Japanese Prime Minister starts blogging and Tweeting

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"Japanese Flag"
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We’ve written before about the ways in which politicians are using social media, from US President Barack Obama, to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. These politicians, like many others, are using social media as a way of engaging directly with the public. They often use they use these tools as a way of focusing on specific topics or issues that are of interest to them. And social media can be a great way to open up and bring people inside the organisation and see what is going on and feel like they have a direct connection with those people making decisions. Just as this is beneficial for brands, so it is also beneficial for organisations and governments

The latest world leader to start using social media is Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama (鳩山由紀夫). On the 1st January 2010, he started Tweeting (@hatoyamayukio) and blogging (Hato Cafe).

He currently has almost 150,000 followers on Twitter, not bad for his 12 updates. He says in his bio that this account is not just to talk about politics and the updates so far range from politics to insights into Hatoyama’s life and routine. On cold mornings he likes a warming cup of tea and a walk, apparently. Even sharing a video of the pigeons in the garden of the residence from one such walk. On the blog - Hato Cafe (or Dove Cafe) he has reported on his trip to India and his discussions with Japanese astronaut, Soichi Noguchi, from the International Space Station.

On the blog, Hatoyama explains what he is using social media for:

I started this blog as a first step to burying the gap between people and politics as well as changing this country together.

It will be interesting to watch how this use of social media develops and changes. The update so far have been a mix of personal reflections, insights into the Japanese Prime Minister’s life and reflections on official trips and events. He talks about engaging the public in public policy debates via both the blog and Twitter and this would be a fascinating development in the Japanese political landscape where traditionally engaging people online has not been part of policy during elections or governments.

But there is a lot to be said for just using social media to engage people and let them see behind the scenes and into the live and perspective of the Hatoyama himself. Social media tools can be a great way to let people understand more about the individuals - what they do, think and experience. This is, on its own, very important - breaking down barriers between the public and politicians in a way that has previously not been possible to do on such a large scale. Whilst a small number of people might once have heard a Japanese Prime Minister’s story of the birds in his garden as he takes his morning walk, we can now all know about this and even experience it with him through his video. Do not underestimate the importance of this. The more we understand about people the more we engage with them.

The top FreshNetworks Blog posts in 2009

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Each month we look at the most popular posts on the FreshNetworks blog. We aim to bring you the best posts in social media, online communities and customer engagement online. Here are the most popular posts from 2009.

1. Google Wave vs Twitter at conferences

There has been a lot of talk and discussion of Google Wave throughout the year as it has spread though invites. For many people the immediate response is: “I’m here; what now?”. In our most popular post in 2009, Charlie looked at one example of how Google Wave can be used to add real value: as a conference back-channel. We show how at the Ecomm conference delegates were provided with Google Wave accounts. What resulted was a fantastic showcase of collaboration and crowd-sourcing.

2. Dannii, Danyl and instant X-Factor feedback

Dannii Minogue, a judge on UK reality TV show X-Factor, lost her mind for a minute live on air. She brought up a contestant’s sexuality when she was meant to be commenting on his performance. Twitter and the social web went wild. The speed of discussion and debate on Twitter, in forums and online communities was striking. This can be beneficial for brands when they are dealing with a potential reputation management issue. Good buzz tracking allows them to monitor social media, identify issues when they arise, understand the sentiment and where people are discussing it. Information is power, it helps brands make decisions about what to do and to do it quickly.

3. Gordon Brown’s YouTube trauma

It seems like a long time ago now, but at the end of April Gordon Brown made a major announcement on expenses for MPs in the UK. And he made it on YouTube first. Here Charlie Osmond looks at why this wasn’t the best idea and why social media isn’t always the right medium for your message.

4. Russian social network Vkontakte.ru plans global roll-out

Russian social network VKontakte (В контакте) serves 1.4 billion page views each day to its 42 million users, and attracts 14 million unique visitors each month. In one of the most engaged and fastest-growing social networking markets in the world, it is a force to be reckoned with. At the start of September, Vedomosti (Ведомости), the Russian business newspaper, reported that VKontakte had registered the domain www.vk.com and plans to begin marketing the social network in twelve new markets globally before the end of 2010. One to watch.

5. Examples of online communities in the retail industry

As part of our series of online community examples,  we looked at examples from the retail industry. Case studies from Wal-Mart, Sainsbury’s and Starbucks.

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)

Our top five posts in June

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At FreshNetworks we aim to bring you the best posts in social media, online communities and customer engagement online. In case you missed them, find below our top five posts in June.

1. Gordon Brown’s YouTube trauma

Our most popular post for two months in a row, Charlie Osmond examines Gordon Brown’s use of YouTube to make policy announcements and why it isn’t always the best medium. There can sometimes seem to be a temptation to use social media to convey a message, but whether it’s marketing, communications, PR or engaging your customers, there’s a place for social media and a time that another route is more appropriate.

2. Build your own community or go where people are? Do both

Another popular post over the last couple of months, examining the debate about whether brands should engage customers where they are online (and so in social networks) or build their own site to bring them to (a branded online community). Here we look at the Hub and Spoke Model of Social Media Engagement. Showing how the most effective thing for any brand to do is to do both.

3. Dell makes $3 million on Twitter. What can we learn?

Dell has reportedly made $2 million in sales directly from their @DellOutlet Twitter stream, and a further $1 million from sales that started on Twitter but were completed elsewhere. That’s $50 in revenue for every Twitter follower they have. In this post we look at three reasons why Dell has been so successful with Twitter and what others can learn.

4. How organisations can use Twitter - some examples

A presentation of three different ways that organisations are using Twitter and some ideas of how other organisations can do the same. Putting a public face on the brand, like Ford. Segmenting and targeting different groups, like Dell. Or using Twitter as a gateway to a broader social media engagement strategy.

5. People are fed up of joining brand pages on Facebook

Research from the Internet Advertising Bureau suggests that people are becoming increasingly tired of requests to join brand pages and install branded applications on their Facebook page or in other social networks. We look at what this means for brands and marketers trying to engage customers in social networks.

Our top five posts in May

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At FreshNetworks we aim to bring you the best posts in social media, online communities and customer engagement online. In case you missed them, find below our top five posts in May.

1. Gordon Brown’s YouTube trauma

It seems like a long time ago now, but at the end of April Gordon Brown made a major announcement on expenses for MPs in the UK. And he made it on YouTube first. Here Charlie Osmond looks at why this wasn’t the best idea and why social media isn’t always the right medium for your message.

2. People are fed up of joining brand pages on Facebook

Research from the Internet Advertising Bureau suggests that people are becoming increasingly tired of requests to join brand pages and install branded applications on their Facebook page or in other social networks. We look at what this means for brands and marketers trying to engage customers in social networks.

3. The ten conversations to listen for in social media

We review a presentation from David Alston of Radian6 looking at how to sell social media to the executive level. The most interesting part of the presentation is an analysis of ten types of conversations that all brands should be listening for in social media. From the complaint to the point of need, and everything in between.

4. Champions, active users and trolls

As part of our series on online community management, Holly Seddon looks at the types of people who make up online communities. How to identify and deal with the different types to grow and build the community.

5. Build your own community or go where people are? Do both

There is a common debate about whether brands should engage customers where they are online (and so in social networks) or build their own site to bring them to (a branded online community). Here we look at the Hub and Spoke Model of Social Media Engagement. Showing how the most effective thing for any brand to do is to do both.