Pulse People – Kwabena Oppon-Kusi

One recurring thread in our Pulse People interviews is how most people start out in very different professions from the ones they eventually end up with. For the people who dare, they find their way out of their initial interests and toward opportunities that give them the freedom to exercise their creativity. 

Kwabena Oppon-Kusi realized his interest in digital creativity very early on, and simply followed it. In this Pulse People edition, we talk with him about how he went from a degree in Real Estate to Photoshop, and how his poetic background has translated into a mastery of client presentations.

Tell me about your background.

I studied Real Estate at university, but I’ve always loved to be in the arts, always loved to draw, design and such. So while I was in university, I taught myself how to use Photoshop. I started with a few other apps but then I ended up on Photoshop. And I started designing for people in uni, election candidates who wanted posters, and things like that. At that time I was doing design properly as a passion, so I was experimenting a lot, picking things on the internet and trying to replicate them in Photoshop. 

So at the end of school, when I was doing my national service, I got a call from an old friend. Back then I used to perform and do a lot of spoken word presentations, and I was quite known for that. So this old friend called me, asking for a logo design after they had seen a few works of mine online. She happened to work in a marketing agency that needed more designs, and finally, I started working part-time with the agency, and right after my national service, they wanted me to come in full time. So I got into this whole industry really as a graphic designer. 

I started off doing graphic design for digital deliverables, things like banners, social media posts and such. Naturally, because I am somebody who writes, I took an interest also in going beyond the artwork. I was working on captions first and before I knew it I was working on content calendars, and then the content strategy. I also then realized that my background in speaking in front of people was a great foundation for presentations and pitches, and it made it easy for me to go and pitch the ideas I had to my team and to clients. So through that, I switched from the digital team to the business development team, where there was a lot more pitching. That’s when I fully understood that that was where I wanted to be and finding that spot between design and business was great, and that’s how I ended up doing what I do. And then from there, I moved to Pulse to be Head of Creative Strategy. 

Tell me about how you got into Pulse

Well, I was approached. I think at that time, Moritz (Pulse MD) was in Ghana, and Sena (Director of Sales, Pulse Ghana) was also looking for someone to assist him on the creative side of things. A mutual friend introduced me to Sena, and we had a call, after which he had an offer for me, and I liked it. After that, I had a few meetings with Moritz, and Sena, and then right before I joined I was to have another meeting with a new MD for Ghana, so I had the final meeting with Katharina, and I got in from there.

I had already taken a gap month to figure out a few personal things, and during that gap month, Covid happened and everywhere was on lockdown. So I started my career here in April, at home, basically. Spent a few months working from home, not meeting anyone, and then finally started coming back into the office. I was probably one of the first few people to come back in because I was the one who needed to see people and see the office.

What’s your current role at Pulse Ghana?

Yeah, that’s the hard part. Lol. So the current role is Head of Creative Strategy. When I came in, it was the Head of Pulse Studio. I wasn’t too comfortable with that. I just felt like it was hard to speak about it whenever I step out. There’s still a strong sales element to that role, and I just felt like it was harder to explain to people what I want to do for them so I pushed for us to use the term Head of Creative Strategy. What I do is basically sit between the account managers and the sales team. The sales team wants to sell, but they need to sell concepts, ideas and strategies, and those have to be put together in a nice presentation. Account managers need to create exciting content, and that needs to also be presented in a format that allows them to upsell to their clients, and that’s where I come in. I offer creativity but also an understanding of the business. So we are the conduit between the two departments, putting together the decks for complex strategies and all the ideas that come up during our play (brainstorming) sessions. So we either give it to the sales team to sell to their clients or we make the presentations ourselves. 

Another thing is also not waiting for briefs to come in. We also do our own conceptualization for things that we think would be good for Pulse Marketing, so that’s video concepts we can sell, and also content that we can put together to help promote the brand itself. So yeah, working with briefs, working with account managers for their content, yeah that’s basically a summary of everything that we do. 

What does your typical day look like at the office (or at home)?

So a typical day would be me coming in and checking through my todo list which I would have already prepared at home, checking my calendar for any meetings, but most of the work that is being done is creating new decks for new clients that are coming in. So, for example, my Director of Sales could tell me that he has just had a quick meeting with a client and they want a social media plan. I start with research, I do some research on the brand itself, see what they are about, see what their communication is like, see where the loopholes are, and then schedule a play session with everyone involved. From there, I pick up the notes, convert them into a strategy document and send it back to the salesperson who is interested or send it to the client. So that’s a very typical day of work. Other things also come up, like joining meetings, sharing updates and so on. We also look out for tenders or public briefs from clients. We would also get involved with video projects where relevant. On other days,  you’ll see me acting as the second to my director in meetings, international sales meetings, leadership calls, and giving support to Sena. Yeah.

Joining Pulse just as the pandemic began, has that affected your work, or the way you go about it?

Yeah definitely. Starting, it was very difficult. It changed a lot of things. It took me longer than usual to get to know people, so I worked a lot by myself in the first few months, couldn’t put faces to names for so long, didn’t know who to call, and all that. I’m usually the type of person who likes to know everybody. But it took a while. And as per the job, because of the pandemic, there were a number of exits that threw the work off balance a bit. So I was coming into a job where the work style was very different and added to that, some people had to leave because of the pandemic. It made it harder.

But after a few months, we recovered nicely. Also coming into a department that was fairly new, the most important thing was to set your own policies and work style so that you are also sure of how you’re being measured and all of that, building a team etc. So that was the difficult part for me, but I think after a while, we all got into the groove of it, and now things are moving as they should.

What’s your daily source of inspiration? As someone whose work involves a lot of creativity and coming up with ideas, how do you keep churning them out?

On a very typical day, I spend a lot of time early in the mornings on social media.I do that because I just want to catch up with everything that everyone is doing and saying. I want to see what’s the coolest thing now, what’s trending, I use that a lot. But I also then find that I switch to other types of content, not your typical social media pages. So, I spend a lot of time on Pinterest; I do a lot of searches on Pinterest. That’s for a working day. When I want to relax, it’s mostly going to be outdoors in nature; I have a spot I use, and that’s where I recharge. Also, the biggest inspiration would be my wife, of course. She inspires me to be more creative every day, so those are the three things.

So when you’re not working, you spend time in nature?

When I’m not working, I’m working. Lol. Okay but I do relax a lot. I like movies a lot. At home, we just watch movies a lot. And I feel like, in another life, I would definitely be forcing my way into Hollywood, to go and work as a director or something, just to be in the production of those movies. So I watch movies a lot. I find it to be intriguing. It’s just intriguing to see how people think, and I’m fascinated by how they come up with such ideas.

I do watch a lot of sports too. I watch football a lot. It’s proper entertainment for me.

How do you stay on top of everything? Producing valuable documents for several clients and all within a deadline?

First of all, this is to assume that I am on top of everything; I am not. Lol. But adding the marriage part to my life was not as difficult for me; maybe because I’ve not added kids to the mix. Sometimes we get home and we’re watching movies, and sometimes we get home and we’re all on our laptops working. I’m not the most organized person, but I try. If there’s one thing that Pulse has taught me, it’s to use your calendar and Google Tasks a lot, and that’s what I really try to do, become better organized. Actually, that’s what I have in front of me right now: a long list of tasks that I try to cancel before the end of the week. Sticking to deadlines is not as easy but we try. Everyone knows their pace of work, so you should be able to engage it and know when to do what. I had a deadline today at 2 pm. I made sure that I wrapped up by 11 am. You just have to use the tool that you have been given as much as you can. For someone like me who did not like to organize anything, it’s the best thing that has happened. So that’s really my way. And for balance, I think that life is balanced enough. Pulse is really not as restricting. They allow you to find time for yourself and get the breaks that you need. When I close at 5, I close at 5. When I want to stay back, I stay back, and so on. So it’s okay. 

Pulse launches Pulse Côte d’Ivoire with its website www.pulse.ci – and is now live with mass media platforms in six African markets

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire – Pulse, Africa’s leading innovative media company has today launched Pulse Côte d’Ivoire, with a dedicated team in Abidjan, a website and social media accounts. The new Pulse platform & office will increase the number of markets where Pulse is present in Africa to six, the last two – Uganda & Côte d’Ivoire – being added within this quarter. The rapid expansion of the Pulse brand and service offering across markets is in keeping with Pulse’s mission to inform and engage Africa’s young population across the continent. Pulse Côte d’Ivoire will also partner with the country’s social media personalities and influencers to foster the creator ecosystem in the country. Additionally, Pulse will offer its full suite of marketing and advertising offerings to clients.

Pulse is the leader in youth digital engagement in Africa, being the primary source of news, information and entertainment in different media formats to millions of young Pulse website visitors and social media followers. The expansion of Pulse into more markets consolidates on its already recognized leadership and brings its unique content delivery to an even bigger audience.

Speaking on the launch, Leonard Stiegeler, Founder & Publisher of Pulse, said: “I am happy & grateful that my team & I can extend our work of giving young people across Africa a trusted platform for news & quality engagement to Côte d’Ivoire today. Welcome to our new colleagues in Abidjan!”

Pulse Côte d’Ivoire is live at www.pulse.ci, and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and TikTok

Pulse

Pulse is Africa’s leading innovative media company. 

It informs and engages Africa’s young audience – and provides expansive media reach and creative marketing solutions to its partners. It is present with platforms & offices in Nigeria & Ghana in Anglophone West Africa; Senegal & Côte d’Ivoire in Francophone West Africa and Kenya & Uganda in East Africa.

Through Pulse’s mass media platforms and social media channels in its markets, it reaches millions of users monthly. Pulse TV is its innovative video producer, creating formats across the channels. Pulse Studio is its creative brand & content studio, supporting clients to express their own media vision. Pulse Marketing is its 360 degree digital marketing partner, providing comprehensive marketing solutions. Learn more about Pulse directly on www.pulse.africa.

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Pulse People: Motolani Alake

Without this intro, one thing you’ll quickly pick up about Motolani is that he goes against the grain. As we discuss, and he talks about his background and his career growth, you’ll see a young man who is ruthlessly resilient, holding tight to his deepest passions and has no qualms about stating his opinion, regardless of who’s listening. 

In this edition of Pulse People, we talk to Motolani Alake, Entertainment Editor at Pulse Nigeria and one of the more remarkable custodians of music and popular culture in Nigeria.

Tell me about your background.

