An Open Letter to Jacques Cilliers – Goodbye FNB

Attention: Jacques Cilliers
CEO, First National Bank
Bank City

Dear Mr Cilliers

new FNB CEO, Jacques Cilliers appointed in 2014
new FNB CEO, Jacques Cilliers

After 11 years I decided to close all my bank accounts with First National Bank. One reason is because I’ve moved to China and have no plans to return to South Africa while Jacob Zuma is president. The more serious reason is the horrendous experience of passing the buck and customer service I’ve experienced.

This was personal on so many levels. And yet I’m haunted by Don Miguel Ruiz’s admonition: Don’t Take Anything Personally. This is extremely difficult for me because I was almost born into this bank. My mother worked for FNB from the time it was Barclays Bank until retiring in 2009 after 33 years. I was also staff member in 2003 working in Randburg Computer Centre with a direct responsibility for keeping the Internet banking systems safe and secure from hackers.

My own experience working for your bank and my mother’s experience was never great. But that’s another story.

When companies think their brand is the best, they become arrogant. When companies rely on social media characters not real people to deal with customer complaints they begin a slippery slope towards self destruction. Your RB Jacobs has been a spectacular success on social media but dare I say not in the real world.

People connect with people. We all want to believe they connect with brands after doing completing our MBA degrees. But no, the plain and simply fact is that what made banks valuable, and bank managers important and esteemed decades before was the personal care and maybe even compassion shown by the bank managers and staff. When I was very young and my mother took me to the branch office in Main Street, Port Elizabeth, I felt this personal touch from her manager.

She was devastated when he resigned after a long service. So why do I keep harping on about my mother. Maybe it’s because FNB felt like family to me. I still have scraps of yellow paper she brought home for me to practise my drawing on. I had got the “BOB T” accounts when they were launched and become well versed in banking vernacular over the years.


Your RB Jacobs team have helped me resolve issues speedily and efficiently in the past. However, I was sure that this function was outsourced because some time ago I became aware that the eBucks social media account was given to Cerebra. So I assumed that RB Jacobs was not an internal function but being outsourced. And even though they have claimed being full-time staff, I still have my doubts knowing how bad big corporates are managing social media in general.

Trying to reset my cheque card pin was the turning point for me. It’s not the first time I was shoved from Twitter to email to call centre, back to social media and email. On several occasions I’ve tried to educate your call centre staff about the complexity of your password protocols used in online banking. FNB made over R7 billion in pre-tax profits in 2013 and you punish customers with a R50 fee to reset their password via a human being in a call centre.

When RB Jacobs tries to be helpful on Twitter, I never know whether I’m dealing with the same person on email. Clearly from the replies I’ve receive they are not the same person. And since I am social media trainer, I’ve conducted a workshop in 2012 where your bank’s social media manager was among the delegates. So I have inside information.

Suffice it to say the link between social media and customer service is so delicates because of all the variables at play. I implore you to reconsider your strategy and find a way to restore the humanity to customer service and banking. While I felt my request was simple, so many of your staff seemed incapable of treating me with humanity and civility, to the point I broke down and started screaming at a call centre agent who told me to go to into a branch to reset my pin, AFTER I told him very nicely I was in China.

The kicker is this, only after I told RB Jacobs on Twitter, Facebook and email I’m closing my account, for good; did someone miraculously emerge. Even though I told this person, Mandisa Viteka, they saved a long term relationship, I decided to go ahead and close my eyes.


When I approached them to help me regain access to my online banking account, they didn’t hesitate to respond. A real person, not a social media smartass contacted me via email and set-up a Skype call. They authenticated me and are now dispatching the dongle needed to access Capitec Bank’s online banking securely, at their cost not mine!

The biggest lesson for you from Capitec Bank is: LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS and STOP BELIEVING YOUR OWN HYPE. When you realise how easily you can address customer service issues, by simply listening, you will be surprised how much easier it is to maintain long term relationships.

