We Are Social Asia Tuesday TuneUp #58


Indian & Indonesian users have easier access to Facebook Messenger
Last week, we mentioned that the rumour mill was buzzing about a possible acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook. Shortly after, Facebook announced that users in India, Indonesia, Australia, Venezuela and South Africa will be able to sign up for Facebook Messenger IM service with only their names and phone number. A departure from the usual requirement for users to have an email address, this development is a step in the right direction for Facebook as it seeks to woo users in countries where internet penetration is lower and users communicate regularly via text messages and Instant Messaging apps. Unfortunately, this step could be a little too late as Facebook Messenger IM app faces stiff competition from newer rivals like WeChat and an uphill battle to convert an entrenched BlackBerry Messenger userbase. The months ahead should be interesting as WhatsApp has denied rumours of an acquisition bid by Facebook.

Sina e-payments gets social with new name, WeiboPay
We mentioned 2 weeks ago about Tencent’s plans to implement an online payment service on its runaway success messaging platform, WeChat. It’s rival Sina looks set to join in the battle for the online consumer dollar with a rebranded PayPal-like platform, WeiboPay. Previously, the payment service was used to facilitate in-game purchases. The enhanced product now integrates with the newly revamped Sina Weibo platform, with possible developments to offer deals to its userbase of more than 400 million registered users.

The matrix starring China’s social networks
Much has been said of the pervasive influence of social networks in China. A recent TechInAsia report cherry picks key information from a study by IDG Capital Partners on the Chinese social network market. Presented in a matrix format, it illustrates the influence that each social network worth its salt wields in China; further segregated into user needs and interestingly, how open they are to strangers. The chart reveals Tencent’s dominance in China’s social networking scene with products like it’s older QQ IM app, new Weixin (aka WeChat) IM app, Qzone, Pengyou and Tencent Weibo occupying top spots serving different user needs.

China’s Kaixin social network launches baby photo diary app
Proud parents and baby pictures often translate into newsfeeds flooded with updates on almost every little aspect of the child’s development. Recognising the importance of these life events as its userbase matures, Kaixin is seeking to regain lost ground by launching a photo diary app named Kaixin Baby. One of China’s earliest social networks, Kaixin was superseded by larger networks such as Renren, Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo. Also available on iPhone, Kaixin Baby has a dedicated site which is integrated with the main Kaixin site and incorporates social elements such as inviting friends and family members to join or post from their own Kaixin account.

Nukkad, a virtual street corner in India’s SoLoMo world
Named after the Indian concept of street corner discussions on just about every topic ranging from sports to politics, the Nukkad app integrates chats, location-based socialisation, aggregates Twitter and Instagram content within the area and shopping deals. The app aggregates user generated reviews on products or stores in the area, thereby allowing other users to make educated decisions based on crowd-sourced information.

The majority of social media roles at brands are part time
A study entitled “Structuring a Social Media Team” has found that 65% of those working in social media for brands and charities do so on top of other duties. The research, whilst also found that social media budgets have not increased across most companies in 2012, displays the reluctance of many organisations to reassign resources from traditional communications to emerging media.

Facebook rumoured to be in talks to purchase ad serving platform Atlas
The social network is reportedly in talks to purchase ad server Atlas Solutions from Microsoft, potentially allowing them to close in on Google’s dominance over online advertising. The move would provide further access to user data and greater publisher connections, which could prove formidable. Most importantly, this would give Facebook a massive head start in creating an advertising network outside of their own social platform, targeted based on Facebook profile information. This comes at the same time as the news that over 2.5 million Facebook posts have been promoted, by over 300,000 Facebook pages, since the option to promote posts launched in June.

200,000 mobile apps now connected to Facebook
Facebook have released figures that display the strength of its Open Graph platform, which is now in use by 200k Android and iPhone apps. David Fisch, Director of Platform Partnerships at Facebook, discussed the numerous possibilities: “An iOS app can be a Facebook app. A mobile website can be a Facebook app. A console game can be a Facebook app. Your car, your shoes, your credit card or your toothbrush can be Facebook apps.” Whilst Facebook isn’t currently able to monetize these third-party apps, these provide a base on which the network may later look to build advertising revenue.

