Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Keeping up with the conversation

Today I read a re-tweeted tweet by a fellow Malaysian who said:

@etp_roadmap @IdrisJala_ c what I meant u all cant change. U only RT tweets that favors U all but never on negative tweets..learn 2b fair

This is probably true. You can retweet whatever you want. Naturally, you’ll only retweet things that you find are positive to you (or align with your points of view). This is the thesis behind things like Tumblr and other reblogging platforms.

This is the beauty of Twitter as a conversation medium. You can actually just search for a string. And with the @reply mechanism, you just end up searching for “etp_roadmap” and you see heaps of amazing commentary.

Granted, this is not something everyone would do. But with social media you get the choice. With traditional media, you’re forced to look at one point of view. Letters that get published don’t necessarily have to be “independent”. Social allows those that are interested to dig deeper. This is true power.

Do the cybertroopers know this? Its easy to figure things out, if you’re looking.

The Social Media Page Craze: Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

Pages. They are becoming very popular. If you’re a brand, you’ve got to keep track of these things. This is sort of a dump of my thoughts on this.

It was quite common in the day to get a Twitter page. Multiple people can update a Twitter page. There are tools for this, and Twitter has an API. You have desktop tools for this as well.

Facebook pages are common if you have a product or business. The more like’s you get, the higher chance of getting your message spread on the newsfeed. Facebook has an API, and there are tools for this. Multiple people can manage the account.

LinkedIn pages exist. The target audience is a little different. There doesn’t seem to be an API or apps surrounding it, so you end up using the web-based interface. It seems to be the least popular.

Google+ just launched pages. The target audience currently seem to be the alpha geeks. It doesn’t have limitations like Twitter, and I see people posting more long-form status updates that resemble blog postings. It has no API (yet?). It has no multiple user management (yet?). And you have to build a crowd amongst circles, because its still relatively new.

We’re told to be present on all social networks. If you’re a brand, you’d be silly not to be where your audience is. My question is, with all these social networks how do you focus?

Don’t forget, you have to manage your website. American brands are now just pointing to a Facebook page in ads (fb.com/brandname) which is fine, but its something you don’t control. Your website is something you fully control. Your blog is something you fully control. I see things like Clojure Notes and wonder the permanency of something like this.

Facebook looks to be trailblazing and seems like its going to be around for a long time. Your content will live for as long as Facebook lives. Twitter is all temporal content, you forget you even have archives. LinkedIn I have no idea, but there’s always the emails it sends out. Google+ is something that worries me — they’ve killed Buzz, Wave, Orkut, etc. and while you can take your content and run with it, you lose links.

Some people don’t care about continuity of content. I generally do.

Short names. Facebook and Twitter support this. Google+ has something ridiculous in terms of a number.

I read somewhere that the average human can keep track of at most three social networks. I can’t find a reference to this, and I know its not Dunbar’s number.

Walled gardens. If you have a Google+ album, you can’t link to an individual picture. Facebook pages and what is attached to it is not searchable via a search engine. You generally duplicate updates on sites just to keep up with these walled gardens of Web 2.0.

Bottom line: we’re all looking to engage. We all want a large audience. We all want to get the message across. But how much time are we spending on this? When do we get all the tools we need to manage all this “at one go”? Where do we put our eggs in for 2012?

Cyberwar for politicians: Overview of Tun Faisal’s statements

I read this and was really angry. Then I realised a David Arquette (by way of Buddhism) quote: “Anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” If the opposition can use new media, I guess so can the incumbents. Anyway, let’s decompose the statements as reported in the article…

KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — In mid-2009, Umno Youth held a course in online media for its grassroots leaders in Kuantan. The names of a few prominent bloggers drew blank stares.

“Only 10 per cent (of those present) were familiar with those names,” the youth wing’s new media chief, Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz, told The Malaysian Insider. “Some didn’t even have email.”

Statement seems incoherent. They held a course about online media for their grassroots leaders in Kuantan, and they didn’t know about popular bloggers. In fact I don’t really care about popular bloggers – most of them have their own take, spin it ways they feel like it, and don’t understand what journalism is, i.e. reporting the facts. I get my newsfeed from The Star (News->Nation), The Malaysian Insider, and Malaysiakini. A mix of that helps keep me informed.

Some didn’t have email? Well this is the UMNO problem. Postmen run as members of parliament. I could probably run with more examples, but I don’t have hard facts to back them up, and I hate hearsay. The opposition tend to be professionals, which is why I prefer them (truth be told, I’d probably vote an ape in as well, just for shits and giggles).

