Bloggers Breakfast 2

TALKING TECH OVER BREAKFAST

In a bid to continually provide our client’s with communications solutions, we hosted a focus group dubbed Bloggers Breakfast with the aim of talking tech with Kenya’s top bloggers and freelance writers. Our aim was to gain some valuable insights, the latter of which is life’s blood of our line of work; because not only are we in the business of creating solutions but we are also meant to ensure that those solutions are based on deep insights otherwise they will not achieve client’s agenda and/or resonate with target audiences.

Incidentally, you might think that our work involves writing press releases, organising press conference events, engaging media, providing photography & video coverage, posting designed memes on social media, and you would not be entirely wrong. However, more of the work we do is invisible and takes up a majority of our time.  This kind of work revolves around reading page upon page of long, jargon filled strategic and policy documents from which we extract context and content. It involves spending late nights going through tonnes of image and video footage, shot over weeks and months, to extract less than 3min of compelling content that best captures the client’s agenda. It also means connecting and managing relationships with media contacts across the continent, which is actually a vital part of our mandate, considering that we are now in the age of a revamped modern day Pan African movement, it is important to talk about what our clients are doing in the African context. 

Yet while we seek to play in the continental landscape, it dawned on us that there remain smaller but more impactful media players who are very critical in addressing the communications needs for both our clients and the audiences that follow them. They might not belong to the big, well known media houses, you might not find them on the list of top media personalities, and they might not be doing this as their full time job but at the end of the day they run channels and platforms that can be used to educate and engage a larger demographic of people who are interested in content that matters and has a direct impact on them as individuals. The era of mass broadcasting without catering to the individual needs of the viewer/reader/listener is fast fading.

In our realisation of this, we invited bloggers and freelance writers interested in the areas of Tech, ICT Policy, Data Privacy & Protection, Online Security, Digital ID, Social Media Taxation among other topics for a breakfast meet and greet. The agenda was to familiarise ourselves with what our guests were interested in and also to brief them about a client that we wanted to work with them on. The breakfast event was hosted at Lava Latte, one of Nairobi’s newest IG ready spaces but with great food to boot.

Eight attendees graced us with their presence and most importantly their thoughts. As you would expect from any ‘coming-together’ of young creative minds, 70% of the time was spent discussing and trying to solve world problems while 30% was spent on the topics set in the agenda. Overall, the discussion extended from the 2 hours planned, but apart from having prior commitments to attend to, it didn’t seem to curtail the vested interest in the ongoing discussion.

In our view, after the informative morning spent, we got to understand that topics related to Tech, ICT Policy, Data Privacy & Protection, Online Security, Digital ID and Social Media Taxation will not have ready uptake from writers and their platforms because they are viewed as not juicy or relevant enough for their readers. It was pointed out that a majority of Kenyans do not seem to care about their online safety or on matters related to data privacy and protection, in the same way their Western counterparts do. It might be in large part because it was felt that people don’t experience data breaches/online insecurities as individuals, the way a street robbery would, but that it affects a large group of people in one amorphous geo-location. In any case, considering the state of the economy, people would rather worry about more pressing issues. 

In the wake of Facebook and their Cambridge Analytica issue, there has been growing skepticism about the true intentions of organisations that purport to push agendas such as cyber security, data protection and privacy. We were asked questions like, What’s their catch and end goal of those putting out their stories and information? Isn’t everyone collecting data anyway and doesn’t that data make our online experiences better? Can we instead talk about how Tech is widening socio-economic gaps rather than making them better? Despite these tough questions, there remained strong optimism that organisations, through their agencies, would come clean about their true intentions of putting out certain information to the public. A suggestion was made to provide raw data/information alongside press releases/statements so that the bloggers and writers could decipher for their readers what would be of importance and relevance to them.

We got to understand that the bloggers and writers know their audiences and are keen on not having them lose interest. They shared simple filters asking if the story takes their readers through a real experience or if the information shared is factual. They all  agreed that in the era of fake news it would be detrimental to them and their platforms. Simply put anything unverified does not get published. 

