Posts Tagged ‘social media’


#LondonRiots: Stop the Blame… Play the Game

In United Kingdom on August 9, 2011 by Amira E. Tagged: , , , , ,

Another crisis. More deaths. More fear. 2011 is the year for revolutions and riots around the globe. And more prominently, 2011 is the year social media became the scapegoat for revolutions and riots around the globe. First, Tunisia. Then, Egypt. Now, London?


Buildings burn on Tottenham High Road on August 6, 2011

I can’t deny (sorry, Malcom Gladwell) the significant role social media tools have played in organising people (for good or bad), but that’s exactly what they are – tools. They are not the reason why people revolt and riot. They are, however, revolutionising the way people live, communicate and mobilise.

The Numbers

  • Almost half of teenagers (47 per cent) and over a quarter of adults in the UK use smartphones (Ofcom Study – 2011)
  • 50% of the population (30 million people) use Facebook
  • 7.2% of the population uses Twitter and UK MPs spend 1,000 hours on Twitter per year.

So What?

More than ever before, people in the UK are connected to each other through their mobile phones and digitally through social networks. Today, as the riots and violence spread even further, there are two important ways the London authorities and media should leverage the very same tools they are blaming for fueling the riots… to save people from the riots and do good (i.e. fight social media with social media): 


What does this mean? Listening in social media involves reading, monitoring and understanding the conversations taking place online. Online communication is quick and offers a human lens to every situation. Every tweeter is a citizen journalist in times like these. Listening also offers authorities and media the opportunity to understand what people need in times of crisis — whether it be emergency police support or advice on places to avoid.

How can we do this?

  • Set up accounts on Monitter or HootSuite – platforms that allow you to monitor tweets in real-time, up to three hashtags at a time.
  • Search for Facebook groups and pages about the riots and understand what the majority of people are talking about. Are they in favor of the riots or mobilising to clean up the streets?
  • Look for maps created by people online that intelligently gather important data about the crisis. A good example of this is this visual map created based on the #londonriots hashtag and UK postcodes. Another great data source is crowdsourced maps, like this special edition Google Map that was created and updated live by @jamescridland, mapping reports of looting, rioting, arrests and citizen rowdiness. | Trending Topics on August 8, 2011


What does this mean? Every conversation is an opportunity to engage. Rather than act as higher level watchdogs and security agents on the crisis, social media allows for greater communication and engagement with the community. By using social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, and mobile platforms, like SMS and Blackberry Messenger (BBM), there is a much higher chance of impactful and immediate mobilisation of positive efforts. Especially in the case of the authorities, there is an opportunity to create rapport with the people and develop a united front to do good together, similar to the recent situation in Vancouver.

How can we do this?

  • Live Blogging: Create a one-stop-shop source of information for people who can be accessed on smart phones and update it in real time. Include photographs, locations affected and video to communicate and tell the story effectively. The Guardian, a major UK-based newspaper, is doing an amazing job of communicating with its readers through its live blog.

  • Blackberry Messenger (BBM) and SMS: This is by far the most significant amount of blame I have ever seen attributed to BBM. As an extremely secure and rapid way of communicating with groups, this is an amazing tool to use in times like this. The Guardian is the first news outlet, and brand even, I have ever seen using BBM to gather on-the-ground information, as well as to broadcast important messages. Also, the authorities should partner with UK’s telecom corporations to send real time SMS alerts to citizens, warning of dangerous areas.
  • Twitter and Facebook: This is the most straightforward way to communicate for the media and authorities, many of whom are already on these platforms. Join the conversations that are already happening. Respond to important questions. Offer advice on how to act and where to go in dangerous situations. Find the people who are seeking to do good in times of crisis and offer real support. Be the authority, and be reachable.
  • Crowdsourced Maps: If they haven’t been created already, develop a map like the one above that details the locations affected and places at risk. The ultimate aim is to protect the people and this is a remarkably easy way to do it.

In a Google search for “London Riots + Blame,” over 10 million hits were found. Blame is being placed on everything from Twitter to Blackberry, even on the popular Grand Theft Auto video game. Instead of wasting time on blame, let’s play the same game and use these amazing tools for the good of the community.


Turkey’s Changemakers vs. Fark Yaratanlar: Let’s Integrate, Engage & Collaborate.

