4 ways to target expat consumers on Facebook

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Singapore’s expatriate community is a target audience for plenty of businesses, but how can you stand out from the crowd using Facebook as a marketing strategy?

In today’s digital age, social media has infiltrated our lives. How many times a day do you scroll through your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feed on your phone, tablet or laptop? They’re not only a portal for family and friends to stay connected and in touch, but also tools for businesses to reach key audiences in a cost-effective manner.

While they all have their selling points, Facebook is usually the platform focused on by most new and established businesses to start building a following and a brand voice.

In Singapore, the expat market is full of regular Internet and social media users. As well using it for friends, this target audience also turns to social media to connect with like-minded individuals and familiar folk who are faced with similar challenges whilst living abroad.

When first arriving in a foreign country, people are often oblivious none the wiser about local brands – or international brands based locally – and therefore tend to have limited brand loyalties. Their purchase decisions are generally swayed through recommendations made by friends and colleagues, trial and error via online reviews or research on Facebook pages. This opens up a whole world of opportunities for marketers and business owners to tap into this market, which with regular and consistent efforts will have a snowball effect and the potential to gain many more customers.

This year alone it was estimated that there were 92 million expats using Facebook, which accounts for 7% of the Facebook user base. By using simple targeting techniques based on location, life events (such as a recent move), interests and more, companies can promote directly to the expat consumer in an effective yet non-intrusive manner.

This could include insurance providers offering packages for annual travel or medical insurance targeted at expats, or furniture retailers who want to target their advertising to a wide expat community knowing that many are in need of furniture after moving to a new country.

Here are a few tips to get you started and on the right track:

1. Set up a company Facebook page

This is really the first thing you need to do regardless of your target customer. A Facebook page is now a necessity where many potential clients will check this first before they go to the actual website. Set this up before executing any targeted advertising and populate it with informative posts and images, but also allow the consumer to see a lighter side of your business and staff. You can use this not only a landing page for your targeted marketing but also as a substitute website if you don’t have one in place yet.

It’s highly recommended that you manage this through Facebook for Business, which will allow you to create and manage page and post boosts as well as Facebook advertising, which will be necessary to expand your reach to a targeted audience.

2. Identify your goals – who exactly are you targeting?

You know you want to target the expat market, but who exactly within that definition is your target audience? What age are they? Are they male or female? What kind of industries do they work in? What are their hobbies? Are they into health and fitness for your gym business, need travel insurance as regular jet-setters or are they stay-at-home-mums looking for a variety of activities for themselves and their kids?

Whatever it may be, identify the special interests and needs of your customer base so you can then direct your advert to a highly targeted audience. 

3. Work on your Facebook budget and strategy 

Facebook allows you to have 100% control over your budget, and it’s advisable to not overspend for the first run. Be smart and test the market first. Start small with your spend – try out different times of the day and different relevant keywords to see which may have a better impact on your product.

For example, if you are targeting stay-at-home-mums, it’s fair to assume they will be more active on Facebook during the day when their partners are at work and kids are in school, so perhaps its best to send out more targeted adverts on a weekday, during work and school hours.

The point is to have a strategy in place for what you want to achieve vs the cost. Facebook makes this very simple for you and also provides a very transparent report.

4. Connect and network

There are so many Facebook groups and communities to help and support expatriates. Where possible, become a member to gain some good insights into what other members are talking about and what they need. While many of these groups don’t actually allow companies to directly advertise on the pages, the best way forward is to connect with the members on a personal level, forge sincere friendships and use your services to offer advice to these members when they need it – never push your products or services directly into these groups, as chances are you will be removed.

This targeted market is highly swayed by word of mouth, and Facebook provides an excellent platform to meet people who seek advice and are very open to trying new products and services.

If you would like to explore the possibilities of social media advertising to reach your target audience or have any questions regarding PR, content or digital advertising, get in touch at [email protected]

3 reasons your start-up should consider Instagram

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Welcome to 2015, where social media is anything but a passing fad and not integrating your brand into the social experience is a heinous crime.

If you’re already on Facebook and are thinking about how you can further enhance your business presence and take a larger slice of the social pie, it might be time to consider Instagram.

