The end of year to-do list…

With a brand new year just around the corner, and the increased efforts to make improvements and implement changes that come with that, I thought I would start the process a little early.  Before I can commit to any new projects and distractions, I’d first like to clear the current clutter.  The clutter is mostly in my mind but somewhat manifesting itself around my office too.  So here is the plan in short:

  1. Go through notebooks and diary.

I have several different ways of recording all the bits of information I process on a daily basis, so between my phone notes, notebook, and lots of pieces of paper I should be able to tie up all loose ends.  By which, all I will really be doing is compiling one even bigger to do list, but at least it will all be written in one place.  Of course, my intention is really to get through this list of small mundane boring things to do, or new ideas to follow-up on. Before the end of 2013 of course.

2. The calendar clean-up 

My husband and I both have a desk calendar, although one is like a large piece of doodle art and the other has all the family appointments on it.  Although we try to attend all the things we arrange, sometimes this is impossible so another aspect of clearing the clutter so to speak, is to go through the calendar for the year and check there is nothing important we have forgotten to rearrange.  Plus it’s also a good time to schedule in anything new coming up, like the new term swimming lessons schedule, or meetings, appointments and castings scheduled for the next month.

3. Moving paperwork piles into files

Overall most of my paperwork is already organised into piles so it’s mostly a case hole punching and flicking through files to insert the papers, but there is also a small unorganised pile to go through and sort out.  If you have large amounts to get through my advice is try breaking it up into chunks to tackle.  Divide it into 3 piles and spend no more than 20 minutes sorting through one pile, then take a break and go do something else.  Each time you return to the filing piles, you will see progress and that in itself is motivation enough to finish it.

1372The last couple of things that are on the 2013 to do list will be to organise a New Years event for one of the beer brands I work with and to sign the paperwork to become a Director in my husband’s new business.

With everything taken care of that way, I will then be fully free to focus all my energy on a positive, busy and successful 2014.  And put my feet up a little for the rest of 2013.

What do you plan to do before 2014 arrives?  What are you planning to do in 2014 anyway?  I’d love to hear how you plan to have a positive, happy, successful year too.

From mundane to memorable!

Sometimes it just feels like you are plodding along, ticking by on social media, slowly gaining likes, fans and followers as you go along. Then one day you post something really quite random and the next day you wake up and your post has gone viral. How?

Basically what I can tell it all boils down to is creating memories. If you can create content that is nostalgic and makes people remember something significant – good, bad, funny, dangerous, you are probably going to get some good engagement. Pick something simple, that lots of people have a common grounding with and ask them to share something with you about it.

The page I posted a popular picture onto is for a large house great for group accommodation or large families, based in a popular holiday town in Zimbabwe. The picture was simply a photo of a popular fuel service station that virtually every traveller has stopped at to either refuel their vehicles or stomachs. The call to action was just to tell what you remembered most about this place? Chances are if you have been to Zimbabwe, you have been to Kariba and therefore have also visited this pit stop.

The result? The page reach was usually around 150-200 people for a post, but this post’s reach shot up overnight to over 20,000. I was shocked to see the reach hanging around the 3,000 mark when I went to bed that evening, but the shock of nearly 20,000 people seeing my post the next morning was even greater. Aside from the reach, there were 348 likes on the picture, 26 shares and 306 comments. Plus we gained about 40 new page likes that night. Want to know what people were commenting on – ice-creams, pies, the hot tarmac road, accidents and wild animals, not to mention the shopkeepers colourful personalities. Everyone just remembering back to the good old days and wanting to share their piece of it.

I think that is what is special about social media though, yes it’s cool to get likes and fans and great stats but it’s actually even better that you just get to interact and hear what everyone has to say. Advertisers are not the only ones with a voice shouting out their messages, everyone has a voice and it’s certainly interesting hearing what they have to say.

Hope you can get your fans to share some great memories with you.