In Turkey on August 7, 2011 by Amira E. Tagged: , , , , , ,

Turkey's Changemakers


WHO: Some call it Turkey’s Changemakers. (Most) others call it Fark Yaratanlar.

WHAT: An initiative launched by Turkey’s Sabanci Foundation, Fark Yaratanlar is a weekly TV program aired on CNN Turk that shares the inspiring stories of 32 individual “changemakers” who promote and positively impact the country’s social and economic development. Over the course of two seasons, 800 applications have been submitted, 64 causes featured and almost 1 million viewers.

WHEN: The program launched Season 1 in October 2009. Season 2 just ended last month.

WHY: To increase visibility of individuals who make a significant impact on other people’s lives, raise awareness of social issues and inspire others to act for social change. Güler Sabancı, Chair of Sabancı Holding and third among the Financial Times “Top 50 Women in World Business” in 2010, said: “I think its extremely important to promote role models and good examples to mobilize more people to get involved.


It’s usually quite easy to do an overall assessment of an organization’s social media/digital footprint, right? That’s what I thought, too. My best friend introduced this initiative to me as Turkey’s Changemakers. We hit it off instantly. Loved the concept. Loved the implementation. (Filiz Bekman, much respect.) Here’s what I found as I tried to understand where this program lived among Turkey’s 35 million Internet users:


Internet Penetration in Turkey (in terms of # of users)

Turkey’s Changemakers



397 Fans




The numbers don’t make sense, right? With Turkey’s Facebook population of 29,643,160, how could this amazing program only have 396 fans?

The quick answer: They don’t. They have 9,084 fans. Still not putting a dent in the 29 million, but a big difference nonetheless. How did the number jump? The program has two pages on Facebook and Twitter, one under the program’s English name (Turkey’s Changemakers) and one under the program’s original Turkish name (Fark Yaratanlar). Here’s a clearer picture:


Internet Penetration in Turkey (in terms of # of users)

Turkey’s Changemakers

Fark Yaratanlar



397 Fans

8,687 Fans





In addition to their Facebook and Twitter presence(s), Turkey’s Changemakers has a dedicated YouTube channel with 96 videos, 46 subscribers and over 100,000 views. The website — — is difficult to find if you know the program as Turkey’s Changemakers (especially since the links on both of its Facebook and Twitter pages don’t work).


  • Fark Yaratanlar clearly has two “faces” for a good reason: to reach their domestic audience and the international English-speaking audience.
  • Wide reach through a variety of platforms and good integration between networks (i.e. linking to YouTube from Facebook, linking to Facebook from Twitter, etc.)
  • Great use of video storytelling to reach non-TV audience online


As the program enters its third season, I recommend that Fark Yaratanlar do three things to leverage their current momentum for future success:

1. INTEGRATE: Develop a brand with one face and name, even if it’s reaching out to two audiences. Add the English version of the name after the Turkish one for clarification (Fark Yaratanlar: Turkey’s Changemakers). Create an English version of the website (just like Sabanci Foundation). If there must be two Facebook and Twitter accounts, make sure they’re fully integrated and that it’s clear to users where to find the other version, as well as always linking back to the program’s official website. Contact Facebook and have them remove unauthorized pages and groups under the same name to ensure all supporters are supporting the official page.

2. ENGAGE: Have two-way conversations with online audiences — they are the lifeline of the initiative. Ask questions. Answer questions. Invite ideas and recommendations for new program developments. Enlist supporters to evangelize the program. Use Facebook and Google ads to spread more awareness and drive traffic back to the program’s sites. Develop a short-term campaign prior to the launch of the third season where every new Facebook “like” triggers a donation to one of the changemaker causes. Invite supporters to post their personal social impact stories on a dedicated “Sharing/Storytelling” tab on the revamped Facebook page.

3. COLLABORATE: The program currently is aired on CNN Turk, produced by Dipnot TV and hosted by TV personality Cüneyt Özdemir. By collaborating with these three entities on social media communications, Fark Yaratanlar can reach thousands more people. Özdemir alone has over 200,000 followers on Twitter and is on over 2,000 lists. ( has almost 190,000 followers and Dipnot TV has almost 30,000.) That kind of exposure would be priceless for Fark Yaratanlar. The key is using the @mention so followers can then engage directly with the program. On top of that, the program can develop offline engagement opportunities with Sabinci University students and professors to garner even more interest and online participation.

