From the biggest news stories to the trendiest trends

Inspiring Stories

04 April 2019

From the biggest news stories to the trendiest trends

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Oscar Wild has said that ‘Life imitates art more than art imitates life’. And there is definitely some truth to his observation. It is common knowledge that works of fiction have been known to inspire. But sometimes things are taken a few steps further, and then these imitations turn borderline bizarre.

The year’s barely a quarter down and it has already spawned a series of incredible stories and mindboggling trends, the kind we would have never dreamed would catch on.

Presenting a few of the biggest stories and trendiest trends of 2019 (so far), in no particular order:

Game of Thrones Finale

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlR4PJn8b8I

 For many fans the wait is finally over, almost. The much-awaited grand finale of Game of Thrones is set to premier on HBO on April 14 this year. And social media is abuzz with how the series will end. Keeping in mind the huge build-up and the expectations that the audience have from the series, David Benioff and Dan Weiss chose to direct this themselves. However, they are well aware that even the best-case end will not please everyone and they can only hope to receive minimal fan backlash.

There is much secrecy around the last episodes of the series that GoT the whole world hooked. Not many details are out, and apparently only select crew members wearing a special Episode 6 badge were allowed on set, and some scenes were even shot on a closed set.

If fans are worried about not knowing what to do with their time after watching the finale, a week later a 2-hour documentary on the making of the show’s final season will air on HBO. What they look forward to next is anybody’s guess.

Now that the biggest news is out of the way, let’s look at some of the trends that have swept up the digital world.

The Bird Box Challenge

You might want to take off the blindfold for this one. Netflix’s latest horror flick, Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich and Sarah Paulson, is a movie about an invisible entity that can make people hallucinate if they are exposed to it. As a result of that, people in the movie go about with their eyes covered to avoid any accidental exposure that can cause them to eventually kill themselves.

The thrilling movie had the audience on the edge of their sofas and beanbags, no doubt. What the makers did not expect was that people would recreate the movie in real life and give birth to the Bird Box Challenge, where people go about their daily life with their eyes covered. Naturally, some of the results are hilarious and, in some cases, things did go wrong horribly.

The challenge got so out of hand that Netflix had to issue a warning asking people to stop the challenge and not land up in the hospital.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=361kslpyQMU

Egg Post

What does a humble egg have that Kylie Jenner doesn’t? For starters, more Instagram likes than her birth announcement post. While Jenner once held the world record for the maximum number of likes on a post (18M to be precise), the unassuming egg has poached the title and gone on to amass 24.5M likes since it first made its appearance on social media on January 4th this year. And it is the only post of the account, made explicitly to beat Kylie’s record.

In response, Kylie cracked an egg on the ground and posted it online with the caption ‘take that little egg’. It’s an amazing time to be alive, isn’t it?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-LqnJuamRQ

This isn’t the first time that people have tried to get a lot of Instagram likes, quickly and break existing records. And it won’t be the last. Even now people are scrambling to break the egg’s record with their posts. Let’s see who beats this one.

https://twitter.com/myawfis/status/1085500673263726592

‘Throw cheese at your baby’ challenge

If there’s anything that takes the cheese, we mean cake, it is throwing slices of cheese at babies. All in the name of garnering points or likes or share on social media.

It all started when a father from Michigan tossed a slice of cheese at his toddler. Understandably, the kid was shocked, but the father was amused. He posted the video online and it was reposted on Twitter by another social media addict who goes by the name of @unclehxlmes. The video went viral and soon after twitter was flooded with people throwing cheese slices at their kids or younger siblings.

A few did feel it was disrespectful and tossed them at their cat or dogs instead. We’re sure those guys were pleased as punch. The original Facebook video and the Twitter one have both been taken down since then.

Cleaning!

The last in our series of strange but true tales is the cleaning trend. Instagram influencers like Mrs Hinch (with 1.4M followers) have managed to glamorize mundane, back-breaking tasks like cleaning. People are jumping the bandwagon and hashtags like #cleaningobsessed were trending on Instagram late last year. Cleaning tips and ideas was one of the most common topics on several friends and family groups too.

Interestingly, this trend did benefit some people. Cleaning companies saw a dramatic rise in their numbers since Mrs Hinch started talking about cleaning. One of the brands also noticed a spike after a product was endorsed for free by the influencer.

Not many were pleased though. Some people think that their family members are taking this obsession too far. Being excited to clean the house or wanting to try out a new dish cloth or a cleaning product taking precedence over family time seems like taking things a little too far, according to them. But the cleaners themselves find it therapeutic.

Will the trend last long? No one knows. After all, there are better things to do than watch someone clean a sink or fold and put away washed laundry, right?

Conclusion

Trends come and go, and no one really knows why something sticks and why something doesn’t. In today’s quick-fix age, it is important to understand the ‘Instagrammable’ value of something before speculating on its popularity.

