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All posts by Catherine Parker

Catherine Parker is a social media and search consultant and web copywriter. Via her first love, copywriting, she fell into the search engine marketing industry, working at Quirk eMarketing in Cape Town, followed by Greenlight Marketing in London, and then iProspect in San Francisco. Most recently, she headed the in-house SEO team at online content network CBS Interactive (formerly CNET) in San Francisco. First exposed to social media as part of SEO strategy, she’s since recognised its value to businesses in its own right. Now based in Cape Town, Catherine runs Rank&Copy, which helps businesses grow their brand online through paid and organic search, social media campaigns, and sparkling web copy. Her book, “301 Ways to Use Social Media Now in Your Marketing”, is due out in September 2010.
  • Ralph Simon: mobile success lies in being ‘Glocally’ relevant [Tech4Africa]

    Success in the mobile space is all about “glocalisation”, says Ralph Simon from mobile strategy company Mobilium. Speaking via Skype from Russia at the Tech4Africa conference in Johannesburg, Simon talked about the importance of making content that’s in line with global trends but that is at the same time locally relevant in order for it to spread most effectively to its intended audience. This was echoed earlier by Catherine Luckhoff of Bozza, the South African mobile content distributor, who talked about how downloads increase dramatically through word of mouth. It’s this word of mouth that is facilitated best when content...

  • Africa’s ‘Bill Gates’ on technological innovation

    As the co-founder of SOFTtribe limited, one of the leading software houses in West Africa, Herman Chinery-Hesse has been described by the BBC as "Africa's Bill Gates". Chinery-Hesse is known for designing software that is "tropically tolerant" in that it takes into consideration Africa's specific environmental, political and societal challenges. In a recent interview with the BBC, Chinery-Hesse said: "I think that there is so much opportunity in Africa, there is so much underdevelopment, there is so much that hasn't been done, that it's not rocket science. If you have the discipline, take the dive. It's doable, and I think...

  • Social media fatigue, Radiohead and QR Codes: Q&A with Josh Spear

    As one of the youngest and most influential marketing strategists in the world, Josh Spear owns Undercurrent, a New York-based consultancy that applies a digital worldview to the challenges and ambitions of complex corporate organisations. Nominated as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, Spear serves on the Global Agenda Council on Marketing and Branding. He has been an active participant in the World Economic Forum in Davos since 2008. Most recently, he has been advising Millennium Promise, helping apply digital technology to the eradication of extreme poverty and the completion of the Millennium Development goals. Speaking to...

  • Sketching, prototyping — The key to solving design problems

    A leading figure in the British user experience community, Cennydd Bowles is a user experience designer and writer based in Brighton, England. He works in design and strategy at Clearleft, a UK-based design agency well-known as a leader in user experience, and his book, Undercover User Experience Design, written with colleague James Box, has been acclaimed as "a must-have for your bookshelf". In a recent blog post Bowles wrote: Design is inherently less predictable than most other product fields, since it closely involves emotion, comprehension, taste and all those complex, deeply human attributes. That means that design is a gamble....

  • Africa’s road to technological success lies in hardware production

    As the founder of the non-profit African Institute of Technology and Fasmicro(AFRIT), Africa's first integrated circuit design house, Nigerian academic and inventor Ndubuisi Ekekwe is a strong campaigner for Intellectual Property Rights as a means of monetising technological innovation in Africa. He also believes that a change in educational mindset and an emphasis on hardware production are two factors that will help propel Africa's success in the technology sector. Ekekwe is a TED fellow. In his "idea worth spreading" he writes: Technology capability will offer the best pathway to help developing nations emerge from their under-developments. This is supported by...

  • Mobile and the future of African entertainment: Q&A

    From rural communities to small business owners, the impact of mobile technology in Africa is widespread. In addition to the impact on commercial business, education and services, the popularity of mobile entertainment has also grown exponentially. But is mobile changing the way consumers engage with this entertainment media, and is the media itself changing in response to the platform? In the run up to the 2011 Mobile Entertainment Africa conference in Cape Town on 23rd and 24th August, we pose these and other questions to international filmmaker Aryan Kaganof and Obi Asika, chairman and CEO of Nigerian entertainment company Storm...

