Saturday, 25 July 2015

Re-think your Facebook advertising

Facebook took the mighty leap from just connecting people with others to connecting them with businesses - a leap that completely revolutionized what disruptive thinking is all about and gave power to marketing content creators.

Its inspiring to know that you and me can start a business without necessarily thinking of setting-up shop costs. All we have to do is open an online Facebook page at no cost and engage with our potential buyers. If you want to increase traffic to your website and increase conversions while still maintaining a favorable cost per conversion and return on investment, Facebook is your best bet. A no-charge platform that comes along with ready market, is manna from heaven if you ask me.

Using the colloquial scenario of man not really appreciating the garden of Eden until he was thrown out, I feel that we are not tapping into this strong marketing tool well enough. So before its too late, lets re-think things over with this list of 7 deadly sins of Facebook advertising we should avoid.

Sin 1: No purpose or Strategy:

You will be surprised how many times big money is put into Facebook advertising without a solid advertising strategy, which mostly results into what I would like to term as "misplaced" results. For every campaign, objectives must be outlined. Otherwise you will end up getting more page likes with no business at all.

What are your objectives:
  • Do you want new registrations and more conversions?
  • Do you want to drive your online unique sales?
  • Do you wish to have increased site traffic?,
  • Is it to grow your brand presence and awareness?

Objectives should help you curve your campaigns-what date you will launch it, what time, to which target audience, with what message and call to action.

Work with that to objectively create a memorable, unique and realistic marketing campaign to fulfill your objective. Strategy will have you capitalizing on critical holiday seasons and tapping into the power of emotional advertising.
Sin 2: No details: Add life

It can be challenging to managing a large number of campaigns and re-market thousands of products. Ensuring consistency and depth in detail in what you are selling, be it a product or a service is the core of face-book or online marketing.

  • You are selling a pair of shoes. Would it hurt to add the sizes you have the shoes in?
  • You are selling an art piece. Canvas size and whether it is framed or not and whether the price is inclusive of this is important information for any buyer
  • You provide a service but do not specify the hours you are open, your delivery process and how people can contact you 
  • Still on all the above, no contact information!?
  • No price details
At the end of the day, your post to your audience should show them what you see, 

Sin 3: No photographs: Good looking content sells

Did you know that articles/posts with photos get 95% more total views than posts with no pictures at all? We are at an age of visual culture where photo sharing apps such as Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest have made buzz-worthy hype and an ad without an image just wont cut it. .

Its in our nature to seek for information with the least of effort, and also to get attracted to dreamy visualized content. With the rise of mobile popularity, people are more inclined to choose content that is easy on the eye. Whatever industry you represent, pictures will always help in sparking conversations and increasing your posts shareability and engagement.

Some things to note when it comes to choosing photos:
  • Context is crucial-the simple aim of the photos should be to visually relay information that may not possibly put to words. 
  • Quality-put some effort in posting high definition photos, that speak your story well. Make it a rule to put pictures that you could share, if you happened to view them on your timeline
  • Variety-never stick to having the same photo or sharing the same style of photography
  • Consumer insight- tap into it to know what your audience likes and what will move them, then take them on that visual journey.

Sin 4: No targeting:

Precision targeting and segmentation of your advertising to demographics you think will be in need of your product or service not only helps your business clock in higher conversion rates , but also increases the number of unique purchases. Targeting helps you draw out the noise, so that you communicate with a selected few, people who can buy into your product.

Many marketers, with an attempt to increase brand awareness will fail to segment, rank in numbers of likes and fans, who care less about the product and rarely convert to clients. Its a matter of quality Vs. quantity, your pick.

Sin 5: No testing or analysis:

It is trivial that you constantly monitor your campaign performance so that your future campaigns are fully optimized. Measuring engagement will allow you to see if you are reaching the objectives you set. If the performance is not impressive, get back to the drawing board, dig deeper into your consumer's preferences, create a campaign and test it with a segment of your demographic. Note how they respond to it and polish your campaigns constantly to make them unique, frequent and above all DIFFERENT.

The testing process doesn't have to be so theoretic:
  • Test what day of the week and times your users will most likely be on Facebook and capitalize on this. Is it through the lunch break hour? Just after work on their commute home or early in the morning. Figuring this out will help you know the best time to launch your post
  • Test your headline and see which has the greatest CTR. 
  • Test your content length. The shorter and more precise a post is, the better
  • Test your cover photo and profile picture
When you want to take a more serious approach: 
  • Determine the metrics you want to analyze, are you measuring engagement, awareness, traffic driven, number of fans, or your brand's share of voice
  • Determining the metrics helps you to choose the best tools for analyzing your campaigns
  • Do the analysis in real-time so that you can update and make changes on the go
There are many tools to help your testing like Hootsuite, Kissmetrics, Simply measured, Sprout social

Sin 6: No engagement:

Social Media is a tool for educating, engaging and helping influence an organization’s population. Engagement is creating content that sparks conversation between you and your audience, it is dialogue. And for Facebook, it is shown through comments, re-shares, likes, clicks per post and impressions that your post generates.Engagement helps you increase your reach, and allows you to showcase your brand's voice.

