On March 10 2020, prior to lockdown in South Africa, Cape Town’s Patrycja Oosthuizen launched The Love Africa loop on Instagram. The Polish born social media, PR, marketing expert, marketing and travel ambassador is passionate about her adopted home, South Africa. During the lockdown, she is determined to keep the spirit of travel alive through #VirtualTravelSA, the platform that she established,
The Love Africa loop goes live every Tuesday and is very much part of spreading the love for Africa and whetting peoples’ appetites – of vistas which may be explored, one day.
What is an Instagram loop?
It is a platform to facilitate the growth of Instagram accounts. The premise is simple. One signs up and pledges to follow everyone that the loop is following. Accounts must follow each other back during the looping period (usually 24 hours). In this way, one may connect with people with similar interests and grows one’s base of followers. There are travel loops and mommy loops and daddy loops and loops with people peddling all sorts of what-what. Travel focussed loops, like the Love Africa loop require a public account and a commitment to some travel content (it can be local) and some affinity or connection with the African continent (a love for Africa).
Entry level looping is generally available at no cost. Sign up. Follow the rules and you are in the loop. Rule loops include having to post the looping image on one’s feed or story for the duration of the loop. Looping rules usually ask participants to tag other accounts in order to publicise the loop.
One of the major issues with loops is that people play the follow-unfollow game. After participating in the loop, they methodically go and unfollow the accounts that they have followed. For some reason it has become a sign of prestige to have higher follower ratio compared to the number of accounts that are being followed. I think that is a shame. On Facebook, there has to be a reciprocal follow in order to hook up. This follow/unfollow practice provides unnecessary admin for loop administrators.
Loop without following
If you don’t want to follow everyone that the loop is following, you can pay to become a “ghost”. That means other participants have to follow you but you are exempt from following back. Loops sometimes award ghost spots as prizes, shout outs and for assistance with running the loop.
The entrepreneurial Patrycja Oosthuizen is not only a social media expert but also speaks three languages – English, Polish and some Russian. She speaks to TheCapeRobyn about The Love Africa Loop and life in lockdown, Cape Town.
TheCapeRobyn: The first loop was on March 10, 2020.At the moment, there is one loop a week?
Patrycja Oosthuizen: The Love Africa Loop officially started on March 10. We are live every Tuesday from 10AM SAST for 24 hrs. We are aiming at having two loops per week in the future. This week of May 12, we will go live with our 9th Love Africa loop event.
TheCapeRobyn: Many people are not familiar with the concept. Why loop?
Patrycja Oosthuizen: Firstly the loop is most effective and most misunderstood way to build your Instagram following in a specific niche. It works well for those looking to increase brand awareness and gain new followers. A follow loop is a 24 hour online event that helps you connect with like-minded people, under one loop post, for example like our loop – those who LOVE to travel in Africa. To be included in the loop you sign up under sign up post. When the loop goes live you are then a part of the loop that helps in increasing your connections. You follow all who the loop is following and new joiners following you.
TheCapeRobyn: Please explain about how ghost spots work?
Patrycja Oosthuizen: Ghost hosts spots are the spots apart from admin that are not required to post the loop graphic on their feed or stories nor follow anyone back. These are limited to four spots per loop and are paid opportunities for those who have a budget to spend. The fees are low and basically cover the set-up of the loop and organisers time. We do put our heart and soul in creating the community.
TheCapeRobyn: How do you deal with the follow/unfollow mentality on Instagram – people signing up for the loop and then unfollowing when it is over?
Patrycja Oosthuizen: There are opportunists everywhere and like on any other platform you will find spammers and fake accounts. The rule is simple. We block anyone who doesn’t follow the rules of the loop or follow and unfollow. Our loops are small and we only allow maximum 100 people per loop which helps us in monitoring and engaging with everyone during 24 hour loop. We get notifications from the loopers and info about who is breaking the rules. Another golden rule is: If someone followed you and then unfollowed again you have a RIGHT to unfollow them too and even block. Those who are looking for long-lasting connections will stay and support you in the future if it is via like or comment. And that is what we are all about – creating the community of loopers with the same passion and love for Africa.
TheCapeRobyn: It is said that the best loops are like communities. It is not just about gaining followers Comments on how you envisage the loop developing?
Patrycja Oosthuizen: That is so true. You can gain crazy amount of followers in one loop but those who stay connected are the ones we value the most – it is a community building. We are building slow but strong!
TheCapeRobyn: I like it that the Love Africa loop is small. Any chance of making a premium loop – like a curated loop and then a larger one?
Patrycja Oosthuizen: It is for sure a future plan for us – but like I said before we go big (But not crazy big) we want to make sure that people do understand the loop rules (especially those in Africa) and what we are all about. We are looking at collaborating with another smaller loop that has been super real in its approach. We want to create a double loop event with them.
TheCapeRobyn: The Love Africa Loop is one part of the many things that you do: Travel Opulent, Travel Chat SA and what else? You head up a few pages on Facebook. Details and links please?
