I recently had the privilege of attending the Social Media World Forum held at the CTICC on the 1st and 2nd of June. I could only afford to attend the first day, but it was a day of great value.

I was very buzzed for a good day of networking and insightful talks. Despite the very long queue to gain entry and the absence of free tea or coffee (Rather shocking, considering the price tag for this event), I was determined to have a good time. The list of Panelists included Kelvin Jonck of Cell C, Bellinda Carreira of Standard Bank and Patrick Kayton of Cognician. Their talks ranged from Social Media Monitoring and Strategy, Big business’ approach to Social Media and Social Media start-ups respectively.

The conference led to many insights into Social Media and how social media is being practiced in South Africa. I’ve already recapped some of the most profound lessons in our Social Media Strategy (Part 5) blog post, and for insight provided by others I suggest these blogs written by Anthony Coe and Darren Gilbert.

Social Media VS Traditional Media

One  of the most interesting insights gained at SMWF was that in the South African context, social media on it’s own is not enough, and it has to seamlessly integrate with what companies are already doing in other media. As Kemi Benjamin, Brand Manager at Nike said “Everything is not digital. Blend digital with physical.”

This is something that we have witnessed ourselves with one of our clients, Runner’s World. Runner’s World is a magazine aimed at runners and they have taken an integrated approach by driving their readers to their website with ads and articles pointing readers attention to extra content only available on their website. This has allowed  the magazine to leverage their existing readership and build a community around their publication online (With the help of BuddyPress)

Social Media and Mobile

We’ve blogged about the importance and the continued growth of the mobile web at length, here and here. The SMWF once again underscored the mobile web’s importance to the South African market with some interesting statistics:

SA is a Mobile first Market
  • 12 million people are currently using the mobile web
  • 6 million people are on the traditional web
  • The projections for mobile web access in Africa are that it will double year on year
  • 80% of status update for Facebook come from mobile platforms
  • 91% of people keep their phones within a meters reach 24 hours a day
  • The success of advertising on Facebook: In SAFM’s experience, 75% of their Facebook fans come from seeing a Facebook ad promoting their Page.

Mobile types

  • Only 5% of cell phones in South Africa are smartphones
  • Iphone accounts for 1% of emerging market phones
  • Of the 4 Million smart phones in South Africa, half are Blackberry

It seems as though South African apps developers are focused on android first and Iphone second, but one has to wonder if their isn’t a market for Blackberry apps to make some money.

The Social Media World Forum was a good experience. It’s a bit over priced, had some hiccups (competing sound!) and  didn’t offer up any real surprises, but the value of meeting other social media practitioners and hearing their thoughts and insights cannot be over looked. Social Media is a continuously evolving industry and it is important for us serious practitioners to always stay abreast of the latest developments and do our research.

I’ll leave you with, for me, the most significant quote of SMWF 2011:

When it comes to Social Media, you must be prepared to learn, unlearn and relearn.