Sunday, October 3, 2010

Is Social Media the New Black?

Erm... not really.

It is more than that. Social media is more than merely trendy or fashionable items. It has become an integral part of our lives. It has changed the way we communicate with others, and the way we assimilate information.


My mom didn't start Facebooking until i heavily lobbied her into doing so, almost a year ago. She was not too comfortable with about publishing her personal information on the Internet. But that was last time. The world is round, things change, and now, mom is really one Facebook Superstar - sharing things like "Selamat pagi semua. Hari ini SK Ampang akan mengadakan majlis berbuka puasa," or "akan pulang ke Felda Lubuk Merbau, Kedah hari ini'" or "baru lepas makan ayam masak merah yang anak masak. Sangat sedap." See. She's now comfortably sharing about where she works, and where her hometown is, and what she just ate, with the whole world. (Okay, I actually exaggerated the "sangat sedap" part. She never actually said that, alright). Her updates attract umpteen feedbacks, and when she’s not around for a couple of days, people will start looking for me to look for her. ^_^

My mother is so attached to Facebook that there was this one time I had to actually UPLOAD a picture of sambal telur that I cooked for our sahur and TAGGED her, just because she was so attached to her Facebook and refused to part from it. Well that’s one of the occasional "threats" Facebook brought to our family institution. My family institution. On top of those little threats, Facebook does good to my mom. It brought her back to her long lost friends from secondary school, and their bond is in fact getting stronger, with constant informal meet ups and formal gatherings.


Our lives have been affected by the emergence of social media in many ways. If the idea of social media is still vague to you, here’s a cool video that explains it, in plain English (as they put it).

Click HERE to watch the video.

(The video literally explains to us what social media is all about, in a very interesting manner).


Cool video, isn't it. ;) So alright, how are our lives affected by the social media?

As end users, we have experienced it ourselves how social media made our lives easy (or complicated, depending on how we handle it) –
Facebook (a social network) connects us with each other, and allows us to know which friend is getting married soon, who just got a baby, who just bought a flashy sports car, and who just fell off a mango tree.

Blogger and Wordpress (blogs) let us share our longer version of stories. Flickr (a photography sharing website) lets us share our photos and see those amazing photos from others. YouTube (video sharing website) offer us those entertaining videos we never even thought exist! Twitter (a microblog site) lets us catch up with all the things we’re interested in, all in one simple interface. Oh, I L-O-V-E Twitter! Not to forget Wikipedia (a collaboration / authority building website), which answers our questions to virtually everything!

So that’s us now – living in the midst of Web 2.0 technology, surrounded by the waves of social media emergence. Access to information was never this quick and handy.

Businesses too, earn substantial benefits from social media – particularly in terms of brand building / positioning, marketing and advertising, which lead to favorable bottom line. Think about reaching millions
of target customers at very low (or no) cost!


If you are a marketer, chances are, social media is a major agenda for you. Wide accessibility of information is the key to advertising through social media. Also, the cost can be substantially lower than the traditional advertising methods. It is THE way to advertise your business now. Try to check out this Business FM's website – it has a good collection of podcasts on social media (which might be useful to us all someday).

Facebook, Foursquare, YouTube and Twitter are some examples of social media platform that we can take advantages from – financially and non-financially.


The “Like” button on Facebook is legendary. With more than 500 million active users, the market Facebook
offers is abundant. Studies show that advertisers on Facebook reported positive returns on investment.

For a start, we can use the free Facebook Page, Event, Application and Group to promote. If you are selling consumables like scarves, kuih raya, kids clothings and cupcakes, chances are, you will get a strong customer base if you advertise through Facebook. Almost everyone we has a Facebook account, right? So why not make full use of your account!

