Social Media World Forum Asia – Day 1 Field Report

  • Asuthosh


Social Media World Forum Asia is into its second year here in Singapore. And this year’s programme brings together an exciting mix of speakers, ideas and people. B2Bento brings you a “live” report (not quite up-to-the-minute though).

[Updated: 5.45 pm] And that’s a wrap for the day, folks. Michael nicely summing up what transpired over the day: emerging markets and emerging technologies; whether Facebook Places is coming to APAC; integration of social media into conventional marketing; relationships being the currency in social marketing; Facebook currency listed in currency markets. Challenges: digital divide; ROI and measurement; more local cases needed; have we thought about crowd-sourced efforts to answer the questions we have on social media? Will we be speaking of Thailand, for instance, like we did about Indonesia today? Only time will tell. See y’all tomorrow for another power-packed session.

[Updated: 5.40 pm ] Simone Brunozzi (@simon), Technology Evangelist at Amazon Web Services APAC on Social Computing needs Cloud Computing. Amazon’s view on cloud computing platform and why companies can be more innovative today:

  1. No CapEx
  2. Pay as you go
  3. Pay only what you need
  4. Elastic capacity
  5. Faster time to market for your ideas
  6. Focus on your business – with on-premise infrastructure, you spend 30% on your business, and 70% on undifferentiated heavy lifting. With cloud-based infrastructure, the equation is reversed.

The problem of wasted capacity due to gaps between paid-for capacity and actual demand. Or being unable to cope with unexpected spike. Virtualized infrastructure adjusts with actual demand. Zynga, Netflix and rely exclusively (or are moving towards doing so) on AWS. Animoto went from 80 to more than 3,500 in just 3 days. They could scale capacity based on day and time of day.

Answers to FAQ:

  • Ownership: When you own your resources, you have to pay upfront and spend money and effort managing infrastructure, especially when it’s not the key differentiator in your business.
  • Skill sets: Nothing new needed – languages, OSes, etc all remain the same – just need to learn some new management tool sets. So it’s easy to move to and adopt the cloud.
  • Security: Amazon is extremely sensitive about security. Absolutely no security issues. Amazon runs on AWS as well.

Cloud computing accelerates the process of going global. AWS has a global presence across all regions with multiple points of presence (PoP). AWS is also architected for redundancy for enhanced availability.

So how can you start with cloud computing? Easier when it’s a green field. Try hybrid solutions (Amazon Virtual Private Cloud) when you want to have both running in parallel.

[Updated: 5.15 pm] Panel discussion on monetising social games and virtual currency

Robert Goldberg, Senior VP or Corporate Development, Zynga: The money is in virtual goods. They act like real goods – scarcity and value apply to virtual goods as well. That and the universal appeal of games means virtual goods market could hit USD 15b.

Benjamin Joffe, CEO, Plus8Star: Gaming trends different from Asia due to the way market developed. Games were initially pirated; online gaming and virtual goods took off early. In the West, boxed games were popular. Online gaming is relatively young.

Robert: Farming games in West – people help their neighbours. In Asia, they steal!

Robert: Social gaming is actually “socially” gaming. Purposes and audiences are different from online games. In social games, people want to communicate. Actual behaviours are fairly similar – gaming is a substrate; communication is paramount.

Kyle Kim, Head of Open Platform, SK Communications – Cyworld: In Cyworld, social gaming is for the non-gamer. They come to connect with other people. Teenagers form the core.

Benjamin: Different demographics have different reasons for playing social games. Social games are good at exploiting social relationships; people can get addicted to a “pleasure loop.”

Monetisation in developing countries where credit cards and PayPal are not popular

Benjamin: Markets without credit cards or PayPal use scratch cards, payment cafes, or via mobile. Question is whether they are connected to the payment channels in that country.

Kyle: Mobile is big in Cyworld. Also 7-Eleven sells Cyworld scratch cards.

On Facebook games becoming less cool due to popularity among older people; and whether Facebook would become the dominant currency

Robert: There are challenges to Facebook becoming a universal or dominant currency.