Before you sign off, watch one of their weekly programs. This one is about “Child Brides,” a project to raise awareness about early marriages in Turkey

(Click on CC for English subtitles)


Strap Up Turkey: When Condom Use Depends on Social Media

In Turkey on August 7, 2011 by victorialh Tagged: , , ,

Historically, people have been scared into using condoms.  Health organizations, government officials and even private corporations paint grim pictures of what life could be like if sexually active people don’t use condoms 100% of the time.

Images of death, stories of large poverty stricken families may work sometimes but are scare tactics the right approach? Not according to DKT International, a Washington, DC based NGO, which has used social tactics since 1989 to encourage condom usage over the ‘withdrawal method’ as a leading way to promote family planning.

From Brazil, the number one importer of condoms yet amongst the fewest users, to Turkey where empowering couples to use protection has been a continuous struggle; DKT has executed campaigns using traditional and new mediums of communication.

Two years ago, they launched a campaign for Fiesta Condoms, whose slogan (“Fiesta believes that safe and fun sex is your right) highlighted their acceptance of sexual behavior. The brand use bright, colorful and fun themes to educate and motivate consumers.

Naturally, the campaign included a Facebook page since the social media site is the third most popular web portal in Turkey with nearly 16 million users. It encouraged interaction through polls on sexually related issues, sultry music videos and instructions on how to use condoms.

Fiesta Condom Facebook Welcome Page

Currently, the Facebook page has just over 9,000 fans – nothing significant for a country populated with nearly 75 million people and 45% of them are Internet users.

While the numbers aren’t significant, they also aren’t surprising. Many risky brands have succeeded in the social media space, but getting people to openly discuss their sexual behaviors and preferences is no small challenge. I actually don’t know which of the fun-loving or deathly images work better, but I do applaud DKT and Fiesta for attempting to brighten up the conversation. Sex, condom usage and the consequences surrounding it all are all taboo topics that will require extremely innovative solutions to making consumers feel comfortable about discussing sex in the most social of settings.


Is the “Best” Airline the Best Online?

In Turkey on August 5, 2011 by Abby Tagged: , ,

Turkish Airlines has been turning around its reputation in the past few decades – from an airline ripe with customer service complaints, deadly crashes, and controversial ambassador deals, to 2011’s Best European Airline.  The airline has also been very active in the online space, in what seems to be an effort to rebuild its image and customer satisfaction – but is it working?

One recent online engagement example is their ongoing coverage of the US Tour 2011 featuring FC Barcelona (which Turkish Airline sponsors).  They are providing a behind-the scenes look as the team travels aboard a Turkish Airline flight.  Another element to this campaign is an interactive  game, where visitors to the site can play daily to win prizes, including futbol jerseys and free tickets, and receive hints via Twitter and Facebook.

Turkish Airline's online FC Barcelona game

Why this works: According to comScore, Turkey is one of the top global sports markets, so they’re tapping into that love of sports with their sponsorship of the team and the ongoing promotions online.  The content is also being broadcast on Turkish Airline’s multiple social media platforms for maximum reach.  What could be improved? With so many channels, websites and hashtags to follow, it can be difficult to keep up with the campaign and what to focus on. The overwhelming amount of activity may mean Turkish Airlines (and their objectives) gets lost in the shuffle.

Another tactic Turkish Airlines employs is sharing videos on Facebook.  The airline posts videos on their Facebook wall several times a week, including interviews with spokespeople and simple animated clips. Why this works: Watching videos online videos is common in Turkey, and a recent studyfound that Facebook is the most popular online video destination in Turkey.  By understanding this trend, Turkish Airlines is able to provide their audience with the content they desire.

A recent Facebook Cartoon - featuring FC Barcelona

What could be improved?  Again it seems like Turkish Airline is promoting sports teams rather than themselves.  Although the content is engaging, the message remains unclear – why these Facebook fans should choose to fly with Turkish Airlines is unanswered.  Additionally, when looking further into the data, it shows that online videos attract a much younger audience, which may be an audience less likely to purchase airline tickets.

Overall is appears that Turkish Airlines is trying to tap into online trends to meet their audience where they are, but they might be sending mixed signals.  By promoting themselves as young and playful (sports and cartoons), they may be neglecting the audience that is looking for luxury airfare or business travel.  They also leave out critical information and fail explain why they are the “Europe’s best airline.” In my opinion, for more success down the line, Turkish Airlines should focus on the services they provide for their customers rather than the activities of the teams and individuals that they pay to sponsor.