5 Tips to Improve Brand Communication During COVID-19

Inspiring Stories

24 August 2020

5 Tips to Improve Brand Communication During COVID-19

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Changing times call for changing communication strategies. Marketers and brand owners are inhibited by the way the global pandemic is impacting their businesses. And yet, it is more important than ever to generate appropriate, relevant, and original ideas to stay connected to your audience and drive the right message.

Brand communication in the times of Covid-19 needs to be more creative, ingenious, and strategic to ensure that you are heard as is your audience. Unless you are running a business that only caters to high-priority needs, it’s time to rethink your communication strategy and make it more effective.

Expand your social outreach

If you were using social media to connect with your audience, then this is the perfect time to go all guns blazing on such platforms to stay connected with your customers/clients. Make the most of interactive content, instant updates, trending news, while you throw in a little bit of entertaining content. Be in the know while you make your audience feel included in your business at all times, whether or not you are operating in full capacity. This helps with brand awareness for new customers and makes existing ones stay connected to your brand.

Boost your customer service remotely

Most businesses have shifted their services and support online. The switch, from face-to-face interaction to going remote and digital, calls for a big change in operations and servicing strategies. Invest more in apps, email marketing, chat support, or WhatsApp marketing, to communicate, so your audience never loses out on updates. Prepare your service teams to connect with customers online and make sure they always have a good experience with the right communication style and channel.

Be informative

These times call for generating awareness and educating your audience on what they can or cannot do. Informing them about preventive measures, best practices, and how they can manage their work and life will build customer loyalty, trust, and make them feel cared for, which will go a long way in establishing a solid communication system even in the future.

Be creative but relevant

In uncertain circumstances like these, brands need to be more understanding of their audience. Be creative but careful of what message you deliver and how. It is important to be empathetic yet relevant to people’s needs without instilling or indulging in their fears. In a crisis, all people seek is support. Even if you need to drive sales, the messaging needs to be tactful, and yet, it cannot come across as insensitive or opportunistic, or it could appear to be a hardcore sales strategy without the humane factor in it.

Invest in paid ads

With businesses mostly online, this is the best time to get the attention of your “always online” audience. Invest in paid advertising and other paid digital campaigns to attract more traffic and generate conversions. With CPC (cost per click) rates being lower, it gives marketers more opportunities to invest in paid ads and make the most of the gap created by those leaving the competition.

Summing Up…

When times are tough, everything you do can either make or break your brand. You can neither walk on eggshells nor make it business as usual. It’s a fine line to draw and walk so you can sustain your business while boosting (or at least maintaining) the brand image.  Being focused on your audience’s needs, being realistic yet compassionate, can remarkably boost your brand communication and keep you connected to your audience or reach the right people.

How can Small Businesses Survive and Thrive During this Pandemic?

Inspiring Stories

21 August 2020

How can Small Businesses Survive and Thrive During this Pandemic?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

In any scenario of a global economic downturn, it is mostly the small businesses that take the hardest hit. The current pandemic of COVID-19 is no different. For the last few months, small and medium enterprises have been grappling for sustenance, some stopping their services altogether, while others are pushing through to keep their operations going. Issues like lower cash flow, minimized clientele/customer base, and managing costs have forced many businesses to rethink their existence. But the key to survival is all about finding ways out of roadblocks, isn’t it?

So, what can these businesses do to survive and sustain the pandemic and continue to thrive? As experts and thought leaders believe, there are a few tried and tested ways that these enterprises could adopt to stay alive and kicking!

1.  Be agile

The agility of processes and functions is one of the keys to stay ahead of the game today. More so now, when businesses need to adapt and adjust to the challenging market circumstances and tweak their operations to suit the immediate needs of the business, as well as of their customers. From digitalizing systems to incorporating newer services, or setting up a solid WFH/remote working system, it is time to transform the way you work and serve people.

2.  Tap into opportunities

With every challenge, comes hidden opportunities. Depending on what product or service you offer, you can include options like flexible payment methods, high-priority goods, round-the-clock customer support, and always stay connected to people who matter to your business. It goes a long way in strengthening your business contacts.

3.  Be present online

Being digital-first has now become essential. If you are in the retail business or have a brick-and-mortar store, now is the time to take it online and expand your customer base. This way, you can keep it running even during the lockdown. It might need some initial investment, but the infrastructure costs will definitely be lesser than a physical store and will be more sustainable in the long run. If you already have an online-based business, expand your reach using social media, paid ads, and boosting your SEO exercises to drive more traffic.

4.  Invest in your employees

Businesses that hold onto their human resources despite all odds are the ones who keep surviving. By investing in your bottom line, you not only get their support and help retain them but also ensure increased productivity. This is the time to train your people, help them upgrade their skills, and explore different roles, so they also grow while helping you sustain. For instance, let your sales teams learn about marketing and other operations, while you provide necessary technologies and flexibility of the work environment.

