Posts filed under ‘social media’

Agencies of The Future

Paul (Bangkok) writes:

A glimpse of the near future, for those of us working in marketing communication?

From Trendsspotting.com:

Sapient recently sponsored a national online survey to gain insights into what marketers want from their advertising and marketing agencies in the next 12 months. The survey polled more than 200 chief marketing officers (CMOs) and senior marketing professionals.

Two points can be derived out of this survey:
I. Traditional advertising agencies are now at risk of losing their clients.
II. Agencies should acquire Social Media expertise.

For the full article: Brand Marketers aim to receive digital expertise from their advertising and  marketing agencies.

Related article: Sapient’s Top 10 Wish List for Agencies of the Future, based on their survey.

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September 23, 2008 at 8:01 am 7 comments

China’s Online Creative Community – Part 2: Interview

Ju (MindShare, Regional Insights) writes:

A couple of months back I had the chance to meet with Sean Leow in a small café in Shanghai, one of the co-founders of the social networking site ‘Neocha’, which Pew Internet dubbed as China’s MySpace for the creative-types, as mentioned in the previous introductory post. I was first introduced to Neocha.com through our trend scout in Shanghai through her article on ‘Online Home for Indie Culture in China‘ on our Asia Scout Network blog.

Sean is a half-Chinese, half-American who has been living and working in China for the past four years. After growing up in San Francisco’s Bay Area and graduating from Duke University, Sean moved to China, studying and working in four Chinese cities along the way.

Chatting casually over coffee, Sean talks about his exposure to Japanese-influenced youth subcultures in China and the one-day Neocha launch event which attracted 8,000 to 10,000 young people through digital means and word-of-mouth while taking us through Neocha’s webzine <Blow-Up>. He contends that the best way to connect with young people is through brand engagement.

This edited video clip is a short collection of the highlights of the interview.

Read on for the full version:

1. What do you find interesting about China’s digital media landscape?
One thing that I find interesting is digital webzines. That’s something that some people say is a failure in other countries – releasing webzines with flash online. In China though, it has been pretty successful coz it’s so hard to get a publishing license here, that if you can release it online for free, people are demanding that kind of content – new content that speaks to them so much more than the stuff that is shown on state-run media.

We actually have one of our own – it’s called <Blow Up>. I’m pretty proud of ours because it’s the only one I know that’s 100% original content. A lot of these webzines they take articles or videos that they find on the internet and they’ll piece together some interesting stuff. There are some good ones, but one thing that we tried to really do is create a fully original one including all the music. All the music is by bands and musicians that we know in China. (View Neocha’s most recent issue of <Blow Up> here – definitely worth a look!)

2. Why create another online community platform in China?
The simple reason was that there was none targeted specifically at the creative communities in China. I’ve spent a lot of time going all over China. I’ve been here for four and a half years and I see really interesting content being created whether it’s music or photography or design. And when I go somewhere like Beijing, I’ll meet someone like “oh, I know someone who’s doing something similar in Shanghai” and I kept running into those situations until I’m thinking where is the aggregation point in this. Is this being done online or offline? What I found was that it wasn’t really existing, it was very scattered groups and I thought there was an opportunity to bring them together. So I went to some of my Chinese friends who are even more knowledgeable on this demographic – guys who are musicians, those who actually live the life. They’re like no, there isn’t a website that caters to us, that speak the same language.

So, on the one hand we saw that there was a need for an aggregator. On the other hand, I grew up in Silicon Valley so all my friends and family were always involved with the internet. Now I think the tools do exist that we can allow these people to both promote themselves, and at the same time collaborate with other people who are interested in this content.

One thing that we do that’s a bit different from other online communities is that we do have a big focus on offline events like that big event I showed. Our communities are already set up like that. To do a concert with them is not difficult because they’re already doing concerts. To do a photography exhibit with our photographers is not difficult because they’re already doing exhibits. And I also believe any successful community has an element where people can meet and talk, to reinforce the friends and the connections that you make online and offline. We’ve already done four or five offline events. We’re thinking of doing something on a monthly basis, on a smaller scale. This (launch event) is like once a year type of thing. Right now we only have the resources to handle Shanghai, but we’d also like to be in Beijing, Hangzhou, and to a lesser extent the other cities.

