My answers to Shel Israel's questions:
1. Dimitar, you seem to be everywhere I look on the Internet, can you list the social media tools that you use?
Bloglines, Skype, Facebook, Blogger, del.icio.us, MyBlogLog and YouTube are my favourite ones.
2. You say you follow more than 9500 feeds, more than even Scoble. How do you accomplish that? How much time to you spend following your feeds.
I'd like to learn as much as I can. I'm almost always on. Broadband is a bliss! I don't read all of my feeds on a daily basis. Every day there are some knowledge management goals I try to accomplish. My feeds could be described as digital memory silos. Reading on demand.
3. How has social media changed your life?
I have only one word for you. Revolution. Life without internet would be a very tough one for me.
4. Tell me about technology in Bulgaria? What percent of people have computers and connection? How about broadband and wi-fi? How about cellphones?
23% of the households in Bulgaria have computers. Internet penetration in Sofia, Bulgaria's capital, is 50%, although the internet penetration in the rest of the country is 25%. Bulgaria has one of the highest penetrations of telephone service in Eastern Europe, with around 38 subscribers per 100 inhabitants. The leading internet service providers are Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC), Orbitel and Spectrumnet. The other big players in this market are the cable TV operators. Also, there are hundreds smaller ISPs, providing LAN. Wi-Fi is not very popular. The mobile phones penetration is 75%. Bulgarians simply love their mobile phones. Buying the most new and expensive mobile devices is a national mania.
5. What about business? What are the largest enterprises in Bulgaria? How do they use technology and social media?
Bulgaria used to be the Silicon Valley of Eastern Europe. Now, there are almost 4,000 ICT companies. Companies like SAP and the U.S. auto parts manufacturer Johnson Control have their R&D centers in Bulgaria. Also, in January 2006 HP opened a customer support centre in Sofia for their clients from Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). The largest enterprises are telecoms (BTC, Mobiltel, Globul), utilities providers, banks, power plants, heavy industry manufactures ( KCM). These corporations work mainly with well-known brands like Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, SAP and HP. Their primary concerns are stability, reliability and security. Social media is not on their radar.
6. What are the most popular social media tools in Bulgaria?
Instant messengers (ICQ, Skype), forums, chats and SMS. Bulgarians love chatting. Bulgarians are people you could easily talk to and communicate with. It's not a big surpise that dating sites still rule the internet landscape. The most popular video sharing site is Vbox7 with 460,000 users. The Bulgarian blogosphere is growing. There are over 25,000 blogs. The leading social networking sites in Bulgaria are the local ones ( friends.bg, sibir.bg, one.bg, zip.bg).
7. How is social media changing culture for Bulgarians? How will it change it in the next 5-10 years?
I hope that social media could make our communications faster, cheaper and better.
8. Can you give me a description of what's happening in social media in your overall region including the countries near you?
I see a big potential for growth in any niche. There are lots of underserved markets. Why? We are talking about over 130 million people, including Turkey. Some of the biggest web giants like Google already pay much more attention to the region.
9. What language do most Bulgarians speak? How big a barrier is language?
Bulgarian is the official language, Turkish and Romany are also spoken. Bulgarians like foreign languages. Let me give you an example with myself. I have studied seriously five different languages: English, Russian, French, Spanish and Greek. There is a huge Bulgarian diaspora all over the world, mainly in the USA, Canada, the UK, Spain and Greece. Bulgarians are the second biggest group of foreign students in Germany, after the Chinese. The older generations have studied Russian, the younger - English. There are a lot of polyglots in Bulgaria.
10. What opportunities, related to social media, are there for the international business community in Bulgaria?
Bulgaria is a member of the European Union and could be a gateway to the Balkans and Turkey. The Bulgarian capital market could be described as really fast-growing. Why don't they invest in the Google/Yahoo of Southeastern Europe?
11. Additional comments?
Thank you very much for your interesting questions!
SAP Global Survey: Bulgaria's Dimitar Vesselinov - Global Neighbourhoods
Bulgaria - The World 2 Come
Now, I subscribe to 9,876 RSS feeds. My next aim is 10,000 RSS feeds.