I had a little trouble tracking down Nicole Simon for the SAP Global Survey and I figured she was important, not just for her legendary candor and wit, but because she has always seemed to have her hand on the pulse of European social media. It turned out that she had joined Sam Sethi's new Blognation, a new online newsletter reporting on the news of social media in the world, all in the English language. That project is obviously one of great interest to the SAP project. Nicole's answers are, as usual, terrific.
1. The SAP Global Survey is concerned with social media and how it emerges in different cultures and how it transcends the formidable barriers of language. But Blognation is one-directional. It takes Spanish, Italian, Chinese and the world's other major languages and reports what is happening to English-speaking people. Does Blognation plan to also reverse English events into other languages or does it expect English will become the common language of the Internet and social media?
You would have to ask Sam this one, but Blognation's goal is different. To bring information about what is happening in these countries to establish a common ground. English is the de facto language for this audience. Personally, I see no reason to go back into the native language itself because that would not foster common discussion among everyone, but would just make the old silos again. As long as there isn't one big Babelfish, we will have to agree on one language.
One big big goal I have with Blognation is exactly that: To kick start local entrepreneurs and startups; to get them to start thinking internationally, because the world is becoming one huge place - and it is not enough to stay in your own little corner.
You might also get some information out of this for the survey:
2. What similarities and differences do you see in the way social media is emerging in the different regions and cultures of the world?
My view of my world is limited to the languages I can read - therefore I have no clue at all outside the USA and Europe, even more Germany than Europe.
One thing is that people should learn that there is more than one solution to
things. In Germany, Xing is the dominant social network for business, and although the German geek crowd uses Facebook, in Germany studivz.de does run 2.3 billion page impressions per month. If Facebook would ever come over,
they will find it very difficult to just take over the market. Due to it being separated from the rest of the German-speaking world, the whole effect of Facebook and its applications is unknown to Germans. Similar, would be their interest in connecting online as well as offline. Social media is a tool like everyone other and if you bring the right toolset, everybody will jump on using it.
3. When Robert and I wrote Naked Conversations, French blogging was fast-emerging, but not so in Germany. Has that changed? We know of course that German-based SAP has embraced social media. What about other German companies of any size?
Blogging is still not very visible, but it does exist. There is no huge provider giving out numbers like in France; also many users do not care or even know about Technorati or Alexa. Alexa numbers are usually used to prove something - total bullshit when it comes to countries other than the US.
Tools like blogging, podcasting and Second Life are much more used for internal reasons and I think that is a good development. Perhaps it is a mentality thing not to bust out about how AWESOME you are, but being more interested in how to get things done internally.
As journalists still have no clue about blogging, it is no wonder they do not write about it. Add again the language barrier and the buzz around blogging does not reach companies much.
Let's go back to language. The EU has a common currency, but it's
population speaks over 50 languages. Can social media play a role in
The EU does not have a common currency, only a currency which a lot of the
countries of the EU agree to have. UK for example does not, nor does Denmark.
I rather give the role to computer science and linguists to finally build a Babelfish, but social media can help to connect people - even across language barriers. Social media allows me to stay connected even though I am not next to you.
Does Social Media allow me to get a stronger feeling for EU? Yes. But not so much because of the tools, I think.
5. How does a start up in Italy or Ireland or Germany use social media to reach global markets?
6. What social media tools are the most popular in the EU? Why?
No clue about the other markets - hence Blognation. As for Germany, I would
say that is a typical question of somebody writing. First of all, do I want to
go international? Second, what kind of social media I use depends a lot
on the targeted group. Having a strong German accent but going for audio might
not be the right way for me to go forward.
And if my target group does not even use social media, I can try as much as I want, but it will not result in anything. So if this is the right choice to go for social media, I would assume it is the same as everywhere else, with the only addition that it makes sense to do it in both languages, German and International.
If it is your choice and makes sense for your market, go local with the language as well.
No clue. I would assume blogging cause it is most convenient, bookmarking perhaps, and sharing.
7. Where is it all going? What will social media in business look like five years from today?
I do not know what it will look like.
The challenge will be to help the individual make good use of the tools and avoid problems / irritation like with privacy. We are going to be a much more connected world, though I see that many normal users do not even recognize what they are using and why.
I would expect some groups to be more internationally oriented than now, and in general expect the user will have higher expectations. Meaning also that I do not care about structures of your company, I can read that you are offering a special deal to country A but not to B.
I, for example, am highly annoyed how airlines treat me just because I am not in the US. Communities like flyertalk already show that this kind of Business 1.0 - the more people get to know the game, the more the businesses have to change their approach in marketing, management and communication.
8. Do you have any social media related advice for SAP as either a major business software provider or as an aspirant to become a global thought leader in social media?
I have had experience working with SAP, my whole 15 years of enterprise live and if there is anything I can tell you it would be that SAP being the leader in social media itself is not going to happen.
If they try to do that they would be like me trying on a size 6 dress
and pretend to be slim. Business, social media, its applications, its benefits and how businesses / management / organization need to change - there I see a good possibility because SAP understands the processes of a company, not just the technology. Something IBM feels like, even though they have a VERY good reputation about this space.
SAP customers look for objective orientation, guidance in this world full of confusing things and technologies, this is an area where SAP can be a good global player. In the whole Social Media space? Absolutely unbelievable.
9. Can social media play a significant role in strengthening the EU? Why or why not?
Yes, through being able to connect with one another, outside of the traditional
channels of media and power / politics.