Archive for the ‘Singapore’ Category

My Social Media Breakfast: Singapore 2 Challenge

May 9, 2008

The attendee list on the Facebook Event page for Social Media Breakfast: Singapore 2 has been at 40 people for a couple of days now, about 60% were present at the first one. This is good in the sense that we’ll be familiar with each other and really move the conversation forward and talk about the crazy issues that plague all of us who’re trying to figure out the space.

However, there’s also something missing. New blood! I talked before about the fishbowl and being insular
, and if we want the landscape of social media to change, we have to reach out. To people who are just entering the social media domain, to people who are curious but still on the fence, to people who don’t even know about this world yet!

So here’s the challenge: Convince one other person (friend, classmate, colleague, family) that this is worth their while. Let them know it’s newbie friendly, after all, most of us are new to the space anyway!

That’s the mission if you choose to accept it, come back and let everyone know how it went by posting in the comments section!

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Social Media Breakfast: Singapore 2! 24th May 2008

May 5, 2008

As Sham has already reported, SMB:S2 will be happening in three weeks on the 24th of May, 2008. All the details can be found at the Facebook event page.

Who should come?

Anyone interested and passionate about the social media space, be it blogging, podcasting, social networks, micro blogging etc. What this event is not, however, is a blogger outing that is so popular around Singapore. Read up about the original event and check out the blog coverage if you think you might be interested!

ps: The event is open to all so feel free to invite fellow friends to the Facebook event page, hopefully people who can help move the conversation further.

There’ll definitely be more news and updates as and when it happens, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, we already have 19 confirmed guests on the Facebook event page, won’t you be one of them too? What would you like to see that this SMB? More structure? A proper format and/or discussions? Let me know and we’ll see how we can factor it in.

Are Bloggers Really Influencers? More Thoughts

May 4, 2008

A few more thoughts on the influence issue, part one is here. Once again, I’m exploring this from the consumer’s point of view based on how I surf and am affected (or not) by what the blogs I read say.

Case Study 4: Podfire Soft Launch

The Podfire soft launch got pretty good coverage on ping.sg. I think that night and the day following, easily 3-4 of the top then most read posts were on blog coverage of the Podfire launch. One thing about influence and popularity is network effects.

One person talking about it positively on ping.sg is very different from five people talking positively about it. Again pulling in the “people like me vs bloggers” debate into the picture, I’m thinking someone who knows some or all of the five people talking about it (or any other topic) will probably feel a compelling reason to at least check it out.

Will it lead to the complete viewing of a video? Will they be repeat viewers? I don’t know, but by that stage, the product has to speak for itself. But leading them to click is the first step.

It’s Not About Reach Or Circulation

I read a comment somewhere ridiculing the buzz of the Podfire launch saying some people didn’t hear about it. Completely missing the point. I’m always asked in school whether I saw an article in the newspapers, or a good/bad advertisement on tv last night, and the answer is usually no. So…. people didn’t hear about it via print or tv either and therefore it’s useless?

The important thing for Podfire (and how blogs should be approached), is to try to reach the immediate community (small as they may be) and work from there. It’s targeted as opposed to the shotgun approach.

Get Help!

Su Yuen has a Facebook application called Get Help. It allows users to post out a question and get replies back from friends, acquaintances or maybe strangers. Again, the idea of influence seems relative. Anyone can help on the app, to varying degrees of influence. Would you discount a brilliant idea via Get Help just because a person who replied is a stranger?

Even “Weak” Links/Influencers Play A part

Case Study 1: Camera Buying
When I was deciding which dslr to get, Ingrid recommended a friend to of hers to help me out. I didn’t have any idea who that friend was prior to this, but I did continually go back and ask her what she thought of product A over product B, and bought the final camera based on that advice. Could I have made my decision by reading a professional photographer’s review? Sure. But the fact that I could interact with this person and listen to firsthand experiences made a difference to me. It just happens in this case she isn’t a blogger. But… what if she was?

Case Study 2: Iron Man
Twitter has been alight with raving, positive Iron Man reviews. I’m reading about people from all over the world (majority of whom I’ve never even met) saying how good it is. The Straits Times gave it three stars. After watching the show, I’m glad I didn’t listen to an “expert” reviewer, because anyone who’s watched the show will know it’s not deserving of three stars. Would you like to listen to an “expert” reviewer and forgo the show? (Assuming three stars is your threshold for “not watching”)

Ultimately this issue is still a tough one to tackle. My point here is not to say bloggers are the influencers, but that pointing to the various research without considering the intricacies of it is probably a bad idea. We know about the Long Tail (The ants have megaphones) and about the Wisdom of Crowds and crowdsourcing, and blogging fits squarely into the realm of these phenomena.