Over the years I’ve had several intense arguments with your call centre staff because I’m not the average joe. As you know I’ve a +30 year history with FNB, and also worked for the company. So I dare say, I know the Hogan system and the internal workings. Your company has never appreciated people like me nor my mother, and from this day, I make it my life’s mission to help people move to Capitec Bank.

Why Capitec is better than FNB:

  1. Only one bank account instead of a dozen
  2. Paying interest to me of 4.4% while many of your accounts pay ZERO interest
  3. Mobile baking + Online banking is easy and cheap like yours
  4. Younger employees in the branch, who do not have the attitude of many older FNB branch staff
  5. Simplicity in products you can only dream about

So it’s with no regret I bid you a farewell Mr Jacques Cilliers, new CEO, by writing this open letter to you. You have a hard act to follow in Michael Jordaan. In many ways his personal interactions with me via Twitter and at the FNB App launch, delayed the insatiable.


How Edward Snowden Did Not Change Privacy

Edward SnowdenThere is so much that’s been said after Edward Snowden published his exposure on the CIA and American government spying on citizens, not only in USA but also worldwide. The best thing we have learned about this, is how blaze the governments of the world really are about your privacy.

Privacy is valuable not only for the individual but also the family or the community. As another privacy blogger said recently, it’s not about keeping secrets, that’s what governments do, it’s about disclosure. You must have some control over how much or how little information you are willing to share.

So in this world obsessed with smartphones and social media, it’s almost impossible that you can expect privacy to become important. It also does not help after the fact, after you’ve experienced identity theft or a fraud linked to your online persona or Internet bank account.

Some of the best reporting on Edward Snowden comes from investigative journalist, Jon Rappoport. There are too many questions about his relationships with the NSA and CIA, the organisations he claims to expose. Travelling through China and Malaysia the last few months I the extent of the dependency on our smart devices. People just cannot live lives without them.

On a daily basis I am thinking more and more, Edward Snowden raised alarm bells in the media but the people are careless or carefree. They continue to buy more smart phones, download more apps, share more photos, and post streams of personal information. The media had a field day, just like Julian Assange, and look what happened to him.

It’s certainly an addiction I am dealing with to the extent I close my Facebook for short periods of time. When I get back into the profile, the rush  of messages, comments, photos come towards me like taking LSD. Edward Snowden you have not changed privacy, you have not made our world a better place, you do not deserve any accolades. Until you and I take responsibility for our personal privacy, we will never be free from what Jon Rappoport calls The Matrix.



Matthew Buckland: Future of the Web

Matthew Buckland, MD of Creative Spark, talks about the future of the web for the Ogilvy #HowToFriday in 2012. This was a very good overview of the current and forthcoming trends in social media, smartphones and the Web. I’m very glad he emphasises the importance of Privacy as we move towards augmented reality, the Facebook effect applied to smart devices.

I first met Matt Buckland in 2004 when he was Editor of Mail & Guardian Online. He was very gracious in allowing me to interview him for my original research into the online dating industry in South Africa.


Social Media breaks barriers in South Africa

Social networking in South Africa has
crossed the age barrier, the urban/rural divide and even the
relationship gap, according to research findings announced today.

The /South African Social Media Landscape 2012/ study, produced by
technology market researchers World Wide Worx and information analysts
Fuseware, shows that the fastest growing age group among Facebook users
in South Africa is the over-60s. From August 2011 to August 2012, the
number of over-60s on Facebook grew by 44%, compared to less than 30%
for those aged 30-60, less than 20% for those aged 19-30, and less than
10% for teenagers.

This is a reflection of Facebook going mainstream in South Africa,
says World Wide Worx managing director Arthur Goldstuck.  The younger
segments are still far from saturation, but we re not seeing the same
heady pace of growth among the youth as before.

At the end of August, 5.33-million South Africans were using Facebook on
the Web, 2,43-million were on Twitter and 9,35-million on Mxit. Because
Facebook does not measure mobile-only usage among those who have
registered via their cellphones, however, the full extent of its
penetration is significantly understated: primary research among
consumers by World Wide Worx shows that 6.8-million people access
Facebook on their phones.