Since launching five years ago, Instagram has quickly climbed the social ladder to become the number one mobile photos and video sharing app. Marketers have quickly identified an opportunity to leverage on its functionalities and have turned it into an important visual marketing tool.

While Instagram isn’t necessary for some companies – after all, it is a photo-based social App that requires engaging content to gain traction – it is worth deciding whether it’s right for your business.

Today, brands and personalities from McDonald’s to Britney Spears are on it, sharing relevant, interesting, engaging and timely photos and content to help enhance their brand in a language and medium consumers (and fans) understand.

If you are still undecided about jumping on the Instagram bandwagon, the following points might get you off the fence and into a world of filters and hashtags.

1. It’s cost-effective and convenient

Starting an account is absolutely free. Put up your 110 x 110 pixels profile picture – such as a brand logo – and fill up your bio section to tell people who you are. Make sure to add in your company website URL! Keep your bio short and sweet, and if anything changes remember to update the information.

Once you are done, you are ready to snap and post away on a mobile device.

2. It’s an excellent employer branding tool

Put aside the mistaken belief that Instagram will only serve a purpose for businesses with visual products. If Instagram can’t help you sell the tangible – your products or service, use it to sell the intangible – your company and culture.

There’s only so much your “About” section can say about your company. With Instagram, you can now show people what’s it like to be in the company before they even join the company.

Never underestimate that one new addition to your growing team or that simple company gathering the other day, for they are all “Instagram-worthy” content. Such tactics will help to dispel any misconception that your company is “dull” or “serious” and contribute to your profile as a fun employer.

This way, you will also more likely to attract the young and creative, whom you will definitely need to propel your business forward.  

3. It’s all about relationship-building and awareness

Beyond interaction with your audience, you can also proactively interact with other brands and companies you know are likely to pay attention to you on Instagram. In this instance, bigger is not better. Think smaller brands and companies that are in a complementary field and are locally-based, making them relevant to you and your audience.

If you are unsure of where to start, think about companies you’ve recently worked or met up with. Follow them, leave them a comment on their page to say hello and if you can afford to, drop them a personalised comment.

Little acts like this will catch the other brands off guard, in a good way that is. For all you know, you’ve already attained the one-way ticket to their nice list, future interactions and opportunities await!

The aforementioned examples are not exhaustive and if you’re in need of some inspiration, you may want to check out Starbucks and Club Vivre’s Instagram accounts.

Social media’s constant will always be changing and as marketers, it is crucial that you adapt swiftly and keep up on top of ensuring client service excellence.

If you want to find out more about effectively using social media platforms to complement your PR and content efforts, reach out at [email protected]

Fashion faux pas: #BoycottDolceGabbana and the art of crisis management PR

It’s the latest scandal involving fashion, celebrities, babies and LGBT – which, in short, makes it media gold.

Over the past few days, we have seen the rapid response to Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana’s (D&G) comments that in vitro fertilization (IVF) is “unnatural” and produces “synthetic children”.

The comments, made in an interview with Panorama magazine, have raised a furore among the press and the entertainment industry. Media commentary has lambasted their shortsightedness, while celebrities have initiated a boycott of the designer brand.

This boycott was led by no other than Elton John, thanks to a spat on Twitter, which generated the trending#BoycottDolceGabbana hashtag. It has since received support from a league of celebrities, including Madonna, Courtney Love and the Beckhams.

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It’s a dramatic turn of events, which provides an interesting and essential case study for some pointers in crisis management.

It’s not clear if there were broader motives behind D&G’s comments, but chances are they were off-the-cuff remarks made without the foresight to see how it would affect their brand identity.

From a PR perspective, there are numerous lessons you can learn about avoiding potential media nightmares – and how to react once the damage has been done.

There’s no such thing as “off the record”

It’s a game of trust. During interviews, you always have to be prepared before speaking with the media. One would have expected D&G to be aware of this after years in the spotlight, but goes to show that even media moguls can forget, and fall prey to the obvious rules.

Always err on the side of caution and be aware that anything you say can, and will, be held against you.

Don’t fight fire with fire

After Elton John led the boycott, D&G decided to go on the offense on Instagram with #boycotteltonjohn.

Although their efforts to make a point about free speech received considerable support from punters, their response was unnecessary. It is easy to forget the virality of social media, and these public spats only provide an opportunity to spawn more undesirable news.

