We Are Social Asia Tuesday TuneUp #29


Pakistan’s Twitter ban 
Pakistan blocked microblogging service Twitter on 20th May after “blasphemous drawings” were tweeted due to a competition calling for entries depicting the Prophet Mohammed, but has since been restored after a day long ban. Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Senator Rehman Malik, explained that the block was initiated by the IT ministry without warning or consultation with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, who was not in favour of it. Even though it’s a good thing that the Twitter ban has since been revoked, it does highlight the struggle the country has with managing religious and culturally-sensitive content on social media, and the likelihood that this will occur again.

Bangkok is world’s top city on Facebook
According to SocialBakers, Bangkok, Thailand has surpassed Jakarta, Indonesia in terms of number of Facebook users to emerge as the social network’s top city, with more than 8.6 million users compared to Jakarta’s 7.4 million users. The penetration rate for Facebook users in Bangkok stands at 104.7% compared to Jakarta’s 34.1%, which could be due to the fact that Thai users are declaring their location as Bangkok even though they may in fact be living in another part of the country. Many Asian cities have also made the top 20 list of Facebook users by city, including Mumbai with 3.7 million users, Kuala Lumpur with 3.3 million, Bangalore with 2.9 million, and Singapore with 2.6 million Facebook users.

Interest vs. Social in Japan
Jeff Lippold from ClickZ.asia hypothesises that the “interest graph” has replaced the “social graph” entirely as the preferred medium for interaction amongst Japanese social network users because their social networking inclinations revolve around interest-based communities such as Cookpad, the world’s largest recipe sharing site and Pixiv, a social drawing site that allows people to share, rank and comment on user-submitted content such as drawings, animations and stories. As a result, “generalist” social networks such as Mixi have struggled to grow beyond their current user base of 23 million registered users. Yet, Twitter is apparently the top social media platform in Japan, while Facebook is gaining popularity at an increasing pace and set to overtake Mixi in terms of number of active users. What do you think?

Customer feedback ignored on Twitter and Facebook
A study by Satmetrix that surveyed 1,180 executives from around the world about their organisation’s social media practices has revealed that companies are doing poorly in liaising with customers, responding to feedback and managing complaints through social media. In fact, 39% do not even track their social media responses at all, while 55% ignore all customer feedback on Twitter and Facebook. B2B firms are particularly unresponsive, with 69% ignoring customer feedback on social media, and 51% having no tracking in place to begin with. Overall, 60% of the businesses surveyed did not have an integrated social media strategy, which indicates the pressing need for businesses to start incorporating social media as a part of their business processes, especially if they’re using it for customer relationship management (CRM). There’s no use in having a social media presence if your customers end up talking to a wall.

1 in 5 viewers start watching a show after hearing about it in social
According to a Horowitz Associates poll of US heads of TV households conducted in January, 19% began watching a show after reading about it on a social network or blog.

Microsoft launches social network
Microsoft has launched its own social network So.cl which is pronounced “social”. Instead of competing with the likes of Facebook or Twitter, So.cl lets users aggregate multimedia content through a built-in Bing search tool into a single post that they can then share with others. Obviously, it also provides users fairly standard social features such as sharing and re-sharing, and commenting on posts. More interestingly, its “video party” feature combines videos with a chat feature so that users can watch and discuss together. A topics-based social network from Microsoft’s FUSE research group that’s still “under development”, So.cl was originally designed to be an academic resource for students and is now open to everyone, and new users can log-in with either a Facebook or Windows Live account. To find out more about its features, here’s a brief guide to So.cl.

Facebook holds IPO, share price drops
Facebook held its IPO on Fridaywith the company listed on the NASDAQ. Despite the share price returning to the initial $38 price after the first day of trading, this was partly due to the banks underwriting the share price to stop it falling below $38. Regardless, 421.2 million shares were sold valuing the company at a whopping $104.2 billion, a price which has since fallen significantly in early trading today in New York.

General Motors suspends Facebook ad spending
General Motors, America’s biggest automaker and 3rd biggest advertiser, in an interestingly timed move announced last week that it will stop buying Facebook ads for the forseeable futureIndustry reaction has been mixed.

With Forrester also saying Facebook doesn’t pay enough attention to marketers, this can’t have helped Facebook’s first day of trading. Ironically, a source close to the GM had said their move was partly due to Facebook telling them to prioritise community management over ads. Something, it should be noted, that GM is still wisely planning to invest $30 million in.

Facebook redesign mobile apps
Facebook has updated its mobile apps so that images will now appear larger and at a higher quality in a bid to improve engagement.

Facebook also acquired Lightbox last week, once hailed the ‘Instagram of Android’ – perhaps in a bid to assure investors that Facebook will do what it takes to win in the mobile-centric future of social networking.

New Facebook Page Manager App
Managing Facebook Pages on a mobile has long been difficult, but this could all be about to change: Facebook is testing an app called Facebook Pages Manager which should make all of this far easier. Good news for marketers.

Key statistics of Twitter’s growth 
Twitter has more than 140 million active users, and 55% of users access Twitter on mobile, which is seeing a 40% growth quarter over quarter. Twitter users create over one billion Tweets every three days, and 60% of Twitter users tweet while 100% are listening. These figures sound great but given that active users are likely to be users who log-in to the microblogging service at least once a month, we fail to see how it has quantified “listening” as 100%. 79% of users also follow brands to get access to exclusive content. We also see brands engaging more in multi-channel promotions where 1 in 5 commercials contained a hashtag. For advertisers who are wondering whether to do so on Twitter, Promoted Tweets receive an average engagement rate of 1% to 3%.