How do you react to negative feedback for instance. Are you quick to find an excuse or you blatantly show no disregard? Do you answer to queries made by your audience immediately or do not answer at all? Creating an engagement strategy revolved around fun, immediacy and memorable customer experience will go a long way in creating a strong and trust worthy brand presence.
But in all these, remember that engagement is important, as a means to an end, a precursor to action and that it is not the final goal.

Sin 7: No manners:

How do you engage with your audience? How is their experience with you? Would they be a repeat customer? Would they recommend you to a friend? Your tone on Social media matters a lot when talking to your clients especially since you are not speaking to them face to face, Being kind, offering solutions and always keeping your cool even when a client is breathing fire under your neck will help.

You will spot a big difference when you talk to an employer vs when you talk to an employee, it is said. How true is that? Business owners know the value of clients and are always quick to create solutions around their needs. This is what the overall tone of your business should be built on: It will help salvage a bad client experience and will score you a great opportunity.Be a honey and don't be that boyfriend who does not buy his girlfriend flowers, okay?

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Why I Hate School and Love Education - Suli Breaks

Having done my 8-4-4 (and not having the back-to-school-days), nothing eloquently summarizes my thoughts on how wrong the Society and System's concept of Education is, than this piece by Suli Breaks. 

Why I Hate School and Love Education

"So you want to get a degree, why?
Let me tell you what society will tell you:
increases your chances of getting a job,
provides you with an opportunity to be successful,
your life will be a lot less stressful,
education is the key.

Now, let me tell you what your parents will tell you,
make me proud, 
increases your chances of getting a job, 
provides you with an opportunity to be successful,
your life will be a lot less stressful,
education is the key.

Now let’s look at the statistics, 
Steve Jobs’ net worth: $7 billion R.I.P;
Richard Branson net worth: $4.2 billion;
Oprah Winfrey net worth: $2.7 billion;
Mark Zuckerberg, Henry Ford, Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates 
now here comes ‘the coup, de grace’.

Looking at these individuals, what’s your conclusion? 
Neither of them in being successful ever graduated from a higher learning institution,
now some of you would protest like, 
you know money is not the only medium by which one measures worldly success,
some of you even have the nerve to say,
I don’t do it for the money,
so what are studying for?
To work for a charity,
need more clarity?

Let’s look at the statistics, 
Jesus, Muhammed ‘Praise be upon him’,
Socrates, Malcolm X, Mother Teresa, 
Spielberg, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Jesse Owens, 
Muhammad Ali, Sean Carter,
Michael Jeffrey Jordan, Michael Joseph Jackson,
were either of these people unsuccessful or uneducated?

All I’m saying is that if there was a family tree, 
hard work and education would be related,
but school would probably be a distant cousin.
Because if education is the key, then school is the lock.
Because it rarely ever develops your mind to the point where it can perceive red as green and continue to go when someone else said stop, 
because as long as you follow the rules and pass the exams, you’re cool.

But are you aware that examiners have a checklist?
And if your answer is something outside of the box, 
the automatic response is a cross,
and then they claim that school expands your horizons and your visions.
Well, tell that to Malcolm X, who dropped out of school 
and is world renowned for what he learned in a prison.

Proverbs 17:16, 
It does a fool no good to spend money on education, why? 
Because he has no common sense.
George Bush, need I say more?

“Education is about inspiring ones mind not just filling their head”.

And take this from me,
because I’m a educated man myself,
who only came to this realization after countless nights,
in the library with a can of Red Bull keeping me awake til dawn,
and another can in the morn,
falling asleep in between piles of books,
which probably equates to the same amount I had spent on my rent, 
memorize equations, facts and dates,
write it down to the letter,
half of which I’d never remember, 
and half of which I forget straight after the exam,
and before the start of the next semester,
asking anyone if they had notes for the last lecture?

I often found myself running to class,
just so I could find the spot on which I could rest my head,
and fall asleep without making a scene, ironic because,
that’s the only time I ever spent in university chasing my dreams.

