Zubeida Goolam, co-founder and creative partner at Brandtruth//DGTL, discusses the apps and other technologies available to create engaging content.

With well over 100 days of a nationwide lockdown, can this still be considered the new way of life, given that it is likely to last for the foreseeable future? With locals adjusting to work-from-home or more likely a sleep-at-work lifestyle, it has become more apparent that the online landscape has grown in scope and usage times.

According to AskAfrica, a market research intelligence company, up to 87% of South Africans continue to engage on social media at least once a day.  Given this increase in online activity, a feed refresh becomes imperative in any strategy to ensure that one’s content calendar is consistently updated with engaging, authentic and relatable posts that satiate the growing consumer need to hit that like button. 

Inspiration and curation

The first step towards great content is ensuring you have the tools to plan well. Feedly is a great free tool to gather and filter content from all over the web to serve as inspiration and update you on the latest trends. You add your favourite content pages, YouTube channels and blogs, and all new updates get carefully curated and compiled for you to easily access and reference. 

The free app Pocket is another service for managing articles and videos. Add any piece of content to your personal Pocket App to save it for later. It is accessible across devices, easy to send or share content to social media, email or a friend’s Pocket, and everything you save can be viewed offline – perfect for times when you don’t have internet access. 

After reading up on trends and gathering inspiration, Evernote is a free content creation tool, allowing you to capture ideas and inspiration in notes, voice and pictures and sync with your connected devices. 

If you are still stuck for content ideas, Blog Topic Generator is a handy and fun tool to help inspire your creativity. By inserting a few keywords that you’d like to talk about, the site automatically generates some suggested ideas, and it only takes a minute.

Aesthetic and impact

As many South Africans have started new business ventures during the nationwide lockdown, it is imperative to understand the key elements of any good social feed: aesthetic and authenticity. Creating a look and feel that is synonymous with a username and brand is borderline the basic rule in online resonance.

While photo editing and video design may seem like it can take years to master, a little well-known trick is presets. A preset is an already designed filter that can be readily applied to any content to instantly brighten, steady and adjust potential posts. Lightroom offers a variety of presets built for multiple types of industry material including food, beauty, nature and portrait.

Affordable alternatives to consider are Touch Retouch, Enlight Pixalloop and VSCO – all of which are smartphone app-based, allowing for a seamless transition between a snap, edit and upload. 

For video content, VideoShow is one of the best free Android apps available. It is easy to use, reliable and user-friendly. In addition to the essential functions, you can also add text, music, sound effects and perform live dubbing.

Spotify reports that podcast consumption hours on the platform have increased by a massive 250% year over year. If you would like to move into the world of audio content, you should investigate the Anchor app. Anchor is a free audio tool, allowing you to easily create both video and audio recordings to share on social media. 

Cloud your content

One of the easiest mistakes, and one that may haunt a post forever (or until it is forcefully deleted), is incorrect grammar. This instantly reduces credibility and it is the sustenance that internet trolls live off. Given that some content will be directly posted from a smartphone, the only failsafe here is said smartphone’s autocorrect, as most social media platforms do not have spell-check capabilities.

A recommendation would be to use Google Drive, OneDrive or any other cloud-based storage system. This makes content accessible from multiple devices – allowing traceable collaboration – saves mobile storage and also safeguards an accidental ‘delete’ when one purges their gallery after a lockdown breakdown. With Google Drive, creators have access to Docs, which should be where all captions are housed and screened, reducing the risk of typos. Extending on this, Grammarly is available as a free add-on to Google Docs, further helping improve on sentence construction.

Everyone loves to consume content, but making it engaging takes skill and the right tools. They say a content creator’s job is never done. That is because their consumer-base is always eager for more. Now isn’t that in itself an opportunity?