We Are Social Asia Tuesday TuneUp #4

Simon Kemp

What motivates us to use social networking sites? 
According to a survey by Pew Internet, 66% of US online adults use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter with a variety of motivating factors:

Chinese CEO crowdsources business decision via Sina Weibo
Lei Jun, the CEO of Xiaomi, a China-based mobile internet company, decided to turn to Sina Weibo to crowd-source a solution to Xiaomi’s dilemma of releasing a CDMA version of their latest Android handset. His weibo has since garnered 7,835 ‘retweets’ and 6,296 comments. Due to a lack of general consensus, he further set up a poll on Xiaomi’s official BBS forum. Let’s wait and see if he does indeed act on the crowd-sourced opinions.

#longreads versus short tweets
China’s biggest celebrity blogger Han Han has not jumped into microblogging despite his domination of the traditional blogging platform and his millions of followers. His issue with microblogging lies in the speed in which information is disseminated, which can be both pro and con. Especially with the levels of censorship in China, new information is spread as quickly as it disappears on Weibo. Here lies a good reminder of the importance and purpose of long-form content for deeper analysis and discussion, even as short-form content through the likes of Weibo and Twitter is great for disseminating bite-sized information.

Local merchants can now sync Chalkboard with Facebook
Chalkboard, a location-based mobile advertising service from Singapore, made recent changes to its merchant dashboard. In syncing their Chalkboard dashboard with Facebook, merchants can now post promotions to Chalkboard and their Facebook page simultaneously, and can also view statistics and interactions more easily.

Another useful addition to the revamped dashboard is the heat map that helps merchants visualize where interactions are coming from on a map. The colour spectrum indicates the number of people who have seen a merchant’s promotions, with purple signifying the least and red the most. The heat map could effectively act as an indicator that potentially guides how merchants conduct their promotions.

Social media drives sales for luxury brands
Burberry announced a 29% increase in revenue over the past six months after a successful social media marketing strategy. Angela Ahrendts, CEO, attributed Burberry’s strong first half to “our continued investment in innovative design and digital marketing”.

Busted Bloggers
47 South Korean bloggers have been penalised by the government for posting false reviews to make money. These ‘power bloggers’ did not tell readers they received commission from 2-10% of total sales in return for writing favourable reviews of products and organising group purchases. The most profitable blogger earned almost $800,000 in commission.

Malaysians can now send free SMSes via Gmail
Malaysian mobile operator DiGi, whose 8.8 million users account for 24 percent of the country’s mobile market, has partnered with Google to launch Gmail SMS as part of Google’s “Internet For All” initiative. This service allows DiGi customers to send free local and overseas SMSes without their phones by using Gmail. Replies to SMSes will appear in the Google Chat bar within Gmail, and contact phone numbers can be stored in Gmail’s address book as well.

Gmail SMS is currently active across a number of Asian markets, such as Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

‘DirtyBeijing’ mobile app warns smartphone users about air pollution levels in Beijing
Beijing-based start-up Fresh Ideas Studio has released a local air quality app for both iPhone and Android. The DirtyBeijing app displays an air quality index that determines the level of risk to one’s health based on the severity of air pollution. The index ranges between 6 indicators, the best labelled ‘Good’, and the worst ‘Hazardous’.

It’s great to see a smartphone app for social good, but it remains to be seen whether DirtyBeijing encounters the Chinese government’s wrath. It uses the stricter US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) index, and not the one mandated by the Chinese government.

Google+ continued lack of growth
Experian Hitwise have released statistics showing how Google+ recorded its third biggest week in terms of traffic last week, after a spike when accounts were opened to all. Nonetheless, data given to the LA Times shows the site has lost visitors in 11 out of 21 weeks since launch, regularly falling between 10% and 20% from one week to the next.

More to the point, Google+ has struggled to expand outside America: according to ICM Research, only 4-5% of 40 million registered users are British. Amusingly, 17% of respondents claimed to use Google+ but in reality only a third do so – with the remainder mistaking it for something else!

Meanwhile, Facebook brings people closer
Forget about six degrees of separation. A new study from Facebook and the University of Milan shows that people in the world are more interconnected than ever before. Out of Facebook’s 721 million active users, any two people on the site are on average separated by merely 4.74 intermediate connections. Facebook has brought local communities closer as the average separation gets as low as 3 degrees amongst people living within the same country.

Being polite on Twitter gains you more clicks
Hubspot’s Dan Zarrella analysed 200,000 link-containing tweets to determine which words, phrases and characters correlated with a higher or lower click-through rate (CTR). Apparently, being polite pays off. A tweet containing the word ‘please’ yielded a CTR of 3.57%, compared to 2.1% without the use of the word. Using the word ‘via’ instead of the standard ‘RT’ also produced a better overall CTR of 6.37% versus 4.19%. Time to change the way you tweet.

Google+ Brand Pages lack followers…
There is yet more speculation about the success (or failure) of Google+ from BrightEdge, whose recent study found that 61% of top brands have created Google+ pages but few people are following them. Brands like Coca Cola, McDonalds and Verizon only have dozens of fans in comparison to their millions on Facebook. In total the top 100 brands have over 300 million Facebook fans in comparison to just 148,000 followers on Google+.

