Archive for the 'Social Media' Category

25
May
11

NEWS IN THE DIGITAL AGE


THE CHEESY FACTS
Wassim Tabbarah, God rest his soul, in one of his plays back in the eighties’ performed an act where he owned a fresh produce shop. One day he was standing in front of his shop shouting for people to come and purchase his fresh vegetables. One passer-by stops and tells him “But there’s nothing on display! Your shelves are empty”, and Wassim answers him “I’m selling tomorrow’s vegetables!”

Why wait for a newspaper or TV news when I can have it as it happens?! If the conventional media needs to know something, ask me!

24 hours news channels have also contributed to making print and news casts obsolete. What’s left for those? Analysis, that’s what’s left. But that’s a different story.

Now, don’t get over excited. Not every new website is a news website! If a newspaper starts its own digital delivery, that does not make it an immediate success. How many new websites do you read everyday, all the time? Really.

Most of us are stuck with one or two sites that we visit all the time to quench our thirst for news. ANd all we do is read the news. Who cares for useless gimmicks and hoopla? Yes, being able to share, print or email and article is great, but that does not make you a pioneer! And it does not either give you the right to invade my screen with annoying animations, buttons, links and stupid stuff I will never use.

THE INSIGHTS
Now, let’s look at what makes us read news at the first place. I think that there are 3 important drivers:

1- Immediacy
News as it happens. I have many times tweeted and read tweets about news way before it was published on leading news sites. You see, we the tweeters, are not after scoops. We do not sort material according to priority to yield more readership. For us, immediacy is the word. We are attracted to news when it happens. The digital age is about living the event, not reading about it later.

2- Relevance
We want to read news that are relevant to us, in any way. And relevance is also child of immediacy, because when it gets old, it might simply become irrelevant. Relevance is subjective, and the winners are those who manage to cater for all tastes. The meaning of “news” varies drastically from one individual to the other. Take me for instance, local news are the least of my worries, which means I skim through the titles. For others, they are the heart of the matter.

3- Discovery
We do not know everything. We never will. But that does not mean that unknown news are not relevant. Discovery happens on well structured digital delivery systems. They guide you through to find out about matters you ignored.

So as you see, immediacy generates relevance, and relevance generates discovery.
What makes what?
It is undeniable that a perfect symbiosis has started to exist between the event and the news. We hear a lot about news that magnify events to the extent of blowing it out of proportions. OJ Simpson was a great example. And mind you, the digital age had not really dawned by then.

Celebrities scandals have become prime news now, sometimes over-shadowing political apocalypse. Why is that? The digital age caters to the widest target audience possible. In doing so, it reaches ages otherwise inaccessible via traditional media unless heavy investments are made. The younger generation has at reach a plethora of digital access points that constantly deliver news of celebrities and the fringe. Previously, traditional media had all these news packed in five minutes at the end of their newscast.

The result, a total blurring of the border between “serious” and fringe news. This blurring has created that ultimate symbiosis, the result of which was a similar blurring of news delivery and audience. Portals like The Huffington Post, AllTop, even CNN epitomize such a trend.

Events do not always make the news. Today, it is about the potential news portals see in specific stories that “internationalize” such stories, blowing them out of proportions, or even sometimes triggering a chain of events that change political landscapes.

Tunisia, Egypt, Lybia, Syria, Iraq; are perfect examples. In such totalitarian regimes, “things” used to happen decades ago… Very bad things… And all we used to hear were bits and pieces of “rumors” that used to reach us days, weeks or even months later, and then quickly fade away in the archive of history, without even having proved they ever occurred.

Rallying the masses is what the digital age managed to do. What’s more, it can now do it in a blink. Like a plague, text messages, tweets and Facebook messaging act as catalysts, bringing millions locally to act, and more millions globally to react. YouTube triggers a chain of reaction that gets engraved in our minds, souls and the Internet archives forever.

Here’s the perfect example: How many emails with attachments do you get with warnings about a poisonous food additive, or “immediate” world occurrences, only to find out that they actually date to years back. The sender saw it on the Internet and simply thought it was happening now, without bothering checking the date of the news?

No one ever cared about Sudan or the Ivory Coast! Millions were, and still are, dying from hunger in Africa, and no one ever moved a finger. Today, thanks to the Internet news delivery, rallies are organized at the four corners of the Earth in support of these “causes”. People around the world demand the departure of dictators they never heard of! Or have they? Today it’s about what the digital news tell and show us. Conspiracy theories about media manipulation by super (and not so super) powers is starting to make sense, to me at least.