Finally, we also got to appreciate that despite their interest in tech and related topics, each platform retains their own strong focus ranging from social justice, creative writing, lifestyle, education, experiential and analysis. Our job as an agency representing organisations is to give the bloggers and writers verified information, and give them leeway to take an angle of their liking to tell the story.

 

delete-button-f

Delete After Use, A Lean Data Practise.

Do you ever read the Terms of Use, Privacy & Cookies Policies on websites you visit or software apps that you download? Would you happen to know how many apps you have installed that did not have any Policies on the platform? In the event you read through these legal documents, are there any policies that you did not agree with in part or entirely? Finally, have you ever been in a position where you clearly did not agree with the Legal Policies but you still give your consent because you really needed to use that service, and you not having agreed to locks you out of the service?

Let’s go down this rabbit hole a little further and talk about that time you installed an app but were left a little disconcerted about the details you were being asked for. Did you, despite your confusion, go ahead to fill your first name, surname, email address, telephone number among other fields that felt a little too much? All these you do even before you use the app. Then once you gained access you realised that the app was not giving you the desired service or information you require, so you deleted it to find a better app or to free up space on your device.

The thing you might not know is that, when you uninstall an app, it is only the app on your device that you deleted but not the information that you provided. The app still retained your details or data and continues to use or distribute it to third parties as declared in the many pages of their legal policies that you did not read through.

I’ll share an example of a friend’s experience with a local app called MyDawa. The app promotes itself as Kenya’s most trusted online pharmacy for affordable and genuine medicine. It is used by its users to order for over the counter medicines and supplements, which get delivered right to their doorsteps. My friend recently installed the app and discovered something interesting. In the installation process, they asked for a number of personal details and for them to state whether they were 18 years and over. After using the app for some time, they were asked to add information on their dependents.

To cut the story short, my friend uninstalled the app to free up space on their device but a month later, they began receiving promotional messages about various products such as diapers, credit facilities, insurance among others. Considering my friend belongs in the legal fraternity, it was only natural that they reverted to the website to seek out their Privacy policy but found that it was not readily available on the platform. They then went further ahead to request it from the MyDawa team and they were shocked to find out that there was a statement giving the platform liberties to share my data with 3rd parties.

It’s easy to connect the dots if you’re really looking for something, once my friend shared their family details, the data showed that one of them was still of diaper wearing age. Clearly, the information was sold to manufacturers of diapers along with insurance and financial solutions firms. It’s honestly rather unfortunate because once my friend shared the story I lost all trust in a brand I was yet to interact with. Such a scenario does more damage rather than good to a brand.

 I attended a Lean Data Practices (LDP) Capacity Workshop hosted by TESPOK and Mozilla where I learned that LDP is about promoting good data handling practises that boost good corporate values and trust among its staff and customers. LDP’s mantra is simple, once you have finished using the data you have collected, delete it. It also advocates that Legal policies be made available in a language that’s simple to understand to the user. and accessible. Do not put out a multi-paged document filled with jargon designed to tire and confuse the user.

You may think that Lean Data Practise is only for Governments (read Huduma Namba) and Corporates but it’s also for the individual such as you & I. We have multiple emails that we keep in our inboxes, both read and unread, that we truly don’t need. We have subscribed to websites, blogs, online services, newsletters, done surveys that have over the years collected our data and keep pushing content to us that we honestly do not need.

Additional data in cyberspace simply means more risk to your online identity. It’s time to declutter Data: don’t keep it if you are not using it.

Oliver with Maina

Embrace Video – Communication Is Headed That Way.