A lot of it has to do with my dad. As much as he had a problem with the way I used to consume music, like always with headphones, he was the one that pretty much got me those things. And he always said something: he told me that my generation was going to be filled with people who were going to study one thing and then practise the things that they are passionate about. So he pushed me to read a lot as a kid, even though I didn’t like it. I wasn’t exactly about the books. I was more interested in weird stuff, and stuff that satisfied my curiosity. 

When I got into high school, I wasn’t very good at math. So my dad moved me to art class, seeing that I was very practical. I wanted to be a lawyer. It was a grand idea. I met Mr. Molese, who saw a lot of potential in me and made me editor-in-chief of the press club at 13. So that was how a lot of it got started. But by the time I was studying law, I didn’t enjoy it as much. So I started producing music. I really wanted to be a music producer. I got to a level where I got a gig with a record label in Detroit, and they were paying me about $100 for a beat, but I didn’t see it as a long term thing, because I knew that most music producers had very ephemeral careers; it wasn’t something I could do for a long time. 

For the best part of my late teens and early twenties, I really wanted to create a tech company. And I did. I created some things, but they just never got off the ground. 

So by 2013, when I graduated from uni, a friend of mine who used to work at Pulse, Segun Akande, told me about a platform called Column. Column was this new platform, and they wanted me to come to write for them. He had never seen me write (even though we went to the same uni), so I was curious as to how he knew I could write. So I joined Column at the time, but the platform closed down within 6 months, then I went to law school, and stopped writing for a while. Immediately after law school, he called me again to work for another platform called Turnt. This had a longer spell. I wrote for Turnt for about 6 months. But 4 months into that spell, he joined Pulse. So I was writing for Turnt until Turnt closed down. 

In 2016, I was trying to start another company. I had sent proposals to the Central Bank, they were interested in it, but all of a sudden, they shut it down. They said we couldn’t create a non-bank led fintech. And so everything got shut down, my dad got sick, I got depressed. And then the following year, I started consulting for a sub-company of USAID called HFG. Another friend of mine called me (his name is Kwame) and said we should start a platform called Urban Central. So we pooled all the money that we had and started this company. We didn’t really want to start a website, so we started on Medium. All of a sudden, before we knew it, it started growing. That was when a lot of people got to know me as a writer. Before Urban Central, people knew me as a sports guy. But with Urban Central, I could really explore more niches because I was the Managing Editor of the platform. I was writing across a lot of topics, and I was editing a lot of content. We had problems managing the team as we were all remote, in different parts of the world. As we kept going, it got to a point where I got a bit confused and lost. I knew I wanted to do media, but still, I was not settled. I wasn’t sure I was doing what exactly I wanted. Everyone thought I was opinionated and strong-willed. I heard more than once that I was special, but over and over again, people seemed to focus on the negative, grating parts of my personality. I remember when I was working as a lawyer, my boss at the time, (he was very helpful in shaping my own writing), he 

At Pulse for the first time, I found something I wanted to do, for one, and I also met people who saw the positive and negative sides of my strong personality, and they chose to focus on the positives, and even see the positives in the negatives, and found a way to marry both of them together, and create a professional. That’s what Pulse gave to me. 

How did you get into Pulse?

I decided I wanted to go into media. I’m Christian. So I prayed a lot in 2017 because I was really down bad. I reached out to my friend Kwame. I think I had sent out another proposal and it was turned down. In that year, I actually contemplated suicide. I just knew that there was a lot I could do with my life, but it just didn’t seem to be coming together. So I decided I would chase the media path. I got a job in Abuja, for a Company Secretary/ Legal Adviser role in a financial advisory firm. The money wasn’t bad. It was great, in fact. But the problem was, my boss and I had a number of differences and a fundamental misunderstanding about my role. I was asked to do a lot of sales, which was not my strong suit at the time. I was still looking for funding for Urban Central at the time, I met Mr. Tosin Ashafa, who was really interested, but we didn’t quite have the requisite structure to attract the investments we were looking for. 

So, in February 2018, I saw a vacancy on Pulse for a music writer position on Twitter, and I came in for it. I got the email to come in for the interview two days prior to the interview, but I didn’t see it until the evening before the interview. So I had to take the night bus from Abuja to Lagos because I couldn’t get a flight at that time. So I got to Lagos and came for the interview. I remember I wore a red jacket. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I was looking dapper! Lol. Everyone was dressed fairly casually, but I was a lawyer, and I didn’t quite remember to switch from corporate to informal. So I got in, and my confidence was oozing during my conversation. I was very ready for it, you couldn’t tell me anything. I aced the interview, actually, but the problem was, they thought I would be out of control. I remember Ayomide Tayo asked me who I thought was the greatest rapper of all time. I said Kanye West, and he was trying to give me reasons why he thought it was Jay Z, and he had a good angle. But at the time, I just did not know how to accept other people’s opinions, so I got very argumentative and even confrontational. So I didn’t get the job. 

I went back to my job in Abuja, but by May of the same year, I was really fed up with it. So I resigned and came back to Lagos and was freelancing a lot, and also writing for Urban Central. Then in July, on my birthday, I got an interview at Heritage Bank. Almost everyone in my family wanted me to go back to practicing law, but I really did not want that. I intentionally lied on my cv, because I knew they would see it and not hire me. On my way back, I prayed that I would not have to go back to Akure without getting a job. Shortly after, I heard that my friend Segun was leaving Pulse. So I applied for his role, and this time, I was offered the job on the spot. So that’s how I got into Pulse. 

What’s your current role at Pulse?

I am currently Editor on the Entertainment desk, and I also lead the Pulse Podcast Network, so content strategy, talent acquisition, and all that. I also requested to be involved in a little bit of Partnerships work. But the job is sort of expanding because I do events, advisory (sometimes), sales. So the job has expanded beyond the initial scope. My primary role is to write stories for Pulse. Stories, breaking news, and similar stuff.

But the best thing Pulse has done for me, especially someone like Ben (Pulse Nigeria Editor-In-Chief) understands that I could do more than my initial job description, to give me a little more freedom to do the things that I could do, and I think it is mutually beneficial to myself and the brand, as I’ve done this over the years, to create valuable content and products. Throughout 2020, I was trying out different creative initiatives here, and I was allowed to experiment with content and find stuff that worked and caught on with the audience. That to me is the biggest blessing, and no matter what happens next, that will be the biggest takeaway from Pulse, that creative freedom. It took me a while to conform to the writing style here at Pulse. I was coming from a place where I used to write a lot of long-form pieces. But now I have to control that. Some of these pieces may not be as necessary or relevant here. 

What does your typical day look like?

My typical day, these days is hard to describe, because I do different things on different days. Let’s take yesterday for example. I woke up, came to the office, wrote 2 stories, and then had editorial meetings, then I had a meeting with TikTok to finalize a sales pitch, then shot the video for an episode of Facts Only, then we talked about podcasting. I had a meeting to discuss equipment, what day to record, which podcast to bring back, and all of that. 

Then I wanted to do a PowerPoint presentation, a pitch I’m working on, to pitch an idea to a client, and after that, I conducted an interview. So just back-to-back activity on all the different topics I’m involved in.

What inspires you to show up every day?

People on social media. Just the fact that there’s a raging, ravenous audience out there waiting for this content is enough inspiration. Lool. I’ve been burnt out for the past few weeks, but the fact that there are people that hold you accountable for these things, and the fact that someone out there will send you a message from a random place like Louisville, Kentucky to say thank you for what you’re doing, that really inspires me a lot. I’m also inspired even by messages from people that strongly disagree with my opinions on articles or on a podcast. The sheer size of the audience, and that vibrant, engaging interaction that the audience has with the work we put out, it’s amazing. 

What do you do to unwind?

I drink a lot. And I’ve had to stop myself recently. I haven’t had any alcohol since January 1. My throat got inflamed in December and that was where I drew the line and decided to really start looking after myself. Other than that, I don’t really go out much, except for work. And when I say this, people just don’t believe me because they see me out a lot. Lol. If I didn’t have to go for any of those things, I wouldn’t. I’m literally a homebody. Stay at home, watch a movie, eat when I can, drink wine, have someone over, that’s it. 

When I really want to go out, I want to go out with people that I know and have real relationships with. I don’t like clubbing, it’s a stupid concept. It’s a lot of noise, too many people and it’s also so noisy. My favourite place is an open-air lounge. That’s my kind of thing. I don’t really have cravings. I’ve lived through times when there was nothing to eat. So I’m functional with food. Lol. 

ICYMI: The Pulse Influencer Network panel session at AfricaNXT

The Pulse Influencer Network recently sponsored a panel session at the AfricaNXT conference, which had seasoned panelists like Pamilerin Adegoke, Bidemi Akande, Ify Mogekwu and Fisayo Fosudo sharing insights on the topic Tapping into the Digital Age of Influencer Marketing

Here are some of the highlight quotes from the session: 

“As an influencer, you’ve got to say to yourself ‘I really want to work with brands that will allow me to tell my audience the truth. Otherwise, you’re really starting to lose trust, not just for the brand, but with your audience as well, if you’re telling them ‘this is fantastic’ and it’s really not.”

– Bidemi Akande

“Traditional media organizations who are worried about losing their standards when it comes to working with influencers, simply have to pick the influencers they work with more carefully and leverage the reach and potential virality of social media. They need to understand that they can reach more people with social media and particularly through social media influencers. Apart from using traditional media which reaches an older demographic, there’s also an opportunity to reach younger people through social media.”

– Ify Mogekwu

“I think it’s very hard in the Nigerian context for an influencer to have been paid by a brand already and then to share a negative review of that brand. For influencers, I think it’s time for them to start to say no to some brands if they don’t feel like the product is good or when there’s no alignment between the brand and the influencer, like someone who doesn’t watch football, promoting a betting platform.”

– Pamilerin Adegoke

“What brands tend to do is to have a one-size-fits-all approach with influencers. It’s not necessarily going to be the same for every influencer. What I encourage brands to do is to talk to each influencer, and also consider multi-platform campaigns. And there are going to be influencers that you can probably use across different channels.”

– Bidemi Akande

“So [influencer marketing] is not going to be immediate, when it comes to returns, but it’s definitely valuable.”

– Fisayo Fosudo

“Whenever I work with any brand, I always request to use the product for a while and see how I can incorporate it into my life. I’m not going to talk about something that I myself will not use. The organic route just works all the time. Anyone who wants to be an influencer or help brands, you’ll want to make sure that you understand the product, and use it yourself.”

