Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category


War, Famine, Corruption, or Pinstriped Suit, Mobile Phone, Rolodex

In South Africa on July 26, 2011 by P Grant

We always hear the negative news about Africa -war, famine- and specifically this week in South Africa, a new report of government corruption, criminal investigations and dirty tricks.

Equally as troubling, for the first time, Freedom House, a Washington DC think tank, has lowered South Africa from a country with a free press to one that is partly free.

So you wonder if social media can be used effectively in South Africa?  The answer is Yes.

“Communicating Africa: Transcending Borders with Digital Media,” presented by Georgetown University in 2009 featured a distinguished panel of experts who discussed the role of social media in telling the Africa story.  As a first semester graduate student, my take away came from the last speaker, a Nigerian student named Jennifer Ehidiamen, who disputed the negative stories she constantly reads about Africa, saying there’s more to Africa than hunger, poverty and corruption.

I will never forget her inspiring comments about how normal it is for the young people in South Africa to attend a meeting wearing their pinstriped suits, carrying their mobile phones and rolodexes.

For brands wanting to reach a major audience in South Africa, it’s still challenging but the one constant – the mobile phone-remains the primary communication tool.  In fact, there are more mobile phones in South Africa than taxis, TVs and radios combined.

Out of a population of about 48 million people, only a little over 5 million have a personal computer. However, by 2014 it is estimated that 20 percent of the people will have internet access

In short, yes, these numbers support the optimistic outlook of the young generation of South Africans like Jennifer Ehidiamen.

For a prime example of a social media success story in South Africa, look to last year’s Soccer World Cup. Most of the major brands were marketed via YouTube, although Facebook and Twitter were used too:   

Coca Cola sponsored a social media event where you could upload your own goal-winning celebrations on YouTube and win video awards;

Sony offered a “Twitter Cup” pitting tweets from opposing teams or the most amazing coaching strategies;

Budweiser presented a YouTube TV type reality show featuring 32 fans representing the World Cup Countries

It was the World Cup’s first use of social media.  Sony, Budweiser and Coke are only a few of the companies who used social media.   It was so successful that marketers and advertisers believe the World Cup brought the use of social media to a new level.  I can’t wait to see what happens with social media at the 2012 London Summer Olympic games, 2014 Sochi, Russia Winter Olympic games, as well as the 2016 Brazil Summer Olympic games.

Mascots for 2012 London Olympics

For Jennifer Ehidiamen, who wants the world to see there is more to Africa than the negative stories covered in the traditional media, social media’s heavy use at the FIFA World Cup did just that.  If you’re going to do business in South Africa, put on your pin-striped suit, bring your mobile phone, rolodex and look to social media to sell your products.




“MXit Up” to reach South Africans

In South Africa on July 24, 2011 by @LauraEWilson Tagged: , ,

It may be surprising that in a country starved for bandwidth and an internet penetration that has not yet reached 20% that mobile is a viable alternative to reaching a South African audience. Despite its track record in technological development, South Africa is at the center of a mobile revolution.

Out of the mobile boom in South Africa has sprung Mxit  the extremely popular  online mobile instant messenger and social network.  In South Africa, MXit is significantly bigger than Facebook and Twitter combined.  Each day, around 700 million messages are sent and received globally on MXit  which to put in perspective is 3.9 times more messages than the total amount of Tweets sent around the world each day.

A screenshot of MXit on an iPhone

MXit originally launched in South Africa in 2005 as primarily an instant messaging platform and by all accounts is extremely addictive to its largely young demographic (47% of Mxit users are between the ages of 19 and 26.) One user even wrote a song about his MXit habit. The original concept of Mxit may remind you of the days of AOL chat rooms and instant messenger but on your mobile phone. However, in the last several years MXit has transformed itself into a full-fledged global social network.

Besides its popular one-to-one and group chat features Mxit allows for creation of email on mobile phones; entertainment features such as interactive games, music and mobile phone application downloads; sports, news and weather updates, competitions, surveys, and questionnaires and MXit exchange a classified section.

MXit also features MXit Cares, which offers its users free real-time advice and counseling. This is particularly important in a country ravaged by HIV/Aids and could potentially make a huge impact on young South Africans. MXit works directly with agencies like Childline, Cell-Life and RLabs to bring professional counseling to its users.

