Enough bull, we need empathy

In my last post, I wrote about reassessing in a pandemic – here is a slight follow on.

This bladdy pandemic. It has been brought up in most conversations that I have, it comes up when in meetings, and even when I am relaxing watching Netflix. I am pretty good at sticking to the rules, I wear a mask, I keep my distance, and I am just not a dick about it. Which – unfortunately – a lot of people have decided to be. It blows my mind a bit, when I see people out and about flaunting the rules as if they are Iron Man – not realising that it’s not about them, but if they are spreading it. That is where the issue is, people are selfish.

It’s a very simple solution – don’t be a dick.

The one thing that has really stuck out for me, is that people lack so much empathy and it has been quite an eye-opener. But the empathy aspect with people isn’t really what I am going to talk about, because I know people are dicks. What there needs to be a big change in, is empathy from celebrities and people also need to start selecting who they make famous. I for one, am going to start being more empathetic to people – friends, family, people who I interact with etc.

I saw a Tweet a few weeks ago, about a celebrity boasting about buying a Mercedes during a pandemic and claimed it was the best investment he had done, and encouraged others that buying a luxury car is a great investment. Thankfully a lot of people spoke up, 1) pointing out how badly he was reading the room, 2) pointing out that a car is the worst investment you can ever buy, 3) pointing out that he 100% is paying off his car on a monthly basis and must just get back in his hole and stop trying to live out his means.

This empathy thinking needs to start happening, quickly, across media, advertising, conversations, retail, restaurants etc.

The more empathetic the content is that people consume, the more empathetic they will end up being.

Empathy can be brought up in so many examples. A big one for 2020 is BLM – if people just cared about other races, religions, and people, like they do themselves, there wouldn’t be such hideous people in the world who think others are less based on colour. And if they do think others are less, just stfu about it – not hard.

Short and sweet, be nice people.

Cheers.

M

PS: Here is another pug, feel good about yourself.

Pandemics are a great time to reassess

I wrote an article, blog, script (whatever you want to call it), the other month about how absolutely nobody cares about you. It was somewhat well received, just over 5 500 reads, and I’ve had a few people ask me to write something about what I have been up to – none work related – to keep busy. So, here it goes.

Firstly, I would like to clarify that this is my first, and hopefully last, global killer virus pandemic that I have lived through. I am 27 (at the time of writing this – incase you read this is 10 years time and wonder what I’m talking about), so I was also not in WW1 or WW2, nor was really impacted by H1N1, Spanish Flu, Black Plague….. well, any global disaster – viral or war – to be honest. So I am not speaking from experience, I am just speaking from what I think would be a good way of handling things when speaking to your customers, potential customers, and even your staff.

I am going to keep it short, as I’m sure a lot of us are a bit tired of reading about COVID-19.

This is a terrible time for everyone, unless you sell hand sani and face-masks of course, but there are also a few upsides to being on lockdown. I mean, it’s only regarded an upside if you decide it’s an upside – or you can mope around all day and watch shitty reality TV on Netflix until 2am in the morning and repeat for 10 weeks (we hope this ends soon), and the issue is you will leave lockdown feeling like you have achieved nothing because you’ll see Tony who did a half marathon and 30 minute core workouts every single day, got his yoga instructor certificate, and got verified on Tik Tok. But, if your upside is watching Love Island on repeat and chowing pizza for 10 weeks – by all means, indulge my friend.

All that said, this is an awesome opportunity to reassess. From a personal perspective, that’s what I have been doing over the past 10 or so weeks, and it has been hard. There have been weeks where I have been down and demotivated and achieved none of my personal goals, and there have been weeks where I achieved all of my personal goals. To make reading this slightly more digestible, I’m going to write the areas in my life that have reassessed in a list format – purely because a paragraph about myself might just make me vomit, and I also don’t want to share too much about my personal life with a bitcoin scammer who could be reading this.

