Social media has become increasingly essential to our online experience. It is also having a significant impact in the world of business. In this post, we posed some questions to Ingrid Riley, a leading figure in the ICT/tech industry in the region, to secure her views on social media in the Caribbean.
Although the man on the street would be hard-pressed to define “social media”, most of us access or use one of more of its manifestations every day. In a nutshell, “social media” are vehicles or channels for social interaction via the Internet. They include but is in no way limited to blogs (such ICT Pulse), microblogs (e.g. Twitter and Tumblr), social networks (e.g. Facebook and LinkedIn), wikis (such as Wikipedia) and multimedia (e.g. Flickr, YouTube and Pandora). According to Wikipedia, social media also refers to
the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.
In this post, we get some insight on social media in the Caribbean from Ingrid Riley, a social media trailblazer in Jamaica and the wider the Caribbean. Ingrid is the founder of ConnectiMass, a Digital Communications Company that helps Caribbean brands become Digital Rockstars via Digital Marketing Services and Tech Media. She is also the editor and publisher of SiliconCaribe.com, a double award-winning Caribbean Tech Blog, and the founder and host of Tech Events such as Kingston BETA and Caribbean BETA. Please free to share your views or add your perspective on how social media is affecting us and our business sector.
ICTP: How has social media changed the way in which we communicate in the Caribbean?
IR: In stunning and beautiful ways:
- As a social tool it has reconnected old friends, made possible online high school reunions, enabled love connections
- It has exposed people to new ways of spending their time – playing games… Angry Birds, Farmville and more, watching videos, live streams of events
- It has changed their interaction habits – in how they share themselves with their friends and the rest of the world – daily updates on Facebook, joining other social networks magazines and books they are reading, their photos, music, videos, beliefs via quotes, where they are (FourSquare check ins) and with whom
- It has given them new ways to express themselves – blogging (Jamaica Blog Awards), video blogs
- It has facilitated continued learning – online workshops, seminars, conferences, classes
- It has facilitated a fresh way of marketing their businesses, interact with potential customers, gather feedback, manage their relationships with customers, build communities around their brands, sell directly to people who want it, really get to know WHO their customers are and what they really want.
ICTP: What three (3) trends do you see happening in social media that we in the Caribbean should be aware of?
IR: Consumer power and what influences their buying habits; the rise in demand for Caribbean Content Online by worldwide audience; how businesses are using it to compete and stay relevant.
ICTP: Which one is better, Twitter or Facebook, and especially in the business setting?
IR: It depends on your objective. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin are all platforms, tools from which to select from once you are clear on what you want to achieve. Everything begins with a Why, then the how can follow.
ICTP: Why is it useful or necessary for businesses to have social media features incorporated into their business strategy?
IR: Because we are now in the Digital Age, the world of business has fundamentally and irrevocably changed. Period. Consequently, consumers have access to more information, choices and influences than ever before, so while on the one hand it is easier to connect with them, the real competition is for their attention – about making your product, service remarkable and what consumers are looking for. In short you have to go where consumers are and not with the same traditional mindset, but with an open, experimental and yes, social mentality.
ICTP: Are there any tips that you could provide businesses to increase the impact of their efforts in social media and/or social networking?
IR: Yes, start with knowing what you want to achieve and that might mean experimenting online with various tools, doing market research using different online tools to see where your customers are, who are they really, what do they want and then use that to inform a strategy that is likely to work well. Approach doing business in the Digital Age with openness, fresh eyes and a spirit of experimentation and learning.
So, any comments or questions for Ingrid?