And then after nights with a dead-mind;
identifying myself in the queue of half awake student zombies,
waiting to hand in an assignment,
maybe that’s why they call it a dead-line.
And then after three years of mental suppression and frustration,
my proud mother didn't even turn up to my graduation.

Now I’m not saying that school is evil,
and there’s nothing to gain,
but all I’m saying is,
understand your morals and reassess your aims,
because if you want a job working for someone else,then help yourself.
But then that would be a contradiction, 
because you wouldn't really be helping yourself, you’ll be helping somebody else;
there’s a saying, which says: 
“if you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help build theirs”.

Redefine how you view education.
Understand its true meaning.
Education is not just about regurgitating facts,
from a book on someone else’s opinion on a subject to pass an exam.

Look at it, 
Picasso was educated in creating art; 
Shakespeare was educated in the art of all that was written. 
Colonel Harland Sanders was educated in the art of creating Kentucky Fried Chicken.

I once saw David Beckham take a free kick,
I watched as the side of his Adidas sponsored boot hit the playing level of ball at angle which caused it to travel towards the skies as though it was destined for the heavens,
and then as it reached the peak of its momentum, as though it changed its mind, and switched directions.
I watched as the goalkeeper froze,
as reciting to himself the laws of physics, 
and as though his brain was negotiating with his eyes that it was indeed witnessing the spectacle of the level swung that was sweeping towards it, 
and then reacted.
But only a fraction of a millisecond too late, and before the net of the goal embraced the FIFA sponsored ball, as there was the prodigal son returning home and the country that I live in erupted into cheers.
I looked at the play, and thought, damn.
Looking at David Beckham there’s more than one way in this world to be an educated man."

Friday, 22 August 2014

Chronicles of an Aspiring Digital Marketing Strategist: Part 2

"To app or not to app- that is the question"

With the growing number of mobile phone users, digital marketing is taking a massive turnaround from web applications and sites to mobile phones. Anyone seeking to make significant impact on their consumers should not only target the individual surfing on their laptop, or desktop but to the more mobile, not so patient consumer who has a smart or feature mobile phone. A mobile strategy is inevitable. 

A company's site should work across different platforms with the same clarity, information density and offer the same level of user satisfaction across all platforms. If you are a business owner with a website, you should make it your duty to know how your site looks like on all kinds of devices and operating systems. Am sure am speaking for many when I say some mobile sites are way too crappy and less impressive than their desktop versions. They are either too big, not scalable, have a lot of unnecessary content or the usual nightmare of unnecessary ads. 

It should be common sense for an organisation to design their sites with the progressive enhancement approach of 'Mobile-first development'; meaning development starts with mobile functionalities as it gradually builds up additional functionalities to the desktop versions. There are several reasons to back this up: for instance, the number of emerging opportunities courtesy of mobile devices are immense. Mobile allows for explosive growth- in areas such as location based services through inbuilt location detector technologies like Wifi, GPS and cell hour triangulation, that help a user get relevant information about what is close to their current location. Other emerging opportunities that can be supported by smart phones include inbuilt device orientation and acceloremeters that detect change in movement. 

The Mobile first approach will force the designer to embrace constraints inherent in mobile design. Some of the major constraints include having to design for small screens and having to deal with below average performance. Unlike desktops, a small screen on either a feature or smart mobile phone will not give the designer an option to beat around the bush with ad banners or irrelevant information but will literally force them to go straight to the point and include only the core functionalities necessary. By knowing your customer needs and requirements, why exactly they would be in need of your mobile app and what they mostly use it for will allow you to make the design and content as simple and straightforward as possible. 

Performance is another constraint that will force a mobile app developer to pay key interest to key performance aspects such as limiting the use of CSS grids, minifying JavaScript and CSS files, using lightweight technology as well as ensuring appropriately cached HTTP headers are used in the  browser's memory. Ignoring the little hogwash I just did there, I simply mean that you ensure the designed site will deal with the slower connections and longer waits that are associated with mobile phones. Designing for mobile first will therefore ensure that web applications have an even higher performance. 

Is there much need to have an application? This debate has been there for the longest time. Some people may not find it an argument anymore because having responsive websites should be s design default in this day and age. Plus with the new HTML5 capabilities, users can easily incorporate and get access to features of a device such as the camera and GPS, no need to develop a whole native app for that. Responsive websites also allow you to develop in short periods and work with a lower, more manageable budget. They also do well when it comes to SEO optimization which will work well for a company seeking to develop a web 'fan base'.
Developing an application is much more expensive than building a responsive or mobile site, and it often will take more time. It is also important that you develop for all the Operating Systems so as to make sure that none of the users are alienated. Applications are however known to provide the best user experience by providing a mobile centric experience that users grow to appreciate. They have a unique functionality and speed but unfortunately cannot be indexed on Search engines. 

