Thank you for chatting with us Carli, what do you do in the social media industry?

I am the Social Media Manager for the Bothongo Group, which is a global brand that was started here in South Africa by Dr Keith Bothongo.


Can you tell us a little about your role….

My role is to oversee all social activity for our local brands as well as our global brands such as Zupp in the UK and InnuScience with HQ in Canada. Some of our local brands include the Bothongo Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, Bothongo Group Hygiene Solutions as well as some other hospitality and leisure brands as well as commercial and residential luxury real estate. I am responsible for overseeing all social functions, developing social strategies and upskilling the department and all brands about everything social.

How did you get into social media?

What did you study? I did my undergrad and honours at VEGA in JHB, studying brand management and brand communications. I actually found myself entering the social media landscape while I was the marketing manager for Bentley and Lamborghini South Africa when it was owned by the Imperial Group.

What does a typical day in your life look like at Bothongo? 

Wow, it can be anything from lockdown regulation updates to campaign brainstorms and creation to increase footfall at the Reserve or it could be a day full of meetings with global to plan the launch of new B2C brands – it really can be a melting pot on a day-to-day basis

When do you check social media for the first time in the day?

 As most SMMs will agree, it’s the first thing I do in the morning. Scrolling through my personal Instagram with a cuppa in hand before starting work. I don’t enjoy the habit and am trying to get out of it, but that’s easier said than done

The new norm is the norm now. How have you adapted throughout COVID-19, are you working remotely or in-house? I’ve done both – there have been days where I’ve needed to go into the office for meetings or just to make progress on a big project, and then there are the days where I sit in front of my laptop at home and don’t change out of my pajamas. COVID-19 definitely taught me that it’s ok to take an hour for yourself to eat some lunch, do a midday home workout, sneak in an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, it taught me it’s ok to take a moment for yourself considering the fact that it became very easy for work to message you at 8pm asking you to “just quickly do this or that” because hey, it’s a pandemic, we know you’re at home

Do you have any advice for anyone who struggles with obsessively analysing the content they have shared?



For this very reason, I stopped sharing content on my social platforms. I mainly use Instagram Stories and play around with Reels, but I don’t post to my newsfeed or to Facebook for this very reason – it becomes obsessive and it’s toxic. I think it depends if your content is adding value or if it’s just content for the sake of posting – there’s such a big difference, and I have the same views when it comes to brand accounts as well. My best advice is to be aware of how much time you’re spending staring at your screen and to remind yourself that not every little thing is meant for the ‘Gram.

What has been the highlight of your social media career so far? 

Working on the launch of AURUM Restaurant and The Leonardo in Sandton, launching AURUM to the market is one of the projects I hang my hat on because I had fun doing it and I emotionally invested more than usual in that entire strategy creation – to this day I am still chommies with the owner. 

Approvals are very much a key part of working in social media. How do you overcome approval challenges to ensure your social media ideas get heard, understood, and approved by your management team? 


I put the proof in the pudding, I ensure I build and maintain good relationships with my colleagues and clients to create a trusting atmosphere. I ask them to give me the opportunity to test something and we can assess the results and go from there. I remind them that the beauty of social media is that it’s flexible and the only way to find your formula is to keep experimenting because one size does not fit all when it comes to a social media strategy.

Being active on social media can be tiring, how do you manage your social media burnout?

Quite simply, I don’t give it the opportunity to burn me out anymore. I used to when I was younger and would stay up until the early hours of the morning consuming useless content, and as I’ve gotten older (ugh) I’ve practiced mindfulness and if I catch myself heading down that rabbit hole, I put the phone down. 

After work hours, how do you unwind? What are some tips for having a healthy work and life balance?

WINE. Haha just kidding (not really though)… I make sure I work out (physically and mentally), I spend quality time with my important people, I read, I like to upskill myself when I have the energy, cooking is a big one and, depending on how rough the day was, I box AND drink wine 😊 All jokes aside, I think it’s important to feed your mental health if you work in social media, you need to check in with yourself, check-in with your body and be aware and mindful of everything you consume. I like to take 10 minutes every evening to consider all my interactions for that day and reflect on whether or not I handled them correctly and where I could improve in future

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about a career in social media?

Don’t let the little things get you down, you need to separate emotion from work and you need to have a thick skin, especially when it comes to finicky clients and difficult colleagues. Be prepared for constructive criticism, to possibly cry out of frustration, to be tired, to be contacted at 8pm at night for something urgent – in fact, be prepared for everything to be urgent, be prepared to be asked questions you might not know the answer to. However, also be prepared to have fun, to make a mark on the digital landscape, to add value, to be recognized for impactful work, to meet and network with awesome people, to grab opportunities with both hands, to learn and to upskill in a very exciting industry. 

What are the three most used apps on your phone? 

WhatsApp, Instagram, TikTok (ugh)

Social media can be addictive, even as a social media manager – it’s possible to get lost in checking social media several times a day.