Social Media Expectations – Starhub and Resorts World Sentosa

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Resorts World Sentosa's Facebook Fan Page

I was asked to participate in a social media panel a month or so ago as part of a lecture course for INSEAD MBA students.  It was there last lecture on Social Media and I, along with 4 or so other people, were asked to field questions from the students.

In the couple of days leading up to the panel I had tried to engage with a couple of Singapore brands via Facebook and Twitter.  My opinion had always been up to that evening that if a brand was to have a Facebook or Twitter presence then I should rightly expect to receive an answer to any query or question I may have about their products or services within a day or so.  One of these brands was Starhub and I have had some quick and useful responses from them on genuine queries I have had. They have been very responsive over the last week on a specific issue (below)

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Some interaction with Starhub(cares)

However, on the days leading up to the panel I had asked Starhub a question and it had not been answered and I arrived at the panel venue all ready to huff and puff about this one incident. (Un)fortunately, there was a fellow panelist who worked for the agency that does a lot of work for Starhub including their twitter presence.  Anyway, I huffed and I puffed to the crowd including this guy when the opportunity arose about this one incident of no reply whilst trying to temper it with several mentions of good contact from them.

After the planel, I had the chance to speak with the guy from the agency – Vocanic (I can't remember his name – sorry) – and I got to asking myself whether or not it is indeed reasonable to expect an individually tailored reply to every query.  My benchmark has been heavily influenced by a 'campaign' I have been following from Resorts World Sentosa (top of post) who, without fail, have responded to every post and tweet I have directed at them even when it has been to simply acknowledge their excellent work. I still can't help scanning down their fan page to see if they routinely address every individual who has a question and I think that they do.  They kept doing this during some slightly turbulent times too when there was some negative chatter over the soft launch date and one or two other issues.

This is just one level of engagement I suppose and it's not far off what I have experienced with Starhub I suppose.  Indeed the one 'non-reply' from Starhub stuck out all the more because of their general consistency in responding to me.

My question is should we continue (if at all) to expect this individual service and response from organizations who choose to engage with us on Facebook and Twitter?  What should our expectations be? and how might those expectation change over the next couple of years.  I was listening to a guy on the BBC World Service this morning who clearly defined Social Media marketing as 'peer to peer' in distinguishing it from more traditional advertizing.  Maybe he still expects a personal responses but I wonder for how long he might get one…

Singapore Tweetup Update

Come and meet fellow Singaporean and Singapore-based Tweeters at
Singapore's first ever Tweetup. Ever wondered who really lies behind
that @name ? – well, come and find out! A great networking opportunity
and chance to make new friends.

There will be some free food and a great one-for-one drinks deal.

My thanks to Andrew Peters and to Geek terminal for helping organize and being so generous with their hosting.

See you all there!
Tweetup_sticker

All Are Welcome!!!!!

Date:
14 May 2009
Time:
19:00 – 21:00
Location:
Geek Terminal (Raffles Place MRT / Golden Shoe Car Park)
Street:
55 Market Street #01-01


So, I have decided to organize a Singapore ‘tweetup’ -well, I say organize….

Tweetup_sticker So, I have decided to organize a Singapore 'tweetup' -well,
I say organize – I will sort out a venue and date and time and do my best to
see that it's well-publicized.

Why am I doing this? Well, the lovely @belindaang encouraged me (unsuccessfully
I should say – my own laziness) to attend a recent event she was going to
saying it would be nice to put a face to the tweets.  I agree with Belinda
and I'd like to put her face to her tweets too. 
I was also one of three people (@aplink and (the wonderfully named) @popmycherry
being the other two) who briefly tried to get the Singapore twestival up and
running a few months ago. We were beaten back by the Singapore Government
requiring several weeks' notice to grant permits for events that involve
fundraising.

I muted this idea of an informal tweetup at the end of last week and got some
positive responses from several people so I think there are enough people who'd
enjoy it.  I'm not sure if we should have any specific objectives for the
event other than it generally providing an opportunity for Singapore based Twitterers
to meet each other.  I am also very conscious that a 'physical' meet up
isn't necessarily what Twitter is all about for some people and I'm half
expecting some ardent local Twitterers not to be interested in attending. 
That's fine of course.  (I'm actually quite disappointing in real life but
I will be there!)

                                                                 Singapore                                                                                                                                  But, I would love to hear from anyone who has some ideas on
what we could or should do – maybe for future events if not this one.  I for one am looking forward to meeting (if
they are able to come) the wonderfully Web 2.0 @belindaang, the very bright and
informed @Nisha_Lakshmi, the very funny @roycheong1, the ever-popular  @AngMoGirl, my new good friend @callumlinden,
some of the Twitterers with the best profile pictures @applelovesshoes and
@deliciatan, the @StephenFry loving @laure_f  amongst others and all the other Singapore
based Twitterers that brighten and inform my day.

Am I too soft, naive and romantic when it comes to Twitter?

Spam_marketing
The other day I went to meet someone to talk to them about
supporting them in organizing an event here in Singapore.  We’d spoken briefly about this on the phone
before and he seemed pleased at my offer to help. 