Who is Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz? According to his Facebook profile, he is the Special Officer to the Home Minister at the Ministry of Home Affairs. So he advises kris-waving Hishammudin. Its also clear he has a media unit that he’s heading with UMNO Youth – the cybertroopers.

The media unit that Tun Faisal heads, formed after accepting that “80 to 90 per cent” of those online were anti-Barisan Nasional (BN) in the landmark Election 2008, now claims that despite having to catch up to Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in the “cyberwar” for the hearts and minds of young and urban voters, it is now ready for a general election expected within the year.

80-90% online are anti-BN? As of June 2009, the stats show there are 16,902,600 Internet users in Malaysia. Thats some 65% of the population of a little over 26 million people. In fact, rough stats show that Malaysia has 11,303,040 Facebook users, which covers some 43% of the population and some 67% of the online population of Malaysia.

Key points to note: Malaysians that are online, not all can vote. And these statistics are misleading — counting mobile phone users possibly, people with multiple Internet accounts, etc. Don’t forget a lot are Malaysians living overseas, either as students or residents whom are looking for greener pastures.

However, Tun Faisal, a member of the Umno Youth executive committee, believes that despite having guns primed, the unit needs the government to provide it with bullets.

Bullets. Is this cash? Is this information? Considering the information sucks to begin with, one can only presume its cash to pay cybertroopers.

“Most young and urban voters perceive the mainstream media as pro-government, so they are automatically prejudiced against it,” said Faisal. “So we have to bring the debate online.

The mainstream media is pro-government. The recent Bersih 2.0 rallies show that. In fact, its not just young voters that have such a perception. Its the adults too. Admittedly my sample-size is urbanites, and the opposition clearly needs to figure out how to get the word out to non-urbanites. Years of misinformation from the Ministry of Truth (aka Home+Information ministries) has generally made everyone not believe mainstream media.

Bringing the debate online is a good thing. Why? Two sides of the coin. Comments, people responding in the open, etc. If people are willing to get the “bigger picture”, they can. Is the public ready for this though? Not many people spend time getting more information. They take things at face value.

“But the problem is getting info from the government to counter the lies from the opposition. How can we fight claims from them and journalists when we don’t have more info than them?” he said.

I’m sorry. How can any one party have more information about the ruling party? Freedom of information bitches! This centralised distribution of information (that the mainstream media has continually executed) is what people do not want! People want free & fair reporting. All journalists present, representing facts. Not opinions. Not lies. Not spin.

BN had its nose bloodied at the 12th General Election in urban centres such as the Klang Valley and Penang, ceding its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament as the opposition took a record 82 seats and, at the same time, five state governments.

But the Manek Urai by-election in Kelantan, where BN surprisingly came within 65 votes of wresting the state seat, is considered a turning point for Umno Youth in the online battle.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin had said that BN gained in all young voter streams, signalling a shift in young voters that was said to have backed PR heavily in 2008.

“BN gained in all young voter streams, signaling a shift in young voters”. Please continue to believe that Khairy. Believing in this would then lead to complacency, which would then lead to loss. Say it, don’t believe it. Don’t believe it until you’ve bagged your 2/3rds or decimated the opposition.

“The opposition started in 1999 after Reformasi,” Tun Faisal said. “We only started in 2009. It’s like putting university students against primary schoolkids.

Please believe that Tun Faisal. There were blogs in 1999, yes? Facebook was around in 1999? So was Twitter, right? In 1999, there were mailing lists and static websites. The BN figured they controlled the mainstream media and did not need to participate. But I’m glad Tun Faisal compared himself to a primary schoolkid — his statements reflect just that. In fact, my beautiful four-year-old cousin has more intelligent thoughts than him.

“But if you look at the results since Manek Urai, you can see that BN has definitely caught up especially with young voters.”

BN has since reversed a losing streak in by-elections, and even though PR was confident of making extensive gains in the recent Sarawak state election, BN retained its two-thirds majority in the assembly.

Tun Faisal says that one of the main factors is that his new media unit was given the mandate to strategise and coordinate online communications during these local polls.

Key takeaway? The Ministry of Truth is now not only focusing on mainstream media (radio, TV, newspapers) but also focusing on providing disinformation online. With the appropriate “bullets”, they will try very hard at spending it all on misinforming folk. Be it paying cybertroopers. Advertising. The list can go on.

“After 13 by-elections and one state election, I think we are ready to lead BN online in the next general election. But the leadership needs to have faith in us,” he said.