Why Social Media Struggles In Singapore

May 1, 2008

One thing I’ve continually questioned is why social media is blooming slowly but not blossoming rapidly in Singapore. I’ve noted that we don’t have problems other countries do, but yet social media is still a very, very small slice of the pie.

Discussions with Michael Netzley, John Bell and Ridz have all resurfaced the same theme: We’re too small. ie the benefits of social media don’t translate as much when you can sms a friend and meet him/her in person in 20 minutes, compared to someone living on the opposite coast in America.

Social media events in North America bring together people who see each other a few times a year. We can see the same people twice in a week at events here!

When we all read the same papers, watch the same news and television and generally consume the same media, does new media still bring additional benefits to the table?

Tracking social media events over the last few months, it does indeed seem like the same people are going for the same events. It’s not a bad thing in itself, but it also means that options to companies are limited. Kami Hyuse’s case study on SeaWorld is an amazing one with great ROI. Attracting 22 roller coaster enthusiasts? That would be hard to replicate here. Obviously I don’t mean for roller coasters (because we have none), but for almost anything in general. It would be easier and simpler (maybe even more cost effective) to put out a print ad than to do a blogger outreach programme, just by impressions alone.

HP did a great blogger outreach programme, but does that value dilute if another company tries something similar and the same bloggers turn up?

I’ve anecdotally heard that 20 million is the magic number for social media to take off. Not in the sense that it’s an automatic qualifier (Indonesia has 25 million but that’s a fraction of it’s population), but it’s an indicator. Given that we’re at something like 4 million total population, does it mean that we’ll never get there?

That said, there is obviously a huge social media interaction on platforms like hardware zone, to some extent Facebook and others, suggesting to me that there is an audience, but we haven’t found a way to properly leverage it yet.

There are a lot of instances when I wish companies would engage the social media participants. But let’s think about it, if 5,000 people talk about your brand in a year (and I’m already stretching it), would you hire a person to monitor that and engage? Or is it easier to close an eye to that miniscule number, and focus on other things? Let’s face it, most companies aren’t Dell with hundreds of thousands of customers complaining. It’s a real question where companies only have a limited amount of resources, and have to prioritise.

Do you think our size is the biggest limiting factor? Do you have other thoughts on why social media’s influence is still limited in Singapore? Most importantly, do you see it changing? In how many years? Or will this being small turn on its head and be a strength? I want to hear from you.

Event Coverage: Podfire’s Soft Launch At Geek Terminal!

May 1, 2008

Second social media event in two days (the other being The Open Room by Ogilvy), is none other than Podfire’s soft launch at Geek Terminal. I came armed with my camera because Michael says I don’t post pictures!

Michael Cheng of Podfire!What Is Podfire?
Podfire is a network for local podcasters/videocasters to come together and basically run their shows. Issues with hardware? No problem. Just come with time and a remarkable idea, Podfire will do the rest. The first two shows to be launched are Blogger’s Treats, a show featuring blogger’s favourite food haunts (featuring Sabrina and Daphne) and The Geek Goddess show, centered around web and tech happenings in Asia (featuring Estee and Peter).

How Were The Episodes?
I must say the episodes definitely impressed me in terms of quality and post-production. Having dabbled in videos myself, believe me when I say it’s hard work. Pacing was a little iffy, but hey, we’re bloggers, not TV hosts!

Geek TerminalThe Event
The event itself was pretty good. As usual I met a ton of people. Shannon for the first time ever, the aforementioned Daphne, Claudia, and Nicole for the first time in person and people who are by now “regulars” like Nadia, Michael Cheng, Jean and Ridz. As a new blogger, it’s all about meeting new people and forming new relationships for me.

The Aftermath
I gotta say I’m giving serious thought to entering the podcasting world with Podfire. My biggest issue is that my niche is covered so well in North America that it would be a great challenge to differentiate. Gonna have to think about it over the next week or so.

Ridz Taking PicturesThe second thought I have is that I’m getting closer to cementing my thoughts that social media may not be primed to work in Singapore despite our great infrastructure, lack of a language barrier, high internet penetration rate etc. I’ll probably blog about that tomorrow.

Thanks for reading and before you go, check out the two inaugural episodes! (As usual, WordPress is giving me issues with Vimeo videos, so click on the links at the top of the page!)



Follow Up: Ogilvy’s Open Room – Too Harsh On The Companies?

