Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ghana farming - Kasapin July 2010.

As I write this I am sat in the middle of the African rainforest. The sound of tropical birds calling out to each other echoes in my ears. Insects project themselves, aware of their presence only by the abundance of noise they make, unthreatened.

I am sat on a tree that has fallen to the ground, sliced down by my host father's machete. Only three weeks ago I was in this same spot with Gifty, my host-sister, the only difference being I was sat under a tree and not perched on its side adjacent the ground.

Nana is clearing his land to farm some more plantain and cocoa trees, he tells me his father father gave him this land, "it is all mine, seven acres of it." I sit here in the Sub-Saharan desert in his seven acres, untouched by civilisation, unencountered.

The only thing these seven acres see are the people who love it for what it can provide, the weather and God.

God to which Nana just sat and prayed to before planting his first plantain sucker. I question these actions. Nana said, " I asked God to protect me, to protect my farm" Nana then broke off into traditional African song, hammering the ground.

A leather skinned old man walks by, with someone who I assume is his son. The mans skin looks like you could upholster a custom made chair with it. The leather man smiles and waves his machete as a sign of acceptance. A killer Ant passes by to my right, reminding me of an armoured soldier and the bites that the group received clearing the playground.

Nana calls to me, in broken English he tells me to pass him some plantain suckers. Some of them are rotten, or at least they smell that way. They are an alien finger reaching out through the ground and upwards, beyond, as if calling home.

I am told to go and rest, Nana and I laugh, we are reminded of an earlier conversation, how western life was too fast and that the important things like family and rest are left to pass by.

An oak coloured grasshopper makes an appearance, it doesn't move from my sight for over half an hour, sitting undisturbed; unless Nana makes a request about knowing the contents of my 'report', which he says is very nice.

Nana breaks from planting and asks me, "what are you going to do when you go back to England...teach, be a politician?"

I laugh and Nana joins in, we share yet another joke. I tell him that it is not very likely that I get into politics, I tell Nana that I don't like politicians, "they talk too much" he replies.

Several Ants pass and Nana chops down a rather stubborn tree, he has been doing so for the past ten minutes.

Crack! The crash of leaves and a dull thud, the tree has surrendered. The wind has changed and I can feel a chill in the air, rain is coming.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Facebook Pages: Brands and Businesses get more social

Last week Facebook HQ announced a planned role out to update and improve its Pages. The update, which will affect all users by March 10, allows admins of a Facebook Page to interact with their fans and connections in the same way as a personal profile log in.

Facebook are excited about the improvements to Pages stating that the new features ‘will help you manage communication, express yourself, and increase engagement,’ this is welcomed news for brands and companies engaged in the social sphere.
If you are eager to preview the page layout before all pages are automatically updated across the site this spring, the ability to upgrade your account lies with a few clicks of a mouse.

Facebook Pages: Business minded?

The update allows admins the option to display Facebook profiles of page owners directly onto your business Page in Facebook. This change allows potential clients and employees the opportunity to make contact to professionals on a personal level, much like LinkedIn.

This additional feature to Pages gives any Facebook user the tools to connect with those working behind the scenes of a business or brand. This champions the ‘be human’ mantra that social media mavens are constantly offloading as free advice to businesses socially active in the digital realm, but is this necessary for every brand or right for your business?

Shouldn’t a business be visible as a business within Facebook and not allow users to link to personal accounts at the click of a button? Is this too much transparency for a business oriented feature within a social network?

Facebook Pages: Likes and Dislikes
The new Facebook Page allows you to function more freely as a business; there are some new features that will undoubtedly aid your reach and engagement with current and potential clients.

LIKE. Navigation on the new Facebook Page sits to the left hand side, making content within the page even more accessible. The user is able to distinguish the location of content through simple navigation as soon as they land on the brand/business page.
LIKE. Admins of the page have the ability to ‘log in’ to Facebook as the page itself. This allows you to socially interact as your company rather than an individual. This opens up doors for engagement with potential clients and to build a network of like-minded businesses.
LIKE: ‘The Business Newsfeed’ – the newsfeed is generated for your business is in the same way as a personal log on- accessing this through Home. Your business network of ‘likes’ will also show in the news feed.

DISLIKE. Chronological order of posts has taken a step back to the importance of conversation which Facebook deems most ‘relevant’ to your followers.

Although posts that generate the most insights or promote customer engagement are valuable to your business, the importance of relevant and timely updates on a Page has been overlooked by Facebook HQ; this has sparked heated online discussion and petition around the formatting of posts in new Facebook Pages. The chronological order of things is how we manage our time, even more so within a timely news feed of posts on Facebook, without this feature posts will appear irrelevant [time = now] to the user. Without any control over the order of timely updates, posts are in danger of being left at the top of a Page with little or no relevance. Other updates could be posted further down the wall of your Page, with potential of being completely overlooked by users.

Facebook: Business-social

Overall, brands and businesses should find this update allows for an ease of network building directly from your Facebook Page. These changes show developers at Facebook HQ understand how businesses are adapting to ways of working within the social realm, reiterating the importance of how these relationships, with people and businesses alike, are built and maintained.
Changes to Facebook Pages echo the changing needs of social media based marketing, highlighting the importance of engagement with customers on social networking sites.

These changes will undoubtedly aid social media campaigns and strategies, fuelling customer engagement and business opportunities on a business network platform that exists within Facebook.