Au Revoir For Now!

We’re sorry we’ve been so quiet this year ;( The Social Sessions duo is temporarily apart and it’s a bit difficult to run our workshops between Cape Town, Johannesburg and Kuala Lumpur!

If you’re still keen to learn about using social media for your business, Social Ideas has just launched some fab courses that we think you will love. These courses are designed to help you get your brand/business marketing effectively through social media channels, as quickly and effortlessly as possible. They’re so quick and focused that we’re even calling them “Crash Courses”.

Social Ideas Training

We do hope that you enjoy them! Find more info and book online here.

For now, it’s Au Revoir from us, until the next time!

Social Sessions Duo


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Marketing Online for Small Businesses – The DIY Approach


As small business owners or entrepreneurs, we’re usually multi-tasking our way through the day and on a budget that would be lucky to be likened to a shoe-string. We don’t have the money for agencies to handle our marketing and are usually doing a lot of it ourselves.

The avenues are endless and often overwhelming, but the online space tends to lend itself very well to the DIY approach that suits our kind of lifestyles. Where do we start when we’re looking to market ourselves online, though? Here’s a list of our favourite DIY online marketing tools:

  • Google advertising

Where do you go online to find what you’re looking for? Google, of course. Apart from ensuring that your website appears as high as possible on the first page of search results (Search Engine Optimisation: SEO), a great way to grab attention here is to use Google Adwords. Once set up, your ads will appear on the right hand side of Google search results and you only pay each time your ad is clicked on.

You can set up a Google Adwords account at and start advertising your business, based on keywords that people would use to search for your kind of product or service on Google.

  • Social media

Social media is a powerful online tool that is free (or as close to as possible). You’ll need a social media strategy and know how to work the platforms so that they correctly represent your brand and attract the right crowd. Attend a good social media course (you know the one) or consult a specialist to get you going in the right direction.

Try out the social media advertising options available to you as part of your strategy – FacebookTwitter andLinkedIn have easy to use advertising functions. You generally set up an advertising account, link it to your credit card and then set up your ads accordingly. 

  • Banner advertising

Identify where your target market is active online and see if you can advertise there. Most successful websites, blogs and online stores offer advertising options and you pay monthly to advertise on their website – you just need to get in contact with them and request their media pack. With some basic Photoshop skills, you could design your own banner and save on expensive design costs.

  • Website optimisation

First of all, make sure that you have a good website and that it is correctly set up to optimise search results. Depending on how your website is set up, you can easily use SEO plugins to help with this. You should also spend a little bit on consulting an SEO specialist to ensure that you’re correctly set up to optimise search results – it’s worth it.

  • Online PR

If you’re good at writing and are knowledgeable in your own industry, why not put it to good use and write some great content for others to use? Build your own brand and it will help your business. Identify blogs and websites to which you could contribute and contact them to discuss options. Bizcommunity is always a good option and they welcome good new content.


  • If you’re hesitant, pick one or two avenues and put a little bit of budget into each to test their reach and return. 
  • The best approach is to identify your target market and where you’re likely to reach them. Devise a strategy to target them using the tools mentioned above and set a definite budget for yourself – you can easily get carried away and overspend!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you get stuck. Most channels will have some sort of support function to reach out to, or reach out to a specialist for advice.

*As featured on Kamersvol

Posted in Online Marketing, Social Media Tricks of the Trade | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SPAM attack! Know where you stand

I wrote this article recently for Tech Girl and thought that you guys would most definitely benefit from it too!

I am usually juggling between many different gadgets, websites, blogs, Twitter accounts and email accounts. My pet peeve is trying to sift through all my emails, prioritising in milliseconds what I’m going to deal with next, while dodging the spam that managed to con its’ way past my filters.


So for you (okay, it was for me too), dear readers, I chatted to Andre Strauss, Country Manager (South Africa)at GraphicMail to find out what the laws actually are around spam and unsolicited emails so that we can all be informed as to what is allowed, what is not allowed and what we can do about it. (For those of you in the marketing game, this is especially important for you to understand what you can and can’t do with email addresses that you gather in campaigns, competitions, etc.)

