Social Media In Pakistan

I had the opportunity to attend the Young Social Reformers ‘Tipping Point, 2009 – New Age Media Strategies For The Next Frontier’ held at Mariott Hotel on Sat. 6th June, 2009.

The objective of this event was to uncover the core principles of New Age Media Strategies and was attended by some big-wigs such as the provincial Information Minister Shazia Marri. Ms. Nasreen Jalil was the chief guest at the closing ceremony.The focus of the conference was on how the organization can leverage social media to achieve their business goals through blogs, micro-blogging, wikis, podcasts, video, forums, social networks, online communities, and social book marking sites which are increasingly being levered by the companies to build brand visibility and equity, promote products and services, influence communities, increase website traffic and leads.

The speakers list was impressive comprising of Mr. Masood Hashmi, CEO Orient Mcann, Raza Haroon, Minister Information Technology, Badar Khushnood country head Google, Dr Abrar Ali Baig, SEVP National Bank Of Pakistan, Naheed Memon, Director Medcom, Fahim Siddiqui, anchor Geo Tv, Qashif Effendi, CEO 180 Degrees, Khurram Rahat, Country Director Teradata, Shoaib Shamsi, Assistant Prof Greenwhich University, Faisal Qureshi, anchor Samaa TV, Dr Auzar Wajidi Dean Management Sciences KU, Anila Weldon, CEO Weldon BBS, Tabish Sabah Microsoft, Attah Shabbir.

However except for the presentation by Badar Khushnood, Country Consultant Google in which he talked about the blogging scene in Pakistan and how the young are opting it as a ‘lifestyle’, the other speakers had no idea of what they were talking about. I especially enjoyed talking to him about ‘Dr. Alvi’ (whose blog has been awarded in the whole of South Asia for its political analysis and coverage) and about ‘Sizzled Core’, young Harris who is at the forefront of technology. We also discussed ‘Sense Applied’ and how Farhan’s coverage of the N97 led to Pakistan being featured as one of the two countries who ‘Unboxed’ the N97 before it was even launched. This is what makes social media great in Pakistan.

For the rest, in the 9 hour session, we were treated to marketing 101 style presentations, self-promotion, lots of hot air, spiel and a general non-idea about the subject matter at hand. I guess it was to be expected since sans three speakers (Badar, Tabish and Qashif), none of the people were marketers in general and none had worked in social media before. With both the other good speakers, mismanagement occurred with Tabish Sabah, Microsoft and Qashif Effendi, 180 Degrees (who had a 80 slide presentation specially prepared for the event) both not being able to speak – Tabish because the time-management at the conference was below par and he had meeting elsewhere and Qashif because one of the management forgot he was sitting on stage and closed the session. These were the only two speakers other speakers who would have had something worthwhile to talk, probably.

Perhaps the only thing good i can say about the initiative is that the govt. officials had to say the word ‘Blog’. Though probably they didn’t understand a word about it. At least now they know that there is something happening in our part of the world.

I don’t know what’s all the fuss about these technologies, unless it’s just to be thought of as cool. With all the talk surrounding ‘Social Media’, people keep forgetting that it’s nothing new. Media has been leveraged for sociable purposes since the caveman first discovered walls. Even in Pakistan, the most popular applications that were ever installed on PCs were framed around communication and sharing – bulletin boards, mIRC, instant messaging through software like MSN Messenger, AOL or ICQ, chat-rooms, etc were very popular in the last decade.