3. So how did you “get the ball rolling” and start attracting young people to the site and to the event?
In China, young people don’t use email that much. You think of viral campaigns that you do in the US, a lot of that’s through email. In China, you can definitely use email as a tool, but it’s definitely not used as widely as the US, except among white collar workers who use it for work. I find with the young generation it’s almost all IM, in the big cities it would MSN or otherwise QQ, and through cell phone. We also send out emails. I mean you send out 3,000 emails you’re bound to get somebody that’s going to respond to it and not think it’s spam. The other way that we did it was just contacting everybody that we knew that we considered, we’d call them ‘mavens’, guess you could say that, people who we think are influential, who have fans, networks that they can reach out to. You get those people on it and you get them to bring the people that they know. And then on top of that was the big event that we did. I find the best way to market online is actually through BBS’s, BBS forums. That’s traditionally how these online communities have been structured and in China it’s still and extremely popular form of communication. I think that’s moving more to the blog/space type of set up that we have. I guess that’s why we didn’t create a BBS for creative communities. But BBS is still very powerful for spreading your message.

4. Do you think there’s any social or cultural link between these creative communities and the non-creative types of people? Or are they completely separate from each other?
I’m not going to say that [the creative community] is huge because I don’t think it is yet. But it’s different from other niche subcultures that you see, because I think these people are having more and more influence over mainstream culture, and I think in 3-5 years they will be tremendously influential. That’s the hypothesis behind what we’re doing. We think they’re going to be extremely influential – these people are about 17 to about 30 years-old and they really represent the new generation of Chinese kids which is they’re very proud of being Chinese, and at the same time they’re part of the world community and that they have innovative, interesting content. They’re not just the China of old, made-in-China products, they want to turn that around and say ‘look we’ve got some interesting stuff too’. And it’s also the same as the motive by the government because for so long, China’s at a cultural deficit, they’ve been importing movies, music, art, and they haven’t been exporting anything. So they want to reverse that cultural deficit and start creating their own stuff that they can start using as ‘soft power’ to export to the rest of the world, like music. So I think it’s a perfect storm between these people coming of age, having the means to do it because they don’t have to worry about day-to-day existence, and basically being supported by the government and other people, not just their parents, but other people that they know.

5. How have the young people influenced the mainstream? Have you any examples?
Part of it you can just see by walking in this area (Xinle Lu). This is kind of like the hip area of Shanghai. You go into the boutique shops here and you see the clothes and, the T-shirt revolution that’s going in China as everywhere else in the world. There’s a lot of these designers like ‘The Thing’. You see their influences and their designs on everyday people who are walking the streets.

6. What’s the general attitude of the young Chinese people that you meet?

They’re sick of old media. They’re also sick of the canto-pop star. It’s difficult to put a label on them. They’re interested in finding ways to take independent culture and making it more influential on the mainstream. They’re not rebellious in the way that you would think of Americans or Europeans are rebellious, like try to run away from home. They still have that kind of filial piety to their parents. Some people’s parents are more accepting of what they’re trying to do and some people aren’t. They’re not interested in politics. We have over a hundred blogs which I read half of everyday and no one’s ever really talked about politics.

They’re talking about a new CD, posting an illustration that they did. There are different stratums of users. Our strategy is we are going after people who are already creating content. But they don’t have a good place to post it. In that way they already have the content – the pictures, the stories, the music. We think that’s the best way to grow the website fast because people have stuff to look at and interact with. And then at the same time, we’re trying to work on strategies to bring in more regular people who are interested in these creative communities, but isn’t necessarily the members who are making this stuff. They’re more interested in maybe reading about it or maybe commenting on it.

7. What’s the best way to connect with young people?

I really think digital is the best way to connect to young people. Not only are they spending time there and you can target them demographically, but also you can engage them so much more than you can with just an advertisement on TV. You can get them to in there and write a comment. You can get them to go in there and to vote for someone. You can get in there and download a template for a t-shirt and design the next version of the Adidas t-shirt. They engage with your brand that way – It’s not just I saw it and that’s great. They’re actually engaging with it….The cost isn’t that much to sponsor, but the return they get is that get all of these influential people all engaged with their brands for a certain amount of time. Maybe it’s a buzzword, but I think that brand engagement is a pretty important part of the digital strategy.

