Perception Is Reality

In economics there is a concept called diminishing marginal utility. Essentially, this concept states that as you utilize more of a good or commodity, the satisfaction or pleasure you derive from it decreases between each consumption.

So, if I was to eat one slice of pizza, followed by another slice, followed by a third slice, the utility I would derive from subsequent consumption would decrease.

I am beginning to entertain the idea, that social media has diminishing marginal utility.

Please don’t hate: after the utopia concept of the wonders that social media can do, people like Malcolm Gladwell and PR expert Geoff Livingston have moved away from social media.

It seems that the more eggs you put your basket in, the more baskets you have.
but the more emptier they begin to look. The more social media you utilize, the less control you have over it. There is too much decentralization and you cant always utilize them efficiently, and logistically speaking, it becomes too much of a hassle.

the result? poor social media policy.

The next time you hear, read, and subsequently discuss social media in terms of PR, think about how much utility can be derived, before it starts diminishing.

What do you think?

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David Clare writes a blog ‘The PR View’ at www.theprview.co.uk. David studies Public Relations and Marketing at the University of Lincoln. In his third and final year, he will graduate at the end of May this year. David wrote a dissertation on the uses of Twitter in Crisis Management and has a deep interest in the use of Social Media for Public Relations.

What Happened

On Tuesday 12 January, at 16.53 Haiti time, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti. This was quickly followed by two aftershocks, measuring 5.9 and 5.5 on the Richter scale.

The first aid relief didn’t arrive till two days later, by then an estimated 100,000 casualties were reported.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pete Codella, of Codella Marketing has an interesting video up on MyRaganTV about online newsrooms:

What Every Media Site Should Have

I am a very strong advocate of online newsrooms and I understand that generally having a presence online is one of the best things you can do. Why is this? Well, One of the reasons is that it costs close to nothing to build your brand online, specially with free social media services. This is especially great for students attempting to stand out for prospective employers.

There’s many other reasons that Pete Codella himself highlights in the video as benefits of having an online presence, and no wonder he has a successful, unique service, called NewsCactus. Just look at what NewsCactus clients are saying (navigate the website, as you learn more about the service).

However, there’s some things I disagree with. For one, Codella says,

“the more baskets your information is in, the more opportunities you have to rank high…”

It’s marvelous if a company can put its eggs in multiple baskets. But it only works when the company has enough eggs to show. More baskets mean less eggs per basket, and the less visible they are.

If a company uses all the social media and uses their website or other online presence as a center point of consolidation, this is good. But there are two issues that one must take into account:

  1. Can you keep up with the need to constantly update your various presences with relevant information?
  2. Is it feasible, or even necessary? In other words, do you have a following, or a target market that you can reach by expanding across the multiple networks.

It should go without saying, that a company must build its multiple networks one by one (or simultaneously if it is affordable, and meets the conditions mentioned above.

It is a really progressive idea to get involved in all facets and be everywhere, but in a situation of crisis, it may become much more unmanageable.

A simple example is the very prominent Australian bank, BankWest. BankWest has multiple YouTube accounts. EverydayOlympics has been stagnant for over a year now, and HappyBanking has been quiet for an equally long time. This is the same with their Twitter account.

The idea is, if it doesn’t need to be done, don’t do it. It’s Ockham’s Razor of sorts. And while I admire Pete Codella’s unique online newsroom service, I believe that being ubiquitous doesn’t work all the time.

Here’s the entire history of media technology. In two sentences.

In the past, history has shown us that societies organized themselves around technologies. Current trends in social media show us that the new technologies have become so flexible, that we can organize them the way we already are, simply because the current cycle of societal reorganization has been completed.

The Short Version

Get on Twitter. now. If you’re already on it, start using it. Actively. While you’re at it, follow me, @TabishB. Don’t know who else to follow? Read this article on how to find people to follow.

The 140 Version

Okay, so this version is longer than 140 characters. But it’s worth reading.

As I mentioned earlier, societies used to organize themselves around media. And we still do today. Except, this only happens when a major change in media comes. So the internet was a major change, but the new technologies are so radical, that they are morphable. Due to its simple nature, Twitter has achieved complex functions. It’s like the sharpest Ockham’s Razor you will come across.