  • An international perspective on SA startups [NetProphet]

    Angel investing came accidentally to UK-based Permjot Valia. As the sales and marketing director of Ernst & Young, he became involved in their entrepreneur programme, which in turn led to his new career of investing in startups. By his own admission, Valia’s success rate is a statistical anomaly: while an average of only 3% of investors successfully exit a startup via an IPO, the first company he invested in went public within just seven months. Visiting Cape Town this week to work with local entrepreneurs, Valia shared his experiences, garnered over the course of his 25 or so investments,...

  • Monetising crowdsourcing platforms through collaboration [NetProphet]

    Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, and platforms like Ushahidi, highlight the rise of the civic economy - one in which value is placed more on relationships between stakeholders using that platform rather than on the value of the actual commodity being exchanged. Speaking at the NetProphet conference in Cape Town, SwiftRiver’s Director of Products Jon Gosier compares this new value-based economy to bartering marketplaces in India or Africa. The relationships between the barterers in these places determine whether they’ll interact and do business with each other to create the market in the first place. Analysing this economy and its associated...

  • Shel Israel: Social media is modern-day storytelling

    At the core of every culture is "storytelling", says Shel Israel, a San Francisco-based social media strategist and author of the book, “Twitterville: How Businesses can Thrive in the New Global Neighbourhoods”. Speaking at the WTF conference in Cape Town, South Africa, Israel spoke about how social media is simply a new toolset that capitalises on this age-old impulse to tell stories. To illustrate this, many of the examples of social media...

  • How to use Flickr to grow your brand – Part 3

    In the last two articles on Memeburn, I covered the basics of how to set up and how to use a Flickr account to grow your brand online. Once you’ve set up your account though, like any other web presence, you need to allocate time resources to promoting it - both inside and outside of Flickr. If you're spending a large amount of time and effort uploading photos to your Flickr account as a business owner and/or entrepreneur, it's prudent to spend time promoting your account too, so that you're getting a good number of potential customers actually seeing and...

  • UX guru Andy Budd warns that websites ignore usability at their peril

    At the Tech4Africa conference in Johannesburg, Clearleft’s Andy Budd spoke at length about why, given the choice, users will always pick easier to use products over better architected products. Using real world examples, Budd explains how this principle should be applied to website design in order for websites to compete effectively. Decide whether you sell a product or an experience Using the coffee industry as an example, Budd spoke about the coffee farmer that makes around 1p for a cup of coffee while a gourmet coffee shop in London sells that same cup for upwards of £2.30 a cup. The...

  • Samasource CEO on bridging the digital divide and creating a global meritocracy

    While aid programs in developing countries are ubiquitous, precious few empower the people they’re trying to help on a sustainable, ongoing basis. One that bucks this trend is Samasource, a non-profit based in San Francisco that distributes digital work from large US multinationals in manageable chunks to poor but educated workers in developing countries such as Kenya, Uganda, India, Pakistan and Haiti. Samasource workers do basic digital work required by US companies that American workers wouldn’t necessarily be willing to do. For example, Google Maps has local business information that changes when a company moves, expands or shut down....

  • Lead developers from web giants share their insights at Tech4Africa conference

    A Question and Answer session at Johannesburg's first Tech4Africa conference featured developers from some of the world’s best known tech companies, and revealed insights on everything from startups vs corporations, San Francisco’s tech community, mobile/web development to making browser upgrades a global warming issue. The panel was chaired by Andy Budd, UI guru and MD of Clearleft, who posed questions to Dustin Diaz, a Twitter user interface engineer, Joe Stump, the SimpleGEO founder and former Digg lead architect, John Resig, who created jQuery and Jonathan Snook, a lead prototyper for Yahoo!. On the hardest challenge you’ve ever been faced with: Stump:...

  • How to use Flickr to grow your brand – Part 2

    In last week’s article, I gave a background to using Flickr, Yahoo!'s photography-sharing site, as a place to increase exposure for your brand and business online. Once you’ve set up your Flickr profile and begun uploading photos to your account, you're ready to begin extracting real value from the site. The best way to do this is to add value to the Flickr community, rather than just seeing Flickr as a traffic driver...

  • How to use Flickr to grow your brand

    Besides the usual social media suspects like Facebook and Twitter, there are many other tools worth considering when it comes to promoting your business online. One of these is Flickr, the Yahoo!-owned photography sharing site. When used correctly, Flickr is an extremely effective way of engaging with your target market -- provided they use the site, and provided your business lends itself to having photographs uploaded and shared with the Flickr community. Before starting with Flickr, it's a good idea to know a bit more about the tool and how it's best used, so that you can see whether there's...