26th August 2010 was a special day for twitter users of Sri Lanka. ‘Why?’ you may ask. In order to make the 26th a special day, we need to go back to the 1st August when Lasantha David (@rebelinpurple) and Udara Madushanka (@udaraumd) decided to meet up with Moshanthi Suzuki (@moshanthi). Then Shazly Makeen (@mack005) joined in and they made an open request for anyone else to join in. And the result was the first ‘Tweetup’ in Sri Lanka.
A few more people joined in and took the role of ‘organiser’ and made sure that the Tweetup was well organized. These include our fellow diGIT contributor Amitha Amarasinghe (@amisampath), Nazly Ahmed (@nazly), Milinda Tillekeratne (@milindat).
Some of the organizers in discussion during the Tweetup
Participants queuing up for registration
Coca Veranda, a coffee shop at Ward Place was chosen as the lucky place to meet up. The owner Sarath Sathiamoorthy (@sarathsc) was kind enough to offer free refreshments to the large gathering.
It was a pleasure to watch as each twitter user joined in via the Twtvite site. By the 25th August over 85 users had confirmed their participation.
Even though the event was scheduled to start at 5pm, such was the enthusiasm of some that by 4pm the twittersphere was filled with tweets from some of the participants that they were already at Coco Veranda.
Each participant got hold of a free tshirt from Dialog Axiata upon registering their details.
A special (one time only) card was given by Coco Veranda to each of the participants (to get discounts for future visits to Coco Veranda).
Loyalty card from coco Veranda for Twitter participants
In order to make the meetup lively a few entertaining games were organized where the participants were shown twitter messages and asked to guess who said it. Gifts were given by Future World where Chandika Jayasundara (@chandika) walked away with a free iPod Shuffle. Another winner was Chandra (@himalk) who won a free dongle from Dialog Axiata.
Then there were the lucky participants who got hold of tags with special labels pasted on the back. Uditha Umesh (@udithaumesh) and Akira Suzuki (@icingphoton) got Nokia gift packs.
Malinthe, a former contributor of diGIT giving Chandika the book ‘World Wide Rave’.
Chandika Jayasundara (@chandika) (yes again!), Chamila De Alwis (@chamilad), Paheerathan (@Paheerathan), Nipuni Jayasuriya (@morbidAngel_86), Harshana Weerasinghe (@wmharshana), Deependra Ariyadewa (@Gnudeep) and Yshani Anne (@yshiromi) got a social media book (7 different titles) from diGIT magazine & Wiley (published by Wiley).
Chanuke giving Harshana ‘DigiMarketing’.
Amitha Amarasinghe giving Nipuni ‘This is social media’, a Wiley publication.
The most popular tweep and tweepie was won by Thameera Priyadarshi Senanayaka (@thameera) and Vishmi Ranathunge (@vishmir). They received giftpacks from Dialog Axiata.
All in all, the event was a great chance to meet up in person and have lively discussions with like-minded people (though ages differed). With the brief duration and many turning up, I would guess that some of the participants missed out on chatting with some. There were even a few on twitter after the event wishing they had a chance to talk in person.
Well, the good thing is that it can happen at the next tweetup. If you missed out, then do tag along when that happens. I hear there might be a cricket match tweetup. My guess is, with such a success for the first tweetup, the second one is sure to be a carnival.
What is twitter?
Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read other users’ messages called tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page. Tweets are publicly visible by default, however senders can restrict message delivery to their friends list. Users may subscribe to other author tweets—this is known as following and subscribers are known as followers.
I first knew about Chris Brogan last year when someone retweeted about Chris shaving his head for charity. Someone new to twitter back then, I thought to myself, this guy is an interesting character to follow. Little did I know about this gregarious individual (back then) and how he ranks in the top list of marketing guru’s (with Seth Godin as God of marketing).
I have been following his blog (http://www.chrisbrogan.com) whenever I get the time (still do) and when compared to some blogs, most of his blogposts are brief and to the point. I guess its one reason why he is so successful in his chosen field.