Twitter use, also measured in this primary research, indicates that its
registered base had grown to 2,2-million by the end of June: 100 000 new
users a month since August last year. Fuseware data, collected directly
from Twitter through an API (application program interface), shows that
the number reached 2,4-million at the end of August, exactly matching
the growth rate measured by World Wide Worx, and validating the earlier

The integrity of data, and its interpretation, is vital for business
decision-makers and marketers who are investing in social media,  says
Fuseware managing director Mike Wronski.  Different methodologies allow
us to gain deeper insights, as well as providing cross-validation for
our data.

Other key findings announced today include:
* Both Facebook and Twitter have grown at a similar rate, at around
100 000 new users a month, for the past year.
* LinkedIn has grown substantially, but at a slightly lower rate, to
reach 1,93-million South Africans.
* Pinterest is the fledgling among the major social networks, with
only 150 000 users in South Africa.
* WhatsApp has become the leading instant messaging tool among South
Africans aged 16 and over, living in cities and towns, with a user
base of 4,6-million.
* The youngest mobile instant messaging tool to emerge on the
measurement radar in South Africa, 2Go, has close to a million adult
* The most common  Check In  sites for Facebook in South Africa are
airports and shopping malls.
* The biggest tweeting day of the week is a Monday, with an average of
9,6-million tweets sent by South Africans on the first working day
of the week. Friday is next, with 9.6-million, while Saturday is the
slowest Twitter day, with 8,4-million tweets.
* Both Facebook and Twitter have crossed the urban/rural divide. The
proportion of urban adults using Facebook is a little less than
double rural users – but rural users are now at the level where
urban users were 18 months ago. Twitter’s urban penetration is a
little more than double its rural penetration, but the rural
proportion has also caught up to where the urban proportion was 18
months ago.

One of the most fascinating findings reported today is that the number
of single users has grown faster than any other relationship group, by
almost 25%, to reach 957 000. The number of married and engaged users
has each grown by 16%, while the category of those  in a relationship
has increased by 9%.

Clearly, Facebook is filling a relationship gap in the lives of many
South Africans,  says Goldstuck.  But social networks are also so much
more   we see them playing the roles of communication, information and
entertainment networks.

Wronski adds:  Social media fatigue has set in for the more over-active
users, who follow too much, communicate too much, and vent too much. But
most users are arriving in this world for the first time, and new users
are going to keep coming. It s mainstream today but, tomorrow, it will
be pervasive.

For more information, visit


Social media tools

Social Media Tools Ramon Thomas South AfricaThere are plenty of social media tools that can be used in the different social media internet sites. These social media tools were set up to be used to enhance the different activities that one can do in these websites. There are tools that provide and edit pictures, video and audio files. Some social media tools are measuring tools or enhancement tools that can make one’s website more accessible to the public. There are social media tools that manage the content of the pages that are to be published in the websites

The more important social media tools are blogging tools and twitter tools that maximize the use of these activities in developing a market for those engaged in internet marketing. Blogging and tweeting are by themselves social media tools that can be used to enhance the value of an account or website. The numerous social media sites dominating the internet today has inspired many developers to provide more social media tools that can be used in conjunction with the popular websites.

Those who wish to make use of the different major social media internet sites are advised to rely on advisors or coaches who offer their services and who can determine which of the social media tools are applicable for one’s situation. These coaches can provide effective methods of using the facilities of the different websites and utilize these sites as possible outlets for the products or ideas that their clients may wish to sell. It must be understood that the techniques and skills that can be used to fully convert one’s contacts in the social internet sites to actual customers have been carefully studied and planned by experts who are willing to impart their knowledge and to show their clients the best way to use the different social media tools to achieve this goal.


Social media goes mainstream in South Africa

Recently World Wide Worx, one of our partner companies, released the definitive study on the social media landscape in South Africa. Instead of simply republishing the press release with the research findings, I also include a short email interview with the co-author, Mike Wronski.

The questions we answer in the report deal with the specific demographics and user base sizes of the major social networks in use in South Africa. We have also in depth analysis of some top social media campaigns conducted in
South Africa.