– Fisayo Fosudo

The Pulse Influencer Network is an Africa-wide network of influencers by Pulse that helps to bring influencers together and provides a platform where brands can partner with these influencers to drive awareness for their campaigns. This way, it’s a win for brands and influencers alike. Interested in working with influencers for your next campaign? Contact the Pulse Influencer Network here.

Conjuring Creativity

Creativity in finding elegant solutions to a brand’s marketing problems can feel like magic when you get it right the first time. In the thick of a 2-minute brainstorming session, you pitch a somewhat weird concept, and after cleaning it up, the idea fits perfectly and receives the nod. It can feel magical. 

But if you have been around creative teams for any stretch of time, you can tell that these ‘aha’ moments are not an expected part of a regular day at work. Creativity demands deep thinking, and often looking at the problem from many different angles, to find a solution that works and ticks all the right boxes. To add to this complexity is that sometimes, the marketing team needs to deliver a winning idea within a short period of time. IN such situations, the extra pressure could either produce a strikingly brilliant idea or, on the other end of the spectrum, a poor offering that can hardly be considered a solution.

Creative output is wonderful, and a delight for all who see the end product, but what happens on the back end? How can marketers learn to think about marketing problems, and trick their inner genius into producing brilliant creativity over and over again? What is the secret sauce?

Here are some tips to help you in your next brainstorming session: 

Prepare your mind
Image: iStock Photos

In most other practises, thinking is usually done within the parameters of the practice. Doctors work within parameters of the field, and mathematicians understand that their exploration of the world is based on the fundamental principles and formulas of the discipline. In creative thinking for marketing, the only rule to remember is that there is no rule. As soon as you read and understand the problem statement, free your mind and give it the permission to wander. 

Conduct research

Image: iStock Photos

Once you’ve accepted these parameters, you must identify the variables of the brainstorm, the main ones being a subject matter, the objectives, the target audience. Conducting research on these three main variables including a comprehensive look at the status of competitors or recent similar works should put anyone in a prime position to create magic.

Apply the knowledge

Once you have equipped yourself with the required level of knowledge, it is time to apply the aforementioned formula to the variables to find what we like to call ‘laser-thin lines’ that connect them. Consider precedents but ignore them. Apply common sense but feel free to ignore it too.  Flip any thought that comes to mind backwards, forwards or sideways. Question the status quo, even when you know the answer is impossible. You’ll be surprised at what you might find at the end of that journey.

Creativity, in a lot of ways, can start as a horror show. But by using a formula and then (albeit counter-intuitively) not using a formula, it can end up as an epic fairytale.


Kwabena Oppon-Kusi

Head of Creative Strategy, Pulse Ghana

Pulse People – Kadidja Diallo

In this edition of Pulse People, we’re talking to Kadidja Diallo. Her bubbly, energetic and exciting personality carries over the virtual meeting and infects me, as we talk about her journey through university, changing courses, picking up volunteer work, and then her work within Pulse.

Tell me about your background.

I studied Accounting and Finance. I was studying this for about two years, but by the third year, I just realized that I was kind of passionate about marketing. So I just moved from accounting to marketing, so that I could get a bachelors in marketing instead. At this time, I gained skills in marketing from the volunteering work that I did with different organizations and associations. It was the volunteer work I did in these places that made me discover how much I liked marketing. 

So I had to change school because of the school where I was specialized in accounting and finance. But my mom didn’t want me to, though; she really wanted me to become an accountant. So of course it was a problem at home for some months, but I knew what I wanted. So eventually I changed school and became responsible for my tuition and other personal expenses for a year. Then, I started working with a friend to help pay the bills. 

Eventually, someone I met as part of my volunteering work invited me to work at his new marketing startup, an agency. He would help me promote the business I did with my friend, and in turn, I would help him by working at his marketing agency. So now, I had an office to receive my customers on the business with my friend.

Most of the experience I got in digital marketing came from working in that startup. I worked there for about 1 year, part-time, while also taking other marketing jobs on the side. After a year, I felt like my work was done there, and I started looking for other opportunities. And I found a role in another agency where I was Digital Unit Manager and also head of operations. 

Let’s talk about getting into Pulse

I didn’t leave the last agency I was working for, but they had some problems and they had to close for a while. So I was home and decided to take time to relax. I did not intend to look for any new opportunities for at least two months. But after the first month, I got bored. So Eid (a Muslim celebration) was close, and I told myself I’d start looking for new opportunities after the celebrations. 

Just before the end of Ramadan, I started looking for opportunities. I went on Expat Dakar and saw that an agency was looking for a key account manager. So I sent in my resume. I also sent my resume to other companies, and then I waited. About one week after, the HR team of Pulse called me for our first interview, and after that, there was a second in-person interview. So I came to meet the manager and do the interview. 

It was kind of stressful because I felt like she was asking me too many questions. It was the first time for me in an interview, being asked so many questions. She explained that she needed to know if I had responsibilities at home that would require me to frequently leave early. But it went well. The last thing she asked was about my weaknesses. She said my resume and everything else I’ve described, seemed okay, so she wanted to know about my weaknesses. Lol. So I told her that most of the time, I’m not very punctual. 

The day after, She called my previous managers to ask about my competencies, and she got the same responses. A few days later, HR emailed me to let me know I was successful. And that’s how I was hired as Key Account Manager and Head of Operations. When I came in, Caroline (Managing Director, Pulse Senegal) had a talk with me and told me that if I wanted to really lead the team, I had to be on time. So I accepted it as a challenge and started. 

Do you still come late sometimes?

(Laughter) It was not a challenge at the beginning, because that was when we were going into lockdown, so I resumed at home. But when we started coming to the office I did not really have the choice as she was very watchful about it.  I noticed the difference between Pulse and the agency I had worked with, almost immediately. At first, I told myself that there were many meetings for me to join, and also I was a bit surprised by how organized everything was. I knew that if I wanted to fit, I just had to put more effort into being organized. 

I will never forget my first days at Pulse because I resumed on a Wednesday, and by Friday, at the moment we were having a meeting, I got a call that I had lost my dad. It was a very hard time for me. I didn’t know if I should quit the job to be with my family, or if I should keep working. 

I told myself that these people trusted me and gave me this opportunity, but on the other hand, my family also needed me, and I needed them too. Then I remembered The last conversation I had with my dad, he was so happy when I told him that I had a new job and did a lot of prayers for me. So, I decided to keep that job, and also because if I didn’t work, I would get bored, and get even sadder. 

Tell me about your current role

I started at Pulse as Key Account Manager & Head of Operations, and after 6 months or something like that, we realized that it was difficult to combine the two roles, and we had to decide if I was going to be Key Account Manager or Head of Operations. At that time, what we really needed was a strong account manager. So I worked as the Key Account Manager. By May 21, I came back to the role of Head of Operations. 

Actually, my main role is to manage the operations team and make sure that project KPIs and timelines are going as planned. I coordinate the team individually and collectively by reviewing their work (Social Media Managers, Graphic Designers, Web developers). I pilot the standup meetings, the Ops calls, the international calls, and also work directly with the MD to keep her updated about what we are doing, what problems we are facing on each project, and how we’re solving them. Also, if there is a problem with a client, concerning a project, I set a plan with the Account Manager to solve it. Sometimes, I can do a call or meet the client to accelerate realisations. I also work with the Sales team most of the time to upsell or cross-sell to existing clients where it is relevant.

 

What’s the schedule at the office?

We come into the office from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, Monday to Friday. In the past days, due to Covid, we’re used to coming once or twice a week, depending on the need. But every Monday, everyone was at the office. Actually, everyone is here, as we have new members, and I want them to get well integrated.  

What’s a typical day like for you? 

A normal day always starts with the standup meeting with the Ops team, and then, I specify the urgent tasks and deliverables. After if there are specific conversations I need to have with someone, I can have them after the standup.  I always support the account manager, just remind him of pending tasks and so forth. If needed, I speak to the MD about the ongoing projects and give feedback to her. Then I review and approve documents and deliverables before they go out. 

Before the end of the day, I check things like the turnaround time for deliverables, and to see if things were delivered on time. Also, if something is urgent, and following the normal process will take time, I do more coordination with the designer or whoever is on it, to make sure that it is delivered on time.

How do you stay inspired?

Three things keep me inspired. The first thing is the challenge. I’m someone who is easily bored, so mostly I like taking on new challenges. When everything is okay, I’m like, that’s not normal. 

The second is the satisfaction of the client. When we do great work and we get a testimonial from them or even just a thank you email, it’s just so satisfying, and it’s something that drives me a lot. 

And then finally, the team is a great inspiration. It’s a very great team. They are very brave and ready to take on any challenge at any time. Sometimes, when I’m tired, I just look at them, putting in all that effort to get targets met and so forth, and that inspires me again. And when I say the team, it’s not just my team (the Ops team). I’m talking about the whole Pulse team.

What do you do when you’re not working?

So mostly, when I just go back home and I have nothing to do, I just watch movies on Netflix. I prefer watching a series because it’s more interesting for me. I also make time to go out with friends. We just plan an outing, where we want to go, and when. We all have full schedules, so it’s not always easy, but when we can, we go out together and have a good time. I also go out with my husband sometimes to not say most of the time. Lol 🙂

Finally, I love travelling a lot. I have this goal to discover one new country per year. I could not do this in 2020 and last year too, due to COVID restrictions, but I’ve been doing it since 2015 or something like that. Travelling with someone is more interesting (if your travelling partner is actually interested in doing stuff together, and not sleeping all the way, lol), but even when you’re travelling alone, it’s still interesting for me. 

Pulse Uganda launches to inform and engage Ugandans online

Kampala, Uganda – Pulse, Africa’s leading innovative media company, has launched Pulse Uganda on January 17, 2022. Pulse Uganda is partnering with the country’s leading content creators and influencers to bring news and entertainment to Ugandans – via its own platform and large accounts on all major social media channels. Sheila Gashumba, a leading creator in Uganda, remarked on the Pulse Uganda partnership and launch: “I follow Pulse Uganda for the latest entertainment news.”

The expansion of Pulse’s footprint into Uganda aligns with its mission to inform and engage Africa’s young audience – and provide expansive media reach and creative marketing solutions to its partners. 

