We Are Social Asia Tuesday TuneUp #6

Simon Kemp

Brands on Facebook feel neglected
A new report from Forrester Research highlights the strain between Facebook and the brands who are trying to derive value from the social network in their marketing campaigns. According to the report, there’s plenty of blame to go around for the current state of affairs. On the one hand

Facebook has made content management on the platform difficult for companies, changes the rules without warning and only offers limited data.

On the other, marketers themselves have much to answer for, and points out a number of failings such as a lack of understanding about Edgerank, unfocused fan pages and viewing Facebook in isolation from wider marketing or customer activity.

Starwood and Jiepang team up
Since its recent tie-up with Starbucks, Chinese location-based app Jiepang has now partnered hotel and resort chain Starwood for Starwood’s customer loyalty program. By checking into Jiepang at more than 200 of Starwood’s hotels across Asia-Pacific, customers can accumulate points and win free hotel stays. The user with the most ‘check-ins’ each month will be named ‘the SPG Mayor’, and feature on the Starwood-Jiepang webpage. To resolve the issue of fraudulent log-ins, Starwood allows customers to earn bonus loyalty points by ‘checking-in’ to a hotel on Jiepang using their reservation number. With exclusive Jiepang badges that can be unlocked by sharing Starwood hotel log-ins across two or more social networks, Starwood is assured greater reach and exposure through this collaboration.

Location-based app Juspot focuses on connecting people through locations rather than ‘checking-in’
Juspot is a new location-based social networking app from South Korea for local communities to connect through pre-determined, popular locations named ‘Juspot Zones’. Instead of merely declaring their current locations, users can post and share photos using the photo manipulation tool within Juspot, as well as share experiences and information with others from their ‘Juspot Zone’. These public posts can only be made from within a ‘Juspot Zone’, which is confirmed via the device’s location service, unlike apps like Foursquare which do not require location confirmation using GPS. Users can also follow other ‘Juspoters’ and send private messages to one another.

Available for download on both the iPhone and Android devices, Juspot is only available in Korean currently, but an English version is underway with plans for an international marketing campaign to be launched next year.

Facebook’s acquisition of Gowalla, privacy troubles and updates
Following rumours and reports this weekend that the company had been acquired,Gowalla today confirmed that its founders and several key members have joined Facebook and will move to its Palo Alto headquarters. Before today’s confirmation, a source close to the deal described it as a ‘perfect match’:

As far as the big picture, Gowalla’s vision is about people telling stories, and Facebook’s vision for Timeline is about stories about important moments in life.

Facebook was once again in hot water over user privacy settings, but reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over charges that the social network deceived users by failing to honour privacy agreements, which amongst other things, binds them to get user consent before releasing changes that override existing privacy settings. In response, Zuckerberg said that he feels the platform has “a positive track record for providing transparency and control over privacy settings” but also admitted they’ve made “made a bunch of mistakes.”

Facebook are experimenting with a new “Related Post” Sponsored Story format, which adds questions and comments to encourage more interaction between brands and their fans. Unlike “Comment” Sponsored Story, this new ad unit does not draw posts from a brand’s Facebook Page. Instead, the new ads “don’t have to connect to a previous post, and comment activity on the ad is solely kept within the ad, not connected to the News Feed.”

In other changes, Facebook has upped the character limit on status updates from 5,000 to 60,000. The idea behind the change allows for new content types, like sharing a novel in a few updates or using Facebook as a writing workshop space. So get writing.

Twitter pilots self-serve ads, does deal with Japan’s mixi
Twitter is piloting self-serve ads on its ad platform, paving the way for small and medium-sized businesses to buy ads directly with little more than a credit card and a web browser.

Further to our post last week, Twitter also ‘officially’ announced that they are collaborating with mixi, Japan’s largest social network. The partnership with mixi will include developing new joint services and advertising products, and incorporating Twitter into mixi’s current platform.