1. What conclusions can you draw from your research on the impact of social media on the intimacy or bonding that takes place online, and offline?

It is fairly obvious from the analysis of words being used that people use social media to discuss matters that are important and intimate to them. With some of the top words in all conversations including “people, today, think, see, need”, it shows that people are not afraid to voice their opinions and talk about their daily interactions.

2. What are the differences or similarities between male and female users of social media in South Africa?

We do not have specific data on this metric.

3. What is the profile (including LSM) of the average/typical users of social media given your recent study?

We analysed available online data for the report. No surveying was done in our social media stats, so there is no clear indication of LSM. However, the overarching stats for Facebook, the most balanced social media platform, are as follows:

  • 2 million males – 2.2 million females
  • 1.15 million university graduates
  • 68,000 still in university
  • Users most concentrated in the 23-36 year old age bracket
  • Johannesburg has 1.9m users
  • Cape Town 900k, a surprisingly low number given its large population size

Social media goes mainstream in South Africa

26 October 2011:- South Africans have embraced social media as a core pillar of Internet activity in this country, along with e-mail, news and banking. MXit and Facebook lead the way in user numbers, while Twitter has seen the most dramatic growth in social networking in the past year, and BlackBerry Messenger is the fastest growing network in the second half of 2011.

These are among the key findings of a new study released today by Fuseware and World Wide Worx, entitled South African Social Media Landscape 2011.

?The question of how many South Africans use each of the major social networks comes up so often, it became a priority for us to pin down the numbers,? says Michal Wronski, Managing Director of information analysts Fuseware and co-author of the report. ?The data was collected through a combination of Fuseware?s analysis of social network
databases, information provided directly by social networks, and World Wide Worx?s consumer market research.?

An analysis of Fuseware?s extensive database of Twitter usage, in conjunction with World Wide Worx?s consumer market research, shows that there were 1,1-million Twitter users in South Africa in mid-2011. This is a 20-fold increase in a little more than a year.

?One of the drivers of growth of Twitter is the media obsession with the network,? says report co-author Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx. ?Most radio and TV personalities with large audiences are engaged in intensive campaigns to drive their listeners and viewers to both Twitter and Facebook. The former, coming off a very
low base, is therefore seeing the greatest growth.?

As in the global environment, not all Twitter users are active users, with only 40% tweeting, but probably as many simply watching, following and using it as a breaking news service.

MXit remains the most popular social network in South Africa, with approximately 10-million active users. Its demographic mix runs counter to the popular media image of MXit as a teen-dominated environment. No less than 76% of the male user base of MXit and 73% of female users are aged 18 or over.

A surprising finding emerged from analysis of Facebook data. Of approximately 4.2-million Facebook users in South Africa by August 2011, only 3.2 million had visited the site in the year-to-date.

?This is partly a factor of many users moving on once the novelty of the site had worn off, as well as a result of the fickle nature of the youth market,? says Wronski. ?Once BBM picked up significant traction in private schools, for example, many teenagers who had previously flocked to Facebook, opted for BBM?s greater immediacy.?

While LinkedIn, aimed at professional users, also reached the 1,1-million mark, it came off a far higher base ? but still saw 83% growth of South African users from 2010 to 2011. Of these, 112 000 or 10% are business owners.

Consumer research analysed in the report revealed that future intention of usage of most social networks is strongly related to age. The younger the user, the greater the intention of usage.

?This is only one of many micro-trends shaping social networking,? says Goldstuck. ?MXit, Facebook and BBM statistics illustrate, for example, that as social networks become more mainstream, their penetration within
all age ranges deepens. This, in turn, will result in the continualflattening of the age curve as social networks mature.?


Media Contacts:

  • Fuseware: Michal Wronski (in Cape Town) on Tel: 021 930 9171
  • World Wide Worx: Arthur Goldstuck (in Johannesburg) on Tel: 011 782 7003



Short History of Social Media

Amidst the sudden ascent of LinkedIn, Twitter, Groupon, and of course, Facebook, it’s easy to forget that social media actually has a bit of a history going back more than 30 years. Really?