April 28, 2008

Going through the name cards I exchanged from tonight’s event, I count four from Ogilvy, one from SMU and Nadia’s. (Note: no companies)

Looking around the blogosphere on ping.sg, there are four posts from Jean, Ian, Ridz and Plaktoz (for now). Now I don’t mean to go back to flogging a dead horse, but there is little to no brand coverage. The blog posts are either on the fellow bloggers they met, or the stuff in the goodie bags.

I don’t know about you, but I think there are bigger and better products to get people excited about and posting images (and generating media about) than collaterals in goodie bags.

I don’t mean to be critical or harsh on companies. But I think if you’re paying money to engage an agency to do your PR/marketing/advertising/whatever, and they do something like this (certainly with people like John Bell and Brian and Tania who know what they’re doing), then you really need to make the most out of it and bring some value back to the office.

Report: The Open Room Launches!

April 28, 2008

The Open Room was held today at Ogilvy with the tagline “where brands and bloggers connect”. I was one of the privileged bloggers to be invited, and I have to say I had a blast.

John Bell (who I had the honour of talking to for awhile) kicked it off with 12 points on the Code of Ethics for blogger outreach. Needless to say with my recent issues with journalist-blogger relations, this struck a chord with me and I have to say I think Ogilvy has got it spot on.

The Open Room was a great event for me as a blogger. I got to meet people I met previously from Social Media Breakfast: Singapore like Sheylara, Supriya, Jean, Ridz, Rinaz, Nicholas, Michael Netzley and Aaron, as well as some bloggers I know of online but never really met in person like the Tech 65 crew, Ian on the red dot, Sabrina, Plaktoz and Nadia, as well as a ton of people from Ogilvy. (I’m sure I’ve missed people out, let me know so I can add your link!)

The one thing that I felt was replicated from the IDC Conference was that the companies involved seemed a little unsure about what to do when meeting bloggers. We were identified clearly by our magenta tags (they had green), but yet the two groups never really mingled. I don’t think this is the “fault” of anyone in particular, just that this new social media space and community marketing concept are something corporations are just figuring out right now. I definitely hope this changes soon. I don’t want to be pitched by companies at events like these, but it would be nice to talk to them and find out more about them.

Y’know, start a conversation, have a relationship. Like real people.

For example, I was checking out the new Canon models (because my sister took my camera), but there wasn’t really anyone there I could talk to about it. In fact, most of the “green tags” were gone by 6:30pm. (Probably considered as overtime for them).

I think the issue here is simple: Bloggers have taken a step forward. Companies like Ogilvy have taken a very important step forward by organising something like The Open Room. Now the companies, the very people who the bloggers and agencies are trying to help and engage, need to take that step forward and be a part of the conversation, part of the community too.

After all, at the end of the day, for the bloggers it’s a blogger social event, but the companies should at least go back with something to show for it, be it a new blogger relation or a referral. Because otherwise, the time was wasted wasn’t it?

Edit: Forgot to insert the picture, but we got some swag from the event! Nice touch I must say. Anyone needs the PSP case? I don’t have one so feel free to ask for it. Don’t even think about the Nokia N-gage thumbdrive though!

Big thanks to Brian and Tania for inviting me, looking to future events!

Blogger-Journalist Relationships Done Right

April 23, 2008

After what happened last week, I was quite pleasantly surprised to get a very considerate sms from a reporter this morning, saying he was concerned about disrupting me and asking for a good time for him to contact me.

A few things done right:

  • He knew who I was, definitely had read my blog and referenced things I said in context both on my blog, Twitter and at the IDC Conference.
  • He had clear questions and obviously had done research on the topic.
  • He did not seem to just want to hear a quotable soundbyte, but just asked questions and answered. (Note: It doesn’t matter to me if he got off the phone thinking I utterly wasted his 5 minutes and didn’t give him a good soundbye, the point is that doesn’t come across to me)
  • He offered to send me a draft of what his phrasing of what I said would be via email

Again, it’s not that I’m some big shot in the space, it’s just the other party being nice and well…. a human. Not just someone digging for information or a soundbyte.

Unlike the previous two reporters, if this particular journalist asks me in future to recommend him a blogger in a different niche, say food or technology, I will definitely be more than happy to do so because I know he will treat that person with courtesy and respect that I think anyone should get.

Here’s hoping more journalists learn from these experiences.

Blogger-Journalist Relationships – We’re People Too Dammit.

April 19, 2008

This is thought #4 from yesterday’s quick thoughts on the IDC Conference. But I think it’s the most time sensitive so I’ll get to it first.