Companies may choose to go with applications because they allow for personalization through data by supporting push notifications sent by the app. Native applications will work well with providing product recommendations and suggesting content to the users. They also provide a better platform to gather user information and patterns when users are prompted to sign up and make profiles of themselves. 

On whether to app or not, I think it all boils down to the business objectives of the organisation. In summary, I think that some of the major things that should be considered include: 

1. Your Budget
If money is not an issue, then a native application doesn't sound like a bad idea. It is important to ensure that it can be downloaded on all the different online stores though. However, if you are cutting down on costs, it would be best to invest in a responsive website which will be the cheapest design option. Second on the list is choosing to develop a mobile site that is different from its website version. 

2. Business Goals. 
Who are you targeting? Would you want to have a stronger fan base on the net? Is the site content centric? Do you want to incorporate SEO and marketing tools? In this case, a responsive website will suit you best. It can easily be indexed in Search engines and will provide you with one URL that users can easily access and memorize. The issue with mobile sites is that they will have different URLs from the desktop version and this may not run well with the fast paced, rather impatient user. 

3. Industry features. 
What exactly will the app be used for? If all it will have is static information that will rarely be updated, it would beat the sense to develop a whole application for that. A standard mobile site would do, or rather a responsive site. However, in cases where you will need to have unique users sign in and take part in transactions, an application would be the best option. It would allow you to take advantage of native features of the device for functionality and performance improvement. They provide excellent performance therefore fusing these features with a cross platform operation that has a flawless UX will be the best option for your esteemed user.  

For a successful app, it is important to capitalize on value engagement, ensure that the app is thoroughly tested on the different platforms, that the interface is self explanatory with the call to action buttons loud and clear in a "on-your-face-kind-of-manner", minimalist with a logical user flow and has an easy navigation.

If all this is not achievable, you can stick to Responsive designs, there is no pressure really. Remember, a negative app experience will equate to a negative shadow on the brand.

I am still on the run to be a kick ass Digital Marketing Strategist. How am I doing so far?

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Come Witness the Launch of Bitpesa in Kenya!!

A revolution in Money Transfers to Kenya!

On May 24th, Nairobi-based company BitPesa began the pilot phase of a new, cheaper, faster way to send money to Kenya. BitPesa offers free money transfers with a highly competitive exchange rate. BitPesa allows people to send money from nearly anywhere in the world to any Kenyan mobile money wallet (M-PESA, Airtel Money, Orange Money and Yu Cash), within minutes.

BitPesa is inviting members of the Nairobi tech and business community to a World Cup Party at Nairobi Startup Garage (4th Floor of Piedmont Plaza on Ngong Road) on Thursday, June 26th from 5-9pm. They will be broadcasting what are sure to be two thrilling football matches at 7:00 pm: Ghana vs. Portugal and US vs. Germany. But to encourage people to come early, BitPesa will be providing beers, bitings, and bitcoins to the first 50 people to show up.

BitPesa is a Kenyan company, whose shareholders include Joe Mucheru, Google East Africa Lead, and Duncan Goldie-Scot, Chairman of Musoni. BitPesa developed the service to offer better value to the Kenyan diaspora who send billions of shillings to Kenya every year. Traditional remittance services currently apply a premium of between 6%-13%. BitPesa offers a much more competitive 3% premium, no additional fees, and transfer to any mobile money wallet within minutes. 

However, BitPesa is also designed to create value for Kenyans in Kenya - for example, if a software developer performs work for an international client, he could be paid in Bitcoin. Or, if a software developer wants to monetize a mobile app or web app, she could put her Bitcoin address on the app and receive payments from anywhere in the world, regardless of country or currency. Then using BitPesa’s online platform, the developer can convert his/her Bitcoins into Kenyan Shillings, which are deposited into any mobile money wallet within minutes. BitPesa is also developing an update to its site that will allow Kenyan NGOs to receive international donations via Bitcoin and convert these into Kenyan Shillings at zero cost. 

To learn more about BitPesa, visit their website, follow them on Twitter at @BitPesa and Like their Facebook Page.

To register for the World Cup Party on June 26th, RSVP HERE.

I hope you are keeping warm in this very cold weather! See you there!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Learn about The Nairobi Start Up Garage !!

Hey there!

Between learning how to paint, reading through Warsan Shire’s poetry and spending quality time with family and friends, I have been interning at the Nairobi Start up Garage. Heard of it? Cool name right? It is located at the Brew Bistro building, 4th floor.

