We Are Social Asia Tuesday TuneUp #42


Sina Weibo’s upcoming redesign resembles Facebook’s Timeline
When Sina recently reported its financials, CEO Charles Chao mentioned that the Weibo version 5 launch will include a redesign of the web page. A more advertising-focused, Google+ like private sharing of weibos is anticipated. The closed beta version, which is expected to be released end of the week, is said to allow weibos to be shared within groups, such as ‘classmates’ or ‘colleagues’ similar to Google+ Circles. Tech Web have already gotten their hands on the layout, which allegedly resembles Facebook’s Timeline cover. Apart from this radical change, the Weibo stream has toned down in its outlook with inactive icons being greyed-out. The redesign on a whole looks promising indeed.

Nike jumps onto WeChat
The group messaging service WeChat, otherwise known as ‘Weixin’ in China, has won itself significant endorsement after Nike China reported plans to run its first social campaign on the service.The Tencent-owned platform has more than 100 million active users worldwide. Nike has tapped onto this influence for their “Nike sports-on-the-go” concept where users can receive daily news and updates from Nike via WeChat if they follow the company. Nike China aims to move away from being a broadcaster to one who connects to its consumers via conversations as the company’s media manager said,

We want to deepen the connection with consumers, from broadcasting to conversing, from ‘one to many’ to ‘one to one’.

Tapping on the mobile penetration amongst the Chinese youth and the influence WeChat has in the country, Nike has taken a brave step with this campaign.

Half of Indonesia’s online shoppers use Facebook and Kaskus
Research from a report released by Veritrans and DailySocial show that half of online shoppers in Indonesia use both Facebook and Indonesian forum Kaskus to buy goods. In addition to greater trust between consumers and sellers on social media, the study also found out that social networks are able to screen user behaviour for more accurate ad placements than e-commerce sites. Majority of online shoppers spend up to IDR 500,000 (S$66) per transaction. E-commerce in Indonesia is a very healthy industry, and is expected to grow 10 times larger in the next five years. However, top e-commerce sites such as TokoBagus, Bhinneka and Tokopedia are losing out to their social network competitors who see more sales on their sites.

Gaming giant DeNA collaborates with Twitter for invitations to play
Japanese gaming giant DeNA announced its new collaboration with Twitter to send game invitations via Twitter’s direct message. The new feature will be integrated within its Mobage social network for Mobage gamers to find friends to play with by choosing to direct message from a list of people instead of all their Twitter followers. Twitter is said to be aggressively exploring opportunities in Japan, which is the platform’s third largest market.

Youku and Tudou merge
Two of China’s largest YouTube-esque video streaming social sites Youku and Tudou have finalised their merger. When the deal was first revealed, it  came as a surprise to netizens but the new company, Youku Tudou Inc is said to continue with their services unchanged. This is said to be China’s biggest ever tech deal as both Youku and Tudou are listed in NYSE and NASDAQ respectively.

Social media marketing is mainstream
Almost 9 in 10 companies in the US will use social media for marketing this year, according to new research from eMarketer. Unsurprisingly, Facebook is the most widely used platform, with Twitter coming in a distant second. Social media adoption has ticked steadily upward over the last few years, but it seems like an eon ago that just about half of companies engaged in social media marketing. Turns out that “eon ago” was 2009. Those were dark times.

Facebook tests new in-newsfeed ads for non-fans
After the success of Sponsored Stories targeted at fans and friends-of-fans, Facebook has decided to push the boundaries a bit further and allow Page updates to appear in the newsfeeds of Facebookers who haven’t given the page the thumbs up, nor are friends with anyone that has. These ads are still in the trial phase while Facebook gathers feedback on their performance and how users are feeling about them, but they look very similar to Sponsored Stories, save for a small ‘Like Page’ button in the top right corner.

