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POPI- Are you ready?

It’s a new month and the last before the POPI Act becomes law.

Outline of South Africa with South African Flag overlay asking the questions Are you Ready for the POPI Act

If you think your business is exempt, think again. Even small businesses are going to have to take this Act seriously or risk reputational damage, large fines, damage claims or even possible imprisonment. 

POPI places obligations on all businesses that process personal information. It is a complicated law which is difficult to summarise but here is the purpose summary taken from the preamble of the Act itself:

“To promote the protection of personal information processed by public and private bodies; to introduce certain conditions so as to establish minimum requirements for the processing of personal information; to provide for the establishment of an Information Regulator to exercise certain powers and to perform certain duties and functions in terms of this Act and the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000; to provide for the issuing of codes of conduct; to provide for the rights of persons regarding unsolicited electronic communications and automated decision making; to regulate the flow of personal information across the borders of the Republic; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

Essentially, the POPI Act sets out to protect data subjects from having their personal data put at risk and provides them with rights and remedies. These risks are very real and can come in several forms such as identity theft, hacking of bank accounts and passwords or even becoming the target of persistent, unsolicited marketing calls. Various methods of stealing personal data can be employed, from the physical theft of paperwork and hard drives to cyber-attacks such as ransomware.

Businesses need to ensure that they have taken necessary measures to protect the personal information they collect, process and store and this applies equally to digital data.

  • Do your customers upload their personal details to your website?
  • Do you partake in email marketing? How do you take care of the information contained in your mailing list databases?
  • What about the personal information contained in your emails- is it secure?
  • How about your laptop- is it password protected and free of easy-to-access customer information?

The POPIA shines new light onto the importance of cyber security from a legal compliance perspective, but we shouldn’t forget just how vital IT security is in general. In many businesses, these digital assets are the lifeblood that gives rise to profit and protecting them is critical, even without Acts such as POPI obligating us to take action.

Make sure that you’re ready from 1 July 2021, get into the habit of scrutinising your systems and keep those valuable IT assets safe! Contact us if you need guidance and we’ll point you in the right direction!


For more reading, feel free to take a look at the following:

https://www.itweb.co.za/content/Pero3MZxDdgvQb6m

https://www.michalsons.com/blog/why-you-should-care-about-popi/18290

https://www.michalsons.com/blog/popi-act-summary-in-plain-language/18618?fbclid=IwAR32Q-570l8IDwenyJxKjid9-aJQv4L6V2C8BxE6PY6HFIdH4HU1G6VPiEA

ACT

Critical Website Care

You have a fantastic website. Compliments from customers are coming in and you’re seeing sales increasing. You pat yourself on the back for getting your business online and get on with work, leaving your website to do its job quietly in the background.

A few months later you start getting calls from customers to say that your website is inaccessible. Once you’ve hunted down the password, you eventually log in and the nightmare begins- your website has been the victim of a DDoS attack. This is just one possible scenario out of hundreds which could occur if you’re not regularly maintaining your website. You risk losing your carefully crafted site, SEO rankings, brand reputation and ultimately revenue, never-mind the cost of having to build a new website from scratch.

The good news is that you can massively reduce the risk of such incidents by ensuring that your website is well maintained. But what exactly does this entail? In a nutshell, the main aspects to take care of include:

  1. Site monitoring.
  2. Backing up
  3. Regular updates
  4. Security

Site Monitoring

Do you know how often your site experiences downtime? Are pages loading as fast as they need to with all aspects functioning as they should? You need to monitor and test your site regularly to ensure it is as healthy as possible and to identify any concerns before they become major issues.

Backups

How often you backup will depend on the website itself. An eCommerce site with a lot of traffic and regular changes will need to be backed up more often that a one-page lead generator. There are plugins which can automate your backups on a schedule, but you should always ensure that you have at least 3 copies of both your database and files, stored securely. One full, manual backup on an encrypted storage device, one backup in the cloud (such as using Backblaze, Amazon Web Services or Google Drive) and one backup on your site itself for quick access for a minor repair. Keep in mind that if you’re using a plugin for backing up and your site goes down properly, you’ll not be able to access the plugin so don’t get complacent and keep those off-site backups current!

Regular updates

Updates equal stronger functionality. Regardless the CMS you use and the plugins you’ve installed with it, there will always be updates to functionality, security and other features which need to be executed to avoid compatibility issues as well as to keep your site current, working well and safe. Script updates also play an important role; if you fail to regularly run updates on the site, there’s a strong chance that the website will be exposed to hacks.

