The Social Media World Forum Asia shone the spotlight on possibilities and challenges posed by social media in the world of commerce.
The social media movement, defined as the integration of technology and social interaction for communicative purposes, has been hailed by some to be the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution. No mere fad among the Gen-Y population, it has gained such traction such that corporate big-wigs ignore the force of social media to their own peril.
At the Social Media World Forum Asia on Sep. 22 and 23 at the Suntec City Convention Centre, the major talking points included the integration of social media into conventional marketing, with relationships being the currency in social marketing.
Organized by Six Degrees, a U.K.-based social media events and exhibitions company, the 2-day event featured speakers including Blake Chandlee, a vice president and commercial director of Facebook, Enda Nasution, also known as the “Father of Indonesian Bloggers” and Ryan Lim, founder and business director of Blugrapes, a performance-driven marketing company.
In his welcome note, Ian Johnson, managing director of Six Degrees, said, “The challenges social media have thrown to marketers have been like nothing seen before, a great leveler in the field, with new technologies allowing businesses to create a multitude of dynamic relationships, where previously every channel simply pushed out the message.”
Speaking on best practices, social network strategist Laurel Papworth emphasized the need for a designated chief networking officer on an organization’s board who is accountable for the social media strategies undertaken. “This is not a job for interns but for people who know how to speak the voice of the company,” she said.
However, it is equally important that a company that engages social media is prepared to manage the content generated. Lawrence Law, regional marketing manager at beverage company Diageo cautions, “It is important to have a crisis team within your structure to manage negative feedback.”
Added Derek Yeo, the head of corporate marketing and ancillary revenue at Tiger Airways, “Most people use social media channels to complain. If you are not in a position to manage your channel, your customers will get frustrated, and they may build a community around their frustration.”
One of the highlights of the event was a webcasted speech by Brian Solis, an established thought leader on social media. Calling for a “fundamental re-look into traditional marketing means and methods”, he stressed the importance of communicating and tailoring one’s message to an audience such that the message does not reach a dead end with them, but gets broadcasted to their audience in turn.
Other topics covered revolved around strategies to monetize social networks as well as the challenges of engaging social media, which included technical risks, the digital divide between the baby boomer and the Gen-Y population, as well as interacting with clients on a real-time basis for highly regulated industries like banking and finance.
|CN PHOTOS: Michael Chan|
To illustrate the scope to which social media has been employed in organizational functions beyond that of marketing, Chuang Shin Wee, product marketing manager from Standard Chartered Bank shared on the company’s “World’s Coolest Intern” campaign, a form of social recruitment where the grand prize winner would be paid USD$300,000 for a 6-month internship to Tweet at work. It echoes the “The Best Job in the World” campaign Tourism Queensland ran last year in Australia as a form of tourism publicity.
Among the exhibitors present were companies offering IT and service solutions to businesses, such as ThoughtBuzz, whose web-based application helps track the intelligence mined from various social media sources, and FaceTime (no relation to the iPhone 4 video calling software), which helps employers moderate the content posted by employees on their Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. With a “granular application control” feature, it also allows employers to limit their staff’s Facebook activity to approved work-related applications while barring the running of games or instant chat applications.
In true social media style, presentations were made through Skype and Q&A sessions conducted via Twitter, allowing for delegates to Tweet their questions to the speakers. More than 1,000 delegates attended the conference, with another 1,500 attending the exhibition and free workshops.
Says Jamshed Wadia, a technology marketer and avid blogger, “With Asia being one of the highest growth region in Internet penetration and with its sheer volume of Internet users, organizations here will be investing billions of dollars on digital marketing to address Asia’s business opportunities. Social media will play a pivotal role within the entire digital mix, hence the imperative for organizations to get their social media strategy and resources in place. Such conferences will go a long way in doing just that.”