How Turkey Can Fight Crime Using Social Media

In Turkey on August 5, 2011 by sdaniellebenjamin Tagged: , , , , , , ,

According to the International Organization of Migration, 250,000 people have been trafficked through Turkey since 1999.

If the facts didn’t support this claim, I might be tempted to dispute it. Yet despite the many social advances and humanitarian efforts that have been elevated over the last several decades, the illegal trade of humans is still a prevalent practice in many parts of the world today.

Because of its location as a bridge between Europe and Asia, and because of the socio-economic attractions that it offers in contrast to neighboring countries in the region, Turkey accounts for one of the largest destination spots for the countless victims of this imaginable crime.

In 2000, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols was adopted and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children was created to address this growing problem. In 2002, Turkey took definitive steps to combat this issue, beginning first by ratifying the UN measure and then setting up a National Task Force to enforce it. Yet while media and traditional advertising mechanisms have been put in place to help identify and find victims, a comprehensive digital strategy campaign has yet to be implemented by some of the leading voices in this issue.

High Internet Use in Turkey

I was actually quite surprised to learn that the Turkish government had yet to use social media in their efforts considering Turkey is one of the 15 largest internet populations in the world.  In fact, the Internet World Stats reported that there were 35,000 internet users in Turkey (representing 45% of the population) in June 2010. Those same reports also indicate that Turks spend a lot of their online time searching and using social media outlets (Turkey enjoys the third highest Facebook population in the world) – a fact that would seem to lend itself to a ready campaign around this issue.

While they do provide important information about human trafficking on their website, the governmental site for the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs that specifically deals with human trafficking could benefit from a social media overhaul.

A Digital Strategy Campaign

Facebook: With so many Turks using social media platforms each and every day, these sites are an easy way to set up missing person profiles, give descriptions and share other relevant information that can lead officials to these women and children. The Turkish government can create page specifically designed to disseminate information on persons , both victims and perpetrators, in real-time. As users visit the page, they can provide tips and clues on the whereabouts of these victims – perhaps providing just the right information to lead officials to victims.

Windows Live Profile: As the second most popular social media platform, this instant messenger platform can be easily incorporated on the homepage of the existing Turkish government website and monitored 24 hours a day as people submit tips and information on missing persons. Success of this type of feature will depend on the rapid-verification and follow up on information that is shared via this platform.

Blogs: Contributors to the non-profit organization’s blog site, The Human Trafficking Project, utilize art and technology to raise awareness of human trafficking and connect those working to combat this issue while also supporting the many nameless victims. The Turkish government could implement a similar type of blog on their website to connect family and friends, desperately searching for information on how to find their lost loved ones, to useful information and other anti-human trafficking sites around the world.

Sadly, human trafficking won’t go away overnight. Every day, thousands of women and children are being victimized by this senseless crime. And while they have made great strides to address this problem, by incorporating a digital strategy campaign into the mix, the Turkish government is sure to see considerable improvements – and just maybe, justice can finally be served.


Volkswagen Wouldn’t Be Volkswagen Without The People

In China on July 28, 2011 by victorialh Tagged: , , , ,

I was a freshman in college nearly 700 miles from home and I desperately wanted a car. I wasn’t happy about the university’s rule that freshman couldn’t have vehicles on campus. School was in the middle of nowhere; so how was I supposed to make my late night runs to Wal-Mart? Or satisfy my cravings for Waffle House? When I came home for the summer, getting a car was the only thing on my mind.

Even though I’m from the Motor City, I had no clue what went into actually getting a car. It took me weeks of researching, several test drives, a few reality checks and tons of questions before I drove off the lot with a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta (that I picked out and negotiated for all by myself). It was a proud moment and my car was the cutest thing ever.

The small black frame with tan seats highlighted by the signature blue and red interior lighting had me riding back to campus as a sophomore in style. I was 18 years old and it wasn’t my mom’s car or my sister’s; it was my VW. For the next seven years, (I got another one in 2006!) I was a proud VW driver.