He revealed that in 2004, he led an Umno Youth cybertroopers unit into federal polls, at which BN claimed over 90 per cent of Parliament. But the ruling coalition’s best showing ever was followed by its worst in 2008.

“The difference was in 2004, we had a direct link to the prime minister’s department,” Tun Faisal said. “In 2008, we were left behind by the opposition, and even some pro-Umno blogs were against us.

Cybertroopers are like bloggers that write advertorials. The moment they write enough rubbish, people stop listening. That’s free advice for politicians on either side. People believe in passion. You can’t buy passion. You might brainwash someone into believing they are passionate, but eventually they will sound like a drone. A robot. And you lose your voice.

“Over 70 per cent of the issues that BN has to answer is related to government. It is unfair for BN leaders to expect party machinery to answer them unless government opens up to us,” he said.

Why isn’t the government open to the people? The rakyat? Opening up to cybertroopers is the wrong move. You’re either open or you’re not. There’s no middle ground.

With Malaysians increasingly being found online — 11.3 million on Facebook as at the end of last month — and Malay and English print circulation dropping, Umno Youth sees a return to 2004 as crucial, a belief shared by Umno vice president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi last month.

Circulation drops. Why? Mainstream newspapers are really only good for wrapping up packets of nasi lemak. Or collecting dog poop for proper disposal. I can already see where the bullets (money) is going to be spent next. Facebook is going to make a lot from the current ruling party in Malaysia.

“Our target by the next election is that all division youth chiefs are on Twitter and every state have their own cyberwar team,” said Tun Faisal.

One wonders why? Every youth chief is on Twitter, yet they quote a Facebook stat above. The usage of Facebook outperforms the usage of Twitter by probably a magnitude of 10x. Tun Faisal is on Twitter, and has a blog.

What is interesting is that every state will have their own cyberwar team. Funded by bullets. How will the opposition deal with this?

I’m excited to see the fight taken online. At the same time, I wonder how fair the fight online will be. Money can buy you leverage in this Web 2.0 world. Maybe the opposition just needs to get really creative.

Crocs Malaysia and race based market segmentation

Update – Thursday, July 1 2010, 5.38pm UTC+8: What happened, happened. What was said, was said. Oftentimes, a slip of the tongue, really is no fault of the mind. Maybe I was a little too harsh here, so when reading this 1,000-word essay, just keep that in mind. I’m sure the MarCom Manager did not actually mean what she said. The calibre of her presentation was good, and we learned some new things about their digital marketing strategy. In fact, you might just want to go read the other case studies (Canon, BFM 89.9, MyEG, P1 W1MAX)! To err is human, to forgive divine. Let’s all take a chill pill, and have a beer or something ;-)

I graced a SMCKL meetup tonight. I haven’t been in about a year (scheduling conflicts); it was fabulous to catch up with all my friends, learn new things and I have quite some notes that I’ll talk about soon. But this is about my relationship to Crocs, and Crocs Malaysia, at large.

I love my Crocs Yukon. In fact, I love it so much, I pretty much buy a new pair once every six months! You might wonder why. The soles tend to wear out, not evenly, just around the midfoot, usually towards the forefoot. But this quick wear has never been a problem to me, because I love my Crocs; I wear them everyday. Crocs™ Yukon | Crocs, Inc.

If I’m on my feet, my Crocs are wrapped around them. The current pair (in its six months with me) is world travelled – it’s been to: Singapore, London, Thailand, Finland, Iceland, Germany, the United States, and China. Its been on numerous planes (Dopplr suggests my carbon total stands at 17,414kg CO2). Its been through freezing winters and rather hot tropical weather. Crocs have been on me when I meet deputy-ministers, ministers, and even a certain prime minister. I wear Crocs to meetings. I wear Crocs when I give talks. Some friends refer to my pairs of Crocs as “government Crocs”. We always have a chuckle at that.

The bottom-line is that it’s quite hard to find me in a pair of shoes. I’m usually always in Crocs. The very rare occasion of me wearing shoes has me wearing a very comfortable pair of Geox shoes, or an amazing pair I picked up from Marks & Spencer.