Could music help Google+ whistle to a new tune?
Google launched its highly anticipated digital music hub, Google Music last week. It could breathe fresh life into Google+ as ‘once someone makes a purchase on Google Music, he or she can give Google+ friends a full listen to a track, or even an album, for free’. Neat.

Google+ Pages integrate third party tools and multi-admin access
Google have also announced that they are enabling six third-party tools (Buddy Media, Context Optional, Hearsay Social, HootSuite, Involver, and Vitrue) to test Google+ functionality in their management tools, immediately. With multi-admin access not coming within the site until Q1 2012, this is a welcome boost for brands.

There’s also a new AdWords feature, appropriately named, Social Extensions, which will enable brands to link their page to their AdWords campaigns. According to Google, this is big news:

With Social Extensions, consumers will be able to see all the recommendations your business has received, whether they are looking at an ad, a search result or your page. This means your +1’s will reach not only the 40+ million users of Google+, but all the people who come to Google every day.

Finally they’ve added trending topics. This is a list of the top 10 most popular discussion items on the social network. I wonder where they got that one from…

Facebook’s Sponsored Stories in real-time ticker
Facebook have now included their Sponsored Stories into the real-time ticker. According to Nielsen 68% of people are more likely to remember seeing them and twice as likely to remember the message than a normal ad. Although proven to be effective, the new placement will be somewhat irritating, so brands will have to be cautious in using it.

Foursquare’s expertise badges 
Are you a Mexican food lover or a devout veggie? If so you can prove your expertise in a certain area with Foursquare’s new ability to ‘level up’ with their badges. The user has to complete the levels by visiting a certain number of unique places. Some of our favourite badges include don’t stop believin’, greasy spoon and ski bum. We’ll leave it to your imagination to guess what these badges are awarded for…

Foursquare focuses on discovery
In other news from Foursquare HQ, they have launched an all new website design with a live giant map on the homepage, showing a variety of colour coded places of relevance: trending places are shown in yellow, places on your lists in green, ones with specials in orange and popular ones in blue. You can also see where your friends are and can receive recommendations. Foursquare hasn’t stopped there, as the logged out homepage has also seen a revamp, placing emphasis on the new ‘expertise’ angle.

Skype launches Facebook-to-Facebook video calls from within Skype
Last week Skype announced they had reached yet another Skype-Facebook partnership milestone: Facebook-to-Facebook video calling from within Skype. Simply connect your Facebook to your Skype account, select a friend and get calling.

Send money via the new PayPal Facebook App
PayPal just made it easier for us to send money whenever and wherever we want. 80% of active PayPal users are also actively using Facebook, so in light of this they can now send money directly via the new Send Money app, which allows users to send actual gifts instead of wall posts.

‘Share What You Wear’ with RNKD
Zappos co-founder Nick Swinmurn is reinventing loyalty programs for clothing brands and retailers. RNKD, pronounced ‘ranked’, is still in its beta version but in essence it allows users to upload photos of their clothes and then tag them by brand. It then assigns a user rank according to the contents of the virtual closet and awards badges accordingly.

Virgin tweets live flight statuses
Virgin Atlantic is now offering customers flight status updates via Twitter using the @VAAInfo account. So if you want to know the status of your flight, send a tweet and you’ll receive a response ‘within seconds’, but with Virgin’s well-known brand of customer service: the tweet might begin ‘hello gorgeous’.

Walmart’s 12 Days of Giving
It is the season of giving, and to get into the true festive spirit, Walmart has launched a charitable Facebook campaign named the 12 Days of Giving. Their 10.3 million fans are asked to nominate local good causes and non-profit organisations for a stake of their $1.5 million holiday grants.

Citroën’s Twitter race
Citroën have launched a race where the route is determined entirely by its followers’ tweets. Instead of racing against other cars, followers will compete to direct the new Citroën DS5 towards them with a chance to win it.

Renault: Ange & Demon
We Are Social’s Paris office have created a street fighter style Facebook game which allows players to choose an Angel or Demon character to fight their way through a variety of challenges and win prizes for the best performances. This is to promote the 666 limited edition Clio R.S. Ange & Demon cars.

Jeweller shares soppy love notes via Facebook

Robbins Brothers, a Californian jeweller has come up with an extremely cheesy Facebook campaign. All fans have to do is write a love note to that special someone on the brand’s Facebook page and they will upload it onto a digital billboard on a local freeway. And, if that isn’t enough they will also take a photo of it so you can share it with your loved one. Whoever said that romance is dead is clearly mistaken…

Samsung turn tweets into art
To promote their new Galaxy Note handset through Twitter, Samsung are turning tweets into artwork using some of the phone’s digital pen and memo service. To see your tweet created into art simply tweet Samsung with the hashtag #createmytweet.

Divorcing couple ordered to swap Facebook passwords
A Connecticut judge recently ordered a divorcing couple to swap their log-in details for their Facebook and dating website accounts so that their lawyers could conduct ‘discovery’ through them. The power of social appears to have no bounds as both our online behaviour and how we communicate are even having an effect on our legal systems.