For the people

With nearly one million Facebook fans across the brand, Volkswagen is well aware of the pride its owners have about the German line of automobiles that range from the iconic Beetle to its new CC. Customer satisfaction has always been embedded in company values. The brand’s name actually means, “people’s car” in German. The first car was designed at the request of Adolf Hitler during an era of “people’s car projects” when luxury automakers including Mercedes were trying to create an affordable car for the average German.

Nearly 75 years later, the automaker, Europe’s largest, is headed toward a record 8 million units delivered globally this year. Ambitious executives are counting on sales in countries like China to help it out-seat Toyota as the world’s largest carmaker and they’ve turned to new media to help.

By the People

People's Car Project - ChinaIn efforts to reach its world-dominance goal and always with the people in mind, VW went back to its roots. It recently launched “The People’s Car Project” in China where nearly 400 million people use the Internet despite censorship by the government. The social CRM campaign takes the cake on implementing a top social media pointer, “make it personal.” It asks everyday people to submit their own ideas and designs on what they want in a future VW. It doesn’t get more personal than that!

The social platform keeps up the savvy strategy by keeping the entire process interactive. It calls on aspiring designers and even clueless car consumers, like I once was, to create conversation around the ideas submitted. Engaging competitions for best idea/design periodically give lucky winners the chance at prizes. The campaign doesn’t stop there. Creators use a comprehensive plan of attack that includes video, location-based mobile applications, full social network integration, and on the ground activities and events.

Giving the People What They Want

This campaign, if executed as promised, is sure to increase awareness, loyalty and ultimately sales for VW. Although introducing a web-based campaign in China may be seen as risky to some, I think it shows the brand’s willingness to step outside the box. I mean, where can’t progressive thinking and digital technology take you? Next up is to take the campaign globally and solicit ideas from other people of other countries. Social media is catching on everywhere and everywhere people have opinions. After they listen, it’ll be a major task for the brand to deliver on what the people have had to say. I do hope they deliver because as they are proving – people aren’t afraid to speak out. As a former owner, I have faith in VW. They’ve focused on the people since day one and with China’s population just over 1.3 billion; I’d say they are pretty smart. They picked a perfect starting ground, didn’t they?


Mandela Day Goes Social

In South Africa on July 23, 2011 by S.Albright Tagged: , , ,

On July 18th, South Africans and individuals around the globe celebrated the 93rd birthday of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Since 2009, every July 18th has been dubbed Mandela Day through partnerships by The Nelson Mandela Foundation and the United Nations. To celebrate the life and legacy of Mandela, Mandela Day seeks to inspire individuals worldwide to take action in helping to change the world for the better.

The Mandela Day message is simple: Nelson Mandela gave 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of humanity, so all we are asking is that everyone gives 67 minutes of their time on Mandela Day, whether it’s supporting your chosen charity or serving your local community, to ensure that his legacy lives on forever.

For the first two years of Mandela Day, the foundation was not officially on any social media platforms. Yet with the digital space evolving so rapidly and its now-understood power to reach individuals and communities on such a global scale, this year the foundation went where the people are to spread more awareness: social media. Social media is evolving into much more than just a way to get in touch with family and friends; it has become an integral function to organizations seeking to garner increased support for forward-thinking initiatives looking to create change on a global scale. Today, more than 90% of foundation communicators, whether private or community-based, are using social media to spread awareness for their causes. Is it working?

What ‘Mandela Day’ Did

  • #MandelaMondays   By joining Twitter (@NelsonMandela) about two months ago, the foundation promoted #MandelaMondays to create a build-up to the actual Mandela Day. Challenging followers to turn the typical ‘manic Monday’ into something positive, #MandelaMondays aimed to inspire individuals to take just five minutes out of their Monday to do something small for others. By starting just with Mondays, the initiative aims to get people to ultimately make this act of kindness and giving a part of our everyday ethos. #MandelaMondays became a trending hashtag on Twitter, and the @NelsonMandela handle currently boasts over 30,000 followers.

  • Bikers for Mandela Day   The official Mandela Day site is quite comprehensive, including information about the day, photos, videos and activities that individuals can participate in. One of these activities is Bikers for Mandela Day, an event focused on spreading Mandela’s living legacy throughout South Africa. The interactive map is a great digital feature to get riders involved and see where their activity will be taken throughout the country on this inspirational ride. The page also includes up-to-date news and reflections on the ride, as well as a Twitter feed @Bikers4MandelaD.

