How does UX relate to your Social Media Strategy?

Been seeing this “UX” word all over the internet are you wondering what it all means and what kind of relation it has to your social media strategy?

User Experience design is a process that places the user at the centre of your design process and builds the product or service completely focussed on the goals of the user.

This design process focuses on the ease of use and the level of pleasure in engaging with the product or service that is experienced by the user.

For example, have you ever used a website that just makes you frown at your screen? That’s the first sign of bad UX design. When a website’s “flow” is clunky and confusing to navigate, or if you select a button and the page that opens isn’t where you wanted to navigate to, this is an example of bad UX design fundamentals.

The User Experience design of a product speaks to the flow of the user’s interaction with a product, looking intently at the journey of the user and understanding if it is enjoyable and assists the user in attaining their goals.

This design process also takes into account the limitations of the user and does not remove them too far from their comfort zone to engage with the product.

The second level of User Experience speaks to the aesthetic appeal and the intuitive design of a product for example, how the site moves, the flow from page to page, the psychology behind the colours used and the User Experience best practises which is an art in itself. But is felt deeply in its absence.

How does Social Media Relate?

Many businesses have turned to Social Media to promote themselves, build their target audience and engage with their consumers. Seeing that there are 3.48 Billion, with a B, social media users in the world this is an extremely smart strategy to incorporate.

However, there seems to be a general forgetfulness amongst business that these platforms are called SOCIAL platforms for a reason. They were built and remain popular for the sole reason of them being socially interactive and engaging platforms.

Now let us be truthful, when you take a walk in a shopping mall and you lock eyes with a cell phone promoter or a jewellery story or gym membership promoter your first reaction is to look away and speed up your walking to get away from them. So why, when creating our social media strategy do we focus on the sales-y, disengaging content that people scroll right past.

User Experience design, with the user centred design, and the principles that focus on the user’s experience with your product should be the exact same principles implemented when creating engagement with your brand through your social media strategy.

How do I implement UX into my Social Media Strategy?

As i mentioned before, UX is the focus of user centred-design but before you can dictate what your user wants, you need to be able to dictate who your user is, who is your target market, what are their qualities, their behaviours, their likes and dislikes, demographics.

Once you have an idea of your persona, you can then envision and map out the journey that they take, and what their goals are at each part of the user journey.

For example the journey of your user will start at the search or discovery stage, here you would take into account that they have discovered your brand for a potential product or service that they are actively looking for and build out the journey from there, taking into consideration aspects such as, how would they like to engage with your brand (a call back, solely on a messaging platform, emails etc.).

The design can become extremely in depth, but with focus and investment into the UX design of your social media strategies will come top of the line leads that are fully engaged and targeted.

I know most of us, as small business, don’t have the funds to employ a full time UX specialist, and most of us don’t have the time to learn the skill ourselves. But, if you are working with an agency, you can make sure that they are taking UX design into account when creating and posting your content. If you are braving the social media dragon alone, do one simple thing, place yourself in your target audiences’ shoes.

Because in it’s simplest form, UX design says, i know and understand you.

WHY TRAVELLING IS THE WORST CAREER MOVE

A recent article from Business Insider posted on LinkedIn asked 20 of the worlds most successful CEOs what they think all of their employees should do in the early years of their careers. For me, this kind of insight is invaluable, and so, my productivity came to a screeching halt and I jumped into this article straight away.

There were a number of aspects that were, in my opinion, a given, and somewhat expected. Little nuggets of knowledge and advice ranging from invest in property, or work at a multi-national corporation, build and nurture good work ethic, these were a given, I wasnt really blown away by any of these pieces of advice.

However, what did somewhat astound me, was that out of the 30 CEOs interviewed for this piece, 27 of them advised their people to travel.

Now Ive been in the corporate world, Ive encountered CEOs. Theyre in at 6 am, they leave long after everyone else has left, they have so much communicative traffic that they often hire a person solely to channel and screen the abundance of e-mails and phone calls.

Somehow, I just cannot picture these guys in shorts, one of those khaki hats, water bottle strapped to their hip, exploring the world freely as their advice suggests.