Benjamin: Not too concerned about mums playing games. Games will cater to different sub groups. Casual mass-market games will have wider demographic appeal. Facebook currency is more of a Facebook “tax” to developers, as the latter has been using the former to leverage distribution free. PayPal and credit cards are actually quite cumbersome. Facebook credits could simplify online payment.

Robbie Hill, RockYou: There are regulatory issues around Facebook currency.

Kyle: Social games are more “honest” – requires time not much of skill. Cyworld has its own payment system.

[Updated: 4.45 pm] Robbie Hills from RockYou on The rise (and rise) of social gaming across Asia. It is time to change the way we think about advertising in social media. 5 ways to approach social advertising: sponsorship and integration in game and sites; app distribution: seeding of branded apps and fans; customer development: apps; vertical media – contextually relevant; ad & video network – big reach. Social gaming – farms, zoos, birthdays and mobs rule the roost – between 12m and 61m (Farmville) per month. RockYou alone reaches 41m across APAC region. Social gaming has opened up new demographics of people who play games; majority are women. The social gaming craze – why:

  • Viralness: Social games are built into users’ newsfeeds in Facebook. Encourages interaction and awareness.
  • Social games are easy to play. Do not require a sustained level of attention or concentration. No special equipment, technical expertise or software installations.
  • Social games are free. Money spent on virtual goods features is optional.
  • We can relate as humans – zoos, farming, bars, etc.

Why are they playing: fun and excitement; enjoy the competitive spirit; stress reliever; sense of accomplishment; connect with others in one’s networks.

Generating revenue:

  • Virtual goods: Perceived value; create higher value on actions, items, etc. due to variables such as difficulty, rarity, time, artwork and social functionality; Providing visible goals and achievements  clear incentive to comintue gameplay
  • In-game advertising and game integration. Users –> User-initiated actions
  • Gaming Ad networks. Allows publishers and developers to generate revenue. Can be targeted by age, country and gender. Builds reach and awareness.

Why will social games be successful? Games have huge user bases so brands need to be there. Users want to be better at the games and not have to pay for it. This is a market that is engaged and relatively untapped. Plus we have a safe and clean advertising environment.

[Updated: 4.15 pm] Case Study discussion on Social Media Marketing at Toys ‘R Us (The Integration Story) by Argha Sen, Head of Marketing & CRM. The key thing is integration. And around the consumer are touchpoints. A strong CRM is also vital. A fan-made video about the Transformers demonstrated the power of video and how fans become evangelists of products that Toys ‘R Us carries. Also, a huge thing is the TRU Youtube Channel which generates a tremendous buzz around our products and campaigns. Mobile technology has also added to the viewership and buzz around TRU products like Transformers. Facebook and Youtube integration is strong as you can see in the TRU website. The Lang Kwai Fong carnival (in Hong Kong) drove a huge amount of traffic (200,000 people) to the event. Kiosks were setup to enable people to access Facebook. There’s also a very strong loyalty program that will integrate location based services like Foursquare.

Case Study discussion – BMW by Lito S German, Marketing Director. BMW: Fishing where the fish are. It is a fact that one’s company is not the center of the universe. Your websites today are only visited if there is a need for information. The average internet user visits 5 websites on a daily basis. So it’s clear that if you have to catch consumers, you have to be where they are. Case in point, BMW.SG is the biggest enthusiast community in Singapore. It is active with content that is mostly on the mark, but take note that “mostly” is the keyword. There lies the danger, if BMW does not go out of its shell and empower the community with proper content, obviously it’s not as ideal. BMW is also determined to distinguish content on a regional scale. BMW was not careful to treat social media as another channel for shouting. They relish the fact that they can engage with consumers on  their terms and on a more sustained level. The more groups you have in social media, the more important it is to manage everything accordingly. BMW publishes engaging content but they really believe in co-creation and highlighting great user generated content. The “JOY IS BMW” is the new positioning of the company where the idea is to put joy into everything and that of course includes driving. The Youtube generated a lot of buzz (200.000+ and counting) and was featured on a lot of blogs. Fish where the fish are and co-creation rocks.

Tweet panel: Panel discussion on best and worst practices, ROI, etc. in social media.