Nairobi Start up Garage is the home of 88mph and several other start ups that are making quite the waves in Kenya and Africa as a whole. It’s a co-working tech space that rents out working space to companies, start ups and holds the coolest events ever! It’s a beautiful space with an interesting interior concept, in some instances putting the reuse concept (which am a big fan of ). The open space environment, bean bags, telephone booth, the office bar, the couches are just some of the few things that make this one of the coolest working places.

A few pictures.

Nairobi Start up garage being the home of 88mph has lots of perks for those who are looking for seed fund for their start ups. If you haven’t heard of 88mph, it’s a seed fund and accelerator. They invest in early stage web/mobile companies with the ability to scale across Sub-Saharan Africa. Their main focus is attracting the best entrepreneurs, investing seed cash, and bringing them to a point where their businesses can grow independently, or be adequately evaluated by angels and VCs. They have been active in Africa since 2011 and are currently operating out of hubs in Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria. Their accelerators are supported by Google, Samsung, and Microsoft, get help. During the three-month program, the start ups receive mentoring, access to networks, technical infrastructure and work space, in exchange for an equity stake.

It’s actually a proven fact that for anyone wishing to dive into entrepreneurship or actively run a Start up, co-working spaces are more likely to be the best environment for budding and bringing your idea into something solid. Some of the advantages include having a chance to create a large network with the people you work with, the great ideas that you can exchange informally during simple conversation and a nice environment to meet your clients.

Some other advantages of renting out office space include the flexibility that comes along with it. For people who are always on the move, renting a space would prove beneficial since you do not have to get into legal contracts, all you have to do is pay for the months you will be in town and get your space reserved for you. Also, you can be able to easily expand your team or shrink it out without much of a hustle.

And this is why the Nairobi Start up Garage is perfect for any Start Up. Tones of networking opportunities and valuable resources are easily available . As the space offers several events in line with tech and other entrepreneurial related forums, it would be a wise idea to follow them on Facebook and twitter for any relevant information in regards to this. For instance, this Thursday we are hosting Start Up Grind Nairobi. Get the tickets here. Trust me, we would love to have you around. For inquiries about checking the place out or renting it out for an event or office space, feel free to email

So, when in Nairobi and you are thinking of office space, think Nairobi Start Up garage. Karibu!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Chronicles of an Aspiring Digital Marketing Strategist: Part 1

In a year or so I believe that I will be your Digital Marketing Strategist, if you are planning to have a company or if you have one already. So get acquainted with me already J

Digital marketing involves employing use of electronic devices such as PCs, Tablets, mobile phones and game consoles for marketing while applying technologies such as websites, apps, social networks, text messages and e-mail.I will help you to come up with online marketing campaigns and strategies that will blow you away, get more market share than what you may have settled for, ensure that your company is catching up with the latest web analytic trends and optimizing the powerful web to your business advantage.

That is why I have started a series of posts talking about my ideas in regards to how digital marketing should be strategized and implemented. I welcome any form of constructive critique. 


Companies are able to fully maximize mobile in the exact way they optimized the web to radically improve their businesses, know their customers more and make more lasting relationships with them in the process of earning more revenue. Companies like Coca Cola have incorporated mobile marketing strategies to their overall advertisement strategies and it is working miracles for them. It’s all about doing it right, as always. 

For any company, I think it shouldn't be a matter of investing in mobile advertisement, rather how much and how to go about it. Incorporating mobile does not only include awareness, brand promise and engaging customer loyalty, but also having two way communication with your consumers. Unlike bill boards and advertisements running on the radio and on T.V, mobile advertising allows you to have conversation and feedback with your customers. This is extremely important since it forms the major building blocks for longer lasting relationships with consumers. The two way communication allows you to hush, and listen to them talk too.  

With any kind of advertising, company executives will not buy into using mobile to get more fans and capturing as many phone numbers as possible, they want something more solid, for instance, what is their Return on Investment from this kind of market investment, is it measurable and is it of high value?
So why invest in Mobile Advertising? Mobile growth has been tremendous in the past 5 years.  Everyone I know has a mobile phone, it may not be a smart phone but it’s mobile all the same. Consumers are busier than ever, but despite all this, they get time to always engage with their phones or gadgets. The manner in which they always search for goods and services shows the urgency of their need to make purchases or at least get content on various subjects. Through the devices, consumers easily access information that allows them to make decisions on whether to make purchases or not. 

For a company, providing the right mobile experience at the right time, all in the context of a broadly well thought out and integrated mobile campaign equals a win. Being consumer focused for any company, their goal should involve crafting a seamless start to finish experience. With the finish being making sales, of course. 

