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Information for tech enthusiasts, hobbyists, devs, tech startup founders and tech entrepreneurs

Interview with GTBank on their Use of Social Media

From Afrinnovator.com, an interview with GTBank on their use of social media…

A few weeks ago Afrinnovator featured GTBank, the Nigerian bank that is pushing it’s use of New/Social Media as a way of building it’s brand and connecting with it’s clients (or in this case audience).

GTBank are clearly trend-setters for corporations in Africa. We found it interesting that a bank had spent so much effort and gone to so much detail to create a strong online brand presence on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

So what did we do? Well, we did the obvious thing! We sought an interview with GTBank on their use of social media (don’t you just love us!)… why would a bank want to use Social Media? Are their efforts bearing any fruits? What lessons have they learnt along the way?

Lola Odedina, the Head, Communications & External Affairs at GTBank, oversees the Brand Management, Media Relations & New Media development for GTBank & all subsidiaries. She answered these and other questions regarding this innovative use of ‘social tools’ to enhance her company’s brand.

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Will’s Wacky Introduction to New/Social Media/Networking – in plain English , or Not

Act 1, Scene 1


Hey, I just came from this conference where every one was talking about social networking, and social media, and new media… What does this all stuff mean?

Well, according to Wikipedia:

Social media (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Media) is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses Internet and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many). It supports the democratization of knowledge and information, transforming people from content consumers into content producers.

social network service (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Networking ) focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, e.g., who share interests and/or activities. A social network service essentially consists of a representation of each user (often a profile), his/her social links, and a variety of additional services.

New media (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Media) is a term meant to encompass the emergence of digital, computerized, or networked information and communication technologies in the later part of the 20th century. Most technologies described as “new media” are digital, often having characteristics of being manipulatable, networkable, dense, compressible, interactive and impartial.

Wow, do you like cram wikipedia?

Well, yeah, sort of. I do it as a pastime when I’m bored. Open a random Wikipedia article and cram it!

Ok…. Weird!!!

Hey! So Facebook is Social Media?

Nope.

Err… Twitter Social Media?

Nope.

I have a business. What does all this new/social media/networking stuff have to do with me? I just care about my revenues; does it still mean something to me?

Your clients….?

But I don’t care about my clients. Wait! Those are the guys who give me my revenues right?

Exactly!

So with Facebook and Twitter and all these things I can make revenues!

Err… sorta…

Ok, I think am beginning to understand.

Good

To successfully take my business to the next level through this social mumbo jumbo I just need a Facebook account.

Nope

I need… a Twitter account.

Nope

Aha! I’ve got it I need a website!

Oh boy! You don’t already have one of those?

Well…. Err, we have a web page!

Arrrgrgrgghghgh!

Ok, so what do I need?

You need to be human.

Huh?

Yup. Human. Say it with me… ‘humaaaaaaan’

You’re weird…. What does that have to do with anything?

Well, if you’re human you are necessarily social. You can relate with other human beings. You can empathize with them (and sympathize as well). Most importantly you can carry out a conversation.

Huh? You lost me!

“Social” media/networking is more about the “social” than the “media and networking”. It’s about connecting with real people who use your product or service and listening to them and talking with them (not to them or at them).

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc etc are just mediums to reach out to this audience and interact with them. That’s why it’s called social MEDIA i.e. mediums of expressing the social nature of human beings. Otherwise it would have been called something else, like err… err… Ok, I’m blank!

… to be continued…

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Social Media Strategy

Very recently a friend of mine who also recently got hired to drive business development efforts at a local company that owns a certain site (I am clearly trying to be very ambigous here!) asked me to help her come up with a strategy for social media. The company is launching a new ‘online experience’ for their users. Sort of coming out from the dark ages (Web 1.0) to the Web 2.0 era. Now this was a pretty interesting request since I am not really a social media consultant. All the same I also got to learn a bit about social media consulting while on the job. So here I have decided to put a bit about what I learnt.

First off, before going into the  ’7 steps’ and ’10 points to consider’, my philosophy on social media is simple – actually it is exactly that – keep it simple! In other words, do what makes sense; sense for your brand, sense for your audience, sense for your consumer, sense for your company, sense for… just plain sense, in fact – common sense. As a matter of fact, I think if you got this right the rest – what social platforms to use, design of the blog, should we tweet… become fairly simple decisions to make.

