Tag Archives: Caribbean

Do You Have Influence?

What is influence in an age of social media? Is it follower number? Is it having lots of heavy-hitter followers (even if the absolute numbers are small)? The answers to these questions are important to digital marketers.

Recently, there was a article declaring Ashton Kutcher, the former self declared “King of Social Media” had little influence. Ashton Kutcher, known to his fans as @aplusk, has 5.9 million fans. Can someone with 5.9 million fans have little influence?  The Northwestern University researchers said that a celebrity is taken more seriously when speaking about an area of expertise.  That’s true in all spheres of life. Would you take Tiger Woods’ opinion on astrophysics seriously?

Moreover, in the age of twitter spam, and various sites offering ways to instantly grow your twitter following, one is not quite sure who or what is following you. Most Twitter users are listeners and are not actively using Twitter. A true user is defined as someone following at minimum 10 people, has tweeted at least 10 times and has at least 10 followers (10-10-10). Only 21% of Twitters users meet these criteria. People who are active twitter users are likely to actively spread your content – through retweeting; through giving their opinions; and generally engaging others in discussion – very valuable when one wants to get a message out there! Retweet rate is one measure (not to exclusion!) used to determine a person’s influence and ‘interesting-ness’. However, 3% of retweets are about Justin Bieber – is he influential? Is interesting the same as influential? How does influence contend with sheer popularity/celebrity?

Clout, according to is dictionary definition, is driving people to action. Retweeting is an action. Klout declares itself the standard for influence.  Klout scores influence out of a 100 and is based on three areas – True Reach, Amplification, and Network Score. However, Klout scores @aplusk (Ashton Kutcher) at 97.He has badges for over 10,000 retweets; over 500 messages retweeted and the list goes on.

Klout does not only use Twitter, but has started looking at the person’s influence across other platforms, notably Facebook; unlike, say, twittergrader.com.  This is key in a region like the Caribbean. More than half of Twitter’s users use twitter through smart phones. Smart phones – Blackberrys, iPhones and the like – are at a premium in the Caribbean. In fact, Digicel Jamaica’s CEO declared that only 5% of Digicel’s 2 million subscribers are blackberry users.

The question of who has social media influence and how to measure it is far from settled. So again I ask, do you have influence?


Do you have influence? Courtesy of blog.iqmatrix.com



Verifiably Tweet!

Brand You!

Brand You!!  No more meekly contributing to the team to avoid being called ’nuff’. “Nuff-ness” is the new black! We all are trying to establish our areas of expertise and make that expertise known to others. The term that encapsulates this movement is personal brand management.  Personal branding concept refers to self-packaging – the way one dresses, one’s knowledge base, one’s presence both in the real and virtual world (though this distinction is beginning to wear thin).

Social media presence is a key component of personal brand. Econsultancy notes it took TV 13 years to reach 50 million users, but only took Facebook nine months to reach 100 million users! Some employers are even checking your social media profiles to make the decision whether to hire or not.

Portia Simpson-Miller and Bruce Golding

In Jamaica we have had some hilarious examples of the appropriation of twitter names (or handles or twitter real estate). As in the early days of the worldwide web, twitter names go fast and are available on a first come, first served basis. Bruce Golding has lost one of his possible twitter identities – @bruceJLP . This is not illegal – I am sure that there are other Bruces in the JLP. Portia Simpson-Miller (Jamaica’s Leader of the Opposition) has a number of ‘false’ handles in operation – @PNPPartyLeader, @portiadan100, @Portia Simpson (could this really be her?), and @portia03. These handles have been the source of much amusement in Jamaica – the tweets have been hilarious. A recent exchange was:

RT @marlonmusique: Edith is on the war path, wah yah guh do @bruceJLP•Outlaw wigs…That’ll shut her up, apologies in advance2 @elvajamaica

However, fun and joke aside, this represents serious breach to personal brand management. Suppose the satire is not as clear, then followers could think that they are really following you and that can confuse and adversely impact your personal brand.

Twitter has recognised this with the introduction of verification. Twitter says the accounts have to be public and actively tweeting to get verified. However, given the importance of personal brand management, shouldn’t the number of followers to the fake accounts matter?  After all it was celebrity impersonation which inspired verification, as in the case of Kanye West. Kanye said: “The heads of Twitter knew I didn’t have a Twitter [account]”(back in the day, of course!). Why should celebrity status alone not qualify one for verification?

Kanye West

I see a lot of celebrities who are confusingly not verified!  Usain Bolt is not verified! The three most popular Usain Bolt twitter accounts have 60,356 followers between them.  Donovan Bailey is not verified as well – despite attempts to be verified.  It is true that Donovan Bailey only has 101 followers, but he is a celebrity and given the importance of his brand and his attempt to be verified, shouldn’t he be considered? In his own words, “@support why am I not verified yet? EVERYONE please RT 11:08 AM Aug 21st “. Even @OPMJamaica (Office of the Prime Minister of Jamaica) is not verified.

Tweeters are not taking this official obscure system of verification lying down! We see the prevalence of  handles like @therealyendip, @officialasafa or @iamthececile. However that is not always enough. @realrogerebert is the fake one. The real one is actually @ebertchicago.

The only real solution to this is to ask the Twitter gods (or Biz Stone @biz) to open up the verification system.  Why not put together regional teams to help in the identification of celebrities? Twitter is now a worldwide phenomenon with over 18 million twitter users, been the subject of controversy in countries as far-flung as India and more. It is time to verify!! Make our global celebrities verifiably tweet!