I was glued to this article, I researched a number of these businesses afterwards, Im just not sure that they know exactly what theyre advising the world to get itself into.

Here are a number of reasons travelling is a bad idea, and could seriously affect your future career path.

  1. SEEING BEAUTIFUL THINGS RESULTS IN SEEING THINGS IN A BEAUTIFUL WAY:

Theres this strange phenomenon that happens where, whilst travelling, even the grungiest, dirtiest, decrepit buildings seem breath taking, filled with character and culture, whereas in your usual setting, driving past an exact replica of this building on your way to work in your home town, would make you sigh heavily and mumble about the way this country is going ever since so-and-so started running it.

All of a sudden the glass is more than half full, it overfloweth my dear. Your eyes are lifted from the confines of your mobile dwellings and your endless online endeavours and somehow, are tuned solely into the beauty of your surroundings. What torture.

  1. YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT SKILLS WILL FLOURISH, NATURALLY:

There is no better project manager, or any manager for that matter, than the manager who takes their project personally. Who feels losses, failures, successes and roadblocks personally. Travelling teaches all of the skills for Project Management in a real and personal setting- money management, time management, time conversion, planning, strategy, road map reading, stumbling through foreign language barriers , all of these and more you learn to tackle head-on to achieve daily goals. A number of these skills translate directly to the core skills of a project managers daily tasks and challenges. Travelling will enable you to relate iterations of a project to real life, worldly experiences and provide a depth of understanding and creative solution building. It gets worse.

  1. CULTURAL AWAKENING AND COMPASISON

You never truly understand a person, until you have been where they have been. In todays remote world, we encounter a plethora of cultures and diversity intraday. A successful person, is only successful because of the pull and influence they have on people, clients, employees, markets, regardless. People. If one cannot connect with people, your success will be extremely short lived. The strange thing is that, when at home, you and I are too tired, irritable and even somewhat above understanding things about people. In travelling, with this wide-eyed curiosity that is an inherent condition when leaving our comfort zones, theres almost a hunger to understand. You wouldnt understand, for example, without travelling to Africa, why Africans speak at an extreme volume to each other in a public place. This is a sign of respect and assuring all those surrounding them, including you and I, that they are not gossiping or being deceitful about us. Or that when entering a room, a Zulu man will walk in front of the woman, so that if there is danger in the room he will face it and protect the woman.

On the same path one you can never understand the effects of Genocide until seeing Eastern Europe, or effects of natural disasters without visiting Thailand, Haiti, or the fear and destructive tendencies of Terrorism until visiting Ground Zero and the flood of emotions that overcome you while standing there as opposed to distancing ourselves through a television screen. You will never truly know compassion until you have been and felt what people have been through. In the words of Mark Twain Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and what will the world do without those gems?

  1. THE YOLO SYNDROME

Yet ANOTHER syndrome contracted by travel. You go from routine, routine, routine, directly to what feels like the crazy train; theres a cliff, I want to jump off of it, theres the ocean I want to skinny-dip in it, this meal is ridiculously over-priced.. I deserve to spoil myself. The You Only Live Once syndrome. For that space and time, you feel that you are mortal, your time is limited, it is now or never to write the glorious nuances for the stories of your lifes book. This syndrome follows you, overshadows every decision you make, seduces you to take chances, risk loss, and man, to live. To be honest, Im not sure you ever recover.

  1. INSIGNIFICANCE REIGNS

The most powerful sensation youll feel in travelling is insignificance. I know, who wants to feel insignificant? Were all trying to be the hero of our time arent we? Unforgettable.. Immortal.. Legendary.