Security

A well-maintained website with security vulnerabilities serves no benefit. Are your passwords secure? Is your site’s SSL certificate current? Is your firewall working as it should? These are all questions that should be answered with a resounding yes!

But not only is it important that your site is secure for your own sake, it is your legal responsibility to ensure that information your customers give to your site is fully protected or you risk running afoul of the POPI Act and incurring massive fines.

There is a lot to keeping a website healthy, secure and functioning well for the end user so that it serves its purpose as the hub of your brand effectively. If you’re not taking care of the critical aspects mentioned above your website and business are at risk. If you have the knowledge and time to handle maintenance yourself, that’s great- set reminders and stick to your schedule! If you don’t, reach out and contact us for a quote, we’d love to help! Email: hello@standoutdigital.co.za.

Is your Website Healthy?

A quick look at Core Web Vitals

a cartoon slug asking if your website is feeling a little sluggish

We recently shared a post on social media covering a few facts on website speed. We all know it’s annoying trying to get to site which is slow to load but the implications are potentially much further reaching than just risking annoying potential customers and you really need to know whether or not your website is “healthy”. But what does that actually mean?

Google is in the process of making a few changes to how Core Web Vitals are measured and reported on in Google Search Console.

Some of these changes are not going to be particularly relevant to the average man on the street but if you’re a busines owner with a website there are a couple of noteworthy changes to be aware of and which will start affecting your ranking in Google Search results around May 2021.

Core Web Vitals are pretty much like your website’s vital signs- a bit like the pulse, oxygen saturation and respiration rate but for each page of your website. In the world of the web these vitals are the time it takes for a page’s main content to load (known as Largest Contentful Paint of LCP); First Input Delay (the time it takes until a user can interact with a page); and lastly, Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) which is the amount of unexpected layout shift of visual content on a page, a measure of visual stability.

If you’re curious as to the figures you should be aiming for with each page of your website. we’ve listed them below:

  1. FID: less than or equal to 110ms
  2. LCP: less than or equal to 2.5 seconds
  3. CLS: less than or equal to 0.1.

In a few months these three “vital signs” are going to be actual ranking factors and affect how your website performs in Google Search results. So not only does your site need to be offer exceptional user experience, be mobile friendly and safe etc. but also “healthy”! We’re still waiting to hear what weighting will be attached to each of the vitals but now is a great time to ensure that your website is functioning as it should to avoid an unnecessary drop in ranking (and revenue) later in the year!

If you’d like to have a go at checking the speed of your site’s pages yourself, pay a visit to PageSpeed Insights. You can also plug a URL into Pingdom.

If your website needs a bit of TLC, contact us!

WhatsApp Privacy Policy update- an explainer

So, WhatsApp has “updated” their privacy policy. Cue massive social media outrage and confusion. As if we don’t have enough to worry about in the midst of a pandemic! There seems to be quite a lot of confusion about what this Privacy Policy means for us as users. Are those nudes you sent via WhatsApp going to be leaked? Is the cheeky comment you made to Lee about Susan’s swimming costume going to become public domain? Take a deep breath… it’s all good!

Where does Facebook fit into the picture?

Facebook owns WhatsApp (as well as Instagram!) Since their acquisition of WhatsApp and the introduction of WhatsApp for Business, Facebook as the parent company wants to make changes to WhatsApp so that it can be integrated with their other basket of businesses, such as Facebook. This requires a few changes to how your information is managed, stored and shared and it requires your agreement in having that information shared with Facebook. The big questions here are exactly what information/ data are we talking about and who is it being shared with?

Safety first

First up, not much is changing. WhatsApp and Facebook have been sharing information and you agreed to it when you signed up and consequently each time you updated the app. The difference now is that with global lobbying for transparency, the companies are expressly explaining what they do with your data and they need you to agree to it.

The good news is that your messages on WhatsApp are end-to-encrypted meaning that those messages are completely safe. There is always the risk of someone you send a WhatsApp message to taking a screenshot of that message and sharing the screenshot so don’t let your guard down entirely, but as for those nudes, WhatsApp isn’t going to leak them anytime soon 😉. Messages are deleted from WhatsApp servers as soon as they are sent. If they are undelivered, they are stored encrypted for 30 days- again the content of your messages is safe. The information WhatsApp (Facebook) wants to collect is not in your messages. Instead, it is mainly diagnostic data and other demographic info which is super helpful to marketers and business owners. More on that shortly. But there is no concern – at least yet – that private WhatsApp conversations will be harvested to use for ads or other purposes by Facebook.