November 30, 2007 at 4:59 am 3 comments

China’s Online Creative Community – Part 1: Intro

 Ju (Regional team, Mindshare) writes:

 I think Alok hit the nail on the head with the question “MySpace or Facebook or should we even care?“. The basic reason anyone joins a social networking today is to be part of a community that one identifies with. Only 3 years ago, no one really had much of a choice in selecting our preferred social networking platforms. Take me for example… I was invited into hi5 (the main social networking site in Thailand right now) a couple of years ago. Back then, just the simple fact that I connect with friends from grade school and revel at my rising popularity as I added more and more friends to my network already thrilled me. I remained on hi5 because all my friends were there. Period. It was the only network had gained critical mass among Thais. Of course you’d want to be where everyone else is, right?

Three years ago, the answer would have been a resounding yes, but today, it might be a NO. More accurately, the answer would depend on who ‘everyone else’ is, what their profiles are, and most importantly, if you are actually engaging together in similar activities or interests. Yes, it’s great find your long lost friends and show how popular you are, but the excitement over that particular feature is long over (remember how you felt when you received your first ever email, then think how you feel about emails now). Ultimately, for any social network to keep itself alive beyond the initial hype (beyond the phase where everyone invites everyone to be their friends), the social network has to prove itself useful for either a person’s career, hobbies, or social life offline. In other words, it has to provide a strong unifying PURPOSE for a community of people who actually interact with each other for more than the sake of interacting just because they are a bit bored that day.

Enabling this is the fact that the technology for developing these social networks has likely become a commodity these days, because of the open-source movement, and because of user-friendly platforms like Ning which allows non-techies to create their own social networking sites (Ning now has over 100,000 user-created sites).

On his blog theory.isthereason.com, Kevin Lim did a very interesting analysis of the ‘economics’ of social networking in his article Niche Networks // Neocha: China’s MySpace For Creative People. I particularly agree with his conclusion, copied here:

Make it Niche, Make it Damn Easy
That’s where I thought “niche social networks” should enter and hold value by being really quick to use (functional), while being extremely relevant and fiercely exclusive (e.g. offering services specific to the relevant crowd). As fragmented it would turn the social networking scene, it would serve the long tail, catering to the smaller but passionate group of users. For instance, Estee of blogbuzz.tv recently pinged me about a social networking site for professional women cleverly called Damsels in Success. While I only took a superficial look at it, I was more intrigued by how social networking sites like these weren’t about having huge populations of users (quantitative), but rather solid relevance to specific mobs of interests (qualitative).

… the value lies in how you aren’t in a huge community of strangers, but of close friends you can actually do stuff with.

It’s probably one reason why, although I have 3 times more friends on Hi5 than on Facebook, I can’t remember the last time I logged on to hi5, let alone my password (sorry hi5’ers).

Brands would be missing the point to focus only on the numbers. Business and branding potential lie as much in the richness, as in the reach of a social network.

My next post will feature a personal interview with Sean Leow, one of the four co-founders of Neocha, an online community that differentiates itself strongly from other established social network giants in China by serving specifically to the emerging, innovative Chinese creative class, as featured in Fast Company’s article ‘The Next Cultural Revolution – China’. In the article ”New Tea’ in China’, Pew Internet describes them as “China’s first website for artists to show off and share their wares, launched last week in Shanghai. Think of MySpace for creative types, then think of it channeling into groups for bands, or photographers, or clothing designers, sculptors, jewelers, bookbinders, knitters, sketchers…”

The interview touches on Sean’s view on digital media for young Chinese creative-types, his exposure to Japanese-influenced subcultures in China, and how he and his Neocha friends attracted an estimated 10,000 young people to their launch event in April this year, purely through digital means and word-of-mouth. View a clip of the event here:

October 17, 2007 at 7:29 am 7 comments

Facebook or MySpace or should you even care?

facebook.jpg OR myspace.jpg

Alok (MindShare, Regional team) writes:

During a recent business pitch, after we were done waxing eloquent of social networking and the web 2.0, the marketing honcho asked us a simple question – “Should my brand be on facebook or myspace?” At the time our response was, given what we knew of the clients’ brand and the two sites, facebook.

In hindsight however, though the question seemed sapless at the time, I have been perplexed about what the right response ought to be and on what basis one formulates a response.

Should the response be guided by the buzz surrounding the site, a measure of its perceived popularity? The fact is people have been flocking to facebook since it opened its doors to the hoi polloi. It does seem like the next big thing and why should we not be tempted to seed our brand there. Scratch the numbers a bit and it does not seem so cut and dry. On measures like average daily visitors & time spent per month myspace scores over facebook. So while the current trend and buzz favor facebook, this in itself is not sufficient to dictate a response.