By the way – here is the picture that all the hype was about. Hard to believe hey?

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Social Media Solutions 2013

With January drawing to a close, we are shifting focus onto the rest of 2013 and are wondering what to expect from Zimbabwean businesses in social media.  This really is the information age and with all there is to offer in the world of digital and content marketing, it can make for some challenging decisions.  Do you build profiles and accounts on every single social media platform out there and make sure you have great presence, or do you carefully select the best platforms for your business and dominate those?

Social media trends:

In Zimbabwe the majority of social media users access these sites through their mobiles.  Many don’t have fixed internet lines and internet cafes are scarce, compared to other capital cities, so mobile penetration is high.  It therefore makes sense to take this into consideration when choosing your platforms.  Sites like Facebook and Twitter will continue to dominate, mainly because everybody uses them on a personal level and are common apps.  Developing your own apps on Facebook or making use of QR codes for shopping, for example should excite your audience so don’t be afraid of exploring these options.  If you don’t run advertising campaigns on social media you should retain your fans and followers, so 2013 will mainly be about content marketing.  Share valuable content that engages people and solves their problems and you have a winning formula.

Keep creating content

Visual content is also key and it doesn’t get better than Instagram if you want to keep creating and sharing attractive content.  No longer are hashtags restricted to Twitter, this is a great way if keeping a collection of photos under all in one place and its common for users to spend a vast amount of time, choosing and applying 20+ hashtags to their photos.  The most time spent on Instagram however is spent choosing a filter, to give your photo some kind of edgy, vintage or contemporary feel to name a few.  Although the app is only available on i-phones, i-pads, etc, there is another fantastic photo-sharing social networking site that can easily rival Instagram.  Flickr has been named “best mobile photo app” by Forbes so many would even say its better than Instagram.  However Instagram has been around two or three years and has 100 million users and Flickr has been around since 2004 and has 75 million users.

Content generation continues to be the number one challenge so if you don’t fancy yourself as much of a photographer then start to implement other ways of generating content.  Re-using content in a new context, so to speak can alleviate a little pressure in generating fresh, original content.  If you have written a successful blog previously, use the information and feature it on a video tutorial or podcast.  Share your amazing PowerPoint presentations.

Something old, something new

Blogging has been around for ages but is this an avenue you are fully taking advantage of?  Blogging for your business can place as you as more of an expert in your field, you can show how and why you are a market leader.  If you can solve typical problems faced by people and give them tips in your industry then you will definately gain recognition and reward.

SlideShare is a hot new topic right now and whether it takes off to the extent of some of these other sites, time will tell.  It’s a new way of sharing content, that has been previously limited before, and even opening an account makes you want to create a news worthy, informative presentations.  Find out what topics are trending on Twitter or Google and make up a presentation around that.  Or you can just start off by presenting everything you think we need to know about your business.

Social media = sales eventually

So you are starting to enjoy having a bigger presence than you could have ever imagined.  The feedback and engagement you are getting is more than you bargained for too.  Your company suddenly has better credibility with your customers and more loyalty to your brand.  But what about the sales?  Now it’s time to take it to the next level and get your product sold through more social media channels.  Although Facebook has a higher percentage of purchasers – 2.9% versus 0.9% on Pinterest, let me not underestimate the importance of sales through this site.  Also bear in mind that Facebook has been in the game for seven years, Pinterest has only been around for two.

Pinterest virtally became an overnight sensation because of the inspirational boards you can create.  In these boards, you ‘pin’, or essentially store amazing, beautiful, capitivating pictures of anything and everything from your dinner party menu to sports equipment and gadgets.  People add home decor ideas, photography inspiration, fashion and motivational quotes, whatever you like.   There were standing jokes of how addictive the site is, aren’t they all, and how women would spend their lives planning out their weddings on Pinterest, despite the fact they didn’t even have a boyfriend.  How all this is relevant, I am not sure, but it worked because somehow this is becoming a hugely popular site to buy from.  1 in 5 people that have pinned something, have made a purchase and that is a conversion figure that no other social media site can boast.

