Anyone interested in the development of social media platforms might have noticed that what used to be a rather staid series of big books listing the Who’s Who of Southern Africa is now a sleek online operation run out of the Naspers stable.
Minette Havemann, chief revenue officer of Naspers Labs, oversaw the relaunch of the Who’s Who brand in 2010, and has presided over its extraordinary development – over 470% growth in registrations since opening membership to a wider audience – and which now has an extensive database of professional biographies to its name. More recently, it launched a Who’s Who in Kenya, and intends growing its profile around Africa.
The 100-year-old Who’s Who of Southern Africa has moved from being an information resource to a sophisticated social media platform. It is now focusing on user acquisition and positioning the brand as the leading personal branding platform for professionals in Southern Africa. During the development of the Who’s Who platform, Naspers Labs identified personal branding, reputation management and professional networking as key trends fuelling the adoption of social media.
TheMediaOnline caught up with Havemann to find out how it works, and why professional South Africans – and Africans – should sign up.
- Could this be likened to a LinkedIn for South Africans? What are the differentiators?
While Who’s Who also offers standard features provided by other professional networking sites, such as messaging and friending, its offering extends to reputation management and a ranking system which allows users to earn badges as they progress through four different status levels. Who’s Who is focused on the Southern African region and further localises its offering with strategic partners in the Naspers stable, such as News24.com.
- Can anyone join? (Who’s Who has always been a high-end brand so are there limits to people who would like to join?)
Membership is free and open to all Southern African professionals, 18 years and older. Regional territories include: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Angola, Zambia, Madagascar and Malawi.
- Has it launched in Kenya? Why Kenya? Plans for other African territories?
Yes, Who’s Who in Kenya (www.whoswho.co.ke) launched last week. The response and buzz in the local market have been very encouraging. This is the first of many countries in Africa we hope to expand the platform into over the next few years. We’ve identified a select number of countries that are strategically important to us and are in the process of securing our trademarks/ IP.
Why Kenya? Firstly, our sister companies Mocality and Dealfish already operate in the market. Tapping into their local market know-how and exploring synergies has proven very helpful in the run up to the launch. Furthermore, the ease of doing business when compared to other territories in Africa, as well as the rapid growth in social networking and blogging among internet-savvy Kenyans, the popularity of jobs verticals in the market and Kenya Vision 2030 also contributed to our decision to expand to Kenya first.
- Is there a space for more networking between African professionals?
Definitely. African professionals are increasingly informed, tech-savvy and seeking new ways in which to expand their networks, explore business opportunities or grow their profile/ reputation among peers.
- What is the ‘reputation management’ component?
The Who’s Who ranking system profiles a user’s progress against other professionals, based on information captured in their professional profile, and enables them to earn badges as they progress up the ranks and, ultimately, achieve the “Who’s Who” status.
- Does it concern you that people have so many social network profiles now that managing another one becomes time consuming?
It’s certainly a consideration and there’s an ongoing debate that social media has reached a saturation point, but what remains evident is that different social media platforms each have a distinct role to fulfil, given most people have different personas for their social and professional life. With Facebook you can share your life stories with friends, LinkedIn displays your professional background, and Who’s Who provides a local user-friendly platform which empowers you to distinguish yourself from competitors by building and managing a personal brand online.
- What is a ‘professional success kit’?
The Who’s Who professional success kit includes: An Apple iPad, trendy iPad accessories from Buro, a Corporate Confidence Package by Chata Romano, a working wardrobe by 36 Boutiques, life coaching sessions with Sean Willard, professional career mapping, interview training and a video resume by Executives Online, a professional photo shoot by e image and book prizes from Leisure Books.
- What are the checks and balances on the platform that prevent users from being pestered?
Users are able to determine their networking preferences on Who’s Who and opt out of receiving messages and contact requests from other site members, as well as communication and marketing emails from Who’s Who. Users are also free to choose whether to display contact details to the public, or to keep them hidden. We respect our users’ privacy and would never use or disclose your personal details unless permitted to do so.
For more information, or to create a Who’s Who profile visit, www.whoswhosa.co.za.
Individuals who create a Who’s Who profile before 22 March 2012, will be entered into a competition to win a ‘Professional Success Kit’ valued at R50 000.