Pulse is a leading digital media publisher already established in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Senegal, making Uganda its fifth market.   The company has built the largest digital community of young people across the continent with over 26 million users and followers. Uganda’s population comprising 77% young people under 30, perfectly aligns with Pulse’s target audience. Pulse Uganda will be informing its audience on its website – www.pulse.ug – as well as on its social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Additionally, Pulse will bring its digital marketing and content production expertise to the country in order to support leading brands and agencies in achieving their marketing goals. 

Speaking on the launch, Aaron Musoke, Managing Director, Pulse Uganda said “We’re excited to kick off operations in Uganda. Pulse has been hugely successful in other countries in Africa, helping to bring trusted information and relevant entertainment to millions of engaged users across the web and social media. Uganda is a perfect market to launch into because of the young population of digitally savvy youth. We are excited to start building communities and growing our audience here.” 

Pulse

Pulse is Africa’s leading innovative media company. 

It informs and engages Africa’s young audience – and provides expansive media reach and creative marketing solutions to its partners. 

Through Pulse mass media platforms and social media channels in its markets, it reaches millions of users monthly. Pulse TV is its innovative video producer, creating formats across the channels. Pulse Studio is its creative brand & content studio, supporting clients to express their own media vision. Pulse Marketing is its 360 degree digital marketing partner, providing comprehensive marketing solutions. Learn more about Pulse directly on www.pulse.africa.

Links

Pulse Uganda – https://www.pulse.ug/ 

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/pulse-uganda/ 

Facebook – https://web.facebook.com/pulseuganda 

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/pulseuganda/ 

Twitter – https://twitter.com/pulseuganda

Tiktok – https://www.tiktok.com/@pulseuganda?lang=en 

Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDEeEPn3pBFs5mXSxFOFX-Q 

Pulse – Pulse.africa

You can follow Pulse’s corporate channels on:

LinkedIn (http://bit.ly/36MEXYo)

Instagram (https://bit.ly/3kmbH1r

Facebook (https://bit.ly/2RtjvSK)  

Twitter (http://bit.ly/2Z5qwfv

The first ever Pulse Fiesta in Lagos was a big blast!

Pulse held its first ever offline party for members of the Pulse digital community in Nigeria who have engaged with the brand throughout the year. It was a night of fun, games, music, influencers, content creation and great vibes. 

With some exciting talents lined up to perform, and food vendors on standby, the Pulse Fiesta kicked off with a bang on Friday, December 18. Hundreds of fans and community members began pouring into Muri Okunola Park in Lagos enjoying the background music and connecting with some of Nigeria’s most popular digital influencers.

As expected, top-rated musical acts like Buju, Ruger, Philkeyz, Iyanya, and more were on hand to deliver delightful performances and hit songs, treating the audience to an unforgettable Pulse Fiesta musical experience.

With the success of Pulse Fiesta, Pulse has demonstrated its interest and capability to execute live offline events and bring people together for a great time. The future promises more partnerships and more live events that bring fans together and create potential engagement and amplification opportunities for brands and influencers alike.

Establishing Brand Relevance

A few years ago, it was relatively easy for brands to establish and sustain relevance among their target audience. Now, a lot more is required. Globally, creative content creation is at an all-time high, and social media has become the global stage on which to share and highlight this. Staying relevant means that brands have to do more than post photos of conferences and team bonding nights. If you’re trying to reach a specific demographic, you have to become that demographic, by modeling their behaviour. 

Here are a few ways we’re working with brands to transform or reinforce their relevance to their audiences: 

1. Don’t just know the customer, know your target audience.

Image: Istock

Your target audience is evolving. Their attention spans are changing, and they are on the internet discovering new things that fascinate them. They’re constantly making decisions about how they spend their time online. It is the job of the brand to know their audience deeply, to be able to meet them where they are, and share content with them that they will find interesting and engaging. A lot of this work will involve surveys, and keeping a close eye on social media and content trends.

Pulse has recorded repeated success with our online communities by providing recaps and summaries from their favourite reality shows. We noticed the spike in engagement when we shared content from the audience’s favourite reality shows, and aligned ourselves with that wave. As a brand, your content must find alignment between what your community is currently raving about, and your brand values.

You can establish your target audience on the basis of their interests, purchase intentions, demographics etc. Learn more about clarifying your target audience here.

2. Build a positioning statement

Image: Martechive

A positioning statement helps your team to get a sense of what you want to stand out for. Positioning also helps to clarify what exactly your audience values from your brand. For instance, your brand could be a lemonade brand, but the real reason people buy from you is that your operation is cruelty-free, and the lemons are organic. 

Even if you have a positioning statement, it’s a good idea to go over the exercise again and remind the team about what’s important. 

At Pulse, we have brand strategists in our teams who have worked with brands to clarify their positioning in the market and help them create and design brand collateral that reinforces this positioning, honing in on what their already existing audience loves about them, and attracting similar audiences.  

Your positioning statement serves to make your product, focus and business super clear to your marketing team, to help them ideate better and more importantly, ideate in line with the objectives of the product, business or campaign.

Learn more about brand positioning statements here.

3. Build direct relationships with your audience

As a business, a big part of your marketing and branding strategy is to ensure that customers have pleasant interactions with you at every touchpoint where they meet you. This builds the brand reputation over time and increases brand value. The most frequent platform where customers will see your brand is on social media. Your social media platforms are not just something the company is required to have. They are an opportunity to warm the hearts of your already existing customers, while wooing others. Use this opportunity to your advantage. 

Pulse undertakes social media management for brands and our strategy often involves delivering value to the community of people who care about what that brand has to say, by sharing knowledge, or exclusive footage. We can also use our vast network to increase the distribution of great content, get more prospective customers to see and engage with your brand, and lead to immediate and more long-term benefits. 

You can engage your audience by creating opportunities for online interaction and even offline meets. 

Read about engagement and audience connection here

Raising the relevance and value of your brand is not a goal that can be achieved overnight. However, there is no better time to start investing in brand building. As social media evolves and takes an even bigger chunk of people’s lives, (with sizable investments already going into the development of a metaverse) the brands that have built a strong social relevance will be the brands people trust enough to keep going back to. 

Written by Vanessa Vifah & Kelechi Odoemelam.

Vanessa works at Pulse Ghana as Digital Strategist, helping to shape our strategy solutions for our client brands.

Pulse People: Emmanuel Tsekpo – Head, Graphic Design, Pulse Ghana

In this edition of Pulse People, we’re talking to Emmanuel Tsekpo, an interesting graphic design professional who works as Head, Graphic Design out of the Pulse Ghana office in Accra. Emmanuel takes us on an interesting journey from early days in senior high school in the Volta region of Ghana, where he first got introduced to design, to the more fast-paced Accra, the world of computers, Photoshop and graphic design dream jobs in the country’s top agencies. Emmanuel had always loved graphic design, and the tumultuous road to finding meaningful, sustainable graphic design work was not enough to stop him. 

Tell us a bit about your background:

Before I went to senior high school, I had a lot of interest in drawings. And funny enough I couldn’t draw. I still loved it though. When I got into senior high, I was a general science student. I told the vice principal that I would like to change to visual arts. The man of course was surprised and didn’t want me to change. In Ghana, after Junior High School, students are assessed and a course is assigned to them according to their aggregate score. So my dad came in. He has an art background; he is a land surveyor and an architect. He took me to the headmaster himself because he wanted me to switch to the visual arts. The headmaster also established the point that art is not of a lower value than science. The headmaster himself was an art inclined person, and his own son was in the arts. 

So yeah, at the end of the day, I was able to switch from general science to visual art. When I joined as a visual art student, my favourite subject was General Knowledge in Arts and Graphic Design. It helped me understand the principles and elements of design. My interest kept growing. I gained a background in all forms of art, from weaving, sculpture to textiles, etc. In graphic design class, the teacher would normally mention video editing and sound editing as part of the design. So after senior high school, I wanted to enroll in NAFTI (National Film And Television Institute). I applied and got the offer of admission, but I was required to have a laptop, and at the time, I could not afford one. I couldn’t also afford most of the other requirements, including the enrollment fee. So long story short, I could not attend NAFTI. I moved to Accra from the Volta region to stay with a friend who was a sound engineer. We both finished Senior High School together and wanted to get into NAFTI, but faced similar challenges. We kept exploring sounds and beats which gave me an impeccable taste in music, doing day jobs and so on, looking for a way to survive. 

My dad applied for teacher training for me (a 3-year College of education program that trains students with a modest stipend to study further to become teachers) and so I went to the interview, even if it was not what I wanted to do. Before I left Accra though, I got the chance to buy my first desktop, a 4GB RAM Pentium 4 desktop.

The training college was to train me as a teacher, to teach people in basic school. My house wasn’t that far from the school, so I’d routinely run back to the house and tinker with the design softwares I had installed on my desktop. Then I came across Photoshop, and it quickly became my main thing. That’s when I started developing my interest in professional graphic design. 

I was able to manage to pass my teacher training courses while still improving myself in graphic design. At some point, the government paid all the arrears of monthly allowances together. The money was huge so I quickly went to grab my first laptop with it, a Dell Inspiron. After the teacher training program was done, I was posted to a village as my first station of work. There was no power or internet in the village. One thing I learnt here was to design without internet access with limited resources. 

How did you start working in graphic design full time?

I taught for almost 2 years, and then decided to start a degree in IT and Education, so I had the chance to come to Accra more often. In Accra, I started networking with graphic designers, and I realized some of them are working for advertising agencies. And I started asking questions about it. It was the first time I realized that graphic designers could work as full-time staff and earn a good income. I wanted to go for it, but it was a risky thing to do at the time. The teaching job was a government job, which meant it was pretty much secure till your retirement. But I had to take this big risk and leave. Two of my graphic designer friends told me they worked at a place called Ringier (now Pulse). When they described their roles to me, it sounded like a place I wanted to work at as well, so I asked more questions about how much they earn. I had to be sure that it made sense to leave the more secure teaching job. I found out that the average salary was more than what the average teacher was earning at my level. That was all the confirmation I needed. I started looking for jobs at agencies. Because I was studying IT, I had more interest in UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) design as it was just coming up at that time, around 2015, 2016. So I got into an agency to work as a part-time graphic designer and also help with web development and UI/UX design. I worked with them for 3 months, and I couldn’t manage the pressure with my teaching job and degree school at the same time. I left and focused on the degree and was only coming to Accra for that. 

How did you get into Pulse?