The laws surrounding SPAM and unsolicited emails are not as strict as the laws in countries like the USA, but here is what they currently say (based on the Electronic and Communications and Transactions Act of 2002 and the Protection of Personal Information Act 2013):

  • The sender must provide the receiver with the option to cancel his or her subscription to the mailing list. In other words, an ‘unsubscribe’ option is an absolute necessity.
  • The sender must provide the receiver with the details of the source where the email and personal information was obtained. (It is important for marketers to keep a record from where they gathered the information, like business cards from industry and networking events etc.). GraphicMail advises clients to have an opt-in list with proof as this is best practice and will result in the best possible ROI.
  • Any business or individual, who sends unsolicited communications to a person who has instructed the sender to be removed from all databases and communication lists is in contradiction to the current laws and can be prosecuted accordingly.

In other words, you should only be receiving mailers for which you have ‘opted in’ to or given permission to be emailed by the sender. There should also always be an opt-out option for you to unsubscribe at any time.

So what can you do about it (other than scream profanities and move them to your junk folder)? You, as the person receiving the email, are entitled to:

  • Be provided with a mechanism to remove yourself from the mailing list
  • Be provided with information of how your information was obtained
  • Obtain assistance from your ISP’s abuse desk, by forwarding the full message (with headers) to them, if you want assistance in dealing with the matter
  • Report the matter to the ISPA (Internet Service Provider’s Association), if you wish to do so
  • You can select the “report spam” or “report phishing” option in any email you receive.

If you’re running a competition or promotion where you’re requesting email addresses as part of your entries, you may not add these addresses to a mailing list, unless your terms and conditions provide an opt-in term. Don’t be part of the problem, guys – email marketing can be such an effective communications channel if you use it properly.

Ah, that feels better already. Know your rights, unsubscribe where necessary and if it’s serious, report it.


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Social Sessions – The Woods Edition!

We’re very excited to announce the arrival of the next edition of Social Sessions – The Woods Edition! First up is Joburg, running on 24 and 25 July 2014 at the infamous At the Table in Parkhurst.

Winter Edition_403x403 JHB

You will learn and experience the following:

  • What social media is, why you should be there and what social media platforms are at your disposal
  • How to create a social media strategy for you/your business, utilising all relevant social media platforms at your displosal
  • How to create a Facebook page and Twitter presence and use them intelligently in your strategy
  • Tips and tricks to manage your day-to-day social media activities
  • Step-by-step basics of Photoshop
  • Photographic tips and tricks, product shots and profile pictures
  • Advanced Photoshop techniques, which you can apply directly to your brand and social media platforms
  • How to create a layout, retouch blemishes, wrinkles etc. and colour correction
  • How to create web banners
  • How to design for social media platform specifications

You will go home with a ‘swag bag’ of goodies and a workshop guide of everything that you learnt in the session. You will be dined, wined and have an opportunity to network with other creative brains from a variety of industries.

Keep your eyes on our Facebook page (and Twitter profile if you’re there) for more tidbits, competitions/promos and maybe a spoiler here and there too ;)

As usual, space is limited as these are hands-on experiential workshops, so get your ticket booked as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. We’d love to host you.


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Picture Grids and Mood Boards – Have some fun with them!

To those of you who have attended one of our workshops, you will remember on the Photoshop day we did the mood board/picture grid exercise. Well, I have put together some picture grids for you. There are so many instances a picture grid comes in handy: you can use it to put together a picture collage of a holiday which you can upload to FB, make a mood board for a client, for your blog, or for your website or Pinterest page.

Remember to use different textures and type and don’t be afraid to zoom in on a picture, especially in the smaller blocks where it would be difficult for full sized pictures or photographs to fit.

Here is an example of one I did for my web site to introduce myself. Just by looking at the pictures you can already tell a lot about me.

about zoe

Click here  SS Picture Grid 1.psd and here SS Picture Grid 2.psd to download the files, unzip and open in Adobe Photoshop.

In case you need a little refresher here is how you do it:

1. Once the file is open you will see in the layers panel all the white squares, right click on all of the white squares and convert them to smart objects.

2. If you want change your back ground layer, make sure it is selected. Click on your foreground colour, choose your colour (in the tools menu on the side), click on your paint bucket and click on the background layer.

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 10.12.58 AM





3. Double click on the thumbnail layer  in the layers panel (not on the name of the layer)

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 10.00.58 AM


4. When you see this window click OK

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 8.55.10 AM








The rectangle will open in another window.

5. Select File and then Place, and choose your image. once its inserted and you have scaled it the way you want it (ctl t), select File, Save and close the window.

6. Go back to the grid and you should see your image.

7. Repeat the steps for all the rectangles until you have your completed image and click File, Save As and select ‘jpeg’.

I hope this has been a fun little refresher, please shout if you are stuck and need a little guidance.

Zoe signature


Posted in Downloadables, Tutorials | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments