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August 4th, 2011 by Mythreyi Krishnan under Commentary

Influence metrics for B2C brands

As the prevalence and influence of social media on consumer behaviour grows, it has become vital for brands to track conversations online and derive meaningful insights that will aid the decision making process. Other than numbers and figures for ROI purposes, monitoring can also provide brands with data on influencers. Influencers can range from ‘blue chip’ sites like the New York Times, which is relied on for information on media, politics and news, to individuals such as Perez Hilton, whose gossip blog is considered an authority on celebrities and entertainment.Increasingly, consumers are looking for product reviews online and listening to what users recommend. Therefore, it is important for brands to identify among these users, those who are potent influencers.

There are numerous influence metrics systems popping up everyday some becoming popular with your everyday social savvy individual as well. One such example is Klout, which takes into account the numer of twitter followers you have, the number of times you are retweeted as well as your facebook network to give you a Klout Score ranging from 1 to 100.

Take the Dalai Lama for instance. According to Klout , he has a score of 86 with an influence on 758,000 people. In terms of the topics he is influential about, it ranges from celebrities (suprisingly) to more expectedly, religion and spirituality. Klout also allows users to specifically identify who the Dalai Lama most influences, ranging from organizations to individuals.


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These metrics prove useful for various reasons. First, identifying influential people in your brand’s sphere and getting them to say positive things about you gives you invaluable positive buzz. Secondly, you can target a particular segment of users effectively if you can identify who is influencing them. However, companies should refrain from relying singly on such metrics as they do not take into account other factors such as sentiment. The influence score fluctuates up and down based on how much you are talked about on the twitter sphere, so it could be dangerous to label someone as highly influential as the score is based on data that is constantly changing and could be affected by misleading jolts. For example, negative posts about a person could drive up their influence score because they are creating buzz. However this does not equal influence in terms of being able to cause positive action . In conjunction with other metrics such as sentiment analysis and analysing actual data that the metric tool records, companies can get a better picture of who is truly influential.

July 18th, 2011 by Mythreyi Krishnan under Commentary

Social commerce revolutionizing online shopping

We already share information, debate politics, discuss our favorite celebrity’s latest antics and even make plans for dinners and birthdays on our social networks. They have become highly integrated in our daily lives to the point where many of us have become addicted to the F5 key, constantly hungry for updates. So it seems like a natural progression as shopping too enters the social world.

Online shopping is not a new concept , but integrating social elements into the experience is a new twist that is being embraced worldwide. Social shopping services are tech heavy relying on the prevalence of social media and technologies like smart phones and tablets. Another factor spurring social commerce is the fact that we are highly influenced by opinions originating in our social networks. Word of mouth buzz online can make or break a brand! For instance, a 2010 study conducted in the US revealed that 17% of respondents had used a social shopping site to buy something and more than 60% of all respondents had heard of or registered at these sites. 17% might not seem that big but this trend is sure to catch on with internet penetration increasing rapidly in developing countries and more such services springing up every day.

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In terms of demographics, it’s the 18-34 age group that is most actively buying socially whilst those earning over $100,000 annually spending the most.

Group buying

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past couple of months, you might have heard of Groupon, arguably the most successful daily deal provider. Services like Groupon and LivingSocial provide cheap deals everyday and receive a lot of air time on twitter and facebook as users have shown a penchant for sharing these deals with their friends on social platforms.

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Integration

Users are able to connect their facebook accounts to their amazon accounts to get access to product recommendations, based on their own data, as well as friends’ profiles and preferences. This feature could come in handy when you are trying to buy gifts for friends. In addition, you can also get information on birthdays and access their friends’ wish lists.

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Real time shopping

Labels like French connection have been quick to adapt social commerce. They’ve cleverly turned their YouTube channel into Youtique, an online boutique where customers can browse through videos showcasing their latest collections.

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From the comfort of their homes, customers simply need to click the “Buy” pop up buttons which will then lead them to the website page with details about the product, where they can make the purchase.

With Social commerce catching on quickly, it is important for brands to integrate their customer’s shopping experience with the social networks they use. Not only will this bring more traffic but also pull in new customers via recommendations and the like.