So whether you want more brand awareness, more customer feedback or more sales, try out some of the new social media sites in 2013, share more visually attractive and valuable content and keep engaging with your audience so that you become a known industry player.   If you have anything more to share on this, please feel free to do so because as always…knowledge is power!

 

 

 

Looking back on 2012…

It’s already the 30th December and 2012 is nearly over.  We started our own family tradition of looking back on the years photos and video clips on the eve of New years eve, so as I get all the albums and files ready I have been reflecting back on 2012.

Here are some of the highlights  for me:

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Shan and I got married on 12.12.12, the day I turned 31 and spent the best day with our closest family and friends at Alo Alo restaurant.  We had amazing photos taken by Lesanne from Lesanne Photography, at the Quarry and a little animal park, and although it drizzled throughout the entire shoot, we couldn’t stop smiling and laughing.

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The food was outstanding, the drinks flowed and we danced a lot. We also didn’t stop when the restaurant closed, we all came back to our house and carried the party on, a two day celebration no doubt!

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Rocco turned one and Keira turned two this year and it still astounds me daily that they are both now small walking, talking people who make me laugh everyday.  The things they say and do!  Being a mom to these two is the most amazing part of my life, little cheeky mini-me’s that have the most tender and valuable hearts, they are definitely my biggest pride and joy.

This was them at the beginning of the year….and then this is them later on in the year in the car off to their first day at school.

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They started Playgroup / Nursery School and are benefiting from the Montessori programme and are making friends with the American children who also attend the school.  I started helping with swimming lessons there twice a week and have watched some of the kids go from afraid to eager.

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We moved into a beautiful new home early in the year, complete with swimming pool, tennis court, gym and staff quarters which meant finally our maid could live on the property and the kids have lots of space to play and run.  Despite no borehole and good old electricity cuts we love it here and were even originally planning on having the wedding here under a marquee.

The wedding was a highlight as I have already mentioned, but planning the wedding should also be noted as everything was arranged in 7 weeks.  No small feat but when we figured out what we really wanted, the rest miraculously fell into place.  We had considered everything from eloping, to having a ceremony only and no reception to a huge marquee in the garden to every possible venue in Harare.  Luckily we choose an unusual date, which fell on a Wednesday so nothing clashed with other people’s weddings on a Saturday in December and we could organise it at short notice.  My dress nearly didn’t arrive on time, we had issues with the suits, arrival of the flower girl dress and a guest list of nearly 200 to originally consider but like I say, it all fell into place beautifully because we got the most important thing right – each other!

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We got our cat, Diego, at three weeks old and we had to feed it out of an eye drop bottle when it was still a tiny kitten.  He quickly became a firm favourite toy of the babies and is a very loving and tolerant cat to date.

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Keira also started potty training and has made excellent progress with this.  She is still wearing nappies at night and when we go out but is fine wearing her little pants in the day.

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Rocco started talking and was speaking fluent sentences long before he turned 18 months.

I watched Shan get his first tattoo, done by Brad Conradie at Instinckt Tattoos and a visiting American artist added colour and detail to mine.

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We hosted a fun Mexican themed night complete with vast amounts of tequila, maracas, décor and amazing food. I had some help from a professional chef and we put on a delicious feast of tacos, burritos and chile con carne with all the trimmings.

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I organised and hosted a surprise baby shower for one of my close friends Tracey, that I have known since school and we watched her and Wayne walk down the aisle too.  Several months later little Luke was born.

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My two bridesmaids, Crystal and Leandra organised the best hen party ever for me and the three of us ended the night swimming at sunrise, after lots of cocktails, flaming zambuca’s, quizzes, games and Tezza, the most horrendous blow up doll complete with stubble.

