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South Korea: Social Media Marketing Breaks Out

May 30, 2012

As in yesterday’s social media overview of Malaysia, Korean politicians are also leveraging social media in a big way in advance of elections later this year. However, according to my colleague Erik Cornelius it is the (continued) fast rise of social media marketing (esp. Facebook and Twitter) that remains the trend to watch for the rest of 2012.

I remember working with the team to launch our first client Facebook brand page in Korea at the beginning of 2011. At that time we wondered how sustainable the engagement of a community could be – there is no question any more.

South Korea: Social Media Marketing Breaks Out

2012 has been a breakout year for brands on social media in Korea. They’ve proven that they can draw large numbers of fans by engaging people directly and offering something of value – whether that’s improved customer service (SK Telecom), access to offline events (Restylane), interesting information (Swiss Pavilion) or a sense of community (RIM).

There are also a growing number of Korea-specific apps that tap into social media or, in the case of the near-ubiquitous Kakao Talk messenger app, replicate many of the features of a social network on a mobile-only platform. KaKao Talk is going global and their “Brand Talk” service allows brands to promote themselves via Kakao Talk. Daum’s MyPeople is also pushing to gain market share in an already competitive market.

More than half of all Koreans now carry smartphones – making apps, websites and advertising delivered via mobile a very, very hot area for the rest of 2012.


Malaysia: Passion, Pins and Politics Driving Social

May 29, 2012

The second of the Edelman Digital APAC market overviews comes from Malaysia – a fascinating and sophisticated digital/social environment – often (wrongly) glossed over.

The use of social media in the 2008 Malaysian General Election was a landmark event felt across the entire region. As digital market lead Karen Hoh explains, given high social adoption  and usage, there will be much to be learnt by tracking developments for the rest of the year.

Malaysia: Passion, Pins and Politics Driving Social

  • For the second half of 2012, we foresee a bigger spike in the growth of Twitter, especially in view of the coming general elections (GE) for the country. As we had observed in the 2008 GE, much of the success of the opposition party was driven primarily through social networks, giving them the clear advantage in garnering the public’s support and votes. Since that election, we’ve observed the exponential growth of social channels such as Twitter and Facebook, that have become key platforms for political activism and citizen reporting.
  • Other key trends we are observing, is the growth of Pinterest. Pinterest is fast defining the way consumers share their interests online; especially displaying a new social behaviour called “pinning.” Pinning either a design they saw on a website, or pinning and sharing a fashion style they prefer, it’s a new way of keeping track of items or products that they want to go back to, or keep track of. The idea of “pinning” has since penetrated the way Facebook has changed its interface, so that it allows brands to pin wall posts on top of their page.
  • Our advice for brands is to pay attention on how fans share their passions on the issues or topics they like, and leverage that to their advantage. So new platforms, such as Pinterest, are worth exploring for a new campaign or to promote a brand or product or issue.
Malaysia Social Media - May 2012

Malaysia Social Media – May 2012

Japan: Social/Mobile Starting to Move Fast

May 28, 2012

Last May, the Edelman Digital APAC team delivered one of the first regional visuals about the status of social media across the region. For years we’ve produced a whole range of regional IP (including our yearly digital trends deck) – a space that has become increasingly cluttered with data and ‘infographs’ from different sources.

That’s why this year, my regional team felt it would be useful not only to provide a quantitative update on individual markets (see below), but some local context and a look ahead for the rest of the year around what marketers and communicators are likely to see in the fast moving world of social.

After posting an update from 13 key regional markets, I’ll wrap up with the region-wide insights for the rest of 2012. Right, let’s start at the top of the region, with the latest from Edelman’s Digital lead for Japan Alex Erasmus:

Japan: Social/Mobile Starting to Move Fast

If 2011 was the year Japan first noticed the power of social media, then 2012 surely has to be the year we see more investment and creativity. Only a handful of major Japanese brands currently have a social media presence and even less post frequently and with engaging content.

It’s still popular for companies to hire a third party ‘brand voice’ on social platforms, especially Facebook. While this can certainly be effective in a country where consumers need to be given ‘permission’ to buy a product, companies need to think more about differentiating themselves.

In addition, mobile usage of Facebook and Twitter has been relatively low (especially compared to the local mobile gaming platforms), but this appears to be shifting and brands should be aware of this when considering their digital media plan for the rest of 2012 and beyond. Contact  Alex if you’d like more detail into the latest from Japan.


VIDEO: ad tech – From Hype to Stereotype

November 1, 2010

NB: This is a mirror of a post I originally did for Campaign Asia.