This insignificance, however, brings with it an unfathomable peace. Suddenly, you are a drop in the ocean, a needle in a hay stack, (insert any other idiom that brings the concept home for you). And the peace, that comes with the realisation that your worries, your stresses, that rumour mill that you are constantly the centre of.. nobody knows about it, about you, or cares for that matter. For some of us this can be a little.. lets call it a lesson in humility. Many of us find such comfort in being the centre of the universe. It almost defines us. But this feeling of insignificance it reminds you, on both ends of the scale, that youre your problems, those massive boulders on your shoulders that you insist on dragging around, they do not reach far, they are not galaxy destroyers and they have not branded you, they do not define you. In the same breath your chase for greatness may hold absolutely no weight just outside the borders in which you reside. And let us be honest, who wants to find out that there is an array of concepts of wealth in this world, and perhaps we are bountiful beyond measure and bathed in prosperity, we just did not know how to acknowledge ourselves as being so. Who in their right mind would want to find out that theyd been rich all along.

The world is changing. The office, the Boss, the employee, theyre changing. The paradigm has shifted. And clearly, by the aforementioned article, CEOs are looking for employees and partners who has embraced the change. People no longer hire individuals so that they can place in production line, provide them with tasks and never engage again. People are hiring individuals with worldly experience, cultural conscientiousness and those with a degree from the university of street smart. Im a little sceptical, these side effects and syndromes sound life changing.

Ill have to do a little more research,

I need to go now, my flight is boarding.

ADORN YOURSELF IN POSITIVITY

In todays world we are inundated with negative grungy information. All we hear is of horror attacks, heart ache, loss, looming terror and complaints.. oh the complaints.

Here is where I will adorn you with Positive Armour. Your protection against negativity. I will provide you with pieces that will change your mindset, change your views, remind you of your ability to do something that changes the world we live in..

Let me be your Armour as we sail through this sea of Negativity. The Negativi-Sea.

Let Me Adorn You In Positivity

The Art of Contending

Sometimes the Best Way to Deliver a Punch is to step Back..

Million Dollar Baby, the movie that stole our hearts as we watched the rags to riches, heart wrenching journey of Maggie, the unlikely underdog turned hero of a grungy boxing gym and underrated, past-his-prime boxing coach.

A plethora of profound words to-live-by and life altering dialogue wash over me as I watch in awe of this womans determination, drive and unwillingness to hear No or You Cant. But the one line that stayed with me, for years to come, that has popped into my mind all along my short path of life was this; sometimes the best way to deliver a punch is to step back But step back too far and you aint fighting at all.

Frankie (Maggies trainer played by the legendary Clint Eastwood) is talking about her form, her style. But from the moment it rang in my ears, I heard the depth of that statement, it imprinted on my soul and to this day has never left me.

How often is it that were so entwined in a situation, in a problem, that all we seem to be doing is treading water. I like to call it the slump, the trough, the stagnation. Now, there is no one that believes more in the trends of life. The upswing and the downswing. The cycle. Sometimes its your turn to struggle and claw your way through an era, and sometimes its your turn to bask in the glory of the moment. But that line, it has a strange way of lightly tapping me on the shoulder in the middle of my greatest battles, my cyclical thriller in Manila. (Yes, Ive fought my fair share of Fraziers, so have you, dont discredit yourself.)

Own Your Weakness, Own Your Strengths

Sometimes the best way to deliver a punch is to step back色 for me, this speaks to the ability to detach. For me specifically, this speaks to emotion. So often I cloud myself with emotion, blame it on any which aspect you like, Im a Gemini, Im an only child, Im a woman, call it how you like it, none of the above offends me, and it shouldnt offend you either. Understand yourself. Understand the way you tick, the way you work, when you feel that wave of emotion, own it, label it, indulge and experiment with it. Assess what it helps you create, assess the damage it does if you let it be free, harness it and channel it. Be kind to yourself. As humans we have this indescribable beauty within us that comes from being so imperfect, and having the ability to acknowledge that. So often the clarity we so desire, that we are so thirsty for, comes from detaching ourselves. It comes from decelerating the panic, zooming out. Taking that one step back to regain our footing, regain our focus and deliver that knock-out punch, that winning number, the move that brings the crowd to their feet in awe and appreciation of you and your efforts.

Training Only One Arm Makes for a Disadvantaged Contender

There is a balance to be kept, and our beloved Frankie, Clint Eastwoods character, brings it home with But step back too far and you aint fighting at all.