Basic Principles of Mobile Marketing

 1. Identify the main objective of the business and try to realize how mobile marketing can come in to help with that. Is it to create more sales, create a huger fan base, attract new customers, and strengthen the company brand..?

2. Curve out the niche you specifically want to target. How do they interact with their devices? What kind of phones and gadgets are they most likely to have? In essence, understanding the customer is the most important aspect that will determine whether you make a financial breakthrough with them in the end or not. 

3. How do you plan to reach your targeted audience? What will be their first point of interaction? The thought of first impressions can only be made once are entirely true. Do you plan to do so using a QR Code on a billboard, through banners, mobile websites or through SMS?

4. After they have heeded to your call and are willing to know more about you, the best thing is to engage them. Through engagement, you can be able to create a relationship with your consumer. There are various ways to engage. Examples include 

posting relevant content on the sight that is useful to the user e.g regular health tips, fashion tips… anything related to what you offer
Shop alerts for instance, messages, offers, rewards and coupons will always go well with the smart shopper
Asking for opinions regarding your service once in a while will help you to better your services as well as cater to the ever growing needs of the consumer. 
Asking people to share their experience with your Company’s goods or services with you or on other social media sites would help boost the image of the brand. 

5. At the end of it all you have to analyze what you are doing and if it’s effective or not. The advantage of working with mobile is that it makes it easy to analyze and measure all your efforts. For instance, it is very easy to know the number of consumers you attract and what percentage of those are actually realized to actual sales. Analyzing helps in making decisions later on in regards to future marketing strategies and will help you know what you should work on to realize more profits. 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

New Year 3 Weeks Late!!

New Year, Whats New? 
So I am happily wishing you, the reader and a friend of Cosmopolitanization (I assume) , a Happy New Year this late? It’s the thought that counts though, right?

Approximately a year ago, I started blogging and I have loved it thus far. So I turn one this month and I thank you for stopping by and reading, even when I sometimes force you to (for my very lazy friends).
What are your year Plans? I am now in my final semester and I am a bit excited about it. Can’t wait to see how this year turns out. Am hoping it’s the best one yet. One thing I plan to do is to take a more personal approach in my writing.

Speaking of year plans, have you registered for this year’s Mobile East Africa 2014 Conference? Kicking off the year is the Annual Mobile Web East Africa Conference scheduled to run from the 11th through the 14th of February. It is back for the fourth time in a row!

Speakers such as Tomi Ahonen (the man measured by Forbes as the world’s most influential expert in mobile) is coming! Also in attendance will be Managing Director for East Africa at SAP Mr. Andrew Waititu, Jose Henrique of Airtel Africa and Algy Williams of Every1Mobile. Senior representatives from IBM, Safaricom, iHub Research and Google will be in attendance too.

The 2014's focus is “Expanding data Usage and driving monetization through industry collaboration”. Having attended last year’s event, I can assure you of a few things: super networking check, a few ‘on-the-money’ debates check, high tempo presentations check and of course, penetrating panel discussions.

The tickets go for $400 for the 12th and 13th but in case you represent a startup, NGO or are an Independent app developer, it goes down to $200. With Ahonen’s eye opening workshop on the 14th, tickets go for $550 and $275 respectively. You can register here.

I hope to see you there! Lets start 2014 on a high note, shall we?

Friday, 6 December 2013

Cheesy Love Matters

There must be something really embarrassing about admitting that you are on a dating site? Explains why my friend rolled her eyes, made a weird face and vehemently denied my asking if she was on any dating sites. My guess is that people do not want to give off vibes of being ‘desperate daters’.

Despite all the chit chat about not putting a price tag on love, online dating is rapidly growing into a $3 Billion international Industry for software engineers, psychologists and tech venture capitalists who are reaping its rewards. With certain sites charging members up to $4500 a year, one would wonder just how high the perfect matching probability is. But for the time-poor, cash-rich professional, finding love in the old fashioned way (through friends, family, or at the bar) is almost impossible. That is why the internet sounds like a perfect resort where they have access to a large pool of eligible partners and where there is little of game playing involved-everyone is specific about what they want. Not everyone will meet their prince charming by accident, when the wind is blowing through their hair with a perfect sunset, you know? For some, it is an intentional and calculated affair.

How the love algorithm works? During sign up, a ‘love seeker’ will be prompted to fill in questionnaires about themselves, their interests, opinion on certain issues, hobbies, physical attributes and the aspects they would find most appealing for their ideal partner. So, based on the demographic data, traits, personality and interests, the compatibility algorithm will match you with persons whose attributes are most ideal for you as a partner. How true it is that a mathematical algorithm will create the perfect match for you is up for debate.

