Social Media Lessons From Africa


A social network diagram

Image via Wikipedia


“In Africa, wealth is counted not only in currency, but in the number of people to whom you are closely linked.  The idea is that in times of need there is reliability within your social network – that within networks, members will aid one another on request.”

… J. Fadiman (1994)  “African Management Principles:  An Overseas Marketers Guide”.

Remember the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon deal from a few years ago?  In principle, we are connected or interconnected to everyone on the planet within six links or degrees. This is interesting – but how are U.S. businesses acknowledging this as they pursue globalization or simply look to grow revenue stateside?

The rise of social networks like, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo! Groups, etc., presents an interesting dichotomy for U.S. based businesses.  The U.S. is long steeped in quantitative measurements in the short term while most of the world outside of the EU focuses on long term qualitative measurements of success or wealth (like Africa in the quote above).

The true value of human capital to an organization must include the wealth of knowledge and interconnections that lay outside the typical organizational structure and within social networks.  It is within these diverse personal and professional networks that interactions and  engagement  occur and from which an organization can benefit from a robust knowledge base (for a knowledge based economy) rather than limiting the full organizational value of human capital.

The measurement of success can be quantified only if the qualitative aspect is appreciated.  Too often U.S. businesses fail to understand that embracing the qualitative will lead to quantitative success and find themselves on the periphery of true network engagement (as depicted in the picture above).  Organizations that do not leverage social media or social networking in the same manner that the telephone, internet access, etc. are utilized have artificially limited their quantitative success in both the short and long term.


About Michael Hanson

Change Agent and 2011 MBA with more than 15 years of deep experience in Business Development, Marketing, Branding and Technology. Social Media and Mobile Marketing Specialist. View all posts by Michael Hanson

2 responses to “Social Media Lessons From Africa

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