Twitter re-launch recommendations
Moving forward, new Twitter users will now receive a number of auto-generated recommended followers from the Twitter ecosystem. According to Twitter:

These tailored suggestions are based on accounts followed by other Twitter users and visits to websites in the Twitter ecosystem. We receive visit information when sites have integrated Twitter buttons or widgets, similar to what many other web companies — including LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube — do when they’re integrated into websites.

Interestingly, viewers will also be able to view tweets from these users in an example timeline.

Twitter teams up with Nascar to enhance hashtags
Twitter has teamed up with Nascar so that consumers worldwide can create a “complementary live race experience”. The Twitter page will combine race-related tweets and photos giving behind-the-scenes exclusives for individual races. In effect, for one advertiser (Nascar), they’ve made a pretty radical change to the hashtag experience:

Up until now when users click on a hashtag, they are shown a page littered with tweets which have included that particular hashtag. But in Nascar’s case, Twitter will curate those tweets through an algorithm and by hand to give users a behind-the-scenes look at the race.

Twitter hits 10m UK users, 140 brands have used promoted products
For a company that has only had an office in the UK for one year, Twitter is going from strength to strength. It’s now reaching 10 million UK users of which 80% are active on mobile. 340 million tweets are sent per day and brands have bought into the product: 140 have used Promoted Products in the last year.

Tony Wang from Twitter UK gave Marketing Magazine an interesting Q&A about Twitter’s advertising approach going forward – it’s worth a read.

YouTube video views are falling
Since December, views on YouTube have fallen by 28% – but it’s an intended consequence of the Google-owned site’s shift from a video search engine filled with snack-size content to a full-fledged, couch-potato-optimized entertainment destination. At YouTube, the “view” is out and “engagement” is in – although time spent on the site hasn’t risen like execs will have hoped:

New Google+ study reveals minimal activity and weak user engagement
A new study has shown weak user engagement and minimal social activity on Google+, giving greater credence to the theory that it’s just a ghost town. Google has refused to give metrics for the Google+ active user base, probably because compared to other social networks it has far less activity. A study showed that within a sample size of 70,000 public posts, the average post receives less than one +1, less than one re-share and less than one reply. Another problem is that users don’t return to post again:

As the report sums up:

At the end of the day, Google+ simply does not show the same level of ravenous user adoption and engagement that we’ve seen in other social networks.

Quora raises $50M valuing the company at $400M 
Quora has raised $50 million from its co-founder Adam D’Angelo and other investors including Peter Thiel and Josh Hannah, both of whom are familiar with the online Q&A space, valuing the company at $400 million. It will be interesting to see what it invests in to try and grow the daily active user count again.

vKontakte loses important court case
vKontakte, Russia’s largest social network, lost an important court case last week which ruled that the site’s proprietary file-sharing system – and arguably its biggest selling point – is illegal and breaches copyright. Facebook has long struggled to even come close to over-taking vKontakte, but the fall-out from this court ruling may well help Facebook.

Ronaldo stars in Facebook challenge for documentary
Football star Cristiano Ronaldo took part in a live-streamed Facebook challenge last week called #RonaldoLive which tested his ‘sporting expertise’. The live-stream came from a testing facility in Madrid, in which Ronaldo had to receive, control and shoot a wave of footballs from chutes suspended above his head.

The first 100,000 people who connected to the #RonaldoLIVE Facebook app were automatically be entered into a competition to challenge Ronaldo, giving them the power to choose which goals he shot into.

Manchester City partner with Foursquare
English Premier League champions Manchester City have partnered with Foursquare, in the social network’s first official partnership with a football team. What the deal means is that City fans can now check in at the Etihad Stadium, City Square, City Stores and other official venues in return for special offers on merchandise and food and drink. They’ve also launched their own badge.

Foursquare launch two new badges
Foursquare have launched two new badges for two of the year’s biggest sporting events. Saturday night’s Champions League Final had a badge which users could obtain simply by checking in and using the words ‘UEFA Champions League’ and the Olympic Torch Relay also has a badge. To acquire the badge, users have to check-in to the nearest Olympic Torch Relay venue when the flame passes through their city.

Ikea turns to Pinterest to promote new range
Ikea are promoting their new Indian range of products partly through Pinterest. They’ve built a micro-site to draw awareness to the new range which includes an option to view a showcase of the range on Pinterest. As it’s a flat-pack campaign, you do actually have to build the pinboard for this one.

Intel launches employee curated digital magazine
Intel have launched a digital magazine which will allow many different staff members to chip in. Intel iQ is a social-publishing platform which resembles a digital magazine. A story gets to the iQ front page when a certain number of people recommend it, and as recommendations grow, so does the size of the story on the front page. Intel have said they expect the number of contributors to the site to grow to thousands, which will really be quite impressive.

Wickes rolls out first social media campaign
Wickes, the DIY retailer, has made its first foray into social media with the launch of a Facebook app which allows fans to create a sharable digital portfolio of their DIY projects. It’s based on the idea that people are very happy when they complete a project. It seems a bit useless – papering over the cracks of a lack of a real social media strategy.