David Cameron’s India trade mission and FreshNetworks

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We’re full of excitement as our co-founder, Caroline Plumb, is off to India with David Cameron as part of a UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) delegation to promote UK exports and investment in India.

As Caroline will be representing a social media agency, she will be promoting the use of  social media technology for businesses - an area  in which the Indian business community seem to have already made good headway.

Caroline’s invitation to join David Cameron’s delegation to India is an exciting prospect given that India has topped a recent survey about businesses who use social media for new customer acquisition.

The survey, commissioned by workplace solutions provider Regus, revealed that 40% of businesses around the world have successfully leveraged social media for new business development.

India topped the chart for the country with the highest percentage of companies using social media for new customer acquisition, followed by Mexico and then Spain. Rather surprisingly, only 35% of US companies and 34% of Canadian companies have successfully leveraged social media to develop new business:

  • India - 52%
  • Mexico - 50%
  • Spain - 50%
  • Netherlands - 48%
  • China -  44%
  • South Africa - 43%
  • Germany - 41%
  • Australia - 41%
  • USA - 35%
  • Canada - 34%

With 67% of companies in India also using professional social networking to source information about new customers, clients or competitors, compared to the global average of 54%, it seems that Indian businesses are leading the way in implementing a social media strategy that successfully helps with new business development.

Business leaders in each country were also asked whether they believed that social media was an effective enough marketing channel to be awarded its own portion of marketing budget. More than a quarter of businesses worldwide confirmed they have set aside a proportion of marketing budget specifically devoted to social media activities, proving the benefits of social media for commercial organisations.

More about David Cameron’s India trade mission

David Cameron will be accompanied to India by six Cabinet members and around 60 CEOs, including Michael Queen of 3i, Philip Dilley of ARUP, Andrew Moss of Aviva, John Varley of Barclays,  John Griffith-Jones of KPMG, Graham Mackay of SABMillar and Vittorio Colao of Vodafone, as well as our very own Caroline. You can see the full list at the link below.

Foreign Secretary William Hague, Chancellor George Osborne and  Business Secretary Vince Cable are also among the British government representatives travelling to India.

Read more about David Cameron’s UKTI delegation to India.

Mobilising people in social media: the #welovethenhs debate

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Update: in the first week of the #welovethenhs debate on Twitter, 18,000 people shared over 37,000 stories.

In the last two days, almost 11,000 different people on Twitter have entered into a debate about the benefits of the UK healthcare system. Between them they have shared over 20,000 different stories that range from individual experiences to debates and evaluations of the merits of public health care over a private health insurance scheme. The levels of involvement are impressive and have been driven primarily by people sharing their own personal stories rather than being driven by a corporate or organisational Twitter campaign.

This discussion and debate is a great example of people coming together on a shared topic of interest. They are telling their stories or giving their opinion and tagging it with the #welovethenhs hashtag so that others can find, read and share what they have said. At it’s very simplest this is a great example of how social media work, and in particular of the kind of dynamics that exist in an online community:

  • People with a story to tell write about it and tag it, so that
  • People who want to find similar stories can easily sort through the information that has been shared, and
  • These stories can then be passed to other people and shared again so that more people can read it

People who don’t know each other can read and comment on each others’ stories - they are connected not by the fact that they actually know each other, but that they are interested in similar issues and want to talk about the same things. There are, of course, limits to hashtags as a way of sorting information on Twitter, but for quickly escalating debates like this they are a useful way of showing the strength and weight  of opinion on a particular issue.

But perhaps the most interesting element of the NHS debate on Twitter is the subject matter itself. With less than 12 months to go before the next General Election in the UK, the public are having a debate about an issue that is always a major component of any election campaign, and they are doing so in social media. And Prime Minister Gordon Brown joined in the discussions with his own opinions. Expressed via Twitter.

We’ve posted before about how Social Media can sometimes be the wrong medium for politicians to express their opinions or to make announcements (especially about Gordon Brown’s YouTube trauma). But this is a case where users themselves have started and are having a discussion on an issue that is of keen political, and electoral, interest. If they are this engaged now, on an issue of great interest but sparked by remarks by a US politician then we might be looking at an interesting and engaged set of debates on Twitter and across social media during the upcoming General Election.

I hope all the Parties have their social media strategies sorted.

* For up-to-date statistics about the #welovethenhs hashtag go to what the hashtag?!

  • Brown joins NHS Twitter campaign (guardian.co.uk)
  • Britain To Civil Servants: Go Forth And Tweet (huffingtonpost.com)
  • #welovethenhs takes over Twitter (stuartbruce.biz)
  • Twitter Army defends UK healthcare system (thenextweb.com)