Started on April 24th 2009, many (including me) believed @McDelivery was the ‘real’ voice of McDonald’s Malaysia on Twitter. Back then, it was hard to tell whether it’s fake or not. It Interacted well with its followers and engaged them with McDonald’s-related information. In addition, @McDelivery and McDonald’s Malaysia Facebook Page launched almost at the same time, which further enhanced the believability of Twitter account. The Page is the ‘real’ voice of McDonald’s Malaysia on Facebook, the social media component of McDonald’s on-going “Have You McValue Lunch-ed This Week?” contest (At the time of this posting, the Page has over 13,000 fans.)
Exora, the newly launched MPV by Malaysian carmaker Proton, has two ‘voices’ on Twitter – @ProtonExora and @YouWillBeAmazed. The former is managed by Proton with first tweet dated April 13 2009; the latter is an unofficial voice and started on April 29 2009. To date, the ‘unofficial’ one has more of Updates and Followers.
When it comes to social media for marketing, different companies have different degree of adoption. This article is an attempt to shed some light on the path of social media adoption, in terms of sophistication in usage. The path can be segmented into five stages, as illustrated in the following diagram.
Maxis Communications Bhd, Malaysian’s largest mobile communication provider, yesterday announced the launch date of iPhone 3G in Malaysia. Leading up to the announcement, Twitterville is abuzz with chats on its pricing plans and other issues.
If you’ve missed the fun on Twitterville yesterday with #iphonemalaysia, here the Top 5 interesting ‘moments’ of Maxis iPhone 3G Pre-Launch Day, spotted on Twitter (and elsewhere on the Web).
Skittles candy from Mars has taken its brand to a level where many brands have not gone before. Instead of delivering controlled brand messages on its website, it is transforming the site into a navigator for its social media universe. Particularly impressive is its home page shows chatter about ‘skittles’ on Twitter Search. In such laissez-faire environment, real-time updates streaming on Twitter Search can be both positive and negative mentions.
Tag cloud. Podcasts. RSS feeds. These are some of the new features of the all-new The Edge website and the new website is a significant step forward. Additionally, it is the first major news media organization in Malaysia to use Twitter @edgemy. Also, the new website provides a more organized interface to its readers compared to other major Malaysian news sites – The Star, New Straits Times and The Sun.
This list offers a glimpse of some of the more interesting use of Web 2.0 by Malaysian brands. It is created after sifting through hundreds of social media ‘initiatives’ listed on the Social Media Malaysia. However, as with any list, there are limitations and this one is no exception. Some of the shortfalls are:
- Investigation is based on initiatives listed on the Social Media Malaysia.
- No ‘scientific’ measurement is used to derive the ranking.
Caveats aside, the list is a baby step towards a better understanding of the use of Web 2.0 in businesses in Malaysia and hopefully, can inspire more Malaysian companies use them more creatively.
Social technologies enable the creation of conversational platform for businesses to engage in richer interactions with customers. Traditional mass media lacks interactivity and information flow is dominantly unidirectional, from brand owners to consumer.
However, the new social media enables consumers to connect with one another and brand owners to co-create brand experience. Global corporations like Procter & Gamble, Dell, Coca Cola and many others are already adopting social media as part of their brand building infrastructure.
What about Malaysia’s biggest brands? Are they using social technologies? How are they using the conversational media to listen and interact with their customers?
To answer the questions, I’ve investigated social media plays of companies listed in Malaysia’s Most Valuable Brands (MMVB) 2007, created by the Malaysian Association of Accredited Advertising Agents, in collaboration with Interbrand. This exercise involves searching for the brand names in social networks (Facebook, Friendster, MySpace), video-sharing site (YouTube), online photo-sharing site (Flickr) and microblogging (Twitter, FriendFeed). The results are presented in the “Social-ize the Brands” table below.
Notes to the table:
- “Rank” is the actual ranking in MMVB 2007.
- Giant and Dutch Lady, which appeared in MMVB 2007, were omitted as both are non-Malaysian brands.
- Only initiatives created by brand owners are considered to provide a better indication on the importance of social media marketing to the brand owners.
- For more on how MMVB’s Brand Value is calculated, read here.
Social-ize the Brands: How Malaysia’s Most Valuable Brands are Embracing Social Media
- Big brands adopting social media marketing
- About 60% of Malaysia’s most valuable brands are leveraging social utilities like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
- Conversations with AirAsia
- The budget airline has the most interesting and purposeful usage social media marketing tools and are ‘designed’ to engage with its target audience.
