We Are Social Asia Tuesday TuneUp #45


Facebook to remain fenced out by Great Firewall of China
In spite of its corporate mission to “connect the whole world”, Facebook’s grandiose plan to dominate the wired world wouldn’t be complete without Chinese users, who make up 33% of the world population. Access to Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009 by what has been dubbed the “Great Firewall of China” and the social networking giant still has no plans to penetrate the market at the moment. The great untapped potential userbase served as rich pickings for locally developed social networks such as Renren and Sina Weibo, which were more compliant with censorship requirements. As long as Facebook remains locked out of China, its recent acquisition Instagram could potentially suffer the same fate when the deal is completed.

Starbucks ups the social ante in China with WeChat app
One of the first few global brands to sign up for WeChat, Starbucks has hopped onto the WeChat jet to social marketing stardom in China. WeChat is a popular messaging app that allows its 100 million registered users to follow brands or celebrities much like an evolved albeit not quite real-time version of Twitter. The demographics of the average WeChat user places them as young urbanites with money to spend, definitely music to the ears of any marketer. Unfortunately, WeChat users currently need to find and scan a QR code to follow a brand unlike the ease with which they can connect with friends on personal accounts, which are linked to phone numbers.

New Weibo ad format guarantees 100% reach
Sina Weibo’s new social ads, like Facebook Promote, are designed to reach all followers. These posts will appear at the top of each users’ newsfeed and will get pushed down the timeline as new posts get published. To minimise annoyance to the users, each user will see one promoted post within a 24 hour period. The new ad format is priced based on total impressions delivered at 0.1 yuan (approximately S$0.0195) per impression. Marketers can set the total number of impressions and get reports on ad performance measured based on total number of reposts, comments, clicks and exposure.

Hubblr’s social media dashboard supports Chinese services
So many social media platforms, so little time – if only we had one dashboard to rule them all. Hubblr’s social media dashboard seeks to fill the growing need for Chinese social network support by allowing management of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Sina Weibo and Renren through its tool. The platform offers a full suite of features which include a unified feed, post scheduling, filtering and creation of “hub” groups for individual management and monitoring. In addition to the built-in translation feature, Hubblr helps track user engagement and generates reports on activity, interactions and followers.

YouTube video uploading back online in South Korea
South Korean Internet users can now upload videos on YouTube again after the government abolished laws against anonymous commenting. This is fabulous news for Korea’s independent artists seeking to emulate the runaway success of Korean artiste PSY following virulent viewership for his cult hit Gangnam Style, which surpassed 100 million views and warranted the honour of an infographic on Mashable.

Twitter users in India issued summonses
The Indian government is cracking down on social media and have begun issuing legal summonses to Twitter users suspected of inciting ethnic tension by posting inflammatory and contentious material. The authorities have also written to Google and Facebook for details of other suspected perpetrators. This follows the blocking of about 300 websites last month during a campaign to censor sensitive content on social media sites.

Social has become an integral part of business
About two-thirds of large companies now agree that social media is an essential part of their business strategy, according to a new study from Econsultancy and Adobe. The majority say that they use social as an awareness channel and to bolster marketing campaigns. Some, however, are still struggling with how to measure their social activity.

More than half of Facebook’s users are mobile
Facebook’s mobile app now boasts 543 million monthly active users, an impressive 57% of its user base. The social network has finally responded to previous criticism about the app being too slow and has recently released a speed update for iOS, integrated Timeline support for iPad and made photo uploads faster for Android. Of the biggest 10 countries on Facebook, there’s a wide variation amongst them, ranging from 76% of Americans at the top of the list to the Philippines at 37%.

Facebook updates Pages design on mobile
Facebook has been slow to make its mobile experience the same as viewing the site on a computer, but they’ve made some big progress. Pages on mobile now include minor design features like cover photos but also huge features that we’ve been missing, such as tabs, friend activity and pinned posts. They’ve also popped in a few cool additions for place pages, such as showing when the business is open and a call button, and for artists’ pages, where fans can now see their most played songs on Spotify. But we’re still asking: How much longer until we get a ‘Share’ button?

Twitter unveils embeddable timelines
We’ve all seen a stream of a user’s tweets embedded on blogs and websites, but Twitter has now launched an official version that will show a feed from a specific user, a hashtag or a list. Twitter’s version is unsurprisingly much more robust, and users can now expand tweets to see photos and media and join the conversation through a box at the bottom of the stream. This is one of the first tools that Twitter has created in its quest for consistency after nixing some of its relationships with third-party developers.

YouTube allows taggable videos
YouTube has agreed to a new partnership with a startup that has unlocked the ability to make faces, products or other objects in the videos clickable links. Some big brands have been pushing for this on their paid channels, and we’re excited to see what kind of “new” interactive videos result from this project.