Its a warning. And its applicable to every aspect of our lives. Step back too far, and you arent even in the fight any longer. Remove yourself too far, cut yourself off, bottle yourself up, and youre no longer competing. Youre no longer in the game. You aint fighting at all.

It speaks to spectatorizing yourself (yup, I made it up, give it a minute it will catch on.) it speaks to side lining yourself. Again I say, be kind to yourself, we are such gentle souls, so delicate, we are so soft and so in need of love and guidance. When there is no one around to applaud for you, applaud yourself.

Acknowledge Even the Smallest Victory

I once heard of a primary school teacher who was teaching her little ones to read. One day during class she requested that little Johnny get up and spell the word cat on the board. Johnny eagerly got up, ran to the board and in shaky, untrained handwriting Johnny wrote K-O-T. Instead of correcting Johnny straight away, the teacher ran up to Johnny and said well done Johnny, you got the T correct. Now let us try to get the rest of the letters that youre missing. Be gentle, do not jump to what is wrong first. Give yourself credit where credit is due.  Dont work on yourself because you hate what you are, or what you see. Dont go into that gym despising your body, its been so good to you for this long, after everything youve put it through. Be gentle with your mind and thoughts when learning something new, your brain does a million things at once, over and over, every single day, appreciate yourself. But do not step so far back that you no longer fight. So far back that you no longer compete.

Show Up on the Night

Challenge yourself and change yourself, drive yourself to be what you have always wanted to be, how youve always wanted to be. Dont make yourself a spectator of your own life. You are stronger and more resilient than you could possibly fathom. There is complete freedom at the end of the road of endurance. At the edge of the limits we set ourselves. But we should aim to always discover this positively.

Take that step back in todays boxing ring, assess your situation, physically, mentally, emotionally focus distribute your weight evenly, and deliver life that winning shot.

But dont forget the number one rule;

Protect yourself. At all times.

LEST DARKNESS PREVAIL

Yesterday on my way to work, facing the Monday struggle of regaining focus and gathering motivation from the depths of my soul for the week ahead, the announcement came over the radio, loadshedding will be rearing its ugly head once again, after five weeks of uninterrupted light, so to speak. The moment I heard it I could almost hear the choir of South Africans sigh and groan simultaneously. I could almost see the pile of applications to the Australian embassy quadruple, I could hear the drone of the conversations I would surely encounter around the dinner table of how this country is going to the dogs, how much trouble were all in and dont forget, were the only country in the world experiencing an energy crisis.

I know this argument is, and will be, a long running one, I know that so many people have statistics loaded as ammunition just ready to discharge at any given moment to shut the optimists right up, for some reason these people are constantly placed in my path. What Ive noticed though, with all the stats and facts in the universe, theres nothing that derails this conversation more rapidly than a polite smile and a gentle reminder of how lovely biltong tastes. How proud I am of the 1995 rugby world cup win. Its almost comical. One can almost hear the air deflating from this puffed up ball of anger standing in front of me. But my reply is based solely on this premise, if you feel that you have the right to invade my pleasant space, which I have been working extremely hard to sanitize from negativity and pessimism, I feel I most certainly have the right to guide your remarks to the exit with a random remark of appreciation, lets play fair shall we?

So loadshedding is back, for how long? Im not sure, but this one is out of my hands. Those who know me well enough know that it really is a rarity that I take this standpoint, my favourite tune to sing is of course theres something you can do, we all have the right and ability to change a situation that we dont like, cue the rolling eyes of those that spend enough time around me. But its the truth. If you dont like something, stand up, write an article, take a day off work and march for it, make a call, create a petition, and on that day, please, with your efforts in hand come forth and complain sir, to your hearts absolute content. But loadshedding, it doesnt move me, and do you know why? Because over the winter when we met with darkness our old friend so often, a number of things happened to me, and that is why yesterday, I quietly smiled at the announcement and almost looked forward to our looming reunion. Humour me, the four lessons I learnt from loadshedding;