Certain sites curve a niche for their online crowd, for instance, you can choose to join dedicated websites for religion, green living, country lovers, people into fetishes, vampires, interracial daters or over weights. Hey! Whatever tickles your fancy! Some of them are borderline crazy though. Am reminded of the cheaters website that gives ‘A chance to those who have been cheated on to meet other faithful singles in their area’ in the famous words of John Greco. However, a niche that I frown upon is that which targets the unhappily married. Really now? maybe? 

For someone with the same routine, running in the same circles, hanging out in the same places and is about to blow 39 candles on her next birthday, meeting new singles online doesn't sound like such a bad idea, does it? A couple of nasty disadvantages come along with that too, meeting creepy people first on the list. You will meet people who lie about everything and present themselves richer, better looking or younger. You will meet those who make assumptions that they are in a serious relationship with you after 3 emails of communication, or those who post pictures of their children all the time, those who think compensation in monetary forms is extremely important and those who are downright disrespectful and perverted. However, the most comical are those with unexplained wtf profile pictures. (If you love to have a good laugh like me, I would suggest you click on this link)

Once in a while however, cupid smiles on you and you get a charmer. Many singles will often be energized when starting out on these sites but with time, they realize that competition is stiff and that there are many singles out there with captivating pictures and impressive profiles. So what happens normally, the energy fizzles out.

If you decide to give it a try, be true to yourself and try as much as possible to portray your sincerity and how you are genuine in pursuit of love (LOL), make yourself stand out by being unique and distinctive in your headlines, don’t show too much skin otherwise you will attract the wrong crowd, always have a profile picture of yourself, save us some typos and don’t be too quick to trust people on these online streets. For a first date, arm yourself with a whistle, pepper spray too. Practice how to use the whistle diligently before putting it in an easily reachable compartment in your bag – Coco’s online dating tip for today.

Whichever means you use to get the love of your life don’t be ashamed to admit it. Whether you are speed dating, being hooked up by all your family and friends, or trying this online thing…only haters mind the aggression. So relax, it’s never that serious J

Friday, 1 November 2013

When a Prospective Employer asks for your twitter, facebook, LinkedIn Page

Recently, I got an invitation on LinkedIn to connect with one ‘Geornny Walker’ (pardon me if you read this Geornny) but it was a bit surprising. Why would one have such a name on such a professional site? If it was a social platform like Facebook or Twitter, it’s completely understandable. While Facebook is known to foster personal relationships (never mind that I don’t know a sixth of the people in my friends list), LinkedIn focuses on professional networks and twitter is a bit of both.

Ever filled in an online job application form that prompted you to give your twitter/ Facebook/ LinkedIn profile? I have, severally. Before I do so, I always try to mentally go through my head hoping I did not post something incriminatory. Recruiters are constantly shifting from normal paradigms of official interviews and contacting referees as a form of background check. Many recruiters opt for going through your social profiles to get a better feel of who one is because frankly speaking, we can all pretend during interviews with pleasant behavior, calculated answers and a courteousness that we normally don’t possess.

So, is someone really who they portray to be on online social circles? Everyone has that one friend who cleaned up their profile so that they may specifically appeal to their professional colleagues.  I know of people who constantly update being in fancy places they are short; they create a personality that may not really reflect who they are but suits them. It’s easy to be someone you are not on these social sites. You can choose to be the inspirational one, the bully, the mean one, the relationship expert, the happy one, the fashionable one, the preacher or the grumpy negative one. This is why some recruiters will not entirely put basis on online profiles.

When recruiters ask for social platform links, they aim to see a much more private aspect of the prospective employee’s life; a kind of background check. They get a glimpse of who you are outside the confines of resumes and interviews. It also helps them to see if a candidate’s personality would fit in their company and as mean as it may sound, weed out candidates who seem not to fit into the company culture. While some may view it as invasion/violation of one’s privacy, no one is really stopping them.  

Having a look at a candidate’s profile will give a bit of insight to their character, who they are: Do they constantly post inappropriate jokes or photos? Who are they following on twitter? Are their posts full of depth or lack it completely? Do they follow market trends or news related to their industry? What kinds of groups do they like/follow on Facebook?

Have you begun doing a recollection of the number of selfies you post? Or the picture where you were holding a big blue moon bottle, or when you were exhaling some sheesha? Relax (a bit), results show that 54% of recruiters will react negatively to typos compared to 47% reaction to alcohol references. It turns out that the worst mistake you could do is having spelling mistakes and poor grammar. “Xo Xtop thiz kind of non-xense”.