- User-generated content
- AirAsia is tapping into the power of bloggers with its blog, “Just Plane Thoughts.” Besides contents posted by 16 AirAsia bloggers, the site also encourages its readers to post their travel stories and comments. Although the blog is moderated, negative customer comments also get posted. Newspaper The Star also allows its readers to post up contents on its Citizen’s Blog site.
- Conversational vs Informational
- AirAsia’s blog is more conversational than its competitor Malaysia Airlines’ Living Malaysian Hospitality, which is geared towards providing corporate news.
- Facebook rules
- The fast-growing social network is by far the most used social utility among the biggest brands in Malaysia, followed by YouTube. Facebook ranked 8th in Malaysia’s Alexa Top 100 Sites; YouTube ranked 4th (as of Oct 19 2008).
- Tweet with Astro
- The use of Twitter is gaining popularity among enterprises. Astro, the subscription-based satellite TV provider, is the one and only Malaysia’s big brand on Twitter.
- Bank with blog
- Malaysia’s largest bank, Maybank, is the first Malaysian bank with a blog; uses its “AllYou” blog to complement its online banking site, Maybank2u.com.
- Blogging CEO
- Tony Fernandes of AirAsia is the only Most Valuable Brand’s CEO with a blog.
- Not-so-social lifestyle
- Consumer-oriented retail brand, Parkson and apparel brands – Bonia and Padini – are notably missing in the social media sphere.
- Financial-ly not social-able
- Financial institutions dominated the MMVB list, with 32% representation. However, out of the eleven big brands that are not using social media, six of them (or 54%) are from the financial industry.
New Straits Times, the oldest English newspaper with second largest readership/circulation in Malaysia, is brandjacked on Twitter.
The Twitter’s account “NewStraitsTimes” has 100 Followers and 9,067 tweets (at the time of this posting). It has one following, a 20-year-old student named Felix Ker; this led me to suspect he’s the ‘brand hijacker’. Tweets consist of news articles, which are regularly updated and sync with New Straits Times Online website; TwitterFeed is used to auto-stream RSS feeds from the website to Twitter.
‘Brandjacked’ New Straits Times at Twitter
I would think the New Straits Times doesn’t even care and bother about this at all. As a matter of fact, Felix Ker is doing the newspaper a favor by streaming its news to Twitterverse.
On Becoming Mass ‘Social’ Media
Many corporations are worry about how their brands are being represented and perceived in the mass media but not so when it comes to social media. Corporations are still finding it hard to understand the new social media and how best to use it. But, we are seeing more social media ‘early adopter’ initiatives reaping positive results, outcomes and impacts.
In the media marketspace, sites like Twitter and FriendFeed are changing the way we consume news. More are discovering the latest news from the many microverses of ‘livestreams.’
Printed media used to play catching up to online news sites. Now, the online news sites are playing catching up to Twitter, et al and various other user-generated newsites. No wonder, we’re seeing more major ‘traditional’ news organizations like newspaper (examples: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Times) and TV (examples: CNN, Channel News Asia, and BBC) are jumping on the social media bandwagon.
I’ve just watched a webinar titled “The Impact of Social Media on Innovation,” featuring Josh Bernoff. It is about how to generate innovation by leveraging the social media “groundswell”. These are some of the key points, which I find interesting:
- Customer-driven Innovation Cycle – Discovery (identification of consumers’ latent needs), Design (the use of consumer feedback to tune launch and execution), Deployment (sharing of consumer needs to generate innovations),
- New Approach to Innovation
- Consumer involvement – from structured to spontaneous
- Corporate posture – from go out to consumers’ to invite consumer in
- Environment – from linear, pipeline to controlled chaos
- Consumer needs – from explicit to ‘explicit and latent
- Tools – from surveys, focus groups, story boards to search, blogs, communities
- Innovation software
- Innovation Platforms for managing ideas
- Innovation Events for event-based collaboration
- Innovation Communities to leverage the insights of the customer
- Examples of collaborative innovation
- Captive communities
- Beta test bed
- Idea communities
- Suggestion boxes
- Product ratings
Josh Bernoff is the co-author of Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. I’ve blogged about it here.