Facebook’s ‘subscribe’ feature set to change to ‘follow’
It’s been a big week for announcements from Facebook. One last bit of news: the ‘subscribe’ button is set to be changed to ‘follow’. The subscribe feature, which has been available to pages, or users who choose to enable it, allows ‘subscribers’ to view the activity of a page without becoming a ‘fan’ or ‘friend’. Whilst there is no planned change in functionality, the move is intended to provide an easier user interface between social networks, with users familiarised with ‘following’ others through Twitter.

Some big brands are using Facebook’s global pages
Playstation, Burger King, Swatch and Clarins have all begun using Facebook’s global pages. Users are automatically directed to the regional version of the page, often providing relevant content in their own language. However, users can access any page through a drop down menu and all are linked by their ‘like’ and ‘people talking about this’ figures.

The end of an era for Twitter and Instagram
Things are changing between Twitter and Instagram. Once allies, battling it out against the Facebook behemoth, the two are now set to face off with one another in the photo sharing wars. Twitter announced that Instagram had disabled Twitter cards functionality, meaning that users would be unable to properly view Instagram photos on Twitter. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom stated the move’s intentions: “We’ve decided that right now, what makes sense, is to direct our users to the Instagram Web site”. He added that there would be no effect on Facebook, Tumblr and Foursquare. Poor Twitter.

Twitter gets (more) local
Some better news for Twitter. They’ve launched Trends in 100 more cities worldwide, including 12 in the UK. So for those of you in Belfast, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Portsmouth and Sheffield: now’s your chance to see what’s Trending in a city near you.

Snapseed for iOS, Android and Google+
And some worse news for Instagram. Soon after their acquisition by Google, photo editing/sharing app Snapseed has now launched on Android, at the same time as making their iOS version free. Throw in Google+ integration and it we could be looking at a potential rival to Instagram. Whilst the two are currently worlds apart in terms of size, Snapseed’s functionality is certainly impressive and this is seems like one to watch.

Google+ growing as fast as Facebook?
Google+ made an announcement this week about two things: growth and communities. The first includes some intriguing figures. More than 500 million people have upgraded to Google+, 235 million are active across Google and 135 million in just the stream. This last statistic means growth of 35 million in the last 2.5 months, figures that rival Facebook at a similar size. This comes as exciting news for the often ridiculed site and may start to restore some faith in its potential as a network. The second part of the announcement refers to ‘Google+ Communities’, a new feature that allows like minded individuals to create a network wherein they can discuss their mutual interests.

Foursquare is the third most used Mobile social app
A Nielsen report has stated that Foursquare has 10.4 million monthly users, putting it third behind Facebook and Twitter in terms of monthly mobile users. Adweek have reported the news, stating that this means 42% of the 25 million of those who have downloaded the app are using it regularly. This statistic may go some way to addressing questions about Foursquare’s performance.

Foursquare makes custom events available to Venue Managers
A big new benefit for venue managers on Foursquare: they can create their own custom events. Previously, the only event availability was to do with concerts, films and sport – all only available to a limited set of partners. This increased functionality could provide a great deal of opportunity for businesses, marketers and users and it will be worth watching how this develops.

A new look for YouTube
YouTube have redesigned their user interface, introducing a ‘Guide’ that users can fill with subscriptions, allowing them to easier organise their favourite content. Other changes include the video layout, integrating “the subscribe button, social actions and video information”, plus re-positioning playlists to allow easier scrolling whilst watching a video. They are looking for feedback and will be hosting both a Google+ hangout and a Reddit IAmA in the coming weeks.

Spotify is going social
Spotify is rolling out a whole set of new features, aimed at making the musical experience completely social. The principal changes are two new tabs: Follow and Discover. The former allows you to connect with other Spotify users, from friends to artists, allowing you to obtain content you want from where you want. This will also allow artists to share new releases and tour information with their fans quickly and easily. The Discover tab will display relevant content, be that artists or playlists, based on what is already in a user’s library.

SoundCloud’s new design available to all users
The new version of SoundCloud, the music sharing site that reaches 180m people per month, with 10 hours of audio uploaded every minute, has been slowly rolled out to users over the past year. Now, the new version is becoming the norm, with new features including updated search, discovery and recommendation features and increased connectivity with other social sites, such as Facebook.

Microsoft expanding image-sharing network Socl
Microsoft’s Pinterest-style social network is now available to anyone with a Microsoft or Facebook account, having been available only to a small audience since May. They claim that the network is not intended to compete with larger platforms like Facebook or Twitter, but may be linked to future Microsoft product launches; it will be interesting to see how this aim develops.

