts titled 'Humans of BookMunch'. These series of Facebook posts have allowed us to 'show and tell' BookMunch's customers about the people with whom they interact on a daily basis with but might not know anything about. 

 dubai social media campaign for restaurant

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Consulting on doing business in the UAE - case study

We recently wrote a blog post about breaking into / entering the Dubai market as a consumer brand - whilst for many Dubai is a dream destination for doing business, it's not an easy market to break into if you're not aware of the local ways of doing business, and marketing products, as well as all the cultural nuances of doing business in the UAE. 

Herbex, a South African weight loss brand, got in touch with us recently to advise them on some aspects of marketing their products in the UAE. We helped them with refining their digital marketing strategy along with finessing their overall marketing plan for the region. 

Core focus of the consultancy work included:

***Analysis of previous marketing efforts 

***Advice on brand positioning for entering the Dubai market

***Recommendations for a PR strategy, influencer campaigns, and a launch event

***Social Media strategy advice in regards to the channels that would achieve their business objectives

****eCommerce for the Arab market recommendations

 consulting on doing business in the UAE

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