Of course discriminatory remarks related to gender, religion, race and tribes won’t be painting any sort of good picture.  Posts of a sexual nature, references to illicit drugs, and many mentions of alcohol consumption will not help you secure the Company’s Public Relations Manager position either.

Might you guess the most suspicious of them all? Someone who cannot be traced on the internet, nowhere; a social ghost. When you do not have profiles on Facebook, twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn, a bit of suspicion kicks in. Do you exist? What are you hiding? Are you not relevant? Second in line are the lurkers, those who have profiles but rarely engage in any discussions or post anything.

For those actively seeking employment, how can you use social sites as leverage?
On Twitter
  • Always follow companies you aspire to work for and their employers (hope the latter does not sound like a form of stalking). Through following them, you can watch out for job listings or postings and who knows? It may be your big break.
  • Have a strong profile with coherent, grammatically correct tweets. Follow what is happening within your industry and voice your opinion about it.
  • Reaching out to people you want to network with is vital. Make conversation, share opinions, give insight... although its only 140 characters, space is never a constraint on the internet.
  • You can also choose to be proactive about what is happening in your job search journey. Again, you never know, someone may chip in with valuable information

On LinkedIn
  • Optimize your profile by filling your professional Headline with specialty keywords that are catchy, exciting and related to your field.
  • Ensure that your profile is completely filled out and flawless. Exhaust your resume completely, not forgetting to include information such as volunteering efforts, memberships or affiliations with professional bodies
  • Ensure you join industry groups to connect with recruiters seeking industry-specific candidates

On Facebook
  • Some recruiters use Facebook groups, corporate Facebook pages and advertisements to post jobs and source for candidates. It would therefore be wise to follow groups and pages that specialize in promoting jobs. Be on the lookout for the Ad platforms as well.
  • Wishing you worked for a certain company? The law of attraction actually works. Envision working there as you like their company page and follow up on the updates about the company, job offers and most importantly, always engage.
  • Check your privacy settings and ensure that you are traceable and when searched, your profile comes up.
  • Be careful about what you post regardless because at the end of the day, you being a brand of your own, what you say or do  directly reflects to who you are as a brand.

This said, candidates aren't expected to hang out on social media crossing fingers to have job opportunities and employment conversations. It’s just a matter being a good mannered person with positive vibes and a bit of professionalism.

There is nothing vain about 'googling yourself'. I Google myself all the time. If you haven’t, do so and watch what pops up...Do you like the person the internet portrays you to be?

Sunday, 6 October 2013

A Must have App for Women

The gods of the Blogosphere should have already struck me dead by now. I haven’t blogged in such a long time. While I would love to outline the various reasons for my absence, I find them a bit too personal to share because they are well… non-existent!! But I have been busy, am not sure with what exactly. Am in my final undergraduate year working on my project and that has shifted my focus a little bit.

Onto some more pressing issues, we know how the Google Play Store has revolutionized and made our lives easier. The applications make life so much easier. Am sure each of us has that one app that they cannot live without. Feel free to share with me which ones they are! My personal must have, well apart from WhatsApp and Instagram, is My Days.

My Days is an App that helps me to predict and track my periods and gives summarized information on fertility and ovulation. I was so happy when a friend of mine recommended it. Some of the cool features it has include an almost perfect precision of your next period, the list of your fertile days and a customizable interface. The app’s format is of a calendar that also allows you to make important notes and update any changes you undergo with relation to your female reproductive system.

Just last year, surveys showed that almost 400,000 abortions took place in Kenya. Such a shocking number right? Huge too. This goes to show just how many unintended pregnancies happen each and every day. The society we live in has girls fearing pregnancies than contacting HIV/AIDS. It’s something we rarely talk about despite it being so real to us and something that has to be dealt with. Even with several affordable contraception options, many women do not take precautions of any kind fully aware of the danger they are putting themselves into and the consequences of their actions.

I am not implying that this App will reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, am implying that it is important for every woman to be in tune with her body. She should know it better than anyone else, and should particularly be keen to any changes that affect her. This application will help in making you reach there. The user of this app will be able to know about their safe days and peak of fertility. You can indicate when you have sex or save some important notes about the kind of contraception your taking. As precaution ladies, if you are old enough to be sexually active, you should be old enough to learn about the various contraception options out there and pick one that suits you best with lots of information on the side effects of each.

In case you want to keep your menstrual cycle business private, you can protect this application with a password. If you read this please ensure you share it with ladies you know, because awareness is key. This is a must have application for ladies. And while at it, wrap it up will you?

Thank you for stopping by!