Monday, 24 August 2009

Social Media Marketing: Asia hits social media like a tsunami

Social media has not been around for very long. Social networks and social media found their birth in the West with the likes of Friendster and YouTube. But it appears pretty clear that it is in the East that social media will grow up. Depending on which study you quote the numbers range from staggering to unbelieveable on how fast Asia is adopting social media.

70% of Chinese internet users have a social network profile

Hong Kong and Singapore have more registered users on Facebook per capita than the U.S.!

If all of these consumers are online where is business? Back in April I wrote an optimistic blog about how business would follow the rush of consumers to social media. However, a half year later we are still waiting for business to join the party. Prosperity Research has helped many brands make the smooth transition to social media but many are still cautious to move forward. But as business starts to adapt to the new model of social media marketing I am hopeful they will take on board the new rules that apply. After all what makes social media "social" is about people talking to people.

Much success,


Monday, 17 August 2009

Social Media case study: Broadcast vs. Engagement in forums

There is a lot of discussion going about these days about the difference and effectiveness of broadcast and engagement styles of marketing.

Broadcast is the bastion of old school marketing. We still see it used extensively in the new "social media" arena primarily because it is less expensive, familiar and to some degree effective. However, if social media has a mantra at all, it is "engagement".

Engagement is the "social" part of social media. Where two individual (even if one individual is a multinational) can come together and converse. This theoretically creates a more powerful bond between consumer and brand which then compels (or propels) the consumer into spreading the brand's joy far and wide with no further motivation than the satisfaction of "engagement".

Well is there any truth to this? I for one sure hope there is. I have never been a fan of advertising and I am one of the biggest proponents of social media.

We conducted an 8 week longitudinal study testing the effectiveness of broadcast vs engagement marketing techniques in forums and on Twitter. This is an "early days" study, and so the experimental design is rough. Below describes the Forum study, the Twitter analysis will be presented at another time.

Over an 8 week period approximately 200 forum entries were posted to over 150 different English language forum sites each week. For the first 5 weeks a broadcast technique was used. On the 5th week through the 8th an engagement technique was introduced. There was no activity during the 6th week due to client review. The broadcast technique is described as:

  • Threads were created using statements (not questions)
  • Forum entries were written as a product message without intent to initiate a conversation or get opinion. There purpose was to deliver an informational message.
The engagement technique is described as:

  • Threads were created as questions so as to elicit a response
  • Forum entries were written in a conversational manner. Not all entries contained brand messages
  • Replies to comments from readers were followed up and brand messages were included when appropriate
  • The brand message was included at least once in all conversations


During the first 4 weeks of pure broadcast the view rate remained low in relation to total number of posts. What is most telling is that during this period there were no comments left on any of the forum entries despite the approximately 5000 views.

Engagement was introduced in week 5, however with week 6 being a temporary suspension of the campaign the effects were not reported until week 7. There we can see a significant effect. The view rate shot up to almost 3 times previous counts without increasing the number of weekly entries. But the most significant finding is the comments. Comments, which were absent from the broadcast phase now represented almost 10% of the view rate.

Whereas it is too soon to make judgments about the effectiveness of engagement over broadcast based on this limited case study, it is clear that there is a definite change in behavior which can be seen in both increase in views and more importantly comments.

Much success,


Monday, 10 August 2009

New (old) digital model: burning down the house

This last week Prosperity Research achieved its final milestone of creating a purely distributed business model. We brought down our website, www.SO-U.TV. Yes I know it sounds so archaic to talk about websites when social networks, mobile computing and Twitter are all the rage. However, it has taken four years to get out reluctant clients to live with out its reassuring presence. When Prosperity Research was established we came up with the simple idea; it is easier and cheaper to go to your consumers than to get them to come to you. At least this is true in the digital world. We saw social media coming and bet right.

Think of a website as a home, one that you can never leave. This is a romantic thought, but imagine the constant maintenance, lifetime mortgage, and since you can not leave you must spend huge amounts of time and money to attract and entertain your guests. Also, if the house needs remodelling or repair the cost can be excruciating.