While some of Mxit features may sound relatively rudimentary to Americans accustomed to smartphones we must remember that many South African’s mobile phones do not yet have smartphone capabilities and MXit is much friendlier to use on a low end phone than many other applications. While MXit does make an iPhone  (MXit iPhone application screenshot seen to the right) and Droid applications it must cater its features to the largest demographic in South Africa which is those with an internet browser but not yet what we would consider a “smart phone.”

MXit offers companies the ability to buy a    hosted chat zone to engage with consumers. A Chat Zone on MXit is a collection of chat rooms where members of the MXit community can engage in conversations about a brand. MXit allows companies to create a virtual world that suits your brand’s personality. Companies can even have a popular personality or spokesperson join in on the conversation in that chat zone.

One campaign that had huge success on MXit was the Engen Endless Summer Campaign targeted at teenagers traveling in their cars with their parents during the summer. The campaign’s goal was to engage the young teens and keep them occupied in the backseat of the car and  of course, get them to beg their parents to stop at the next Engen convenience store.

In a country where many people remain unconnected to the traditional Web, companies would be foolish to miss out on an opportunity to engage consumers on MXit.


Is Social Media Relevant to South African Businesses?

In South Africa on July 24, 2011 by Katherine Hutton

In the United States, almost 80 percent of the population is an internet user. That number is even higher in Norway at around 92 percent. South Africa is a different story, though.

Out of the countries we have studied in this class, South Africa has the second lowest population of internet users according to percentage of overall population, at just under nine percent. (Of these countries, the only one with a lower rate is India.) Like India, social media within the country can only currently work with a small, specific group of people.

Since apartheid ended in 1994, South Africa is supposed to be free from racial segregation. Legally, it may be. In terms of the internet, however, there is still a vast difference in internet usage and demographics. The white minority makes up only 9.2 percent of the country’s population, yet is a whopping 61.76 percent of the internet population. On the other side is the black majority, which makes up 79.4 percent of the South African population, yet only 26.66 percent are internet users. There is still a clear divide between the ethnic groups in the country.

Most of these statistics show that the internet simply hasn’t reached all areas of South Africa; the Whites live in the main metropolitan areas, while the Blacks live in more rural communities.  This uneven distribution of internet access demonstrates that, as of right now, it is difficult for businesses to use social media to communicate with all South Africans, only the urban Whites.

So is social media a good tool for South African businesses? Here are a couple examples of attempts by South African companies.

1. Steri Stumpie

Steri Stumpie, the makers of a flavored milk drink, is one such company attempting to use Facebook and Twitter to create a dialogue between itself and its customers. From its website, a visitor will note that he or she can become an Official Unofficial Ambassador of the brand. Another point of interaction is a contest they recently held for fans to send in creative photos of the product.

Its number of followers on both Facebook and Twitter (at 39,000+ and 900+ respectively) are fairly good in comparison to the number of internet users. The contest and the ambassador programs are both successful ways of using two way communication. But in looking at the above screenshot from the Steri Stumpie website, it’s clear that mostly the minority White population have access to the website.

2. De Beers

South Africa is known for its mining industry, and probably its best known company is De Beers. The diamond giant is recognized internationally, but was founded in South Africa and headquartered in Johannesburg.

In 2010, JWT helped create a viral video campaign for De Beers called “Drop Everything For Love” that was strictly online. Professional camera crews follow a select few people in their extraordinary love stories to start the campaign and consumers are encouraged to add their own “webcam declarations of love.” This is a great way to reach out to the international community as well as associating De Beers diamonds of love.

But what about marketing to South Africans themselves? Is it once again only worth connecting with the small group of internet users?

Granted, it makes sense to use social media only for audiences who actually have access to the internet. But a huge population of South Africa is being ignored because of their lack of access. Members of those populations might have made some fascinating entries in the Steri Stumpie, but they were not able to contribute to the internet contest.

Once more South Africans have access to faster and better internet, social media will be much more relevant to the country’s people and its businesses as a whole.














South Africa Hopes to See You Soon

In South Africa on July 24, 2011 by Erika S.

“Who lives sees much. Who travels sees more.”  — Arabic proverb

A 'My Mission South Africa' advertisement that utilizes QR code technology.

