Social Media Marketing and Malaysia’s Biggest Brands

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

Rank Brand Industry Brand Value, US$ Million Social Media Marketing
1 Maybank Financial 2,764 All You, All New Maybank2U.com Blog
2 Public Bank Financial 1,967 None
3 Maxis Telecoms 1,521 Maxis Facebook Group | Maxis Communications Facebook Fan | Hotlink Facebook Group
4 Genting Leisure 1,315 Genting City of Entertainment Facebook Group | Genting WorldCard Facebook Group
5 Celcom Telecoms 1,167 Celcom Facebook Fan
6 CIMB Financial 981 None
7 Astro Media 946 AstroTV on Twitter | StadiumAstro on Twitter | AstroFootball on Twitter | Stadium Astro Facebook Fan Page | Astro Chinese Programmes Channel on YouTube | Astromalaysia’s Channel on YouTube
8 Hong Leong Financial 888 Hong Leong Bank, HLLB Facebook Group
9 Perodua Automobile 700 Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd Facebook Fan
10 DiGi Telecoms 600 DiGi Facebook Group Page | DiGi Telecommunications Facebook Fan | DiGi’s Open Hearts Open Mind Program | DiGi D’podCast | DiGi Yellow Coverage on YouTube | DiGi Desktop Agent
12 Malaysia Airlines Airline 493 Living Malaysian Hospitability Blog | Malaysia Airlines Facebook Fan | MASwings Facebook Fan | MASwings Facebook Group | MAS Charter Flight Attendants Facebook Group | MH = Malaysian Hospitality Channel on YouTube
13 Sime Darby Property 437 Sime Darby Facebook Group
14 TV3 Media 315 MyTV3 Roverz Facebook Group
15 Petronas Oil and Gas 264 Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) Facebook Group | Galeri Petronas Facebook Group | Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra Facebook Page
16 YTL Property 210 YTL Climate Change Week Facebook Fan | YTL Community Channel on YouTube
17 RHB Bank Financial 187 RHB Bank Facebook Group
18 Ambank Financial 187 None
19 AirAsia Airline 95 Just Plane Thoughts AirAsia Blog | Tony Fernandes CEO Blog | “AirAsia.com Travel Wish List” Facebook Application | AirAsia Facebook Fan Page | AirAsia Air Crew Facebook Group | AirAsiaGroup Enthusiasts Facebook Group | AirAsiaGroup Channel on YouTube | AirAsia Vista Gadget
20 The Star Media 91 Citizen’s Blog
22 Kurnia Financial 83 None
23 Proton Automobile 68 Corporate Comm @Proton Facebook Group | Corporate Comm Proton Facebook Fan
24 MAA Financial 67 None
25 Affin Bank Financial 65 None
26 Padini Fashion 61 None
27 Parkson Retail 36 None
28 Sunway Property 25 None
29 Mamee-Double Decker Food and Beverage 25 None
30 Bonia Fashion 22 None

Some Observations

  1. Big brands adopting social media marketing
    • About 60% of Malaysia’s most valuable brands are leveraging social utilities like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Conversational vs Informational
    • AirAsia’s blog is more conversational than its competitor Malaysia Airlines’ Living Malaysian Hospitality, which is geared towards providing corporate news.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Blogging CEO
    • Tony Fernandes of AirAsia is the only Most Valuable Brand’s CEO with a blog.
  9. Not-so-social lifestyle
    • Consumer-oriented retail brand, Parkson and apparel brands – Bonia and Padini – are notably missing in the social media sphere.
  10. 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.
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Malaysian Oldest Newspaper Brandjacked on Twitter

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.

Another brandjacked incident covered here is the one involving oil giant Exxon Mobil Corporation (see here and here).

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.

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160,000+ Following on Twitter

This can happen to you with your Twitter account if you have 160,905 Following. That is probably the highest number of Following I’ve seen on Twitter. Maybe that’s why Oozzl’s Twitter account is suspended “due to strange activity.” Oozzl is a social networking site, based in the Neatherland.

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FriendFeed with New Look and Strategy

gothere

FriendFeed launches its beta look. Here are some highlights of the new interface:

  • Post, where users can easily post message, link or photo and select which feed to post it to.

FriendFeed Post

  • All-in-One Sidebar. FriendFeed is shifting the tabs from the top to the side.

FriendFeed Sidebar

  • Friends Categorization Now you can categorize your Friends into various categories. The Friend Settings page is less cluttered.