Implicit in the question is an assumption that facebook and myspace are distinct brands and not social network commodities. So does the answer lay in assessing which has a better fit with the client’s brand ala CelebZ? Should the current portrait of myspace as ‘a site for soliciting’ serve as a reason to exclude it despite its larger user base?

Social networks by definition should imply a niche. They should be a network of individuals unified around a shared interest or idea. Today, however these networks work more as aggregators of individuals who then, on their own volition, form their social circle of interests. In absence of distinct identities, what motivates individuals to choose one network over the other (or am I wrong and they do have distinct personas…)? And if someone should host a network focused on college students, will we see a migration from facebook of its original members?

In the future, as social networking sites proliferate, will they define their identities more sharply or will they remain the generic places for friends to connect, meet, and get together? And if this should happen, will it make it easier to choose which one would be right for our clients’ brands.

Still trying to get my head around this one and urge blog thoughts.

September 28, 2007 at 6:21 am 14 comments

Where’s the ‘social’ part of the iPhone?

Peck (MindShare, Thailand) writes:

I came across a really nice iPhone review from Peter S Magnusson’s blog. He’s emphasized on the important of social networking and point out that Apple fails to intregrate social networking in the iPhone. Magnusson writes:

(Steve) Jobs does not understand the 21st century computer usage paradigm…..Today, people chat; they blog; they share multimedia like pictures, video, and audio; they flame each other on forums; they link with each other in intricate webs; they swap effortlessly between different electronic personae and avatars; they listen to internet radio; they vote on this that and the other; they argue on wiki discussion groups…..Jobs can’t quite get rid of the notion that a mobile device is nothing but a really small personal computer.

Thoughts?

July 5, 2007 at 11:19 am 2 comments

Digital trends in Thailand, Asia-Pacific, and beyond

Peck (MindShare, Bangkok) writes:

PWC’s “Convergence Monitor” survey shows that Thailand has the one of the largest number of social networking (virtual networking and blogging) users in Asia, second only to China which has more than 85% of respondents having engaged in social networking at least once while Thailand has 71%.

Chatting, instant messaging, and downloading digital music are popular services among Thai internet users. 90% of respondents have used chatting or instant messaging at least once, and 87% have downloaded music through the internet at least once, expecting to see higher growth along with increase demand for broadband internet. However, online banking and online shopping are not as popular in Thailand as they are in other Asia Pacific countries. For example, while 39% of Singaporean respondents stated that they had used online banking and shopping at least once, only 8% of Thai respondents had done so.

Download the full report titled “Convergence Monitor: The Digital Home” here.

Examples of popular Thai blogs and blogging platforms:

www.bloggang.com

top-blogs.jpg

http://vip-galz.storythai.com/

blog-example.jpg

June 19, 2007 at 10:07 am 12 comments

84% of Second Life residents live outside US

James (MindShare Asia-Pacific) writes:

We all know that Second Life is popular, growing fast, and that all forms of innovative media and branding experiments are taking place there. What I didn’t know, is just how international the community is, and how Euro-centric it has become. A comScore press release from last week breaks the geographical regions out, and indicates that Asia currently stands at 13%. With local virtual worlds popping up now in China and Japan, especially, it will be interesting to see if this figure rises…

n March, 61 percent of active Second Life residents were from Europe, compared to 19 percent from North America, and 13 percent from Asia Pacific.  In addition, 61 percent of residents were male while 39 percent were female. 

Geographical Location of Second Life Residents Who Logged-in During January and March 2007

Unique People, Age 15+

Total Worldwide Audience – Home and Work Locations*

Source: comScore World Metrix 

Mar-07

(000)

Percent of Total Active Residents

Increase In Active Residents

Mar-07 vs. Jan-07

Worldwide

1,283**

100%**

46%

Europe

777

61%

32%

    Germany

209

16%

70%

    France

104

8%

53%

    UK

72

6%

24%

North America

243

19%

103%

    USA

207

16%

92%

Asia Pacific

167

13%

N/A***

Latin America

77

6%

26%

Middle East & Africa

20

2%

N/A***

*Excludes traffic from public computers such as Internet cafes or access from mobile phones or PDAs.

** Sum of components may equal more than total due to rounding

*** N/A – Residents in January below minimum reporting standard

May 7, 2007 at 5:16 am 4 comments

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