21st Century Phenomena – The Social Monster

This post is all about getting social. Something that has been born and has taken control over the world around us. I personally feel that you have to get on the train and not be left behind. Starting off our conference, Dr Theo Lynne played a dance video. A new viral video called “gagnam style” by North Korean singer Pys. It was a bit of an unusual opening however it helped highlight the astonishing impact social media has on today’s world. How did one seemly odd video spread all over the world in such a short time span? The power of the internet is truly amazing, once famous people started to talk, blog, Facebook and tweet about this video there was no stopping It.! All this online social interaction is what I call the Social Monster.

Next speaker was Mark Cahalane the Managing Director for Edelman Europe. They have developed a unique instrument called the Trustbarometer. Unlike a barometer measuring atmospheric pressure this measure peoples trust in different organisations. I was quite shocked when I found out that Ireland’s trust in most things like government, NGO’s, Business, etc. is very low. The one thing I could understand was the trustbarometer’s lowest every level of trust in banks 6% came from Ireland. Focusing back on social media I learned that despite our thinking we perceive things very well and can retain information with ease, we actually don’t. He explains that on average 64% of people have to hear a bit of information 3 to 4 times for it to actually stick. Then I began to realize the challenge for businesses and why we are constantly being bombarded by commercials. To end his short speech he said for a business to be trusted and be successful they must effectively combine business competence, public engagement and social purpose, a tip I’ll keep in mind for the future.

The following speaker rose to two key issues with the Social Monster. Her name is Claire Wardle the Director of News Services at Storyful. She firstly spoke about your identity on the internet. It’s so easy to be anyone, to be anonymous, you create your persona. Is the person behind the screen real? In my opinion this is the main danger of social media, you can pretend, lie and deceive. On the other side you also have to protect your online reputation. Something I will not forget is that once you upload it’s on the internet forever. A pretty scary concept if you ask me. None the less I have to admit I don’t think I could live without Facebook.

To talk a little more about Facebook was Catherine Flynn. First her presentation was not working properly, showing that no matter how good you are with technology it sometimes just doesn’t work. The main topic she touched was how to use Facebook from a business point of view to access a worldwide market. With 1 billon active monthly users worldwide it’s a pretty huge opportunity. She explained the do’s and don’ts of using Facebook to promote your business. Yet again it was all about striking a balance. Not posting too often or not often enough. I personally feel from what Philip Kelly the Digital Marketing Executive of Electric Ireland said his company has struck the balance. He explained how Electric Ireland used various social outlets like Facebook Twitter Boards.ie, etc. to effectively engage their customers. I can see how even the most boring of businesses (electricity suppliers) can effectively use the Social Monster to promote their business.

Following this Don O’Leary the Senior Sales Manager for Twitter the present king of social media gave his take on the Social Monster. For him Twitter was an unbeatable business asset to have it creates direct interactions with your clients, something that was very expensive before. He made the point that before marketing was an interruption, something silly on between your favourite soap that you didn’t really pay attention to. Now when you tweet, retweet or like, it’s the customer who is doing it and thus not an interruption. He also cleared up my question: Why are all the social media headquarters in Ireland? There are better countries, faster broadband, equally skilled staff, etc. He made the point that Ireland is in the top 5 in the world rankings of active social media users per capita. So despite being a small country we have made a huge part of the 21st Century’s Social Monster.

Finally my personal favourite speaker of the evening was Brian Herron a Community Manager for Google+. A former DCU graduate he was someone I could relate to; whose job seemed fascinating. I think I got the most valuable information from his talk. He put forward different methods to use in order to succeed in this “dog eat dog” industry. His main tips get real life experience, know your stuff on whatever area you want to specialise in and do not fear the Social Monster connect with it and make it benefit you. Also prove that you know how to do the job before your hired and show you are self-motivated and have personal drive. All and all I picked up some very practical tips on how to face this new phenomena and succeed in the future. (Sorry for the lack of picture too busy taking down notes)


Favourite quote of the afternoon was: “It’s ok to fail but learn something from it”


Please comment and question