Social Media Day Colombo 2017: Key Takeaways From The Conference


Ah Social Media Day. It’s the one day all internet dwellers (us included) get to celebrate the massive culture that is Social Media. Social Media Day was actually something launched by Mashable back in 2010. This was to celebrate social media and its global impact on communications. Sri Lanka started celebrating social media back in 2011. On the 9th of July, Social Media Day Colombo edition kicked off for the sixth consecutive year. The first session for the day began with the conference. Here’s what unfolded.

1. Is Negative Publicity Bad Really?

First off, we had Umair Wolid, ‎Head of Marketing of Content & Digital Media at Wijeya Newspapers. Umair took on the topic of negative publicity in the context of social media. In the past negative publicity is something that happened at actual physical meeting places. But today its all out there on social media. The fact that the average facebook user spends 50 minutes per day doesn’t help this fact either. So why are people attracted so much to negativity? According to Umair, we love negativity. All of us want to feel good about ourselves. So we find the negatives. Another reason would be curiosity.

Social Media Day Colombo 2017 | Umair Wolid
Image Credits: Sanoj Thiru

Umair cited a few case studies on the different ways how negativity would affect a certain brand on social media. One such example is the Ceylon Electricity Board Facebook page. You might remember, some time back Sri Lanka witnessed a 3 day power cut islandwide. Due to this reason, The CEB Facebook page started getting traction as more and more people started mentioning the page online. The page ended up getting a lot of likes and reach all over facebook. Another example would be NewsCurry. For those of you don’t know, NewsCurry is a parody news website that thrives on turning negative publicity into humorous content.

So the question remains, can brands leverage on bad publicity? According to Umair Wolid, It all comes down to a brand’s core values and brand reputation.

2. Online Journalism: Boone or Bane?

Following Umair’s session was Chanuka Wattegama. Chanuka’s topic for the day was online journalism and its place in the internet. He started off with the question, can the internet really co-exist with journalism? To answer this, there are 2 models that need to considered.

1. Professional Content Model

This primarily refers to the mainstream media/media institutions that operate on a professional level. According to Chanuka, the following conditions should be met for this model to survive.

  • Paid journalists should continue to outsmart the users continuously
  • Should be able to get advertising revenues
  • Should be unbiased and reliable
  • Have to be interactive when it comes to social media

2. User Content Model

This is referred to the user generated content platforms. As with the previous model, Chanuka believes the following aspects are key for this model to thrive in the future.

  • Presence of a mechanism that rewards users for good content
  • Secondary developers of content
  • Availability of freelance researchers and writers
Social Media Day Colombo 2017 | Chanuka
Image Credits: Sanoj Thiru

But what about the reliability of user generated content? When asked by the audience, Chanuka highlighted the example of Wikipedia when it first came online. The reliability of the website was questioned. But with time, most people looked at Wikipedia as a reference point for information. Chanuka believes that there is always a trust issue when it comes to user content. But with time, he believes that these issues would be resolved.

3. How To Get The Best Out of Dark Social

Dark Social is not something that is often talked about in the public space, particularly in terms of leveraging it for brands. In case you were wondering, no. Dark Social has nothing evil or sinister. The term dark social is refers to social media platforms that web analytics programs usually find difficulty in keeping track of. Mary Ann Stephens, the 3rd speaker for Social Media Day Colombo 2017 conference talked about how brands could utilize dark social to their advantage.

Social Media Day Colombo 2017
Image Credits: Sanoj Thiru

According to Mary Ann, dark social isn’t something that brands should ignore anymore. Why? The platform acts as the best form of word of mouth, for the simple reason that its private sharing of content. Other reasons include unique demographics and its prevalence among many audiences. Thus offering marketing opportunities from a company perspective. But its always important for brands to test it out first before diving into dark social marketing, she iterates.

4. Handling Social Media Crisis

The final session for Social Media Day Colombo 2017 conference came in the form of a panel discussion. The discussion took on the topic of crisis management in social media. In the modern environment, social media crisis isn’t something new. In crisis situations, what most of us usually see is that brands respond after a brand name gets tarnished. But how can one take preventive measures? According to Yadav from Etisalat, it all comes down to the fundamentals. The biggest obstacle is that the company itself is in denial of the crisis. Recognizing the presence of a crisis is often the first step.

Social Media Day Colombo 2017
Image Credits: Sanoj Thiru

With every social media crisis, there’s always a triggering point. These triggers could be anything. The most common is often a product failure. “There is something what we call the fire triangle. For a fire to happen there needs to be oxygen, spark and fuel. Lot of the times brands try to find the spark in crisis and ignore the rest”, mentions panelist Amithe Amarasinghe.

Following the panel discussion, was the Q&A session. Here, the audience questioned aspects such as copying of content and legal measures one could take in crisis situations, etc.

Social Media Day Colombo 2017: Conference ends, onward with the meetup

With that, the morning segment that was the conference came to an end. Next on the agenda for Social Media Day Colombo 2017 was the meetup. Here’s everything you need to know in case you missed it this year.


Did you attend the conference at this year’s Social Media Day Colombo event? What are your thoughts on the conference? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. I would like to say something about that EB page. It was not endorsed by the institute at that time and was ran by an individual. in short, It was an un-official page at that time!


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