Koh Yao Noi

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‘The cats are very friendly here…’ we remarked as a snowy ginger cat padded its way through The Waterhouse. We were staying in Koh Yao Noi, a remote, undeveloped island in the south of Thailand, sitting in between Krabi and Phuket in Phang Nga Bay. Cats are everywhere on the island and we were joined by three or four friendly felines as we made our orientation around our accommodation and the surrounding beach. The setting was beautiful, overlooking a working fishing beach dotted with longtail boats and hundreds of crabs. The lighting was best in the early evening, I would sit on our balcony and watch the silhouettes of fisherman docking their boats in the sand after a day’s work.

Koh Yao Noi is one of the most undeveloped islands in Thailand affording a really authentic insight into the lifestyle. In addition to this, we travelled in shoulder season and during Ramadan, so other travellers were few and far between. The island is 95% Muslim and the sense of community is very apparent. We soon learnt that the land surrounding The Waterhouse was owned by the family of our host Karem; to the right his sister and to the left his cousin.

The island is compact with small roads and hardly any (if any), cars. The locals get around on mopeds and motorbikes, so we did the same. To get one, we just had to take a short walk to a moped hire place on our road and exchange 150 Baht (£3.50) and it’s all yours for 24 hours. ‘Koh Yao Noi is the only place in Thailand you can leave your key in your moped and know it will be safe’ Karem told us, and we believed him; If Thailand is the ‘land of smiles’ then Koh Yao Noi is the land of friends. Literally everywhere you go, you are welcomed with warm smiles from local people, even as you briefly pass them by on a motorbike. It doesn’t take long to feel part of the island and start to imagine yourself living here. ‘We are seeing an increasing number of foreigners set up home here’ we were told, ‘the local people have no problem with this, as long as they respect the way we live’. For a Muslim island, the way of life was refreshingly laid back, although it is advised that travellers dress modestly, there is no requirement to, and you are accepted everywhere you go.

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Sadly I did actually come off my motorbike, it seems I have a travelling curse; something always happens to make it a struggle – On my last trip to India I lost my voice entirely for the first four days. I think Karem could sense I was feeling a bit down because of my fall, and he invited us for what he called ‘fishing and a BBQ at sunset’. Intrigued me and my partner Laura agreed and met him at the pier that evening. We set off on a longtail and were sailing for about 15 minutes before they put the anchor down, we sat confused wondering why we were stopping as we appeared to be in the middle of the sea, but we followed our hosts off the boat and as we stepped into the clear, warm water we realised it was really shallow. The low tide had revealed a white sandy pathway to a secluded beach, we walked along it admiring the view and then Karem laid out a picnic blanket and candles and told us more about the unique island. We learnt that the group of bright green lights we could see in the distance, were not coming from a nearby island as we expected, but they were, in fact, enormous fishing boats catching squid. The squid come out at night as they are attracted to the moon so the large lights imitate the moon to enable them to catch them.

As it was Ramadan we sat and talked while the sun set around us until the faint sounds of prayer in the distance filled the air and we knew was time to eat. We sat there until the last of the light vanished and bolts of lightning flashed around us, revealing the silent longtail floating a few metres away.

We all climbed back into the longtail and made our way back to the pier and Karem invited us late night fishing. We were both really excited to see more of the island lifestyle and sea life, but sadly the lightening brought with it a storm so we were unable to go back out.

A few days later we had left Koh Yao Noi and moved onto Phi Phi Islands; a cluster of islands of otherworldly beauty (but unfortunately a lot more touristy). As we sat having a drink one night on the beach we saw nine or ten bright green lights in the distance; a lot brighter from Phi Phi than from Koh Yao Noi, and remembered the tranquillity and simplicity of that beautiful island and way of life.

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6 things social media marketers know

5

No-one knows what you do

  1. Most people have no idea what you do. ‘Oh so you do the Tweets and shit?’ is something I get almost every time I tell someone my job. Yeah, I do write Tweets and shit, but that is the most basic part of my job. A lot of my time is spent on creating a strategy, building relationships with influencers, curating and creating content in the form of video, imagery and blogs, graphic design and customer service. I also run adverts, reports and plan and execute creative campaigns and manage budgets. In my industry (travel) a lot of time is required training teams around the business, a strong link between product and marketing, and sales and marketing is key to being successful on social media.