Law firm Morrison & Foerster has put together just such a timeline graphic of online communities in its latest issue of Socially Aware, the only newsletter focusing on legal and business issues surrounding social media. (see page 4).

A Short History of Social Media” goes back to February 1978 – date of the first dial-up CBBS, as in computerized bulletin board service. Other SM milestones you may have forgotten or slept through:

  • 1995: launch of personal home-page server Geocities, later purchased by Yahoo! for whopping $3.6 billion. Geocities was ultimately shut down in 2009.
  • 1997: launch of Kevin Bacon-inspired, which soon claims a breakthrough one MILLION users.
  • August 1999: introduction of first web plain vanilla blog service, Blogger, which went on to be acquired by Google.
  • March 2002: debut of warm-and-fuzzy Friendster, which peaks a few years later before fading out like the Winkelvoss twins at the end of a regatta.
  • July 2003: birth of MySpace, which sets new standard for personalized networking and branding; company acquired by News Corp. in 2005 for euphoric $580 million, only to be unloaded this past June to a digital media buyer (one of whose investors is Justin Timberlake) for $35 million.
  • December 2006: Facebook rejects bid to be acquired by Yahoo! for measly price of….$1 billion.

Now, of course, the mileposts are coming in nanoseconds – from LinkedIn’s rocket-launch IPO this past May to Twitter’s jaw-dropping marker of delivering 350 BILLION Tweets per day upon reaching just its fifth anniversary in July.

Socially Aware is to social media legal/business news what TMZ is to gossip: breezy, short bites and all over the map. A tight-knit group of nearly two dozen Morrison & Foerster tech, IP, privacy, litigation, venture capital and other lawyers closely monitors social media news sites, blogs, online publications and Twitter feeds to grab the freshest industry topics and provide a knowing spin. Socially Aware was good enough to earn a coveted Burton Award for excellence in legal writing and analysis in just its first year of publication.

“We’re reaching well beyond other lawyers – including marketing professionals, business development specialists, digital strategists, brand managers, investors, start-up owners and others” said Morrison & Foerster technology transactions partner John Delaney, one of several top editors of Socially Aware who also created the social media timeline. The newsletter has more than 15,000 regular subscribers and is drawing more than 100 new readers a month – hot numbers for a law firm bulletin without a single footnote or case citation.

More importantly, Socially Aware is generating billable work. Delaney notes that the newsletter has helped bring in new client matters on behalf of a large bank, a global manufacturer and multinational insurer, a leading media company and an international technology company, among other businesses grappling with a wide range of social media agendas. Example: the firm is advising one financial services firm in structuring an innovative contest on Facebook.

Socially Aware is in keeping with Morrison & Foerster’s high technology IQ — the firm was the first major law firm to develop an iPhone App. Morrison Foerster also publishes MoFo Tech, a quarterly magazine featuring longer news features on all aspects of tech business – from patent valuations to IPOs, venture capital and data privacy.

Other news notes from the new Socially Aware:

• An organization called Medical Justice joins the growing online reputation-management industry by recommending that doctors – precluded by patient confidentiality from responding to negative online reviews – require patients to sign away their rights to complain, but also assign doctors copyrights to any such reviews. The issue makes DMCA experts squirm, while medical ethicists say it might violate doctors’ oaths to place patients’ medical interests before their own financial needs.

• What’s the problem with using social media to raise money? If the amount is, say, $300 million to buy a beer company, with a promise of part ownership, the SEC just might respond with a cease and desist order. “Crowdfunding” – fundraising through social media sites – is currently subject to state and federal securities laws, though crowdfunding advocates are pushing for an exemption. Socially Aware addresses the potential for fraud and other abuse that might come with an SEC exemption.

Additional topics include a concise overview of the Kerry-McCain privacy bill now before Congress; limitations to safe harbor rules protecting web-site operators from liability for user-generated content; reaction to the latest revisions to Facebook’s user guidelines; and the decision by Twitter’s co-founders to step away and create a new venture that will be a global force for good.

