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#icebucketchallenge goes viral around the world
A hashtag called #icebucketchallenge started trending over the weekend on social media. This tag is associated with a cool challenge, accomplished by dumping a bucket of ice water (or ice cubes) on yourself, then posting and tagging a photo of the feat on social media. Upon completion, challengers nominate 3 people to either follow suit with the challenge or donate $100 USD to the US-based ALS Association (an advocacy, care and research association for ALS). The ALS association is aiming to utilise the ice bucket challenge to encourage people to pay attention to, or donate for those affected by the disease. There have been more than 118,000 tweets mentioning the #icebucketchallenge in the past 30 days according to Topsy. The ALS Association had subsequently raised $7.6 million in donations over the course of a two-week period–a sum that trumps last year’s $1.4 million raised in the same period.
The ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) ice bucket challenge is now taking over America, and when Mark Zuckerberg nominated Bill Gates for the challenge, he gave him 24 hours.
Surprisingly, the #icebucketchallenge also went viral in China. The hashtag has already ranked as the most trending topic in China in just two days. There have been 167,000 discussions and 180 million views on the #icebucketchallenge, reaching 16,000 individuals in China so far. The challenge successfully attracted a massive amount of influencers and celebrities from different industries to challenge the game as well.
Twitter turns favourites into retweets
According to The Next Web, Twitter has been experimenting with a new feature that turns favourited tweets into retweets on mobile and web versions of the site; this feature has also started to annoy some Twitter users. A number of users are seeing the tweets they favourited from the brands they follow or the people they follow automatically turned into retweets, and appearing on their Twitter timelines. The Next Web also mentioned that the new feature has impacted some users’ Twitter user experiences, making the users feel frustrated because the retweets are irremovable and appears permanently on their timelines. Twitter appears to be experimenting with many more different features on a regular basis, such as payment and shipping option.
Sina Weibo grows to 157 million monthly active users
According to Sina’s Q2 2014 report, the platform has grown to 157 million monthly active users, up by 30 percent in the past 12 months. For daily active users, Sina Weibo has reached 69.7 million. Compared with WeChat, however, Sina Weibo is still far behind WeChat’s massive MAU base of 438 million. WeChat’s dominance may have been strengthened by their recent launch of its first foreign-made game, a WeChat edition of the popular Candy Crush Saga on Android.
More than 2 billion people around the world used social media in the past 30 days, and these numbers are still growing at an impressive rate:
This connected, vocal audience presents huge opportunities that marketers won’t want to miss, but social success requires a different approach in different countries and cultures around the world.
So how can marketers get global social ‘right’?
The answer lies in the 6Cs of Social.
There are hundreds of different social networks around the world, all built around different needs, interests, and technological functions.
All these platforms have one thing in common, though: conversation.
Without conversation, social media aren’t social, and for brands in social, it’s the conversation that really matters.
Conversations enable brands to become more engaging, allowing them to evolve beyond a straightforward product or service.
But managing a ‘regional’ conversation in Asia poses a number of challenges.
In Asia-Pacific alone, people speak more than 2,000 languages.
Even if your audience understands English, they may not be comfortable – or happy – conversing in it.
When it comes to social conversations, people prefer to speak the language that best allows them to express themselves.
Even when they do speak the same language though, there are invariably many different ways of speaking it – from the nuances of everyday slang to our constantly evolving ‘social’ vocabularies (think ‘LOL’).
The key is to remember that successful communication isn’t determined by what you say; it’s determined by what other people understand.
Recommendation: spend some time listening to your audience’s conversations in social media, and adopt a style that makes it easy for them to converse with you.
Humans are a highly diverse bunch, and this diversity can add significant complexity to the process of developing a unified global approach.
Firstly, people follow a wide variety of religions, each of which may impact how a brand needs to behave in social media.
Marketers will need to keep track of myriad religious festivals and celebrations, while attitudes towards things such as alcohol, styles of dress, and even colours may vary dramatically from one culture to another.
Similarly, many Asian cultures are guided by the concept of 面子 – ‘face’ as it is commonly known in English – and as a result, they may exhibit less ‘social volume’ than their Western peers.
Consequently, it may be more difficult to achieve high levels of audience interaction, which can impact organic reach and engagement.
Recommendation: make sure that your content development teams and community managers truly understand the culture of the people you’re trying to engage.
3. Content Neutrality
Qzone and Facebook still command the greatest number of active social networking users in the world, but most social media users are active across multiple platforms:
China’s Tencent is responsible for 3 of the world’s top 5 most active social platforms – clear evidence that social media users adopt multiple channels at once.
Chat apps like WeChat (Weixin), Whatsapp, LINE and Kakaotalk have exploded in popularity in recent months, while platforms like Weibo, Twitter and Instagram continue to grow too:
As a result, it’s important for brands to avoid putting all their eggs in one basket.
Marketers need to create content that audiences will be able to transfer from one platform to the other, allowing people to continue the conversation on their own terms with their different networks.
This approach will also help to avoid relying too heavily on platform-specific audiences.
Social media users are quick to adopt new platforms, and marketers may find that the ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ they build in one platform quickly become irrelevant as audiences move on to the newest network or app.
Recommendation: build communities around passions, not audience on platforms.
4. Country Needs
What does your brand need to do in order to succeed?
It’s unlikely that the answer to this question will involve the same set of challenges and opportunities in each market, so you’ll need to develop an approach that can adapt to your varying local needs.
Much of this relates to the audience context in each market – for example, how much they know about the brand, or the specific place it holds and role it plays in the local landscape.
Do you need to educate people, or just reinforce what they already know? Can you already harness ‘cultural equity’ like community in-jokes or evocative imagery?