You speak to customers every day

  1.  Service is key. As social media marketer, you spend a lot of your time communicating directly with clients, something very few others in the marketing team do. You regularly engage with clients who LOVE your brand, but you are also the person who has to diffuse situations where clients are very unhappy. A great thing about this is that you have access to insights about your customer that others don’t, you can see what they like to engage with and create content in line with this.

    People ask questions on social media because they want an immediate or at least quick response. You have to be able to respond as soon as possible, so you have to use your initiative. If the customer asks you something really in-depth about your product or service and you don’t know the answer, you need to be resourceful and ask the right people.

You overlap with PR

  1. Although social media is predominantly a (very powerful) marketing tool, it overlaps with PR a lot. A big part of being successful is building relationships with people. Your content will be reaching both potential customers and the press, and by sharing your company blogs and expertise on social media, you are opening up organic promotional opportunities. You must be able to network and build relationships with people within the industry. It is you who sits behind the company logo on Twitter, so it is you who needs to build the rapport.

    You need to keep up to date with big news and trends, both so that you can jump on them for brand exposure, but also so that you can avoid talking about topics which could cause negative engagement or show brand insensitivity. In travel, we need to be very aware of natural disasters etc. in destinations so that we can avoid promoting them when needed.

You understand your brand

  1. You must understand your brand. The intricacies of a brand can be one of the hardest things to get your head around in a new company. I find that treating the ‘brand’ as if it were an individual is a good place to start. When planning a campaign or advert ask yourself ‘would my key demographic understand this and want to be associated with it?’In social media, you will be finding out what the business focuses are and planning monthly or quarterly themes of content in line with this.

    On social media, images and video are the most powerful things, you need to make sure all your imagery and video content is ‘on brand’ and flows with your company’s website, emails, brochures, magazines etc. In many cases, you are the person telling people what imagery to create, because you are the person who is using it the most. If it stands out and is too different, it is not doing its job.

This is anything but a linear role

  1. You must be versatile. Many marketing departments outsource their campaigns to creative agencies. In social media, you have the power to create smaller scale (and large) campaigns in-house. This can be by gathering user-generated content to show how much your customers love your product/service or running a competition to gain sign-ups to your newsletter/magazine. The sphere of social media really is as big or as small as you want to make it.

Your audience doesn’t change

  1. The biggest myth is that your market is somehow different on social media: it isn’t. Your demographic and potential customer base doesn’t change, the things that do are the way you engage with them, and the way they use the platform. A customer reading a magazine will give your article more time because they have chosen to sit and read it, your beautiful Instagram post has popped up while they’re quickly scrolling on the train needs to grab their attention a lot faster.

Setbacks are freeing

4

Setbacks are freeing. They make you see more critically and analyse.

The start of a New Year brings with it a sense of inspiration, a need for growth and a craving for goals. If your year has started with a new project or a new challenge, it can be a great time to throw yourself into it, conversely, if it has started with a setback of some descript, it can make you feel a little lost and in need of direction.

A mantra I live by is ‘everything happens for a reason’. My close friends are probably sick of me saying it, especially when they are going through something tough, but I truly believe in it. When something goes wrong (or right), there is always a reason, it can take a long time to realise what that was, but it all makes sense eventually.

There have been times in my life when I have needed clarity or direction which cause a period of feeling lost, but they are always, always followed by an Epiphone or an experience where I grow substantially.

Nothing good ever comes from feeling comfortable, and occasionally it takes something negative to happen to make you realise your growth was on pause. I think in order to grow and be successful as an individual you need to live in a state of certain discomfort, you need to be constantly challenged in some way. That doesn’t need to be extreme; it can be as small as giving a presentation on something you are passionate about, giving 100% at work, or starting a big project. If you are in a situation where you don’t feel challenged, you aren’t going to grow. I am not just talking professionally either, there are many ways you can challenge yourself and grow as an individual, from travelling to meditation or surrounding yourself with people who make you the best you, and don’t want to see you settle for average.

Sometimes things don’t work out, you don’t meet your goal or you fail. But failure isn’t a bad thing, failure will make you ask yourself ‘was that right for me anyway?’ We are often told to never give up and to reach our goals, but sometimes we are so focussed on reaching our goals, that we don’t question whether they are actually worthwhile.

I am a very spiritual person, and I believe that if you are in a period of feeling lost, then look for the signs, during these times opportunities for growth are everywhere, they might just take some searching for. In 2016 I achieved everything on my goals list (and then some), but this year my goals are already scrapped because I have realised, they weren’t the right ones. I am now free to choose my inspiration and focus for the next few months, or years, and that is very liberating.

Rouge x