Indian mobile users gain free access to Twitter without data subscription
India’s largest telecom carrier Bharti Airtel will allow its customers in India to access Twitter from their mobile phones for free until March 1 2012, even if they have not subscribed for a data plan. Airtel customers need only visit mobile.twitter.com and follow a simple sign-up process by entering their mobile number. This collaboration foretells of Twitter’s future plans in Asia, since a sizeable portion of Twitter’s users comes from Asian countries such as India, Japan and the Philippines.

Vancl marries e-commerce with social media
As an online retailer with no brick-and-mortar retail outlets, China’s fast-fashion giant Vancl combines its e-commerce activities with social media to better reach its target consumers. Launched this year, its photo-blog Vancl Star allows users to post pictures of themselves in Vancl looks, and members with the largest number of fans become ‘VANCL Stars’. The social commerce element comes in when users click and purchase Vancl products featured by ‘Stars’ through the link under their showcase pictures, through which the ‘Stars’ are then able to earn a commission of 10% of the profit. This innovative use of social commerce, fuelled by commission-based incentives, is how Vancl achieves annual sales of US$1.5 billion. Vancl is also prominent on Sina Weibo where it engages with its 401,155 followers, while it has 51,021 fans on Renren.

Flipboard to debut local Chinese version of its mobile app
Flipboard, a social magazine app that aggregates news across various sources, will be partnering with Sina Weibo and Renren, two of China’s most popular social networks, to stream content from their sites. Content selected by local curators will also feature in this first international edition customised specifically for Chinese users. This Chinese edition is free and only available in the iTunes China App Store. Although Apple devices currently represent a small share of the overall smartphone and tablet market in China, the rising demand for Apple products there would help increase adoption of Flipboard before the proliferation of local clones occurs.

StumbleUpon gets a facelift
StumbleUpon has completely revamped its website, and now sports a new logo, user interface and most importantly, a channel feature that provides brands with a non-intrusive role within the service. Brands, publications and celebrities can now participate on the platform without intruding into the StumbleUpon experience, by publishing their own content within ‘Channels’. With Channels, users can now ‘Stumble’ specific brands, in addition to topics or broad categories they could previously ‘Stumble’ from The Explore Box. Brands now have yet another social media to leverage on.

YouTube’s record views and new look
comScore announced that YouTube racked up a record-setting 20 billion views in October. That number represents a little less than 50% of all videos watched in the U.S., whose Internet users watched an all-time high of 42.6 billion videos.

YouTube has also launched a major redesign and introduced “a new homepage, Channel design and a fresh coat of digital paint”, as they put it. The new homepage lets users more easily connect their YouTube account to other social networks like Google+ or Facebook, as well as find new channels and trending videos.

And to go with the new look, the YouTube analytics backend has also undergone a major overhaul. Some of the new analytics features include quick overviews, more detailed reports and statistics, audience retention reports and an audience builder.

Foursquare’s ‘Save’ and ‘Follow’
Foursquare has made it easy to save interesting locations that you read about online straight to your phone, with a new ‘Save to Foursquare’ button. The ‘Save to Foursquare’ button is aimed at online publishers and can enable publications to relate stories and reviews to places listed in the Foursquare app.

For users, the button lets you save places directly to your Foursquare to-do lists, then if you are using ‘Radar’ it will gives you a reminder as soon as you are near the location. Jonathan Crowley, who oversees Foursquare’s partnerships with media companies, describes the user journey like this:

I’m on the L.A. Times website and I’m reading a review of a new sushi place at LA Live, then I can click the Save to Foursquare button from the review online and that sushi place will be added to my to-do list on Foursquare. And then when I’m in L.A. near LA Live and I’m looking at my to-do list, I’ll see that sushi place on my list and the L.A. Times review would show up when I am looking at that sushi place in the app.

Foursquare also announced that websites can now integrate a ‘Follow on Foursquare’ button, which enables users to follow a person or business on Foursquare, similar to Twitter’s follow button.

