How Informal Should Corporates get on Social Media?

The diversification of business communication from traditional media i.e. T.V., Radio and Print, to social media has brought with it new professional challenges in terms of how formal or informal a corporate communiqué should be.

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have since their inception in Kenya been used for informal person to person communication such as socializing and networking. They have been so informal to an extent that they had been banned and are still being banned in a number of institutions, both professional and academic because they are considered to be a distraction thus hindering an individual’s productivity.

SocialMediaPuzzle.jpgThe language used in conversations is highly informal. LOL, LMAO, LMFAO, NKT, and so on, are common conversational phrases that one constantly comes across. Members of the infamous Generation X keep getting nagged by members of the ‘previous’ generations to provide crash courses on basic language use to help them navigate through feedback they are receiving on their social media pages.

Two questions emerge out of all this with regards to corporate social media communication: Should corporates adapt to this informal nature of social media communication? Or should they squeeze in formalities of traditional media into social media?

The challenging fact is that unlike traditional communication channels that have been tried and tested for decades, we are still in the trial and error period with regards to social media communication. Most corporates are still trying to figure out how to fit social media into their communication strategies. There is almost a unanimous agreement that corporates need a social media presence but most are yet to figure out how to leverage on this new communication platform.

It is a valid argument that social media has been an instant success due to its informal nature. The world is full of formalities, from work, school and even church. The fact that people have an avenue to express their thoughts and ideas without having to worry about vocabulary, grammar or other formalities is icing on the cake.

Corporates should figure out how to fit in their communication and marketing strategies to social media while still maintaining the element of informality that comes with it. This is simply because majority of people on social networking sites are the youthful generation who strongly believe that “it’s never that serious.”

Companies should stop posting press statements and releases on their social networking sites because this is “too serious” for social media hence a misuse of the platform. Unless of course you are a news media site which is an exception to the rule. Ensure to keep things short, simple and casual, and you will never go wrong.


What’s Missing From Your LINKEDIN Profile?

Today’s post is courtesy of Beyond the Hype posted by Lois Paul. 


One of my particular passions is to help the executives I work with become stronger storytellers. I always advise them to make sure that the first place an influencer or conference organizer looking for an article source or a speaker will go to “check them out” is LinkedIn, so it’s really important that they have an effective profile. I then proceed to audit their current profile and tell them the missing elements they need to fix to help them stand out from the crowd. 

There have been posts on how to put together an effective LinkedIn profile, including this one I noticed while Tweeting during Sunday’s less than scintillating Super Bowl. They include basic recommendations such as clearly listing your name, your title, your company, your actual location (as close as you can get) up front, along with your key industry. Industry can be tricky for IT professionals who participate in other industries such as Financial Services, Health Care or Manufacturing because you can only choose one industry on LinkedIn. However, you can highlight Skills in other sections of your profile if you determine that it’s important that you are associated with your core industry first and your IT expertise second.

The biggest missed opportunity on LinkedIn for most executive spokespeople, in my humble opinion, is the Summary option in the Background section. Most people list their chronological job experience in this section without a Summary. A good Summary is a few short paragraphs that describe what you do today for your company, threading in the key  messages or themes you can talk about and demonstrating the strengths you bring to the market, your company and your customers. If done right, the Summary definitely is about the individual, but it also provides goodness and positioning for your company.

Here’s an example of a great Summary that Mark Bernardo, GM of Automation Software for GE Intelligent Platforms, includes in his LinkedIn profile:

1“I have worked in industrial automation as a supplier from every angle—engineering, new product introduction, quality and customer support. With over 25 years of experience, I help customers optimize their processes and increase business performance. To remain competitive, to keep their municipalities or shareholders happy, I believe facilities will need to find ways to empower today’s workforce—a workforce that wears multiple hats, has increased responsibilities, and needs to do more with less at a faster pace than ever before. 

Knowledge workers are critical to the equation; we need to help them use technology to free up their time so they can work smarter. At GE, we are working to change the game through the use of SCADA, mobility, integrated analytics, collaboration and high performance solutions. Through an enhanced paradigm called Real Time Operational Intelligence (RtOI), we can marry these capabilities together and provide the right information to the right people with the right context when and where they need it so they can make the right decision for their operation. I’m proud to lead the Automation Software division here at GE Intelligent Platforms and add our thumbprint to the innovations taking place in this space.”

