Liveblog: #SMDayCMB


Good evening, folks! We’ve packed up our packs, returned from our brief hiatus to Kandy and piled into one big pickup truck with the sole purpose of getting to Excel World at 4 o’ clock. Aaaaaand we’ve succeeded. Which means we’re now in the presence of people who’ve actually dressed up to meet people they laugh, poke, harangue and yell at on Twitter and Facebook on a daily basis.

Welcome to Mashable Social Media Day CMB. We’ve been here once before (last year) and it was epic. This time, the venue’s better, the WiFi is better and we’ve got a little over 300 digital socialites scrambling into white-and-green Tshirts.


The first session, starting from 4.40 (which, if you noticed, was a couple of minutes ago) is Social media for Business. to that end, Koshal from Etisalat has just announced 3 speakers – the first of which is Dr Amanda Keissel, who handles the social media presence for the Good Market (yes, that’s where they have all those awesome cookies).


She’s dishing out some of the home truths of using social media as a business entity – including the differences between thy personal page and thy business page, the types of content, the whole issue of moderation – and, of course, advertising. We’ve got a full day ahead: after this triple sessions comes a series of awards, a product launch, Iraj on Social Media for celebrities (well, we don’t see many in the audience: perhaps we should have the likes of Centigradz sitting in the audience the next time): there’s even a quadcopter drone floating outside capturing footage. Fus Ro Dah.


We have a rather interesting case study next: Shiraz of I am Sri Lanka, a rather curious emerging business that was built up entirely on Instagram alone, which might very well be a first for a Sri Lankan company. I am Sri Lanka has no brick-and-mortar office, their website is still being developed, they’ve spent exactly nothing on start-up costs, and yet they’ve managed to rack up over a 170 customers, a little under 10,000 followers on Instagram – a sizeable network backed up by the liked of Skype.


Clearly anything is possible. Check out – it’s quite a surprising success: we’ve heard of businesses rolling out through Facebook, but Instagram is another market entirely.

Next up, Rikaz from Cioconat Lounge on how integrating Foursquare into their social media strategy dramatically increased their reach.

Interesting question from the crowd: How are the speakers dealing with Facebook’s new algorithms, which drastically limit the reach of a page (as compared to a year or so ago)?.

Dr Amanda’s answer is  simple: “As Facebook has gone public, they’re trying to make a profit. Sad to say, but that’s how it works. So you can share content that people would like to share – so that it keeps showing up on the newsfeed. You can back this up with small boosts – even a one-dollar promotion helps a lot in terms.”

Rikaz chimes in, pointing out that since February, post engagement has taken a downward turn (a trend we’re seeing worldwide).

“In my opinion, people are pretty savvy. If they think that you’re trying to trick them into sharing or liking they’re content. chances are less that they’d do so. I’d advise being careful. If it’s something that’s related to your business, it makes a lot of sense. If not, they might see it as a trick.”


deer in the spotlights

Koshal just attempted to build up suspense for a song by showing the audience a couple of seconds. That didn’t really work out. So, next: the Most Popular Facebook  Community Page Awards (and no, as the audience hoots out, the BBS pages are nowhere on the list). The Secretary to the Ministry of Mass Media and Information comes up to acknowledge the audience’s choice: the Sri Lankan Cricket page.


Entertainment, ladies and gentlemen! We had some great YouTube personalities highlighted at the last SMDay, and this year’s only improved on the formula: we’re introduced to the Whistling Birds, a Facebook duo that produces some…er, unusual covers of popular songs. Like this one, where they sing Asha Nirashaa in a barbershop (or a salon, as we godey folk like to call it). Here they are:


The audience is in uproar at the stuff going up on the stuff going up on the big screen behind the performers. We’re trying not to laugh.



Moar awards. Yes, bring them on. SMDayCMB recognizes people for initiatives for the greater good: in this case, the B.H. Edirisooriya Foundation has been recognized for their work on Facebook, promoting multiple charities as well as aid foundations and donations – Also, Etisalat’s launching a couple of new social media packages – basically, a monthly and daily plan giving unlimited access to Facebook. As part of the promo, they’re also bribing the audience with free SIMs with 6 months’ worth of Facebook. Marketing much? Well, they ARE paying for the food, so…



Erh. We now have the Secretary to Minister for Mass Media and Communication on Social Media onstage. This is ironic, since everybody he wants to arrest is probably in this room already. 

Unfortunately, the next feature is not as social as we’d like: it’s basically a presentation on what SL CERT is and what it does. They’re running a basic introduction to social media. We find this rather curious, since everyone in this room already has more reach on their own individual platforms and probably knows far more about social media than the presenters do at the moment – it’s a bit like a blind person trying to captain a football squad. “It’s harder you to diet!” the presentation shouts (yes, incorrect grammar and all).


The audience, needless to say, is losing interest. This is turning Social Media Day into Facebook for Dummies.


However, in the middle of all this, a very valid question is raised. We have frapes. We have people photoshopping…other people’s profiles. We have almost-nude pictures on Instagram. We have that one friend who’ll sneak into your profile and change your relationship status to something involving your left hand. In light of this, the most pressing concern: how do we safely introduce children into this world?



“The Ministry of Mass Media cannot globally set rules to this crowd: this is a different ballgame. What we’re trying to do is to determine the parameters that are acceptable for use as guidelines and to get the message across.”

This is after a bit of an awkward back-and-forth concerning the social media reporting issues that were raised on every possible front after the Aluthgama incident.


And now, on a happier note: awards! Abdul Halik-Azeez (@colombedouin) takes the award for the most popular Sri Lankan Instagrammer 2014. No surprise there: his work is amazing. He’s also the guy behind the SriLankaBaton movement and InstaMeet SL. Very well deserved indeed.


Kirulu Niskalanka takes home the award for the best blogger.

We now have Iraj doing the exact same thing he did at Google I/O: YouTube and Social Media for Future Artistes. Let us not harp on this anymore. We come to praise Social Media, not the bury it…



Ayesha Hettiarachchi wins the Most Popular Tweep award. Shortly after, we’re treated tp #ApeSinduwa, Sri Lanka’s very first crowdsourced song, compiled of some 711 lyrics sent in by 180 tweeps and sung by the remarkably talented Sachith Pulasthi. #ApeSinduwa is epic. It’s the best thing to come out of SMDayCMB  so far. In fact, it’s so epic that when the singer takes to the stage to sing live, his devotees sit in lotus positions on the floor awaiting musical enlightenment. Like so :



And on that happy note, SMDayCMB comes to an end – literally on a happy note, because Pharrell’s track is now blasting over the speakers. It’s time to call it a day, folks. This is the Readme LIVE team, over and out. Watch our Facebook page for photos. 





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