Friendster started looking for buyers in July 2009. On 10 December 2009, the once leading social network is acquired by Malaysia’s MOL Group. No financial details were announced. However, in July this year, TechCrunch estimated Friendster to worth around US$137 million. (UPDATE: TechCrunch reported Friendster valued at $26.4 Million in sales)
Why buy Friendster? According to the new MOL/Friendster Group CEO Ganesh Kumar Bangah, it’s because of its “strong South East Asia base… very focus, has a very strong following in Malaysia.” He believed “right localization,” in terms of features, contents and applications, is Friendster’s competitive strategy. Ultimately, he envisioned Friendster as South East Asia-centric community, a platform for Asian-ized contents and applications.
Here’s some of observations about the use of social media (and as shortcut, social media is myopically defined as Twitter and Facebook):
- Twitter, a water cooler chat. Facebook Page, a community canvass. On Twitter, people want to interact with you e.g. complaints and ideas for product improvements. Unless you are a news organization like CNN and The Economist or a celebrity like @Alyssa_Milano, @The_Real_Shaq and @BritneySpears, it’s hard to get away with just tweet-casting without being called inept user of social media. On Facebook, your community want to interact with you AND among themselves. So, it’s relatively easier to get away by not interacting with your fans. Facebook Page can be used by fans as a community wall, for public display of affection towards a brand. In essence, it provides user-created online context for fans to connect with one another, share thoughts and propagating the allure of the brand.
- Social media is interactive. So, be inventive. Toys r’ Us uses its Facebook Page to “to distribute coupons, announce unadvertised deals and solicit feedback.” Others used social media to announce arrival of new products e.g. fresh bakes from oven @AlbionsOven. Some use it effectively as a broadcast tool e.g. @cnnbrk. Depends on needs and context, social media can be used to support your brand building infrastructure or obtain customer feedback or source for talents or ..
- Easier to grow community on Facebook than Twitter? It depends. Coca-cola has the most popular Page on Facebook, with over 4 million fans; on Twitter, Coca-Cola is followed by only over 12,000. It’s the reverse for JetBlue Airways.
Vocanic Pte Ltd., Singapore-based company, is behind Project 500. Vocanic is a company specializes in word-of-mouth marketing, which “harness and amplify the conversations that consumers have about your brand, and use them to create highly effective marketing campaigns” (Source: Vocanic’s website). It started as a website, requesting social mediaphiles to sign-up for a secret project. A briefing was held to reveal the ‘product’ and it’s a social media streams aggregator. Think Ping.fm and Orsiso. Is this the aggregator referred to as “the next big thing to explode in the social media scene”? I’m doubtful.
On November 5 2009, Twitter blogged about the limited roll-out of its Retweet feature. Yesterday, the feature is activated on my Twitter page. Each update now comes with Retweet button, in addition to the Reply and Favorite buttons. Previously, it was cumbersome to retweet on Twitter web – copy-and-paste the tweet into the update box, add ‘@’ to tweet author, type ‘RT’ and finally, click the update button. Twitter clients like Seesmic, Tweetdeck and Orsiso already made the retweeting process easier with their single click Retweet button.
Orsiso (or Organize, Simplify, Socialize) offers a functional approach to manage the deluge of your social networking and messaging online. It acts like a social streams dashboard, which aggregates and organizes status/photo streams (from Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Bebo, Friendster) and messaging (from popular IM networks like Messenger, Yahoo!, Google Talk). In the past weeks, Orsiso has been quick in releasing new version; each version update with new interface design and performance. Previous versions, buttons were lumpy, design was noisy and user-interface was not so, shall I say, spritely. Using it for the past 4 months, I must say the latest version 1.1.36 spot a more organized interface, more minimalist and much more perky.
End of Day 3 for EveryoneConnects, the website has more than 18,000 visits (as mentioned on its Facebook Page). It started on Monday with a mysterious song ‘Through My Window’, being played over the airwaves. The following day, it made the headline in The Star newspaper. Day 3, blurred images appeared on the website; likely the band singing the song.