LinkedIn gets a makeover
LinkedIn, the Facebook of the job world, is starting to look a bit more like Facebook after it introduced real-time notifications for comments, likes, an accepted connection request or new InMail. LinkedIn also announced a new look for its Company Pages, which look something like, well, Facebook Pages, where users can see a hybrid of a cover photo and a profile photo as well as a stream of updates. This isn’t yet available to all companies, but LinkedIn says it should be rolled out to all pages by the end of the year. The company has also beefed up its mobile and iPad apps, bringing in notifications, the new designs and language support. LinkedIn says it made these design changes based on user feedback, and it looks like the site is hoping for higher engagement numbers.

Foursquare announces paid advertising
Following the success of Local Updates, Foursquare is officially launching Promoted Updates, which give businesses the option to offer specials to a wider audience. So what’s the difference? Promoted Updates appear in the Explore tab while Local Updates appear among friends’ checkins. Local Updates appear for users only if they checked into a location multiple times or if they’ve liked it. Promoted Updates will float to the top of Explore based on your location, previous checkins, friends’ checkins and other factors, and the business pays on a cost-per-action basis. And just how well are Foursquare’s Local Updates going? About Foursquare posted a great roundup of 10 businesses that are setting the bar high.

Social media is bringing the conversation back into politics
US President Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention broke a record for the number of tweets at a political event, coming in at a staggering 52,757 tweets per minute and more than 9 million tweets during the three-day convention. Candidate Mitt Romney might also have broken a Twitter record, though not exactly one to be proud of. Romney’s team bought a promoted hashtag, a phrase which is quickly becoming the most overused question of this election season, #areyoubetteroff. Twitter’s response? Yes, we are. The ratio of yes answers to no answers was about 5 to 1, and #areyoubetteroff might be joining the ranks of hashtag failures, even worse than McDonald’s #mcdstories and Disney’s #peoplelikeus.

Nevertheless, Romney’s continued Twitter assault on Obama has cost him some serious cash. In addition to #areyoubetteroff, Team Romney purchased a day-long #RomneyRyan2012 promoted trend for his acceptance speech, as well as #failingagenda, each with a price tag more than $100,000. Obama’s retaliation hasn’t been cheap either, with his campaign buying #Forward2012. And as with any hashtag, it’s gotten plenty of negative responses.

But American political conversations have been much of a muchness, no matter which candidate you’re following. The most tweeted-about topic for both Obama and Romney were jobs and unemployment, with the economy and health reform also in the top 5. We will be interested to see what social media shenanigans both parties pull out of their hats for Election Day in November.

Fashion Week catwalks into social
Brands are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to Fashion Week, which is going on now. Mercedes-Benz, the event’s main sponsor, has built a social hub where fans can keep up or catch up on the biggest updates from the week’s styles. A number of fashion brands and magazines are uploading behind-the-scenes photos, hosting pre-show Google+ Hangouts and posting “live-GIFs” of the event. Foursquare has also created its own Fashion Week 2012 badge to celebrate.

Coca-Cola hits 50 million Likes
Coke has hit a huge ‘Like’ milestone in becoming the first page to reach 50 million Likes. Now it is asking its those 50 million Facebook fans to sign up to make the world a happier place, but it hasn’t yet unveiled what the big project will be. Coke says the timelines for the project will be unveiled in just a few weeks, but at the moment, the app seems like a big data gathering operation, where fans must enter their birthday and where they live, information that brands usually don’t have access to.

Mitsubishi wants to get rid of your friends’ snooty Facebook updates
Tired of seeing your friends’ holiday snaps while you’re stuck in the office? Mitsubishi has created a clever new campaign to destroy the “pretentiousness” that afflicts us all on social media. In just a few clicks, you’ll see an Outlander driving through a friend’s latest post about latte art. Rest In Pieces, humble brag.

Johnnie Walker integrates Instagram into its Facebook cover photos
The whisky brand has come up with a cool way to integrate a live feed of Instagram photos into its Facebook cover image that we’re surprised neither of them have come up with first. Three Instagrammers have been invited to take over the official Johnnie Walker feed, which will ‘live stream’ the photos to Facebook’s cover image. Just refresh the page to see more of the stunning photos.

Grey Goose vodka takes on Pinterest and Instagram
Grey Goose is launching on a couple of new platforms to promote a new variety of its vodka, and it sounds like quite the story. Each week, a new “chapter” will be announced, and Grey Goose has asked a group of photographers to capture the week’s theme and then share it on Instagram and Twitter. A weekly Pinterest board accompanies these chapters and continues the story.

Cadbury launches two new Dairy Milk bars on social media
Cadbury has taken to the Internet to announce two new members of the Dairy Milk family: toffee popcorn and gold biscuit crunch. The new bars were unveiled on Cadbury’s pages on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Fans could get a free sample by unscrambling a mystery word on Facebook. What a delicious way to engage fans.

Maldon Salt wants to celebrate its 130th birthday online
Just in time for its 130th birthday, Maldon Salt has started its first social activity and has roped in some big names in the food world for conversations about their favorite dishes of all time, some of which will then appear on Maldon Salt’s boxes. The conversation starts on Twitter but drives to the company’s blog, where food blogger James Ramsden is prepping the dishes. We’re hungry already.