One thing to keep in mind is that as an app, the developers and those working on WhatsApp need to ensure it is functioning correctly across all devices and networks and that when there are updates or problems, these can be run through as seamlessly and safely as possible. For this to happen, the developers require information to be sent to them, for example about the device you use, app version, ISP, language and time zone.

Exactly what info of mine is going where?

So, what details of mine does WhatsApp/ Facebook want to store or share? MyBroadband have put together a great summary in the table below:

A Digital Marketer’s Perspective

In the field of marketing, particularly digital marketing, we work with data. It is a vital component of the job and ensures that advertising is correctly targeted for maximum return on ad spend. This is great for consumers too because you will only see adverts relevant to you (such as your likes and interests or geographic location). There is no point seeing an advert about an event in a place you cannot get to nor is it pleasant to have your feed filled with adverts about products or services you’re not even remotely interested in. Without getting too technical, advertisers pay big money to Facebook to ensure that their adverts are shown to the right people, in the right place at the right time (all requiring data to do properly!) and at the same time this allows users a spam-free platform on which to engage.

Another aspect coming in to play here is that Facebook are trying to make work flows easier for those who use its business platforms. For example, as a business owner I have a Facebook Page, Instagram business account and WhatsApp for business. Right now I can go to one place to view the messages sent to my business via Instagram and Facebook instead of having to check two different inboxes. Facebook is aiming to do the same thing with WhatsApp business messages. The takeaway here is that WhatsApp has added new features to allow people to communicate with businesses which could be hosted by Facebook. When communicating with those businesses, the messages might be stored and managed by Facebook and so those conversations could be shared with the company in a more general sense (as in your not just sending it to a single person but a business which might have more than one person accessing an account).

In closing…

This paragraph is something I’m sure that most consumers will be interested in seeing straight from the horse’s mouth:

Business Interactions. We enable you and third parties, like businesses, to communicate and interact with each other using our services, such as Catalogs for businesses on WhatsApp through which you can browse products and services and place orders. Businesses may send you transaction, appointment, and shipping notifications; product and service updates; and marketing. For example, you may receive flight status information for upcoming travel, a receipt for something you purchased, or a notification when a delivery will be made. Messages you receive from a business could include an offer for something that might interest you. We do not want you to have a spammy experience; as with all of your messages, you can manage these communications, and we will honor the choices you make”.

We may feel aggreged at being forced to accept this new change or stop using the app but remember that in life, nothing is free. If it’s free, then you’re the currency! In this instance, your data is the currency you exchange for using a handy, secure-messaging service without unwanted advertising getting in the way!

WhatsApp users have until 8 February 2021 to accept Facebook’s updated terms and policies.

To read the full Privacy Policy click here.

Check out these links for further reading on other options should you wish to make a change away from WhatsApp:

WhatsApp vs Signal Vs Telegram

Features comparison

An Addendum for Business Owners

No platform is infallible. Ensure that you cover your bases when it comes to digital marketing and don’t have all your eggs in one basket! It is vital that you have aspects which you control entirely such as your own website. Try out different platforms and mediums and select a couple which work for you. A great start is Facebook/ Instagram and Google along with your own website. Get in touch with us if you’d like a hand getting your online presence up to scratch in 2021.

Facebook Tutorial: How to Interact as your Page

We know it’s tough. You’ve just got the hang of Facebook and wham! There’s an update and everything looks different again. If you self-manage your business socials, trying to keep your personal profile and business page separate can be pretty confusing. Luckily, Facebook has recently made some attempts to simplify matters and has created a new Page “News Feed” as well as allowing Pages to join groups (group Admin willing, of course). Here’s our handy tutorial on how to navigate through the update.

First up, it’s important to note that a business Page and your personal Facebook Profile are very different and serve different purposes. Secondly, there is a big difference between Facebook online (using your computer) and the mobile phone app. It’s obviously important to know whether you’re liking or commenting on a post as yourself or as your business (Page). Here are a few steps to clear up any confusion:

1.) For this tutorial you’ll need to be using your computer not the mobile phone app.

2.) Check who you are before you start! On the top right of your screen, in the top menu bar, you should see your personal profile picture and name.

3.) To go to your Page, click on the flag icon in the middle of your top menu bar.

4.) A new page will load and you will have the option to choose your business Page. Click on the name of your Page.

5.) Your Page will load and you’ll notice a little notification box pop-up saying that you’re now interacting as your Page.