Damn, this is hilarious!



Although in true satirical fashion, it’s funny because it’s a bit too close to the reality – conversations about marketing technologies today are orgies of jargon!

When I used to do media training, senior technology execs would argue that geeky, techhie jargon was the only way people in the industry could explain to others in the industry what they were doing – without having to get into rocket-scientist speak.

I think jargon is a poison, but movies like The Social Network show and the current flood of investment money into social media/marketing technology firms, means we’re not likely to see a reduction anytime soon.

I think we all just need a good purge. Okay, I’ll admit it – just yesterday I said “-exchange based buys with complete transparency.” C’mon, you know you know you want to release your jargon – and the truth shall set you free…

Hat Tip to Media Memo via David Armano for the video

Race to the Bottom of Social Media Ethics

August 27, 2010

NOTE: This is a mirror of a post I first wrote for Campaign Asia.

Today, Reverb Communications settled with the FTC over a claim that it misrepresented itself by having staff post positive comments and reviews about a client’s video game on iTunes without full disclosure of the paid relationship between the brand and the endorser – otherwise known as sock-puppetry, or simply fraud.

This is a case that has been going on for two years, ever since Reverb was rumbled by MobileCrunch. As Adam Curry warns “There are no secrets, only information you do not yet have.” MobileCrunch even managing to get a hold of one of Reverb’s proposal documents, posting it in its entirety. It wasn’t pretty.

I doubt it’s coincidence that last year The FTC revised its endorsements and testimonials guides that online posts of any nature must disclose the connection between reviews or comments left and the seller of the service or product in question. This rule goes for employees associated with a product any agency advertising the product and any third-party paid money or consideration in kind to write something about the product – ie. A blogger, or even a journalist. Many governments in Asia are evaluating bringing in similar guidelines.

I’m not naive – sock puppetry is rife in many countries across our region. I know smart in-house marketers and communicators who believe there is no problem in doing this. They should know better and I do my best to explain why this kind of practice is dangerous for their careers and the reputation of their employers. Despite Reverb being a PR firm, this practice is industry-wide.

In short, if anything is going to change, it’s going to take the various industry bodies – from the 4As, to the PR institutes, to ADMA to the IAB etc to take the issue of ethics in marketing seriously and drive a code of practice and educational curriculum around this to its membership – it’s what WOMMA has done with it’s Honesty ROI – but in a region where ethical leadership is most needed, I worry it’s still sorely lacking.

2 Billion Mobile Subscribers across Asia!!! Now what??

August 20, 2010

NOTE: This is a mirror of a blog post I original wrote for Campaign Asia.

Every client meeting, every conference and every colleague debate I’m involved in has the mobile marketing opportunity across Asia as a central theme (ok – I’m a bit sad like that!).

However, I finally got a chance to go through the always-excellent and recently-released Asia Digital Marketing Association 2010 Yearbook (freely available here – Neilsen Asia social media report also worth a read) and among the array of big numbers that jumped out, three in particular struck me:

  1. There are now over 2 billion mobile subscribers in Asia Pacific, with the expectation that this will grow to over 2.5 billion by 2013, an increase of 25%. I still remember the celebration that was crossing the 1 billion threshold for PCs in 2008… seems like small change now…
  2. Around 30% of the global market for smartphones is in AP, with Asian (ex-Japan) smartphone users expected to number 347 million by 2015. This despite the fact that only 6% of mobile users in Southeast Asia subscribe to 3G and that 3G is still in its infancy in China.
  3. The mobile phone is becoming (I believe has already become) the favoured device for young Asians to connect to social networking sites, with more than 50% of Chinese, Indian, South Korean and Thai mobile users preferring to use their handsets over their PCs. All you have to do is walk the streets of any Asian city to know that this is a trend that will accelerate fast.

When I presented at the Mobile Marketing Association Forum (MMAF) Asia in April and at a mobile marketing conference last week, the convergence of real-time social media, mobile broadband and smartphone usage was clear to all. Everybody was also violently in agreement about the importance of themes like: “putting the consumer at the centre of social media,” the “higher interaction of consumers via mobile handsets versus desktop” and the need to “move from content campaigns to deep engagement.” In fact, I don’t think I’d heard the words “deep engagement” used so often at an event – the overall buzz-wordiness was jarring…

What was hardly touched on at all was the strategies and practical tips for brands/agencies to actually roll their sleeves up and get involved with mobile internet users via social media. Six of the top 10 mobile internet sites accessed from most Asian countries and two of the top five applications downloaded are to access social media. It felt like words such as content and application were being used as ways for brands to keep the consumer at arms length, while still “doing social media.”