My fascination with Africa runs deep — and it all started when I was eight-years-old when Disney’s masterpiece, ‘The Lion King’ hit the big screen. Yes, you read that correctly; it’s so cliche, but it’s my truth. I vividly remember crying in a Sears when my mother refused to purchase the movie on VHS (her reasoning: I saw it in theaters), she eventually caved (those tears) and I excitedly went home and watched the movie on repeat over and over and over again for weeks, maybe even months. It became an obsession.

One of my wildest dreams is to visit Africa, specifically South Africa. While there, I hope to embark upon an adventurous wild safari ride, where I can spy on lions, cheetahs, zebras, elephants, giraffes and whatever else the scorching sun brings out; I also hope to cruise the gorgeous coast of Cape Town, known for its spectacular views. One day, I hope to make this rather expensive fantasy a reality; but until then, I will settle for planning this fantasy vacation through the “My Mission South Africa campaign and will start by creating my very own fantasy mission.

‘My Mission South Africa’

South African Tourism recently launched “My Mission South Africa,” a social media campaign aimed to boost tourism by showcasing the diversity of South Africa’s rich landscape and stunning destinations. Interestingly, the campaign is aimed at the UK market and hopes to persuade UK travelers into making South Africa their next travel destination.

Matthew Armstrong, acting country manager for the UK who worked in collaboration with South African Tourism, says: “This magnificent country offers something for everyone… South Africa is a country where just about anything is possible and this is why we’re inviting travelers to create their own mission.”

The ‘My Mission South Africa’ campaigns invites prospective travelers to create their own South African mission (what they plan on doing while there) and implements several quintessential social media marketing elements:

Celebrity Endorsements

British celebrity, Jamie Theakston, describes his South African mission.

The campaign tapped four popular British celebrities: Jamie Theakston, Monty Don, Gloria Hunniford and Chris Packham, who will be traveling to South Africa for their first time in September and focusing on their personal areas of interest. All four celebrities will document their experiences on video and then share these experiences via TwitterFacebook, a micro-site and a specially designed mobile application throughout their time in South Africa.


Four lucky couples will be selected to win their chosen celebrity’s mission and will even spend a day with their chosen celebrity in South Africa. All that is required is entering the contest before August 6th, which after watching the “enter to win” video seems like a rather easy task. Likewise, the idea of being on vacation with a popular celebrity can be rather alluring to some, which will certainly attract more entries.

Interactive Social Media

The above dials are fixed to what would be my fantasy South African vacation.

Prospective travelers will be able to create their very own South African missions online using the interactive ‘My Mission’ builder. The ‘My Mission’ builder allows you to quickly and easily build your ultimate vacation itinerary from a list of predefined activities which are considered to be four key attributes of South Africa:

  • Adventure
  • Sport Culture and Heritage
  • Wildlife and Safari
  • Affordable Luxury

Upon creating your fantasy vacation, you can then store the full details online, send to family and friends, and even share on your Twitter and Facebook pages.

Along with these exciting interactive tools, South African Tourism is active on Twitter and Facebook, and has also built a new website dedicated solely to the UK market, which provides everything you need to plan your trip, including airfare.


In life, it’s always helpful when you have support from others. And when it comes to promoting tourism within a specific country and more specifically on a global scale, having an airline on your team certainly doesn’t hurt. South African Tourism has partnered up with South African Airways who is now the official sponsor of any related initiative, including the ‘My Mission South Africa’ contest.

Digital Application and Integration

There is no doubt that South African Tourism understands the value of using a digital platform to promote a campaign. Not only are they planning to implement video into the campaign through their celebrity endorsements and stream these videos throughout their vacations, they have also taken advantage of the functionality of QR code technology by placing it in advertisements within traditional media outlets, and also built mobile applications that support smart phones specifically for the ‘My Mission South Africa’ campaign.

I really love that this is a deeply and fully integrated marketing communications campaign that uses so many social media marketing tools and tactics. It’s not often that you see organizations effectively using so many different elements at once, but South African Tourism seamlessly incorporates several social media marketing elements which only further enhances their campaign.