For those who have missed the webinar, below are the Skitch‘d presentation slides of “The Impact of Social Media on Innovation” (note: two ‘intro’ slides are missing):
Bright ideas in abundance. An idea (or a concept) is conceived by entrepreneurs; products / services are the embodiments of the idea. Some ideas are intrinsically harder to emulate compared to others, due to its intrinsic characteristics and/or its business model.
For example, Google discovered a better way to search information and its PageRank idea is codified in algorithms (Google’s secret sauce and hard to copy). For PageRank, it’s intrinsic characteristics are functionally superb; it’s commercialization strategy (AdWords, AdSense) is creative. The combination is creating a formidable barrier of entry for Google. Today, the company captured over 60% of web searches worldwide and about 45% of US Internet advertising revenues.
Of course, not many ideas are like PageRank. Many product ideas are relatively easier to copy. Within a market segment, there are multiple variations. For example, in the microblogging marketspace, there are Twitter, Plurk, Rejaw, Identi.ca, Brightkite and Jaiku. Each with different features and interface structure but fundamentally similar to the others.
If a product idea is relatively easy to emulate, then how to create competitive advantage? How to build (temporary) barriers of entry? The followings are some tactics to create and sustain competitiveness:
Strike First Probably, the most well-known strategy among web enterprises. Speed is king. Here, it’s not about bringing the best and unique idea to the marketplace but it’s about execution and implementation. If there are 10 people working on the same idea like yours and you bring to the market first, you are likely to win the ‘game’. Being first in the market enables a company to lock-in users and create network effects. eBay still managed to lead the market segment it pioneered. However, as we have witnessed in several cases, first mover is not an advantage all the time. Examples: (a) Although once commanding 90% of the market with its Navigator browser, Netscape lost the browser war to Microsoft. (b) MySpace and Friendster losing ground to late-comer Facebook in the social networking market. (c) One of the earliest search engine, Excite, lost its shine and was overtaken by Altavista, Hotbot, Google, etc.
Timing SixDegrees.com is probably the first social networking site on the Internet. It lasted from 1997 to 2001. Unfortunately, in 1997, social networking is not in vogue. Its demise is partly due to timing. If it were launched a few years later, it may join some of the thriving social networks around today such as Friendster, Bebo and MySpace. So, if your idea failed to take-off, it doesn’t mean the idea sucks. Maybe, it’s simply way ahead of its time. This is probably an anti-thesis of first-mover. Sometimes, the market forces and dynamics are just not ready for the products and ideas introduced by the first-movers. The lesson here is to have speed in the right direction. The right direction is dependent on entrepreneurial creativity and ingenuity.
Big Bang Once in a while, a company introduced big bang, disruptive technologies in the marketplace. The company changes the rules of the games, introduces a new order and alters the competitive landscape. Over the past years, we have witnessed a few disruptive forces. Facebook opened its Platform to third-party developers in 2007 and changed the way social network operates. Since then, its competitors adopted similar strategy. Google Gmail entered the web-based email with then unheard of 1Gb free storage. Prior to the launch of Gmail, leading services like Microsoft Hotmail and Yahoo! offered 2Mb and 4Mb, respectively. Another example is iPhone, which introduced discontinuity in mobile phone market. Since its introduction, leading players like Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Research In Motion (BlackBerry) and Palm are playing catch-up. Big bang tactic is highly suitable for a new player to compete with established players and define new competitive rules in the marketplace. It’s about creating a ‘blue ocean’ marketspace, proclaimed W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.
Scale and Scope Amazon.com started as an online bookstore and became a virtual mega-store selling toys, clothes, grocery, tools etc. Then, it started to rent its e-commerce infrastructure to merchants and also offers its cloud computing and storage services to thousands of websites (eg. Twitter, SmugMug, and AdaptiveBlue). Amazon.com is constantly extending and expanding its offerings by leveraging on its core assets and knowledge-base to tap market opportunities. The strategy is to organically grow into a distinct organizational form that is hard to emulate. Similar to traditional industries, economies of scale and scope are the barriers of entry.
Enterprises are created to design, develop and deliver value objects to the market and always strive to gain leadership position in the marketplace. Building barrier(s) of entry is imperative for businesses to sustain profit generation and ultimately, enhance organizational survival in the competitive marketplace. First-mover advantage, right timing, unique value proposition and distinct organizational form can be used to make life a lot harder for your competitors.