In the run up to our Summit on the Global Agenda, we asked you to put your questions to Gary Vaynerchuk, from our Global Agenda Council Social Media. What do you want to know about the effect of pictures and text on social media?
Questions from our Facebook followers:
Brian Gregoire: Will Google’s Gmail and calendar functions continue to be geared to analytical people, or do you think Google will develop them to be more friendly and attractive for the average person to use effectively?
Gary Vaynerchuk: I think it’s the former. Google has found a great balance between products built for usability and analytics, and there is a pretty enormous percentage of users who find value in that. The design and user-interface elements Google brings to the table are preferred to other alternatives. I think it’s in their DNA. This is a company founded by engineers, so I think that will continue to trickle down through the organization as the years go by.
Ulrich Weihler: Will companies have to interact more with their customers? It might not be enough just to tease topics, and let people comment.
Gary Vaynerchuk: I’m a big believer in this. I think the human revolution is upon us. More and more companies are going to hire more and more people in order to humanize their businesses and logos. As big data gets better and realizes that IQ isn’t enough, they’ll begin to layer on more EQ (emotional quotient) and there will be a correction in the market, where people will look for more human touches to layer on top of that data. This, in my opinion, is the ultimate formula when it comes to the success of a business.
Questions from our Twitter followers
Naree Joo @nareejk: How can social media be appropriately leveraged for development and social change?
Gary Vaynerchuk: It’s no different from any other platform. Where it was once a PSA, or a flyer, or a documentary, now it’s Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. It’s all just a matter of leveraging a platform to get your story out to the world while capturing some sort of call to action. At the end of the day, social change really happens when there is education and awareness at scale. As more of these new platforms are brought to consumers’ attention, they will become the place where we’re challenged to story-tell, drive our points home, and create the kind of world we’re looking for.
Naree Joo @nareejk: How can social media empower communities to have their voices heard when there are so many different voices already?
Gary Vaynerchuk: It already has. The Internet gave everybody a chance to have their voices heard, and these social media networks were purpose-built to do exactly that. A better question would be: ‘How do these communities figure out how to tell the proper story in order for their voices to be heard?’ Social media sites have already done their job. That’s like asking: ‘How do screwdrivers help people build their furniture faster?’ They already have, now it’s up to us to learn how to use them correctly.
Dev @socialmedia4D: How far are we from the $20 smartphone? How can we help build indigenous content? Will Project Loon solve access to silent voices?
Gary Vaynerchuk: Phones – The honest answer is that I don’t know, because I’m not deeply involved in hardware. My intuition says the $20 smartphone will be along in the next half decade, unless there is some kind of vested interest within the industry to prevent it from happening. With reference to indigenous content: it’s like anything else, it’s all about access and education. It’s about human beings who take the torch and educate the wider public. They do what they’ve always done by rallying around the subject and getting people motivated to tell those stories. It happens the way it has always happened. Think of the documentary-makers of our time, who go in and tell stories nobody else is telling. Now we just have a different set of tools to serve that same human spirit. As for Project Loon, I think it’s inevitable. Whether it’s Google or someone else, it’s absolutely going to happen.
Naree Joo @nareejk: What’s the role of social media in reducing social exclusion when excluded communities often don’t have access to ICT?
Gary Vaynerchuk: I think it’s already happening. I don’t think the Arab Spring would have played out in the same way without the use of social media. Social networks have proved time and time again that they’re just platforms, and that it’s up to the people in power not to limit the access. You can look at Syria, Egypt and Libya to see how social networks did their job. It’s a very similar question to the ‘social media as a tool’ question earlier. Social media does its job just fine. At this point, with cheap phones and widespread infrastructure, it’s the rogue human elements that are limiting the usefulness of the tools.
Questions from our Google+ followers
Gary Vaynerchuk: The answer to this is the same as it would be for every change that has ever happened to society throughout time. It’s a shared responsibility between the organizations making the change, the media, and friends and loved ones of the person in question. That is how anybody gets educated. I think it really comes down to the media, and to friends and family. It’s the same thing that happened when the world was taught how to use email by their children.
Image: Twitter and Facebook icons are seen on a smartphone REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach.