… Planet Michaels video blog gives potential tourists a bird’s eye view
WITH at least 15 years experience in information technology (IT), as well as marketing, Grace Michaels (GM) has found a niche in combining the two, and is fast becoming a pioneer in social media marketing.
The soft-spoken mother of two uses social media to market Namibia’s vast beauty to the outside world.
The PLANET MICHAELS video blog is an innovative form of promoting business, products and other services, through social media.
In an interview with Confidente’s Marianne Nghidengwa (MN), Grace passionately spoke about pioneering her latest form of marketing in Namibia.
MN: Briefly tell us about your background.
GM: I was born in the Philippines. My parents came to work in Namibia in 1992, and fell in love with the country. After a year of working, they decided to bring my siblings and me here, and we never looked back since. We all became Namibians, thereafter, as we felt welcome and at home and made Namibia our second home.
I finished school in Namibia and studied part-time, while working as an IT systems administrator. I met my husband at a very young age, while at varsity. He now co-owns an advertising agency, where I am the head of operations.
After several years of working, we embarked on creating the very first card-based driver’s licence system and pension system in Namibia. I am proud to be a part of the core team of experts, working with international suppliers, training corporates and government officials. It was a major project that we started, and I was the contracts and project quality manager at that time.
With 12 years experience in the IT industry, I worked at various IT companies that specialise in creating customised software solutions for government. Working as an IT Oracle Applications Consultant and software engineer, my team of IT experts from software and database developers, software engineers, systems administrators and IT consultants, worked in creating software solutions for the Ministry of Finance, Inland Revenue, the Ministry of Trade, the Office of the Prime Minister and NBC TV License Systems.
I moved to the marketing world. Having an extensive IT background and merging that with marketing and advertising, I discovered the world of social media influencers and how it makes an impact in our digital age today.
MN: What is a social media influencer?
GM: social media influencers, content creators, or as we call ourselves, YouTubers, can be anyone, from YouTube users, video bloggers (vloggers), celebrities, artists, industry experts, activists, enthusiasts, and anyone who has an idea and a positive voice. We create awareness and promote what we feel and what we believe is right, to our social media audience and followers.
We create, edit, post and influence, and because we work hard in gaining the trust of our followers, our voice is stronger on the social media platforms. We are just regular people, who have built a following, by sharing our adventures, activities and interests, with passion.
MN: What triggered your interest in becoming a YouTuber?
GM: Social media is our window to the outside world, and because our family loves travelling, we have seen so much around the world. When we started travelling around Namibia, we noticed that the beauty of Namibia is not shown to the outside world.
So early this year, I opened up a YouTube channel called PLANET MICHAELS. We load our travel experiences and adventures as a family to this platform. My audience responded positively and I am getting followers and subscribers from all around the world. We saw this opportunity to reflect Namibia and its beauty to the outside world. We want to show that Namibia is one of the best travel destinations in Africa, where it is safe for families and children. A lot of people still see Africa in a negative manner. Most of the tourists that come here do not know what to expect and are afraid that Namibia might not have what they are looking for. We want to bring the younger generations, with kids, and emphasise to them that it is safe and fun to travel to and around Namibia.
MN: What are the most challenging aspects of becoming a YouTuber?
GM: It is quite an intimidating job, because you always have to be in front of the camera, and when you are at your nerves, it shows. But when you do it all the time, it gets easier. My husband and two kids still cringe whenever I vlog in public, but I really feel so blessed and it helps that they support my craziness. I have stopped worrying about what others think of me, when I am in public with a camera in front of my face, and start talking to myself. It takes a lot of guts, self-confidence and practice, but I am getting there. My most important task is to make sure that we share our happiness and give inspiration to our viewers, through PLANET MICHAELS.
MN: What is social media marketing and why is it suddenly a big thing?
GM: In a nutshell, social media marketing is the use of social media platforms and websites to promote a service or products. Social media marketing is when you gain traffic or attention through social media platforms.
Because the digital age is evolving exponentially, people, especially millennials, are receiving information on social media platforms, such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn etc. Whether we like it or not, our generation is glued to their smartphones and gadgets.
It is really an innovative form of promoting businesses, whereby you promote your products or services using these social media platforms.
MN: What are the negatives of this?
GM: Social media can be damaging if used wrongly. More and more people, especially the youth are glued to their smartphones and gadgets. PLANET MICHAELS portrays a family that does activities, travels and do adventures together. We also want to influence the youth out there to be more engaged in nature and experience life and their surroundings, rather than just checking social media all the time.
MN: Why should companies or anybody who wants to raise awareness embrace this concept of social media marketing?
GM: I believe that social media is revolutionising the marketing industry. Nowadays, word-of-mouth is a powerful form of advertising. People listen more to someone they can relate to or trust than a total stranger. This is where we, the social media influencers and PLANET MICHAELS come into play.
The best part is that it is not costly, as most platforms are free and you only need to invest as much as your budget allows. Social media influencers like PLANET MICHAELS, who love to travel, are grateful to get sponsorships from the places we visit, like free accommodation or a free dinner, or if you have a product that you want for us to unbox and review, send it to us for free and we will promote it for you.
MN: What advice do you have for women and the youth?
GM: Everybody has energy within themselves. You can either give your energy to your dreams or give it to your nightmares, but never both. Feeding your dreams will make your energy flow exponentially, in a positive way, while feeding your nightmares can drain your energy away and can destroy your life. In my experience, I constantly try to feed and work on my dreams, and never feed my nightmares.
As a woman, search for your authentic power – the kind of power that can never be taken away from you. Just be yourself and let your voice be heard, no matter what. Your impact and your legacy will live beyond what you are doing. Be the woman who others can look up and relate to, and always be true to yourself. Become more of who you are, grow and embrace yourself, flaws and all, because nobody else has been through what you have been through, at least not in the same way you have been through it.
MN: What do you do for a little fun?
GM: I have always been a bookworm, since I was young, so a good book and a quiet space is enough for me to have a great time. I also love to travel with my family and explore beautiful places and travel destinations. I love going to the movies and of course connecting with my social media community, through PLANET MICHAELS.
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