[This guest post was written by Oscar Manduku, author of Everyone Online, publisher of TheBehaviourReport.com, TheOccasionMagaine.com, and many other projects and businesses. He is current chairman of The Advertising & Publicity Club of Harare. He is a techie, turned publisher.]
Social Media has changed human behaviour as it reshapes all structures – family, business, society, and governance. Ignoring social media has opportunity costs that Zimbabwe cannot afford as we deliberate our US$6 billion debt. Zimbabweans, like the Irish in the 20th century, have migrated to all parts of the world, and social media is a playing a vital role in bringing families, friends, and business markets together, with ethos, gnomes, beliefs, transactions and ideas flowing directly or indirectly.
The market dynamix
Money is now social, as transactions are initiated and followed through mostly in social settings, and this has trickled into internet and related technologies, hence the birth of social media. Networking, a 21st century term of living life and doing business in groups comprising people of similar interests has caused the birth of brands and platforms for trade and exchange of emotions.
The generation of Sales leads has become the focus of many businesses, creating mailing lists, contact databases, the business card holder becoming a literal business directory. All revenue starts with sales leads, and an awareness of this has resulted in sales oriented businesses becoming more social, interacting on various social media platforms with their prospective or current clientele.
And lastly, everyone of age, and those not of age, have realised they have a Voice – an opinion of life, trade, politics, and religion. In no other century has humanity possessed the power to express itself, rich or poor, leader or follower, resulting in the rise of expression of emotion and opinion using social media.
What is this social media?
Needless to say, social media is a generic terminology adopted to describe online social network platforms such as Facebook, YouTube.com, Linkedin, MySpace, Twitter, Hi5, Ning, Shelfari and Blogger, just to name a few popular ones, with more being born by the day, such as Tencent that has taken China by storm, and is proudly co-owned by Africa’s media leader NASPERS, the DSTV and Media24 genius.
Though different, these social media platforms share common traits that have one purpose – unlimited communicating in all aspects of life. Social media are a platform for voices to be heard, with YouTube using the tag line: “Broadcast Yourself”, a place where the ordinary Zimbabwean can start their own Web based TV programme, or campaign as Obama did to win the vote that landed him into the oval office.
Blogger.com is the most used blogging platform to express opinion in a chronicling fashion, resulting in publications such as books, journals, and technical papers. Social media provides a rich platform to generate sales leads and build a contacts database. LinkedIn for example is a leader in online business networking, as professionals and entrepreneurs communicate from all parts of the world, being a referral place to get a job or a transaction using your CV, recommendations, or connections within your networks.
Most importantly, social media is used to “socialise”. Even the Zimbabwean brand can participate in launching campaigns or brand-to-consumer communication. Socialising helps people connect, share emotions, receive counsel, and even exchange money. It’s a fast paced world that has taken even the Zimbabwean by storm, as more and more of us are on join Facebook every day. My ten month old son for example is now on Facebook, He communicates with his uncles and aunts in the USA and the UK through Facebook.