  1. Personal goals
    • This was always going to be hard, because I have never been good at sticking to personal goals – even when a raging pandemic wasn’t around – but I was determined to try. After reassessing how I perceive goals, I learnt that I needed to re-look how I set goals completely and instead of setting out 10 goals for a set amount of time, I decided to set goals per week and then carry them over and add more goals the following week. So for example, week 1 was to be more aware of other people and their emotions and what they might be going through, and week 2 was the same as week 1 but then I added that I wanted to be be more mentally active before 8am – ie read a book, read a poem, or learn something. I also decided that it doesn’t matter if I don’t reach a certain goal or if I slip up, it literally does not matter.
  2. Sense of achievement
    • This sort of follows from my last sentence in the point above. I always had this ideation that I needed to achieve my goals outright, in order to have them achieved. This lead to me either giving up on them or forgetting them when I didn’t achieve them within a few weeks. I reassessed this, and I decided that even if I try, and fail or slightly achieve something, I have achieved my goal. For example if it is to lose weight and eat healthy, if I have a week of indulgence, I shouldn’t just give up on my goal, it was a break and the goal needs to carry on. If I lose 5kgs instead of 10kgs, this isn’t a fail as I have still achieved something.
  3. Friendships
    • I think this is something that a lot of people have realised during this pandemic. I reassessed, and realised what friendships are worth maintaining and what “friendships” are not. The ones that check-in, talk to you every day, once a week, or even just once a month, are worth keeping and holding onto. I have always had friends that have different opinions to me, and I love that because it means we can go from joking around to having very deep conversations in a matter of moments. I think it would be incredibly boring and not very stimulating if we all shared the same opinions.
  4. Social Media
    • Social Media has become even more addictive, because people are at home and can scroll the whole day. I recently downloaded Tik Tok and discovered a whole new world of subcultures – as Vogue wrote about from a fashion POV. I had just been understanding Twitter subcultures, which was a mine field on it’s own! But, all that said, social media has always been a place that I share personal photos on, but I decided to start following creative accounts and I created an account that is a creative outlet for myself. I logged out my personal page for a while, and mainly just scrolled through content that I really got a positive vibe from and whenever I put my phone down, I was happy. I solely follow accounts that focus on creative and food – so that is all I see, in my feed, in my search, and even in adverts. One might say I beat the algorithm, HA.
  5. Local Brands
    • Support Local. This has been a movement on it’s own for a while, and the pandemic has spearheaded it, and I can’t wait to see what local brands do in the future. Tshepo Jeans, MaXhosa, Bathu Shoes, and others, are making huge strides locally and internationally. Merchants on Long have always been the pedestal for brands to leapfrog and have always supported brands that are local, with an undying passion for African brands. If you want to get more involved in supporting local, start with them, as they have hundreds of designs and designers. This movement goes further than fashion, retail stores (I hope) are going to start stacking their shelves with more local products opposed to imported products, and I will be buying them. I have set my goal – long term – to have my cupboards 70% locally made clothing, which I am happy to say that my jean collection is already at 80%.
  6. Community
    • I have become far more aware of my community and my country, by engaging in conversations online and in real life. Conversations around BLM, LGBTQ+, GBV, and Supporting Local – these are real life issues, that aren’t just a hashtag. You need to understand why these movements are fundamental to society, and not just post a black square and feel you have changed the world. I am a straight white dude from Cape Town who enjoys oat milk with his cafe lattes, I will never understand what it is like to be part of the LGBTQ+ community or what it is like to be black – or both. However, I can educate myself on why these movements are so important, and how I can support my friends, family, and businesses, that are part of those communities. I have had deep conversations around all these topics during lockdown, and I am proud to say that all my friends and family are on the same page with these topics. We don’t give two shits who you love, what you look like, who you praise, what you eat, or how you speak – what we do care about is if you are kind, that’s it.
  7. Education
    • This has been really important to me as I am currently studying, but I am also aware that there are thousands of people and children who have had their studies interrupted. I decided to reassess my understanding of learning – of course getting high school and tertiary education is highly important, that’s why I am studying part time – and so I have been delving into the world of Webinars, live IG/IGTV, Zooms, and free courses online. The amount of industry leaders and thought leaders that have shared knowledge, for free, during this pandemic is incredible. The true beauty is that you can watch these learnings and conversations from wherever you are in the world – you don’t need to physically be at a festival or an event – because it has all been streamed. I have learnt heaps, and it has been incredible.
  8. Mental and Physical Health
    • This is also an important one that I reassessed, because ever since leaving school I have struggled with physical health, probably because I am lazy shit and prefer to sleep in, but partly because I was always involved in team sports. However, I decided that physical fitness doesn’t mean running a half marathon like Tony, but it could mean going for a 10 minute walk, doing a 20 minute stretch, or finding a quick HIIT workout on YouTube and doing it before dinner. Being healthy is what you make of it, we live in a world where billionaires, models, and a false perception of success and happiness is rammed down our throats 24.7 – but to be honest, absolutely nobody cares. I love the ocean but I used to avoid the beach because I didn’t like how I looked – I would literally avoid doing something I loved because I thought people were laughing at me – but when I eventually did go to the beach and realised that literally nobody cared, it was freeing and now I go as much as possible. This is similar to a lot of people, who don’t do what they love because they are worried about what some random dude might or might not think about them. Some people avoid painting, even though they love it, because they are worried that their bulldog might think their still life pot plant is crap. Others might avoid running because they can’t run without coughing up a lung after 200m, yet nobody is even noticing that (for all you know they might think you’ve just finished a 21km). I have decided to just do what makes ME happy – do do do – because why not?