THE SECRET FORMULA
You want to topple a ruling monster? Here’s the formula: Start a Facebook group, a Twitter account and a YouTube channel. If you can afford it, start a news portal. Start spreading the news by registering hundreds of fake accounts who end up “commenting” and voicing their opinions in support to “your” cause, then sit and watch the snowball effect. Depending on your means, reach, and magnitude of the cause, you can achieve your goals in a few weeks. You can even create your own heroes as a bonus!

SO…
Bottom line, and the one million dollar question (That’s 710,000 Euros and 2,802,600 Polish zlotys), is it good or bad?

Don’t ask me!

Ask the idiots who believe websites that claim the end of the world was supposed to occur on May 21, or constantly visit websites that claim to turn you from Gargantua to Brad Pitt in four days.

Or ask the politicians who hire web geeks, writers and journalists to help them build a social media universe in compensation to their lack of meaningful social life.

Or, you could ask those who justly use the Internet to spread the news of oppression, voice the words of the muted minorities, educate, entice to explore, encourage knowledge and turn the global mess into a true global village, one where we don’t only meet to gossip, but one where we gather in empathy and support, and share knowledge instead of rumors.

The true purpose of news in the digital age is this: When your fellow human is in trouble, wherever he or she might be, you are in trouble too. If not today, then soon, pretty soon.

© 2011 Ibrahim Lahoud

Creative Commons License
News in the Digital Age by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at ilahoud.wordpress.com.

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27
Jan
11

There IS an “I” in Team!


Maybe it’s me, maybe I have this strange genetic animosity against cheesy, nauseating clichés… such as There is no “I” in Team.

Well guess, what? There is a darn “I” in Team, in fact there are many!

I guess it’s time we woke up and realized that this is the era of micro-marketing. Orwellian strategies are dead. The power of a team is in the power of every “I” in it.

Marketing has evolved from a Woodstock massive hallucination tactics, where one gets the idea, and the others glue themselves to it and call themselves “Team”, to a more polarized view where the power of a team and the magnitude of its outcome is mostly based on the performance of every individual separately. Only then, the efficiency of a team can be measured.

The stupid “I”-in-a-Team thing, was probably the brainchild of someone who was so lazy and inefficient that he or she had to hide their failure by not being an “I” and instead becoming a team! Pffff!

My aim in this post is to revive the concept of the team, talk about it again. It’s been a while we haven’t reflected on what makes a team and why. We have been drowning in calling ourselves “team” and became oblivious of what made us one.

Let me first start by saying that based on the new universal truth of “Perception is Reality”, teams everywhere around the corporate galaxy are cheering themselves. They are doing so for successes the hero of which is embedded in the deepest layers of the “perception” of team.

Look at Social Media and how successful organizations are managing their online strategy. Social Media is about speaking to every “I” in a team, culture, society or ideology. It is not anymore, like middle-ages advertising, about talking to clusters of masses that we look at like blobs of potential buyers. Every “I” we talk to in Social Media, teams up with other “I”s to form working influential teams.

I just love dictionaries. They have this simple and innocent way of explaining things that leaps beyond our weird way of translating them:

TEAM |tēm|
noun [treated as sing. or pl. ]
a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport.
• two or more people working together : a team of researchers
• two or more animals, esp. horses, harnessed together to pull a vehicle.

So here it is, in the most stark contrast with our game of perception and reality, a team is always about two or more “I”, each doing his, her or its job to achieve the team’s mission.

I know, I know, some of you are reading and wondering what the hell has gotten into me now to start philosophizing on the issue! I’ll tell you what, frustration! That’s what.

I am frustrated at the way we take things, twist them, mold them, shape them and keep massaging them until they fit our own vision of things… Not that we always have a “vision” of things… Vision might be a big word for the stupid us who actually do that… The amazing fact is that we actually create “teams” to do it!

I have to always come back to Lebanon for resourceful examples, for two reasons: Who am I to reflect on the world? And two, simply because Lebanon is an amazingly fertile ground that spawns imbecilities and is constantly kept at the perfect temperature to store them, freezing!

So, looking at Lebanon and how Lebanese at large perceive the concept of Team, you can’t help but think that our definition of team is: The ultimate hideout for mediocrity that simultaneously manages to uplift our image!

Your image will become that of the team’s. In other words, you’re a nobody that does nothing and yet manages, along with other “team members” to keep doing nothing, and collect the credit earned by that poor single team member who does all the work! Wao! I’d like to do that sometimes.

I bet most of you now are thinking about the “teams” you have at work, the ones you are part of, and whether you’re the parasite or the hero… Good. Keep thinking.