Google+ Hangout with extras
It’s now possible to make free phone calls from inside a Google+ hangout. This allows you to dial people into the room from wherever they are, and may prove particularly helpful for conferences and party lines. The new feature initially only supports free calls to the US and Canada.

Spotify launches integrated Apps from key partners

Big news from Spotify, who have announced a number apps from partners which are integrated into the music streaming service. The new feature allows users to interact with other services while listening to music. Initial apps include recommendations through Last.fm and reviews from Rolling Stone, The Guardian, and Pitchfork. Lyrics can be delivered by TuneWiki and the Songkick app will find out if any of the artists in your library are performing near you, with more apps on the way soon.

WordPress.com announces WordAds
WordPress.com have announced that they are launching an ad platform called WordAds in partnership with Federated Media, in response to high demand of bloggers wanting to earn money though their blogs. Carrying premium display ads from known brands, the service will only be available by application. It’s open to publicly visible blogs with custom domains, and factors such as level of traffic and engagement, type of content, and language used will factor into whether a blog gets accepted.

New York Times Commentators’ Upgrade
The New York Times have launched a new commenting system and plans on rewarding readers who have shown consistency in commenting on articles. Those “whose comments are consistently approved over a certain time period” will be rewarded with a ‘trusted commenter’ status, allowing their comments to be published without moderation in the future.

Those who join the ‘trusted commenter’ program must verify their “real names, a profile photo and hometown by connecting a Facebook account.” But in return they get instant commenting, a higher profile on the site, a special ‘trusted’ logo attached to their color photo and full name so they can stand out visually from the other commenters. Seems like the only other thing missing is a gold star.

Walmart’s Shopycat

WalmartLabs has formally launched its first product, a gift-finding Facebook app called Shopycat. The app enables Facebook users to take the likes, shares and interests of friends and turn them into ‘intelligent’ gift recommendations. It’s been designed with finding the ‘perfect gift’ in mind, and does so by first identifying “the tastes and interests of the recipient” and then matches them by searching “across a large universe of products to find the one wow gift.” With the wealth of data available through Facebook and sheer size of Walmart’s customer base, it’s hard to imagine this not being a hit.

Odeon cinemas launch F-commerce app on Facebook
In other f-commerce news, Odeon have launched a transactional Facebook app. It allows the fan to choose films, view screening times and purchase tickets all within the social media network. It rounds out the features with the ability to watch movie trailers, win prizes and rate films.

Chevy teams up with Klout
Chevrolet has teamed up with Klout in the US to arrange three-day loans of the 2012 Sonic, for people with a ‘Klout score’ of at least 35. Klout is not without its critics though, and commentators are quick to point out that Chevy needs to be careful that recipients of their perks disclose that they’re received the car for free:

That’s a key detail because of a Federal Trade Commission guideline requiring bloggers and social-media agents to disclose when writing about products they’ve gotten for free.

Hugo Boss and Foursquare competition
Hugo Boss has launched a global competition on Foursquare which aims to increase in-store traffic. Followers of the brand on Foursquare who check-in at a store will be in with a chance of winning an “exclusive shopping experience with a leading style icon in New York.” Whatever that means.

GE’s hunt for a new ‘Instagrapher’

GE are on the hunt for a new ‘Instagrapher’ to replace professional photographer Noah Kalina who has been running the company’s Instagram and Tumblr accounts. For a chance to win, Tumblr and Instagram users are invited to upload images tagged #GEInspiredMe, in one of four categories related to GE’s work: Moving, Curing, Powering and Building. Submitted photos will then be shared on GE’s Facebook page, where fans can vote for their favourites.

Sandwich shop rewards Twitter usage
Nom Noma new sandwich shop in Bristol, UK is using Twitter to allow its customers to pre-order food and drinks, as well as offer them special discounts in-store as a reward for their loyalty.  Nom nom nom.