What to expect when you’re expecting (on Facebook)
Facebook has added a new ‘life event’ option that allows soon-to-be parents to inform their Facebook friends of their impending bundle of joy. Importantly, Facebook has not ruled out using this feature for targeting ads to new parents, though it says it’s holding off on that for the moment.

Certain Open Graph actions get higher priority in newsfeeds
Not all verbs were created equal, and recent changes to Open Graph apps for developers mean that some actions will now be placed more prominently in the newsfeed than others. Previously, Open Graph, the key to “seamless sharing”, had all actions carry the same weight. Now developers can say which actions should have more prominence, and they can give higher priority to, say, a Foursquare check-in posted to Facebook, instead of a user just liking a location. Facebook has termed this new option ‘explicit sharing’.

Page Admins can now see subscriber numbers
Want to know how many people are following your page without liking it? The number of page subscribers has just been added to Facebook Insights and is now listed in the overview section.

Social reader apps find success with new ‘trending’ design on Facebook
It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride for social reader apps, but some apps have recently noticed an upswing in new users and monthly active users, thanks to Facebook changing the design of the ‘trending article’ update. Facebook has long been experimenting with this design, and this seems to be working much better than the last version, which showed just one article at a time.

Twitter limits API calls and user numbers for third-party apps
Twitter’s war for consistency is far from over, and now it’s started up yet another battle. The fight this time? Twitter has announced that it will cap the number of API calls an outside app can make, going so far as to single out apps like Tweetbot and Echofon for elimination. This change is aimed at apps that replicate the Twitter stream without adding more features. Twitter is also restricting the number of users these apps can have, unless the app gets special permission. That means that the days are numbered for paid third-party apps, which now know their maximum user base. Apps that focus on curation, like Storify and Favstar.fm, appear to be safe, but the future of Flipboard still looks like a big question mark.

Twitter gets a new motto
Twitter has plastered a new motto on a wall in its San Francisco office that says “Defend and respect the user’s voice”, perhaps in light of the mess it made of suspending and then un-suspending journalist Guy Adams’ account during the Olympics. The other corporate creeds adorning the wall seem much less mighty than this one, and it will be interesting to see what happens when this saying gets challenged.

Google+ offers custom URLs for select pages
Its users have requested custom page URLs on Google+ since the beginning, and their pleas have finally been answered — well, at least if they’re a big name. The likes of Toyota (google.com/+toyota) and Delta Airlines (google.com/+delta) now have much simpler URLs, instead of a string of numbers. Fingers crossed this update trickles down to the rest of us soon.

Pinterest app lands on iPad and Android
Pinterest, the popular project-discovery and organisation app, has launched on two new platforms, as well as getting a makeover for the existing app on iOS. When the Android launch would finally happen was an ongoing joke in the company, and any time an update was published, a countdown clock would start until a user asked, “Where’s the Android app?” The new platform additions were announced at a Pinterest company party that included top pinners, and we’re just hoping that they knew the best place to find hor d’oeuvre ideas and kitschy table decorations.

Instagram update reveals new profiles and photo map
Instagram has just released a beautiful new update that gives users new ways to see photos shared on the network (sadly, no new filters). Your photos can now be added to a map, which is prominently featured on users’ profiles and makes it easier to delve into your archive of snaps. User profiles, hashtag and location pages and the Explore tab have all been revamped, and Instagram’s CEO has hinted at a future design that makes it easy to browse events, say the Olympics for example, and promised that some new filters are cooking for the next update.

GetGlue breathes new life into the TV guide
GetGlue, previously a TV show check-in app, has just released a reimagined guide on the iPad to help its users discover new TV shows and movies. The guide integrates social feedback so that you can see what your friends are watching and talking about and prioritises new episodes over reruns. But it’s not just TV: The guide can recommend films to watch at your local cinema and sport matches you might enjoy. Could GetGlue be a big challenger to the big-name recommendation engines, like Spotify, Netflix or iTunes?

