I was asked to speak at what was in fact the largest Tweetup in the Caribbean. There were 300 Jamaican tweeters hosted by the very social media savvy Kingston business hotel, the Jamaica Pegasus. In my role as tech evangelist, I was asked to do a short and pithy presentation on the future of social media in Jamaica and the Caribbean. This is the long form version of the 3 ideas I presented.
Idea Number 1. Four main pillars of the Immediate Future of Social Media in Jamaica and the Caribbean
1. Facebook – As of Friday September 3rd have just under 370,000 Jamaicans and just over 100 Jamaicans business. The majority of those persons and businesses jumping on board within the last year.
2. Mobile phone Apps – Jamaica has a 100% mobile phone penetration, we have one of the highest talk cultures in the world. Blackberry owners represent just about 30% of the subscriber base of the largest telecom provider in Jamaica – Digicel. So it follows naturally that mobile apps would likely do well here from the position of a consumer. But this mobile culture has spawned a mobile app developer community. Just this past month alone I’ve been privy to know of the development and launch dates of 4 mobile apps from Jamaican, Barbadian and Trinidadian developers who will be releasing mobile apps between September and December this year. I’m excited and can’t wait to see how they’ll do in the regional and international market.
3. Foursquare – This has been the latest must do primarily by college students and young professionals. The early adopters have been all over it especially over the last 60 days. Social media savvy front runner brands like Fiction jumped into the game and established a first drink on the house Mayor’s Special. Other brands such as Island Grill are on observing and promoting existing products. Then there is also Susie’s Bakery & Coffe Bar which also launched a Mayor’s Special which offers a choice of a Black forrest, Lychee, Icebox, German chocolate square. Again, with the proliferation of smart phones in Jamaica and the Caribbean and the fast adoption of this platform, I believe brands will follow and use this as a fresh way to connect and reward their loyal customers. This has also great applications in our Caribbean Tourism industry as well.
4. Twitter –It is estimated that just under 20,000 Jamaicans are using Twitter. Official numbers from a joint US/Jamaican research initiative of which I am apart, will be released within the next 30 days. Clearly very easy to see why it was easy to get 300 or more Jamaican tweeters in a single spot for the Jamaica Pegasus tweetup (hashtag #jptweetup) this month.
IDEA #2: From Job hunting to Entrepreneurship
I became a Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk fan girl years ago for a reason. Their beliefs mirror mine. They believe it’s the best time in history to start a business, even a solo money making project. We have unprecedented access to people, information and ideas. We’re in a time and space where the playing field is more level and open. If you want to start your one person operation, whether it’s to build a mobile or web app, start a blog, get paid for tweeting marketing messages to your twitter community- you can. It matters not any more that you live in Jamaica, Barbados, Punjab or Sweden-as long as you have a working brain, a desire to learn, the energy to work on your idea it can be done.
Jamaican brands such as Sandor Panton’s Top5Jamaica.com, Dale Kurt Murray of Socialingua, Damion Daley of Software Architects. I deliberating didn’t expand on them because I prefer that you Google them and see what I’m really talking about.
I want College students and graduates especially to forget about the typical job search, and instead think entrepreneurially by starting projects and create jobs for your friends. The guarantee of a job after you graduate is old school thinking in this new world where work is no longer just a place you work but a more about a thing you do and increasingly from anywhere.
Idea # 3. Social Media can turn around Jamaica’s bad customer service culture
It is said that this is the age of the empowered consumer and I agree. Many of us have the access, the ability, the power to Tweet, Foursquare, Blog, add photos and our opinions on Facebook – to share how we feel about a product, an event, or customer service that we experience. Here in Jamaica, tweeters can help turn around Jamaica’s God awful customer service culture. Here’s how:
a. Reward only products, services, events and companies that give you value with your time and money.
b. Critique and give valuable feedback places, events and companies where you do spend your time and money.
c. Talk about the Great products and fantastic customer service that you do experience.
Thanks so much to the Jamaica Pegasus, Prudence Simpson the Director of Sales and Marketing for inviting me to present and thanks to all of the sponsors who supported the event, the brand affinity from your genuine move to connect with customers in an authentic and fresh way will pay off in the bottom line eventually.