Saturday, November 3, 2012

Is it important to discuss Social Media - A debate at #Socialmediabaithak

Social Media is spreading like a virus and Pakistan is no exception!

Youth is predominantly affected, and there is no cure – Once you are in, you are isolated from what we otherwise call human interaction. Your eyes will be on your Smartphone and two thumbs on dial pad. Couple of years ago, in Pakistan using social media was considered as a sinful thing. But now even seniors are sort of okay with using facebook and Skyping with their family abroad.

Though late, but PR companies have also realized the importance of social media. There is now demand from their clients as they want to experiment with it. Xenith PR which is run by Zainab Ansari (who I know from her time at CMC and my job at British Deputy High Commission) has started a digital media division called XenithDigital. Looking at the importance of social media, XenithDigital thought of organizing a three days symposium focusing the subject. I came to know about this event through a facebook update by Saher Mangi who used to work at Xenith and now moved to Arif Habib Group. Invitation was also extended by Uroosa who manages XenithDigital.

Me and Mateen Hamza who writes excellent English humor decided to attend the second day.

Discussion was a bit all over, and I do not blame panelists, it was about social media so focusing was an issue J - I guess moderator was a bit young to deal with these tall order and some extremely loud panelists who at times were debating among themselves. Can’t blame them, Pakistanies generally have distracted focus anyway.

To me the most interesting bit was Jehanzaib Haque who is Express Tribune’s Online Editor. He was quite buoyant about change that social media is bringing in Pakistani society. He was of the view that ET has been able to create awareness inamongst various communities and also in international media. He said that ET has over 70 journalists who use social media and were trained to do so. Soon ET will also produce a 50 page manual for online journalism, which will be available for download.

Faisal Qureshi was of the view that Social Media is an extension of our real life.( I agree, we cannot live without it!)  In his views social media is yet to create meaningful impact in Pakistan. (Yes, he might be right here, but what do we mean by meaningful impact? Perhaps social media community needs more time to build its muscles, or perhaps initiatives such as #SocialmediaBaithak should continue beyond gatherings of those using social media?)

Sarfaraz A Reham was smiling a lot, that’s what he does anyway. But his smiles carry a million messages. He was very straight. Told us that Engro is now using social media extensively and now there is no need for physical meetings (or perhaps lesser requirement), a lot of consultative work is done using social media. Sarfaraz sahib uses Social Media for accessing information.

Mohsin Sayeed was very vocal in expressing the way people get into personal attacks and silly discussions.  
I was unable to get anything from Norbalm ( I did not get his name – Sorry!) Sabeen was also quite vocal about civil society’s inability to use social media effectively.

In my view, just engaging those in such events who know social media won’t help much. Somehow social media community needs to inspire those who do not use social media - that is the only way to build critical mass for creating an impact in our society.

Yes social media is for fun, but let us not undermine the importance of outreach it provides. #SociammediaBaithak generated 463 tweets and had 583,128 impressions, reaching out to an audience of 94,831 followers, a strength that is almost impossible on any other media!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Startup Weekend - An Initiative by Marc Nager

Startup Weekend is entrepreneurship’s democratizer. Regardless of who’s who, a group of unrelated individuals meet up for a weekend to share ideas.  Competence and knowledge are the currency that is traded.”
Startup Weekend
Startup Weekend
This entrepreneurial story is about turning around. How businesses could change shape and spread from one place to another, from one country to around the globe.   The initiative is powered by Kaufmann Foundation.
With his excellent vision and entrepreneurial qualities, Marc Nagerturned a for-profit organization into one of the most successful not-for-profit global organization working towards cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit in many countries. Startup Weekend was formed in 2007 with the idea to promote week long entrepreneurial marathons where people from various different business and IT background come together to pitch, select and work on promising ideas for start ups. Marc Nager and his co founders bought the venture because of its global potential and turned it into a not-for-profit and spread it over the globe.

Coolest Twitter Tips for Everyone

Twitter is the coolest social media tool. Those who do not use it are perhaps living in the Stone Age! It started as a SMS service (Short Message Service), and now grown viral to become one of the most used communication platform for all walks of life. This 140-character micro-blogging platform was formed in 2006, now has over 500 million users. Its popularity can also be judged by that fact that despite a banned in China, Twitter users have grown to over 35 million earlier this year. Three large markets for Twitter are now China, India with over 33 million users and the US with around 30 million users.
These are three largest markets – Can anyone ignore this fact that large numbers of social communities are now using Twitter as a tool to share, communicate and market? Most influential politicians, journalists, opinion formers and celebrities tweet and engage communities in discussions.
Having said this, for new users Twitter is still quite vanilla flavored. They generally struggle in understanding how to use it and what to expect from this tool. Following are 10 Cool Twitter Tips for non active and new users;