In fact, social networks and platforms are really just a means to an end for your product or brand. They are not the end game. It’s kinda funny actually. What’s the end game. Well, the end game is what you want to achieve out of leveraging social media for your product/brand/company. Interestingly, this could be the very same goals you had with more traditional marketing strategies – brand loyalty, sales, brand awareness – shocking? I don’t think so. The strength of Social Media lies in the enhanced capability of the medium. It’s like, old school marketing media are dial up connections, social media is like a fiber connection!

This implies several things: First, the actual social networks/platforms (Facebook, Twitter etc) are really a latter consideration when coming up with your strategy. You don’t want to go into thinking about social media by thinking, “Hmm, everyone’s tweeting so we should tweet!”

Secondly, it means the primary things to think about are much closer home, what is your product, what do you want your brand to say, what experience do you want your clients to have when they engage with you? Then after answering these questions you can go ahead and select the best means/media to achieve these ends. Like I said, it’s common sense. (In fact I think there are a lot of things we make soooo complex, and make it look like you need a Phd to do, but it’s really just common sense)

One last thing I would like to mention before moving on to some interesting material that’s online on this subject is to do with design. Yes, design. Design is important. See, once you decide you’re going to use Twitter, it’s not simply just a matter of creating a twitter account and getting some bloke in the office to start tweeting! The thing about design (in this context) is not really (necessarily) the actual design i.e. what you will get a designer to do (although that matters too) (sounds confusing?) – the thing here is consistency! Consistency across everything – your Facebook page, your Twitter page, you website, your blog… See I think what you are giving your audience is an experience, they are literally engaging with you – only that they are doing so online, in a bit of an ‘impersonal’ way, which is also really an interesting thought because good use of social media gives your target audience as close to a ‘personal’ experience as possible; hence why it’s called ‘social’ and not ‘mechanical’!

This is also just plain common sense. Your message is about your brand, right? It is about the same brand, right? It is the same no matter what, right? No matter what social networking site/platform you use, right? Hmmm… then logically, you want the audience of that same brand, even if on different online ‘locations’ to get the same message across the board, right? Well, wasn’t that simple? Consistency in design will help you achieve this to some extent. Other things like consistency of tone (remember social is about talking with your audience, not at your audience) will also greatly help.

So how do you design to achieve consistency? Again, simple things – your twitter background, your avatars, the colors you use, your blog theme – simply put any design element that you have control over. Of course, you have more control over your own property – website, blog – versus say your Facebook page and Twitter page which you have varying degrees of control over (I find Twitter affords you a lot of flexibility). I’ll give a very simple example – My company, African Pixel: website, blog. Facebook page, Twitter page. I think we achieved some good level of consistency in design there.

Now, let’s look at some good pointers from some social media authorities:

I love this presentation by Jason Beer (and the corresponding blog post):

I am particularly struck by the idea that: Old school marketing is like Archery (Use targeting, and interruption to convince), New Marketing is like Ping Pong (Use human engagement and dialog to drive preference and loyalty)!

Here’s a summary of his 7 Steps to Creating a Social Media Strategy:

  1. What’s your Pitch?
  2. What’s your Point?
  3. What’s your relationship with your Audience?
  4. How does your Audience use Social Media? (See below…)
  5. What’s your One Thing?
  6. How will you be Human?
  7. How will you Measure Success?

On point number 4 – How does your audience use social media – here’s a great article, ‘Understanding Users of Social Networks

CrowdSpring has a great piece on actual things you can do as part of your strategy by leveraging blogs, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The cool thing about this piece is that they have conveniently suggested some short term and long term strategies so you clearly see what you can do immediately and what you can do over time. Another cool thing about this article is the fact that they have included tons of useful links and pointers to practical help on how to do things like setting up a Facebook page.