Socially Aware will shortly become an actively updated blog. Until then, here’s the link again to a PDF of the current issue.


Social Media is not Social Interaction

Social Media MadnessMy role as a technology evangelist is to bring the good news about technology to you. Well there is good news and there is bad news. And as with most people I’m sure you prefer the bad news first. A question I want you to ask yourself before I share that news with you is this: is technology really neutral or is it biased based on the inherent function that is is designed for?

Anyway here’s the bad news: there is a myth promulgated that in today’s society that social media is social interaction. How can you compare a conversation at a braai to a conversation on Twitter? How can you compare a conversation over the dinner table with a conversation on a Facebook discussion group? How can you compare an intimate conversation late at night with your lover to the same conversation using MXit?

It is my opinion that we’ve reached a stage in our evolution as the human species, in the 21st century, that we’ve become chronically dependant on technology. Children born after 1985 or 1990 cannot imagine a world without cellphones, 24 hour television or the Internet. What do I mean when I say chronic dependency? I simply mean that we do not even realise to what extent we rely on these technologies until they are taken away from us.

Think back to the last time your cellphone battery died. How did you feel? Think back to the last time your Internet connection was down for a few hours. How  did you feel? Think about the last time the electricity in your neighbourhood was down. How did you feel? Some of you may have felt anger, some may have felt disgust, or resentment. However, I would vouchsafe that the real feeling beneath the exterior aggression was one of helplessness.

Now when I posted this comment on my Twitter/Facebook status the first person stated that it is not wrong or right. Well I go on the record now by saying it wrong to believe that social media interaction is the same as social interaction without social media. They are not the same and they are certainly not equivalent. I came to this conclusion after speaking to at tens of thousands of people across South Africa for the last few years on the psychology of technology.

When you correlate the use of our 5 senses in communication with that of “communicating through the screen” you realise to what extent we’ve come to accept this substandard way of communicating as genuine. When you are texting or using MXit, you cannot see the other person, hear the other person, touch the other person, smell the other person, let alone taste the other person. So you are not using any of your 5 senses in the interaction. When you do not use your 5 senses you are making decisions based on an exceptionally limited amount of information.

Yes its my opinion after observing thousands of South Africans interact using MXit, Facebook, Internet Dating and other technologies and convincing themselves its the equivalent of social interaction or let me rather say, face to face interaction.

The facts remain that we are like zealots when justifying our chronic dependency on technology. Agree or disagree?


Q&A about the Future of Social Networking

Future of Social NetworkingUsing Microsoft’s recent acquisition of a $240 million stake in Facebook as the point of departure:

1. What does Microsoft’s stake in Facebook practically translate into for the company? And for the site’s users?

Facebook now has a partner who can fund further expansion and growth as the need arises. Microsoft gains a very strong foothold into the Social Networking industry, which it has been lacking for a long time. Most user activity is now taking place online and not on the PC Desktop so this was crucial for Microsoft. For Facebook users it does not mean much because its only an advertising relationship which has been confirmed and solidified by the investment from Microsoft. Most people, and especially Facebook users, have become very savy in avoiding online advertising.

2. Why the interest in social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace by internet giants like Microsoft and Google? What is the motivation behind buying/attempting to buy stakes in these sites? Is it straight access to a demographically-specific marketing database?

Yes, part of the reason is the detailed demographics available so advertising can be customised in a very specific way. The bigger reason is that next to search engines, social networking is where the majority of Internet users are starting there online journey. Google already owns Orkut, which is very popular social networking website in Asian countries like India. And that also explains why its not well known in South Africa.

3. One of the views I’ve come across suggests that the social networking space will tend to move towards a monopoly because people need to communicate with each other in the same “language”. Basically, if most of your friends are on Facebook, then it makes sense for you to join that as opposed to MySpace to communicate with them. Others argue that users of social networking sites are non-specific. If you have a Facebook profile, you probably have a MySpace profile and you use both. What do you make of the debate?