You may have heard that Twitter is great for networking, getting news, yadda yadda. This is only the tip of the iceberg and a very generalized notion. It isn’t enough for you to understand the power that you truly wield. Therefore, several of my friends/colleagues who happen to be on Twitter gave their insight on how they’ve aligned the technology to themselves, instead of aligning themselves to the technology. These friends, mind you, started off with no followers. But communities were formed around similar topics, and lo and behold, we built momentum.

RRSP At No Cost!

The entertaining, and engaging @clickflickca uses Twitter like an RRSP. Investing in different people, he’s been able to grow value through them to benefit both. A win-win situation! This is good PR! Clickflickca also practices #ICE: Interact, Communicate, Engage which is what social media is all about!

Roommate Found!

While Roomster, and Easy Roommate, might be great services, they’re a thing of the past. Our friend @AdamVincenzini of Paratus Communications and The Comms Corner actually found his roommate, Laurence (@blogtillyoudrop) through Twitter! Now, that’s really cool! Whoever claimed a stark difference between “online” and “real” friends, clearly haven’t met these two!

Causes, Anyone?

Whether its the fight against Thalassemia or a consolidated effort to eradicate global poverty, Twitter is great for mobilizing the community. @blessedAyesha has done just that. She has harnessed the power of social media to raise awareness about Thalassemia not only in Pakistan, but abroad. The world truly comes together, and a movement that’s gaining a lot of momentum in Pakistan, is working to building momentum for the same cause elsewhere. Let me hear you say, “synergy!”

Speaking of Synergy…

My #BeMyGuest guest (what a tongue twister!) @ThePRView uses Twitter to add to his social media prowess by cross-promoting his blog. And as a student, it has allowed him to gain valuable work experience and understanding of Twitter’s use for Crisis Management!

Whats Next?

It’s quite evident that Twitter can really get things done for you, if you know what you want. Ask yourself this:

What is my goal? What task would I like to accomplish? How can I leverage Twitter to do this?

Of course, the answers will come as you begin to immerse yourself in the company of blue birds. They’re still coming to me! How do YOU use Twitter?

If you were to ask the founders of TwitVid a question, what would it be?

I’m going to be meeting up with one of the co-founders sometime this week to talk coffee, lunch, and all things twitter, including TwitVid. If you have questions, please tweet them to me @TabishB.

I would love for everyone to retweet this, and use the hashtag #tvidint (short for twitvid interview).

Thank you all for participating!

In the recent weeks that I have become active on Twitter (@TabishB), I have read many wonderful posts about how it is a key resource in crisis management. My new friend, David Clare (@thePRview) of The PR View has some wonderful posts on the use of Twitter in crisis management.

Twitter Enables Communication – The MLEE Effect

I have considered social media to be part of civil society, and as such, platforms such as Twitter allow for the democratic participation of audiences who are now able to take on their roles as authors. Communication takes on its true form: multi-lateral, engaging, and empowering.

So, what has this got to do with Pakistan? Well you see, in recent times, there have been a multitude of terrorist attacks in Pakistan, the most recent one in Lahore just over a day ago. People die, property is destroyed, the economy is hit, and there is general chaos. This can be summed up as hazard and outrage as discussed by Lachlan & Spence (to be explained in an article that will follow).

Twitter is Accessible – How The Pakistani Telecom Sector Makes This Possible

And everyone knows, that Pakistan has one of the cheapest mobile telecommunications system available (Look at some ads here). The most poor too, can afford a cellphone. I myself have seen sweepers and peons (with a meagre salary of less than Rs. 5,000 a month) carrying a cellphone. Somehow, the need to communicate takes precedence over physiological needs (I wonder if this is a peculiar case that Maslow did not foresee).

Advantages

Many times, instead of dispersing from a site of a terrorist attack, citizens begin gathering around ground zero. A second timed explosion hits the same area, and since a larger crowd has gathered, the explosion causes more damage. The first explosion is usually an attention grabber, and the main course (so to say) is the second attack.

