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Lessons for influencers

I’m excited and anxious about the future. Every day we’re bombarded with the news of another company retrenching its workers because machines offer improved productivity at a fraction of the cost. As a young township boy from Polokwane with an Undergraduate Degree in Environmental Science and Politics, I had to think about learning new skills that would come in handy in this digital age.

A couple of months ago I decided to hit up Red & Yellow and sign up for the Social Media Marketing online course. The world of social media has afforded me countless opportunities because of its accessibility and its ability to facilitate your creativity. One of my most unbelievable stories is how a short video I posted last year, imitating Trevor Noah, landed me a VIP pass to The Daily Show on my visit to the United Nations in New York.

My lifestyle curatorship journey started back in 2015 when I would beg my mother to take pictures of my outfit every Sunday after Church. In my first year at UCT, I discovered that people were actually getting paid to post pictures. As my following grew, I started approaching brands and I haven’t looked back. Since then I’ve worked with numerous national and international brands. One of my 2019 missions was to be part of the content creation team(s) that conceptualise digital campaigns and manage them. The Social Media Marketing course provided the perfect foundation for this and my dream will materialise with the upcoming MS digital.

By day I’m an Environmental Scientist at the Department of Water and Sanitation, so I have to use my free time to pursue all my other endeavours. The fact that the course takes place entirely online was one of its biggest appeals. I could do the lessons, readings and assignments at my own pace. I’ve never been that keen on schooling systems where you’re at a desk from 7 till 2pm — Red & Yellow’s ethos definitely aligns with mine.

While I enjoyed all of the course content, Relationship Management was definitely my favourite module. People hide behind fake profile pictures and identities, making it easy for them to attack and demean other users. Thanks to what I learnt, I can now better identify trolls and deal with them more effectively; when to respond and how to respond. This is critical knowledge I didn’t have before taking the course — I find myself using what I’ve learnt every day.

This course also taught me how to identify the perfect platform for different brands. It’s been a valuable learning curve. My following is largely Instagram-based so I often made the mistake of only establishing Instagram accounts for the brands I managed. I often wondered why the engagement was so low but then learnt that the audience simply wasn’t active there. For example, if you’re the social media manager for a gender rights advocacy group, Twitter will be the best platform as it encourages conversation and debate around important and relevant issues.

Overall the course has been incredible; it’s satisfying to be able to use what you learn as you learn it. I’ve been encouraging others to take the course, influencers and even my colleagues in the science world! The world is rapidly evolving and we all need to keep up with the new challenges.

About the author:
Mashao works as an Environmental Scientist, but he’s also a well-established influencer. He has collaborated with numerous fashion and lifestyle brands which has grown his love for digital content creation. He’s also a public speaker and loves to inspire people to follow their dreams.

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