6.) On the left-hand side of your screen will be a new menu, click on News Feed

Facebook tutorial showing step by step instructions on how to interact as Standout Digital

7.) This is now your business Page News Feed! It works just like your personal news feed but whenever you like or comment, you’ll be doing so as your Page not as your person. It’s a great way to strategically follow Pages of value to your business and then interact with them appropriately for maximum value. If it’s the first time you’re here, Facebook will guide you through a few steps to get you started before taking you to your News Feed.

8.) Keep an eye on the comment box (where you type in a comment) and you’ll notice your business profile picture and the text in the box will tell you who you are commenting as.

9.) To the right of the comment box, you’ll notice a smaller version of your business Page profile picture with a little arrow next to it. If you click here you can toggle between interacting as your Page or as your person. You will also have this option when you’re on your own personal profile and once you’ve got the hang of things, you can easily toggle between without having to go to your Page first. Just be sure to always check “who” you’re interacting as before hitting enter!

Step by step instructions on toggling between a Facebook Page and Facebook Profile

We hope that this has guided you through the change and that you’re feeling a bit more confident when it comes to using Facebook!

Busting Digital Marketing Myths- Part 2

It’s time to bust digital marketing myth 2 today!

When you think social media, most often just Facebook and Instagram come to mind. But there are so many additional platforms available. Choosing the right one depends on your business type, industry, marketing strategy and goals. For some, Twitter might offer the best exposure, for others it’s YouTube or TikTok. When it comes to professional personal marketing, LinkedIn is number 1!

Standout Digital can help you to determine which platform/s are most suitable and set up a successful strategy to take your business forward on social media.

Busting digital myth 2: Social media isn't just Face & Instagram

Busting Digital Marketing Myths- Part 1

We’ve been on the hunt to establish a few of the most common misconceptions and myths when it comes to digital marketing. The number 1 myth we’ve encountered so far is that digital marketing is just social media management. FaLsE!

Although social media management (such as the use of Facebook and Instagram) is a component of digital marketing, the reality is that a digital marketer has a far broader role- from setting up a proper strategy, choosing the correct channels to use for each client (anything online!) and then measuring and adjusting that strategy to ensure targets are met within a particular budget and time frame. We handle all sorts from colour & font selection, to branding, email and sms campaigns, paid advertising, image management, web design and much more, all with goals and strategy in mind for each client.

busting myth 1 digital marketing= social media

We’ll be addressing a few more digital marketing myths in the coming weeks. If you have any questions of your own, feel free to contact us!

No question is too silly 😉

10 Reasons your Small Business needs a Website in 2020

Years ago a business had to have a physical address to be considered legitimate. Next came the landline phone number and from the 2000’s onwards, a business had to have a website. Is this still the case in 2020, even for small businesses? Does a business really need a website?

does my business really need a website?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is also yes! Here are 10 reasons why:

  1. A website is the central hub of all of your digital marketing efforts. It is the core of your online presence and ties together all other aspects, such as social media. Your website is the ideal place to educate potential customers regarding your service or products and allows you the perfect opportunity to shape the perception of your brand. First impressions count and unlike with social media, with a website you’re in complete control of the narrative.
  2. Your customers are online and they expect you to be too. Your competitors are also online. If you don’t have a professional, quality website, you’re missing out on a large chunk of potential customers who will simply go with a competitor. Especially with the massive increase in mobile browsing, you can’t afford not to have a mobile-friendly website.
  3. Especially for small businesses, a website creates credibility and trust and validates your brand. If your website doesn’t come up when a potential customer enters your business name in a search engine, alarm bells start ringing!
  4. A website is a treasure trove of data. Put to good use, the analytics from your website can shape future campaigns and marketing strategy. You’ll be able to learn where your visitors come from, setup retargeting and see better return on your advertising investment. You can even sync data from your social media feeds.
  5. A great website means you can compete on the same playing field as the big guys, even as a small business.
  6. Want to come up ahead of your competitors in a Google search? You need a website!
  7. Keen to send out a newsletter to showcase a new service or special offer? Website integration with a mail partner makes this quick and simple- get potential customers to sign up on your website and you have a database of primed buyers waiting to hear from you!
  8. Save yourself time by providing the answers to some frequently asked questions. People want information and don’t want to waste time looking for it. Give it to them quickly and easily and they won’t stray to a competitor to find what they’re looking for.
  9. A website is cost effective and works for you 24/7 offering great return on investment. You can stand out against the noise which often clutters social media.
  10.  Your website is the ideal place for testimonials and reviews. Showcase your work, experience and the solutions you offer. You’ll be showing them to people who are actually interested in seeing them (they’ve come to your website after all). Capitalize on the opportunity to convert referrals!

