Saturday, October 9, 2010

Social Media Make Waves

The Star: Saturday September 19, 2009    Stories by EILEEN HEE
Contributed by: Julaila                             Posted by:  Munirah

FOLLOWING the results of the general election on March 8 last year, it became evident that the social media had become increasingly visible to Malaysians as news sources.

Today, many companies in Malaysia are increasingly asking the question: “How can we engage with the blogosphere?” And soon, the Twitter-sphere, etc.

Anne Costello... ‘Blogging in Asia has come of age.’

The Twitter account of Star Online has about 5,000 followers today.

Social media is changing the communications industry.

According to Text 100 account director/social media strategist David Lian, what is fundamentally changing is the way one communicates and receives information.

“More than ever, companies need competent communicators who are able to understand and effectively communicate in the social media field using the latest social media tools,” he says.

The Text 100 Global Blogger Survey 2009 yields some useful insights as to how companies can harness social media in their communications programmes. With a panel of 24 Malaysian bloggers also taking part in the survey, there were also some interesting insights on the local market.

Senior vice-president and director of Asean, Anne Costello, says that blogging in Asia has come of age and the influence bloggers have within their communities is finally being recognised by corporations.
Text 100 survey indicated a ‘mainstreaming’ of blogging in most markets, with most bloggers reporting increased contact from PR professionals or corporate communicators.

“Roughly 90% of the 449 bloggers surveyed welcomed contact by PR people,” she says.Leonard Lee... ‘Facebook has over 250 million users worldwide.’

However, some of the PR efforts demonstrate a lack of understanding of how blogging works and why people blog.

“In the past 12 months, bloggers welcoming contact by PR people has increased from 10% to 93%,” she says.

Costello says that PR firms are doing a great job in letting people know that while blogging is still new in the media industry, it’s not something to be ignored or looked down upon.

“It’s great if PR companies get a wide range of bloggers for a particular campaign/client even if the content of the blog is not specifically targeted at what the campaign is about,” she says.

The survey also indicates there is significant opportunity for deeper relationships with this increasingly influential community.

It also highlighted that PR people continue to blindly send corporate press releases to bloggers. Costello says PR professionals are failing to read the blogs and truly understand their target blogger communities.

“RSS feeds are a key source of information for bloggers, second only to other bloggers. If companies aren’t making their information available via RSS feeds, then they’re failing to use the bloggers’ channel,” she says.
The survey also reveals that corporate bloggers and websites are also consistently deemed more credible sources than microblogging, newspapers, social bookmarking sites and television.

“The majority of bloggers are still part timers. Adjust your strategies accordingly,” she says.
“Outside of the US, the majority of bloggers surveyed blogged for less than nine hours per week,” it says.

Digital Kung Fu Sdn Bhd head of digital business Leonard Lee points out the staggering influence of social networking sites to extend the reach and effectiveness of a brand campaign online.

“Facebook has over 250 million users worldwide, sharing over 10 billion photos, while worldwide unique visitors of Twitter was 32 million in April 2009 and each day, Twitter users are generating roughly 18 million updates,” he notes.

Facebook has since then announced that it has 300 million users.
He said there are 734.2 million Internet users across the globe access at least one social networking website during the month.

“What this means for businesses is that brands could leverage their customers social value and use it to gain potential customers,” he says.

Since Digital Kung Fu’s establishment in January 2008, it has worked with successful brands such as Lipton, Sony, Isuzu and Malaysia Airlines.

“We aim to build our client’s presence through creative digital mediums and transform client’s communication channels and messages from a cost centre to a revenue centre,” he says.

Digital Kung Fu is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mesdaq-listed MNC Wireless Bhd. As a digital and social media specialist, it helps brands and businesses with their customers via interactive and mobile marketing, social media and branded games.

He says there are 16 million Internet users in Malaysia and the figure will reach 20.4 million by 2012.
“Consumers these days are less interested in information and more interested in entertainment. These insights are vital considerations when creating new branded online destinations,” he says.

In Malaysia, he says, there is a 66% social networking reach, with 181 average minutes per visitor per month and 14.2 average visits per visitor per month.

“Social media is not about advertising, it’s about relationship,” he says.

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