Furthermore, what I find exceptionally fascinating by the ‘My Mission South Africa’ campaign is that it is aimed at a market outside of South Africa’s borders, a market actually on another continent. Given the level of detail in this campaign, South African Tourism certainly sends the message that they not only understand the value within the UK market, but that they understand the UK market and, more importantly, want to better understand each traveler individually. This gives me the impression and the confidence that while any traveler is on vacation in South Africa, it will be nothing short of impressive and amazing. Why? Because they genuinely understand exactly what travelers are looking for in their vacations and are willing and eager to provide those experiences.

Now my mission is to see all of South Africa!


Igniting the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s 67-Minute Initiative

In South Africa on July 24, 2011 by Amira E.

Madiba, aka Nelson Mandela — South Africa’s former (and first black) president.

A man who changed history with his courage and dedication.
A man who set about to unify a divided people.

To many, he is a global symbol for peace, charity and hope.
To others, he is an inspiration to change the world.

Last week, on July 18th, the world (yes, even the Obamas and U2) united to celebrate Madiba’s 93rd birthday. His birthday has transformed into a global initiative – Mandela Day – driven by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the United Nations to encourage and inspire world citizens to spend 67 minutes (in honor of Mandela’s 67 years of service) to serve their world and fellow citizens.  (Read more about Mandela Day here.)

While the Foundation has developed a great initiative based on a fundamentally great idea, is it engaging South Africa’s plethora of NGOs and charities to create volunteer opportunities for the nation’s citizens?

Here’s a two-step process to ignite the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s 67-minute initiative:

1. Match Local Volunteers with Local Causes

The initiative calls on South African citizens to take 67 minutes out of their day to serve others in their community. The campaign website even recommends 67 ways people can “change the world.” The online list suggests that citizens support local community clinics, hospitals, support groups, soup kitchens, libraries, animal shelters and faith-based businesses (among many other suggestions). That’s a great start. But what if people don’t know what organizations are located in their cities? Or which ones need volunteers?

The Nelson Mandela Foundation should take their initiative deeper by telling people where they can find these organizations.

How? By partnering with active online databases of charities, NGOs and local organizations that need support. By offering a united front for the nation’s cause marketplace, the Foundation would be offering a one-stop-shop for potential volunteers – similar to the US-based VolunteerMatch. One of South Africa’s most comprehensive cause databases is Greater Good SA that has to-date connected 1,250 non profits with 10,000 registered individual givers. The website allows users to search for causes by type (HIV, Education, etc.) and location (Eastern Cape, Western Cape, etc.).

The Result: A list of 67 ways to change the nation that would engage and connect (even through a hyperlink) citizen givers with local causes in need.

2. Offer 67 Minute-Long Social Media Training to Cause Marketplace

South Africa may not have the highest Internet penetration in the world at 10.8%, but it has almost 6 million unique users, with almost 4 million of them on Facebook. A quick assessment of the cause marketplace’s digital presence shows that social media engagement is still weak. NGOs like Soul of Africa and FLKS collectively have less than 200 fans on Facebook. Other organizations like H.E.A.R.T. and Emthonjeni Fountain of Life Care Centre don’t have a social media presence at all. A research study done less than two years ago showed that only six percent of NGOs in South Africa are using social media in pursuit of their organizational goals. While the number has surely increased since the findings were released, the cause marketplace still has a long way to go.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has a unique opportunity to follow their own advice and offer 67 minutes of service to local NGOs through social media training sessions. The Foundation could even offer these sessions in partnership with global marketing agencies with a South African footprint (Ogilvy and TBWA both have offices in SA and do pro bono work). Sounds like a win-win scenario to me.

The Result: A low-cost, but high-impact strategy to revolutionize the entire cause marketplace. More importantly, this would allow South African causes to more effectively connect and engage with their potential volunteers and donors.


South Africa Wants Another World Cup: How Social Media Can Help

In South Africa on July 24, 2011 by Candice

South Africa had the honor of hosting the  FIFA World Cup last year. The drone of vuvuzelas still haunts me to this day. The event was a huge success and South Africa wants the opportunity to host another international sporting tournament. South Africa unfortunately lost its bid for both the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cup tournaments to England and Japan respectively.

What went wrong?

