My perspective on Social Media at the World Cup in South Africa

I am lucky enough to be at the World Cup 2010 in South Africa for a few weeks (our blog with photos, videos and more) and after a few days here this posting hit me while returning from a game tonight at Soccer City in Johannesburg (Brazil v Ivory Coast).  The social media movement is not what we see in the US, parts of Europe and Asia by any means.  I am not noticing where it could fit in daily.  But, I see how it wouldn’t at the same time.

Major sponsors of the event are Sony with their 3D TV initiative, a local cellular carrier (MTN) and Budweiser beer. None of them have been pushing any activity over social media channels.  Signs at the sites and around cities only pointed you to SMS codes.  By sending in a keyword you could get a prize, coupon or information only.  No one was pushing presence on Facebook, Twitter, location services or anything else we know in the social media world.

I am not saying this is bad in any way at all.  Just a difference in how we interact.  I was pleasantly surprised to see many places already listed on Foursquare and tons of people checked in.  But can you guess what some investigation found?  Those large amounts checking in were not from South Africa.  Sure, by mere percentage you would think there would be more non-locals due to the draw.  But I am also talking about local malls, shops, restaurants and a few other places we have visited.  It just is not something they do.  SMS and calls are the mainstay.  pre-paid phones are common.

Are we way beyond the curve in what we expect of business and individuals?  It seems to me the word is carried out quite well without it.  Everyone knows where everything is (locals we constantly ask for help and direction) without having to be engulfed in social media.  Products are still displayed prominently on billboards, radio and signs on transportation.  No one says check-in here or be our fan on Facebook.

Once I get back from World Cup 2010, I might adjust how I think about the way I interact.  Not saying cutting back, but how I can communicate more effectively with all the channels I reach all of you through.  I welcome you thoughts and suggestions and also from my new friends and readers I meet while in the amazing South Africa.

  • Colin Macdonald

    Limited African Bandwidth may have a part to play.

    But there are definitely constraints in play that you might not consider. Power, phone line, water etc. are not a given for a majority of the populace. In fact these constraints resulted in the huge market penetration of cellphones (majority charge at work).

  • Adeleida Bingham

    Nearly everyone in South Africa owns a cellphone while a handful has access to computers, painfully few have some bandwidth and only the geekiest of geeks has decent bandwidth (this is changing though, as it becomes more affordable). It is quite possible that the community you are meeting at games are slightly more privileged and perhaps do not quite reflect the ginormous gap between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' here.