So, in cases like these, it seems like a desirable idea to utilize Twitter to manage the crisis: If the local township governments use a Twitter account where the rest of the local citizens can tweet, reporting about the missing or dead, may allow for quick, safe compilation of statistics. In turn, the townships can submit local reports to the provincial authority to build a consolidated report. Twitter also allows for the township to manage outrage (at the crisis, and post-crisis stage) by communicating directly with its audience.

Psychologically, people have a need to take action. The logical thing to do is rush to the aid of fellow citizens. But because this is hazardous, the need to take action can be diverted to Tweeting, providing some reduction in outrage. Tweeting about missing, injured, or the dead with specific hashtags (may I recommend township name followed by type of case: #Clifton-missing or #Saddar-injured) to the relevant township Twitter account will allow for more effective (targeted) mobilization of resources on part of authorities.

By the same token, communicating about updates about the missing or injured reduces the burden other media carry about the crisis. For example, the Clifton township may reply to my tweet about a missing friend, saying

@TabishB Jehangir Dost has been located. Location: JPMSO Ward A #Clifton-missing

Jehangir Dost, by the way, is a spin off of John Doe, Pakistani style.

If the governments have a local tracking system and assign ticket numbers on a case-by-case basis, they may tweet the ticket number in circumstances where a situation needs more explanation (which the 140 character-limit may not allow).

Wow. Really.

Yes, Twitter has its limits. And the effective utilization also depends on the unique nature of crises, how they are currently managed and by whom. In addition, current practices must be evaluated to see if Twitter may in fact be a worthy addition (of which I have no doubt). But integration is key!

And, at the end of the day, we have one more social medium with which to work. Twitter is great for business! If you learn to use it for crisis management, the by-product is knowing the system well enough to be able to utilize it for other purposes.

Technologies are not limited by their functionality, they are limited by how we utilize them. Functional content is king.

Recently, I gave a 5 minute talk, a call-to-action about the World Partnership Walk in McGill University to some 50 students and several other adults. When I was writing down what I was going to say, my heart started beating fast.

It was because for the first time that I’ve told a story, It meant something to me. It was about empowerment. It was about hope, and about confidence in the future. It was about the generosity and leadership.

For the first time, I realized that I could speak about the positive side of international development and refrain from using words like “poverty” and emotional blackmailing. Because, truly, in the 25 years (going on 26) that the World Partnership Walk has been around, Canadians have shown nothing but proactive, meritocratic involvement in the issue.

So, this is what I spoke to. Canadian values, and the results. I went straight to the specific examples, down to the names and the work that was done. The story I told was of Kokilaben from a village in Gujarat, and how Canadians had empowered them to ask questions about their future and make choices about what was important to them. I saw many smiling faces, and many nods.

While I wish I had water before stepping up, I didn’t get a chance. I’m never one to be frightened by large audiences and I remember being on stage since I was at least 4 years old. That’s a long way back, and quite a good memory to have.

But, for the first time in years I was nervous, because I was going to make myself vulnerable to my audience about how I felt. My passion about the walk. In hindsight, it served as a wonderful reminder about Kokilaben’s story.

The challenge was then to talk enough to make a personal connection, but not too much to make it a sap story. The time limit was 4 minutes. I wanted to get across key messages of the Walk that my audience could relate to, doing it in a setting that did not allow for interaction. Yet again, a reminder that those less fortunate don’t always have a voice.

I ended the speech by telling my audience why I walk. They were the reason why I walk.

After you have reviewed the World Partnership Walk website, please sponsor me. 100% of your donations go to the development work. Not a cent goes to admin costs.

Bridges That Unite is coming to Montreal this 7th March. Please come to see where your funds are going. This is an immersive, interactive, and inspiring exhibition. See where your donations are going. For more information, please look at the official Bridges That Unite website.

About the Author…

Born in Karachi, Pakistan in an Adventist hospital, I grew up in a city where on one side I experienced poverty and oppression, while on the other I had the good fortune of Tabish Bhimani being a member of an upper middle-class business family...more...

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