From a marketing perspective, it’s time to sit back and look at all your marketing plans, channels, methods, strategies, and possibly do an audit – and see where you can improve, what can get dropped, and what is actually working well. Reassess how you speak to your customers, how often you engage with them, what drives them, what makes them interested in your brand and it’s marketing.

People like it when others care – funny that.

What is probably costing your company a lot at the moment, is the cost of previous business and marketing strategies, failed campaigns that are still running, a brand strategy that is so ingrained – but actually isn’t working, a product that is making a huge loss (but a few others aren’t so you keep it), distribution channels that are old but it’s too much of an effort to update them, and more. Companies that grow fast and are successful for a while, often fall into the trap of not being able to pivot and suddenly their strategies are outdated and they are restricting movement and further success of the business. Yes, the business might still be very successful, but it could be even more, and now is a great time to change those strategies and re-look at them. If this virus doesn’t kill your business, at least allow it to make it stronger. If you have time, reassess everything. Internal communications also plays a huge part in how business operates, make sure that the people working for you feel safe and secure during this period, and they will come back stronger, ready to put in all the effort. Why? Because people like it when others care – funny that.

Don’t let this virus kill your business, allow you to make it f***ing stronger.

We have moved into a space where nobody wants a product shoved in their face anymore – we want high quality engagement, we want brands to make us feel more than just a piggy bank, and we want to feel that the brand is human and actually cares about us. Brands that are communicating with their audience about how they relate to them during this period, and brands that are constantly keeping their customers updated with facts, stories, engaging posts, and competitions to keep people interested – will be the ones that come out of this on top. You need to keep top of mind, even if it means talking about a virus when you normally talk about pet food. Pivot, adjust, change, make the conversation happen, and just show people that you care.

I think to sum this up nicely – just fucking care about other people. Social distance, wear a mask, not for YOU but to protect people FROM you, and just be a good oke.

Cheers,

M

PS: Here is a dog looking boujee to make you smile

murray robertson pug

Hi, nobody cares about you.

pink banana

Let’s not start this off too dramatically. Of course people care about you, family and a few friends take an interest in your life and will support you when you need it. But nobody cares more about you, than you, and nobody cares more about the small things than you. Unless you have a stalker who is obsessed, but they probably still don’t care as much as you do.