The father of SMS – 20 years on
Matti Makkonen is known as the ‘father of SMS’ due to his idea in the 1980s for a messaging service run via mobile phones. This week, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the platform, he gave a rare interview to the BBC via text message.

Nokia release ‘Tweetsender’ tool
Nokia have come up with a reason for their users to follow them on Twitter: Tweetsender. The new app allows Nokia users to receive direct messages via Twitter whenever new updates are released for their phone. Simply follow Nokia and you will receive a DM with instructions of how to set up the feature. Authorise the app and give it details of what phone you have and you’ll start receiving up to date product news that is relevant to you.

Heineken’s ‘Bottle of the Future’
To celebrate its 40th birthday, Heineken have launched a campaign that allows fans to produce the beer’s next limited edition bottle through a Facebook app. The idea looks to celebrate the company’s past, by offering the opportunity to view and remix old designs.

Mercedes-Benz use social video to thank 9 million fans
Mercedes-Benz have reached the milestone of 9 million Facebook fans. How to celebrate? Well, they’ve produced a social video as a thank you, which displays a set of lights painting over a CLS-class car, then spelling out “9,000,000″, “FANS” and “THANK YOU”. Aw, you’re welcome.

Lexus donating to boys’ and girls’ clubs
Another automotive giant, Lexus, is giving $10 per check in to boys’ and girls’ clubs in America no matter where the check in is. If they do choose to head to a Lexus dealership, the check in is worth a whopping $20. Brian Smith, Lexus vice president of marketing, said that they “want to create an opportunity for people to easily give back to a great cause”. It is certainly unexpected to see so large a donation offered for check ins anywhere and this is likely to see some good will heading in Lexus’s direction.

T-Mobile spreading Christmas cheer with US tour
T-Mobile and Carly Foulkes are touring the US, giving out prizes at every destination. They announce each stop on the tour with a Foursquare checkin, as well as by Facebook and Twitter. Then, the first customer to check in at each stop and show the judges wins a Samsung Galaxy Note II, a year of T-Mobile service and a MOGA game controller. The tour is set to spend the next few weeks circuiting the US, so may be at a town near you some time soon.

Diesel heading back to the 90s
It’s no secret that a lot of people hark back to the days before the Internet. Diesel are taking advantage of this, relaunching a 1993 shoe with a ‘Pre-Internet’ campaign. They’re challenging people to win a pair of YUKs by giving up Facebook for 3 days, or Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for 2. The activity is supported by a set of humorous videos intended to point out how little these shoes care about tracking or wall posting.

Expedia on the hunt for Australia’s best bloggers
As part of a campaign set up by We Are Social in Sydney, Expedia are looking to find the best up-and-coming bloggers in Australia and New Zealand in five categories: Lifestyle, Food, Music, Travel and Family/Parenting. The winners, voted for on Facebook, will receive the trip of a lifetime and the status of official Expedia bloggers for 2013.

Allen Solly release Twitter powered billboard
Indian retailer Allen Solly are marking the launch of their new clothing range with a billboard powered by Twitter. The billboard shows 60 shirts, all obscuring the campaign graphic. With every tweet, a random shirt moves forward, until each one falls off, providing tweeters with a new shirt and everyone else with a view of the new collection.

Microsoft’s #DroidRage Fail
We’ve seen plenty of examples of Twitter Fails over the last year. Now, Microsoft seem to be the latest in a long list. Encouraging users to share their tales of frustration with Android phones via #DroidRage, they seem to have caused a backlash, as Android users have come to the defence of their phones, while #WindowsRage has gained some traction. Oh dear.

Homebase introduces YouTube channel aimed at driving social commerce
Homebase have produced a YouTube channel, aimed at driving sales. Videos will feature tagged products, which users can purchase by clicking on the video. The activity is being supported through integration with Facebook’s Open Graph, automatically sharing when a user has watched one of their videos.

UK’s HM Treasury’s report on Pinterest
The UK’s HM Treasury have produced a set of infographics about their Autumn Statement and uploaded them to their Pinterest account. Considering how complex budgetary data can be, this may be an intriguing way for governments to simplify and spread difficult data.

Your friendly neighbourhood social network
Finally, a markedly different use of Pinterest: law enforcement. ‘The Mercury’, a newspaper in the borough of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, has started pinning mugshots of those wanted for crimes throughout the local area. As a result, the police have seen a 50% increase in arrests.