Hopefully we’ve got you thinking about the importance of a website. If you have a website and don’t feel you’re getting real value for it, perhaps it’s time for a refresh? Contact Standout Digital to see what we can offer you, whether it’s an entirely new site build, an update or integration with other digital marketing aspects to truly leverage your website, we’d love to help you to standout and stay memorable!

Digital Marketing Predictions for 2021

It’s hard to believe that we’ve already moved into the 4th and last quarter of 2020 never-mind concerning ourselves with digital marketing predictions for 2021! For a year that many have (probably only half-heartedly) joked should be cancelled, it sure has left an impact on us all. Cast your mind back to January and it possibly feels an entire world away. Although it’s been a tough time in many respects, 2020 certainly has been a year of innovation. The way that small businesses and suddenly unemployed individuals have thrown themselves into new ways of working and making things happen has been inspiring to see and definitely holds lessons for the future. But now that the first glimmer of 2021 is on the horizon, many businesses are wondering what’s in store, and so too are we!

Digital Marketing as an industry never stands still and there is always some new trend vying for attention. What do we feel is going to be important in 2021, particularly for small business?

2021 show in numbers

There are a great many ways of attempting to answer this and quite possibly no right or wrong answer. For us the question may be a little in different in that we want to know what tools and trends 2021 has in store to better the investments our clients make in digital marketing- what are the most important points to focus on to enhance reach, brand awareness, lead generation and ultimately sales? For us it’s the target audience that comes up first and foremost in every instance and we need to know what it is that they desire in 2021! We’ve come up with a few keywords we feel will hold increasing importance in the near future:

  • Desire
  • Humour
  • Call-out culture
  • Connection & community
  • Personalisation.

Desire

The word desire might seem a little indulgent after such a relentless year, but consumers are now at the point where they feel they deserve some respite and are actively seeking out reward for surviving 2020 thus far. Appear Tom Ellis’ character “Lucifer” with his piercing gaze, asking, “what is it you truly desire?” and therein lies the key! As Katherine Kim from Sprout Social points out, “If you aren’t listening to consumers, how can you be sure your newest product, campaign or brand messaging is going to resonate with your audience?”

Knowing your audience and customer base is essential. Ask them what they want, what they desire and then make sure you meet those needs. If you are targeting the right people and giving them what they want, 2021 will be nothing but rosy.

Humour

Humour is our second keyword. Again, consumers are looking for some kind of relief and we’re seeing viral content of a humorous nature doing the rounds regularly. This is a little trickier than desire since not everyone has the same idea as to what constitutes humour but again, knowing your target audience is vital. Keeping some of your content a little lighter and more playful could be just what’s needed to get people engaging with your brand.

Connection

Smack bang in the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is love and belonging. Whether real world or online this is a key element in human nature and still highly relevant. Your digital marketing efforts should focus on building connections and communities where people can connect to each other. Cultivate a feeling of belonging and community and you will in return receive brand loyalty.

Call-out Culture

Call-out culture! We can hear the sighs already after the latest Clicks saga and no, we’re not done with call-out culture yet. Whether you see this in a positive or negative light, it’s still going to be a factor going in to 2021. Ensuring that you scrutinise every aspect of your marketing is a necessity, as is having a plan should things go wrong. Online reputation management is a necessity going forward and something which needs to be managed proactively.

Personalisation

Lastly, personalization is not new when it comes to digital marketing, but it is still important. People want to feel unique and are increasingly expecting businesses to make an effort in this area. Marketing strategies need respond accordingly and reflect this. Tailored messaging and individual engagement are of growing importance, even more so when it comes to those supporting small business. Don’t be afraid to reach out. An online presence shouldn’t mean a step back from the people who spend money with you but rather be seen as presenting additional opportunities to engage with and learn from your customers.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from 2020 it’s that the future is anything but predictable but hopefully these keywords highlight some areas of potential importance going into the next year. Check back this time next year to see how our Digital Marketing Predictions for 2021 fared 😉

Digital marketing prediction keywords for 2021

We’d love to hear from you! Pop us an email or reach out: www.standoutdigital.co.za/contact-us

We’ve finally hatched!

A very warm welcome to Standout Digital. Our first post is going to be a short one! We’re overwhelmed by the support the business has received so far and so blessed to have rather a lot of work already on the table before we even officially launch. Talk about flying the plane whilst building it!

With Spring on the way there is definitely a much more positive sentiment in the air and we feel energised and ready to take on new clients and work with them to exceed their business goals.

In future, we’d like this to be a place where we share useful information and engage in discussions on all things Digital Marketing. So, check back here soon and keep an eye on our socials. We look forward to having you along for the flight!