These bids are based not only on the economic strength and infrastructure of a country, but also the International Rugby Board’s overall perception of a country’s passion for the sport of Rugby. The IRB member nations vote for the host of any upcoming Rugby Word Cup Tournaments.

In its bid for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) chose to focus mainly on its financial backing from the South African government and infrastructure when making its case. The organization missed huge opportunities to capitalize on what would have been a historic event that would bring attention to a sport that, despite it’s long history, has not captured the imagination of the world like other sports such as soccer. South Africa, having just hosted the World cup, could have leveraged some of that attention onto the Rugby World Cup. Also, 2015 would have marked the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Rugby World Cup where South Africa not only hosted, but also won the tournament. This was their first appearance in the tournament, and they were only allowed to participate after the end of apartheid in 1992. The story was depicted in the 2009 Clint Eastwood film Invictus. Oh and not to mention that the Springboks, the South African rugby team, are the current Rugby World Cup champions. The Springboks’ attempt to regain the championship at home would have made for great sports drama.

So What Now?

The desire to host another Rugby World cup has not faded but SARU needs to begin to assert itself as a Rugby powerhouse off the field. Rugby is wildly popular in South Africa and as the film Invictus depicts, the sport has served to unite a post-apartheid South Africa. SARU needs to build its online community in order to better connect rugby fans and build upon the national interest that’s already happening. The organization has the bare bones of a social media strategy. The high levels of activity on the team’s Facbook page demonstrate the fans’ desire to interact and engage. There are several areas where SARU could engage more.


The SARU website does have a live Twitter feed. However, upon closer inspection, the site itself has a dismal 53 followers! The organization only follows 15 people on Twitter in return. Worse, the organization has only tweed once. This is no way to utilize such a powerful tool. They need someone to focus on building up their Twitter account and provide interesting insider information to their fans. The best resource the organization has is the players themselves. The site should recruit the Springboks players to tweet about their experiences at practice, before and after matches, and during the upcoming Rugby World Cup which starts September 9th in New Zealand.

User Generated Content:

The team has its own YouTube channel which is in its infancy, but to reach it, a user has to be on the Facebook page. The SARU website should have a link prominently displayed on the website, and/or allow fans to upload personal experiences to the site related to the Springboks or even just their own experiences playing the sport of Rugby. Users could upload video of Rugby World Cup Watching parties as well. The organization needs to get more personal with fans and allow them to be a part of the content presented on the site.


The site has no RSS feed. The site should allow fans to subscribe to a news feed to allow them to stay abreast of Springbok news. The site also lacks any features or apps for smartphone users. In a country with such a large number of smart phone users, it is imperative that SARU utilizes the technology to build conversation.

The site could actually learn a thing or two from their competition in New Zealand, the All Blacks. The team’s site is extremely fan-friendly and incorporates much of the technology I mentioned above. In addition, the site offers smart phone apps for fans with mobile phones. With its high level of smartphone penetration, it is imperative that SARU utilizes the technology to build conversation.

The All Blacks site offers a feature where fans can write about their opinions about the All Blacks and their competitors. This provides a built-in community and high levels of engagement that fans would normally have to leave the site to achieve. Rather than disseminating information in a nice package, the organization takes a risk and allows for a free flow of information between themselves and fans.

The end result is a sense of ownership for the fans that breeds loyalty.

As I wrote this post, I listened to the live stream of IRB Total Rugby’s broadcast (which is smartly embedded into the SARU site) and a new Zealand player was being interviewed. He spoke about the importance not only of the Rugby World Cup tournament itself, but the fact that countries want to show off their country. He spoke about the importance of the community with the fans and their enthusiasm that make the experience so special. South Africa needs to gain the reputation as a rugby-loving nation with the ability to host a successful Rugby World Cup. Social media will give them the tools to do it.


Using Cape Town’s Charm to Promote a Good Cause

In South Africa on July 24, 2011 by vmcfarre Tagged: , ,

I had the best meal of my life when dining at the Quartier Française located an hour outside of Cape Town.  Not only was the experience unforgettable due to the fresh, delicate, delicious food, but I was happy that I could contribute to Street Smart. I learned about Street Smart by reading the brochure they included as part of the check. Street Smart raises money via participating restaurants that are currently located in the vicinity of Cape Town, and distributes the money raised directly to established organizations with the experience and facilities to help children who are living on the street (to date, the Quartier Française is the restaurant that has contributed the most to Street Smart).  Given how popular the foodie movement is and Cape Town’s culinary reputation, this is a good way of promoting a good cause.