June 15th, 2011 by Mythreyi Krishnan under Commentary

Social media across Asia : Indonesia

Indonesia, the 4th largest country in the world and one of the most populous also happens to be a huge social media fan. The nation is particularly obsessed with Twitter and is home to the 2nd highest number of users in Asia, according to comSCORE. A staggering 20.8% of internet users in Indonesia visited Twitter.com in January. It is estimated that Indonesian users make up for 15% of all tweets globally and are the sixth biggest twitter user base in the world.

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As for facebook, Indonesia has the 2nd highest number of users in the world. This isn’t surprising as internet is mostly used for social networking, photo sharing and watching videos by Indonesia netizens. A breakdown of the trending topics from January 2011 shows that conversations online mostly revolve around entertainment including soccer, music, television shows etc.

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Source : Silang Silang

However, social media has also evolved into another role, that of a social watchdog. Indonesians are harnessing their social networks to speak out about everyday issues including politics and civic issues. For instance, when Michelle Obama shook hands with a conservative Muslim minister on an official visit to the country, this seemingly small incident sent the twitter sphere buzzing with many criticizing the minister and accusing him of being hypocritical to traditional Islamic customs.

In another case, when the Social Services minister was spotted driving his car in a dedicated ‘bus only lane’, an alert passerby promptly snapped a photo and uploaded it on twitter. More than 10000 views and numerous angry comments later, the minister responded accepting full responsibility and agreeing to pay the fine voluntarily. A more positive example is the “Save Jakarta” movement on twitter which encourages ordinary citizens to point out problems they were facing in the city everyday and make suggestions for improvement. This became an instant viral hit and empowered faceless online citizens to take charge of their city.

Interestingly, internet users in Indonesia surf the net and connect with each other more using their smartphones, the main reason being that it’s cheap! With the three main telecommunications companies in the country constantly butting heads over market share, service plans are very affordable especially in comparison to home broadband plans which can cost up to $100 monthly. Coupled with the advent of affordable smartphones from China, Indonesian users are spoilt for choice.

Currently, there are 31 million users who make up an eighth of the 242 million strong population. By 2015, this is predicted to rise to 94 million users. It goes without  saying that marketers are taking full advantage of this new medium to reach out to all sections of the population.

June 2nd, 2011 by Mythreyi Krishnan under Commentary

Twitter-Tweetdeck : It’s official

After a few weeks of ‘will they-wont they’ speculation about Twitter and tweetdeck, it was officially confirmed last week. Twitter is all set to acquire Tweedeck, a third party interface, for $40 million US (SGD $49.8 million)

Tweetdeck is a start up based in London that allows users to customize their tweeting experience by integrating twitter with other social platforms such as foursquare and facebook onto a single dashboard, enabling them to “tweet like a pro“. Although the startup could not turnover a profit until now, endorsements from the likes of celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher, has made it very popular among twitter users.

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Throughout May, there was a lot of discussion online regarding the potential takeover. In the last few days, since it was made official, there is still a lot of buzz proving how popular tweetdeck is among twitter users. In the span of 4 days, the JamiQ social media monitoring tool recorded close to 1600 entries with the buzz peaking on May 26th, the day after the deal was announced.

As for how people feel about this so called social media shake-up, we can look to the sentiment analysis.

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For the most part, the online community expressed mixed feelings about the deal with some stating that the “Tweetdeck deal may signal Twitter becoming less open” while others were questioning whether Twitter would eliminate Tweetdeck altogether (they did buy tweetdeck…. to kill or not to kill………… that is the ?… i do hope they keep it. OR learn from it. @twitter). Others were outright negative taking jabs at the platform itself, with one user sayingTwitter doesn’t seem to do a terribly good job with their own apps. No wonder they had to buy Tweetdeck and others. Another chimed in with “If Twitter had 40 mil to buy tweetDeck, they should have the money to hire some decent coders”

And as usual, the ones with a lighter view brought some humour to the discussion, adding that “#RandomThoughts Glad that @Twitter got to buy @TweetDeck. Now we know who to blame when mentions insist on not loading”

June 1st, 2011 by Mythreyi Krishnan under Commentary

Social media across Asia : China

In countries across Asia, young people have made similar number friends offline as they have made online. But, in China, youngsters actually have made a larger pool of friends online as a combination of socio-economic factors coupled with higher rate of internet penetration has led to a union of online and offline lives. Due to rural-urban migration many youngsters are separated from their families and find social networking a convenient way to keep in touch with those back home. Another reason often cited is the one child policy which has resulted in most young people growing up in single child homes. Social media has given them a chance to connect to people and share information on a daily basis.