However, during the networking opps one theme was clear – the incredible spread of Facebook, Twitter and the mobile internet has left communicators and marketers no choice but to get engaged – I mean really engaged. However, it’s still slow going.  I just hope it doesn’t require us to get to 4 billion subscribers in order to get it right.

What do you think – has the boom of the mobile internet and social media in the past 12 months made online engagement inevitability, or are we still miles away?

August 18, 2010

NOTE: This is a mirror of a post I first ran on

Over the past year, Edelman Digital APAC and our partners at Brandtology have mined and analyzed 12 months of online conversation about major technology brands covering:

  • 8 million posts,
  • representing the perspectives of millions of netizens,
  • housed in 4,000 regional online channels,
  • across eight Asian markets.

So what? Well apart from improving the insights; targeting and relevance to our client’s digital programs; and helping us to win some new clients; the DBI has answered many of the questions we had when we launched it. Further, the DBI has tracked and enabled us to better appreciate macro-trends in the social media landscape across Asia. For example:

  1. Online chatter grows and grows: The first DBI (October 2009) tracked 800,000 mentions of survey brands in the quarter, while the fourth and most recent DBI (10.3, August 2010) tracked 2 million. This finding demonstrates that as more Asians come online, they are happy to build or join communities to discuss (technology) brands, pass verdict on products, and share content that catches their eye. The unprecedented rise in social network usage across the region has also not gone unnoticed in the DBI. For example, this quarter, the DBI (10.3) in China saw social networks finally overtaking bulletin boards in terms of total conversation about surveyed technology brands. We all knew people were talking – but the speed of increase has been startling!
  2. The Twitter Phenomenon: Asia has been a major contributor to the 100+ percent increase in the platform’s usage over the past 12 months. In October last year, Twitter represented approximately 18 percent of the conversations found in the first DBI (ex-China). This has since grown to represent almost half of all posts tracked about technology brands surveyed in influential local channels monitored – with a high in India where microblogs account for a whopping 69 percent of all conversations! As Steve Rubel eloquently puts it
    – we are quickly moving from a Web of pages to a Web of streams, and one where tech brands need to be omnipresent and working in, and reacting, in real time.
  3. Tech brands joining the conversation: The past 12 months has also seen technology brands expand their local blogger engagement outreach programs, with some running online competitions for advocate communities (Canon being a great example) to build their social presence on Facebook and Twitter in particular. In Singapore, seven of the 50 technology brands tracked now have a local Twitter presence, with others contributing to a regional or global Twitter ID. Facebook pages are also springing up, with tech brands taking a regional, local or product line approach towards building communities – with some building communities across all three at the same time! However, presence alone is not enough – more needs to be done to build engaged and active communities – but more on that another time.
  4. Telcos and mobile chatter dominates: Local telcos are prominent in the Top 10 brands across all eight Asian markets where we run the DBI. Netizens either love or hate their telcos – there seems to be little middle-ground. When you consider the fact that telcos are often the access point to the hottest devices we have tracked – smart-phones – then local telcos have the best opportunity to lead and define successful online brand engagement. For example, Bakrie Telecom in Indonesia, a new entrant to the local list of Top 10 ‘Buzziest Brands’ had 90.9 percent of brand mentions take place on Twitter – mainly referring to its “Esia” product and service – and has done a good job at engagement. It will be especially interesting to track how such telco social engagement strategies and efforts evolve as people seek increasing amounts of information about popular smart-phone brands that we continue to track such as including BlackBerry, iPhone and Android.

As the DBI evolves, we see the opportunity to dig deeper into the hottest technology products, as well as into the specific content that brands are using and creating to engage with online communities. Further, we’ll be able to track specific branded Facebook pages to measure engagement on an ongoing basis.

However, that’s for the future. In the interim, you can read more about the fourth Asia Pacific Digital Brand Index (10.3) in the following documents – a personal favorite of mine is how World Cup initiatives helping drive buzz for consumer electronic brands in China.

Finally – I knew you’d ask, so below are the Top 10 most discussed technology brands we’ve tracked in the 12 months (ending June 2010) across our eight Asian markets:

  1. Google
  2. Microsoft
  3. Apple
  4. Samsung
  5. Intel
  6. Nokia
  7. Sony
  8. Hewlett-Packard
  9. Yahoo!
  10. Research in Motion

You can access the media releases for all seven countries here.

We’re looking to evolve the DBI going going forward, what do you think might be interesting to focus on from here?