Back to SMCKL #7 – we had the Marcom Manager for the company that imports/distributes Crocs in Malaysia come speak to us. She mentioned the name of the parent company, but I never did get it, so for all intents and purposes, this is defined as “Crocs Malaysia“. Her presentation was rather interesting, and a few points I took away from it:

  1. They invest heavily in Facebook – they have the regular Crocs Malaysia page, as well as a Crocs Ideas page (which isn’t linked form the main page). They have over 14,652 fans that like their page. Content is largely what’s coming out in the stores, and what’s to become available.
  2. There’s some Twitter engagement (@crocsmalaysia), but it does not seem as popular as Facebook (other speakers had similar comments).
  3. They’re doing blogger engagement. For the year 2010, they’ve picked five: FeeqSays, Rebecca Saw, Marcky.my, MissyCheerio, and Christopher Tock. These bloggers are known as their “official bloggers”.
  4. While the arrangement isn’t made clear with the official bloggers, it is made clear that the official bloggers get free Crocs, in exchange for writing about how Crocs have influence on the daily life of the blogger. Bloggers are basically selling stories, pushing experiences, where their Crocs get involved. I don’t know if there’s a minimum post count/amount of engagement required, or its something you do in passing (which is why I said the arrangement isn’t clear). I do however think that with the proper metrics, story telling and sharing experiences, totally rocks.
  5. To engage with their readers, these official bloggers also get to run competitions on a weekly basis, and the rewards are free Crocs for winners. Good, it gets more Crocs out there, especially to the non-believers ;)

Everything seemed like it was going well, and she was doing a fabulous job at presenting her case study. Until the moderator asked her: How do you choose your bloggers?.

She does not go for “A-list bloggers” like Kenny Sia, or Nicolekiss. A-list Malaysian lifestyle bloggers. She went on to tell the audience that each blogger has value in them. I take it that everyone has a story to tell, and everyone has their own tribe. Then she talked about Feeq. She said that his target market is the Malay market. She did not want to only target the Chinese market. Crocs Malaysia targets all market segments: Malay, Indian and Chinese.

Wait, what? There’s race based segmentation and targeting in footwear? In social media? Online? We live in a time, where Malaysia is no longer just Malaysia; its the cliché of 1Malaysia. And here the faux pas, stated in front of a large audience, the yardstick used, is in which racial segment a blogger is popular in.

I immediately reacted:

Clearly disappointed that @crocsmalaysia is profiling/targeted by race. So much for being Malaysian. Time to find new footwear #smckl

I am trying to break your heartThere was another tweet which wondered what the difference in race brings? And whomever is behind the @crocsmalaysia account stated: it is just our way to reach out to all consumers of all races thru our bloggers. One might think that this is something only I took offence in; lucky for me, I was not alone. People came up to me, replied to me, and even direct messaged me on this very topic.

Social media, and the utility that it travels on, the Internet, does not discriminate against race, colour, creed, nationality, gender, and more. You should choose a blogger because she has a wide Malaysian audience! In Malaysia however, it seems ingrained that there will always be profiling, separation, and a system in where we don’t have one nation, but at least two separate nations. Maybe we only have the incumbent political parties to blame for this.

As an aside, I think it is important to distinguish what you say to a close group of friends, versus what you say on Twitter, versus what you say to a large audience of folk (i.e. when you’re speaking in public). When you start representing a brand, you’ve definitely got to start thinking about how you articulate yourself. A topic to talk about elsewhere.

Either way, I cannot remember when I first shelled out RM209 for my first Yukon. I expect it must have been late 2007, or at latest early 2008. My (extended, truly Malaysian) family is also big on Crocs. However, I think its time to wean myself off from Crocs, and find non-discriminatory footwear.

Restaurants need to manage their online reputations

Drawing on Rena Bloggers are an opinionated lot. They tend to speak the truth (most of the time – let’s ignore undisclosed advertorials). You have a bad experience at an establishment, you have a blog, you’re bound to pen down your thoughts. Its only natural. You’re trying to help the general public that bothers to search for the term, to avoid such a place.

Before blogs and web publishing became popular, folk would write e-mails to their friends, and this may end up being forwarded. In fact, forwarded e-mails still exist till today, for the non-web publishing savvy.

So, I find it surprising that American Chili’s has not discovered social media, blogs, and the online world, just yet. Most complaints tend to circle around the branch in Bangsar Shopping Centre, but looking at the comments, you can see that your mileage may vary at all their outlets. For reference: The best AND worst spot for a Guinness, Bodoh punya manager, american chili’s bangsar says there’s a marked difference between a vodka orange and a screwdriver.

In there, there is a perfect opportunity to respond to folk. All those posts have comments open. Why isn’t Chili’s being engaging? Do they need the “social media experts” to contact them offering services? After all, today, when I Google “chili’s bangsar” (not logged into my Google account, and without quotes), link number 7 and link number 10, point to a couple of the blog posts that I linked to above!

