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Think like a farmer, not a factory manager - Walter Pike

Social media is more than just a new way of sending out mass communication; it's a new way of thinking.

This is according to Walter Pike, founder of the South African Digital Marketing Academy and well-known marketing consultant, who will be speaking at the ITWeb Social Media Summit, in August.

“Think like a farmer or an artist, not like a factory manager,” advises Pike. “A factory manager knows with certainty what is happening in its process - if he keeps its process under control, the result will be as planned. Advertising used to work this way.

“A farmer, however, knows what he would like the output to be, but there are many variables that cannot be controlled. He learns how to read the conditions and adapt, nurture and facilitate.

“If his product was a brand, he would be practicing brand husbandry, not brand management. In the social era, marketing works more like this. You need to be more creative, more like an artist.”

Pike says too many organisations seem to view social media as just another way of extending their messaging and talking to an audience. What is needed, however, is an understanding that the emergence of social media has, in fact, changed the way people communicate - with each other and with brands.

What organisations need to do to be successful in the social age is focus on how ideas spread from person to person and facilitating - not controlling - their spread.

This goes beyond having a Facebook account or tweeting. It's about realising the impact that social has on customers and even on employees. “For one thing,” says Pike, “[companies need to] understand that new employees treat Facebook as a resource - part of how they live and work. You can't block it.”

Organisations might very well have to change their core philosophies when developing a social strategy. According to Pike, making a business social brings up questions of control, of organisation, of collaboration and of co-ordination: “It's not an activity to be taken lightly.”

Pike will be going into more detail about how businesses can become social at ITWeb's inaugural social media event, on from 14 to 16 August, at The Forum, in Bryanston.


ITWeb is South Africa's leading technology-focused publisher, with media products and services that span online, print and events.

ITWeb's online platforms reach over 200 000 unique readers a month and service a large client base through its Virtual Press Office offering. ITWeb's print titles include Brainstorm magazine, iWeek magazine and a series of ITWeb Informatica reference annuals. Its events, such as the BI Summit and the IT Security Summit, provide a networking and knowledge exchange platform, addressing prevailing business technology trends and issues.

ITWeb also owns a number of related online businesses - an online recruitment service, CareerWeb; a social media platform, MyDigitalLife; as well as other industry portals, such as defenceWeb and iFashion. /

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Jacqueline L"ues
Programme director, ITWeb Events
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: (011) 807 3294
Twitter: @ITWeb_Events