As for me, I do not care about how things go at work. What I worry about is how can a country become a corporation managed by “teams” of parasites with no heroes whatsoever, and still manage to create credit, share, brag about it and earn the people’s praise. Now that, is the epitome of “Perception is Reality”.

One loophole, It takes a moron to follow a moron. We are breeding a culture of morons, where finding a single hero to inject in a team of losers is becoming virtually impossible.

Those morons are the people who established the rule of “There is no “I” in Team”. Why? Because they’re right. There can’t be an “I” in a team of morons. There can only be one entity of assimilated pea-sized brains who managed to find salt-grain-sized brains to lure!

The others – those who refuse to be morons, to be lured… or ruled by morons – have discovered a higher universal truth: “The Perception of Perception-is-Reality”, and simply refuse to be assimilated.

There are many “I” in every team where success is measured by the power of synergy, and how reality becomes perception. And there is not one single “I” in a team where success is measured by its perception rather than its reality.

©2011 Ibrahim N. Lahoud

22
Dec
10

Do you believe Social Media can drive business in the Arab World?


20
Dec
10

Social Media; “Share and Dare” versus “Trial and Error”


What’s so social about digital media?

How did those two words come together?

Why has suddenly the Internet become the most (virtual) convivial tool?

And how did it manage to turn conviviality into a business asset?

Simple. Our crave to make contact knows no boundaries. What’s more, we are more inclined to establish contact with remote nodes rather than close ones. Remember the days when you used to write letters to your cousins in Brazil? Before they left motherland, you used to see each other on holidays only. Once they were miles away, you found yourself communicating with them more than ever, getting to know them even more than when they were closer.

This is what made Facebook so successful; not that it was its original intention.

Businesses discovered an amazing insight: Don’t get your brand closer to customers; get customers craving for your brand. The farther you keep your brand in the virtual realm, the closer you get your market to it. Paradoxical fact. No wonder Starbucks is the most Social Media savvy brand.

But don’t get me wrong! I am not encouraging brands to push away from their markets.

Here’s another metaphor: Live with someone for a year under the same roof for every single day without ever going out, and you’ll end up having nothing to talk about. Come to think about it, you’ll end up killing each other! Move away from each other for periods of time, and you’ll come back with loads of topics to chat about. The secret of solid relationships is measured by the power of people to manage contact.

The power of social media resides in its ability to offer and exchange information in an interactive and dynamic way. It is there when you need or want it only.

Social media is the “anti-advertising” communication.

Social Media does not advertise, it communicates. It does not claim, it states. It does not patronize, it educates.

We, the Digital People, hate advertising, claims and patronizing. We love communication, clear statements and education.

Social Media is the “Make-A-Friend” DIY kit of brands.

Why?

Because we choose what to browse, read and interact with. We define our digital universe, acquire the tools we feel are right for us, and most of all, we do so by learning, watching what others do and using smart synthesis. It is not anymore trial and error, but rather sharing and daring.

Think about it, trial and error are the two most scary words in business, let alone personal. Trial induces delving into unknown grounds, so unknown that it never spells “trial and success” but “trial and error”. I mean really, how encouraging and engaging is it?

Sharing puts you at par with others. So if you’re a brand you’re not condescending. You’re not “telling”, you’re simply sharing, making the receiver part of the process, a partner, a peer. Daring is exactly what you expect as a reaction. Daring is nothing like trial. Where trial sound like a jump in a dark abyss, daring is more about courage, more about knowing “where” or “what” to try. This is what make “Facebookers” and “tweeps” exchange massive amounts of information.

Look at your Facebook friends. Most of them are shy in real life, yet share so much information on their profiles. Observe your fellow tweeps and see how you can easily profile them just by monitoring their tweets.

Social Media takes advantage of a very well-known syndrome; the virtual relationship, where establishing and sustaining a contact is by far easier than in real life. This is because we feel more secure and more in control of the information we receive and interact with. The more comfortable we are, the more we dare, and the more we dare, the more we share. Simple equation.

Brands in the 21st century are striving to make friends rather than customers, advocates rather than buyers. Before, brands used media only, pushing information down our throats and expecting us to believe and purchase. It did not work, at least not as much as they expected it would. The missing ingredient to make friends and advocates was to get social.

The advent of the digital age, and the way it helped people build their comfort zones, made it ideal for brands to bring together their two ultimate dream-tools: Media to communicate and Social to interact.

Social Media, Interactive communication!

 

©2010 Ibrahim Lahoud




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Creative Commons License
Reason To Believe by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at ilahoud.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at htt://ilahoud.wordpress.com.

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