Note that compared to internationally popular sites like facebook, myspace, YouTube and twitter, home-grown social networking sites are used heavily by the Chinese population. After the government disabled these platforms, numerous home-grown clone sites sprung up catering to various segments of the market. Some sites are more popular among 1st tier cities while others cater to 2nd and lower tiered cities. Accordingly, preference varies according to age as well. Techrice used their data to come up with the distribution across segments shown below.

China segmented

Qzone : Launched in 2005, this is the biggest site in terms of number of users which ranges anywhere between 300-480 million registered users according to various reports. Users are able to write blogs, keep an online diary and listen to music. This site is most popular among 2nd tier and 3rd tier cities in China.

Pengyou : Launched by the same company as Qzone, Pengyou meaning “friend” caters to both students and white collar workers. Pengyou is a networking platform for friends in real life whereas Qzone is mostly a network for instant messaging friends on QQ, the most popular IM platform in China.

Renren : this site has around 160 million registered users and is still growing. It is very popular among young people in 1st and 2nd tier cities, especially university students. It started off as Xiaonei.com, and was considered a carbon coby of Facebook with similar layout and the trademark shade of blue. Now, Renren has gained its own place in the social media space in China with 31 million active users monthly. In April 2011, it filed for an IPO in the US offering shares on the NYSE raising over US$743 million dollars.

Kaixin001: Another facebook clone that became one of the fastest growing sites in China by launching apps and games that is available on facebook. Kaixin, unlike Renren is targeted at the white collar worker who spends upto 9 hours in front of the computer each day. Accordingly the user interface is simpler and designed to be more intuitive to use.

Some unique usage patterns

  • Chinese netizens are the most likely to share a negative product review online. 62% of them attested to this compared to the global average of 41%
  • Personal: 1. Staying in touch is the most frequent use of social media 2.Read content 3.Make new friend
  • Business use: 1. Highlight personal expertise 2. Build network contacts  3. Identify lead
  • Chinese state-owned companies have been a late and slow adopter of social media compared to Chinese private firms and foreign subsidiaries in China.

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According to a report last year, China has close to 460 million internet users with 34.3% internet penetration. This is up 19.1% from 2009 and still growing. With such a massive pool of potential consumers, the scope for monitoring is boundless. Web analytics is still shaky in China but monitoring what this community says about your brand is essential for any company.  According to a Nielson poll, Chinese netizens are the most likely to share a negative product review online, 62% of them attested to this compared to the global average of 41%. With stats like these, it would be prudent to have a constant eye on one of the most lucrative online communities in the world.

May 30th, 2011 by Mythreyi Krishnan under Commentary

Digital media trends 2011: Asia Pacific

The good folks at Edelman have recently released data on the use of social media in the Asia Pacific region for 2011. It is perhaps expected, that Facebook features as the most popular networking platform across most countries. In China, Renren rules whereas Twitter and Cyworld are the most popular in Japan and South Korea respectively. Overall, Facebook seems to be the common denominator across the region. However, it is interesting to note that there is variance in regards to what each community uses the internet to do. For instance, more than 90% of Vietnamese netizens read and write blogs whereas only 50.7% of Indians spend time on the blogosphere, preferring to use the internet for social networking.

In order to delve deeper into these variances, we will be studying one country each week to explore how and why people use social media. We will also look at trends pertaining to that particular region and what this means for companies and brands operating there.

Look out for our upcoming feature on China!

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May 24th, 2011 by Mythreyi Krishnan under Commentary

Should HR integrate Social Media Monitoring tools into screening processes?

Whether you’re looking for a job or want to keep the one you have,HR professionals would advise you to follow one golden rule when it comes to using Social Media: Never say anything online that you would be uncomfortable saying in person. Take note because a large portion of hiring managers take your online persona as seriously as they do your resume and credentials. In fact, many companies have formal policies in place that require HR managers to look for information online about employees.