Its Twitter account @every1connects with 184 followers; averaging 61 new followers per day over the past 3 days. The two key hashtags used are #ThroughMyWindow and #EveryoneConnects with the following stats:
- #ThroughMyWindow: a total 236 tweets from 154 contributors carrying the hashtag; averaging 33.7 tweets per day. And 10.6% are retweets.
- #EveryoneConnects: a total of 243 tweets from 165 contributors; averaging 34.7 tweets per day. And 5.8% are retweets.
A Green Day-esque song played on Hitz.fm radio this morning, titled Through My Window (click to play), with artist name undisclosed but DJ @rudyculously mentioned a website address, EveryoneConnects.net. On the website, there’s not much information except the MP3 file of the song (available for free download), together with the song lyric. Its “What’s the Buzz?” box is displaying Twitter updates stream. Also, there are links to its Twitter, Facebook and Friendster profile pages. And this phrase is seen at the bottom of the page, “Everyone Connects is about getting people to communicate & collaborate because when everyone’s connected, anything is possible.”
There are now more than 1 million users of Facebook in Malaysia. Friendster said there are 2.2 million active Malaysian users on its social network. Now, what about Twitter? In December 2008, TwitterFacts estimated a total of 3,429 Twitter users in Malaysia. I believe the number has increased since then.
Let’s look elsewhere for hints, clues and indications. WeFollow, a user-generated Twitter Directory by Kevin Rose, where users self-tagged to a set of 3 keywords to describe themselves. There are only 274 users who tagged themselves to ‘malaysia’ but I’m quite sure the figure doesn’t reflect the current total Malaysians on Twitter.
TwitterCounter and Twitter Grader directories also offer listing of Twitter users by country. Unfortunately, Grader only list Top 50 users whereas TwitterCounter limits its listing to 10,020 profiles, per location. TwitterCounter says it is tracking 3.9 million unique Twitter users and yes, a search of ‘malaysia’ returns 10,020 Twitter usernames.
There are two ‘live’ directories, which are indexing Twitter users – TwitDir and Twellow. At the time of this posting, TwitDir has a total of 4,013,391 accounts and 2,231 of them with ‘Malaysia’ within their location detail. Twellow called itself Twitter Yellow Pages and it categorizes Twitter users into various categories, based on bio details. Currently, there are a total of 6.6 million Twitter profiles in its database. At the time of this posting, a search of ‘malaysia’ yields a total of 7,766 accounts.
Facebook with 250 million users and these users are sharing over 10 billion photos. YouTube is streaming 1.2 billion videos a day, worldwide. The number of worldwide unique visitors of Twitter catapulted from 19 million in March 2009 to 32 million in April 2009 and each day, Twitter users are generating roughly 18 million updates. And according to comScore, social networking penetration rate worldwide was 65% in the month of May 2009, or 734.2 million Internet users across the globe accessing at least one social networking website during the month.
Malaysians love Social Networking too
There are about 16 million Internet users in Malaysia and IDC Research projected Malaysian Internet users will reach 20.4 million by 2012. In March this year, the number of Facebook users in Malaysia surpassed the one million mark. Recently, a brief survey by YouthSays, Malaysia’s largest youth community website with over 160,000 members, showed 95% of a total of 900 respondents have Friendster’s account, 90% with Facebook and 38% with Twitter (This survey was presented at the recent Malaysian Media Congress 2009).
In Malaysia, the social networking penetration rate was 66.6% in December 2008 (see Table below), behind only to Singapore (74.3%) and South Korea (68%).
Foldees, the on-going greeting cards contest website, just released its latest feature, @ddress Directory. With @ddress, it is now possible to send Foldees greeting card without knowing the recipient’s mailing address. Also, anyone can receive printed cards from online friends or admirers, without revealing personal information like mailing address.
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.