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All posts by Mike Sharman

Mike Sharman
Mike Sharman is a co-founder of Retroviral, an award winning digital communications agency that creates online word of mouth spread for brands using bespoke strategy, social media, and web tactics. He is also co-founder of Webfluential – a new platform that establishes relationships between consumers and brands through influencers. Mikewas named one of the Mail & Guardian’s top 200 young (under 35) South Africans in 2013. Mike likes pink drinks, sunny side up eggs and being the small spoon. Mike loves making ‘stuff go viral’; you will have seen his work on Nando’s as Retroviral was the brand’s digital agency from 2010-2013. Retroviral does the online comms for all the #5GumExperience parties and most recently, it was the seeding agency behind the Douwe Egberts yawn-activated coffee vending machine. From strategising the Kreepy Krauly Wrangler concept, to writing, shooting and seeding the BraaiPhone for Castle Lager, Retroviral has created some of the most memorable local, digital campaigns over the past four years. Clients have included Miller South Africa, for whom we managed its social media channels. Our proactive engagement in the online space resulted in more than a 300% increase in the Miller Rock the Boat Facebook page over a three week period in October 2010. The community grew to more than 11,000 members prior to the departure of the boat in December 2010. In November 2010, Nando's briefed us to make its 'Cell C parody' campaign go viral. Utilising our online network of bloggers and social media influencers on Facebook and twitter, we became the first agency in South Africa to proactively seed online video content that surpassed the 100,000 view mark in less than 5 days. This year we have been responsible for the online component of the #NoRegretFriday movement that encouraged people not to drink and drive for SAB's Reality Check brand, and we broke records for Nando's once again with our seeding of the 'Last Dictator Standing' campaign. The content went global on the first day it went live and has currently been viewed on YouTube more than 850,000 times after only six days of being live. Mike Sharman is also an industry speaker. He has presented his thoughts and campaign findings on local social media execution to Brand students at Vega, at the Digital Academy at the Campus in Bryanston, at the IMCC at the Hilton in Johannesburg, and the WTFMedia Conference in the Western Cape
  • Always go full mobile: 5 reasons to operate your business from your smartphone

    What started out as a subconscious experiment has resulted in emancipation from the laptop shackles and provided me with some new-found clarity. We’ve been fortunate enough to work with a high profile mobile client over the past year and – as a result – have delved into current and future trends around productivity and mobile workforce scenarios. These are some of my thoughts from the various research and insights that we have been exposed to. Some points may seem obvious, but you will only fully appreciate the impact on your work / life balance once you have begun to implement...

  • The cre-haters: the 5 languages of marketing love

    Gary Chapman penned the Five Love Languages in 1995. It speaks to the different needs that individuals require in a relationship, such as physical touch, acts of service, gifts, quality time, and words of affirmation. These emotional connections are not only specific to the relationship between partners on a 50 Shades level, but also apt when it comes to the way in which brands should engage with their target market and existing consumers. Physical Touch Each day, consumers are bombarded by more advertising than they were the previous day. More than 100 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube, alone, every...

  • Own it, earn it or pay for it: how to get the right customers in your hands

    Everyone wants to get their brands in the right consumer hands, in order to have that demographic trial, purchase, or emotionally connect with the product or service. The tactics that the majority of communication agencies -- that play in the digital space -- follow the owned approach, but it is imperative that as brands evolve with customer behaviour, so too do their digital considerations for influencer marketing and digital PR (earned media), as well as content remarketing and social network bought media (paid media). Owned pertains to all the platforms that are your brand’s developed collateral. Websites, microsites or social media...

  • Seven deadly digital sins for brands to avoid in 2013

    A new year is stereotypically associated with clean slates and resolutions. Below is a guideline for brands, and individuals alike, to right the interweb wrongs and to prevent the heinous digital crimes of 2012. Wrath Over promising and under delivering in the Twittersphere is the easiest way to incite a Twitter war or ‘twar’ with one’s followers. A great example of this is the Steers R10 rib promotion which went horribly wrong. There are more consumers online and they are less forgiving than ever before in the social space. It is imperative that brands have the necessary logistics in place, prior...