This got me thinking:

  • 1,000 people get infected by HIV every day in South Africa
  • South Africa is the worst HIV AIDS infected country in the world which translated to more than 5 million infected people, 25% of them being of working age
  • 40%-50% of the current South African workforce will die of Aids within the next ten years which affects every sector of the economy

Given the statistics above and that educating children at a young age about HIV AIDS prevention is key to addressing this problem, I wanted to know if the organizations receiving the funds raised by Street Smart include prevention campaigns. 

Finding this information on the Street Smart website was a challenge. After some digging, I found out that Youth Empowerment Action is one of the organizations benefiting and they do not include information on their website about educating street children about HIV AIDS.


Suggestions to Better Promote Street Smart’s Work in the Cape Town Area

If Street Smart followed up with those donors who dined at the restaurants to relay what has been done with the funds, this could be a good source of funding (over 3 million tourists go to Cape Town every year).

To target those living abroad that have already contributed, Street Smart could be on Facebook and improve their website. I would donate again if I was contacted but would like to know things such as what is the number of children that are now in shelters and out of the street, do they educate them about HIV AIDS prevention, and what opportunities are available to them now. Accountability and transparency is key for all organizations, especially those involved in charity work.  A good way of communicating these efforts is through the internet and social media, especially for audiences in Europe and the US, like me. 

Everyone I talk to who has been to Cape Town falls in love and if given the opportunity, I believe many would want to give back to this organization, and follow their progress online. This creates a connection with tourists and gives them another reason to go back to Cape Town, back to the Quartier Française (it’s that good!), and try out other member restaurants, especially if they can follow and see what happened with the funds they donated. 


The Power of Word of Mouth

In South Africa on July 23, 2011 by pris0fcourse Tagged: , ,

More and more online applications and sites are being linked with social media networks. You can hardly use search engines without a little icon popping up to tell you that one of your Facebook friends “liked” something. This marketing method to help the consumer decide stems from the good old WOM method. This is a marketing strategy that works very well in South Africa (SA). Over 41 million South Africans actively talk about
their daily experiences with various brands, products and companies. That figure compares to 86% of the South African population, which is 17% higher than the global average. These stats position SA the most talkative country in the world about brands.

Using WOM as a Marketing Strategy

The use of social media for businesses is almost an imperative in South Africa. The chance of generating awareness with traditional media is
1-in-325, through WOM there is a 1-in-3 chance.

Larger corporations in SA mostly use traditional marketing (TV, radio, print) to advertise their brands. The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) operates 4 TV stations, the SABC radio network. There are 3.751 million internet hosts. The stats show that those traditional-marketing-using-companies could be missing a great opportunity of reaching their consumers more effectively.


Where to find WOM online?

“Word of Mouth has always been the most powerful form of advertising, and even more so now! We don’t trust advertisers and salespeople as much, so we’re looking for referrals from real people we know and trust”

Word of Mouth Forum is a forum style platform where consumers share their experience and opinions about brands and services. On the  forum local business get to hear what their customers have to say about them and on which areas they could improve.

Three Reasons why WOMF is different from other SM networks 

1.    It’s good for the consumer and the company: Consumers can make easier decision on brands and also share their opinions with their entire community. It’s an easy way for companies to receive feedback negative or positive.  

2.    E-lerts:
Whenever a business name is mentioned in a conversation “E-lerts” will be sent out to those subscribed to receive them and they can immediately join the convo.

3.    Not limited to friends and followers: Conversations held on WOMF reach local communities, this allows local users read about
businesses in their area.

I personally like the idea of WOMF, because of the following list of reasons:

–      It’s targeted per community so that increases the relevance for readers and organizations;

–      It’s not a forum to gossip or completely bash others. It actually works in favour of both parties;

–     The companies get “E-lerst” whenever you mention them;

I think it’s the ideal online platform for SA consumers, because it gives them a central forum to go and read about a business and in doing so it may affect a change in consumer behavior which will be beneficial to the user and the business.


Mandela Day Goes Social

In South Africa on July 23, 2011 by S.Albright Tagged: , , ,

On July 18th, South Africans and individuals around the globe celebrated the 93rd birthday of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Since 2009, every July 18th has been dubbed Mandela Day through partnerships by The Nelson Mandela Foundation and the United Nations. To celebrate the life and legacy of Mandela, Mandela Day seeks to inspire individuals worldwide to take action in helping to change the world for the better.

The Mandela Day message is simple: Nelson Mandela gave 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of humanity, so all we are asking is that everyone gives 67 minutes of their time on Mandela Day, whether it’s supporting your chosen charity or serving your local community, to ensure that his legacy lives on forever.

For the first two years of Mandela Day, the foundation was not officially on any social media platforms. Yet with the digital space evolving so rapidly and its now-understood power to reach individuals and communities on such a global scale, this year the foundation went where the people are to spread more awareness: social media. Social media is evolving into much more than just a way to get in touch with family and friends; it has become an integral function to organizations seeking to garner increased support for forward-thinking initiatives looking to create change on a global scale. Today, more than 90% of foundation communicators, whether private or community-based, are using social media to spread awareness for their causes. Is it working?

What ‘Mandela Day’ Did

  • #MandelaMondays   By joining Twitter (@NelsonMandela) about two months ago, the foundation promoted #MandelaMondays to create a build-up to the actual Mandela Day. Challenging followers to turn the typical ‘manic Monday’ into something positive, #MandelaMondays aimed to inspire individuals to take just five minutes out of their Monday to do something small for others. By starting just with Mondays, the initiative aims to get people to ultimately make this act of kindness and giving a part of our everyday ethos. #MandelaMondays became a trending hashtag on Twitter, and the @NelsonMandela handle currently boasts over 30,000 followers.

  • Bikers for Mandela Day   The official Mandela Day site is quite comprehensive, including information about the day, photos, videos and activities that individuals can participate in. One of these activities is Bikers for Mandela Day, an event focused on spreading Mandela’s living legacy throughout South Africa. The interactive map is a great digital feature to get riders involved and see where their activity will be taken throughout the country on this inspirational ride. The page also includes up-to-date news and reflections on the ride, as well as a Twitter feed @Bikers4MandelaD.

  • Official Mandela Day Facebook   The foundation created an official Facebook page to further saturate the social media space in bringing more awareness to Mandela Day. Fans can post stories and photos to the wall to share their thoughts and experiences about Mandela Day, further fostering a sense of community in the online space and uniting individuals from around the world. The page also links to the Twitter handle and Mandela Day site. It currently is just shy of 11,000 fans.

Social Impact and Suggestions for Future Success

Overall, I think the Mandela Foundation’s leap into the social media space has been a very successful one. The foundation has seen great results in user participation and interest in the organization, further affirming the growing power of social media not only in South Africa but around the world. They have inspired individuals not only in South Africa but in countries and communities around the world to take part in keeping Nelson Mandela’s mission alive.

Here are some suggestions for the foundation to maintain continued support in the digital space and for an even more successful Mandela Day in 2012:

  • Continue to keep users engaged   Just because this year’s Mandela Day has passed doesn’t mean the social connectivity can stop now. The foundation has promised to “provide genuine information about Nelson Mandela, the Mandela Centre of Memory and the Mandela Day initiative, and we ensure that we will provide daily updates.” By continuing to stay active on Twitter and Facebook, and vowing to maintain an updated presence on YouTube andFlickr (no new content has been added to either since 2009), the foundation can stay engaged with existing supporters, build communities of new supporters and increase global awareness in real time.
  • Consider mobile integration    The power of mobile is spreading globally, and South Africa is not immune. South Africa has one of the largest mobile markets in the world. By taking the Mandela Day campaign mobile, the foundation can continue to harness its newly founded social media efforts while also reaching increased participants. The Grid has become a popular location-based mobile social network in South Africa, and could provide the basis for a truly successful integration into the campaign, specifically with the Bikers for Mandela Day event. Integrating a foursquare check-in into Mandela Day would also continue to move the campaign in a more forward-thinking, location-based direction.
  • Continue to leverage influential partnerships   This Mandela Day, SA Airways, the national carrier of the rainbow country, unveiled its first aircraft to be branded with the Nelson Mandela Day logo. SA Airways chairman Cheryl Carolous said the carrier will brand 58 of its fleet with the logo both inside and outside of aircrafts “to take the message across the entire globe to contribute to the legacy of our father, Mandela.” Through this initiative, the airline will increasingly expose its passengers to the Mandela Day message, hopefully inspiring them to take action one day at a time to make the world a better place. Though not a digital aspect, this still brings increased visibility to the organization’s mission and could prompt passengers to share it even further with family and friends. By continuing to harness partnerships such as this one, the Mandela Foundation can continue to spread its message globally and truly keep the foundation at the forefront of charitable integrated communications.
Take Action.  Inspire Change.  Make Every Day a Mandela Day.”