When I got to my final year, I spoke to my old friends who still worked at Ringier (now Pulse). One of them had become the head of graphic design by then. He told me there was an opportunity for someone to design for the team. I went for an interview to join the team as a designer for the marketing team, but I didn’t get in. I was so sad. I was tired of the teaching job already, and I really wanted to get into Ringier. A month later though, another opportunity came for a graphic designer in the Pulse Content team. Luckily for me, I got in. I met Moritz (Moritz Boullenger, currently Pulse MD, was MD of Pulse Ghana at the time), who went through my portfolio and thought it was good, and he asked me when I could start. I was so excited to begin that I said I could begin the next day. Lol. But he was kind enough to ask me to start the next Monday. 

It was my first time landing a full-time graphic design role where I had to be at the office all week. The struggle I had was fitting in. The dress code was relaxed and coming from a strict teaching job where you had to tuck in your shirt and generally be more formal, it was a bit of a struggle. Most of the girls that worked in agencies in Accra at the time were sort of bougie looking. They all had mixed or foreign backgrounds. Their lunch was very fancy. 

After some days working at Pulse, the Head of Video approached me and asked me to start designing for the Video team as well. And then my friend who was the Head of Graphics was also sharing some of his design tasks with me, so I was now designing for the Content team and the Video team. I didn’t realize how much work I was taking on. At a point, the Content and Marketing teams both wanted me to design on their teams. It got tough. It came to a time where the Head of Marketing eventually stole me away and then they assigned me some accounts. 

As I continued with the Marketing team, the work got really tough, around 2019. I was facing the most difficult time. I hadn’t finished paying my rent, and I didn’t even have enough money to commute. I was also working on big accounts at the office, e-commerce accounts that were running promotions (for which they would need quite a number of design deliverables) on a daily basis. 

I wanted to quit. I wrote my resignation and went to Moritz. I had already spotted other agencies looking for a designer, so I went for those interviews and had even negotiated salaries. But Pulse decided they wanted to keep me. They wanted to match what I was offered, and so they gave me an increment. That was when I knew I was never going back to teaching. So I improved and mastered my UI skills and some parts of motion graphics last year 2020. 

In this time, I got some other offers, but the thing with Pulse is, Pulse is more of a family. Anytime you need help, someone is there. And I knew from some of my friends from other agencies was nothing close to the kind of culture we have at Pulse, and the creative teams were exposed to gruelling hours. So while I was getting great offers, I knew I wanted to work in a place where I would be happy. I decided to forgo the offers that I got. I feel there is a family in Pulse. They are always there for you even if it’s not office related. And just after I decided to stay, they surprised me with the new position as the Head of Graphic Design, and it also came with some benefits as well. 

What does your current role look like?

With my current role, I oversee the growth of the designers that I manage, organize trainings for them, Oversee all design projects, from conception to delivery and also make sure that we are on-brand by giving creative direction and some corrections on their work, and also come up with content ideas and brainstorm with them about ideas that we want to pitch to clients and so forth. So yeah. Basically, managing the graphics team, work output and then training.

What’s a typical day at work for you?

It’s quite stressful, but the motivation is not to fail. The first thing I do in the morning is to start revisions and corrections for the work I did the previous day that has received feedback. And then I schedule time with the AMs  (Account Managers) I work with directly to talk about their accounts and feedback from clients. After that, in the afternoon, it’s lunchtime. I walk around, get some food and so on. Then back to the table. Design, design, design. I help, assist with creative direction sometimes, or help other designers do research and come up with mood boards, etc till the day ends. I also do some OVH (overhead) work where I create designs sometimes for internal use, say a Pulse t-shirt, mugs, notepads and ID cards for instance, or for events. 

What inspires you every day?

The goal is not to fail. What I do every day, maybe I read an article or watch a YouTube channel or do something new about design, something to keep me going and motivated. For motivation, we have our sources. We have Behance, Dribbble, Pinterest. Sometimes, it’s not related to what I’m doing, but it still helps me relax. I also get inspiration from looking at competitor brands sometimes, or the projects that some of my freelance designer friends are working on. I still have fun, which is graphic related, but not necessarily work. So yeah, that’s what keeps me going. 

What are your hobbies?

Well, I play video games a lot, especially Mortal Kombat, and then I do a little FIFA. I also swim a lot and watch lawn tennis, which I don’t actually play (Lol). But it’s part of the goal. Maybe I’ll eventually learn how to play it. I enjoy table tennis as well, but I don’t get to play it often.

I also go on trips with friends and some designer friends, just travel somewhere out of Accra for weekends or something. And I watch movies a lot, especially a lot of African movies on Netflix and Youtube. I really admire how the art of filmmaking is growing in Africa alongside the cinema culture.  

Pulse People: Ben Bassey – Director of Content, Pulse Nigeria.

If you have been following Pulse Nigeria on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, then you’re already familiar with the work of Ben Bassey, Director of Content at Pulse Nigeria. Ben’s story seems to be underscored by one word: options. After dabbling in a bunch of creative and entrepreneurial endeavours, he decided to pursue his editorial career full time, and within the editorial niche, he has also dabbled in a number of disciplines. These days, he’s charged with managing the skilled, diverse, and very creative 30-man content team in Lagos, Nigeria, leveraging social media and the web to inform and engage millions of young people who are part of our digital communities. 

In this edition of Pulse People, we speak to Ben Bassey, Director of Content, Pulse Nigeria.

Tell me a little about your background, and how your career came to be:

I have what I like to call an entrepreneurial hustler background. I used to own a fish farm, a music studio, traded forex, and created digital products for sale.  Content then was something I did as a hobby or to promote my products. I occasionally did a few projects for some clients. Plus I wasn’t sure which area of content I wanted to focus on, so I trained and practiced as a music producer, animator, graphic artist, video editor and after effects specialist, etc. It later turned out to be a hidden advantage in my current role. 

What is your role at Pulse?

I manage the super talented and crazy people (which is the default setting with talented people) that create content for Pulse Nigeria. Together with the various content leads, we chart the content direction, execution, quality, and operations of a 30-man content team. I am tasked to oversee this process.

What does your typical day look like right now?

I start my day by visiting the Pulse pages to ensure we have the latest trending stories while also making sure the quality of the posts are on point. I then monitor other media platforms and what is trending on social media. Check my emails, have meetings with my team to chart content direction or whatever project we are currently working on. In between, I do some day-to-day operational stuff.

What was your path to Pulse? And what has your journey been within the organization? 

When I finally decided to pursue content as a career, I told a friend who works here that I was interested in joining Pulse. He told me there was an opportunity but the role was for RSS management, not writing. The JD (job description) fit some elements of selling digital products, so I took the role. It was basically me publishing news wire content in Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya. After a while, I was promoted to lead the Content Hub, where I was still in charge of news wire content, but now had a video and social media team. We created and distributed content across the various Pulse markets in Africa. In 2018, I was promoted to Head of Operations for the editorial team and was in charge of quality assurance, client requests, media partnerships, inbound sales, onboarding, and day-to-day operations. In 2019, I was made Editor in Chief and later, Director of Content.

What inspires you to work every day?

I love to see ideas take life whether it is in the form of content or project management. My current role allows me to explore my creative, entrepreneurial, and organisational skills. It can be hectic a lot of times and there is always some new challenge waiting around the corner but most times it does not feel like work.

What’s the best part about working at Pulse? 

The opportunities to learn and grow are immense. You constantly need to be innovative and you can’t innovate without learning, so it’s an endless cycle of growth. In my role as Director of Content, there are many things that could clog the flow of work, and I’ve come to see those challenges as great opportunities to innovate. I’m grateful for the work culture and environment here because they allow me and my team to colour outside the lines, and really collaborate and arrive at creative and sustainable solutions. It’s the best part for me. 

What do you do when you’re not working? 

This changes over time. For now, it’s watching movies and daydreaming. Daydreaming is the constant here – I like to let my mind wander. It helps me reboot, lol. I also like to shoot some pool or hang out with some friends.

Ahmed Beddy Kane – Graphic Designer and Video Specialist, Pulse Senegal.

Welcome to another edition of Pulse People. We’re speaking with Ahmed Beddy Kane, Graphic Designer, and Video Specialist, working out of Dakar, Senegal with the Pulse Senegal team. From being inspired by his reporter father to finding release in music, sports, and video games, Ahmed shares his passion for video with us, and how Pulse has helped him grow professionally.

Tell me a little about your background.

My name is Ahmed Beddy Kane. I am a video specialist, photographer, and graphic designer. My father was a reporter on the national channel. As a child, he used to give me the camera so that I could film certain activities that were going on around the house. That’s why after the BAC (baccalaureate), I decided to do Multimedia training.

I attended the professional world in license 1 in a film production company. I was there as an intern in video editing. But I also participated in film festivals too. I went through vibe radio Senegal and Expat Dakar. It was through Expat Dakar that I got into Pulse.

Let’s talk about your role at Pulse. What does it entail? What do you do on a daily basis? And how do you manage all the tasks?

At Pulse, I am responsible for making videos, photoshoots, montages, animations, and sometimes designs for clients. Every day I come to see the schedule, to see my tasks if there are videos to do or visuals. But I manage all my tasks with technique and zero pressure.

How much have you grown at Pulse? If you have changed roles, also tell us about that. 

I grew into maturity at Pulse. Pulse also allowed me to find solutions to problems in my line of work, but also things outside the office. At Pulse I’ve learned a lot; I learned how to deal with pressure and stress.

What is Dakar like?

Dakar is good. Life is good here. We enjoy a quiet and rich nightlife. I am an outgoing person, so I’m quite acquainted with the nightlife in Dakar.

What inspires you at work?
I’m inspired by the team spirit and the atmosphere, the work environment. What inspires me in my job is music and sports.

Tell me about your other interests, outside of video.

I am passionate about football, photography, and video games. In my free time, I go to drink tea with friends, train (football) and play the Playstation.

Leveraging local trends for brand growth

In the brand growth and marketing playbook, digital media has become the largest driver by far. It’s no longer a question of whether your brand should be on social media. It’s now a matter of how up-to-date your marketing team is with the latest ways to share content and the latest trending formats. Instagram recently announced that they will concentrate their focus on newer formats that are showing much higher engagement levels on the platform than static photos, namely, video (reels) and creators. They have also indicated that payouts might come next to outstanding creators. Combine this with the meteoric rise of TikTok and micro-video content, and you get a clear picture of the future of marketing, especially to young people. 