Reference:Adam Broitman sez 4 reasons web sites are becoming irrelevant

Now imagine if you could live anywhere you wanted rent free. If you tire of someplace you can quickly move to another more attractive and spacious one. You can live in as many places as you like and spend as much or as little time as you like. You always have lots of friends around and someone else always pays the tab at the end of the party. Too good to be true? Not really.

It is called distributed marketing and whereas we started down this path more than 4 years ago it is just now starting to come into its own. Social media marketing is a similar concept and better understood. So putting it in the context of social media marketing, it is simply using "free to post" or consumer generated content areas of sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and more to host your content and conduct your business.

To prove the coming of age of distributed marketing and increasing acceptance of social media, David Ketchum of Upstream Asia was featured in an article recently discussing the huge discrepancy between how business uses the Internet and how consumers use it. Consumers have quickly adapted to distributed marketing and are head over heels in love with social media. So why isn't business? He states that business needs to start fishing where the fish are. Three years ago we coined the phrase "put yourself in the path of your consumer". Not quite as folksy sounding but the same concept.

BTW, www. SO-U.TV is not completely gone. You can find us on 100's of sites and if you feel nostalgic for an old fashioned website, we kept a bit of our past on Come join us!

Much success,


Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Twitter: Can't see the forest for the tweets

Not to long ago I wrote a blog about the maturation cycle of social network sites. If social sites did not "grow up" they would cease to move past being a fad and soon die out as amusements turned to boredom. Facebook made it past the fad stage by incorporating good tracking of friends activities, basic marketing tools for business and charities and a brilliant integration of rich media that makes sharing our life snippets so easy. YouTube survived because it is n good video hosting platform. It does not matter that the internal search and marketing suck because most of us view YouTube videos outside of YouTube through embedded players and email forwarding. So what about Twitter?

Twitter has the reverse problem as Facebook and YouTube. You see Twitter was always a useful tool, but it lacked the "fad" component that drove a high user rate necessary to make it successful (e.g. ubiquitous). Back when Twitter was good, but novel, a friend @jayoatway convinced me to join saying it was an amazing search engine. He was right. With the release of apps such as Tweetdeck and Seismic the ability to search huge quantities of information is easy making it a business person's essential tool. So what is the problem? It seems that Twitter has become such a fad that people have forgotten about its best quality: search.

Yesterday another friend @chicagodiane mentioned that I seemed to have been quiet on Twitter lately. I have not been quiet. I just have not been tweeting. You see I took some time to stop and watch the stream of tweets. I wanted to find out who these people are that now call themselves my "friends" on Twitter and what the value of following is.

The fallacy of followers: Twitter's strength is in its search, however, it appears that the Holy Grail for most is accumulating followers. In theory having more followers is a measure of how interesting or "popular" you are and I am sure there is truth in that. However, it does not take much energy to realise that the way that Twitter is set up, having followers, many or few, has little to do with how many times you may actually be seen. Let's figure you are following 57 people (that is about the average Twitter assigns you just for opening an account). Then imagine that each of these 57 write one tweet per day, that is 57 tweets. If you are using the original Twitter application it will display 20 tweets at a time. Right off the bat 37 tweets (or 60%) are likely not to get seen. That is some disappointing numbers. So even if you have more than 2 million followers like @aplusk it is not going to do you much good unless your followers are doing more than just "following" you.

So what are some ways to get seen on Twitter?

1. Engage -- take time to follow conversations that are interesting and respond to others. Responses to others widen the number of opportunities your tweet will show up.
2. Hashtags -- these are predefined search terms that make it easy to follow conversation topics
3. Search optimisation -- make sure your tweets contain words that people will be searching for.
4. Use search -- effectively follow conversation streams that are interesting to you. Build your following selectively. The power of social media is engagement. Find people and start a conversation. However, if they have too many followers you will probably be talking to yourself.
5 RT -- Retweeting is one of the easiest and most polite ways to encourage views of a post. It is true word of mouth. Extend the favour and others will return it.

Most importantly, stay relevant, if you are just hooky-bobbing on somebody's bumper you deserve to get dropped.

Have fun!