Practically his first question to me when we met was,
however, ‘how many friends do you have on Facebook and how many followers on
Twitter?’   Clearly a good part of my
perceived worth in helping organize this event was how large my networks were –
and not my real world network or ‘sphere of influence’, but my virtual friends
and followers numbers.  At least I was
able to give him an actual number which I don’t suppose I would have been able
to do had he asked me a more pertinent question about what my influencing power
was. (That's where the really interesting bit is I think)  He seemed slightly disappointed
when I told him and then revealed that he had about twice as many people following
him on Twitter and considerably more friends on Facebook.  It should also be noted I think that in both
worlds we are very small players when it comes to numbers of followers and
friends.

I should not have been that surprised at his question I
suppose.  This guy – who is a friend of mine – had recently been
involved with an event in Singapore that had been a big success – certainly
in terms of the number of visitors.  As a
friend of his on Facebook I had received a lot of emails on the run up to the event
giving me the latest information and news. 
There was an event ‘group’ too of course.   So I suppose if he wanted to adopt the same
social media ‘strategy’ in promoting this next event, then having an organizing
partner with lots of friends and followers would be a good starting point to a repeat
strategy.  But isn’t this a tiny bit like
looking for a mailing list?  I say ‘tiny
bit’ because clearly there are some big differences – I know or at least have
some sort of relationship with my virtual contacts whereas a mailing list may
be cobbled together in any which way. 

It still irks me a little that I should be valued by
this criterion (at least in some part). 
Needless to say the strategy would have involved me being asked to email
(within Facebook) all my friends but this is a bit like spamming isn’t it? And
it begs the bigger question of course – is social media just a numbers game?

I really really hope it isn’t.  I’m aware that I might be kind of a bit naïve
and maybe, in some ways, romantic when it comes to what goes on with Twitter.  My friend, whom I was having the meeting with,
sees social media simply (I think) as a marketing gig.   Indeed – almost all (if not all) of his
tweets are links to web pages often promoting an event or promoting social media
as a marketing tool in itself.  Hey ,
there’s nothing wrong with this and I think he knows that I think that, but I
have, shall we say, a ‘softer’ approach and I love Twitter because I get to,
for example,  follow Stephen Fry, someone
who  sees and uses Twitter from a
position a million miles away from my friend. 
I can’t help be reminded of the ‘marketing at’ position and strategy adopted by some
companies in Second Life bombed.  Isn’t seeing
a bunch of tweets from someone you follow that just point to websites that
advertise an event or advertise the marketing medium itself a bit too much like
getting direct text (SMS) messages?

I don’t know where Twitter will go when it gets monetized in
the future but if it simply becomes a place full of social media marketers then
I’ll probably bail – for me, whilst I am happy to see all sorts of people doing
and experimenting with all sorts of things, the magic remains seeing what
people like Stephen Fry are up to, having a laugh with Will Carling and being
part of topics and conversations with some really cool and imaginative people.

How many people am I (or should I be) online?

I was reading this morning on Twitter that LinkedIn will allow status comments soon (or it already is). And over the weekend I was looking at ping.fm which allows the status updating of multiple media at once.  (there are several other services that will do this too)  So, for example, configuring your ping account means you can update facebook, twitter and tumblr (and many others) in one hit…

Social_media  Now, for some time now I have wondered about the wisdom of having stuff about me available online.  This is nothing new of course and people have, for some time now, wondered how sensible it might be for your potential new employer to see that tagged photo of you on facebook pissed out of your head.  Additionally, the facebook status of 'Carl is pissed off with his job' might not do many favors with one's current employer either….

So, I suppose over the last couple of years I've got to thinking (mistakingly I might add) that certain people may not see my facebook page, for example, and that I should try and be quite sensible and professional with this blog -  Facebook for 'fun' Carl and blog for more serious Carl.  Of course, now, those people at work who wouldn't have had a facebook account just a year or so ago now have one as its becaome more and more mainstream.  Tonight I have a Teleconference and any idle twittering about how bored I might get (although I'm sure it won't be) will be immediately updated on my facebook page and of course some of the call participants are my friends on facebook….. and so on….

So very quickly I've moved from nothing online to using different platforms that evolved from fundamentally different directions to using tools that are now encouraging me to merge these multiple personalities into one.  These tools for maintaining that 'one onlne person' across all the media are great in what they do and, at the same time, are encouraging me to think that I just have to jump in and simply be one 'online person' and stop worrying about it. 

It's probably the case that more experienced bloggers who use facbook and twitter have come to a conclusion on this some time ago on this.

I'd like comments though.

Why Mattel should look at Guitar Hero Sales

Gh3  I have just been reading about GH3 sales passing one Billion Dollars …Not too surprising I suppose knowing how gaming is the fastest growing 'entertainment' market – It was only a few months ago that GTA IV was the fastest grossing entertainment 'product' ever in its first weekend of release (if I remember correctly).

Some nice other stats too which would serve a nice purpose in any presentation I had to do in the near future – loads of User Generated Content being created as just one example.

