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Thursday 22 July 2010

The Ups and Downs of Social Networks

Facebook has announced that it now has 500m active users, just six years after it was launched. The site has become the poster child of social networking on the web. While some others have seen growth, MySpace, Flickr and Bebo appear to have declined in the past year, according to these figures from Nielsen. Interesting international variations are seen, both in the amount of time Facebook users spend on the site each month and in the competing networks' popularity in different countries.

You can see the original published article at

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Four Key Trends in Australian Social Marketing

The team over at Ogilvy's 360 Digital Influence group recently took a look at the Australian social media landscape. They came up with four very compelling trends:

Australians spend the most time worldwide consuming social media. With almost 7 hours per month spent in social media they "out-social" the US, UK and Italy (one to watch btw). If you factor in the relative population size that puts 17 million users online (80% of the population with 62% via broadband) vs. about 230 million US users or almost 77% of the population).

The social network story is dominated by Facebook. And before we say "duh!" remember that in many Internet-rich countries around the world like Brazil, Japan and Russia, Facebook is not the leader. In Australia, no one stands in Facebook's path towards commanding mass-attention, even the 55+ crowd in Australia is jumping on board.

The biggest gain in year-over-year change in social media usage is interacting with a brand via social networks. That means Facebook and Twitter. Australian consumers are willing to engage with brands via these platforms just as readily as in the United States.

The under 35 crowd wants to access social networks like Facebook and Twitter via their mobile device. With 89% SMS penetration and 20% Web access via mobile (and likely 20% smart phone penetration), all eyes should be on developing the mobile experience for brands.

Australia has its own path towards adoption of social media and it will likely leapfrog other countries including the US in terms of how brands take advantage of their particular usage.

You can read the full Blog posting here.

Online Shopping Rising in Asia with 60% of Shoppers Influenced by Social Media

By Kristie Thong, Marketing Magazine. 13th July 2010.
  • Asia Pacific consumers most active online shoppers
  • Online-only retail sites most popular
  • 60% use social media sites to make purchasing decisions
Consumers in the Asia Pacific are the world's most active online shoppers, with more than a third indicating they spend 11% of their monthly shopping expenditures online.

A recent global Online Shopping Report by The Nielsen Company finds Asia Pacific consumers direct more of their shopping expenditure online than the global average. 35% of Asia Pacific consumers direct 11% to online spend, as compared to the 27% global average. Only 13% of Asia Pacific consumers say they had never shopped online, compared to 16% globally.

Online-only retail sites are most popular among Asia Pacific online consumers, with close to one third of them reporting to have made online purchases from retail sites with an online-only presence. Meanwhile, 30% say they frequent sites which allowed them to select products from many different stores.

"Technology and the Internet will very likely fundamentally change how and where shoppers spend their money and interact with retailers," says Pete Gale, managing director of Nielsen's Retailer Services in APIMEA and Greater China.

"Increasingly, as consumers look for more convenience and 24/7 access to products and services, this is a great opportunity for retailers to redefine their channel strategy in order to meet the changing needs and wants of consumers."

Sixty percent of Asia Pacific consumers use social media sites to help them make purchase decisions, compared to 43% globally. Asia Pacific consumers indicate that online reviews and opinions are most important when purchasing consumer electronics, cosmetics and cars.

Asia Pacific consumers are also most likely to share a negative product experience online, with 49% saying they are more likely to give a negative review than a positive experience. This tendency is highest among consumers in China (62%), Vietnam (46%), Singapore and India (both 44%).

"Any organisation offering a consumer product or service in today's marketplace is open to scrutiny from every angle, and it is critical that these organisations not only understand those consumers, but effectively engage and communicate with them," advises Megan Clarken, Asia Pacific managing director of Nielsen's online division.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Social Media Dominates Asia Pacific Internet Usage

Great statistics from July 9, 2010.

Social media usage has seen unprecedented growth in Asia Pacific in the past year and is now one of the most critical trends in the online sector, according to Nielsen’s Asia Pacific Social Media Report.

The survey found that three of the seven biggest global online brands are social media sites – Facebook, Wikipedia and YouTube. Close to three quarters of the world’s Internet population (74%) have now visited a social networking/blogging site, and Internet users are spending an average of almost six hours per month on social media sites.

