Are you an Internet star? In China, you have 30 percent more influence than a TV star!

July 28, 2011

Yes, you read that right. If you’re an Internet star (or if you have plans of becoming one pretty soon!), then chances are you have 30 percent more influence than a TV star in China! This is because in China, Internet is 30 percent more influential than TV. That means that if you’re an Internet hit, you’re far more influential and more popular than your regular TV star. Now for web junkies and people who simply want to have an easier, faster (and not to mention cheaper) way of gaining attention, this is definitely welcome news.

For the traditional media people, however, this poses a big challenge for them. How should traditional media outlets such as newspapers, magazines and television (both cable and free TV) now compete with the seemingly fast rising, unending demand for the Internet?

Most of the large media corporations have already started adopting social media techniques to keep the tech-savvy younger generation within its fold. Some of these traditional media outlets have started establishing their online media presence – from Facebook to Twitter to Sina Weibo to Plurk and now to Google Plus. Their websites are no longer just “corporate” and formal looking. Their websites are now more interactive. Their websites now have good content that can easily be shared by their followers and by their followers’ followers. The key now is to offer viral content. They know that if they don’t do this, they will quickly lose the loyalty and attention of a lot of the formerly traditional media-dependent public.

Things are changing and given the latest reports that indicate that the purchase influence of CCTV is 30 percent lower than that of the Internet, expect the traditional media industry to have a different face sooner than expected. For now, the public can bask in sheer excitement over the fact that, yes, even ordinary people can be more influential than TV, thanks to the wonder of the world wide web.

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What we can learn from the Facebook India boom

July 27, 2011

Yes, Facebook has grown to be very popular in India. So popular that it might even very well surpass Indonesia as the second largest user nation of the said social networking website in the very near future. Is that surprising? Is that interesting? Did that pique your curiosity? Whatever the case may be, we only know one thing for sure: that we have some points to learn from this Facebook India boom.

First thing that we can surmise from this surge is that more and more brands (both online and offline) employ Facebook not only as a way to enhance their products or services or their brands themselves but as a way to engage with customers. This holds true for both MTV Splitvilla and Meri Maggi, which are among the top 3 Indian brand pages on Facebook. What does this mean? It means that Indian customers want and like brands that are online, “easy to access,” which have efficient and quick customer relations personnel behind the Facebook page. It also means that Indians are more likely to avail of products and services that offer a user-friendly platform for engagement. A platform that’s familiar to them and of course, a platform where they know they have friends, relatives, business partners, acquaintances in.

Another thing that we can learn from this Facebook India boom is that this signals that people do not just use the social networking website to contact “real” or “existing” businesses or brands. People also use Facebook to signify their “liking” towards anything that’s related to their culture, tradition and religion. In the case of Facebook usage in India, the top “brand” for the month of June is, quite interestingly, the well loved and widely recognized god Lord Ganesha. Now Lord Ganesha may not be “real” (i.e. can’t be seen or touched) but Indians show that cultural beliefs also play a strong role in their usage of Facebook and other social networking websites.

So…are you ready to join the bandwagon and get your share of the pie that is Facebook India?

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No, Sina Weibo is not a Twitter wannabe

July 26, 2011

Do you think Sina Weibo, one of China’s popular social networking websites, nay, actually one of China’s popular websites – period -, is just another Twitter clone or Twitter wannabe? Think again! The truth of the matter is – Sina Weibo has a different “purpose” and “use” for most of its Chinese users. How different? Let us count the ways.

First off, according to a study led by HP Labs, Sina Weibo is more useful for its users in terms of entertainment – meaning its users like sharing jokes, videos and funny images. Twitter, on the other hand, is more for news – meaning factual, serious, formal stuff. Case in point: Remember that tweet sent via Sina Weibo whereby the user shared photos of him “wrapping” his shoes with the use of a condom in order to fight rain and road puddles? Nothing CNN-ish there but it was a hit in the Sina Weibo world.

Secondly, and this has something to do with the earlier example, Sina Weibo creates fame unlike Twitter which enhances “pre-existing” fame. Now if you’re Lady Gaga or Beyonce or Britney Spears, you can use Twitter to amp up your fame and interact with your fans. On the other hand, if you’re that guy who wrapped his shoes with a condom and just want your 15 minute spotlight and share something light and funny with others, then Sina Weibo is the better option.

Thirdly, according to the HP Labs study, retweets are “several orders of magnitude greater” on Sina Weibo. This means that people on Twitter have this penchant of sharing their own thoughts, news, images and videos more than sharing others’. In this regard, people on Sina Weibo can be considered “more socially friendly” since they do not really mind sharing another person’s thoughts and what-nots. We’re guessing that this could also mean that unless you’re really influential and really popular, it would take a whole lot more effort for people to retweet you on Twitter!

Given these 3 points, one can truly spot the differences between Sina Weibo and Twitter. So, no, Sina Weibo is not Twitter and is not certainly a Twitter wannabe. We think it will still have its own distinct charm and that will be the very reason why it will continue to flourish.

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The imbalance between Hong Kong the shopping hub and Hong Kong the e-commerce snob

July 25, 2011

Don’t look now but it seems like Hong Kong, the supposedly recognized hub of tourism and shopping in this part of Asia, continues to downplay the power of e-commerce. According to EcommercePlus data, the top three Chinese provinces that have fully embraced e-commerce based on total online purchase orders are Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu. Meanwhile, the top three cities that are fond of online shopping are Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai. What’s wrong with this picture? No Hong Kong in sight, that’s what!