You’re not top of mind – sorry

People are busy. If you are walking down the street, and you didn’t have enough time to gel that single strand of hair that always pops up at the back of your head and makes you feel like a withered rooster – nobody cares. Literally nobody. Not. One. Single. Person. is looking at the back of your head going, “pfft, what a loser, that oke didn’t gel down that single strand of hair this morning #avoiding.”

The same goes for a lot of other situations. The beach. I’m at the age now where I couldn’t actually give a flying f**k about how my chubby little tummy bobs around when walking into the water and back to my beach towel to go and get some food to keep that chubby tummy. I’ve actually grown to quite admire it, how the suncream makes it glisten in the suns rays. But it took me 27 years to get there, and I wish it took less. I wish I realised that nobody is looking at you on the beach. And if they are, they really are wasting their time.

Mess up. You learn from failure, and when you realise nobody cares about your failure, you’ll succeed even more

I think this mentality of everyone is looking at me and paying attention to every single detail of my life restricts us from our full potential. People are so scared of failure, of being judged for bad work, for getting criticism and feeling like they have done a bad job. Get over it. You will fail. Only you will remember, and maybe your family – but they should and are likely to just support you.

Fail. Please.

Failure. It’s a word that people hate and avoid. But that’s exactly all it is, a word. I think it stems from schooling systems, if you fail, you are stupid and pathetic and everyone laughs at you. Shit, if you can’t play rugby and fail, you are truly fucked.

But that’s pathetic. People fail all the time. Some of the most successful people in the world have failed 50-100 times, and kept on going. Resilience. They knew that they could do it, and every single time they failed, they learnt and adapted and eventually succeeded.

Failing in our society (South Africa in particular) is seen as such a negative thing, that nobody actually tries anymore because they are scared of how the outside world will perceive them. You can see this in a society where if the national rugby team loses to New Zealand it’s a day of mourning, instead of thinking, “Oh shit, we lost by a try to the best team in the history of the game, well done.” Thank the rugby Gods they won the RWC.

Failure isn’t something to be ashamed of. It should be something that is celebrated and encouraged.

Theres an advert by Southern Comfort, “Whatever’s comfortable” – which I think is the attitude everyone should have. Be comfortable in your own skin. Fail. Try again. Fail. Try again.

Just remember – Nobody cares, until they do.

Cheers,

M

Is it time for the right type of influencer?

influencer marketing

Instagram is changing, should influencers?

Instagram announced that they were going to be removing likes, huge. They first tested this update with a select group of users in Canada, and then the whole of Canada. Today, they announced that they are going to be testing this feature in 6 more countries – two of those, Australia and Brazil, rank among the top ten countries for Instagram users and influencers.

Likes are often, and have been for a while, a fundamental aspect to Instagram, their users, influencers, and of course for companies who use the platform for marketing. Now, without likes, there lies a deeper discussion that is focused more towards the users opposed to the brands. We have seen a huge decline in the engagement rate on influencer posts and on Instagram in general. Steven Bartlett, founder of The Social Chain, recently posted on LinkedIn about a number of factors that could be causing this decline.

He touches on one of the points that is similar to the theme of this post, and that is: People are becoming wary of spending too much time on their phones. 21% of people worldwide have used their phone to track their screen time or set times limits for certain apps.

So, what does no likes actually mean?

No more “like” addiction – Yay

Likes are not only a way to show user engagement, but they also give a lot of people a sense of instant gratification, a scary gratification that doesn’t last very long – one that let’s you feel good about yourself, until you see a post by someone who you think is better than you because they have more likes. It’s a scary addiction.