A wise man once said, “An eye for an eye makes the world go blind”, and it is always good to be the bigger person, take a step back to assess the situation and see the best way to go about handling it with integrity.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

If you do something that upsets millions of people, the right way to respond is to say sorry. A response carefully crafted to at least include the word “sorry” or “apology” isn’t difficult, and a quick turnaround can do wonders to backtrack on a flippant mistake.

Instead, D&G sat down for an interview with CNN, in which Dolce defended his comments and made it clear that they were his personal beliefs.

“It is impossible to change my culture for something different. It is me… I respect all the world, all the culture,” he said.

He went on to say he “loves the music of Elton John”, and that while his views were private, they could have definitely expressed their views better.

While D&G came across as very frank and honest in the interview, there was no apology. Sticking to your guns is one thing, but not acknowledging and expressing remorse at the damage their comments may have inflicted is an oversight.

Need help with your PR? Drop a message to [email protected] 

Blogging: The missing weapon from a recruiter’s talent toolbox

A lot of recruiters are quick to be dismissive of blogs. Too often, blogs are viewed as a sort of corporate ‘Dear Diary’, or a place to simply post press releases or in-house news.

But while that may have been what blogging started out as, the power of the written word has moved well beyond this.

By not realising the potential of a strategic content plan, you are doing yourself, your business and potential talent a huge disservice. Why? Let me put it this way:

As a recruiter, you’ve probably tried everything. You’ve posted job ads, and tweaked the wording to get it justright. You’ve updated your LinkedIn profile – both personal and corporate – and invested a lot of time and money into social media strategies to reach talent on Twitter, Facebook and everything else in between. You’ve probably explored recruiting software, re-designed your website and landing pages, put a lot of work into SEO, as well as hired and fired a few recruiters and talent acquisition specialists, all in the pursuit of finding the right people for your business and/or your clients.

It’s a hard game, and the terms aren’t fair. A squeezed labour market makes your job even more difficult, and maybe you feel like you’re running out of options. How do you get the attention of the people you’re trying to reach in a sophisticated way?

This is where blogging can add value. I’m not saying it’s a silver bullet, but it’s an incredibly important aspect of connecting employers with talent. As an inbound marketing tool, blogging is about earning your customers – and their loyalty – by gaining their trust.

So, how do you get started in helping your business blog its way to success?

(You might also want to check out our article on how to write good blog posts!)

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Understand your own objectives

With blogging you have to start at the beginning. What are your ultimate goals? What would be the best outcome from your recruitment strategy? If you start blogging without an idea of why you’re blogging, you’ll just end up going off-message and off-brand, and miss the opportunities altogether.

What talent do you want to attract?

As part of this initial goal-posting, you need to consider what kind of talent you’re trying to attract. If you recruit in-house across multiple departments, do you know what each business unit leader is looking for in an ideal candidate? For agencies, do you understand each of your client’s specific talent needs?

Now think from that perfect candidate’s point of view. What are they looking for in a job? What does their dream job look like? What might their career goals be and why would they want to work for you?

Aligning these thoughts should give you dozens of bullet points, which is a fantastic place to start.

Create a content calendar

See all those bullet points you just wrote down? Here’s where they come in handy. Create a calendar of editorial content by expanding on those points.

For example, if you’ve written down that you are looking for Singaporean engineers with international experience, that’s not one blog post idea – it’s 20. You could share insights on the hiring situation for engineers, highlight skills successful engineers develop, discuss how Singapore engineers can use LinkedIn to build their professional network, or how they can use LinkedIn to find a job. The list continues.

The beauty of blogging is that it allows you to cover the same topic and target the same people from multiple different angles, and appeal to the niche interests of your target audience, without getting repetitive.

The calendar aspect helps you decide what the headline will be, when to run it and who will write it.

Get social with it

Simply posting a blog to your company website isn’t enough. While you may have a small audience who go there directly, chances are you’re going to reach talent via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, which amplifies your content to a much larger network.

It’s best to fit this into a strong social media strategy, which will include much more than just re-posting blogs, and it’s an important part of helping to convert blog readers into customers/talent. Be wary of the need for different voices on different platforms – the way you reach people on Twitter is incredibly different to how you reach people on LinkedIn.

