Africa’s Web Potential Requires Content

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha | Global Editor At Large | @ChiefKMasimba | March 13, 2014

According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), content from sub-Saharan Africa is lacking, when measured by the number of Internet servers on the continent compared to other regions. Continue reading

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How to Be A Social Media Superstar in 2014

By Masimba Biriwasha | Global Editor-At-Large | December 30, 2013

Social media is not going away anytime soon whether you like it or not. It’s now the staple food of the Net, multiplying on a daily basis. While it’s virtually impossible to jump on every social media junket out there fact is you can ignore the phenomenon at your own peril especially if you’re in trying to reach huge volumes of people at the lowest cost possible.

The caveat though is with social media platforms getting clogged by the day, it’s becoming harder to be noticed or get your voice heard. To rise above the fray requires astuteness, creativity, hard work, playfulness, consistency and user sensitivity.

Ultimately, the content you produce is the currency that will define your success in the social media universe. Content is the lynchpin to cut through the noise. To help with framing your content, remember the principle of Five Ws and one H. But you need to add a B. to that, that is, short for budget.

That content needs to be on target and to the point. It does not magically come out of thin air, you need budget for it and devote time to producing it. Attention spans are short-lived in the social media space. Only highly-engaging, interesting, funny, thought-provoking content will attract audiences and provoke interaction with a brand, issue or cause. But it’s always to say it. Often times, sharing on social media is self-serving; after all, social media platforms tend to promote narcissism.

If you want to get more value out of the medium especially for marketing or promoting a cause, you’ll have to be adopt a more nuanced approach. You’ve to cut all the narcissistic crap and put your audience first: informative, engaging, and shareable content that is relevant to a user’s location will be a winner. Understanding user location will drive greater ROI in social media efforts. That’s why it’s important for your content to speak directly to a specific target audience.

“Understanding customers’ location patterns will help companies better predict the behavior of their users, thus a chance to market to them in the right place at the right time,” says Kevin Alansky, CMO at SocialRadar.

Micro videos have great engagement power if executed properly. People like video. But it has to tell a good story. Other visual tools such as images and infographics have potential to increase engagement.

Because of the ephemeral nature of social media, it’s important to adopt a constant and consistent strategy. This will help to build rapport with target audiences. Otherwise you risk becoming a victim of out of sight, out of mind. In the social media world, for you to matter, you’ve to keep showing up.  Real engagement takes time and attention on a daily basis. Most important, don’t forget to measure and report on your efforts: it’s what will tell you whether your are succeeding or not.

6 Tips On Web Strategy and Digital Planning

Everyone thinks of putting something on the web nowadays. It’s the in-thing. Unfortunately, very few people have a clue what is required to keep a website going. Merely having a website is not good enough. The key principle is that a good plan will ultimately save time and energy and ensure that the web actually enriches and adds value to the organization. It’s about developing an online presence that not only looks good and works well, but continues to perform over its lifetime.

 Step 1: Define Goals and Objectives

The first step is to define goals and objectives of having a web portal in the first instance. These goals and objectives will serve as guidance to ensure that what is featured on the website reflects a direction that creates value back to the organization. The goals and objectives should provide a clear and succinct representation of the raison d’être of the website. Continue reading

Communicating One Message At A Time

In an information cluttered world, it is increasingly clear that communicating value-propositions of any kind, whether in the profit or not-for-profit world has become a difficult challenge. This has been compounded by the emergence of a wide array of communication channels in recent years. It is not far-fetched to say that the digital revolution has totally changed the way to conduct communications. The traditional model of neatly packaging communication and dispatching it, expecting it to have a silver bullet effect no longer works.

Companies need to think in a multi-channel fashion when putting together communication strategies to ensure consistency and effective communication. Cross media management is indeed the in thing – and companies that ignore this reality only diminish the impact of their messaging and communication effort. Organizations need to create a unified message across different platforms to significantly influence perceptions.

It is essential identify, anticipate, and satisfy client’s content needs and customize it across the different mediums without compromising both the quality and the consistency of the key messaging. Continue reading

Is Blogging Worth the Pain?

A friend of mine recently started a blog, and she wants to make it grow. This got me nibbling my mind. What are the indicators of succesful blogging? How do you measure it? Why blog? How do you make your blog stand out amidst the clog of online content? Undoubtedly, blogging has revolutionised the concept of freedom of expression but what’s the point of expressing yourself freely when no-one is paying attention. Or when attention spans are as short as a rabbit’s yawn. Granted, self-expression is good food for the individual soul. But, question mark, is blogging worth the pain?