Will these new social platforms from Twitter be the next big thing?
The brains behind Twitter have been busy churning out three new social platforms that are still flying just under the radar and are all in invite-only or beta mode. All of them add an interesting twist to already existing social networks. The first, called Lift, is like a ‘Foursquare for habits’, where you can check in to what you want to do and see what your friends are doing. The second is called ‘Branch‘ is a new take on the forum, and users can share or subscribe to ‘branches’ (otherwise known as threads or circles), but must ask to contribute. The third platform, and the one that has gotten the most coverage so far, is called Medium, and it might just be a good halfway point between Twitter and Tumblr. It vows to ‘rethink publishing’, though most of its users haven’t found it immediately clear how that’s going to happen.

Twitter really, really wants the Spice Girls
Twitter loved the Olympics, and as we’ve written about in previous weeks, athletic superstars Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Andy Murray took home the Olympic and the Twitter golds. But who stole the night at the Closing Ceremony? If tweets are any indication, Twitter was singing, dancing and tweeting along with the Spice Girls, posting 116,000 tweets per minute. We’re still missing the Olympics-shaped hole in our Twitter streams.

Spoon your mates thanks to Ben & Jerry’s
To promote the release of their new frozen greek yoghurt, Ben & Jerry’s have released an ingenious Facebook app to help you reconnect with old friends on Facebook. By scanning shared interests you have with your friends, it suggests people that you especially get along with (say you both love bluegrass music) and rewards you both with a coupon. Although it does interpret the decision not to share your location with Facebook as a ‘shared interest’, it largely works well.

Is Foursquare worth it again?
Despite once showing much promise, Foursquare has experienced something of a drop-off in usage of late, arguably because of the lack of incentives to check-in. That’s not the case at this restaurant in Florida, which offers a reservation and a permanent car park space to whoever is mayor.

CEO of menswear company braves the waters of Reddit
Paul Grangaard, president and CEO of Allen Edmonds, decided to start a Q&A on Reddit and has bravely given honest and genuine answers that Redditors have posed to him. Reddit definitely isn’t a forum that most marketers even dare to touch, but when you know the lingo and are up on your memes, there could be a way in.

US presidential candidates are fans of social, but not for socialising
President Barack Obama and hopeful Mitt Romney have been furiously posting to their social media accounts, but they aren’t doing much responding to their followers. Over two weeks in June, just 14 of 404 tweets from the Obama campaign were retweets of ‘regular citizens’, according to new research from the Pew Research Center. Just 1 of Romney’s 14 tweets matched that criteria. Obama has posted four times as many updates as Romney and is active on twice as many platforms. Maybe one day they’ll learn that social media is a bit different than their soapboxes.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs turns to Flickr for help finding tax fugitives
The UK’s HMRC has uploaded on Flickr the mugshots of 20 fraudsters they are looking for, and they are asking for the public’s help in tracking them down. And maybe if that doesn’t work, they should try Instagram.

Flickr unearths the next David Attenborough
An entomologist has discovered an entirely new species of insect from the comfort of his armchair. Whilst browsing Flickr, he came across a picture of an unusual looking Malaysian Lacewing. Following a brief phone call with the Natural History Museum, he was able to ascertain that this was a new species and went on to co-author a paper with the photographer about the discovery on Google Docs. Beats Farmville!

Money well spent for adidas
It looks like our global client adidas are reaping the rewards from their Olympic sponsorship, and they had a 25% increase in Twitter followers during the Games. Their hashtags for the games (most notably #takethestage and #stagetaken) were used a total of 146,078 over 17 days, and YouTube videos, including a surprise appearance by David Beckham, racked up 3 million views.

The Twitter marriage proposal
Tim Hoang, longtime friend of We Are Social, decided to propose to his girlfriend via Twitter, and the hashtag #timhoangproposal started trending before he asked his girlfriend at a restaurant. Good thing she didn’t have her phone at the table.