Instagram is fundamentally based on the aspect of being creative. The logo is even a camera. The removal of likes, in my opinion, is a massive leap in the right direction to A) get the creative juices flowing and B) to open the doors to actual influence. People can no longer be addicted too likes and brands and influencers will have to get far more creative, as well as doing proper influencing, to stay relevant.

murray robertson influencer

There have been numerous posts around the mental health aspect to Instagram and the Influencer Culture, giving people the false perception of how they should look, feel, what they should wear, where they should travel, and the false pretence of success. Time Magazine had a piece that struck the nail on the head, Why Instagram is the worst social media for mental health, and some of my views and opinions aligned with what it said:

Social media posts can also set unrealistic expectations and create feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem, the authors wrote. This may explain why Instagram, where personal photos take centre stage, received the worst scores for body image and anxiety. As one survey respondent wrote, “Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look ‘perfect’.”

There was also an article that was posted on the Guardian in 2018 (not my fav news source) that covered why is Instagram making people feel so miserable? A lot of similar content that has been shared over the years around Instagram – it let’s people set unrealistic expectations, and when those expectations aren’t met, they feel depressed, self-loathing, and they are constantly seeing content that makes them feel this way.

Another article, posted by Vice in 2017, around the same topic – How Instagram makes you basic, boring, and completely deranged – which touches on how Instagram makes simple and daily tasks, seem absolutely incredible in some peoples lives compared to yours (ie, when someone gets 100k likes on a piece of burnt toast with a generous portion of avocado.)

After doing some research around the mental health of Instagram, I came across a short video that summed a lot of this up:

So, where do we go from here in terms of influencing? Because, in my opinion, influencers aren’t going anywhere – but to still be relevant, they need to evolve, and I don’t think a lot of them know how to evolve into the correct type of influencer for the way in which the world is going, as well as just being a good influence to people who follow them. People who post breakfast, unattainable goals, memes, and posts that don’t actually give you any sense of “good vibes” after you have viewed the photo – are going to crumble. If you like an image of someone standing on a Ferrari, in front of a private jet (likely all rented), and popping champagne – and then feel good afterwards, then great, but if you don’t, then you are part of the large majority who need this update.

I’m not saying unfollow all your meme pages, body goals, and food blogs. Because some of them are amazing, and do post incredible content, but there is a change happening.

But, never forget how a bunch of Influencers got it so wrong at Chernobyl….

This leads me to my next point.

Is it the end of influencer marketing, or the start of something new?

No, I don’t think it is the end of influencers, but I do think it’s the ending of a certain type of influencer. The way that young people are going, we are becoming more aware of mental health, the environment, and self awareness and acceptance. Influencers, or people and brands, with a large number of following – or ones who are “micro-influencers” – have a pivotal role to play in people and their everyday life, especially ones who have a large impact when it comes to influence.

Influencers need to start becoming influential in a positive aspect, and start to use their platforms for good, and not for narcism, or self gain. We are going to see a shift, and a needed shift, where people start being more creative, more positive, and more educated.

There are thousands of accounts out there that focus on this – and some of them are extremely powerful, and share brilliant opinions, ideas, and tips. Accounts that focus on mental health, food health, the environment, and of course design and creativity, are going thrive.

Accounts that have that “feel good” factor

Some of my favourite accounts for mental health, that I think are setting a trend for the future, are the following:

  1. @makedaisychains
  2. @thelatestkate
  3. @bymariandrew
  4. @gemmacorrell
  5. @howdoyouadult
  6. @positivelypresent
  7. @mimilashiry
  8. @trashisfortossers
  9. @elephantjournal
  10. @apartmenttherapy
  11. @lonleywhale
  12. @oceanramsey

And then literally ANY account that has @natgeo, that features animals, photography, creativity (Behance and Adobe have incredible pages) or food that you enjoy – cake, pizza, burgers, healthy food, vegan food, milkshakes etc.

Anyway, that’s me done. First blog. Let me know what you think about the changes happening in the influencer game.

Cheers,

M