Mark is a very effective spokesperson and this Summary makes it clear to anyone who checks LinkedIn what his expertise and views are before they contact him. He also does a good job of highlighting what his company does for customers.

Beyond the Summary, your Experience should include not just a litany of jobs you’ve held and timeframes for those positions, but a short description of what you did for each job that highlights your expertise that would make you a good spokesperson. Only the most recent positions that are relevant to your current position and thought leadership platform need to be fully fleshed out.

Another missed opportunity is the Contact Information section of the LinkedIn profile. Most of these include links to corporate websites or blogs, Twitter handles, and possibly email. What’s usually missing is a brief sentence or two that describes your passion or interest, such as “Contact Sam Smith to discuss how the Internet of Things is impacting the semiconductor industry” or “Mary Jones is always interested in a lively discussion of all things mobile, especially related to how companies need to make sure they are balancing the security of mobile devices and the need to address employees desire to BYOD.” You see the difference?

Overall, LinkedIn is not just an online public resume repository. And it’s not just a place you can use to find a new job. It’s a place for someone to get a feel for you and your background and to sample your thinking and your knowledge. They can learn more about you with a more thorough LinkedIn profile that has you telling them what you do and why you do it, backed up by any relevant blog posts, articles or white papers you have written, as well as video interviews or podcasts. We recently were able to secure a keynote speaking opportunity for one of our clients based on the strength of a video clip we shared with the conference organizer. Having that kind of work sample on your LinkedIn profile is a great resource that may create great results like that for you.

Because LinkedIn is also a living breathing profile, it should be refreshed and updated regularly with new content that makes sure that any new aspects of your work or your thinking are appropropriately represented. If you purchase a higher level participation in LinkedIn, it will guide you (in some cases, to an annoying degree) to make these updates frequently. They are worthwhile, even if you do have to spend some time “turning off” the helpful reminders.

2Last point:  I personally am not a fan of the Endorsements on LinkedIn.  This does not imply any disrespect to anyone who has endorsed me for any of the skills I have listed.  I just don’t find this section helpful so I don’t use it at all.

Recommendations can serve as more powerful third-party endorsements to help learn a bit more about a person. However, I still firmly believe that the best way to represent who you truly are on LinkedIn is to use your own words in the Summary and Contact sections in particular, as well as the links to published materials or videos.  Don’t miss the opportunity to make LinkedIn an effective way to position you as someone who would be a great source for an article or a white paper on  the key themes or issues you care about.  If you skip this step, you may not make the cut for the busy editor or show organizer who is moving fast.

The Selfie Culture

Here is a definition of what selfies are courtesy of Wikipedia.

“A selfie is a type of self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often associated with social networking. They are often casual, are typically taken either with a camera held at arm’s length or in a mirror, and typically include either only the photographer or the photographer and as many people as can be in focus. Selfies taken that involve multiple people are known as “group selfies”.”

Love them or hate them, they are here to stay. Selfie was named “word of the year” in 2013 by the Oxford English Dictionary.The popularity of selfies is largely due to how easy they are to create and share and also the control they give to the photographer over how they present themselves. Many women, and men, take photos that would characterize them as ‘attractive’ or ‘sexy’, birthing trends such as the ‘duck face’ which emphasized a person’s lips formed to mimic an exaggerated kiss.

First Family selfie — Michelle and Bo Obama, August 2013.There are various schools of thought regarding the psychology behind selfies. Some regard it merely as a tool to capture a moment to share with friends on or off social media. Others however associate this culture with narcissism and body image issues especially in young girls aged between 18-24 seeking approval from their peers. Whatever your reason for capturing a photo of yourself alone or with a friend, know that one million other photos are being taken  and shared each day. Even Michelle Obama is taking them.

Check out the infograph below titled ‘Selfie Syndrome – How Social Media is Making Us Narcissistic‘ courtesy of Best Computer Science Schools that paints a grim picture of the selfie phenomenon and the effects of excessive use of social media on an individual. You may want to evaluate yourself and your use of social media after reading the statistics.