Social media is having an increasing impact on consumers’ purchasing decisions – in Asia Pacific, online product reviews are the third most trusted source of information when making purchase decisions, behind family and friends. This is particularly so for purchases of consumer electronics, cosmetics and cars – products where consumers are most likely to base their purchase decisions on online product reviews. But not ever country shares the same way.


Blogging… it’s Big in Japan
  • Japanese Internet users are the most avid bloggers globally, posting more than one million blogs per month, significantly more than any other country in the region.
  •  Japan’s adoption of Twitter continues to grow, with unique visitor numbers increasing in the last year from less than 200,000 to more than 10 million.
  • Sixteen percent of Japanese Internet users now use Twitter, which compares to 10 percent in the U.S.

 Grass roots celebrities attract China’s social networkers
  • Bulletin board systems underpin popular social media behavior in China – more than 80 percent of social media content is bulletin board systems.
  • Social media games are used as a stimuli to drive new users and gain reach with existing users, while content sharing behaviors are more popular among the more experienced users. Virtual product placement within social networking site games is becoming one of the most profitable methods of revenue for social networking sites.
  • ‘Grass roots’ celebrity tracking dominates online conversations in China, with social media celebrities such as Sister Phoenix and Mr. Yuan outperforming real life celebrities in popularity.
  • Chinese Internet users are the most likely in Asia Pacific to post a negative online product review, and are the only consumers in the region more likely to share negative reviews than positive reviews – 62% of Chinese Internet users say they are more likely to share a negative review compared to 41 percent globally.
Facebook threatens Orkut’s share in India
  • Although 70 percent of social media users in India identify Orkut as their preferred social media site, Facebook is gaining market share with 50 percent of social media users claiming to use Facebook most often, compared to 38 percent for Orkut, with the most common reasons for switching include friends moving sites, preferring the look and feel of the site, and offering more features.
  • Twitter has enjoyed exponential growth in popularity in India, with more than half of Twitter users (57%) having signed up in the past year. Close to one third of India’s social media users (32%) use microblogging sites such as Twitter at least once a day.
  • Online product reviews are increasing their influence on purchases in India, particularly for consumer electronics – 55 percent of Indians that read online product reviews have purchased products based on feedback. Consumer durables/electronics are the most common products purchased based on reviews (64% of purchases).
Koreans a-buzz about social media
  • By population, Korea is one of the most social media engaged countries in the world, with the country’s leading social media site, Naver, attracting 95 percent of the Korean Internet population every month.
  • While penetration of social media amongst Korea’s Internet population is already strong, it continues to grow (Twitter alone saw 1900% growth in the year to May 2009) with much of this growth coming off the back of Korea’s June election and the adoption of mobile social networking.
Australians flock to online forums

  • Australia leads the world in social media engagement, with the highest global average for time spent per month engaging with social media, averaging over seven hours per month
  • In contrast to many countries, Australians look to communities of interest such as parenting or sports sites as a key channel for social media discussion – 62 percent of Australian Internet users visited a message board or forum in 2009.
  • LinkedIn has seen one of the fastest growth trends amongst social media sites in Australia, with unique audience numbers increasing by 99 percent from July 2009 to May 2010
“The findings highlight, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that social media is here to stay and needs to be taken seriously by the broader business community, from the CMO to the CEO,” notes Megan Clarken, Managing Director of Nielsen’s online business in Asia Pacific. “With three quarters of the global Internet population now participating in some form of social media, businesses can no longer afford to simply observe the social media phenomenon, they need to embrace it.”

Friday 2 July 2010

Interview for Mobile Marketing Asia 2010

What are some of the challenges that companies are facing when it comes to mobile marketing?

One of the big challenges with mobile marketing is that it’s so hard to find a way to monetize it. At Dell, our marketing is very much driven by vehicles with a strong return on investment – search, affiliate and email marketing and we’re trying to figure out where mobile fits within this landscape. Undoubtedly mobile is a wonderful platform for branding and developing deeply engaging experiences but can it be adapted for sales-centric marketing?

What are some of the tricks and strategies for successful mobile integrated campaigns?

I really see that there’s only three forms of mobile marketing – text messaging/SMS, advertising on mobile Internet/WAP sites and mobile applications. In terms of media, mobile hasn’t yet lived up to the promise of geo-targeting or being able to market to an individual level (a one-on-one discussion with a specific person) but these are two big opportunities. I think the big area to look at is mobile applications. Recently I’ve noticed the banks getting into mobile banking (taking the functionality of Internet banking and reimagining it for mobile device) and I strongly believe this is the biggest area of growth.