I’m a fairly young “serious” blogger. By that I mean my blog has only existed for about 100 days, though I’ve had a “webpage” as they called it back then, since 1996.

In the past 100 days, I’ve loved it when people drop me a message to say they’ve read my blog and find it interesting or they’ve heard about what I’ve done at Social Media Breakfast: Singapore or stuff like that. It’s lead to great conversations, new networks, new friends and even a couple of internship offers. I’m glad that at least some people within my niche feel like I’m adding value to this community, and are willing to talk to me about it.

In last couple of days, though, the ugly side of social media has begun to rear it’s ugly head with people I don’t know adding me on Facebook (without even telling me how or why they know me) and one person demanding for stuff on Twitter, from his/her very first tweet to me.

Needless to say, I categorised these instances as spam and just ignored them.

But then, yesterday took the cake.

Two separate journalists talked to me, one in person at the IDC conference and one over the phone. The first simply came up to me, did not introduce the topic she was writing about, did not ask if I knew anything about the topic she was writing about, or if I would like to say anything about it and just leaped straight into asking me questions.

The second called me while I was having dinner, didn’t ask if it was a good time to talk, but at least identified how she got my number.

Firstly, isn’t this communication 101? You’re calling someone you want to get something out of. The very least you can do is be courteous.

Second, both these journalists clearly have no idea who I am, and what I blog about. I know because both their pieces were on topics with absolutely nothing to do with what I blog about. Why would I be a relevant person to get a comment from? I told the second journalist that I had no idea whatsoever about the content she was asking me about and I didn’t feel like I was the best person to comment. It’s like asking an engineer in to comment on the latest healthcare procedures.

Did they bother to do their research? Or was it just easy access to a blogger – any blogger – that they could milk for a comment for tomorrow’s news? Are they presenting a proper quote with proper representation to the public that actually pays money for that paper?

I’m going to borrow a question from Michael Netzley:

What happened to the journalistic ethic and the grand claims that journalists are different because they actually research their stories and get independent confirmation of the facts?

Reuben, who I was having dinner with, heard my side of the conversation and clearly knew I had no idea what the phone “interview” was about, and told me I should have just said “I’m sorry, I’m having dinner”. On hindsight, I should have, but I didn’t want to be rude.

But I am very certain, that in this case, my extended courtesy to these journalists were not reciprocated in any way whatsoever.

So let me get this out of the way: I do not blog for publicity. I do not need or want to be quoted in the press, especially when it is in no way related to me. I don’t do this for money, I don’t care about fame. I’m here to add value to my immediate community and to spread the word about social media, be it in personal or business use. My goals are community, awareness and education.

Now I’m not a big shot in this space. And I don’t need anyone to treat me like one. If anything else I am astounded by the appreciation people have shown me so far. But I do ask that you show me the basic courtesy when it comes to contacting me.

The one thing I am conscious of in my blog is my personal brand. Yesterday I made the mistake of commenting on issues that I probably shouldn’t have. I don’t know how the articles will come out It could be good for my personal brand, it could be bad. For all I know i come out sounding like a genius in tomorrow’s papers. It doesn’t matter. That’s why I feel the need to post this at 5:20 in the morning, so that you know I’m not writing this in response to whatever comes out in the press later today.

I would like to think these were isolated incidents, and that we have many, many professional journalists out there who hold themselves to a professional code (which apparently is something they pride themselves on). Either way, this has been a learning experience for me, albeit one that has left a bitter taste in my mouth, and it’s not going to happen again.

If this incident means taking some backlash from the journalism community, by all means. I could’ve easily sat on this and kept quiet, let the articles get published and just wait it out, but I think bloggers need to be aware of this.

I personally find it marginally amusing that for all the concern about “control” and “responsibility” and “messaging” and “amateurism” etc in social media, I find these exact things lacking in mainstream media.

Or am I being naive to believe they should exist there in the first place? Because my takeaway from these two instances is that they don’t care about the story, much less me. Grab a contact, get a quote or comment, publish that piece of text regardless of the accuracy, reliability and credibility of the article or the source.

Related Links:

The whole discussion about blogger outreach is in For Immediate Release #336 at around 18 minutes. I think everyone who is considering connecting with any blogger needs to listen to this carefully before going down that path.

Also, you can read about Bryan Person’s frustrations with lazy PR pitches, and draw the similarities easily.

In the interest of full disclosure, another reporter who I met at the IDC Conference was fairly decent and asked if I would be interested in contributing to that particular newspaper. Whether or not that actually happens, I want to lay this out publicly so that other bloggers out there can read this and learn from it.