FriendFeed Friend Categories

FriendFeed Friend Settings

  • Organized Display of Feeds In My Feeds section, feeds are organized into three tabs – ‘Feeds’, ‘Comments + Feeds’ and “You + Friends”. All streams added to FriendFeed are neatly organize below the tabs and acts as Filter. If you click, say Twitter icon, your Twitter entries will be displayed.

FriendFeed My Feeds

Overall, FriendFeed is making its functionalities more accessible from its ‘landing’ page and streamlined the organization of its contents. It is also making posting of contents easier, with its new Post bar. It’s almost like Twitter-ization of FriendFeed. Facebook made the similar move with its repositioned Status Update bar (see here).

Rather than “parasiting” on other social services for activity streams or contents, FriendFeed wants its users to generate more contents from within FriendFeed. It is the next logical move for FriendFeed.

New FriendFeed Interface Design

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How to Create Barriers of Entry in the Age of Innovation

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. ExciteExamples: (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 Sixdegrees1997, 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. HotmailFacebook 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, Amazongrocery, 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.

Conclusion

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.

Sources of Images: Excite, Sixdegreesre, Hotmail, Amazon.com

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Twitter-like Microblogging to the Fore at Facebook

Facebook is tweaking yet again. For the past one month, the global social network leader has made several changes to its interface. Some of the key changes include:

  • July 21 2008 – New design interface
  • July 31 2008 – News feed with filters (more here)
  • August 06 2008 – Wall with filters and activity streams import from other services (more here)

The latest Facebook interface redesign involved the inclusion of Status updater on the ‘dashboard’ page. Previously, users have to go to their Profile page to update their status (for previous design layout, see here). The Status updater is prominently positioned at the top left of the landing page, just above the News Feed section.

With this latest upgrade, it seems the grandiose plan of Facebook is:

To synergistically combine profile-centric social network with FriendFeed’s streams integrator, Twitter’s microblogging and third-party applications, in order to organically generate value (and wealth).

New Status Update at Facebook

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“I am an employee of Exxon Mobil,” said Janet

Janet at ExxonMobil, the ‘fake’ voice of Exxon Mobil Corporation, said ‘she’ is an employee of the oil giant and “has decided to put forward her pride in her own company.” Any response to this, Exxon Mobil Corporation?

Screenshot of Janet’s latest tweet:

Twitter Page of “Janet at ExxonMobil”

For background on “Janet at ExxonMobil, read here and here.

UPDATE: The account changed its name to Not_EMC.

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Fake Voice of Exxon Mobil Corp Still Tweeting

On July 29 2008, Janet of Exxon Mobil Corporation surfaced on Twitter (see Exxon Mobil on Twitter). On August 02 2008, the true identity of Janet is revealed by blogger Jeremiah Owyang (read here). Six hours after the revelation, the fake voice of Exxon Mobil is still tweeting. The latest post is about 38 minutes ago.

Screenshot of ‘Janet at ExxonMobil’ Twitter Page

Somebody needs to tell Janet of Exxon Mobil (@ExxonMobilCorp) that the show is over. But it’s a free country on Twitterville and let’s see how Exxon Mobil Corporation will respond to this.

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Exxon Mobil on Twitter

This morning, I received an email with subject line “Janet at ExxonMobilCorp is following you on Twitter.” Yes! Exxon Mobil Corporation, the world’s largest oil company and second largest in Fortune Global 500, is tweeting. Its first tweet:

Hi there, I’m Janet, one of a few Community Evengilist at ExxonMobil Corp. I’m here to answer any of questions from this twitter community.

Here’s a screenshot of Exxon Mobil’s Twitter page:

Janet is conversing on issues related to Exxon Mobil. As to why on Twitter, she wrote “we’re working hard on building a strong relationship with the twitter community.

Besides Twitter, the corporation is also establishing a social networking component for their website. It’s interesting how a large organization like Exxon Mobil navigates the social networking realm. At least now, customers of Exxon Mobil can converse with someone ‘friendly’ from the organization and this is making the corporation less impersonal and distance. Hat off to Exxon Mobil Corporation for this small step forward.

UPDATE (August 02 2008): Four days later, the real identity of Janet of ExxonMobilCorp is revealed. The person DOES NOT represent Exxon Mobil Corporation. In other words, the person is a fake. Read more here.

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