For someone new to social media and into marketing a particular brand (or oneself), his blog is a goldmine with so many pointers and lists of do’s and don’ts. You sometimes wish there was a book compiled of all his best bits so that you can read while commuting or relaxing where you can just brush through some of the topics that you feel like reading. Well now you can since Chris has been kind enough to publish a book titled ‘Social Media 101’
He emphasizes that his motivation for writing this social media guide book was due to the demand from the people that bought his book ‘Trust Agents’. So in order to cover the areas of social media that exists at the moment, he thought of compiling several posts from his blog while also adding updates and edits. So if you are a big fan of Chris’s blog, its worth investing 20 odd dollars to get this valuable book, it might even turn out into a must have collector’s edition in 5 years time, you will never know!
So as Chris would put it, ‘let’s begin’ with the review of ‘Social media 101’.
First of all, I like the dimensions of the book making it very easy to carry. This can also be seen in books by David Meerman Scott (http://www.davidmeermanscott.com). 320 pages might seem a bit of a bulk amount to read but when you get most of it in point form, it’s more like a guide that you can just dive into at different stages of your life/work. My point is further emphases when comparing the pages to the number of chapters the book contain: 87! So that’s only an average of 4 pages per chapter.
Let’s just highlight a few chapters that caught my eye and is worth sharing to further entice the review readers to go order this very valuable book. Social media starter pack (chapter 16) – What better starter pack than 4 ways to optimize the way social media can be used. Listening, Speaking, Community, Rich media. Let me just touch very briefly on what we can take from his starter pack.
Listening: With the vast amount of information that’s get into the internet, it’s not easy to keep up with the information. Ways to organize the way you listen to the content is highlighted here.
Speaking: We put content but will they come? Well they will, if we use a few techniques to increase awareness. Having an RSS feed on our blog is one important task that is a must. Making your url appear in your emails is also important. ‘Make sure folks know who you are, where you are, how to reach you, and what you are all about’, says Chris in his conclusion.
Community: From Twitter, Facebook to the ning and other social networks, just a few places to increase the followers and build a community of friends.
Rich media: Just like our magazine, we use various ways to give information. Be it in plain text or a video editorial, we try to connect with our readers to save their timewhile giving them the information they need. Here Chris points out a few of these media to use and what tool to use.
Skipping on a few chapters to 24, and a topic I like ‘Twitter revisited’ – I was shocked and a bit insulted when I read his first paragraph ‘Twitter is the stupidest thing anyone could ever imagine inventing.’ I kept my calm and read on. Phew, he really does know how to keep the reader interested. He goes on to explain how an addictive, time consuming, cross platform accessible application can be used to good use. Twitter is truly a great place to share ideas and build a community. No argument about that at all. In his twitter tips, he adds ‘Instead of ‘what are you doing?’ try asking ‘what has your attention?’, I find the answer is often more useful to others’. Now that is a worthwhile tip indeed.
In Sri Lanka, I find many new blogs being created. But only a few of them really survive. Many times, I see the messages like ‘not enough time to blog’ etc and I wonder whether there was a real reason behind actually starting a blog? Well if there was, then the goal should be achieved. In order to achieve a goal (whether it be about promoting a particular product in a company or just writing poems) chapter 27 titled ‘A sample blogging work flow’ is a very useful chapter for anyone who wants to clearly start a successful blog that could be maintained without stressing about keeping it up-to-date.
Working with a team entails having meetings and a way to effectively manage these meetings is important for any field of career. In chapter 34, Chris breaks down meetings into three types: Announcement, Status, Brainstorm. Mentioned in order of how fast they should run, lets quickly give an idea on what each is about.
Announcement – When a new member joins the company, when a shift in direction has taken place, these are areas in which an announcement meeting might be a good idea.
Status meeting – Time is important and ensuring that a good meeting happens rests on the effectiveness of the project manager. The project manager would get the status of each team member in the project and announces it to all. Any action that needs to be taken can be taken offline and dealt with in an individual basis so as to not waste another persons time.