5.  Get financial aid

Governments and financial institutions are coming together in these times to support small and medium businesses with small-term aids and loans. Stay updated on how they can help you manage costs, invest smart, and move your capital around while helping you prepare for financial exigencies.

With the above practices, also consider these:

When moving your costs around, take into account the financial standings of your suppliers, vendors, or customers, and be supportive to your community.

Stay away from panicking on sudden market shifts and making hasty decisions. Always rely on available data and analyze your next strategy.

Do not try to game the market or its situations. Stocking up on inventory and reselling at a higher price might seem profitable right now but will not be a sustainable or an ethical measure in the long run.

Like everything else, this pandemic and its effects will not last forever. As long as you can adapt and keep sailing, holding onto every resource, you can sustain, survive, and rise above any crisis!

How the lockdown taught us collaboration & other management lessons

Inspiring Stories

07 July 2020

How the lockdown taught us collaboration & other management lessons

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Unlock 1 has seen many get back to their office spaces and adapt to the new normal of masks and social distancing. It’s a good time to reflect on the many lessons we’ve learnt during the lockdown and how we can apply it to our corporate lives. Sometimes, all it takes for change to take effect is the lack of choice. As we grappled with being locked at home, we geared up to learn new skills, find new ways of entertainment and we collectively managed to remote work effectively. Here’s a look at some lessons we can take back to work with us:

Are we all Digital yet?

Somewhere between forgetting to switch on the mute button and switching off the camera, we all grew up to be digital. The world before the lockdown was divided between the Digital Natives and the Digital not-quite-there-yet. What stopped us from adopting technology which existed to make our lives simpler and help us work more efficiently? And yet, how come when it came to personal usage, we easily figured out Firestick/Chromecast streaming and the latest cell phones? Learning happens out of interest or necessity; and at a company level the interest must trickle top down. The leadership team and managers need to bring in a culture of systemic learning and that begins with them upskilling to lead by example. This serves a dual purpose – one that accepts not knowing everything is normal and second that it’s never too late to learn.

The Key Takeout: For organisations to innovate and evolve, there needs to be a culture of learning. The ‘why fix it if it ain’t broke’ philosophy is the biggest roadblock to innovation.  

Workload equals loads of work?

It’s fascinating how we seamlessly divided house tasks based on innate ability – the younger ones for physically-intense housecleaning, the ones who knew cooking took up kitchen work and the rest did dishes and groceries. Some people rotated duties but each family found its own rhythm. Each person was accountable for their work, knew the others’ tasks and trusted them to do it. Of course, things work differently in the corporate world with its clearly demarcated job profiles and associated qualifications; however, we can take a leaf out of this and relook at how we can assign work beyond qualifications. Align teams to a short-term common goal, clearly define how they’re contributing to it individually and collectively, and acknowledge that effort and result.

The Key Takeout: Working collaboratively by its very nature takes away the sense of ‘it’s not my job’ and builds a system where each one is aware and thus appreciative of the work the others are doing.

Time: Too much of a good thing?

Humans are creatures of habit which is why when faced with what seemed like infinite time, we used it exactly the way we are accustomed to spending it. The workaholics worked, the fitness freaks worked out, TV addicts binged and almost everyone learned to bake! But at some point we got a sense of too much, even if it was something we enjoyed, we started missing the office, the routine. How does this apply in the corporate world? If you let people chill and do what they love for some time, you’ll get them more refreshed and charged up to work rather than restricting them to strictly work during work hours. By forbidding things, we make them more appealing. This is not a carte blanche to slack off but a more lenient work style where half an hour on YouTube or a game of Scrabble is acceptable and doesn’t have to be done behind the boss’ back.

The Key Takeout: If work is no more restricted from 9 to 5, why should fun have set timings? Set boundaries but don’t make work and life mutually exclusive.

Focusing vs flexibility?

The easily distracted, and that’s pretty much all of us, will find a distraction worth their time. Pets and children replaced colleagues, chores replaced coffee breaks and SOs replaced bosses. On the other hand, we were saved from focusing on what to wear, what is she wearing, where to go after work, the meeting that should’ve been an email etc. The lockdown brought home the truth on how much time and energy is wasted on things of little or no significance. Despite the increase in daily chores, the lack of an office environment, and distractions at home; most people reported being more productive while working from home. Should this mean an end to office as we know it? Yes and no. The office as we knew it – singular location, fixed timings, everyone & everyday reporting – needs to give way to a more flexible, work from home and work near home approach. The flexibility may differ between industries, organisations but the core approach needs to evolve.

The Key Takeout: Focus on what’s essential and become a more outcome/goal-oriented workplace. Does it really matter if the person delivers an exceptional presentation wearing trousers or pyjamas?

When the lines between office and home are getting increasingly blurred, there’s merit to introspect and apply learnings from home and family to help teams work better.   The lockdown tested and demonstrated our potential to trust, collaborate and handle a crisis; and it would be a shame to not carry some of this back with us as we head back to office.