  • 8 of our favourite ‘Spear of the Nation’ memes

    The media has been obsessed with the developments in South African president Jacob Zuma's Lenin-esque nude portrait saga. Brands and consumers alike have meanwhile taken to social media with offerings of their Spear of the Nation memes. Below is a selection of our favourites. 1. Gabriel's image is hard to absorb Gabriel employs shock tactics. 2. John Terry A meme within a meme. 3. Helen Zille Tit for tat: the leader of the opposition is unknowingly pulled into the paint-slinging affair. 4. Spear Spies Sports meets politics. Springbok rugby star Pierre Spies' surname coincidentally translates to 'spear'. 5. Britney The celebrity pun meme is one of our favourites...

  • CV 2.0 — The ‘Socialium Vitae’

    The internet has granted us the ability to express our inner narcisist. We build platforms or slap our credentials onto existing ones, broadcasting our achievements – even if no one is listening. The increase of global unemployment rates is directly proportional to the number of gurus, rockstars, ninjas, and Jedi Masters popping up in a variety of disciplines -- from finance, to advertising -- and for a very good reason. Graduates and even experienced hires need to make an impression on their desired employers. Some applicants are content with producing the traditonal cover letter and CV combination, while others are producing...

  • Online shopping on the rise: Price, convenience, security key

    According to the latest MasterCard Worldwide Online Shopping Survey, online shopping has increased significantly and continues to show potential for growth, with price, convenience and security key factors to consider making a purchasing decision. The survey revealed that even in an emerging market like South Africa shopping online has steadily increased over the past two years, with 58% of respondents in a survey of active internet users saying that they use the internet for shopping. This is an increase from the 53% that said that they shop online in 2010, and the 44% that gave the same answer in 2009. When...

  • What ‘viral’ lessons can we take from Kony 2012?

    Viral, and more specifically the phrase 'I want you to make me a viral video' is something that we have covered before with our 3Rs post: Remarkable content, seeded to the Right people, leads to Results. The Kony phenomenon comprises certain elements of the 3Rs, but also provides insight into additional mechanics of successful online video, which brands can take value from. These include: Influence the influencers Celebrities have been the greatest influencers to jump aboard the Kony express, disseminating links via their Twitter accounts, blogs and other personal media vehicles. The film's director, Jason Russell, detailed how a list of...

  • Analysing the State of the Nation ‘Undress’

    In 2011, popular radio personality Gareth Cliff utilised Twitter, and particularly the hashtag #JZSOTNDrinks -- a drinking game mechanism -- to encourage the South African man on the street to become involved in the country's State of the Nation Address. It was a hit online. This year, he evolved the concept and took it to a new level -- #SOTNUndress or State of the Nation Undress. Almost a year ago to the day, we were reporting on South African shock-jock Cliff's influence on the Twittersphere and his ability to engineer trends by tailoring his messages according to his various broadcast...

  • Twitter 101: Where we’re @

    Social media has provided us with platforms to have intimate one on one engagements on the one hand and has aided in the mass broadcast of messages to hundreds of thousands or even millions of fans and followers on the other. When it comes to Twitter, in particular, you need to be aware of a few golden rules to make sure you are distributing your message effectively. High among these is a...

  • ‘I need you to make me a viral video’ – the 3Rs

    It is a common request from clients wanting to embrace the whole online thing. There's a fantastic chance that your MD, CEO, CFO, has been receiving increasing pressure, from peers/competitors, to throw some money at the production of a viral video. The problem with buzzwords is that they set unrealistic expectations. It is impossible to "make a viral video". It is however possible to produce a remarkable video and seed it to a relevant online network, in order to produce results that are beneficial to both the brand and the business. It is very important...

  • State of the Nation address and its ‘drinking game’ trend heavily on Twitter

    The State of the Nation address delivered by President Jacob Zuma on Thursday evening, and the drinking game that accompanied it, was Twitter's number one trending topic early on Friday morning. Renowned blogger Khaya Dlanga and South African radio shock jock Gareth Cliff had a big hand in spreading the trend to their large Twitter audiences. Never shy of controversy, South African shock jock, Gareth Cliff, has taken to social media like a man possessed. He is a Facebook juggernaut with his Page comprising more than 275 000 fans, and he has managed to amass close to 90 000 followers...