A brief summary of the “Social Media and Social Change” Expert Panel held by MYRA School of Business in Mysore.
Information Excellence Volunteers Sorabh Bajaj (Consultant, Unisys) Srini Rengarajan (BI Practice Head, Collabera) and Balaji Ventaraman (Data Architect, Dell) contributed to the success of the program.
“The Critical Role of Social Media during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution” by Professor Raghav Rao (SUNY Distinguished Service Professor, University at Buffalo, USA and Faculty, MYRA School of Business, Mysore)
Dr. Rao began with a brief history of the Egyptian Revolution, how the Facebook group “We are All Khaled Saeed” brought widespread attention to a young man’s brutal death at the hands of Egyptian police. The Facebook group’s moderator, Wael Ghonim (author of Revolution 2.0), posted a call to protest on January 25th, 2011 and less than three weeks later and 2 million protestors in Tahrir Square, Dictator Hosni Mubarak stepped down after 30 years in power.
Dr. Rao’s research sought to understand how social media fueled “Revolution 2.0” through a combination of Ghonim’s techno-centric view and Malcom Gladwell’s (author of The Tippling Point) human-centric view. He specifically focused on Twitter, and his research team looked at over 340,000 tweets from over 15,000 users during January 12th, 2011 to March 10th, 2011. Using mathematical models to analyze the frequency of hashtags over time, – a social media history of the revolution was uncovered. At the time of Mubarak’s resignation, the hashtag #obama was trending —signifying international pressure from the USA and UN. In the aftermath, the hashtags #yemen, #bahrain, and #libya increased —signifying the wave of political movements which are now known as the Arab Spring.
Dr. Rao explained how hashtag analysis could be a powerful tool in understanding the psychology of crowds and predicting the behaviors of crowds.
“Social Media to Engage Employees in Knowledge Management” by Sorab Bajaj (Program Manager, Unisys, Bangalore)
Mr. Bajaj began by stating that when employees leave large corporations, a wealth of important information and practical know-how leaves along with them. Use of social media for knowledge management within companies addresses this “brain drain” problem.
Customized social media networks are used “in house”, where employees can create profiles, based on their expertise and experience, interact with co-workers, and pose questions to all sectors and branches of the large corporation using hashtags. It can allow employees to quickly search through internal archives/history and collaborate on solutions to difficult problems. Unisys has been one of the early adopters and pioneer in leveraging social media internally for Knowledge Management and Harvard Business Review has covered it
Bajaj touched upon the power of co-creation (companies and customers collaboratively creating and innovating) and highlighted the process of co-creation, with an anecdote of Unisys and its customer—a major airline company, of solving the problem of improving the logistics performance by deploying iPods with scanner applications.
“Social Media: Top Management Challenges” by Keshav Arora (Principal Architect, Collabera)
Mr. Keshav Arora discussed how social media is “an ecosystem of its own” and corporations need to be aware of the various and unique issues in adopting social media. Some of the many different challenges that executives face range from issues in ownership (will a team be posting? or an individual?) to authorization (what information is confidential, and what can be shared?) to economic (what is the ROI?) to reputation (how to keep it in line with our branding?).
He mentioned that reputation management is particularly challenging for companies, as social media easily allows for negative comments about the company. As “one negative comment can sometimes mean loss of 30 customers,” it is important for executives to figure out the best ways to deal with negativity.
Mr. Arora ended with a discussion on the three golden rules for social media management: Trust, Governance, and Strategy. Accuracy of information, defining a clear process and system, and having an end goal in mind is critical to fostering success and avoiding failure. His broad coverage of social media dynamics truly broadened everyone’s perspectives.
“Identifying Social Influencers in Current Time” by Dr. Shesha Shah (Principal – Social Media Marketing and Intelligence, Dell)
Dr. Shah, the Dell India Innovator of the Year, discussed how changes in media technologies have influenced people. She engaged the audience right at the beginning with some fascinating facts (there are 800 million Facebook Users worldwide! every minute 27 hours worth of video is uploaded on Youtube!) to illustrate how widespread social media technology has become.
Dr. Shah pointed to three R’s of influence: Reach, Relevance, and Resonance. Going back into history, Dr. Shah discussed how radio and television have different impacts on one’s psychology. During the 1960 Richard Nixon vs. John F Kennedy presidential campaign, debates were broadcast on both mediums. Those who listened to the debates on radio felt Nixon was the clear winner, but those who watched it on TV felt Kennedy was the clear winner. Along those lines, she stated that social media is a “multi-directional channel” which can influence people in very different ways.
Dr. Shah described in much detail Barack Obama’s adoption of social media during his election campaign to reach out to the public through a variety of communication channels, which did a lot of sharing, interacting, and connecting – thus generating tremendous grass roots support from younger demographics. She also discussed the difficulties in measuring influence—Likes, Retweets, and Followers is important, but then, do they really measure influence is still not clear. While she didn’t go in-depth into her measurement methods (which she has patented), she did get the audience thinking in-depth about how we are all personally influenced by social media.