Know how to measure success (and use a call to action!)

There’s a reason why we at Mutant encourage at least a six-month engagement for any content campaign – because it takes time to build a voice and a following. Content is not a quick fix, nor should it be. It is a planned, ongoing strategy for genuine engagement with a target audience.

But by measuring its effect over time, you’ll start to see some real results. Using analytics platforms, you can view who is reading your content, where they clicked on it, where they clicked afterwards, where they are based, and much, much more. By including a call to action (i.e. an “Apply Now” button at the bottom of a relevant blog post) you will encourage lead generations and turn sometimes readers into customers.

Blogging is a much more powerful tool than many give it credit for. Over time, providing potential and passive talent with quality content will not only put you at the front of their minds and show them you understand their needs and interests, but it  will help educate them, too.

Get in touch with us at [email protected] if you’re interested in creating compelling, meaningful and targeted content for your business. 

 

What colour is this dress?! Lessons about social media marketing and viral content

Today the internet (and my head) blew up, all because of this dress.

I logged onto Facebook this morning and saw a status update from a friend in New Zealand, which said she and her colleagues were about to get into a major fight over the colour of this dress.

She shared a Buzzfeed article, which had grabbed the image from Tumblr, where the original poster had swiked it. The poster asked the Tumblr community to help settle an argument between her and a friend on the colour of the dress… and the whole internet subsequently exploded and went totally bat**** insane.

So, what does this mean? On one hand it means people are crazy and the GODDAMN DRESS IS BLUE AND GOLD/BROWN (sorry…) but mostly it means that people are different, and we view things differently – theoretically, metaphorically and, apparently, physiologically.

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Differences, debate and arguments tend to be something avoided when it comes to marketing. Brands want to push out an idea or a product that most people agree is something inherently good or useful. But perhaps we’re all missing the point. Maybe the most viral social campaigns, images or articles are the ones that turn us against each other.

From a content point of view, debate is healthy. It’s the reason why newspaper and magazine columnists become famous – they have successfully polarised their audience to a stage where people read what they have to say because they love them, or because they hate them.

The argument over the colour of the dress exploded (#TheDress is currently the top trending hashtag on Twitter) for three reasons:

  1. Differences of opinion
  2. Shareability
  3. Education

In a nutshell: it went viral because no one can agree, it’s a simple image that’s easy to share, and everyone is learning something new.

It shocked people, and so the audience went looking for answers. (An explanation is here, by the way. You’re welcome. And yes, I do have superior eyesight.)

From a marketing point of view, this is the exact reaction you want to elicit from people during your campaigns. When designing a message to go viral, consider the following:

Why are you doing this? What is your goal?

If you just want to create something funny, you can, but how viral it goes depends on your objective. This can be simple, such as “get people to donate money”. Keep it simple.

Is it fun?

Social media exists because it’s informative, but also because it’s fun. Both aspects need to be leveraged in a visual manner, and this will happen faster if what you are marketing has an element of fun.

Is it shareable and does it create discussion?

Make sure your idea or campaign can be shared on multiple platforms with a click, and consider its capacity for involving other people. Things like the Ice Bucket Challenge worked because it required tagging other people to ‘pass on’ the challenge to next.

Need help with social media? Drop a message to [email protected] 

Finding talent: Set your sights on social recruitment

Firstly, if your organisation is relatively new to the social media recruitment game, a warm welcome.

Secondly, what took you so long?

Chances are you’ve been involved in some sort of social recruiting for a while now. As recruiters, business leaders or burgeoning start-ups, you will have been “making connections” all over the place with people whom you deem to be ideal talent for your company. But the problem isn’t about connecting, it’s about connecting with the right people, in the right places and at the right times.

As part of a well-rounded recruitment strategy AND a strong marketing strategy (yes, sometimes the two go hand-in-hand), social media can offer a wealth of tools to help your business find the talent it so desperately needs.

If you’re not sure whether your efforts are on track, read on and ask yourself whether you’re really optimising the true benefits of all things social.

First, decide on your social approach

Social media is a beast, and it can’t be controlled with ad hoc posts, links, images and status updates. If it were as simple as “I think we’ll launch a company LinkedIn page today”, a lot more businesses out there would be successful with their social media game.