Lawrence Law, Regional Marketing Manager at Diageo: If you look back at the history of marketing years ago, people started getting into CRM. What’s interesting today is that the way we look at social media today is that it’s like CRM 3.0. It becomes a lot more powerful. And I do think that CRM renders things to be a lot more human.

Laurel Papworth, Social Networking Strategist: The landscape back then is quite different. There’s a lot of figures now that help track ROI, etc.

Liva Judic, Media Reputation Strategist: The great thing about social media is that it’s people talking between themselves.

Laurel: You must have your own framework since sites like Facebook and Youtube are notorious for deleting content at their whim. If you have a hub in your own network and putting integration tools in there, that of course would be better. Intergration with Facebook, Youtube, etc. is still vital but you must have your hub so that you won’t be a the mercy of whatever social platform you put all of your eggs in.

Lawrence: It is important to have a crisis team within your structure to manage negative feedback.

Liva: It’s not just one silo. It’s important to work altogether because that’s the only way we could respond effectively to negative feedback, especially if it has already gone global.

Laurel: Social media as a broadcast is not a good thing. If you are just shouting it’s not something that is ideal.

Lawrence: Listening and participation is key if you want to grow inside the social media space.

Liva: Who manages the community must always know who they are talking to and what they are talking about and not just someone who is on social media.

Laurel: There needs to be a chief networking officer (that deals with social media) on the board who has accountability. This is not a job for interns but for people who know how to speak the voice of the company. And Facebook credits will be very big in the future. Just wait and see.

[Updated: 1.45 pm] Panel discussion on integrating social media into traditional marketing strategy.

Jeremy Woolf from Text100: What are we trying to sell, to who. Must understand how it fits within the overall business strategy.

Christina Lim from NTUC Fairprice: Social media as an extension of branding strategy, not a standalone campaign. SM used to build relationships. Facebook has been a great platform to engage with customers. Think about how SM becomes an extension of how you currently communicate with customers, got to be yourself.

Derek Yeo from Tiger Airways: People who have good experiences don’t write in. Most people use SM channels to complain. If you are not in a position to manage your channel, your customers will get frustrated – they may build a community around their frustration.

Christina: Biggest fear is how to deal with negative responses. Be prepared to set aside infrastructure just to manage SM channels. Who monitors, response time, escalation chart, etc. Numbers become less important over time. More important to sustain the channel over time; it’s not a campaign. Integrate CSR initiatives, and marketing promotions into SM channels. SM as a means to get instantaneous response to initiatives.

Derek: SM is not a separate strategy. It’s about conversations and community. Give them positive things to talk about what you already do, like travel experiences. Think of how campaigns can go viral from the start.

Jeremy: Start from the point of end game – measurement and goals. What is it about? Leads, downloads?

Christina: One needs to have a story to tell. Don’t hard sell from the start. Talk about things that revolve around people’s interests – engage and be relevant, e.g., Christmas and Chinese New Year traditions, Wine pairing with traditional Asian dishes, Earth Day, etc. Listen to your audience.

Jeremy: Serious commitment needed over time. Unique content required – treat it like television programming. Give them something to return to all the time. ROI in a relationship is very hard to measure. Start with what you can measure (“last click”). Salesforce and Facebook Insights could help, but the Holy Grail is still out there.

Christina: How can one harness the passion of users. Some of them may respond on your behalf, even better than you could. That same passion can be directed against you as well.

Jeremy: Some measures like reduction in customer support costs can help. Companies may not start with these as measures, but see it materialising over time. Marketers need to take a leap of faith that they need to be part of the social environment, and develop metrics and benchmarks over time.

Derek: Do a brand tracking study before venturing into social media. 6 months after launch, do it again and see how far you have moved. Resources are needed to avoid “graveyard” pages (“you can’t have one person doing it”). Need evangelists from higher-up – engage and educate your own management.