Pulse sits at the nexus of culture and digital media and through the campaigns, we run and our digital community-building efforts, we have gained insights into driving growth for our partners by leveraging trends. Here are some tips to leverage local trends to drive growth:

1. Identify influential trends on social media

Keeping your target audience in mind, identify trends that get them to engage, react and comment actively and in large numbers. Being active and actively listening on social gives you an idea of what is popular and trending with your target. Some trends may be very spontaneous and will require you to be quick to jump onto them, while others can be anticipated and properly planned for, for example, Big Brother Naija, a reality TV show in Nigeria that has now become the biggest show in Africa. Overall, you need to be actively listening on social media to be able to pick up on these trend waves. Here are some tools that will help you identify trends that are generating engagement and are relevant to your target:

Google Trends

This is perhaps the most expansive tool with which to track rising trends across all of the internet. You can pick up on a trend on a single social network, and use that information to predict that trend on another platform. This can help you prepare to ride the trend when it eventually hits other platforms. Simply set up Google Alerts for the keywords you want to keep an eye on.

TweetDeck

This tool is worth mentioning because Twitter is an important platform when we discuss the subject of trends. Twitter and now recently, TikTok is where most social trends originate. It is also where trending topics (which may originate from other networks and channels) get discussed the most. There is always an active conversation on Twitter on the world’s trending topics daily. Monitoring conversations on Twitter is then especially important. TweetDeck helps you monitor chosen hashtags and keep tabs on their popularity. 

TikTok’s Discover

The Discover page on TikTok is an incredibly powerful tool for discovering what’s trending on TikTok. And what’s trending on TikTok spills over to other platforms with an increasing frequency. You can quickly jump on the biggest hashtags or find hashtags that are specific to your niche and create content for this. This way, your content can be shared, reshared, downloaded, and engaged with by the people you’re trying to reach. 

CrowdTangle

CrowdTangle is a public insights tool from Facebook that makes it easy to follow, analyze, and report on what’s happening with public content on social media. Among other powerful features, you can analyze trends across thousands of accounts over time and get insights into trend seasons, timing, etc. This tool can also be used to evaluate your own social media activity and compare it to similar accounts/competitors to give you clues about what is working, or not working.

2. Get a good handle/perspective

Having identified a trend to jump on, it is important to pay close attention to nuance and context and think about your angle carefully, especially in the light of the culture of your audience. All too often, there is the always present possibility of a backlash from the audience, if the perspective, timing, or visuals are not right. The key here is not to attract too much attention to the brand, but to be positioned as an ally of the crowd, either helping them access gated or exclusive content, or sharing packaged content they may have missed. 

3. Amplification

When you’re jumping on a trend, you want to make sure that you get the word out and properly amplify your message. 

For most brands, this may mean paid amplification across channels. At Pulse, however, we have a native digital community in each of our markets that is active and engaged. The benefit of brand partnerships with Pulse to leverage trends is that we provide this amplification to millions of young users across Africa with engaging content, allowing your marketing efforts to be noticed. 

This year, for Big Brother Naija, we’re partnering with Showmax and DKT to provide coverage of the show and updates for many people who are not able to watch it all day. This partnership allows the brand’s involvement in such a mega trend to be seen and noticed by our millions of community members, and also provides a platform for the brand’s messages to reach the millions of people who will be watching the updates, benefiting from the partnership and being gently exposed to a new or recurring relationship with that brand. 

If you’re interested in spotlighting your brand and taking advantage of the Big Brother Naija show, please reach out to us here

No matter what industry you are in, dialing into the social conversation and inserting your brand appropriately into these conversations can help you boost brand awareness, bringing you top-of-mind to your target, engagement, and ultimately, revenue. Paying attention to what your audience cares about and helping them connect more with it is a great way to build and/or strengthen relationships with them.

Pulse People: Caren Rotich, Head, Pulse Studio, Pulse Kenya.

The Third edition of Pulse People is here! This time, we’re talking to Caren Rotich. From intern to Head of Pulse Studio in Kenya, Caren Rotich shares her interesting career journey with us and gives us a peep into how she spends her free time, and what inspires her.

Tell us about your background:

I used to love journalism. I wanted to do it on campus (in university). I got into the campus for journalism and I found myself more interested in reporting, writing, and editing. 

So after school, where did you work?

Pulse actually is my first place of full employment, but I’ve interned at different media companies in Nairobi in different roles. My first internship was radio reporting and partly a bit of TV and news reporting, and also some video production (sometime around 2014). And then I went back to campus to do my Bachelors (around 2016) and got into Pulse straight after campus in 2019. 

Tell me about your role at Pulse.

At Pulse currently, my role is Head of Pulse Studio at Pulse Kenya. My job basically is to manage all our client projects from concept to screen, making sure that what we execute as a studio meets and exceeds the clients’ expectations. So basically managing all that, and also budgeting for Pulse Studio, whatever is needed for success in everything that we execute for our clients. I am also involved in the production of all Pulse studio client projects, making sure that my team; Pulse studio (A big shout out to them for the good work they do every day) have a good working environment and a good working relationship with other team members, coming up with video strategy recommendations (On this I have to work closely with operations, sales and even social) for what’s best for our client videos. This is much of what I do on a daily basis. I still do scripting for our client projects.

You have just launched a new studio building for Pulse Studio in Kenya. Can you tell me about that?

Oh yeah, it’s interesting. I’m very excited about it. Currently, I am in charge of it, but moving forward we hope to get someone who is going to help us manage the studio. It’s quite a big space, and we’re hopeful that we’re going to do so much more in that space. So far we’ve done two client executions in our studio. The first TVC (television commercial) has been completed there for Skygarden, an interesting shoot, and I can’t wait for you guys to see it. We also did the first social experiment there for a client (Diageo). It was quite interesting; we had the best cast, and I just can’t wait to see more client executions that are to be done in that space.

So what’s Nairobi like?

This (July) is one of the coldest months in Nairobi. It’s freezing! We even have heaters in the office. But actually, it’s a good place to live, an interesting place to be. You get to learn different things every day. 

I’m just from the countryside, and it’s so warm there. But coming into Nairobi, it’s different. It can also get warm sometimes. The weather is a bit unpredictable.

Tell me about your journey into Pulse.

My career journey into Pulse is interesting. I came in straight after campus in 2019. I just saw a vacancy online. I was one of the student leaders on campus, and we still had our WhatsApp group. One of our lecturers just posted about an internship at Pulse. So, having nothing to do after campus (I hadn’t figured out where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do), I was like, let me just make this application for this internship. If I get it, I can go do some interesting stuff there. So I made the application, and then visited Pulse’s pages on Facebook and Instagram, then I got more interested. It looked like a great place to work, and do great stuff. I had started noticing that digital media was the upcoming trend.

So I got really interested and started praying that I would get the opportunity to join. On January 6, I got an email and a call to join, and I started my internship on the 9th of January. I remember the date because it was a big moment for me. I joined to do video editing for Wochit videos (Wochit videos are a type of video format used in Pulse Kenya at that time) and scriptwriting for News and Lifestyle. I was then retasked with client scripts, so I was handling internal lifestyle and news scripts and at the same time working on client scripts. Slowly I also moved into client Wochits as well. 

After my internship was concluded, I was confirmed as the first scriptwriter at Pulse Kenya. I did more of the client scripting as well as more client Wochit videos and less internal script work. I did that all through till around October 2020 when I got promoted to Project Manager/scriptwriter, where, with the team, I managed to pull off one of the first TVCs (television commercial) that we did (for Golden Africa). I managed the project so well that I got nominated for the Employee of the Month once we completed the project. (All thanks to the team that was involved in the shoot)

In February this year, I got promoted to the role of Head, Pulse Studio. It has been a very interesting journey, and I’m just grateful to the team that saw my potential and much of what I can do and challenged me to take up the role. I remember when I was given the role. I spoke to Leonie (former MD, Pulse Kenya) and told her I was not sure I would be able to manage everything tasked to me, but she had so much faith in me, and she kept encouraging me, talking through every project with me.

What is your inspiration for work?

I’m one person who is inspired by a variety of things. I think what inspires me at Pulse is the team spirit and the culture that we have. We have a culture whereby when you have a challenge or a concern, and you reach out to any colleague at Pulse, at no point will they turn you down. They’ll sit down with you and figure out a solution to what you want to achieve, and you’ll leave there satisfied. You won’t be shy to reach out to people, and you’ll not hold back your ideas, and it’s easier working in such an environment.

Also, Pulse gives you the freedom to be you, and they accept you as you are. That kind of spirit is what inspires me daily, and also being able to know that I am tasked with a team, and part of my responsibility is to manage them, to help them grow, and help them become better in their fields. This is also what keeps me going. (Shout out to the team for the great work that they do)

I am also inspired by different people whose passion I look to. An example of this is someone called Dr. Nancy Booker. She was my lecturer. She’s just done so much in the field of journalism and has now moved into digital media. I look up to her a lot. 

What do you do when you’re not on the clock?

I am one bad introvert (lol). When I’m not at work, I’m probably at my house reading. I do love reading a lot, and I read more novels. I’m not very interested in movies, but it’s something I’m trying to love. Most of the time I’m either reading something or cooking something new, trying out a new recipe. I love doing that. Also, I love going on road trips with my closest friends, outside Nairobi. So those are the three main things I love doing when I’m not at work. When I’m not working I try as much as possible to avoid social media and clear my head with other interesting stuff. 

Youth Consumer Behaviour in Africa: Our Learnings

In 2015, there were 226 million youth (people aged between 15 and 24) in Africa, making up 19% of youth globally. By 2030, 42% of young people worldwide will be from Africa [UN Department of Social and Economic Affairs]. This means that Africa will have about 500 million young people by 2030, not accounting for normal global population growth. Currently, 60% of Africa’s population is under 25, making it the youngest continent in the world in relation to its population [Quartz]. 

To ensure marketing campaigns targeting under 30 year olds are impactful, it is crucial to understand who the youth really are, what their thoughts are, and perhaps most importantly, what factors contribute to their buying decisions. 

With our focus on informing, engaging, and impacting the lives of young people both through our media and the marketing campaigns we execute for our clients, we are at the front seat when it comes to understanding and creating impactful content for young people. Here are some key insights we have gathered about their interests and behaviour.  

1. The internet and social media are their primary source of information and content consumption

While internet penetration across the continent is rapidly growing, the internet and specifically social media have become the main source of information and content consumption for young people who access it. A street survey across Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya with over 2,000 respondents of under 30 year olds, showed that social media is the main touchpoint for news and content consumption for a majority of them. This also fits with the social media consumption patterns reported by We Are Social & Hootsuite’s yearly State of Digital report with social media users from Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya spending over 3h daily on social media on average, compared to a global average of 2h25. 