  • Official Mandela Day Facebook   The foundation created an official Facebook page to further saturate the social media space in bringing more awareness to Mandela Day. Fans can post stories and photos to the wall to share their thoughts and experiences about Mandela Day, further fostering a sense of community in the online space and uniting individuals from around the world. The page also links to the Twitter handle and Mandela Day site. It currently is just shy of 11,000 fans.

Social Impact and Suggestions for Future Success

Overall, I think the Mandela Foundation’s leap into the social media space has been a very successful one. The foundation has seen great results in user participation and interest in the organization, further affirming the growing power of social media not only in South Africa but around the world. They have inspired individuals not only in South Africa but in countries and communities around the world to take part in keeping Nelson Mandela’s mission alive.

Here are some suggestions for the foundation to maintain continued support in the digital space and for an even more successful Mandela Day in 2012:

  • Continue to keep users engaged   Just because this year’s Mandela Day has passed doesn’t mean the social connectivity can stop now. The foundation has promised to “provide genuine information about Nelson Mandela, the Mandela Centre of Memory and the Mandela Day initiative, and we ensure that we will provide daily updates.” By continuing to stay active on Twitter and Facebook, and vowing to maintain an updated presence on YouTube andFlickr (no new content has been added to either since 2009), the foundation can stay engaged with existing supporters, build communities of new supporters and increase global awareness in real time.
  • Consider mobile integration    The power of mobile is spreading globally, and South Africa is not immune. South Africa has one of the largest mobile markets in the world. By taking the Mandela Day campaign mobile, the foundation can continue to harness its newly founded social media efforts while also reaching increased participants. The Grid has become a popular location-based mobile social network in South Africa, and could provide the basis for a truly successful integration into the campaign, specifically with the Bikers for Mandela Day event. Integrating a foursquare check-in into Mandela Day would also continue to move the campaign in a more forward-thinking, location-based direction.
  • Continue to leverage influential partnerships   This Mandela Day, SA Airways, the national carrier of the rainbow country, unveiled its first aircraft to be branded with the Nelson Mandela Day logo. SA Airways chairman Cheryl Carolous said the carrier will brand 58 of its fleet with the logo both inside and outside of aircrafts “to take the message across the entire globe to contribute to the legacy of our father, Mandela.” Through this initiative, the airline will increasingly expose its passengers to the Mandela Day message, hopefully inspiring them to take action one day at a time to make the world a better place. Though not a digital aspect, this still brings increased visibility to the organization’s mission and could prompt passengers to share it even further with family and friends. By continuing to harness partnerships such as this one, the Mandela Foundation can continue to spread its message globally and truly keep the foundation at the forefront of charitable integrated communications.
Take Action.  Inspire Change.  Make Every Day a Mandela Day.”


How Social Media Engagement in India Truly Impacts Lives

In India on July 17, 2011 by Amira E. Tagged: , , , , ,

To India, with Love:

Since my childhood, India has occupied an exclusive place in my heart. Spirit. Culture. Passion. Bright bursts of color. As a nation – rich in history and diverse in landscape. As a people – wildly intelligent and exceptionally kind.

Exactly 10 years ago, I traveled to Hyderabad with Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing housing to people in need. For 9 days, my team and I carried hundreds of heavy red bricks up and down hills to help rebuild houses from the ground up with families whose homes had been devastated by recent floods.

Since that day, my affinity to all-things-Indian has multiplied, but now is not the time to discuss my obsession with:

  • Bollywood movies (now thankfully available on YouTube!)
  • Delicious chaat and chutney, and…
  • Two of my very best friends Aarti Jaan and Akanksha Jaan.
    [Jaan is a term of endearment in Hindi]

10 years ago, the world hadn’t yet been introduced to Facebook and Twitter. In times of need, non-profit organizations partnered with schools, governments and on-the-ground volunteers to garner support and create impact. But today, in a world tightly packed with dozens of digital platforms, global netizens have quickly penetrated these social networks and begun engaging for social causes.

In India alone, nearly 30 million people are members of social networking sites, with an estimated 45,000 joining these sites per day over the next four months, according to a recent Nielsen study.