The ones who do it well are those who have a plan. They have taken the time to answer questions like, who are we targeting? What’s our ultimate objective? How will we respond to people who engage with us? What will our key messaging be? If you don’t have a business-led purpose behind your social media strategy, you’re not going to get the most out of your efforts or find the talent you’re ultimately hoping to reach.

Where do your future employees hang out?

A social media strategy is about quality, not quantity. Well, it can be about quantity on a carefully selected number of social platforms, but it shouldn’t be about opening an account on every single social space and ramming how wonderful your company is down people’s throats. Do you want to spam people? Because that’s how you spam people.

To avoid diluted messaging and jumping into social sites just because they’re new or popular, you need to understand where you can reach your potential candidates online. Companies searching for executive talent, for example, are going to have a much higher success rate focusing on LinkedIn, while firms looking to fill dozens of service jobs on short notice will have more luck on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s about who you are, not what you do

Your employer brand is everything. Your employee value proposition – what you offer talent (other than money) in exchange for their hard work – is what sells you to candidates. But this doesn’t necessarily need to be spelled out for them. Instead, it should be part of an organic, genuine and carefully-planned strategy which utilises social media to showcase your people.

Don’t tell people on your company Facebook page how awesome you are – show them. Use videos, articles, employee Q&A and more (by the way, this is where content marketing comes in very handy) to exhibit your business as a great place to work.

Use calls to action, fresh content and interesting visuals

If you’re on Twitter, you know how fast it moves. If you’re on Facebook, you know that you stop scrolling once you come to a post you’ve already seen. Social recruiting needs to stay fresh, with interesting and new content to keep people engaged.

Original, value-added material produces better results than anything else. If you have data to share, why not create an infographic? Is that article you want to link to only interesting to you, or does it resonate with targeted talent you’re trying to reach? Why post a boring old job ad when you could write articles about the benefits of working at your company, which ultimately leads them to ‘like’ and ‘follow’ you. This interaction is so much more valuable.

Is your CEO social?

If you work at a big global company, chances are you have a well-known leader who has somewhat of a large online presence. But if your CEO isn’t well-known…well, why not?

Positioning businesses heads as thought leaders is an ongoing strategy as part of a wider content campaign, but it’s one of the best ways to directly engage with talent you want to attract. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be your CEO, and they don’t need to post heavily.

Laszlo Bock, Google’s head of people, is the man who hires and fires at the tech giant (which makes him the ultimate connection for every Google wannabe). He’s an influencer, but he doesn’t post heavily on LinkedIn – in fact, he’s only done 5 posts to date – but he has more than 130,000 followers and his most-read post has been seen more than 2 million times. Why? It’s partly because what he says matters to people and adds value, but also he’s created wonderful dialogue around recruitment, HR and working at Google. He is interesting and genuine, and he shares data, company “secrets” and strong, well-thought out opinions and advice.

Immediate and direct engagement is everything. Think about how you can use your country heads, managing directors and CEOs to help you reach the people you need.

Above all, be authentic

It’s a talent’s marketplace, and when it comes to choosing a job and career path, they have the power. In Asia, low unemployment means a tight labour market, which means if you give potential candidates any reason to believe you’re not as genuine as your competitor, they’ll pick up on it right away and take a job elsewhere.

Even worse? They do take a job with you, only to leave six months later because it wasn’t what they were promised. In whatever social interactions you have with talent via social media, don’t overpromise. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not and, for goodness sake, don’t lie.

An authentic and ‘real’ employer brand voice can speak louder than all the chatter on all the social media platforms put together. A genuine message is where your talent efforts should begin and end.

Need help with social media? Drop a message to [email protected] 

Top 5 tips for an effective PR campaign

How is it that it’s already September? More than half of the year has passed, and with it, came along bittersweet, monumental events. The World Cup, for instance was a month long, nail biting competition that was full of emotions, surprises and… phenomenal opportunities for PR and marketing firms to get creative with their campaigns.

That Suarez biting saga for instance, triggered F&B creative agencies to jump on the bandwagon, creating viral campaigns out of the situation. Meats Category Director of Mattesson, a UK based processing meat company, candidly made a public offer to Suarez for the job as a meat taster. Similarly, Snickers chocolate bar came up with a tagline, “More satisfying than an Italian”, while a trending hashtag of #bansuarez began to trickle down the interweb’s grapevine.