Patrycja Oosthuizen: Oh dear – where to start:
✳https://patrycja28.wixsite.com/tobmedia (still under construction)
✳ Several clients pages and accounts such as #TravelChatSA: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1492577327687224/
✳ Recent campaigns include #VirtualTravelSA – https://www.facebook.com/groups/357995081768874/ and all the destination groups.
TheCapeRobyn: Let’s talk about you. You moved to South Africa in December 2007 from Poland. We are now in 2020, so its 13 years?
Patrycja Oosthuizen: Yes, I moved to South Africa in December 2007, from London where I lived for six years.
TheCapeRobyn: Were you involved with tourism and marketing in Poland?
Patrycja Oosthuizen: I left Poland just after my studies. I studied marketing and public relations. After studying there were no opportunities in Poland so I have decided to go to London. My cousin was there already working in one of the hotels and I would be able to get job very quickly and go to English language school. I didn’t have opportunity to work in my country as that time everyone wanted minimum 3 -5 years of experience and being just after studies I didn’t have any experience that would count.
TheCapeRobyn: Where did you grow up in Poland?
Patrycja Oosthuizen: I grew up in a small village up north Poland in a beautiful area of Warmia and Mazury, well known for its beautiful lake district; very popular holiday destination.
TheCapeRobyn: What brought you to South Africa? Holiday? Work? Relationship?
Patrycja Oosthuizen: I came to SA with my boyfriend at that time and decided to stay and that is how it all started.
TheCapeRobyn: What made you stay?
Patrycja Oosthuizen: Firstly my now husband and secondly this beautiful country.
TheCapeRobyn: Where are you based?
Patrycja Oosthuizen: We are Northern Suburbs/De Tijger, opposite Panorama
TheCapeRobyn: How have you been dealing with lockdown?
TheCapeRobyn: Oh, it’s been tough especially work wise. I have been working from home for over two years so this was not an issue for me – but losing many hospitality clients due to Covid-19 and seeing so many brands suffering it is the biggest challenge. I do have a daily routine from the start and trying to keep busy every day.
TheCapeRobyn: You have been keeping the spirit of tourism going with #VirtualTravelSA. Can you talk about that?
Patrycja Oosthuizen: Firstly our #VirtualTravelSA campaign non-profitable and it is a collaboration between tourism industry professionals: marketers, bloggers, tourism boards, etc. It is an open campaign so everyone with passion and love for South Africa can join on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. All our Facebook groups (shared in the previous email) are open for small businesses and tourism professionals to share inspirational posts about travels and destinations in South Africa for after lockdown travels and purely for creating bucket lists. The idea is to keep showing those beautiful places, small accommodations, activities in South Africa and that we have so much to look forward to when we can travel again. Because Local is Lekker. In addition to Facebook groups, we have created a series of #TravelChatSA topics that we discuss during each week chat on Twitter. We all -as businesses and individual travellers- have galleries full of pictures -either from our business or from our own travels. Why not use that now? It is also relevant since most of us are not able to create new content during the lockdown period.
✔ By creating the groups we are also creating a captive audience: People who love travelling. We offer engagement and posts by business that offer exactly that.
✔ The idea is for businesses to join in, under the platform of their business pages . It is saying, ‘come stay with us (for accommodation), come do our activity (for activities and experiences), come experience our Town/area (for Tourism offices), come drink our wine (for wine farms etc).’
✔ The benefit of joining and interacting on the groups is that you do not have to create unique content. You are already active on your own channels as a business. It is about sharing those posts. The groups will increase your reach on that post. If you publish it on your own page first, it is a direct link back to your business
✔ Once we can travel again you will have access to all the people that ‘liked’ or interacted with your post. You can send them a direct message to say ‘thank you for following our posts – we hope to welcome you as a guest soon – with a link to your business. ‘
✔ The only investment you as a business has to make right now is the time it takes to click on your own post and select ‘share to a group’. There is no travel industry at the moment. The groups offer a platform with many benefits:
- As a source of positive information
- The pages are a wonderful resource for travellers who can dream of exploring destinations. The information can assist them in creating a bucket list – for when travel opens up
- The groups provides an opportunity for small one-person businesses to create awareness of its product – without a huge budget to get the word out
- It is likely that future travellers will be looking for breakaways to less crowded spaces. At the moment, it is not easy to find this information – in a changing travel landscape. We hope to fulfil that need for future travellers. Small, off the beaten track experiences/businesses, are not generally featured in publications. Small operators do not have the budget for marketing. Many travel publications have folded and that outlet has disappeared. By joining our groups, independent operators can ‘put up their hands’ and be noticed
TheCapeRobyn: Details of next loop – link for people to sign up or can they contact you re ghost and VIP spots?
Patrycja Oosthuizen: Details to sign up will be published on @love.africa_loop Instagram page prior to the loop date. For ghost spots and prices please direct us directly.
Follow Patrycja Oosthuizen/Travel Opulent on the following platforms:
✔ Instagram and twitter: @travelopulent
✔ Blog/website: http://www.travelopulentbox.com/
✔ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/travelopulentbox/
✔ LinkedIn: https://za.linkedin.com/in/travelopulentbox
Image credit: supplied