Perhaps the hype is because of the social networks such as Facebook and Orkut which have taken our world by storm. Marketers want to tap into these networks and thus are trying to leverage the technologies to their advantage without understanding the rules of the game. Marketers listen up, social networks have the power beyond ad revenue to act as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool for companies and brands. As in much of media, creativity is the key here. If you can find the type of ad that Facebook users will click, that’s one thing, but if you can build something they’ll click, engage with (or buy) and help you spread, you’ve got something far more exciting and effective. One campaign that used this technique very successfully was the Burger King “Whopper Sacrifice” application, which recently also earned a Grand CLIO in Interactive. BK developed a Facebook app that once installed promised to give the user a coupon for a free hamburger if they were to delete 10 people from their friend’s list to prove how they preferred the Whopper over their friends. The “sacrifices” showed up in the activity feed. So it said, for example, “Caroline sacrificed Josh for a free Whopper.” Facebook ended up disabling the WHOPPER Sacrifice, after the love of the user for the WHOPPER Sandwich proved to be stronger than 233,906 friendships.

Media isn’t neatly boxed into little rectangles called newspapers, TV or magazines anymore. People now connect to other people and draw power from crowds, especially IN crowds. If you want to be part of the Social Networks marketing process, than you have to be part of the conversations – that’s when real marketing takes place. YSR people, take note for your next initiative.

If you want to read more about the conference, Saqib at Brandasy has done a wonderful job of it.

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About Umair Mohsin
Director - Digital Marketing and Strategy For Media Idee Digital, Pakistan's first Digital Agency. Setup in 2006, we now work with Enterprise clients in EMEA region and South Asia including Sweden, UK, Dubai and Pakistan.

11 Responses to Social Media In Pakistan

  1. Saqib says:

    Yes Umair, you are right. Not a lot of speakers knew what they had to talk about. For instance the guy who delivered that lecture on empowering your employees through social media. I haven’t the faintest idea what he talked about.

    Kashif Effendi fiasco was a real disappointment, since I had particularly come to hear him speak. But if the other speakers couldn’t do justice to the topic, why didn’t you give a presentation yourself since you know more about this topic than those most others? Never leave something to someone else if you can do it yourself.

    I don’t think it was a complete waste of time, some of the presentations even if they weren’t directly related to the topic were quite good.

    Verdict: Such conferences need to take place on a regular basis, ideally with little or no participation charges.

  2. Umair Mohsin says:

    @Saqib,

    I wish they had asked me to present. I’m dying to get some ideas out in our marketplace on even how Pakistan as a brand can benefit from Social Media… marketers can … that’s taken for granted.

    I guess this is why i wrote an entire article on how you can use Social Media (in my case social networks) to your brand’s benefit in Dawn’s Aurora magazine. I’ll post the text here also once it’s published.

    Regarding waste of time, I’m glad you learned something from it. From a personal viewpoint, i learnt nothing at all. So…. that’s why i said it was a waste of time.

    However I will ask you, when the topic is Social media, why are we discussing say… unethical marketing practices of different brands… can’t that be put in context of social media too. :)

    Anyways, let’s meet up sometime next when we’re at the same conference together.

  3. Fahad Ali says:

    Very well written Umair, yeah this conference might be a waste of time for senior marketing gurus,bloggers etc…coz there was nothing much related discussion or presentations.But for me it was in4mative to some extenet + i got chance to meet some nice and gr8 people like Umair mohsin,badar khushnood etc who shared their valuable thoughts n experiences with me. :)

    • Umair Mohsin says:

      Glad you liked it Fahad. The key is to keep learning.

      Hope we meet next time too.

  4. ayaz says:

    am glad to see this development in the industry..however, am also amazed that i dont know that event of such nature has actually happened :0)

    anyways bro for the next time whenever you heard about any social marketing scene in Pakistan…please do let me know.

    thanks

  5. owais bera says:

    Hello im glad to read the above! i want attend one or few seminars of social media in Pakistan. Basically I’m writing a dissertation on it. so please inform me or anyone wants to share info regarding “social media in Pakistan” email: ak_urz@yahoo.com

  6. Fari Khan Niazi says:

    hmmmm very informative

  7. Is marketing the only use of the social media platform?

    • Umair Mohsin says:

      I focus on the marketing side of Social. Though there are plenty of usages other than marketing.

  8. palwasha says:

    well written

  9. I’d like to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning
    this site. I am hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts
    from you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own, personal blog now ;)

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