While it is evident that timeliness and trends add a little “bite” in your campaigns, what really makes you stand out and reach your intended audience?

With that being said, here are a few hot tips to consider.

 1. Get those creative juices flowing

Creativity is the key to success. It is important to effectively exercise creativity in a digital space.  A good PR campaign is thought provoking, and reaches out to your target market without coming across as too try-hard. It easily communicates with people, enforcing a natural response to your brand, allowing people to embrace it rather than having it forced on them.

2. Don’t underestimate the real power of social media

Social media is one of the most cost effective methods, and one that shows no signs of slowing down, especially in Southeast Asia (for tips on how to communicate your brand in this region, read our posthere.)

It is easily one of the best ways to interact with a mass audience across the globe. For instance Calvin Kleinlaunched a campaign, encouraging users to post a ‘selfie’ wearing an item from the brand with the hashtag #mycalvins. The campaign reached around 250 million people, successfully engaging directly with their core demographic.

3. Visually stimulate through video

Video engagement proved to be the highest activity online, especially among Singaporeans, so don’t be shy to get in front of the camera and show the world what you can do. In addition, with the rise of video mobile apps introduced to the market, like the latest Hyperlapse from Instagram, creating a short clip can now be done at the flick of a button, being a lot more accessible and powerful than ever.

The recent viral explosion of the Ice Bucket Challenge across social media has taken the interweb by storm.  As an effort to raise awareness of ALS disease, participants (including many celebrities and influencers) were encouraged to dump a bucket of ice on one’s self, donate to the charity and then nominate others to partake.

4. Bring meaning to your campaign

The ice bucket challenge has definitely gotten its fair share of attention, and naturally, debates have also swelled. Skeptics have argued about the messaging getting lost within frivolity of the act. With this in mind, it is crucial to not have the message be too disparate with the brand’s campaign. On the flipside, an interesting article on Forbes by Matthew Herper defended the movement with some pretty valid points.

Participation and likes may lose its appeal quickly if the messaging is weak. Proving the real worth of a campaign is through meaningful ROI. Bring more value by educating and gaining some insight into your audience.

5. Consumer Trends

 

Lastly, keeping abreast with the latest trends, from new apps, to the latest publications, and even current affairs, enables you to better understand consumers and the media. This greatly helps in being able to communicate your message across more efficiently landing your brand the recognition it deserves.

Got an announcement to make about your brand? Let the people know through a press release, download our checklist on crafting the perfect media release here.

If you’d like to discuss your public relations approach, get in touch with us at [email protected]
Hy! Berlin Summit 2014 image by Heisenberg Media is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Who are you? Finding your brand voice

You might have your elevator pitch down, and you might have a new strapline to display alongside your logo, but do you and your team really know the personality behind your branding?

Do you know how your brand speaks, who it speaks to and how it reacts in stressful situations?

I’m not talking about the introduction to the brand document you pass to new staff members on their first day of the job and I’m not talking about the logo guidelines drawn up by your communications team. I’m talking about defining the way your brand acts, speaks and reacts every day, be it walking down the street to lunch or through its daily interactions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Linkedin. The “brand voice” I am talking about extends to phone manner and emails written to customers or clients.

You probably already have a brand voice without labeling it as such, but it’s still a useful exercise to sit down with your team every couple of months and tweak or reinforce who you are, what you are trying to say, and how to get this acrosss on social media.

Set aside an hour and allow space for everyone to go wild, scribbling words and ideas all over whiteboards, rolls of paper, or even walls.

The aim of the exercise is to ensure each member of your team is representing your brand in the best possible light and also to develop much greater efficiencies in your social engagement.

Too many small businesses and organisations waste hours on Facebook or Twitter posts that either don’t reach or don’t resonate with their target audiences. Usually it’s because they’re either on the wrong platform, or they’re sharing the wrong sort of content.

Defining who you are and who you are not will help your team determine which networks you should be on, or perhaps more important which you should not bother with, and what you can be doing to make best use of your time on social media.

The second part of the session encourages your team to develop realistic steps towards achieve the brand’s social media goals. It also asks you to come up with specific, realistic targets, such as an increasing your number of followers or shares per post. Reviewing these targets every few weeks or months will help you determine whether or not you are on track, and allow you to make adjustments to your social media calendar.

