Monthly Archives: May 2013

“SG” are two letters in Instagram – Singapore businesses #caughtgramming

Video by JinnyboyTV of Malaysia. (Of course they’re on Instagram)

Considering how obsessed Asians – especially Singaporeans – are with taking photos of everything, especially food – it’s no surprise that a low-participation-cost tool like Instagram has gradually and fairly quietly gained immense popularity here. It is said from July 2011- July 2012, the growth in the share of visits to Instagram, for Singapore, was 8121%. (Though, frustratingly, it is not clear it is 8121% of what figure.)

instagram_logo_smallInstagram is owned by Facebook, and it would seem that the recent trend of youths abandoning Facebook has been partly because they’ve been drawn to Instagram instead. Unlike Facebook, Instagram is more focused in its agenda and simpler to participate in – snap, filter, tag, share.

In designing my Online Community Management for Social Media #issocm course, one of my foci is Singapore case studies. Specifically, case studies of Singapore companies using social media to drive community and engagement. During my research and in the course of using Instagram myself, I’ve found companies using Instagram to connect with customers, and quite effectively too. It’s a pleasure to see these companies find success in a way which is still not quite commonplace in Singapore. Here are some of the ones I’ve encountered:

Instagram G2000

G2000 Singapore (http://instagram.com/g2000singapore)

On their Facebook Page, G2000 Singapore showcases their Instagram feed in an app. First ‘gram went up on 28 Feb, 2013, and they currently have 412 followers. G2000’s Instagram features an attractive and colourful variety of photos, from fashion statements (both professionally taken as well as informally posed), glimpses of lifestyle and modern living, humour as well as the occasional inspiring quote. (“Being male is a matter of birth, being a man is a matter of age, but being a gentleman is a matter of choice.”). All in all, an impressive presence on Instagram. #g2000

G2000’s social media presence is handled by Vocanic, Singapore.

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Instagram obolosg

Obolo Cafe (http://instagram.com/obolosg)

Sometime in September 2012, I sat down at Obolo Cafe, and ordered a Yuzu Cheesecake. My friend had a Cassis. It was while we were both instagramming our cakes, as any true Singaporean would, that I noticed Obolo had an Instagram presence. “Tag us #obolosg to get featured” is the instruction. With nearly 1600 followers, Obolo has been ‘gramming since then in September 2012 (though one notes that their follower:following ratio is inverse, with some 5 times more following). Besides the usual food photos (lots of macaroons), Obolo also features customers and staff, and discount deals as well as job openings. There’s also a quaint Instagram of their humble beginnings. #obolosg

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Instagram nutrifirst

Nutrifirst Pte Ltd (http://instagram.com/nutrifirst)

Nutrifirst, a health & fitness supplements company, calls upon customers to “tag us @nutrifirst if you wish us to repost your photo and stand a chance to get a one time sponsorship!” A win-win scenario taken up by mostly men, apparently, involved in bodybuilding/training, as seen on their Instagram feed. Instagrammers get to show off their muscles, receive gifts from Nutrifirst, and advertise the company’s product at the same time. Their first Instagram was posted on 24 April 2013, but the account currently has over 500 followers, which is not bad for a month’s work. #nutrifirst

Nutrifirst also has an impressive Facebook page boasting over 30,000 fans.

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Instagram NLB PLS

Public Library Services, National Library Board (http://instagram.com/publiclibrarysg)

(Not a commercial business, but worthy of mention). I used to work at the NLB, a member of the Digital and Knowledge Services division where I worked on social media/online engagement and knowledge sharing services. Their Marketing folks have always been proactive on social media and it is with no surprise that I found them on Instagram. The Public Library Services, which handle all the libraries except the National Library at Bugis, have 616 followers to-date and post a great variety of Instagrams, from featured books to various promotions, events, happenings involving the public libraries, visitors young and old, and even art. Among the very useful things they post are notices on the days the libraries are closed. All in all, a very lively and useful account to follow if you’re a frequent library visitor. Tag @publiclibrarysg to get their attention.

The NLB is also responsible for the Singapore Memory Project, also on Instagram (below) with the handle and hashtag #iremembersg.

instagram iremembersg

I’m pretty sure I’ve only scratched the surface.  I feel that in Singapore, where many smaller businesses may not have taken full advantage of social media yet, Instagram is a viable opportunity, or at the very least, a good platform for testing the waters.  For one thing, it’s a heck of a lot easier to explain than Twitter! Instagram is:

  • Free
  • Lost cost of participation – for both yourself and for followers.
  • Already popular among Singaporeans, especially the 18-29 demographic.
  • Relatively “light” and clean engagement. Compared to Facebook or Twitter, Instagram crises are almost unheard of.
  • Attractive, being entirely focused on the visual.
  • With diligent hashtagging and geotagging, you can quickly build up content and engagement around your social as well as physical “locations”.

All you need is someone among your staff who has a good taste in filters.

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instagram logo small

Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/dustofhue

Online Community Management for Social Media Course (Jul/Sep/Dec 2013) #issocm

I’m developing an Online Community Management course at the Institute of Systems Science, National University of Singapore. Do check it out – if you find yourself attending, we’ll be certainly playing with Instagram hands-on. #issocm.

Online Community Management for Social Media Short Course at the Institute of Systems Science, NUS

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Google Glass is an Inevitable Technology (Just Like Social Media)

Since its debut, Google Glass has had its fair share of raves….. and a lot more ranting. It is absolutely, completely, utterly, 100%-ly NOT surprising that the first thing people jumped on is the issue of privacy. It’s been talked about, debated, speculated upon (with suspicion), fingers pointed at, and is still being questioned.