  1. The lights cut one night just as dinner had finished being cooked (Luckily enough. I will agree the half cooked chicken wasnt always a delight), my mother ran quickly to put on her now strategically placed candles and solar lights, my grandmother sat quietly at the table, I joined her, and then my mother, we joined hands, said our prayer (semi-begrudgingly I might add as the irony was evident in thanking the Lord for all that we had), I then raised my head, with a fresh pair of eyes, now adjusted to the darkness, and around me was the most lovely setup. Before me was my dinner, surrounding me was candlelight and outside the window, the most exquisite moon was lending her light to me. The evening wooed me with a candlelit dinner. How romantic life can be.
  2. The electricity cut on a Friday evening once, more than once, but on this specific evening the electricity left us at the common part of my Friday evenings I like to call the Hi-and-Bye. The time slot where you have made plans, youre just in from work, rush past whomever is in your home, pets included, you Hi them, shower, change, rush out and shout Bye over your shoulder as you excitedly jump into the car to get to the nights adventures. This particular evening my phones battery had drained, there was now no light, no hot water, my extremely important social endeavours came to a screeching halt, the tragedy of it all. My mother, in her imaginative nature, cut up some gherkins, some ham, some cheese and biscuits put them on the table and called for myself and my grandmother to at least tide ourselves over with some snacks. I sat down beside them once again and the strangest thing happened. We conversed. Without interruption, glaring light, blaring noises, we spoke, in the soft candle light the three generations connected in a way that I really cant tell you when last they did. We reminisced, we debated, we laughed. With no phone to constantly check, no television to stare idly at and grunt responses around, we truly connected. In such a digitally connected age, how disconnected our souls have become. I will treasure this evening for the rest of my life.
  3. A few days later, during the week, the electricity cut just after dinner, luckily we had anticipated the cut, eaten early enough and then it cut. Once again, no battery power, no laptop power and the serenity was unimaginable. I jumped into bed at the unheard of hour of 8.15 pm, my mind shut down, my aching bones relaxed and the strangest part, my insomnia did not come knocking that evening. How cluttered weve made our lives. The silence was almost too loud for the first few moments. I could hear and regulate my breathing, the beating of my heart was rhythmic and consistent, what a miraculous system. That evening I truly rested, that evening I allowed for the wonder of my existence to amaze me once again, that evening I learnt to appreciate silence, since we have so little of it.
  4. One of the last evenings I remember that electricity got cut, my house was prepared, all cell phones were fully charged, all laptops were up and running and we sat in the candlelight politely ignoring each other, tending to our ever so important digital responsibilities that of course couldnt wait another minute. The beginnings of a human development concept that is so close to my heart had challenged me to watch at least one TED video a day, this would almost train me to open my mind to the ideas of the world on a daily basis. I realised however, that my people at home didnt even know about TED videos, they couldnt, by nature, comprehend the plethora of learning that is now in the palms of our hands in this age. So I used my last percentage of battery, picked what I rated as the most profound video in the TED library and played it aloud. By the end, everyones attention had shifted to the video, that evening I filled the silence and the darkness with positivity and change, my little home was radiant that evening with the glow of choosing to open our minds. That evening we chose to drink abundantly from that half-filled glass.

I realise that there are economic repercussions, I realise that it makes running a business a little tougher and productivity declines, I realise that when you have a scheduled activity that is interrupted it is frustrating, Im human, I know. A dear friend of mine, with a drive to create a human development platform once based his idea pitch on the premise of successful people placing roadblocks in their own paths, taking an action every day that causes a paradigm shift in thought and a drive for a different outcome. Sometimes these roadblocks are out of our control, I made the decision to allow the loadshedding roadblock to enhance my person, I decided that the loadshedding roadblock was good for something, I didnt rack my brain to make money from it, I didnt innovate and provide the rest of us with a solution, I became the solution, to a much larger problem in my life, through loadshedding. I used my electrical disconnection, to focus on my emotional connection. So the next time you hear the click and the darkness consumes you, lay a blanket out on the carpet, grab some cheese, a glass of wine and actually connect.

We dont have to always be alone.