Need to find your voice? Drop a message to [email protected] 

Cupid 2.0 – A Dating Guide of the Future

Remember the anxiety attacks you had when dialing a girls’ phone number? Or waiting by the phone expectantly for a boy’s call?

No? Then you must be part of the Millenial’s Cupid 2.0 Generation.

This means you missed out on long hours on the phone (not a mobile phone, a landline phone, connected with wires, and real, solid buttons), where saying “bye” only means hanging up 2 hours later (“you hang up” “no, you hang” “no, you…”), and the “3 Day Rule” is long obsolete.

Now, you get to know your potential date first by Googling her name, adding her on Facebook, following her on Twitter, exchanging a few coy and flirty messages on WhatsApp or iMesssage, before finally going out on that first date.

A recent video by comedian Aziz Ansari griping about the woes of being single in this day and age, got me thinking – has technology taken all the fun out of dating?

People build up a bravado front, allowing them to project a confident, witty, and successful online persona – they take their time in crafting a perfect response to your text, filter their selfies, and spruce up their “About Me” sections. In real life, he or she is a shadow of his Social Media self.

I can say this with authority because I, myself, am a Millenial. I love, and am heavily dependent on the Internet. I have an account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and now, even ultra-hip Snapchat. I scroll through each of the feeds on my iPhone 5 a lot more often than I should.

Of course it’s definitely helped in forging and then building connections, both on a personal and professional level, but, (and this is not to discredit the lovely 93 people following my personal ramblings on Twitter and 893 “friends” on Facebook) whether dating, doing business or getting to know someone in general, I’m with Gen X. I think it should be kept traditional.

Where’s the fun in dating without face-to-face conversations, dinners, drinks, and long walks? Grilled seafood dinner by the beach at East Coast Park for a first date, or sharing an ice-kacang at Adam Road hawker Centre (it’s the best), make for lasting memories, rather than, “Remember that one post I liked on your Facebook wall?”

Just as dating is better in person, so is business. Directors will fly to all parts of the world for a face-to-face meeting, and to ply one another with the finest of wines – all to close that business deal.

That drive to woo someone over with solid skill and charm, in real life, does not seem to exist anymore. It’s just a flurry of connection requests on Linkedin, followed by a flirty “I viewed your profile” then an “I endorsed you for your SEO prowess” thrown in for good measure. Shouldn’t you put in that bit of an effort into fixing a date to meet, in person, too?

Nobody takes their time to meet anymore. Nowadays, efficiency is all about doing more things, with more speed. Siri allows you to dictate your text, so you don’t have to type them out. You can check-in for your flight on your phone, instead of joining the queue.

The recent news of SnapChat, and its ballsy (silly?) rejection of USD three billion (or more) offer from Facebook (because obviously it’s got its eyes on something bigger), further affirms the current generation’s obsession for instant gratification. It’s about living in the moment, because, YOLO.

I am not saying that dating, or business exchanges should be devoid of all things tech and social media. Exchanging sweet nothings on text, and putting up photos of a date night are perfectly fine, but if you want something to actually happen – you’ve still got to meet face-to-face..

Here’s a challenge to try out on your next date – romantic, or otherwise – try leaving both of your phones at home, or even in your briefcase, and see how that goes. Bearing with each other’s company for an entire meal, or even coffee, shouldn’t’ be so bad.

Are we turning into narcissists?

A recent debate on The New York Times addressed the possibility of social media turning us into narcissists.

Psychology professor Jean Twenge remarked that it isn’t clear if social media directly causes narcissism, but people who need a little pat on the back find comfort in social media. Writer and social media strategist Jeff Bullas argued that social media makes us stronger as we learn to accept different kinds of feedback – both praise and criticism – and there’s nothing narcissistic about that.

This made me think of a postcard I once chanced upon that read: Many people like to speak to appear smart in front of others.

While there hasn’t been conclusive evidence that shows every Facebook post is intricately linked to narcissism tendencies, many of us are guilty of trying to sound smarter than we really are with a carefully-crafted status update, or feel a sense of satisfaction when the number of likes start rising.

