YouTube, social media, marketing tips, brands, theodora lee, society, caspar lee

What Brands Could Learn from a YouTuber

A popular sitcom had a joke about a 10-year-old boy who didn’t have a cell phone because his parents were scared he would become a YouTube star. That’s obviously not a problem in the Lee household (that has produced two of them). We sat with Theodora Lee, a local YouTube sensation who has 144 000 subscribers, to find out what brands could learn from a YouTuber. And given that that the top local YouTube talent can achieve more with a simple webcam than most brands can achieve with a full production crew and a ton of media budget, we’d suggest there is a lot to learn.


SXSW 2015 some reflections

Well I’ve been back a week or so now and the jet lag has worn off and I’m slowly again getting used to a diet that is not taco based. With some time for reflection (and a catch-up with some of the talks I missed on SXSW’s Soundcloud channel) I’ve picked some trends I found most relevant to share.

This is happening right now

The big app of SXSW was undoubtedly Meerkat (a livestreaming video tool). It’s a dubious honour of being THE app of SXSW as it’s no guarantee of success in the real world (let’s be clear that SXSW is not the real world). Many panellists I saw were either using it or referring to it. [update: several journalists are already pronouncing the death of Meerkat which is a quick demise even by SXSW standards]

The underlying trend here is that social is increasingly about a connection to a live unfolding event. People are drawn to collective experiences and social media “events” (from the coloured dress debate to terror attacks)  are replacing the collective TV experience. Now instead of discussing what’s happening in Friends we gather around breaking stories on the web as they happen. Live streaming seems like the next logical step on from the live blogs and tweets around developing stories.

The mainstream test is probably whether Kim Kardashian decides to use this stuff to live stream a night out or not.

Round table

Social media content trends for 2014

Expect more de-cluttering of newsfeeds

As social media matures in South Africa, expect users to become much pickier about who they follow. Experienced users have twigged that if they Like or Follow a brand they will have to put up with content from it in their newsfeeds. Expect regular culling of brands that aren’t adding value or wandering off topic with their content (or posting lame memes!). Brands will also need to be much clearer about what followers will get out of joining a community.

Bad content will be penalised

Facebook and other social networks are increasingly worried about newsfeeds being filled with “low value content” (those lame memes again for example). Algorithm changes have been made within Facebook specifically to prioritise quality content such as articles from “credible” media outlets. Brands putting out lazy content should expect to have their reach throttled back as nervous social networks clean out their content feeds.

Less ads more content

The less ads feel like ads, and more like useful content, the more successful they will be. With Promoted Posts on Facebook and Twitter substantially outperforming (in our experience) digital display advertising in terms of engagement, the move from hard sell to high value content continues to be one of the biggest trends transforming digital marketing.

The return of the blog

Blogs were all the rage in South Africa a few years back and then brands got excited about Facebook and Twitter and blogs were pushed onto the back burner. But they are coming back into vogue as their value as content hubs is being recognised; and with more budget going into content production (such as videos, infographics etc), having a place that can keep this content working after its disappeared from newsfeeds makes a lot of sense. The rise of tablets, which make longer-form content much more user-friendly to consume, should also drive this trend.

Content eco-system strategies needed

Most brands now operate multiple social media channels as well as producing content for websites, newsletters and other channels. Having unconnected strategies and separate content production streams is inefficient and will feel fragmented for followers.

Brands are having to think about how the eco-system of different channels works together, both from a planning and production perspective, and how to make content work as hard as possible. I believe a mind-set shift is required from bringing consumers to a single destination (e.g a website), to enabling them to receive a message via any one of a number of channels.

So in other words it doesn’t matter if a brand video was watched on YouTube, Facebook, a website, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn, what matters is the video was viewed and the message absorbed.

Immersive content

There has been some really interesting experimentation with adding multimedia to articles from publications such as the New York Times. Check out their amazing Snow Fall article:

Also a number of services launched last year that are taking content beyond just copy and images on social platforms. Thinglink allows you to add links within images (kind of hyperlinks for images); this is currently compatible with Twitter, Tumblr and a number of other platforms (but not Facebook yet).

Also with Vine, Instagram Video, increased use of animated gifs and soon Facebook video ads (and don’t forget about YouTube), there will be a lot more video content on social platforms.

Don’t forget about mobile

We finished off (or started) almost every conversation with this last year but we’ll keep repeating it in 2014 I’m sure: a large proportion of social media traffic in South Africa is mobile – if the content you’re embedding or linking to isn’t mobile friendly, it’s not likely to be effective.


How do I build a great social media team and who should I hire?

A question I’ve asked myself personally – the Society team started as two people in 2011, it’s now twelve, so we ask this in one way or another pretty regularly. This is also a question clients wanting to build their own teams have regularly asked us.

 This is what I’ve learned, quite often the hard way. If you want a social media team that can do things professionally and at scale, this is who I recommend you hire.

 Note: for smaller teams some of these jobs may be done by the same person or by someone who also has another role in the organization. That’s fine as long as they have the skills and time to deliver good work.


Why a designer should be interested in the Arduino

Roule, our Content Designer, put together this post about the Arduino course she and few others on the team are doing at the moment.

Arduino is a board which functions as a small inexpensive computer that could be connected to pieces of hardware, such as LED lights and sensors. With some programming you can switch the lights on and off, make things move or create sounds. And that’s only the beginning.

Interview for Digital Loeries blog

Dan Pinch

Dan recently did an interview for the Digital Loeries blog. Here is what he said.


Dan Pinch: There were two instrumental people that I hold responsible: one was my next-door neighbour in the mid-nineties who set-up and ran the website for Ninja Tune records; I thought this looked like a really cool job (although not sure he was even paid for it). I remember telling a school careers advisor around that time that I wanted to write the content on websites and very clearly remembering being told it wasn’t a proper job (this was 1995 I think) so being a contrary type of person I made this my mission. The second person was a lecturer at university who ran two great (but oddball) courses the first was on Coffee Shops in the 17th and 18th century (sounds weird but basically the culture has some incredible similarities with web culture) and the second one was Cyber Literature, which included some basic html coding and studying early virtual communities like The Well. I think both of these experiences really set me up to end up in social media (and I still feel like I use some of the insights from those two courses). Career wise one of my first jobs was in an early online PR agency and I pretty much have always worked in online content in one way or another since then.