We believe that video is an important element of future of communication. In the last couple of years, we have seen social media sites begin to embrace the video more than ever before. We saw WhatsApp come and with it came WhatsApp videos (which were the thing of the day). The later WhatsApp brought to us WhatsApp status – which is really a platform where you can not only send photos and written content, but also videos and live videos. Then Facebook and IG joined the wagon. Later on, Facebook started Facebook live and Twitter brought twitter live. IG then came with IG tv. Even Youtube started a ‘live’ functionality. Most social apps nowadays also have video calls. Video is everywhere. Note that I did not even mention apps like Skype, Hangouts, Snapchat, Behance, Musically, Reddit, Tumbler etc.

We have seen nowadays that even buildings are being used to communicate. A quick example is the launch of the Note 9 on Burj Khalifa. Schools have also started embracing the use of videos in learning. Most people nowadays don’t do presentations without a short clip included. NGO’s use videos to highlight the impacts of the projects that donors have funded. When you see something that interests you, the 1st instinct that comes is for your to pull out your phone and start recording. Video is encoded in our DNA, and people are mass producing them.

But in a world where 5 Billion videos are uploaded onto Youtube every day and over 300 hours of videos uploaded every minute, how do you make your video content stand out? How do you make your videos be among the ones that people will want to watch again and to re-share? Videos that stick in the memories of your audience? Well we were thinking about it and here are few tips that we found would help you achieve ‘stickiness‘.

a. Keep it Simple – Less is more. An example of a simple video is this ad. Apple compared its Mac Book Air to an envelop in a video 30 seconds long. The take home point in this video is that a Mac Book Air is a portable computer. So thin that it fits in an envelop. A different version of the same video would have  mentioned things like inches, octa-core, chipsets, memory and all those things that just confuse someone. Keep it simple. Keep it real. Be wary of information overload otherwise you loose your viewer. A famous quote goes like ‘Tell people 10 things and they remember none. Tell them one thing and they will remember it.”

One of the methods which one may use to keep it simple while still maintaining interest is using analogies (a comparison between one thing and another for the purpose of explanation or clarification). Analogies don’t tell everything about a thing but they get you to as close as you can get to the thing. It is essentially comparing something you know with what you don’t – like using X to find Y. In the case of that ad they compared an envelop to laptop. So one is left with a desire to find out more about this laptop that can fit in an envelop.

b. Introduce the Unexpected/Unknown – Make your messages unique. People usually have a predefined sequence of events in their minds. It is a sequence that forms because they have been exposed to similar pattern before, until now they are able to predict how it follows. Breaking this pattern by introducing an element of surprise is a sure way of capturing attention. But to get videos to stick you need more than that; you need to create surprise and maintain it. By violating expectations and breaking the pattern, you open a curiosity gap that keeps people hooked because they want to find out the answer. In this commercial, they couldn’t have validated this point better. It is also important to ensure that you are not too repetitive because repetition bores people.

c. Show, don’t tell. – If you want your audience to hear (not just listen) to your content, use concrete words and definitions. For example, read the following sentences: (i). Climate change (ii). Global warming. Which of the two forms a visual in your mind? Which one can you see? Things that can be visualised last longer in memory. So if you create videos, try and make them as visual as possible, by being deliberate even with the words that you use. If people can’t see what you are saying, they are not getting it.

d. Tell Emotional Stories – Anything that touches our emotions tends to last longer in our memories. Emotions get people to care about a thing. Our CEO always says that “you can never be on the wrong side of people’s emotions and win.” Create and tell stories that relate with people’s daily lives. Decide on an emotion that you want to inspire then build your story around it.

You can arrive at emotion by asking ‘why, why and why again’. Why do people buy expensive watches while there are cheaper ones? Because they want to look a certain way. Why do they want to look a certain way? Because it makes them feel better and makes them confident. Why do they care about confidence? Because without confidence they would not be able to behave a certain way, say certain things and be in certain places. Why does that matter? Because they probably would not make money to live the life they live? Why does this matter? Because they would be poor. Why are they afraid of being poor? and the questions go on and on.

The ability of videos to be more personalised than any other means of communication gives them the advantage. People love to see things and they love to feel that personal touch to things. It is time that organisations begin to appreciate that video is where the world is headed.

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