Youth Marketing: Calling the Next Generation of Consumers

In South Africa on July 23, 2011 by Nicholet123

The growing trend of youth-centric marketing has gained increased attention in recent years, not only in Africa, but worldwide, as companies have taken notice of their great purchasing powering and influence on the marketplace. South Africa, in particular, has a prime youth market representing the majority of the population with nearly 53% between the ages of zero and 24 years of age.

Due to this fact, many successful brands seeking to grow business within South Africa have learned to incorporate more non-traditional avenues into their marketing techniques in efforts to reach this growing audience across multiple social platforms. A nation known for its thriving use of mobile technology, mobile marketing is a trend that appears to have become synonymous with youth marketing for its ability to reach wide-spread audiences more accessibly than perhaps other digital platforms would.

At first, some marketers may be somewhat weary of the youth market due to the complexities of children and youth themselves. Their apprehension, I believe, is mostly due to lack of understanding on how best to reach this somewhat complex and often unpredictable audience. As many who have worked with this demographic directly before will tell you, the youth market is highly vocal and outspoken about their likes—and more importantly their dislikes. However, as younger generations of consumers evolve, marketers need to learn new and innovative ways in which to best communicate with them in order to help their businesses grow.

South Africa’s Internet penetration can be broken down into three categories of sub-users: 3 million have full web access, 11 million have access through applications such as Mxit or email and another 13 million only have connectivity through WAP (Wireless Application Protocol). Mobile penetration, on the other hand, is more universally widespread and in 2012 youth mobile ownership will reach nearly 30 million users.  Businesses seeking to capitalize on this trend should engage technically savvy youth audiences by communicating their brands, products or services using mobile technologies.

More importantly, in order to assure that youth marketing efforts are successful and effective, I suggest they incorporate the following best practices:

    1. Dialogue & Exchange: Provide opportunities for the youth consumer to share their thoughts and opinions. In creating a platform for comments, suggestions and feedback you, in way, create and two-way conversation with audiences. Using crowd-sourcing techniques for advice on topics such as campaign themes or ideas is a great ways in which to illicit comments from users and build upon an exchange of ideas.
    2. Create a Sense of Community: Youth are constantly seeking to purchase the most “in” or popular brands or products of the time. One way in which they can monitor these trends is to create a BBM (Blackberry Messenger) Group of your supporters. Similar to other social media platforms, this allows users to keep appraised of upcoming events and product updates, but also allows for users to feel a sense of community from their mobile device. Once the “community” has been established, you can identify key influencers to help build awareness across other platforms as well by asking them to reach out to their own extended networks. Efforts can be given incentive with rebates, discounts or free product samples. In most cases, a community already exists around a brand, it is just a matter of reaching out to them and giving them the tools to bring in new audiences.
    3. Highlighting Context over Content: Something people don’t by things for the actual product itself, they buy what the stuff does for them. For example, a man may purchase motorcycle—not because he needs it—but because the purchase and product may give him a sense of freedom, or sense of adventure. Perhaps, the purchase may provide an opportunity to dress up in leather jacket and terrorize the neighbors.

This same rationale holds true when marketing your brand to youth. They may not need the most expensive new phone on the market (that comes equipped with features such as the ability to work on office financials remotely, for example) yet they crave these new technologies as a way to connect, stay engage and remaining relevant amongst their peers. In this right, the social packaging holds more weight than the product itself. Understanding this trend, it is vital for businesses to better “package their product” or tailor communication and messages in a way that address what their purchase will do for them.