Our findings also show that they want content that is quick to consume and gets straight to the point. Many users drop off watching or reading content as soon as they are less engaged. In terms of format, video is by far the preferred medium for young users. 

Here is what some young Lagosians had to say about social media:

2. A youth with ambition and aspirations

When it comes to saving and spending behaviour of young people, a notable trait is that they are aspiring to secure financial safety in an overall difficult economic context. Many young people dare to dream big and set ambitious financial goals for themselves. 

This means that while being cost-conscious, there is a rapidly growing market for products (and campaigns) that appeal to the aspirations and goals of the youth. Excluding South Africa, a growing middle class in Sub-Saharan Africa is spending over $400 million per day [Google]

But young people are also saving for the future. A survey run by our team in Ghana revealed that 80% of under 30 year olds have a saving goal they are working towards.

We asked Lagosians about their saving goals, here is what they had to say:

3. Marketing that resonates with young people

To capture this growing market, brands that have powerful storytelling and are capable of building communities around their products are in a strong position. Users having grown up with the rise of digital expect to be able to interact and associate with their favourite brands online.

When creating content strategies and campaigns, we craft them around three key storytelling principles that are crucial to engage young users: 

  • they should touch their emotions
  • users should be able identify with the stories told
  • the content created should add value by giving valuable information to users

Here are some marketing campaigns that stood out to the young people we asked in Lagos:

4. Online shopping is gaining traction

Young users are increasingly open to purchasing products online. These purchases are however for the most part limited to small ticket items, as trust is relatively low and users are not willing to risk large amounts on products they cannot test or see in person before buying. 

An area we are seeing strong growth in is social media shopping. The number of products being sold on platforms such as Instagram and the number of sellers on these platforms is rapidly increasing. We have identified the following three reasons for this emergence:

  • Setting up a social media page and starting to sell is incredibly easy: platforms are making it easy to set up an account, run very targeted ads for low amounts of money, and services such as Flutterwave store and Paystack storefront enable businesses to create an online shop with payment integration in minutes
  • Social media’s community aspect ensures that good products get trusted recommendations and reviews that other buyers can rely on. Every person recommending a product becomes a micro-influencer for the brand it supports.  
  • Social media platforms make it incredibly easy and cheap to create visually appealing and relatable content that gives a good idea about the products and sellers – from videos showing product use cases to pictures of the business and team behind the product.

Here is what our respondents in Lagos had to say about buying products on Instagram:

To conclude, we believe that the consumption preferences and interests young people display across Africa are not only an indicator of what is to come but are also key insights to already take into account when planning campaigns that should speak to a large audience. With our channels, we have a direct touchpoint with millions of young people every day across Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and Sénégal. We use this to draw insights and recommendations that inform the marketing campaigns we run for our partners. If you are looking for a partner to support your next marketing campaign, reach out to us here.

Pulse People: Eben Nana Yaw Berima Kwao, Head, Commercial Video, Pulse Ghana.

Welcome to another edition of Pulse People, where we talk to Pulse team members in all our markets, highlighting their career journey to Pulse, their growth within the company, and other interesting bits about them, when they’re not on the clock. 

Today, we’re speaking to Nana, Head of Commercial Video at Pulse Ghana. From fine art in secondary school to graphic design, motion graphics design, and a full career in video production and cinematography, Nana’s journey paints the picture of a creative person whose curiosity has brought him closer and closer to the camera. 

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I’ve always been a creative person. I started my media career as a graphic designer actually. But I often got frustrated when I would hand off designs and the animators would translate my designs and mockups differently from how I had envisioned it. I would do a mockup or a storyboard for a project and by the time it was presented, it would be different from what I originally had in mind. So I got curious about the process, and I moved from still graphic design into motion design. And then in motion design, I ran into the same frustrations with cinematographers and directors. So my journey has really been fuelled by my curiosity, and with each step I was looking for more control of the final result, eventually coming closer and closer to the capturing of content in video. 

And before graphic design?

I did fine art (or what you would call graphic art) in secondary school and won a scholarship to study a diploma in design, and from this diploma, I went on to film school. 

You’ve worked at Pulse before. Tell us about that

Yes. I joined Pulse in early 2014 when it was actually not yet Pulse. It was AllSports at the time. We had AllSports and then we also had Tissu.com.gh, an eCommerce brand, both businesses under Ringier at the time. So that was when I joined. And then in 2015, we transitioned into Pulse. I was actually part of the core setup team for Pulse. I actually came in as a camera person for AllSports, and by the time I was leaving, I was Head of Pulse TV. I was responsible for everything video (at this time social video and commercial video were not yet separated). I left in November 2016. 

Tell us about your current role at Pulse.

Honestly, I like to think that not a lot has changed. To put it plainly, I am still producing videos. That’s still my core task at Pulse. The business’s structure has changed a little, and there is more specialization now. We’re producing our own video content now, and also serving clients with their video needs. 

I’m also looking forward to doing a lot of partnerships. Because of my diverse experience with different industries, I kind of have ideas around some of the problems these industries have, and how Pulse can come in to solve these problems. I would not have been able to approach some of the companies and businesses with these solutions as a freelancer for instance, but we can have these conversations now, and it is much easier for these partnerships to be signed. 

An advantage of having worked here before is that the conversations I need to have internally are much more fluid since I’m already quite familiar with most of the leaders. 

What do you do on a typical day?

Typically, as you would expect, a lot of us creatives find it difficult to conform to norms and so forth. I missed a lot of meetings in my first few days, and I had to figure out a way to stay ahead of that. I now have an NFC sticker on my table such that as soon as I get in, and drop my mobile on it, my calendar for the day pops up. This is typically how the day begins for me, a way to ensure I do not miss any other meetings. I use this to plan my to-do and schedule my activities around those meeting times. I do a lot of ideating, of course, and shooting happens almost every day. I came in as we were about to sign a big client, and immediately got to work on that. Initially, I had to also be the project manager for most of the work the video team was doing, but now we have a Project Manager, and because of her, I have some free time now. 

I also keep an open-door policy.

Tell us about the decision to come back to Pulse?

I’ll say it’s a lot of sweet-talking from Katharina (MD Pulse Ghana). What the structure is right now, is actually something I had pushed for before. Now, we have social video separate from commercial video and handled by separate teams. I was attracted by the clarity and separation of work. It’s exactly how I’ve always wanted the structure to be. I was excited about coming back to the video team that I helped build. It’s a great feeling. I was also motivated by the new direction I’ve seen, and the new business focus. I’m hoping it stays like that.

How has working at Pulse impacted you?

Pulse has helped me build a strong portfolio in this one medium (video). Pulse has helped me focus on that and build it. Now I have a solid career path in video. If I did not work at Pulse, I may not have focused exclusively on it for the length of time that I have. 

What’s your personal inspiration for work?

It’s just the idea of creating something. It sounds cliche, but it actually is the truth. I love creating something that is tangible and can be appreciated by others. I take that client’s idea, and then make it tangible, and offer it back to the client. If I was not doing video, I would be creating something else. It’s just the idea of creating, regardless of the medium. And of course, the need to make a living. 🙂

How do you spend your free time?

Omo, I still create anyway. 😀

I like to help people, to fix things. Any problem I can solve creatively, I would do that. I’m also very very handy, working with wood, making furniture and so on. It could be me using my power tools or sketching an app idea or something. I also have a hydroponic farm. I’ll just always be found building and making things.

Pulse People: Kelechi Odoemelam, Communications Manager

Welcome to the very first installment of our blog series “Pulse People”. On Pulse People, we will share real stories from Pulse team members in all our markets in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal (with Côte d’Ivoire and Uganda coming up soon), highlighting their career journey to Pulse, their growth within the company, and other interesting bits about them, when they’re not on the clock. 

Today’s post is about Kelechi Odoemelam, Communications Manager at Pulse. Read on!

What is your role at Pulse?

I work as Communications Manager at Pulse. It is my job to showcase and highlight the work that Pulse does internationally to an audience of potential partners. This involves some content creation, social media management, press releases, newsletters, website content design, and some internal communications as well.

What does your typical day look like right now?

On a typical day, I’m creating and sharing content on our corporate platforms and reaching out to colleagues to send in content for the internal bulletin. If I’m on a project at the time, I’m also talking to collaborators and preparing updates. It’s also important to touch base with my colleagues from graphic design and web design to probably share an update or a brief. There’s almost always something I need these guys for. I also sit down with the account management team once in a while to discuss a successful and recently completed project, to get the gist of it so that I can write a compelling case study. By the time this is published, it will be our first edition of Pulse People, and I’m also responsible for that. 

How did you get here? What was your path to your current role?

Well, my background is in Engineering. But I’ve always found myself writing something right from uni. I got into an assistant editor role right after youth service at a small tabloid in Port Harcourt. From there to an advertising agency, an investment banking group, and now Pulse, Africa’s leading innovative media company. 

How did you get into Pulse?

I was looking for other opportunities at the time, and then I got word of the vacancy at Pulse. I sent in my application and then went through two anxious interviews with the decision-makers lol. I really just kept my mind open, and when I got the offer, it was a mix of fear and excitement. You never really know a company is a good fit until you get a taste of the culture.

What inspires you to work every day?

I’m driven by gratitude. I’m grateful to be on a team like Pulse. The one thing that stands out for me is how willing people are to offer help, how flexible the system is, and the fact that it is not a super strict formal environment. Coming from a financial background, it’s easy to understand why I appreciate these things. So I wake up every morning knowing that the team trusts me to deliver on my tasks and that they also support me. In return, I want to put in good work and drive a greater corporate image for the company, a stronger sense of belonging for the teams, and creating conversations with potential partners.

When you’re not working, what are you doing?

My favourite pastime is reading. I’m either reading a novel or a business book or a bunch of articles. Recently, I’ve found that I also enjoy learning new stuff from YouTube.

Pulse Studio showreel – Get in touch for creative/video services for your company!

Check out our new, dedicated Pulse Studio showreel – and get in touch for creative/video services for your company!

Pulse Studio is our brand and content studio: our expert team at Pulse is providing creative strategy, brand development and visual production to clients across Africa.

