Why Zimbabwean Businesses Need A Social Face

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha | iZivisoMag.com

It’s unfortunate that in this day and age most Zimbabwean businesses are still relucntant to embrace the opportunities provided by the digital age. The reluctance to embrace change in the digital era only means that local businesses will continue to be relegated to the dustbin of history. According to a recent Ernst & Young report, Into the Cloud, Out of the Fog, 64 percent of surveyed business respondents in Zimbabwe have implemented limited or no access to social media sites as a control to mitigate risks related to the platforms. The global average is apparently 54 percent. While on the surface of it, it may appear that social media causes time wasting among employees it is unfortunate to have such a negative approach to its use within business.

Social media integration into business can indeed contribute to the bottomline if implemented properly – if anything, it can help business to stay in touch with their target audiences and customers. Executives must embrace new media in order to not only compete for the future, but for mind share, market share, and ultimately relevance.

Corporate entities in Zimbabwe need to recognise that social media is a goldmine that can facilitate the achievement of key business objectives. With over a billion people on social media it’s irresponsible for any brand not to have some sort of presence. Now is the time for brands to engage on a direct-to-many basis. Social media is changing everything about the way people relate socially, in commerce, and politics.

An effective social media strategy is more than just setting up a Twitter, YouTube and Facebook account – in other words, it’s more than just broadcasting advertising messages to accumulated fans. Social channels need to be treated as integral part of the communication process.

In particur, social media channels need to be used to humanize brands and/or businesses. Such channels – if used properly – can help to build stronger emotional connections with brands. The key for any successful social media campaign is to generate more and deeper involvement with the product or service. Social media can give voice, credibility, and connections to both companies an their customers.

For starters, Zimbabwean corporates need to identify great conversations about their brands, it all starts with conversation – the kind of conversations that engage, enthrall and enrapture audiences as well as influence the emotional connection and subsequently sales. Of course, social media is not a cure for bad products or services but it can sure help in eliciting rapid customer feedback.

Social media allows us to open up an invaluable dialogue with customers in a way that was simply not possible previously. It’s important to state that the execution of social media within the corporate set-up needs to prioritise substance over cheap thrills and style. While putting the brand in the middle of a conversation is key, it’s even more critical to be real and authentic.

For corporates, especially those involved in the publishing business, engaging audiences is an essential part of their continued success and relevance in an ever-connected universe. As people continue to turn to the Internet for information, businesses that continue to stick to the old ways of engagement will soon find themselves in the cold.

BarCamp Zimbabwe scheduled for August 3

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe’s inaugural BarCamp event will be held on August 3 at the at the Keg & Maiden at Harare Sports Club.

The theme of the event is “Technology and Entrepreneurship: We Are Stronger Together” and is aimed at promoting the need for converged thinking and collaboration among individual start-ups, developers and others.

According to the technology blog site, TechZim.co.zw, the event is targeted at tech startups, geeks, entrepreneurs and generally the whole tech community in Zimbabwe.

“The conclusive aim of a BarCamp is to get likeminded people interacting and mapping a way forward. Zimbabwe’s BarCamp is historic as it is the first startup focused event to happen in the nation,” reads a statement on the BarCamp Zimbabwe website.

“BarCamp Zimbabwe is a FREE event for anyone who is interested in using their skills, talent, and resources to benefit Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole.”

Zimbabwe Online (ZOL), which is the main sponsor of the event, will award successful startups will with US $25,000 in cash and internet services.

A BarCamp  is an international network of user-generated conferences (or unconferences). They are open, participatory workshop-events, the content of which is provided by participants.

The first BarCamps focused on early-stage web applications, and were related to open source technologies, social protocols, and open data formats. The format has also been used for a variety of other topics, including public transit, health care, and political organizing.

The name BarCamp is a playful allusion to the event’s origins, with reference to the programmer slang term, foobar: BarCamp arose as an open-to-the-public alternative to Foo Camp, which is an annual invitation-only (for Friends of O’Reilly) participant-driven conference hosted by Tim O’Reilly.

The first BarCamp was held in Palo Alto, California, from August 19–21, 2005, in the offices of Socialtext. It was organized in less than one week,[1] from concept to event, with 200 attendees. Since then, BarCamps have been held in over 350 cities around the world, in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Australasia and Asia. To mark the first anniversary of BarCamp, BarCampEarth[2] was held in multiple locations world wide on August 25–27, 2006. The second anniversary of BarCamp, BarCampBlock,[3] was held in Palo Alto at the original location, but also over a three block radius on August 18–19, 2007, and was attended by over 800 people.[4] The largest recorded BarCamp happened in February 2011 with over 4700 confirmed registered attendees in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma). The previous year (January 2010) BarCamp Yangon attracted over 2700 attendees (confirmed with registration forms) Barcamp Yangon in Global Voices.[5]