Guangzhou and Guangdong may be close neighbors of Hong Kong but the latter, the widely recognized mecca of retail and wholesale trade and shopping, is apparently an e-commerce snob. In fact, based on the data gathered by EcommercePlus, Hong Kong is nowhere even in the top 10!

Now the questions are: why do Hong Kong people resist e-commerce? What is it about e-commerce exactly that they frown upon?

And for the businesses (both online and offline) that want to garner more Hong Kong online orders, the challenge now is: what should you as a business entity do, acquire and implement in order to attract the attention of the Hong Kong customers?

The most possible steps to take would be to have cleaner, more transparent and more efficient portals where orders and customer relations can be established, developed and maintained. These portals must not only be pleasing to the eye and must not only offer good products or services…these must also know how to address customer concerns in the most effective manner. By the way, these portals need not be websites. They can be Facebook pages, Twitter pages, Sina Weibo profiles and the like. Of course, the employees who will process the orders must have topnotch customer service skills. And it will help a lot if a digital agency is on hand to assist. Perhaps only then can Hong Kong finally see a rise in the level of interest for online shopping.

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Business in trouble? Social media can come to the rescue!

July 21, 2011

Are you an entrepreneur? Did your business recently encounter a nasty problem that has started to catch a lot of fire online? Need fast, cost-efficient damage control? While good PR is most likely every person’s go-to in trying times, it might interest you that social media can also be your best friend. In fact, if you have the right approach for social media, if you try and embrace it and its power and perhaps if you have a good social media agency to help you, then you’re in good hands. Here’s why.

Unlike traditional PR where you may encounter polite denials from writers and editors, technicalities in terms of press releases and of course, face the possibility of pitching/offering more because your competitor may be offering something along the lines of what you have, social media is powered by the most important group of people – the consumers themselves. These individuals have access to social media, they have access to the wide range of channels and tools that more often than not, you have no other choice but to face the problem head on, fuel the fire with fire, provide apology when needed and counter the problem with nothing but reassurance.

Just take the case of KFC Malaysia where two videos purportedly showed something negative. What the food chain did was immediately tap the power of Facebook and provided the platform for their consumers to air their grievances. As expected, the Facebook page was flooded with complaints but while this was going on, the food chain was also busy creating videos that addressed the problems head on. The videos presented pretty visuals – clean kitchens, great, smiling staff, accommodating manager – plus the reassurance that they only practise professionalism. The social media campaign proved to be very effective. Needless to say, the complaints died down, people started to trust the food chain again and everything just went back to normal as if nothing major happened. Given these, it’s pretty difficult to say if the same results can be achieved if the food chain went through traditional PR.

The point is – social media is easily accessible and it’s there for the taking. You just really need to harness its power. And once you know how to do this, business will be easy breezy.

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Want to sign up for location based service? The Chinese always have the better option

July 20, 2011

Leave it to the Chinese to make things fancier, funner, more interactive and, well, better. While location based services are all the rage these days (think Foursquare where people childishly compete over mayorships and badges), Chinese start-up Douban has decided it’s about time that they join the bandwagon and basically offer more. Forget about badges for checking in while in an airport somewhere or for being on a ship or for partying with friends until 3 in the morning. Douban.com’s DuiJiao allows users to check-in to venues across China, and share their activity amongst anyone they choose to follow. DuiJiao is the latest addition to Douban.com features which now range from movie and book reviews, user blogs and brand mini sites to its original Last.fm-style music streaming.

So here’s the lowdown – DuiJiao has all the features of a “standard” location based service but what makes it really better is the fact that it provides the platform for people to share their expertise, tips and reviews about a certain venue or service and people can also ask! Moreover, DuiJiao can also let the users “follow” venues as well as individuals. This means that DuiJiao has infused the power of Twitter and microblogging within their location based service. This is a plus point for owners of a certain business since he or she can follow what the customers want, ask for, discuss about and even criticize. It’s instant feedback that they can “follow” or monitor using any Internet ready gadget or mobile/smart phone. Instant feedback straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

Currently, Sina Weibo microblogging service users can log-in and use all the features by connecting with their Weibo account, for a single sign-in solution.

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Social media as a social business

July 19, 2011

If someone probably told you some 5 years ago that social media can also be a social business, your most likely response would be, “what is social media?” It probably would have been preposterous that media can be made “social.” But ah, technology and science have a funny way of turning things around and shaking things up a bit. Today, social media already occupies a big chunk of our everyday lives. Social media is now a social business and, yes, digital agencies such as Prosperity Research Digital Agency or PRDA have even already embraced this business model.

First things first. Social media as a business model is made possible through the integration of business intelligence, with social media expertise and business process effectiveness. This results in low risk and high return. These results can be enjoyed by businesses looking to leverage social media in a positive manner for consumers.

One great scenario for this is a small enterprise that is slowly using the power of social media and social networking websites. The enterprise may be using Facebook, Google+, Twitter, message boards, blogs, Sina Weibo and other social media tools. On the surface, the results are there — better, faster interaction with target audience or existing customers, wider exposure for the brand, better search engine optimization efforts and more. However, what owners of these small enterprises may fail to understand is that the more they “listen” to their customers (through these social media networks), the more likely they can use these “eavesdropped” messages and convert them into organization-wide business intelligence. They can convert these pieces of information into helpful data which can also enable them to predict and plan for the future. It’s like having your very own CIA facility! Seriously, it helps to not only be socially active but also socially wise.

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