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Here's how you change the world

News Story: Facebook affects US elections. In 2012 political scientist James Fowler did a study. He sent messages to people on Facebook in the US encouraging them to vote. He sent to a different group of Facebook users a message with pictures of their friends voting.

The result? The people who saw the message with their friends voting then went to vote themselves. In fact, it is estimated that 340,000 people showed up to vote who normally would not have voted.

Did this change the results? Hard to say. Might this be used in future elections? Absolutely.

Here's another interesting study result. It has long been known that emotions are contagious. If you are happy and smile, then people around you become happy. The opposite is also true. But what about emotions as reflected in social networks?

A recent study showed that rainfall negatively affected the emotions of people on Facebook, and then their negative emotion was reflected in other people, their friends, who were living in cities where it was not raining!

Let's think about this a moment. It is raining where I live. This puts me in a bad mood. I then post something negative on Facebook. A friend of mine in a different country or even continent then becomes depressed. He or she posts something negative. A friend of his or hers (who I don't know) then becomes depressed. And on and on.

In chaos theory there is something called the Butterfly Effect where, the theory goes, a small change at one place can result in a large change somewhere else. In the common example, a flap of a butterfly's wings causes a hurricane in another place.

So it is raining where I live in Asia on election day in the US. I post something negative, the negativity spreads among my American friends and their friends and with the increasing magnitude of the butterfly effect millions of negative people turn out to vote and overthrow the current government.

Improbable? Of course. Possible according to studies? Yes. Also of course.

Now, what do we do with this? As businessmen, we use it to our advantage.

If you don't know already, you should be aware that Bangkok is the largest city in the world based on the number of Facebook users. More people use Facebook in our capital than in any other city in the world (Jakarta is No 2).

Some questions. Does your company have a Facebook strategy?

Does your company even have a Facebook page?

Do YOU have a Facebook page? If you do, how often do you go on it? How often do you post something? Your target audience is most probably posting something this very second (if they are young they are probably not reading the newspaper!).

If your company has a Facebook page, how often is it updated? Who manages it? What is done to make it appealing and useful, so that people will go on it? Does your company even have a social media strategy?

Here's what you have to do. Sit down with some of your young staff. If you are a senior manager have someone else do it. Find out what people really think of your social media strategy (if you don't have one, have your young staff develop one for your company).

Then, send out positive feelings about your brand or your company. Those positive feelings will ripple through the fabric of the social media network in Thailand, causing millions of people to immediately run out and buy your product.

Well, maybe not exactly. But it should help. Whatever the results, having a social media strategy is the right thing to do in this day and age. So put down The Nation, pick up your phone, go onto Facebook, and start changing the world.

Eric Rosenkranz is chairman and founder of e.three (www.ethree-asia.com), a strategic

advisory helping companies in Southeast Asia develop growth oriented strategies.

He can be reached at er@ethree-asia.com.


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