Brainstorming meeting- This is the one that you can’t really put a time (though you must). Laying out the goals of such a meeting are important to run this type of meeting in an effective way says Chris. Chris also shares a good online social media tool that is useful at brainstorming sessions (the mind mapping tool MindMeister – http://www.mindmeister.com)
He concludes the chapter with tips for all meetings as well.
I should conclude this review so that you can go and grab a copy but let me just add one more chapter which I think you will surely like. I will however keep it to the point and just mention only the topic so that you know its covered. ‘Making a business from social media’, that’s chapter 53 in the book.
This would be a handy reference manual for me for a few years to come I guess (until we hear of unheard new social media being introduced by a 14 year old).
Erik Qualman is a very passionate individual who has been involved in online marketing for over 15 years now. His latest book ‘Socialnomics’ is in essence a timely book and a must read for anyone that has not taken advantage of using social media to leverage in the business field.
Even with his busy schedule, he makes sure he practices what he preachers. After getting hold of his book, whenever I wrote to him on twitter (@equalman), he would always send me a reply and that shows a man with dedication and an understanding in the social media field.
So onto his book which is a pretty easy read, first thing I noticed while doing a speed-read was the methodical way in which he has a summary at the end of each chapter. This book is a fun read and also one where we can learn some tips on improving our ways in which we use social media. So having a ‘key points’ summary really adds value to this book.The first chapter gives us the importance of going from ‘word of mouth to world of mouth’. I like his subtitle on page 9 where he says ‘we no longer search for the news-it finds us’. Five years back I wouldn’t agree with that but how things have changed.
Up till recently, Google has been the number one site that people visit but it has been overshadowed by Facebook who topped Google in most viewed sites! Facebook has shown that we don’t have to go searching for the news, the news will come to us with one update from a friend or source. Twitter is a similar tool and having a well planned twitter account with lists can really help filter out the noise from the information that we really need to hear.
This is clearly stated on page 11 where Erik says
‘We have shifted from a world where the information and news was held by a few and distributed to millions, to a world where the information is held by millions and distributed to a few (niche markets)’.
I can’t agree more on this. We encourage full access to our content at diGIT magazine and that is the message that Erik portraits by mentioning that to effectively leverage the social graph, every company needs to understand that they need to make their information easily transferable. We have twitter widgets where people can send a re-tweet about any article that we have and we have learnt something from this book.
He concludes his first chapter by giving a good example about how an idea was sparked and turned into reality and how a business was started without any big marketing plans. What an effect social media tools can do to businesses now and in the future. It’s high time the marketing degrees have one or more courses on the importance of social media. This book could be a recommended reading too!
Chapter two is somewhat short and in gives examples in which big businesses can put that personal touch and control if there is any bad publicity going on. With a simple key word search, a company can check what people are talking inside social networks. The good thing is that something can be done to prevent the bad publicity from increasing. After all, if there is a problem, there is most likely a solution for it. Even in Sri Lanka, we now see big companies like ‘Dialog Axiata’ (@dialogtelekom) getting into the social media field and getting in touch with its customers.
Chapter three says ‘Braggodocian behavior’! What in the world is that all about? Well its simple, it’s all about me, me, me. When on twitter, we want to brag about the cool things we do, we don’t generally tell about the dull day-to-day activities (well there are some who do!). Remember the explosion of ‘reality tv’? Well, things have diminished in that aspect because people are actually living their own lives rather than watching others. Stunning statement to make and something for the tv networks to look into. Moving one step further from emails is the use of social media tools. We used to meet friends after a long time and say ‘long time no see, what have you been upto?’. But now, when we do actually meet them in person, we continue a conversation we had on Facebook or Skype and say ‘so how many more hits has the new game you just launched…’ etc.. Social media has truly changed the way we have conversations online and offline!
So go and grab this book to see what else he has in store for tips and success (I was also fascinated about his vision for online voting becoming a reality as mentioned in chapter 4) on the social media front. As stated on the summary, it’s all about a people-driven economy. Whether you are a businessperson or a high school student, social media transforms the way you live and do business.