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I started this crazycarlysworld blog to document some of the fun, crazy and demanding jobs I do and to try develop my writing skills again.  I enjoy the learning curve blogging sends me on too, I learn something new about myself and life often.

I enjoyed helping Shan realise his career potential in refrigeration again and felt proud watching him pursue this as it gave him a new found confidence and motivation.

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I launched a brand new business, Cosmetic Sculpt Studio, which is a non-surgical body sculpting and facial rejuvenation clinic.  I had no idea how intense starting a new business would be, but from securing a loan, to importing equipment, décor, marketing, company registration and a launch event I did it all myself and it was very rewarding.  I have personally carried out treatments to a number of clients and achieved some great results in inch loss and wrinkle removal.

I developed and managed my own social media campaigns for Wedding Wise, Cosmetic Sculpt Studio and Zimbabwe Plumbing & Maintenance, a combination of family owned businesses and personal ventures.  This lead to me falling into a new job within social media management and I now manage some large clients including Delta Beverages and Swift.

I started modelling again, after two years off and have been involved in runway shows modelling for a variety of designers including Intisaar Mukadam, Jo Burger Swimwear and Marija’s.  I did magazine shoots for my favourite Zimbabwean magazine Out Of Africa, and did some fun promotions for Bulldog energy drink, Barcardi and Cape Camisa including attending a charity golf day for Car Guard.

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We visited some fun local destinations including Leopard Rock in the Vumba, Troutbeck in Nyanga and Pamuzinda Safari Lodge.  Day trips to Mbizi Game park, Darwendale Dam, Lake Chivero and the Lion and Cheetah park were also highly enjoyable.

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We bought a professional pool table and I learnt to play properly, despite much frustration in the beginning, the goal of becoming a hustler spurred me on.  I can now hit the ball, which is a bonus and have been known to sink a few one after the other on the odd occasion.

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We enjoyed visiting kids friendly restaurant St Elmo’s on a number of occasions and loved the fact the kids are not only entertained but also supervised.  So we can sit back and enjoy the rest of the wine and pizza knowing they are having a ball on the indoor jungle gym.

We have met some interesting, crazy and cool new people this year too, and I have loved working with Judith Williams, Jackie Mgido and all the models at Model Management.

So an interesting, fun and full on year behind us, we move forward into 2013 and I am looking forward to the challenges, celebrations and successes ahead.  Here’s to a great 2013!

Swifty’s Sing Our Song Competition

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Last week Swift Transport started a competition on Facebook to encourage the artistically talented Zimbabwean public to write and record a song that they can use as their anthem.

Apart from winning $500 cash, you will also have the opportunity to record your music in a professional recording studio and it will become Swifts theme tune in the new year.  There are some key words that have to be included like Swift, Transport, Nationwide, Delivering, Freight, Express, Courier, Full Loads, Swifty, Hero and Zimbabwe.  It is open to all ages and all genres of music, so whether you are a professional artist, or are just passionate about music this could be an exciting opportunity.

Once you have written and recorded your song onto CD, you can drop it off at any Swift Depot nationwide and they will send it to Harare for you free of charge.  Alternatively you can also drop it into the Star FM studio.  Your song will then be uploaded onto SoundCloud, a social sharing site, and also shared via Facebook for the public to listen to.

The competition ends on 5th December 2012 and then the public will vote for their favorites.  Public voting ends on 10th December and the winner will be announced on 16th January 2013.  The song will be recorded professionally and aired by 31st January 2013. Imagine hearing the song you wrote and sung on the TV or radio?

You may enter the competition as many times as you wish but please make sure each song is no longer than 3 minutes.  If you would prefer to submit and sing your song in a group, this is acceptable, however so are individual submissions.

If you think you have what it takes to become a local hero and sing the Swift tune then please see www.facebook.com/unifreightswiftzimbabwe or www.swift.co.zw for more details on entering and the competition rules.

So why not try impress Swifty, the guitar bearing Swift mascot who is ready to rock out with you and become a local hero like him!

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