I’m a strong believer in the freedom of speech and expression – some like to post pictures of every meal as if it were their last; others update on their every move throughout the day, littering it with hash tags. No one’s likely to read it, but if there’s delight in sharing that information, that’s cool.

What I do appreciate though, is when my friends share groundbreaking news articles, discuss thought-provoking ideas and drop the occasional hilarious 9GAG meme.

I know I’m not alone in appreciating this. There are others who aren’t excited about self-serving social media behavior.

Expectations apply all the more to brand Pages. Upload a condescending or insensitive post and you’ll find your fans attacking the ‘unlike’ button. Condescending Corporate Brand Page has a wall of shame you’ll want to avoid.

Before we start crafting our next status update, it’s worthwhile considering if we’d make the same comment if we weren’t behind a digital veil, and give some thought to the intent behind saying the things we’re about to say. How is this going to lift the mood of those who follow me? Will it entertain, enrich or inform?

Is it a self-serving post about a new pair of fancy sneakers we recently purchased? Is it an exposé on the plight of foreign workers that should come to light? And more importantly – will what we’re about to say be harmful as it flashes across someone else’s news feed?

For brands in particular, can this be taken as insensitive and narrow-minded?

When we start putting more thought to the content we upload and its possible effect on others, it’s safe to say we’re moving further away from the territory of narcissism and headed in the direction of social consciousness. Trust me, you’ll not only appear, but probably also become genuinely smarter in the process.

Social Media – Threat or Asset?

Social media and breaking news

Social media is becoming or has become a part of everyone’s life – even the aunties and uncles have embraced it, despite their misgivings.

Unfortunately, the aunties and uncles were right, as many do turn the freedom social media brings into a stage for their mischief. In recent months, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of hacked social media accounts – most recently the tweet by ‘AP’ announcing explosions in the White House.

Perhaps motivated by the movie ‘Olympus has Fallen’, the hacker has decided to bring the plot alive in his own ways. He hacked into the twitter account of The Associated Press (AP) and tweeted the above. The impact of the bogus tweet is shocking. The 12 words tweet drove the Dow Jones Index down 145 points and sent the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index reeling, wiping out US$136 billion.

The threat of hackers always exists in the world of Internet. However, there is no ignoring the fact that the fastest, cheapest and often most cost-effective way to achieve global coverage is, for most companies, social media.

Michael Gass, a new business consultant for advertising agencies said ‘Social media is a savior not a nemesis, an asset not a liability, a time saver not a time killer for ad agency new business.’

Hence, practice good working habits, and just make sure you account cannot be hacked.
(1) Limit 3rd party access
(2) Change password early and often
(3) Avoid Malware
(4) Log in and log out with care
(5) Check on your account regularly

We’ve all heard this.

But, if you’re a big shot…

Never before have so many people heard, screen-shot and shared, what you just said.

Need help with your social media? Drop a message to [email protected] 

Social media for journos, and journos for social media

I was going to write something about Facebook’s new open graph announcement, and how it seriously compromised my own privacy.

But then I started thinking about the wider applications of a search function that basically allows you to delve into the lives of others, pick out their ideas, pictures, comments, and then splash them about wherever you desire. On the cover of a magazine, as the star of the latest hilarious montage on Buzzfeed

My conservative, Western upbringing feels a bit queasy about the whole “what’s mine is yours, what’s yours is mine, unless I tell you otherwise” proposition, but how awesome is it to know that every single person in the world now has the ability to sway, or contribute to the mainstream news, and to be discovered by millions of people who might be looking to connect with people who are doing exactly what they are doing?! PRETTY AWESOME!

Journalists – whether they are searching for an unflattering image of a celebrity, a profile shot of the victim of a recent tragedy, or simply collating people’s images of the latest freak snow fall – will LOVE on this open graph concept.

And at the same time, businesses, brands and people will THRIVE if they apply journalistic skills of story-telling and news values to their posts.

Many experts have touted 2013 as the year that journalists are employed as social media page managers for companies looking to achieve cut-through online.

They have also said that journalism will become increasingly reliant on social media.

It would seem the new Open Graph feature fulfills this prophecy, and will also open more than a few doors for businesses, and journos alike.

Want to find out about how your business can maximise the potential of new features on Facebook and other social networks?

Need help with your social media? Drop a message to [email protected]