You can contact Erik directly via twitter @equalman.
You can get a copy of ‘Socialnomics’ via the following link:
Twitter has been in existence since 2006 but yet I only created my own twitter account in February of 2009 (you can see exact date by visiting http://www.whendidyoujointwitter.com and typing my account name ‘gihangamos’). That was also the month we created this magazine (http://diGIT.lk) and when I received a very friendly email from a fellow Sri Lankan who was living in USA. She gave us words of encouragement and suggestions to improve the readership of diGIT. That’s when she also suggested I should join the twitter club or as Shel would put it, ‘land in Twitterville’. I am grateful to Sukanti Husain for her kind words of encouragement which has given strength to the diGIT magazine and has helped in reaching out to the right readership for the magazine.
So what’s so great about twitter you would ask? A good question and a question which has a million answers. As Shel puts it in his book, each of us use Twitter in our own unique way, which is why we all have different followers.
What makes twitter great is in how well you want to make twitter your companion. The book gives us great examples (stories) on how people have used twitter in times of crisis or how people have resolved customer care issues and got back faith in a company.
It’s worth mentioning that Shel is humble enough to suggest Chris Brogan (a fellow social media writer) as the mayor of ‘Twitterville’. Shel justifies his decision purely on the fact that Chris is everywhere, as a mayor should be looking after the people of the city. I too follow Chris on twitter (@chrisBrogan) and its true. Chris has written and continues to blog post almost every day with many of them focusing on tips to businesses to use social media. Shel points out how Chris once (in Feb 2009) ended up shaving his head so that kids could get laptop computers that they could not afford! You should definitely read the book to see what initially led to him shaving his head.
He also coins a term ‘braided journalism’ which in his own words is ‘convergence of old and new media’ reflecting on the influence blogs and micro blogs such as twitter has on newspapers, specially the dailies. He gives us insight into a few tweeters who became ‘citizen journalists’ in times of adversity (such as when Katrina was hit or when Mumbai was hit with terrorists).
As James Governor (cofounder RedMonk) says Twitterville ‘is a marketplace of ideas, thoughts and prejudices. It’s where people live declaratively, which creates opportunities and challenges for companies of all shapes and sizes.’ Shel has clearly brought out that in his book.
So as Shel has put it in his sub heading for the book, Twitterville is clearly a place where you’re business can thrive in the new global neighbourhoods. It doesn’t matter whether you are a small startup company as long as you use the easy to access technologies such as twitter to get the attention of the world!
As I kept reading the chapters one by one, I couldn’t but help wonder how everything falls into place in this technology driven time that we live in. I can’t wait to see what we will have in, not 5 years, but in 2!
I like to end this review with a tweet that really captivated my eye and hope it will be an inspiration for you. Its on page 132 (of Twitterville) and by @gapingvoid who twittered:
I work extremely hard doing what I love, mainly to ensure that I don’t have to work extremely hard doing what I hate.
It all began in 1973 when the first mobile phone call was made by Dr Martin Cooper (former general manager at Motorola) to his rival Joel Engel who was Head of Research at Bell Labs. Dr Martin Cooper invented the mobile phone in 1973 but it was sometime before mobile phones were available commercially.
It was not until 1989 that Sri Lanka was introduced to mobile telephony by Celltel Lanka Limited (now rebranded as Tigo). It is worth noting that Sri Lanka was the first country in South Asia to be introduced to this service. Back in the time, handsets were large, expensive and typically used only by well to do high flyers. Today things are very much different: nearly 40% of Sri Lankans have a mobile phone. It is predicted to reach 50% penetration by mid 2009.
So with nearly half the population carrying a mobile phone, it is fair to say that it has become the new mass media. Statistically, it is the 7th mass media. The traditional mass media are well known and established with known formats. Starting with Print (dating from the 1500s), it introduced the business model of owning a book and introduced advertising and subscriptions to newspapers and magazines. With the invention of a sound recording device by Thomas Edison in 1877, it (Recordings) became the new form of mass media in the 1890s.
