Social Media Week Singapore – Keynote
This morning I overcame a looming migraine (maybe lightning does cause them) and a gnawing sense of cynicism to attend this morning’s opening to Social Media Week Singapore. This morning’s event featured largely frank and jargon-free talks from Laura Balkovich, Head of Social APAC for Google and Damien Cummings, Regional Marketing Director, Digital & Social […]
This morning I overcame a looming migraine (maybe lightning does cause them) and a gnawing sense of cynicism to attend this morning’s opening to Social Media Week Singapore.
This morning’s event featured largely frank and jargon-free talks from Laura Balkovich, Head of Social APAC for Google and Damien Cummings, Regional Marketing Director, Digital & Social Media. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it was one of the best sessions on Social Media I’ve attended.
Brands, Google & Social
“Google+ is really the next version of Google.”
Laura Balkovich’s talk was largely a position piece on the way Google understands social interaction online, the changing face of search and the way Google+ is showing us what the future of the internet might look like. Within that the focus was on how important user generated content and online communities are for brands and companies.
A few comments I caught from Balkovich included,
At the beginning of the talk there was a bit of shuffling and snickering when Google+ was first mentioned, with the person next to me saying “I thought Google+ was dead.” By the end of Balkovich’s presentation I could see people around me updating their G+ profiles on tablets and smartphones – an amusing but revealing reversal.
People, Passion & Social
“Social Media = People”
Like any good keynote should, Damien Cummings talk really broke open the subject in a refreshing way. I’ve come to be somewhat cynical about big social media events because all to often their focus is claustrophobically narrow, defined by an obsession with brands and metrics.
Cummings did a great job of pulling the focus back onto people and why they use social media in the first place, before talking about brands and the real challenges they face. Some points I noted include,
“We’re not fearless in Asia.”
Before the event I was talking with a blogger I admire about how difficult it can be locally to get reliable information and access for key events in this city. That conversation was echoing in my ears as I sat and heard Balkovich and Cummings talk about the importance of online communities, influencers and super fans.
Because all too often the focus, in social media related activity, is on brand communication and pumping out spam-ish announcements. But, there’s a lot less focus, far too little in fact, on understanding and developing communities and relationships with key influencers.
I was surprised when Cummings pointed out that most of the largest Twitter accounts are either film/tv stars or companies and that the biggest individuals on Twitter have
numbers followers in 12-15k range. As someone in that group I was stunned, because the interaction I get locally from brands in my field, from event organisers and from key companies is close to zero (which is very different to my experience living in Hong Kong or when I travel to other major cities). Clearly something is wrong here.
And, the final point that hit home was the need to transcend location-obsession and connect instead with people’s passions. Most of the arts related social activity I see in Singapore feels very location obsessed and all too often feels outright spammy. This is a topic I’ll come back to after Thursday’s music related Social Media Week events.
So, for now I’d like to say thank you to the Social Media Week Singapore organisers for a thought-provoking event and to Laura Balkovich and Damien Cummings for two great talks.