Monday, 27 June 2011

There's no escape from Facebook!

Not wanting to induce mass levels of jealously into the Midlands PR community, but whilst getting back into the swing of things at Willoughby PR Digital, it is hard not to occasionally drift away and think of one of the many amazing places I encountered during my 7 month sabbatical travelling around the globe. The plethora of majestic moments I experienced, from meeting wild orang-utans in the jungles of Borneo, to swimming with a thousand dusky dolphins in Kaikoura, New Zealand, made me realise just how incredible our planet really is (if you’d like to read more about these experiences and loads more take a look at my travel blog). But what surprised me most is that, no matter how remote I went, wireless internet access and an avid social networking fan base were never far away!

The greatest example of just how big Facebook is hit me when my girlfriend and I had finished an exhausting but very rewarding trek in the mountains of Chiang Rai, in Northern Thailand. Our guide Amae, a humble hill tribe member, who taught himself almost perfect English just by listening to tourists who had ventured up these rugged hills since he was a boy, made it a truly inspirational day.

His knowledge of the rainforest, the varying cultures of the numerous Thai hill tribes, and natural wonders around us was exceptional. He even knew exactly what to do when I cut my leg badly on some sharp rocks on the way to a waterfall. With the hospital more than two hours away down the mountain, his fast thinking and knowledge of natural antiseptics from the forest meant I escaped without risk of infection or severe bleeding until I could make it to the hospital the next morning. But for all his many skills, the one I least expected was his IT literacy. Despite living in a house he built himself out of bamboo with his wife and children and earning the equivalent of about £4 a day, he had his own laptop. Even more surprising was that the place we were staying in - a wooden lodge atop a 7000ft mountain, in the rainforest - had high speed wireless internet! As a result of these two contributing factors I can now say that Amae is one of my more interesting friends on Facebook.

So if anyone tries to tell me that Facebook is just for tech savvy teens and trendy twenty-somethings, I can use this case study as the ultimate example that it most certainly is not. Although I’m not sure how many of my clients in the UK would want to target Amae as a customer, the fact remains Facebook and social networking appeals to just about everyone who is willing to give it a try, and that camp is growing every day. So if any company thinks, ‘my customers can’t be found on Facebook’, they are almost definitely wrong.


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