There is however no reason why selfies should not be taken if it is merely for the reason to share with family, friends and fans a captured moment in your life. You can go here  for a guide to taking good selfies. Below is an infrograph shared from the page about what you should consider before, during and after taking a selfie as well as reasons behind most selfies. 


Why do you take selfies? Let us know on the comments section below!

10 things you never knew about Facebook

This article is courtesy of Daily Star written by Dave Snelling


HAPPY BIRTHDAY! As Facebook turns 10 today, here are some facts about the social network, including why the logo is blue…

Facebook, 10th Birthday, 10 fun facts, Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook usersHAPPY BIRTHDAY: Facebook turns 10 today [DAILY STAR ONLINE]
Facebook fans across the world will be popping champagne and eating cake today.

The social site is 10 years old and, although it might not be the coolest website anymore, it’s still one of the most popular.

Computer geek, Mark Zuckerberg, created Facebook in his Harvard university dorm, and it now has over a billion users worldwide.

So on its 10th birthday, here are some fun facts about Facebook.

FOUNDER: Mark Zuckerberg, left, founded Facebook 10 years ago [FACEBOOK]

1. The Facebook logo is blue because of founder Mark Zuckerberg’s colour blindness. The colour that he can see best is blue – decision made!

2. There are currently more than 1.25billion Facebook users across the world with more than 33million of them in the UK.

ORIGINAL: The site used a picture Al Pacino until it was removed in 2007 [FACEBOOK]

3. The original Facebook website had an image of a man’s face on it. Dubbed the “Facebook guy” it was recently revealed that the photo was actually Hollywood legend Al Pacino.

4. On average, users spend 20 minutes per day on Facebook. If you want to know just how many hours you’ve wasted on the social site, there’s even a calculator that will work it out.


5. Four days after Facebook went live it had just 650 users. On September 14, 2012, the team at Facebook watched the one-billionth user sign up.

6. Around 78% of all traffic to Facebook comes from our smartphones and we upload around 350million photos to the site every day.

SMART MOVE: Most of use our phones to check what’s going on on Facebook [FACEBOOK]

7. Internet entrepreneur Steve Chen worked at Facebook for a few months before quitting to set up a small website called YouTube!

8. Coca-Cola is the most “liked” company on Facebook with more than 79million fans giving it the thumbs up. Disney comes in second place with more than 46million likes and fashion label Converse is in third place.

WE LIKE: Coca-Cola has the most likes on Facebook [FACEBOOK/COCA-COLA]

9. According to the Guinness Book of Records, on March 30, 2013, Guru Shri Rajendraji Maharaj Jaap Club (India) achieved the most comments ever made on a Facebook post. A whopping 15,626,405 people decided to have their say on his page.

10. Finally, if you fancy taking Facebook off Mr Zuckerberg’s hands you’d better have a healthy bank balance… It will currently cost you a cool $134billion (£82billion) [KES11.5trillion].



Social Media: Facilitating County Progress

Here is an extract from an Internews article titled Social Media: How County Governments can Benefit by James Ratemo. 

“..gone are the days of one-way communication systems where governments were monopolies of information and only transmitted censored information to citizens. Today citizens have leeway to vent their frustrations on leadership via the social media and a government that cannot listen is doomed to lose touch with the grassroots. The social media even gives Kenyans in the Diaspora a chance to contribute to county governance debates, meaning the leadership is able to curate varied opinion that would enrich its decision-making process.

Already a section of governors have borrowed a leaf from corporates and are quite active on social media. The Nairobi County Governor Facebook page for instance had over 138,000 likes as at November 11 2013 [currently over 148,000]. The governor has used the platform to communicate the work of his office and to arouse debate among his followers.

Dr. Kidero has even gone a notch higher to use the Facebook page to announce all upcoming events of his office and sharing key recordings from past events. This has seen the governor garner more and more followers thus able to track what Nairobi residents or other stakeholders think about the county’s projects and activities. His therefore is an example of how county governments can engage Kenyans on social media.

A quick survey across Facebook, Twitter and other social networks indicate that most counties are yet to establish official presence on the platforms. The county pages littering Facebook are either being run unofficially by individuals and contain no meaningful updates from the counties.

