Social media: Passion above business

Around 400 people made their way to the Putra World Trade Centre for Malaysia’s inaugural World Bloggers Summit, in an attempt to learn about social media’s benefits for businesses, yesterday.

In a conference that was filled with arguments over business metrics to measure the success of social media investments, Air Asia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani stole the thunder from other panelists by claiming there is no method to measure Return Of Investments (ROI) when it comes to social media investments.

“The key is getting close to customers. Our KPIs are simple. If we have a plane on the air every three hours, that’s good enough,” he said.

“You need to engage in social media with passion. The business side is important, but if you relate with your customers, everything else will fall into place. There is no need to measure.” he said.

Azram was responding to Lim Fahima Jachja, the CEO of Virtual Consulting in Indonesia, who was stressing on methods to measure ROIs.

“Social media, contrary to popular belief, is not free nor cheap. It actually requires substantial investment, and company CEOs tend to ask for their return of investments after some time,” she said.

“For these businesses, the number of retweets or likes you get does not equate to ROIs. ROI is all about financial returns,” she added.

The summit was subsequently dominated by questions relating to Tourism Malaysia’s RM 1.8 million expenditure to develop its Facebook page, and also regarding the cyber attack threat that the Malaysian government has received from Anonymous in the wake of latter’s banning of several open source websites.

Most of the panelists however, especially Text 100 Public Relations’ Malaysia digital lead Ridhuan Sidek, only skirmed the surface of the issue, saying that the costs of social media investments are different depending on the targets set by certain bodies.

Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim also refused divulge much about the government’s preventive measures regarding the cyber attack, scheduled to be at 3.30 am earlier today.

Rais had inaugurated the summit with a keynote address earlier in the morning.

“There is freedom, but there are limitations as well,” he said, referring to the freedom of speech for blogging community.

A survey by Komunitikini however revealed that most of the attendees are actually business owners as compared to bloggers.

Less than 30 people in the audience raised their hands when when WAT Consult Indian CEO Rajiv Dingra posed a question regarding the amount of active bloggers in the conference hall.

The others were mostly business owners eager to venture into social media investments.

“I’m here to learn about social media, because we are planning to start investing in it after this summit,” said the young CEO of a local event management company.

The summit has participants from UK, South Africa, Philippines and others, and will recommence today with topics on cyber-security amongst others.

Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was scheduled to attend the morning session, was absent.