[Updated: 1.05 pm] Social Media 2013 by Freddie Laker of Sapient Nitro. Hot trends: Social gaming, Location based services, Collective buying, Real time everything. What’s happening today:

  • Fundamental cultural shifts in what we find to be normal or acceptable about privacy.
  • Teens of today are growing up in a social-media driven world.
  • We’re building a global social brain. It’s our society’s collective communal intelligence.
  • Real-time search results become the norm.
  • Our social graph will impact the way we search and influencers will increase in importance.
  • Automated social agents (social media monitoring) will address basic customer services issues.
  • The TV experience goes social in unexpected ways (“check-in” to TV shows!)
  • Short term virtual worlds will become more common place.
  • Social Media enhanced reality – know everything about your contacts before you call them.
  • Social CRM will change CRM forever – social information added to your customer info on
  • Social makes your interactions “smarter” – Rapportive, Gist, etacts, etc.
  • Social shopping experiences on mobile will shift shopping behaviours – myShopanion.
  • Social networks will leverage their growing relevance as a platform for commerce – Facebook currency.

The Big opportunity lies in:

  • Redefining relevance through location-based services and Open Graph.
  • Expect location-based marketing to go mainstream, and more innovation.
  • Hyper-relevance: where and WHO you are. Bing and Facebook might bring semantic search to the web for Google.
  • China may release their own Open Graph – this will be important.
  • The Internet of Things – (powered by China?)

[Updated:  1240 pm] Kailesh Ambwani, CEO of FaceTime Communications on Legal and Technical Risks of Social Media. The Internet has changed from being a content and e-commerce platform to a communication and collaboration platform. Significant risks when social data is left unmanaged: data leakage (personal info, intellectual property, credit card etc.), incoming threats (malware, viruses, inappropriate content), compliance & eDiscovery (SEC, SOX), and user behaviour (employee productivity, bandwidth explosion). There are risks to brand and reputation: share prices may plummet (Zicam nasal spray issue broker over Twitter); potential loss of market share; negative impact on public perception of product or service quality. Socialite by FaceTime can help mitigate some of the damage and securely enable the use of social media with various forms of control.

[Updated: 1150 am] Ryan Lim from Blugrapes on Performance Marketing using Foursquare. Foursquare only has 3m users worldwide – still for early mass adopters. Location-based features are now readily available on smartphones. E.g., mobile-physical treasure hunt by Jimmy Choo. Location-based social marketing is operator neutral AND smartphone-neutral. Active offers for users who “walk-by” stores. Foursquare enables retail traffic accountability and it’s live data.

[Updated: 1140 am] Mahesh Murthy from Pinstorm on Key emerging social media technologies in India. State of India: 1.3b people, 650m mobile users. 84mil Internet users. All in English. And still growing at 100%. Internet usage up 113%. The big number is 20 m users (23m Facebook, 20m Orkut users, 20m SMSGupShup users, 18 m YouTube users). Orkut is more rural and male, FB is urban. So the user base is not the same. Social media over SMS – SMSGupShup. Medium number is 4 mil – 4.6m Twitter users, 4.3m LinkedIn users. Perhaps the only country where a minister got “tweeted” out of office! Small number is 1m – cut-off point for starting to get advertising, traction. Goodbye to the “Hindu rate of growth”. Yahoo India has grown 10%, Rediff India at 3%. Non-Hindu growth: Blogger 65%, LinkenIn 250%, FB 450% and Twitter 1000% CAGR per year. In social media, tracking is an issue. No platform can manage the scale of conversations.  Pinstorm built their own. Mass audience cannot be a reason for mass treatment. Software needed to manage responses, and satisfy compliance laws. There is a need to build customised sentiment meters, based on language of the users. Anyone can get numbers – “drive-by fan kidnappings” :). The real game is beyond numbers. It’s about engagement. Markets change by the day. Copywriters, not customer service reps (“scripts” don’t work in social media).