With more and more Kenyans now able to access the Internet via mobile phones, it is easy to stay connected and engage county leaders around the clock. Since it is impossible for county leaders to meet all their subjects one-on-one, engaging a majority of them via  social media platforms would be a sure way of receiving useful feedback. It therefore means leaders should develop a mechanism of monitoring what their subjects are saying on the social media for clues on what should top the county priority list.

Just like corporates have taken to social media to enhance customer care, county governments, through their communication desks should develop social media monitoring tools and policies to ensure constant touch with their constituents. As county governments struggle to have working structures in place, they need input of the citizens to exactly know their needs and wants. Constant surveillance of the social media can partly tell what citizens think about projects or plans being implemented across the counties.

Travis Crayton, an American social media enthusiast says “it is not enough for county governments (or any governments, really) to simply have accounts and post press releases. The pertinent questions should be: What value does these tweets and posts add to government? How do these posts advance citizen engagement and how do they improve the lives of citizens and make government better?”

Current trends indicate that most frustrated citizens opt to unleash their anger online. It is therefore upon county leadership to address issues behind such anger after crosschecking with the offices concerned.”

For the full article, click here.

To add to James Ratemo’s words, it is empirical that counties start and run pages that allow full interaction with the public. It could break down all the sectors in the county and dedicate a set amount of time to give information, answer queries, enact suggestions from the public and give a full evaluation.

The public also needs to be educated on their right to information. With this in mind, people can put pressure on their governor to perform office duties as is expected of them. This can also work to reduce corruption and other inconsistencies that often present themselves in public office regarding projects and budgetary allocations.

Accountability and transparency should be the themes of each county page set up. It would make it easier for voters gauge the developmental progress their governor has brought about and decided whether or not he/she deserves a second term. 

From this list of best and worst performing governors, those in their respective categories can and should make use of social media to analyse the social landscape and work to improve less that satisfactory areas.

Just as all organizations post only the good aspects of their company for PR purposes, this bias is likely to present itself in many if not all of these county pages. A way to curb this is have a separate entity not affiliated with the governors’s office manage the page.

The challenge may arise when rogue Kenyans use the platforms provided to conduct a witch-hunt, post malicious or false/inaccurate comments or even use them as advertising platforms. Kenyans need to be educated on the need to use the pages as a means to facilitate development and not stir up controversies that would only hamper development.

Social Media Wednesday: Lupita

Lupita-WikipediaShe has, at this point in her career, received over 30 awards from almost every prestigious award giving entity in Hollywood. Her name is currently being mentioned more times than seasoned Hollywood actresses, many of whom are singing her praises. Not unless you have been living in the earth’s core for the past three months, Lupita Nyong’o is showing the world that Kenya has more to offer than long distant runners, the Maasai, wildlife and being the homeland of the first black president of the U. S of A.

With an average of 18, 000 Google searches per month (Google Adwords), information of this multi-award winning actress is very much sought after. Note that this number is not inclusive of searches made on online entertainment sites and other mediums that share information about this rising celebrity. This is attributed to her performance in 12 Years a Slave by Director Steve McQueen.

instagramSocial media is an important tool in that it allows users access to information in real time.  If any given person wants to know what Lupita is wearing to award ceremonies, who she has being hanging out with or what nail polish colour she fancies, a quick look at her Instagram account will answer your questions. A great deal of the information shared on social media about the star, text or visual, is not available on other sites.

It is worthy to note that Lupita does not always run her Twitter or Facebook accounts since most tweets and posts are in third person. Her certified Twitter account has only been active since early January 2014 but currently has more than 33, 300 followers. Lupita has been on Instagram since December 2013 and currently has over 125, 000 followers while  her Facebook fan page that has been running since December 2012 recently reached over 112,000 likes.

In Lupita’s case, Facebook is the preferred social media tool not only because of how long it has been running but also because Facebook allows integration with other social media sites especially Twitter and Instagram. Facebook pages also allow for more information to be share than is possible on Twitter and users can interact freely with the information shared.

However, given the numbers, Instagram is the most used social media site that fans use to gain information about the star. It could be that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, wouldn’t you agree?

Uhuru-lupitaIn the new media age, many feel that if an event was not documented on social media then it never really happened. This could have prompted Lupita to join both Instagram and Twitter in order to remain relevant in today’s fast paced society. Fans can now reach her on the three popular sites whenever they want a piece of her.