But you know what? Despite all these threats to the technology’s viability, I believe it will still win in the end. This is because, Google Glass represents an Inevitable Technology. It is a technological concept, like radio, screens, wireless internet, rechargeable power sources, recycling and not forgetting social media, that makes sense. So long as you take away the “petty” concerns, the idea makes so much sense and has so much true value that it is inevitable that it must exist.

scifi contact lens
Life imitates sci-fi as contact lens displays inch closer to reality (2009)

Granted, Google Glass is not perfect – and by “Inevitable” I do not say it is perfect. The idea is inevitable, not this particular manifestation of the idea. The idea that we will wear information displays on our head, before our eyes, is as inevitable as the idea that the phone must leave behind its wires to the wall (and go mobile).

So, while people continue to debate the problems of Google Glass, the technology will not die. It will get better and better, until either one day the privacy/security issues are resolved, or the value the technology provides so far outweighs the alleged dangers, that no one cares anymore. Like how we continue to “ignore” the danger of mobile phones microwaving our brains; like how we continue our addiction to social media despite all its privacy issues.

So I say, be patient – don’t strike off the technological concept just because its firstborn manifestation is imperfect. Google knows this, and that’s why it’s always, for want of a better term, trying stuff. Google has a reputation for rolling out controversial services and eventually shutting them down. Many see this as a weakness and laugh. But I see in them a spirit of innovation. We tend to forget that many others are not shut down but continue to evolve. Whether or not the Google Glass as a device will be killed in the future, I am not certain. But the technological concept (info display on eyepiece/eye), I still believe is here to stay. Google may have to face the brunt of privacy advocates’ rants, but – at least they tried the innovation. Dare you?

Some technologies are fads, some are too far ahead of its time, others are born immature; some will die, others are inevitable.

Online Community Management – the Unobvious Job

What’s the difference between “Social Media Management” and “Online Community Management”? Is it the same thing?

The term “online community management” is still relatively new in Singapore. And that’s one reason why I’m writing this.

Though perhaps the concept isn’t new – isn’t it basically social media management? Yes and no. Social media management is, simplistically, the running of social media channels, everything from setting up Pages and accounts, tweeting, curating and posting content to reporting   metrics. Its activities are centred around the channel – in a sense, it is channel-centric.

It is implicit in “social media management” that managing the fans, followers and members is involved. That’s where online community management has its focus. It’s in the people in your community, people whom you want to engage, people for whom you want to get a sustained positive response.  So, in a sense, online community management is a part of social media management, inasmuch as social media marketing is part of digital marketing.

I believe the main reason the term “online community manager” is only just beginning to take root in Singapore is that until recently, the focus of most organizations has really been exactly about social media as (marketing) channels, with community management as a secondary concern.

The Obvious vs the Un-Obvious Job

It is inevitable that as companies gain a better grasp of social media channels, they run into issues that are specifically more about online community management. Like the “webmaster” of the past, it will gain importance as the jack-of-all-trades character who is not just doing the obvious thing (“running the Facebook page”) but also the less obvious thing (“managing fans and driving engagement”)

Source: http://www.freshnetworks.com/blog/2011/01/community-manager-appreciation-day-pros-and-cons-of-community-management/
The Online Community Manager is sometimes called a “one-man team” or “crazy madness”. Source: http://www.freshnetworks.com/blog/2011/01/community-manager-appreciation-day-pros-and-cons-of-community-management/

We might argue that not every online community is on social media. For example, the discussion community around a popular blog might not be considered social media (especially since these existed before “social media” did).

Regardless, it’s fair to say that social media management and online community management have many things in common. But here are some ways to differentiate them.

Note: These are not exclusive differences. Social Media Management has some aspects of Online Community Management, and vice versa. The points below are an attempt to differentiate their foci, not to divide the two disciplines. They really do share a lot in common.

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If you would like to learn more about my thoughts on
Online Community Management, do check out my OCM course
at the Institute of Systems Science, NUS. </end self-promo>

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Focus

  • Social Media Management focuses on the channel. “We want to grow our Facebook fanbase.”
  • Online Community Management (OCM) focuses on the people. “We want to make our Facebook fans happy and engaged.”

Consider: it’s possible to have a social media channel with tens of thousands of fans/followers, but little engagement.

Channel

  • Social Media Management is often channel-specific. “We engage fans on Facebook and Twitter.”
  • OCM is in principle channel-agnostic. “We engage fans. Wherever they are.”

Consider: Many companies start off by saying they want to “get on Facebook” (or the like), not “We must engage fans”.

Target Segment

  • Social Media Management uses marketing to gain new fans. The objective is to bring new fans in.
  • OCM “uses” its community to market to itself. It focuses on keeping fans within.

Consider: social media campaigns often use marketing tactics, such as marketing lingo and giveaways, to attract new fans, while the professionals involved (they could even be the same ones) are tasked to focus on content and engagement to keep existing fans engaged.

KPIs

  • Social Media Management ultimately is often designed to drive a hard business objective. E.g. sales
  • OCM wants to drive participation, interaction, discussion and other means of engagement. Typically these are considered a means to an end (the end being a business objective)

Consider: management often grills social media teams as to what is their ROI, and how do they benefit sales. When a crisis occurs online, management asks how the team will handle it – the latter is a matter of OCM since it involves pacifying a community; whereas the former is about marketing/bottom line.

…. and so on.

All points are entirely arguable. This is no attempt to define the two terms definitively. It’s just food for thought for those of us trying, perhaps, to make an un-obvious job a little more obvious, a little better appreciated.

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Thanks for reading to the end! Once again, allow me to introduce my
Online Community Management 2-day course starting from July,
at the Institute of Systems Science, National University of Singapore. Care to join up? 

Online Community Management for Social Media Short Course at the Institute of Systems Science, NUS