This is the age of the Internet. Start responding to your customers. They have the right to talk back now. Foursquare, Yelp!, blogs, and many other services have given them the opportunity to speak their minds.

Of course, if you plan to start being engaging on the Internet, don’t be arrogant. That’s just a sure fire way to ensure that savvy folk don’t show up at your restaurant. Same Google test (“bar italia malaysia”) – post was #7 on the Google search page. However, there were so many other posts/comments before it about how much Bar Italia did not rock.

So here, I’ve just identified two establishments that need to improve their online reputations. Do you search online before going to eat at a restaurant? Do you put weight on Foursquare tips of places you’re going to?

Pompous Malaysian Minister discourages immersion in Western-created sites such as Facebook, Twitter

“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.” – Thomas Jefferson

A lazy Saturday, I’m taking a break from most things, and I figured I’d fire up Twitter and see what’s on. Many people pointed me to: Malaysians advised against being immersed in Facebook, Twitter (a href=”http://malaysiakini.com/news/122094″>Malaysiakini picked this up too). It features Rais Yatim, being more pompous than he usually is (yes, please watch that video – its highly amusing).

He added that facilities like internet could not be accepted wholly because it was a form of business introduced by the West and “Malaysians were just users.”

Don't read newspapersMalaysians were just users. Why were they not the creators of sites like Facebook and Twitter? After all, with organisations throwing money away in the form of grants, so readily to companies, why haven’t we created the next Facebook or Twitter? Ping.fm had only two employees, picked up some angel funding, and have recently been acquired by Seesmic. RM150k for a year, is enough for two founders to hack on something, and make it worthwhile, yet, we see higher amounts of folk gaming the system. What about Twitpic? This list can go on, but that’s not going to be the focus of this post – Malaysian’s can create, if they put their mind to it. To boot, there are also funds that they can have access to.

He goes on to talk about how one must upkeep religious values and be mindful of them when using social networking services. Wow, whatever he’s smoking, I want some.

“We must be strong in our believes and culture because the identity and image of our country depends on us.

Yes. The image of the country today, largely depends on what the people say. Politicians can go overseas and lie to others, but what do people do before the want to visit a country? Invest in a country? Move to a country? They check up on the prospective new place on the Internet. They use Google search. They’ll read Google News. Heck, they might even go read Google’s Blog Search. Others will check out Flickr and Picasa to find good photos, some will check out YouTube. Others will look at TripAdvisor to find a good hotel. Others will check out the newspapers. The list goes on. However, what citizens do, is they speak their mind, when online – so the government clearly lacks control of their old one-way-mediums.

His next statement makes absolutely no sense at all. Maybe he should have spoken in his native Bahasa Malaysia?

“They are just selling Facebook, Twitter, L-Band and various other services, even through space, as a product but we do not do such business. We accept all this in a state of cultural shock,” he said.

Culture shock, eh? Seriously. He continues…

“We should not be quick to condemn or look down on those who do not use Facebook. Newspapers are still relevant, so is Facebook, but do not be carried away with everything and disregard the old system,” he said.

Of course. That would be plain wrong, and ageist. Not everyone needs to be on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or read online media. Its fine that people have a choice. Today, if one chooses to go “old school”, all one has to do is wake up in the morning, buy a dead tree edition of your favourite newspaper, read it, then go over to the boob tube, watch the myriad of programming available on free-to-air channels, and suck in all the propaganda. However, as a society matures, they do tend to disregard the old, and check out the new (for example, if I’d had followed the old system, I’d be seeing this silly media article in the dead tree edition of The Star – I saw it half an hour after it was published because I was on Twitter). Societies mature, and their needs mature, so they do outgrow the old (same applies to political regimes).

It continues, in where he says things about how one shouldn’t use Twitter, Facebook and SMS messaging for the wrong reasons. He tells us that we cannot escape from the law for our actions. And that most people understand the whole 1Malaysia concept. Drivel, in general.

Anyway, newspapers in their dead-tree form are losing relevance. We have two that are free now – The Sun and The Malay Mail. The Star has pretty much all its content online. And Malaysians can read The Malaysian Insider (Malaysian creation) for free, or subscribe to Malaysiakini (Malaysian creation). As the Internet penetration rate goes up, we’ll see more of this. The magazine industry in Malaysia has been suffering for a couple of years (no eyeballs, no advertising ringgit).

So, there are Malaysian creations, used by people, where Malaysians are not just users but creators. I’m sorry Rais, you’re so out of it.


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