But, perhaps the one stat  and point of interest I liked the most was how games like GH are creating huge amounts of interest away from the virtual environment…

…sales of real guitars were also up. Griffith [not me!] said two-thirds of non-musicians exposed to music games plan to start playing a real instrument in the next couple of years, while three-fourths of musicians said they've spent more time with their instruments since picking up a music game…

I should say that I don't understand exactly what the above means and the use of the word 'plan' intrigues me to some extent (not to mention the use of the word 'fourths') but I guess we should be fairly comfortable with the bottom line message.  My point, in case you hadn't guessed already, concerns Mattel and their determination to remove Scrabulous from Facebook (last year was it?).  One can't help feeling that their fight to remove 'their game' from one of the world's largest and fastest growing internet properties with an exposure that one can only be dreamed of in more traditional advertising spaces might have been a little hasty and one they might now be regretting…

Money From Blogging

This article is a response to a piece on the Web In Travel website where Siew Hoon talks to a guy who wants to make money from his blog.

Blog_adsense_money

Wow! What a question – “how can I make money from my
blog?" 

I'm surprised at this question – I think people who ask this
question are asking the wrong question. 
But I suppose I should clarify exactly what I mean.

Bluntly put, I think people who write blogs to make money
are going against what, for me, is the underlying ‘giving’ notion of what
blogging is.  A quick look on
dictionary.com yields the definition: ‘an online diary; a personal
chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page;’

People who used to (and still do I suppose) write diaries
and log their thoughts on paper never, for one minute, expected to make any
money from it.  It was a very personal and
private endeavor in almost all cases. 
However,   the internet has, of course, provided those
people with the possibility to link with thousands of readers and, in turn,
encouraged those who may never have dreamed about keeping a diary or a log, to
begin to write driven by the idea that it might not simply be a solitary
activity given the possibility that thousands may end up reading their thoughts
and musings. (There are countless examples of fame and notoriety of course from
the most unlikely of sources through blogs and other forms of User Generated
Content
).

So, basically put, I don’t think people should make money
from blogging.  Blogging should be an altruistic
and non- commercial activity.  I’m
encouraged to see how many companies now are using their own blogs to keep
their customers abreast of product development, new releases and other company activities.  I like this idea of a blog – it’s a platform
for engaging with customers in a fairly personal and accessible way – kind of,
this is what we’re up to, thought you might like to know and, by the way, there’s
a place where you can let us know what you think.

But, let me be clear, I think attaching some advertising to
one’s blog is fine – a few banners here and there of course and some Google paid
stuff.  Covering one’s costs or even
making a small amount of revenue in a pretty stealth kind of way is fine.  This indeed may have been the approach of
Siew Hoon’s friend in the article – I do hope so. 

Anyone who blogs to make money doesn’t deserve to make
money.  If you want to make money, then
come up with a commercially viable on-line application or service and sell it
but don’t jump on the wholesome notion of blogging and look to make a quick
buck.

It’s better than TV

BeboI was listening to Radio  Five Live on the BBC this morning.

There was a story about AOL buying Bebo for USD850m.  The story focussed however on Balderton Capital – the only institutional investor in Bebo.  Balderton provided first-round financing of USD15m to acquire a 15.7% stake in May 2006.  They will now make a return of 9 times that on their investment.

The story carried an interview with Barry Maloney, one of the partners of Balderton and a director of Bebo since the investment in May 2006.  When the interviewer asked him what led him to think about investing in Bebo he recounted how his daughters had stopped fighting with him for the TV remote control and he went to see what they were doing instead.  What a great story!  I wonder if they’ll be getting some pretty damn nice ponies on birthdays to come.

Barack and Hillary’s mashed up funds

FundraceFor someone like me who (let’s face it) is quite up on 2.0 stuff generally and loves a good tag and remote application and the odd opportuninty to co-create, collaborate and share, the area of Mashups is not something I have had much experience with or exposure to.

I attended a conference last week and we talked a bit about it and, as far as I can tell, a lot of Mashups (essentially combining and meshing different apps and data sources to produce ‘new’ views and insights) overlay data onto Google Maps to give geographical views of data. 

The one that was mentioned at the conference last week involved overlaying data about property sales (the actual price the property had sold for) onto Google Maps allowing those interested to get a very up to date and very real view on the cost of living in a particular area.  I’m wondering whether actually having this information will itself impact on the process.  A few years ago a house buyer would, of course. have made some cursory checks before buying a house.  But now we have the opportunity to see data in ways that only serious players in the business used to have access to.  How seeing this data – how getting a view into people’s buying behavior and patterns will in turn effect subsequent behavior is, I think, quite fascinating.

Anyway, I write this because I stumbled on a topical example of a Mashup this morning.  If you check it out let your mind wonder and see what weird and crazy ideas for a mashup you can come up with!

There will be a 100,000-fold shrinking of computer technology over the next 25 years

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Check out what futurologist Ray Kurzweil is saying about computer processing power, its size and what this will mean for our learning environments.  Powerful stuff.  I was speaking on Virtual Reality yesterday and talked about how we (and companies and organizations) need to learn to play with people in these environments.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Fully emergent games is really where we want to go. We
will do most of our learning through these massively parallel
interactions is how we principally learn and principally create,"  he said.