You’ll also need to adapt your content and conversational approach to your brand’s specific needs for things like new launches or environmental factors (e.g. product shortages).
Don’t forget that local legislation may have a significant impact on your activities too. Many countries have strict laws governing aspects such as product claims, competitions, or even whether certain products (e.g. alcohol) can be overtly marketed.
Recommendation: even if you’re aiming for a global or regional approach, ensure that it’s flexible enough that it can adapt to a variety of local needs.
Social media is increasingly a mobile-first experience. Almost 80% of Facebook’s users access the service via mobile devices, whilst almost all 438 million users of WeChat – China’s hottest social platform – are mobile-only.
This mobility presents some great opportunities for marketers, whether it’s connecting with people when they’re actually using a brand, when they’re at the point of sale, or when they’re out socialising with friends.
However, the mobile context differs considerably from one country to the next, and mobile diversity isn’t without its challenges.
Firstly, data connections remain slow across much of the developing world, with barely one-quarter of Asia’s 1.8 billion mobile users able to access 3G networks.
Meanwhile, more than 80% of Asia’s 4 billion active mobile connections are pre-paid (versus 27% in the US and 42% in the UK), meaning that the cost of mobile data – and therefore of mobile internet access – is still an important challenge.
As a result, marketers need to build carefully balanced content plans. High-definition video may deliver the ‘optimum experience’, but video streams or downloads will be too slow and too expensive for the average mobile user in countries like India or the Philippines, so be sure to incorporate simpler, static content too.
Slow connection speeds mean brands need to deliver immediate value too; if the audience has any doubts about the relevance or utility of a brand’s post, they will scroll straight past it before the content even has a chance to load.
Recommendation: make sure all your content is tailored for a mobile-dominated consumption experience.
If you do need to take a global or regional approach to social media, avoid categorising your audience by country.
Instead, look for the interests, motivations and attitudes that the people you want to engage have in common, and use these commonalities to define your audience.
People are drawn to others whom they feel affinity for, and when it comes to the borderless internet, this affinity is far more dependent on passion than it is on place.
Recommendation: define your audience around their shared motivations, not their nationality.
A version of this post first appeared in my column on The Marketing Society’s blog.
So last Saturday afternoon, I plopped down on the couch to catch the National Day Parade, and boy, was I in for a show. Singaporeans may tend to complain A LOT about Singapore, but on 9th August, there’s always that sense of pride to call this little red dot our Home.
I was curious to find out what Singaporeans had to say on National Day and lucky me, it was raining tweets all day. Here’s what I found:
1) Singaporeans are especially patriotic on National Day
— Joseph Schooling (@joschooling) August 9, 2014
2) We are proud to be in a multiracial society
3) We all agree it was a good decision not to have an NDP song this year
best #NDP2014 decision was not having a new NDP song this year. the classics are always the best. STAND UP, STAND UP FOR SINGAPOOOOORE
— #VivDidIt-★ (@rightclick5ave) August 9, 2014
Weibo adds new feature for video records and uploads
Weibo app added a new feature that allows video recording, uploading and playing directly in Weibo. Although embedded videos have been there for a while, it’s meaningful that this is the first time Weibo ever built video function directly without involving third party sites. However, the new function doesn’t seem to be a threat to existing local video sharing apps like Tencent’s Weishi and Sina’s Miaopai at the moment as it doesn’t have video editing ability. But the new feature might add more burdens on Sina for the responsibility to censor inappropriate video content.
WhatsApp might no longer be free in India
Free messaging or call apps like WhatsApp and Skype might not be free anymore in India. The issue all comes down to the conflict between Telecom companies and OTT (over-the-top) service providers. (OTT refers to text, audio or video sent over the internet.) With rising smartphone usage and data access in India, increasingly fewer people are using SMS or phone calls, which are more profitable than data plans for Telecom companies. In order for revenue to bounce back, Telecom companies have requested the Telecom Regulatory of India (TRAI) to approve a so-called ‘connectivity charge’ for free messaging and calls. But it is not clear whether this ‘connectivity charge’ will be applied to consumers in addition to data usage. However, the Internet and Mobile Association of India argues that TRAI should not be involved in this matter. It remains to be seen how the issue will pan out.
All chat apps in China to verify users with real identities
In an effort to “clean up” all instant messaging services, the Chinese government has ruled that all public account owners on any chat apps in China have to register with their true identities and get permission to publish. Although some chat apps like Weixin already has started real-name verification processes last year, this is the first time that the government has issued a formal regulation on this matter.
The latest figures from Facebook suggest that the number of people actively using social media each month has now passed the 2 billion mark. More than half of these use Facebook each month, while Tencent’s QZone platform is home to almost one-third of all global users.
These aren’t the only platforms posting good numbers though – Twitter in particular has shown impressive active user growth in the past few months:
There will inevitably be overlap between users of these platforms though, so we’ve been careful to only include the numbers for the largest network in each country in our total global figure.
Given that, it’s worth noting that another big contributor to the global active user number is VKontakte, which accounts for 75 million of the total global figure. That’s not enough to place it in the Global Top 10 rankings above, but VK is still a dominant force in Russia and a number of its neighbours.
Beyond the social media stats, it’s equally exciting to report that more than half the planet now owns a mobile phone, with unique users now exceeding 3.6 billion.
Globally active mobile subscriptions now exceed 7.1 billion, suggesting that the average phone owner maintains almost 2 active subscriptions.
Internet growth also continues apace, with globally active users now tantalisingly close to the 3 billion mark.
Mobile social media use is also on the rise, with 77% of all social networking users now accessing via mobile devices.
You’ll find more specific figures – including data for more that 100 countries around the world – in our SDMW series of reports.