First things first, blogging is an overrated fad, with some analysts suggesting that it’s dead. There is a general belief that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have accelerated the demise of blogging. Many people prefer the ubiquitous and transient nature of exchanges on Facebook and Twitter while blogs are regarded as static, and somewhat, convoluted.

It may be good at this point to revisit the definition of blog: according to Wikipedia, a blog (a contraction of the term “web log“) is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog. Continue reading

Quick SEO Tips For Online Writers

The rapidly changing online environment is putting new challenges on writers of online content, with writers expected to pay attention to strategies of marketing and to increasing online visibility with keywords for purposes of search engine optimization (SEO). 

For online writers and publishers, SEO is increasingly becoming a key priority to enhance Web site rankings. SEO refers to techniques used to improve a Web page’s results in a search.

To be successful online, publishers need to be able to position themselves in a way that delivers what users are looking for at the click of a button. 

Research shows that nearly 91 percent of all Internet users resort to a search engine to find information, making it an imperative to position your copy in a manner that helps users to easily find you.

Used properly, keywords are a simple tool that can help to attract targeted online users to a Web site. If you want to succeed as a writer online, it is necessary to keep up with the SEO buzz and establish ways to incorporate the strategies into your writing. 

As more and more Web sites are launched, competition for visibility gets ever-more intense. Publishers are constantly looking for ways to ensure that they get traffic to their Web sites by incorporating keywords that enhance their Web sites visibility in a search. 

Search engines play a key role in increasing the impact of publishers’ Web sites because they index Web sites according to keyword specifications that are used by online content searchers. 

For users, the use of keywords simplifies the search process, and that’s why it’s important for writers to tap into that habit by broadcasting keywords throughout your Web site copy. 

First things first: The basic rules of writing stick, so what you write still has to be interesting, true to the topic, grammatically correct, well presented and useful to potential readers. The writer still has to work on their content.

SEO is not like a magic bullet that will raise the profile of your content if you don’t do your writing properly. Instead, SEO is an additional tool that, if used properly, can increase the visibility of content online, and thus drive online users to a specific Web site that contains the content. 

The trick lies in identifying keywords that are relevant to the subject matter of the content and making them prominent throughout the article. A keyword simply refers to a word used as a reference point for finding other words or information.

Such words may be used by viewers searching for information and help search engines to index the Web site that contains your content. Keywords must appear early in your copy so that they draw attention to themselves without appearing to be forced. 

In other words, keywords have to be creatively integrated into the structure and meaning of your copy. They must have a special character and idiosyncrasy that enhance the overall quality of the content. 

SEO can be thought of as a way of branding your content, dressing it with specially chosen words so that it pops up at the top of search engines and attracts users to visit the Web site. 

In marketing terminology, branding refers to nuanced ways to present a product or service in a way that makes it unique in the marketplace. In similar fashion, the use of keywords takes identifying the core message within the copy, and branding it appropriately so that online users and search engines can easily it.

It enhances the positioning of copy in the wide world of the web. In no way does SEO take away the hard work that a writer must put into making the article relevant and properly written. The fact of the matter is that, while content is the real equity of the online environment, in order to gain visibility, it must have merit.

Grammatical integrity and clarity must be a key consideration in your writing. Branding poorly written copy will not do either the writer or publisher any good as it may actually serve to drive away traffic.

The key is to ensure that content is so good that potential visitors build an emotional attachment to the specific Web site that they will come back to it while side-stepping search engines. 

Used appropriately, key can certainly boost SEO and, in the process, help to attract Web site visitors. While it’s usually the Web site publisher’s responsibility to identify keywords, the writer has to insure that the design and structure of how the keywords are incorporate makes the content unique and valuable. 

In many ways, the use of SEO is as good an art as the process of writing itself. According to Jill Whalen in an article titled “The Art of SEO: “The most important aspect to being a good SEO is creativity.

You shouldn’t worry too much about the specifics of putting keyword phrases here and there, and again over there.” It is important to use keywords in moderation; otherwise, the meaning of the copy becomes diluted, killing the communication process. 

Keywords must be sprinkled throughout your copy in strategic places that serve to make the content interesting and readable without giving a single hint to users.

Your content must remain in touch with your potential readership.