“Preaching to the converted” this is how I would describe many conferences. The speakers and the audience all believe whole heartedly in the topic and no convincing of any sorts need to take place. If both the speakers and the delegates all agree there is no real take-home value. You don’t tend to learn anything new and there are certainly no heated discussion when you all just agree.
The ITweb Social Summit is certainly not “just another” social media get together. Only in its second year and already it has established itself firmly as the must-attend circuit of conferences. The event is attended by a people representing a wide range of companies with varied backgrounds which makes the discussions and interaction very informative as all perspectives are heard and discussed.
The ever charismatic Mike Sharman, owner, Retroviral Digital Communications, was the Chair/ MC/ Talk show host/ Entertainer who did a remarkable job at setting the scene, introducing the upcoming speakers and making the crowd feel part of the discussion enabling everyone to ask their questions. Crowd participation is a key ingredient for a successful event !
So what did I learn at the ITWeb Social Summit ? here are the highlights…
Ryan Hogarth, social business strategist, spoke about how its all about being part of a social network “We all know people who said they will never join Facebook and today they are Liking and photo-sharing like professionals”. Ryan makes the point that by 2020 the workforce will be made up by today’s 13 year olds who have grown up on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Businesses need to recognise that interactivity between customers and even interaction between other businesses will not take place via the archaic send-and-forget email system but rather in real-time and exposed for the world to see. This also means that businesses need to accept that they can not control what people say and so they need to put in mechanisms in place to deal with both the negative and as well as the usually forgotten positives comments.
“If your customer has more technology than you do, they will beat you up with it” – Ryan emphasising the point about staying up to date with your customers so can engage with them where they are most comfortable.
The Platform Smackdown was a great way to highlight the various elements that each Social network has to offer:
LinkedIn: whilst most people think that LinkedIn is used just to find your next employment, Zibusiso Mkhwanazi, CEO of Avatar, explains how LinkedIn is the only real social network that is used to find clients and network opportunities. LinkedIn has 225 million users where each second two new people sign up. In South Africa 2.3 million people use LinkedIn and 71% use it to network with other businesses.
“Facebook is the braai where we talk and chat and be social. LinkedIn is the networking cocktail party where we do business”.
Mxit: not a Mxit user myself, I was interested to hear the stats that Vincent Maher, chief marketing officer, Mxit shared: a MXit user spends 95min per day on the platform and makes the point that 79% of phones in South Africa are not smartphones which makes MXit a very relevant platform for both South Africa and Africa. Vincent also showed that when you compare the top brands in SA, the followers on MXit are higher than those on other platforms. By way of example of how MXit works for brands, Vincent shared that when Stimorol ran a campaign on Mxit, they ran out of gum – “for a gum company to run out of its own stock is rather impressive.”
Twitter: “who has sent at least one Tweet today ?” asks Jodene Shaer, social media publicist, campaign and event strategist, and as a flurry of hands shoot up she exclaimed “I just won the smackdown!”. Considering that the #ITWEBsocial hashtag trended within 20 minutes of the conference beginning, she does have a point. Jodene cited some great examples of large corporates who are using Twitter correctly. Companies such as Deloitte are harnessing the power of Twitter to share info and engage. The @N3Route account is doing a superb job at keeping people updated with road conditions, weather and other info when you use the N3 highway. Jodene also emphasises the correct usage of the Hashtag. “It needs to have a strategy not just a last minute “thing” attached to a campaign.”
Facebook: Owner of Gorilla Creative Media Jordan Wallace, says that “Facebook is where you should engage with your audience – not sell stuff” What brands need is good story tellers that is what appeals to the audience, those are the items that are shared and where you get real engagements. The tip with Facebook is to be able to tap into people’s emotions, be topical, be funny but stick to your business – do not post info about the on-going Oscar court case when you are a tea-bag company.
Google+/ YouTube /other Google services: Google had to make a change to remain relevant across all their fragmented product ranges. Which is how Google+ was created. Google+ has 500 million people and in SA there are 3.5 million active people every month. “its hardly a ghost-town all all” says Jared Molko, head of partnerships & product, YouTube. With the introduction of Google Hangouts, brands are able to have live video chats with client and experts and then share the video stream on their website and YouTube channel. Unlike Twitter and FB where content dies quickly, YouTube lives forever as part of the company’s DNA.
The Legal Stuff :
This session was fascinating as Nozipho Mngomezulu, partner at Webber Wentzel, explained various aspects of the law that actually effect everyone but we are mostly clueless about. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to the law.
Here are some no-no that we need to be aware of:
- We have a right to Freedom of Expressions which people use as their “protection” when they Tweet however this Freedom of Expression is not limitless. You are not allowed to post offensive or inappropriate comments – not even as a joke.
- This is a big one – If you work for a company that has Brand X as a client, even if you buy services from that Brand X, you can not bad-mouth that client – even in your personal capacity as there is an association between you and your work. So if your company does any work for a large cell phone operator be careful about complaining about their service even if you are their customer in your own right.
- If you post/ publish something that can cause reputational damage to a person or a company you can be held accountable. You can publish it if you have a defence. eg. “that service was rubbish look at this example here and here and here”
- Hate Speech is defined as speech that advocates hatred and has the potential to cause harm – physical harm or emotional harm. Be careful what you Tweet about those Kardashians….
- Why cant you sue Facebook or Twitter for something that is seen online ? This is explained as these hosting companies are “Mere Conduits” and are not liable as they don’t monitor and control what people post. If you see an inappropriate page you can report it to Facebook who will decide if they will remove it or not. The hosting companies must however comply with “take down” notices if they are served and then forcefully remove the offending material.
- According to the Facebook Terms and Conditions, any pic uploaded to Facebook belongs to them. If your business users any artwork that has licenced their images to the business, you can not upload these to Facebook as you don’t have the power to seed the artist rights away.
- Many people have a disclaimer that they are tweeting in their own capacity – this doesn’t protect you. When you look at your Tweet history if your tweets are about work, pics from wok events, celebrations at work etc. you are then associated with your work and therefore can be liable for anything you say representing your company.
The Social Media summit is run by ITWeb and if you missed out this year, I strongly suggest contacting the Summit Program Director , Tallulah Habib (firstname.lastname@example.org) to secure your spot in next years event.