Finally, I think it’s also important to note that Social Media can be a two edged sword. You also want to be careful with how you employ it. The thing with social media that makes is as such is that unlike the old school where you could basically sit behind an iron curtain and dictate to your audience while sitting in safety; social media is well, exactly that – social! And social implies vulnerability, by going social you automatically make yourself vulnerable (again, common sense, just like choosing to be friends with someone you become vulnerable). You give your audience (and arguably even more than the exact demography you wanted to talk to since literally the whole population on say Twitter, or the whole online world can view your stuff) a level of control that’s unprecedented. You allow the masses to have control, you give them a voice. And the masses can be your biggest ally or your worst enemy (just read some history). When the masses rise, it becomes tough to control them. No, one will soon forget the upsurge at SXSW last year, and much less so, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerburg and Sarah Lacy. So caution is warranted. But in general, if you weigh your options and find you gain more from giving this power to the masses than you lose, then go ahead and bring down the iron curtain.

The cool thing about Social Media is that it is really inexpensive! You don’t even need to organize a 5 day retreat to the Bahamas for your Board of Directors to come up with a Social Media strategy!

[Feel free to contact me to help you come up with your social media strategy - I think I have officially earned the title 'Social Media Consultant']

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Facebook Chat Desktop Client

UPDATE: It finally worked… Now I just need to get some friends on it so that I can chat!

A few weeks ago I got curious about a friend I had not seen or heard from in close to a decade. We had gone to primary school together and I had got curious to find them. So naturally I tried searching on facebook, but sadly I did not find the person.

A few weeks later while I sat infront of my PC, my brain leaking after a serious session of churning out code I thought… o what the heck… pulled up facebook, checked the photos section then, thought hmmm what the heck. And I did another search. Interestingly, this time I found my friend, apparently she had joined facebook a few days after my first search. But I was not sure she was the person I was looking for. So I send out a message going like ‘Hey, are you so and so, from primary school. Remember me???’ A day goes by, no response. Then just this week as I am yet again torturing my brain, writing PHP code… Alas! A message… it was indeed my friend! And for all of you who have had this experience, you know the adrenaline rush!

So, I zipped out of ‘the zone’, to dig up this little gem. Sent a message, and soon we were exchanging messages, sent out a friend request and soon we were chatting on facebook.

Now, comes the reason why I give this experience: I was thinking to myself… ‘chatting inside facebook is a little disruptive, I want to surf some other site but I am more  or less stuck to this page – bummer!’

Me: Do you have gmail account/google chat?

Friend: Nope

Double bummer!

And that’s how I got curious about having a desktop IM client to chat with my facebook friends. In any case, I dod not keep facebook open all day on my browser, but I would hope to catch up with some specific people when they come online!

So this morning I was wondering about writing such a client. And where do I start?… Google ‘facebook chat client’… and the first result (thank God for Google!) is this article on techcrunch about Social.im A new service where they are offering exactly that… a desktop client to chat with your friends on facebook (damn… someone had already thought of my brilliant killer app idea :) ). Fast forward to http://www.social.im/ And voila… there is a download for Windows and the Mac!

So I downloaded the installer… an easy 1MB download and installed. The installation experience was not bad. It had to download some ‘Support Files’ along the way – screenshots:

After the installation using social.im unfortunately is not working. I get to the login screen but I unfortunately cannot get authenticated into the client. It’s still in alpha so…

A few things to ponder, granted that this is appears to be a potentially great service… Firstly, it’s interesting that social.im does not authenticate you. It passes that burden off to facebook which authenticates you and it would appear that simply getting a list of your friends would be trivial. However, I am curious as to whether they route chats through facebook infrastructure or through their own. I am not sure that the fb platform exposes this. In theory this would then mean I cannot chat with my friends who do not have the client installed in the same manner that I can chat with someone who is chatting within the gmail website from google talk… ???

Kudos to the people at social.im.

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First Ever: Nairobi Facebook Developer Garage

Now this is exciting! The following excerpt is taken from marketforchange:

The University of Nairobi’s Department of Informatics has agreed to co-host the first-ever Facebook “Developer Garage” in East Africa, in partnership with Market for Change. Facebook, a popular social utility based in Silicon Valley, will partially sponsor the event. Developer Garage Nairobi will bring together approximately 100 computer science students, faculty and local developers to discuss ways to use the Facebook Platform to build commercially viable applications and learn more about coding on the Platform.

Now aint that just cool!!! Here are some resources on the same:

Sign up here!

Find out more here!

And the wiki here!

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