Social networking sites can either be specialised on generalised. The roots are always in a niche community. For example MySpace started out among independent music scene in San Fransisco to allow their fans to connect with the bands, sample music and get a full gig guide. So MySpace has and will continue to have a strong foothold in the music and entertainment industry. Most of my MySpace friends in South Africa have moved to Facebook. Facebook started among university students and has spread from there. MySpace is a behemoth with over 207 million registered profiles while Facebook only has about 45 million users. LinkedIn on the other hand is the #1 social networking website for business people with over 15 million users worldwide and almost 40,000 users in South Africa.

There is a trend towards websites that allow you to tap into all your social networking profiles from one place.

4. Do you think fears of a monopoly within the social networking space drive the market price?

Yes, there is a vicious competition between Microsoft, Google and Yahoo for control of the Web. They are the biggest online publishers by a far margin because they control 3 biggest search engines. Microsoft in particular is paranoid as more and more user activities takes place online and not on the Desktop.

5. Why has Facebook taken off in a way that MySpace never did? What are the key differences?

As I said before it’s a myth in South Africa that MySpace is not important. You may consider that MySpace has been around since August 2003 and Facebook launched in February 2004. And until late last year Facebook was limited to university students only. It does seem like MySpace’s growth is slowing down.

6. What is the future of social networking? A Datamonitor report estimates social networking sites will enlist 230 million active users by the end of the year, continue attracting new users until 2009 and then plateau in 2012. What do you make of this?

That Datamonitor report is wrong because MySpace is over 207 million and Facebook is over 45 million alone. That is excluding Orkut with about 67 million users and LinkedIn with over 15 million users. Even with some overlap of users the is at least 300 million active users worldwide. We currently have 1.1 billion Internet users and almost 3 billion cellphones users. My view is that by 2010 the grow in the Web will come from people using cellphones to access search engines and social networking websites. Most social networking sites already support access via a customised mobile interface.

7. The same report suggests social networking services revenues will reach $965 million this year and $2.4 billion by 2012. Is this income generated purely through targeted advertising on these sites?

Yes, most of the revenue is from advertising. Some websites like LinkedIn is generating 1/3rd of its revenue from paid members. Most of the rest do not have any paid subscription options – just yet. Google struck a deal in 2006 that guarantees MySpace $900 million over the next 3 years for exclusive search and online advertising rights. Remember Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp bought MySpace in 2005 for $580 million and everyone thought he was crazy.

8. Google’s own social networking site, Orkut, hasn’t gained as much popularity as MySpace or Facebook. Do you think Google’s launch of OpenSocial is aimed to popularise it so it can join the big social networking players?

OpenSocial is a application programming interface (API). What that means its an easy way for programmers to develop applications on social networking websites. Google wants to be the interface to all the social networking websites. Most users still do not know how to get directly to websites. What they typically do is Google words like “Facebook” or even “Yahoo” to find these websites. So Google will remain influential. They are appealing to the technorati, the early adopters, to built loyalty to Google, not necessarily to Orkut.


Social Media pilot at AAA School of Advertising

This week I was in Cape Town to give two talks at two private schools on MXit. Even more exciting news was how well received my Social Media seminar went down at the AAA School of Advertising.

Social media in my opinion is both the combination of blogging, podcasting, vlogging, RSS technology and how it is used to generate content. Social networking is part of social media. Social bookmarking is part of social media. And much, much more. In the end it is a shift in how media is created and consumed.

Why did I create this social media seminar (2 hours) – because in 2006 I attended a meeting of Advertising Media Association of South Africa (AMASA) at the JSE in Sandton, and it seemed every time new media was mentioned the old guard would go into a panic. Now it does not have to be like this. If you become aware of the big picture and then focus on understanding how social media can compliment your traditional media planning activities you can still play a role as an advertising agency advising your clients on creative ways to get their marketing message out there. What’s really different when it comes to Internet technologies is that they can be much more accurately measured than broadcasting or print.

If you are in a marketing or advertising agency this seminar will bring you up to speed in a few short hours. You can download the presentation from here. If you are interested in my seminars please view my training page here.