Social media is now ingrained in the way tech savvy Indians live their lives. With its ability to play multiple roles in an individual’s life by enabling shared experiences, creating linkages between communities and satisfying the need to be networked, its role in creating a deeper engagement is a boon to marketing. – Adrian Terron, Vice President, The Nielsen Company

Even more notable is that Indians are increasingly engaging in more meaningful ways on social networks. Here are three concrete examples of social media being used effectively to create social impact:

1. User-Driven Crisis Communications | Mumbai Blasts

The most recent, albeit disheartening, example of this took place just last week after the Mumbai bombings. However, what was beautiful to witness was the quick mobilization of support that flooded through Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other online platforms. As phone lines jammed, people tweeted their willingness to donate blood, give car rides and offer a place of refuge through dedicated hashtags #heretohelp, #mumbaiblasts and #needhelp. Soon enough, an editable Google Docs spreadsheet was created and circulated on Twitter, containing people’s mobile phone numbers, blood types and help required/offered. 30 minutes after the bombings, an Ushahidi disaster-tracking map was created north of Mumbai, showing where people needed help and where they could seek shelter.

#heretohelp Twitter Feed on July 13, 2011

IMPACT: The incident proved that, when put to the test, Indian netizens largely use social platforms for positive impact, rather than to gossip or spread rumors.

2. Corporate-Driven Cause Marketing | Tata Tea & Janaagraha: Jaago Re Campaign

Tata Tea, the leading tea company in India, partnered with Janaagraha, a nonprofit working to improve the quality of life in urban India, in 2008 to encourage youth voter registration through interactive applications online. The campaign has an active social media presence with a YouTube channel, Facebook (over 35,000 fans), Twitter (~3,000 followers), Orkut (~13,000 members) and a dedicated website. The website has a clear call to action, asking youth to “wake up and make the change with Jaago Re!” Supporters are given specific and easy steps to follow to help, whether it be networking with like-minded people, volunteering or sharing inspirational stories.

Impact: As I have been studying cause marketing campaigns in depth for the past few months, I am particularly inspired and impressed by this campaign’s ability to motivate 625,000 people to register as voters. By communicating loud and clear and actively engaging on the platforms where their target audience spend the most time, Jaago Re has proven itself as a model for similar cause marketing campaigns. As the Georgetown professor and marketing expert Gaurav Mishra said on his insightful blog, “…voter registration campaigns like Tata Tea’s Jaago Re have caught the imagination of urban India’s web-savvy youngsters, with their effective use of social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube.”

3. NonProfit-Driven Marketing & Communications | Pratham Books ‘Read India’

This campaign particularly has touched me because I was such a bookworm as a child. I would spend hours on end in the public library reading my way through the children’s library. Pratham Books, the winner of IndiaSocial Case Challenge 2010, is a nonprofit trust that aims to make children’s literature accessible, with the goal of placing a book in the hands of every child. Pratham actively engages its stakeholders through its blog and its various accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube. The coolest thing they do (in my humble opinion) is uploading books on Scribd for people to read and share with others through a Creative Commons license.

Impact: Through their active presence online, they have received offers of support from authors and translators, recruited social volunteers (see photo below) and launched a listening/engaging program with their followers and fans. Although this is a relatively young initiative, they have done a fantastic job of engaging online and I look forward to see what they do next.

India occupied an exclusive place in my heart many years ago. And it just keeps growing. I look forward to seeing what great things the Indian people, companies and nonprofits do next to create social impact through social media.

For more information on social media in India, here is a great visual overview.


Chile In A Glass

In USA on July 3, 2011 by CJ Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Wines of Chile (WoC) is an organization that is committed to promoting the quality and image of Chilean wine throughout the world.  WoC’s 85 member wineries represent 85% of Chile’s bottled wine exports.  The Chilean Wine Industry is a profitable sector and saw a 13.5% increase in export sales this past April, which is a 500 million dollar return. This increase is in export sales follows a 47.3% rise in prices.  After doing some research on WoC, I came across their strategic plan for 2020. The goal of this plan to become the number one producer of sustainable and diverse premium wines from the New World, reaching exports of bottled wine of US$3 billion by the year 2020.  Prior to finding this plan, I had just watched a video that I saw on entitled “Social Media Revolution” that did a great job of detailing the importance and relevance of social media in our society.