Cinema soon followed (1900s) with moving images and multimedia content and the business model of paying every time you viewed a movie. In the 1910s, Radio broadcasting was introduced and this brought about a ‘streaming’ approach to content delivery (that is, if you didn’t listen, you would miss the content). Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation became the first radio station in Asia when it started broadcasting on experimental basis in 1923. Radio was a powerful medium as it was received simultaneously by all once the content was broadcast. Television (1950s) bridged the multimedia present in the cinema with the broadcasting in radio. TV has been a dominant mass media for the past 50 years.
1990s brought about a shake in the mass media industry. Imagine having all the previous mass media replicated in one medium. Yes, enter the Internet. Read a book, download a recording, watch a movie, listen to radio, view TV: you name it and it can be done. Add 2 more features to it, and it’s a threat to the previous five media. Interactivity and search. We don’t end our connection with an article by just reading it. We can respond immediately by sending a comment on how we feel about the article. It has opened a new window towards bringing the world closer by connecting people. Search has become the most used application on the web and has made companies such as Yahoo and Google worth billions of dollars. With such a big player in the market, is there any room for a newer form of mass media that can replicate the success of the internet or the other 5?
Enter the 7th mass media, the mobile phone. Like the internet before, it is able to replicate everything the previous 6 mass media can do. Mobile media’s influence will be greater than all we’ve seen so far of the internet, so much so that mobile to internet will be as dominant in its media audience reach and media impact on society as TV was to radio in the second half of the last century. Don’t believe me? I wouldn’t either until I read what is to follow.
The mobile phone has a number of prominent unique benefits not available on previous mass media. Firstly and most importantly, mobile phone is the first truly personal medium. We do not share it even with our spouse. It is that personal. Secondly, we always carry it around. Even going to bed, we would sleep with the phone physically in bed. Most of us even use it as our alarm clock. Which brings us to the third benefit. The phone is the first always-on mass medium. It is now catching on in Sri Lanka for people to get alerts via SMS onto one’s phone.
The fourth benefit is of equal importance. The phone has a built-in payment mechanism. No other medium has a built-in payment mechanism, even on the internet you have to provide a credit card or subscribe to a service like PayPal, etc. But already today, older media collect payments through the mobile phone. TV shows like Super star earn millions via SMS votes.
With phones coming with built-in cameras and prices slashing, more people are able to afford a device which can nearly replace the digital camera. As the cameraphone (also our video recorder) is in our pockets always ready to snap images and clips, we rarely need to use a digital camera which is safely stored away under the camera case at home). With a fast paced volatile world, it is possible to capture unique events using the mobile device and then share it with the world by submitting the user generated content into YouTube or CNN’s iReport thereby radically changing the media world.
With a high level of young adults using a mobile phone, it has become a trend for them to fiddle with their phones while idling among social gatherings or on a journey via bus/train. If not sending a text message, they would be busy playing an addictive game downloaded free from the web via GPRS. These are potential hot spots for companies/advertisers to seriously think about, not in the future, but now. They can incorporate advertisements embedded within mobile games which allow the game to be made available for free, thus reaching a maximum user base. The possibilities are endless.
Finally, the seventh benefit is that a mobile phone captures the most accurate customer information in any medium. On a report in May 2007, AMF Ventures measured and found that TV is able to capture about 1% of audience data and 10% on the Internet. However, on a mobile, 90% of audience data can be identified.
What is important to note, is that the phone will not kill other medium, they will all adjust, like radio did to TV.
So with the above facts noted, it can be fair to say that mobile advertising is here to stay and could revolutionize the way it will penetrate the end user. With a high level of precision that is not even present on the web, targeted and personalized advertising content would make the end-user actively participate in the promotions. Here in Sri Lanka, Value Added Services (VAS) for mobiles is still in its infancy. The mobile networks in Sri Lanka have a lot of work ahead and should educate its subscribers to the doors of VAS. For advertising firms, if the importance of the 7th mass media is not taken seriously, be prepared to fall out from the competition.
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