Could you please give us an example of how marketers should cohesively mix mobile, online and social media for customer engagement?

Online and mobile are two very different customer experiences – PC-based online browsing is wonderful for research and undertaking complex tasks (such as filling in long applications forms or e-commerce) in an open and somewhat anonymous world, while mobile is a hyper personal tool built around yourself, your loved ones and friends (think about what you use for mobile for and you’ll realize the voice calls, text and sharing content with your friends is the epicenter of what you do). In fact, mobile has a lot more to do with social media than other forms of digital marketing. Both are mediums that know who you are, are about two-way sharing information and content with friends and are increasingly focused on useful and engaging applications. You don’t often see “integrated marketing campaigns” across online, web and mobile. They don’t really exist except at the broadest and most generic brand marketing levels. What is really interesting however, is the role of each medium and how they work together. For example, an email marketing campaign that sends a customer to a website for more information, where the customer then downloads a mobile application and then shares this information with friends via mobile and social media. Each is a different yet complementary part of the same marketing cycle all working in tandem for a great customer experience.

What are some of the strategies that marketers should do in order to get customers to ‘Opt-in’ for permission based advertising?

People don’t like or respond to advertising. But they love and frequently engage with information! The secret here is that they’re the same thing, as long as they’re positioned correctly. Opting-in to information that you want to receive is really straightforward. If the information is relevant and engaging, people will naturally seek it out and sign up for it. The challenge is in how you make them aware of it in the first place, or can demonstrate that it’s valuable and useful before they sign up. One option is to give the information away for free for a while then ask them to opt-in to the marketing program. This is definitely better than trying to pay someone to join (either through incentives, competitions or similar activities). Money talks but doesn’t leave a lasting impression – so many incentivized customers who opt into marketing programs usually opt out soon afterwards. So for long term success simply talk to your customers, ask them what they want and respond accordingly. I think you’ll be surprised by the result.

With mobile marketing expecting to take off, what will be the role of telecom operators in the mobile marketing mix?

There are three types of players who are trying to get a slice of the pie in mobile marketing – telcos, device manufacturers and content providers. Right now the content providers are king but the device manufacturers have a seat at the table too. That leaves the poor telco companies out in the cold. But they have a wonderful advantage – they have all your data, usage information and know who you are. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like they’ve been able to take advantage of this because there is a separation of the access plan (the telco) with the device and it’s usage. Companies like Apple, Nokia and Blackberry/Research in Motion have got it right – they provide compelling content (such as mobile games, etc.) and a great distribution network (such as iTunes or Ovi) that effectively cut out the telcos. I believe the telcos could come to lead the mobile marketing space in their respective countries or regions but they’ll never have the same global dominance as providers of excellent content or the global manufacturers of the mobile device.

Google’s and Apple’s recent activities have 2010 labeled as the ‘year of the mobile’, 2010 is herald as the year of mobile advertising what is going on right now and where we are headed?

That’s great news! Although I’ve noticed a lot of skepticism from marketers because we’ve had the “year of the mobile” for at least 5 years (and probably closer to 10). Mobile advertising has a tremendous potential but isn’t quite mainstream yet. I believe the reason why it hasn’t broken through yet is that too many people are thinking of mobile as a traditional advertising channel. It’s not. It’s extremely personal, always on, never left behind, geo-specific and for many people a genuine expression of who they are. It’s very difficult to introduce advertising into something like that – it’s like tattooing an ad onto your forehead! Marketing on mobile needs to be around customer experience, relevant and engaging content and giving people the information they need when they want it. It still won’t be the “year of the mobile” until marketers and agencies embrace this and change the way they thinking about the fundamentals of advertising and sales. I certainly think the devices are ready, now it’s time for the marketers to catch up and take some bold risks with their traditional advertising.

Over the next decade, by the year 2020, how will mobile advertising evolve and what can we expect from the sector?

I believe by 2020 the entire marketing and advertising system will evolve. We’ve moved from product-centric advertising in the 20th Century, to brand-centric advertising in the last few decades, to content & information-centric in the 21st Century. I feel that the next stage of evolution is people-centric – having a two-way dialogue between individual consumers and brands. Completely unrecognizable from the early TV ads of the 1950’s. With this brave new world of social marketing and people-centric communications, mobile has a very important and defining role to play.