[Updated: 1125 am] Enda Nasution on the Rise of Indonesia in the global social media culture. Indonesia has passed UK as the 2nd largest group of Facebook users. It’s BIG – 1m at the beginning of 2009, 19m at the end of 2009 (ok, that’s astounding). Remote villagers with no electricity or PCs are on Facebook without realizing they are using the Internet (neat!) – all ‘cos of mobile. Indonesians are the top twitter users in Asia too. People tweet ‘cos they are stuck in traffic (steam off their anger, and get traffic updates too). And what’s best for marketers and bandwidth providers – all this is still under 15% of the total population. So things will only get bigger. And why are Indonesians so fond of Facebook and Twitter? Friends and families have always been important (Javanese saying: It doesn’t matter if you are hungry, as long as you are together.) Blackberry user base is huge in Indonesia (“Give me Blackberries, or give me death”). Mobile internet is getting cheaper and more personal. The middle class is on the rise, and they have something to say. Before social media, they did not have a channel to speak their minds. No time or will to protest. Now they can form a group in FB and use hash tags in Twitter. The social media culture wasn’t born instantly; at first many were bloggers. Social causes like Free Prita on Facebook used social media, and were well-supported by mainstream media. Wrapping up: there are exciting times ahead with a growing close-knit online industry in Indonesia.

[Updated: 10.50 am ] State of Social Media in Asia by Thomas Crampton from Ogilvy PR Worldwide, runs social media strategy for Ogilvy in APAC. Social sites increasingly dominate the Internet. We’re hitting a point of critical mass of digital natives (especially in China). They are creating global playgrounds; in some countries more friends online than offline (MTV survey). Digital immigrants are getting increasingly engaged. Women and men are taking part (more women may be doing social stuff, but men are kings of downloading). Asians enjoy creating content, and level of engagement is higher than the West (really? hmmm….). Asians search before buying. Asians share brand messages online. Asia’s social media landscape – great slide on diversity of social media ecosystems. Facebook is sweeping across South-east Asia (customised strategy works: high-quality mobile app made it easy to adopt in Indonesia – 2nd highest FB mobile user base; through gaming channels (Farmville!)) in Taiwan. Three countries with very interesting mobile ecosystems – India, Indonesia and Japan. In South Korea, all of life is mobile. Singapore is crazy about online video; they consume 10.5 hours on average per month. Facebook drives the growth of the social networking category in Vietnam. [Related stuff from B2Bento: 2010 State of Marketing (Singapore Industry Report)].

[Updated: 10.20 am] This is mostly B2C stuff; so skip if you’re not interested. Paul Borrud from Facebook keynote – Connecting the world and going social: Quick pop-quiz to rev up the audience – 150m users access Facebook via mobile; 3b photos uploaded; 700m minutes spent on Facebook per month. Facebook’s mission: give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Core customers are users, developers and brands. People over 35 form the fastest growing group and 64% of 25-34 year olds use FB more than email to communicate. In APAC, FB users spend 24.5 min per user each day’ 2.6 visits per day; 48% login daily. FB marketing platforms is about getting brands to be part of the social conversations: Pages make connections; Ads drive awareness and advocacy; Platforms create a social experience; and Measurement prove value. New ad model: Build a PageAdvertise to increase connections – Publish to your network. Engagement ads – Like, Polling, Video, Sampling ads. Word of mouth in the social context – fans increase campaign value. If you have 50K connections, 12% of the people you reach will see an ad with social context, the names of their friends. Marketing is about creating a story (highlights Nike’s FB campaign – Write the Future – during World Cup).  Measuring results: Gain insights through pages, and through partnership with Nielsen. What’s new: Questions (ask half a billion people and get answers); Social Plugins (furthering the sharing and connectivity vision – add a social layer to your existing sites); Places (see who’s checking in nearby, and tell your friends where you are and who you’re with, and generate a story in their News Feed – “markers on a timeline”). Whimsical video to introduce Places.

Key takeaways:

  • Social marketing is about relationships, period.
  • Social fits within a larger digital strategy.
  • Make it clear where to start.
  • Look around the corner.
  • 70% of content by users, 30% by the brand.
  • Be authentic – understand your language with your customers.


  • About China: like any country, there’s a smart way of entering any market, e.g., Japanese like to share blood groups on Facebook (!).
  • Leverage the passion of existing pages and fans; brands can continue to work with fans ‘creations into their “official” pages.

[Updated: 9.30 am] Full-house here at Suntec Convention Centre, Michael Netzley gets things going with a casual introduction, pitched perfectly at the nature of this conference. A great idea – speed networking. 10 minutes of getting know the people around you.


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