Pulse has led innovation in the field of video for years: through a strong focus on storytelling and a deep understanding of the target audience, we connect & engage every time. For clients, we produce with international expertise and a large team that is distributed across Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, and Côte d’Ivoire – and we have partners across many other markets. If you need cutting-edge video services in Africa, think no further than Pulse Studio!

Get in touch with us directly to chat about your needs here

What we learned from using TikTok for brand campaigns in Africa

TikTok, the video streaming social network, was already gaining traction around the world before the Covid pandemic. The aftermath of the global lockdown, for this platform, was quite literally an explosion in adoption around the world, including Africa. 

In January 2018, TikTok had about 54 million monthly active users. By January 2021, there were about 689 million TikTok users [Source]. Also, TikTok users spend an average of 850+ minutes per month on the app [Source]. 

When one of our leading clients in Ghana was looking to connect with the Gen-Z demographic, we had been thinking about TikTok for a while already, but now we were sure. 

One major rule of inbound marketing is distribution, and for a Gen Z-focused brand, being where the audience was, meant making a move to TikTok. 

And oh, what a move it was. 

TikTok is new grounds – new in the sense that there was no way of predicting how the response would be, how to hyper-target as we would on Facebook and the likes, or even generally, how to go about it.

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube will use words like ‘connect’, ‘community’, ‘communicate’, ‘listen’, ‘share’ which is an idealistic vision for most social media platforms. But with TikTok, their mission statement is clear – to exploit an unadulterated and shameless goal to entertain.

So, what did we learn?

1. No amount of research will prepare you for it

You can read all the articles that tout “how to do TikTok” for brands, but you can’t be ready for how to do TikTok for brands in the West African context. You have to take a deep dive and apply everything you know.

And as I would put it, it’s “either you drink deep or you taste not” on TikTok – a half-baked approach will surely mean wasted efforts and investments.

2. Use the “Creators”, not the supposed “Influencers”

The massive Gen Z demographic on TikTok, grew up being exposed to hundreds of ads a day (and influencer marketing) and therefore are almost immune to them. This is a generation that will engage with content that aligns with their personal interests, and their personal interests alone. The new generation cannot be wooed by fancy videos or sales-y displays. They have a strong radar for almost immediately knowing when they’re being sold to. And if they think they are, they’ll leave.

We learned this the hard way. Our initial foray in the space saw us using “verified” influencers, but the impact was not as strong as it was when we decided to use a “loved creator” to tell our brand story.

3. Be entertaining and let your be brand subtle

On TikTok, users are going to do things differently with your brand. Things you didn’t know could be done with your brand. If you’re a condom brand, your content using the condom as balloons might be your best-performing, if you’re a rice brand, putting a phone in rice might be the break to go viral.

We’ve found that brand-sponsored content typically performs worse, even on popular creators’ profiles, because this particular audience is more aware and unfazed by ads. The aim here would be to create content that is very relatable to your target audience, and somehow find a way to communicate in the story the usefulness of your brand, while entertaining the audience. If you create a TikTok video, collaborating with a creator, and slap your logo at the end, you will get some views. Just don’t expect massive engagement and/or conversion.

4. Focus on your (or a) niche community

Find your little pockets of highly engaged people on TikTok. This is the way to go on a platform that doesn’t promote the mass-communication that you’d see on other popular platforms. 

Normally, one would expect this to mean less reach but a higher engagement rate, but the reach and impression statistics of niche content are phenomenal on TikTok compared to any other platform.

~

TikTok is the place where Gen Z goes to play (right now), so if you have a brand or product focused on this group, that’s a hot tip for you. But remember it’s not easy to keep the attention of the group of people with the shortest attention spans (the average Gen-Z attention span is eight seconds, four seconds less than Millennials. – Sparks & Honey). They are interested in multicultural and diverse subject areas more than any other generation. You have to dig deep. But they are also the most important target group for most brands to engage today. Gen Z is always changing their consumer habits. They soak up the latest and greatest apps, trends, and social platforms making it a consistent race for brands to keep up and innovate first.

As a business in Africa getting into the world of TikTok, understand that it’s not business as usual. On TikTok, you’re not a C-suite marketing executive. You’re a niche creator, deeply passionate about using media to change the world. TikTok says of its platform: 

“Our user-generated content environment creates an atmosphere of authentic discovery. The constantly refreshed For your feed is algorithmically tailored to personal preference, allowing users to spontaneously discover new products – so a new favourite brand or a beloved purchase is only a swipe away.” You can find more insights into how to navigate TikTok as a business in this newly released business guide by TikTok.

Want to find out how TikTok could work for your brand? Let’s get talking here.

The Future of Marketing in Africa: Digital trends in 2021 and beyond

In this article, our expert team at Pulse is sharing six key trends shaping online user behaviour across Africa going forward – and ways your digital marketing strategy can leverage the changing environment.

1. Covid-19 has accelerated and shifted consumer behaviours permanently.

(Image credit – Unsplash)

The pandemic has prompted many users to try new ways of consuming content and shopping. We expect these consumption shifts to outlast the pandemic, as they are an acceleration of behaviours that started emerging pre-pandemic.

To illustrate this, McKinsey’s survey of Nigerian consumers during the pandemic shows that 46% of respondents tried a new digital shopping method since the start of the pandemic, leading to a growth in consumers shopping online of 30% to 65% depending on the category of items purchased. 

The discovery of these new shopping options is led by three main channels:

  • Online ads (33%)
  • Recommendation from family and friends (23%)
  • Seeing someone talk about it on social media (18%)

With these discovery channels, a strong digital ad strategy as well as generating discussions on social media by engaging users and working with influencers is more important than ever. These channels are equally accessible to small businesses and larger brands, giving the opportunity to new products to grow fast online. 

In terms of content consumption, social media remains by far the main touchpoint for online users in our region. According to We Are Social and Hootsuite’s Yearly Digital Report, Nigerians, Ghanaians, and Kenyans spend on average three and a half hours on social media per day, compared to two and a half hours on average globally. In Nigeria alone, 6 million people joined social media networks for the first time in 2020.  

2. Snackable video content is no longer an option, but a must.

(Image credit – iStock Photo)

With the rising time spent on social media, video has become a must to successfully engage users. New video formats have taken the lead with the emergence of platforms like TikTok and the adoption of competing products such as reels on Instagram. 

These short, snackable video formats can be leveraged by brands that are not afraid to be authentic and willing to develop new ways of communicating with their audiences. You can check out Pulse Nigeria’s TikTok channel to see how we have found new ways of telling the news on the channel. 

In order to get started with these formats, we recommend collaborating with creators that have mastered the language of TikTok. These formats are also the perfect medium for user-generated content competitions thanks to their ease of use in creating videos with specific sounds, filters, and effects.

3. Social media influencers connect with your future consumers organically.

(Image credit – Unsplash)

With the emergence of more social media platforms & the growth of the existing ones, we are seeing the rise of a new type of testimonial: the social media influencer / creator.

Whereas the general popularity of a celebrity has an impact on its influence on social media, we are seeing an increasing shift towards a new generation of influencers that have become popular thanks to their exceptional content creation skills, authenticity and virality.

They have often mastered the art of storytelling on social media and can become strong partners to co-create content with brands.  

A subset of these influencers is known as micro-influencers: This new generation of smaller, but keenly followed creators has become more and more popular among fans and marketers: their loyal subscribers are more willing to actively engage with their – and as a partner, your – content. As the smaller influencers tend to occupy more specific market segments, they have an easier time to attract audiences who are genuinely interested in your product or service as long as it fits their niche. This increases conversion and ROI.

Choosing a strong content, management and analytics partner for such campaigns can help reduce administrative burden and keep your own focus on the message you want to deliver.

4. Build direct channels to your consumers, get first-party data and do more with it!

(Image credit – Bakers)

With a general shift towards privacy online, relying on data from Facebook, Google, and other large platforms will not be enough. Users are willing to share their data with brands they love and trust – when they understand the value they can get out of it. 

By building a strong first-party data strategy, brands can build a direct communication channel with their users, learn about their needs, and delight them by improving their products and services through this direct relationship.

A first step to do so can be newsletters and SMS campaigns with offers – using existing client databases. Asking for feedback helps you learn what users appreciate most.

5. User-generated content attracts your audience authentically.

(Image credit – Unsplash)

As the name suggests, user-generated content (UGC) is created by your customers and users. Therefore, this material has no direct brand intervention, and its format can be completely different: comments on the brand’s own publications, text and video publications on the user’s own social networks, comments on blogs and professional publications, as well as ratings. Consumers often trust the recommendation of other consumers far more than the ads by the company itself. approach

On social media and on platforms such as Tripadvisor, Twitter and Google Maps, it is one of the most authentic forms of digital word-of-mouth marketing, making it a great way to make brands more accessible and recognizable. Old trends, new perspectives: We know that this type of content is not entirely new. Verbal advertising has always existed, but the social distancing rules and restrictions that everyone faces this and last year have led to a massive increase in UGC. Since many consumers cannot meet and test the product in person, they will check the reviews to determine whether the product is the right decision.

Having a strategy around this phenomenon in a digital-first environment is crucial. While the content is user-generated, a well-placed request for ratings on a platform or a promotion requesting for audience submissions are just two ways that companies can accelerate it.

6. Sell on social media.

(Image credit – Marketing Land

Some recent changes in social media globally have allowed many companies to use their social media profiles as direct sales channels:

With the release of sales catalogs on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, large companies are starting to take social commerce seriously. By 2022, social commerce will become one of the biggest digital marketing trends globally. While the sales catalogs are not live yet in Africa (we will keep you updated!), social can already be used for strong lead generation. Many online shoppers go through social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram or Youtube to research your products and ultimately buy.

Therefore, selling your brand, products and services on social media is more important than ever. Adding a simple link to an online shop to your social media or highlighting ways to get the product customers can see make this a simple exercise. When a simplified shopping experience is provided to buyers, they are more likely to buy. These and other social commerce strategies allow brands to optimize their shopping experience across multiple channels and platforms. 

What is your next move?

The digital marketing trends that we have listed here are not exhaustive. Nonetheless, just by devoting more resources to social media and research around the topics, you undoubtedly will have a better starting point for planning strategic possibilities. The shared hot trends can help you attract more website visits, more potential customers and more sales. At the same time, they can ensure that your customer base is kept up to date. These trends are also important to help you better understand expectations for years to come and how they will affect your broader competitive landscape. And of course: you can get in touch with us if you need a sparring partner to determine your next steps!

If you would like our team to help you with your marketing, send us an email here.

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