This video shows how effective social media is nationally and globally. I immediately wondered if the WoC had included any social networking elements or components to their Strategic Plan 2020.  Of course they did, however they aren’t flushed out into any specific detail.  WoC highlighted in their plan that the “explosion of social networks allows direct low cost, high frequency, and world-wide communication and interaction with consumers.” In order to capitalize on this opportunity WoC’s plans to “actively participate in the social networks in which our target consumers participate and inform themselves, thereby establishing Wines of Chile as a honest and credible voice with respect to the quality of diversity of Chilean Wine.” WoC seems to be pretty active on the popular social networking sites, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  They engage followers and fans in creating conversations.  The number of fans, followers, and views they have a relatively low, however if the tactics (that weren’t included in the plan) implemented are successful they should increase.  An article on encourages the wine industry to embrace social networking to promote their products and employ knowledgeable individuals to control the social networking messaging.

According to, a Chilean based wine and tourism website, “it is very difficult to measure how many of online ‘fans’ actually buy the products because of this interaction; nonetheless, it is a good way to receive feedback and suggestions to learn what consumers want.” is correct in some respects, it is hard to track if your social networking fans, followers and viewers are actually consumers, however maybe creating social media specific promotions and “QR codes“, can give WoC’s a better advantage in reaching their 2020 goal.


Chilean Volcano Causes News Feeds To Erupt

In Chile on June 25, 2011 by KHughes Tagged: , , ,

Can you imagine- rushing to the airport, thrilled and excited for your trip to New Zealand or Australia.  You step into the airport and you see “cancelled” posted all across the airport monitors.

One of the worst things ever, cancelled flights, and not just a few cancelled flights, hundreds and for weeks.  Recently, Chilies’ own Puyehue volcano erupted, leaving volcanic ash to cloud the airways leaving many airlines in a state of crisis, with thousands of people demanding information.

LAN, a Chilean based airline, has taken to social media as a form of crisis communication, providing a forum for updates and conversations during the horrific Puyehue volcano eruption.

Social Media as Crisis Communication

When using social media as crisis communication, one has to wonder, are people actually utilizing it?  If I were worried about my flight being cancelled, Facebook and/or Twitter would probably not be the first place I would think to check.  If airlines are set to utilizing these social media platforms to reach consumers during a crisis, they also need to be dedicated to promoting these platforms on a daily basis for their everyday flight information. Easy ways to do this would be through update emails and/or texts to direct consumers with links to the site, even QR codes would be great to introduce costumers to the airlines social media presence.  In this way, clients would get accustomed to using these platforms as an additional tool to access airline data.  As a consumer, I appreciate the effort on behalf of the airlines; they recognize that social media is an easy way to reach people.  However, they need to be committed to directing people to these social media forums, in order to have an effective platform for all their information, not just crisis communication.

Needless to say, I think it’s important to utilize these social media tools to engage their clients especially during a crisis. Since LAN Airlines has established both a Facebook and Twitter presence, it is important for them to draw users to both platforms equally, not just solely stick to one, or use one site more than the other.

Social Media Crisis Communication Content

After looking at the LAN Airlines Twitter and Facebook accounts, it looks as if a large part of their content is currently concentrating on the crisis, repeating over and over the link to check flight status.  Even though the crisis is the forefront of the conversation, LAN Airlines should look into finding additional ways to engage their users on a regular basis, not just posting a link repetitively to check on flight status, as is in this crisis case.

LAN Airlines Twitter actually does a better job than Facebook by engaging and answering their customers; however they shouldn’t just work on one platform.  If they have a establish a presence on other social media outlets they need to be committed to updating and engaging their users on each outlet.  They could do this by asking customers their opinions of what they would like to see when this type of situation occurs. Obviously, this opens up to the possibility of horrific comments, but it shows the consumer that the company is interested and open to their opinions.

Another option of engaging users is video content.  The Jet Blue snow storm crisis of 2007 utilized video to reach out to its customers to apologize and take responsibility for the problems that were on hand. Another aspect to consider, since consumers are already searching and reaching out to these platforms, is to regularly offer deals and discounts.  Of course, in this case, the crisis is the forefront, but since the airline has already engaged the consumer, they could take it a step further, utilizing client presence to advertise their promotions.  In this way they are able to make light of the situation as well as allow customers to think of Facebook and Twitter as go-to sites when making plans or getting airline information.

In the end, LAN Airlines is just scratching the surface of social media crisis communication.  For an airline, that’s pretty good; hopefully, over time, we will see growth in this area.  Maybe they will read my blog and reformulate their social media crisis plan?  Probably not, but here’s hoping.