Globalization, Social Media and the Developing World

100609-PLEN101a World BankGlobalization, social media and technology are marginalizing the importance of existing world powers.  The Web breaks not just language barriers but economic and social barriers as well, says Edith Wilson (@wilsoner1), senior advisor for communications at the World Bank who blogs at www.ediewilson.com.

The convergence of communications and social media is becoming familiar to everyone, but few people are aware—and even fewer take advantage of— emerging multilingualism. New tools such as Google Translate, Global Voice and other translation services use the web to break communication barriers. These tools allow people with common interests but in different countries to connect with one another no matter what language they speak.

Last year alone, Indonesia’s membership in Facebook grew 800 percent to 21 million people, while Mexico increased by 300 percent to 10 million users. Russell Southwood, an expert in the penetration of Internet and mobile technologies in Africa, tells of seeing children in Kenya’s internet cafes posting on Facebook. The internet embraces multiculturalism: despite a market’s status as developing, emerging or mature, people are adopting the internet in record numbers.

Communicators can use these tools and trends today to begin reaching a global market easily and cost-effectively. The World Bank, for example, recently made available a comprehensive set of data about development in countries around the globe. Since its release, the data has been accessed by 1.5 unique visitors, most of whom never had access to it before. The World Bank has also mounted a global Apps for Development Competition, which provides incentives for the public to create innovative software applications that strive to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Edith Wilson has advised at the World Bank for the last decade, specializing in multi-stakeholder processes, governance and anti-corruption, and economic reform. She has also held senior positions in government, the private sector and civil society.

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@EricSchwartzman provides social media training, strategy and social media governance to public relations, public affairs, corporate communications and marketing specialists. He has extensive experience integrating emerging information technologies into organizational communications programs through public speaking, hands-on training seminars, consulting and the development of corporate policies on social media usage.

His clients have included Boeing, BYU, City National Bank, Environmental Defense Fund, Government of Singapore, Johnson & Johnson, NORAD Northcomm, Southern California Edison, UCLA, US Dept. of State, United States Army, US Embassy of Athens, the United States Marine Corps and many small to medium-sized companies and agencies.

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