Social Media and Life Lessons from Beauty Contests

Beauty pageants are very important in Jamaica – in the Caribbean. I still think Miss World first when I hear the name Cindy Breakspeare. There are the well-loved queens who people seem to remember forever – Cathy Levy, Sandra Foster, Terri-Karrelle Griffith (List of Miss Jamaica World – does anyone know where I can find a similar list for Miss Jamaica Universe?).

The quest to be queen

2010 was the year of Yendi Phillips – she was a second-time queen – having won Miss Jamaica World (2007) and now Miss Jamaica Universe. She is the girlfriend of Asafa Powell – only one of the fastest men in the world and previous holder of the men’s 100m title. She was both hated and loved. This emotion was captured on social media outlets – blogs, twitter and Facebook – and reflected in her numbers and the following – showing just how seriously Jamaicans take their beauty contests. None of my American friends that I asked (about 30) knew who Miss USA was. Interestingly, the only Miss USA they could remember was Vanessa Williams – due to the controversy surrounding her crown.

My tweep – @SeanABennett – made it a point to track Yendi’s progress. “This is fricking unbelievable. Yendi had 400 followers at 7:42 She now has 1,082 & the figures are growing (10:24pm). Today, 2,141 followers! Her Facebook fan page showed similar increase – from about 25,000 fans that fateful Miss Universe night to 36,287 fans today.

Social media has opened us up to a new way to chart our careers. Once we would look at our salaries, our title – but in an age of increasing entrepreneurship (yea!!), we look at our followership. Fan numbers and interaction are as key to personal brands as to any corporate brand. I see nothing wrong with that, but I do note one of the earliest (and one of the wisest) tweets I have read – “Remember Jesus himself only had 12 disciples. More than that is gravy.”

Personal brand building has always gotten guffaws – especially in Jamaican culture, it is seen as being arrogant. Striving to be the best you you can be is seen as being ’nuff’. On the night of Yendi’s winning the Miss Jamaica Universe competition, one tweeter @Djcraziikiid noted “lol Yendi must compete in Miss Festival Queen too.•LMAOOOOO and ms portmore, ms earth and so on!”

Yet Yendi placed the highest any Jamaican woman has in Miss Universe. Yet many agreed she was the hands-down winner from the minute the pictures of the contestants come out. Who stands out to you?

2010 Miss Jamaica Universe contestants - who stands out to you? Photo courtesy of Socialingua.

The moral of the story  – Believe in yourself! Believe in your brand! The social media lesson is that tracking the progress in fan followership could be the new way to mark events and even career development. It is not a new thought – popularity has always been important for certain careers – but now we have a way to measure it – courtesy of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the like. How many followers do you have?

Facebook Places – An Initial Reaction

Facebook Places Icon, courtesy of mashable.com

Last night around 7pm Jamaican time, Facebook made THE announcement. Facebook Places was here. For months, I watched the rise of Foursquare in Jamaica. It still cannot be described as popular, but continues to grow. Many predicted that Facebook would be copying Foursquare with a location-sharing tag soon. Now it has happened –  I will be able to know where my Facebook friends are…at all times. Scary!  When I was training for the SouthPole Trod, I would update my location after I had left the place. It was dangerous to let people I was all alone in the midst of the Blue Mountains.

Nevertheless, Facebook pushed forward and, as predicted, launched Facebook Places last night. Places is an application that allows you to see where your friends are and share your location. You can tag your friends in the Places you visit, and view comments your friends have made about these Places.

The real story is not only Places per se, but the model of cooperation on which it is based. All the various facets of the geo-location social media world have partnered on this one – Foursquare, Yelp, Booyah, Gowalla. The social media world has shown us that collaboration and cooperation can bring great reward – a truth often lost in our hyper-competitive world. But with all these companies working together – is this the social media version of a takeover? Are they cooperating themselves out of existence? I am watching, like many others, to see if they will all survive this integration.

Of course, the privacy issues abound.  Already the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has released a fact sheet of sorts on the privacy issues behind Facebook Places (http://bit.ly/9Hps3H). You will be able to tag friends at a location, know if they are nearby and know where they have been. The main issue is whether you can opt out of being tagged, and being tagged by other. The reaction online shows that Facebook’s previous privacy faux pas continue to follow it (http://bit.ly/9HjrcX). Even with foursquare, many people check -in and still hide their location.

My other reaction referred to the balance between individuals, and business on Facebook. This locational tagging feature, while being ‘sold’ to individual users, benefits business more. In an era, where I can be reached through my phone, my address (Google Maps), through email and now Facebook is tracking me too – privacy is important. It feels like everyone is wearing a tracking bracelet.

Businesses do not have these concerns. Businesses need to be found to earn. My business email signature includes my twitter handle, my phone number, my Facebook page, my address, and Stumbleupon and the list goes on. My private email has no signature!  Businesses, like Foursquare has done, can offer specials and discounts to customers nearby or to the 100th customer and the like. This integration with Facebook would allow for further development in that direction. The integration with Yelp is powerful – as it links a review system, with a reservation system and customer service system. The possibilities are endless. But for me the private user – it raises issues. I don’t even want my friends or even my own mother to know everywhere I go.

Then, despite complaining about Facebook Places, I am a little peeved that I don’t know when I will have access to it. “Only available  in the US” – I had forgotten that expression. American friends – how is it?  Moreover, the caution to use it with the latest devices smacks of tech elitism. We don’t all run out and get the latest phone , even when we can. Two words – remember Vista!

I am sure in the next few places will calmly accept my place in a world populated by Facebook Places – until then Facebook Places is definitely taking all of us to the very Endz of the Earth!