The “Like” function is very powerful. “Likes”, tags and comments have sporadic effect. On average, a Facebook user has 130 friends – so we all know what happens when you tag me on you photo, then I comment on it, then my other friend “Likes” it, don’t we? :)


Foursquare is a location-based social networking website, that allows its users to “check-in” each time each time they arrive at a place, using mobile devices. The check-in notifications can be updated straight to Facebook and Twitter. If you’re a business owner, you can save your premise location info in Foursquare's database. You can also reward your customers based on their frequency of checking-in to your premises. Easy way to encourage customer loyalty, isn't it?

For me, I think foursquare works wonders on promoting restaurants. If people eat good food, I can almost guarantee that they will spread the words.

Individual users are also indirectly promoting your business each time they check-in, especially when they choose to broadcast their whereabouts in Facebook and Twitter. Better still, if they add remarks like “yummy fresh seafood – eat till you drop” when they check in at Flaming Steamboat in Bandar Sunway. If you are a constant food-hunter, you would feel sinful not to Google for Flaming!

Even better, if they embed a photo on their status updates. A photo like this is one example:

Clockwise From left: Te'ah, Hanee, Zana, Fizie, E and Wani (standing)

Such photo can tempt to check out the crime scene where you gobbled all those fresh prawns and scallops and what else, oh, that cute panda fish cake...

The interesting bit is (as you can see if you clicked the link above), a Google Map is attached to each location, so in Flaming’s case, your friend can easily track that crime scene and repeat the case. ;)


The easiest example of local-flavor power of YouTube is Zee Avi. Here’s what happened:

Shortly after posting self-styled videos on You Tube, singer songwriter Zee Avi woke up to 3,000 emails one morning. One offered her a recording contract with Brushfire Records. Since then, Avi left her home in Kuala Lumpur for Los Angeles. Avi performs melodic, melancholy songs tinged with irrepressible optimism.


If you’re passionate about performing arts, YouTube and Vimeo are great platforms to promote your works. More helpful if you really have the talent (*wink*). Of course, Zee Avi might be one-in-a-million kind of case, but that is how easily you can take the advantage of YouTube to promote your works, and eventually earn profit from it.

You can also use YouTube to show people “how things work”. Embedding a YouTube video on your advertisement page makes the content more interesting, hence, more convincing.


I’m not too sure if Twitter can be as highly effective (free) advertising tool for fresh businesses. Twitter effect is more visible if you’re some big shots – with thousands of millions (yeah, Ashton Kutcher has more than 6 millions) followers. But we also can benefit from Twitter. What I can suggest you do with a Twitter account is this – you can follow people or companies, whose information you’re interested in and/or benefit from. Your twitter app works like a "one-stop centre" for all the information updates.

As for me, I follow newspapers like Berita Harian and the Star and a few others. The bird will do the work - all the latest news are being fed to my Twitter app, and I only click on the link of the news that I am interested in. Following the Prime Minister's Office's Twitter was really helpful during the tabling of 2011 Budget, where there were real-time updates. The tweets came really handy for me (and many others) who did not access to the live broadcast on the television. In short, Twitter gives me a quicker access to information. Saves myself from visiting their separate websites, makes my life easy. Bliss, isn’t it. :D

My personal favorite is Harvard Business Review – they share cool management every so often – very simple, not the boring corporate-ish stuff. Good for side reading. Latest on my list are Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson (for the love of food, but I’m still a lousy cook, hehehe).

So my dear ladies and gentlemen, all in all, we can see that social media does more than allowing us to connect with each other. The technology allow us to boost our business potential. It’s easily accessible, and, most of the time, it’s free! Not to mention VERY interesting too! :D

So guys, lets leverage on the technology – promote your business on social media - Web 2.0 works wonders!

Signing off,


p.s.: Haven’t got enough of Facebook? Here’s more.
Social Network the movie, coming to a cinema near you. ;)

p.p.s: Something's wrong with the formatting. Already stuck here for hours just to work on the formatting. I surrender. So black-and-white it is... Hehe.



Nurwahida Mohd Yaakub


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