Some companies have taken this to the next level by using social media monitoring tools to filter potential candidates as well as track current employees. The rationale behind this move is that employees are brand ambassadors. Thus, they are required to be responsible digital citizens who will uphold their own reputations as well their employers’. As for potential candidates, HR managers say that monitoring tools are a great way to screen and filter. For instance, something as simple as a spelling mistake could be considered a red flag. Listed below are the top reasons why employers disregard candidates during online screening

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On the other side, it is natural to wonder whether this is pushing things too far. Images of Big Brother come to mind when we imagine every facebook “like” or Linkedin status update being monitored and judged. Also, we should consider the fact that personal information, such as your political affiliation, religion or even looks, could be used in a discriminatory manner.

Overall, it is valid for the company to require employees to act appropriately on Social networks but they should make sure this information is used in a safe and confidential manner. Moreover, HR professionals should understand that monitoring should be only be used to understand the candidate better, it should not be relied upon entirely when hiring someone. As for employees and potential candidates, they should take care to be responsible online, avoid common pitfalls and always follow the golden rule.

May 19th, 2011 by Mythreyi Krishnan under Commentary

Measuring Reactions to the M1 Outage

#M1Outage has been trending on twitter since yesterday as frustrated M1 customers have taken to social media to rant about disrupted services . Using the JamiQ social media monitoring tool, we tracked this hot topic.Unsurprisingly, we saw a dramatic increase across all three telcos , with M1 being the most talked about. Starhub and Singtel spiked as tweets comparing the three providers were blasted out by irate users, with M1 coming up short.

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M1 also released two press statements on their facebook page assuring subscribers that they are trying to fix the problem and thanking customers for their patience. These received more than 700 comments, many of them negative.

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With an angry tweet just a click away in Tech-Savvy Singapore , service providers like M1 have to make sure their customers are satisfied if they want their reputation intact.

May 18th, 2011 by Mythreyi Krishnan under Commentary

Tracking the Microsoft-Skype deal

A little more than a week ago, speculation about Microsoft’s plans to acquire skype began spreading all over the blogosphere. Once the deal was made official on May 10th, this speculation snowballed into frenzy – there was immense interest and activity online centred around this topic. Using our social media monitoring tool, we tracked all this activity for the past week to find out what people are saying and how they feel about this announcement.

Here’s a visual perspective of frequently appearing keywords.

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Click on the image for bigger picture

It is worth noting that keywords such as Baidu and China also came up as there is already more speculation about Microsoft’s next major acquisition – Baidu, the number one Search Engine in China, with 63% market share as of 2010. Other than that, there was also much talk about how skype was all set to acquire a Swedish start-up called MyWidz before the Microsoft buy out.

The reason why there is so much interest in the deal is because many of us use skype regularly; In fact, it’s so popular that “skype” is now a verb just like “google”. So, it’s no surprise that people are starting to wonder how this deal will affect their skyping experience from now on. Perhaps the most interesting angle to explore here is ‘how do people actually feel about this deal?’. We used the JamiQ sentiment detection tool to find out.

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Media types sentiment

May 13th, 2011 by Mythreyi Krishnan under Commentary

Social Media : Friend or Foe?

If you just read the title of this post and went “Huh?” let me remind you that Social media is not always as wonderful as it is made out to be. On the one hand, it allows companies and brands to directly engage with their customers and give them instant updates. On the other hand, these very benefits could come back to bite your head off if your social media efforts are mismanaged.

Honda Crosstour

Let me tell you the story of Honda. In 2010, they released photos of their product, the Accord Crosstour through their facebook page expecting to revel in the fanfare around their big launch. Unfortunately, for Honda, the fans on their page were none too pleased with the design of the vehicle and made no qualms about expressing this.

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Social media offers the best real time reactions from consumers a brand could ever ask for but what happens when these reactions are largely negative? One way of looking at it is to say “Hey, it’s free publicity, at least people care enough about the product and the brand to say something”. On the other side, it is a very real possibility that your sales could be adversely affected because of it.

In Honda’s case, the backlash did not stop there.  Among the sea of negative comments, Eddie Okubo posted the comment below without disclosing his affinity with the company.

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He was called out for astroturfing* and although Honda tried to do some damage control by deleting select posts and comments on their page, this incident will remain a cautionary tale for all.

*”Astroturfing” is the act of trying to boost one’s image online with fake comments, paid-for reviews, made-up claims and testimonials.

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