When developing a social media marketing strategy in Asia Pacific, Wego.com's Blanca Menchaca has advice for marketers. "You need to know your audience especially in this part of the world. Southeast Asia is a very fragmented market so you have to be mindful of cultural and religious differences," she warned marketers.
For instance, she said, Indonesians speak Bahasa Indonesian, but like to interact in English. And Australians typically like funny comments and localized messaging; it's not sufficient to re-use U.S. and U.K. messages.
During SES Singapore 2011, Menchaca shared best practices for social media marketing. She was joined by Enrique Pinilla, head of 3M's eHub in Asia Pacific, and Nicholas Tay, digital marketing manager at the Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford in a panel discussion, which I moderated. Here’s a summary of that discussion:
Wego.com: Big on Facebook
The social strategy at Wego.com, a travel search engine specializing in the Asian market, has three dimensions: community management, social advertising, and social integration, said Menchaca, who oversees performance marketing and social media for the company.
Community management: Wego.com operates local fan pages for key markets such as Australia, India, and Indonesia. This leads to another bit of advice for all marketers, not just those doing business in Asia Pacific. "Don't go ahead and start a local or regional fan page unless you have support for that page and look after it almost 24/7," said Menchaca.
She also warned against spamming friends and followers on social networks. Typically, Wego.com limits posts to two items a day on Facebook and 10 on Twitter. Messages are tailored to each platform: inspirational videos and photos are posted on Facebook, promotions and sales pitches are published on Twitter.
Social integration: Wego.com uses Facebook Connect to allow people to register on the travel search engine. For now, 30 percent of the people who register on Wego.com come through Facebook, said Menchaca.
"We are working very hard to deliver people a customized experience after they connect," she said, citing CNN as a site that does a good job of offering personalized experiences. For instance, people can see what their friends are reading and commenting on at CNN.
Wego.com's marketing team also approaches "like" and "follow" buttons differently from "recommend" and "share" buttons.
"Like" and "follow" provides people with a way to show their interest in a brand, Menchaca said. "Once they 'like' you, they are telling their friends, 'I like this brand; you should check it out,'" she said.
"Recommend" and "share" are better for products. "For us, it works well when we have a deal with a short life span," Menchaca said. "A message coming from a friend saying that this deal ends in five days and it's a great offer for Thailand - that's a much more powerful message than just endorsing the brand."
Social advertising: Sponsored ads are a great way to pay for word of mouth, Menchaca said. "If you have one fan, you have access to 130 people on average," she said. "If you are in Indonesia, which is a very social market, you have access to up to 1,000 fans."
Because the ads come with referrals from friends, she said, it increases the likelihood of receiving a response. Using sponsored ads, Wego.com increased the number of fans from 3,000 to 60,000 within a couple of months.
3M: Listening and Learning
3M, the maker of Scotch-Brite household cleaning products and Post-it Notes, has 11 brands in Asia Pacific. "We have global brand identities. If you look at our Post-it communications in China versus Indonesia, the key takeaway is the same - which is our brand value proposition, voice, and character. But everything is done with local content and local audiences in mind," Enrique Pinilla said, when discussing the Post-it Notes' Facebook page.
A look at Facebook fan pages for Post-it Singapore and Post-it Indonesia shows the different approaches.
All throughout its social marketing initiatives, 3M emphasizes four steps: listening, engaging, measuring, and optimizing campaigns and products.
3M's "listening" efforts are massive: it tracks what's being said about the brand and its products across 20,000 news sources, 100 blogs, 95 percent of all online video, plus online forums, message boards, and public Facebook pages, according to Pinilla. "[Understanding] consumer insights goes back to marketing 101," he said. By understanding consumer likes and dislikes, needs and suggestions, findings can be shared with research and development teams to enhance products.
And, 3M uses ratings and reviews to enable consumers to share opinions and stories about its products. Quotes from reviews are incorporated into display advertisements, for instance. "In ads for Scotch tape, ones featuring quotes performed three times better," Pinella said. Performance was measured based on click-through rates and landing page results, such as time spent on page and what the visitor did after she went to a certain page.
Reviews also served another purpose this year when a new model of the Scotch-Brite Dishwand got one- and two-star ratings (with one star being the lowest rating). Scotch-Brite organized a task force that included representatives from the legal, quality control, customer service, and research departments to investigate whether user error or another factor caused the complaints. That investigation turned up the culprit: a manufacturing problem caused the dish washing wands to leak soap and the problem was soon remedied. "We took a negative - what people were saying in social media - to an extreme positive by responding so quickly," Pinella said.
Fairmont Singapore: Know Yourself, Know Your Audience
Marketers must ask themselves the following questions before plunging into social media, said Nicholas Tay, digital marketing manager at Fairmont Singapore and Swissôtel The Stamford, two hotels in Singapore.
If you answered no to all of these questions, Tay recommends hiring an agency.
Meanwhile, marketers must evaluate:
Tay emphasized that last question. "I work for the Fairmont and Swisshotel. One's a five-star luxury hotel and the other's a business hotel. Am I the brand's target audience? I can tell you, 'No.' I'm an artsy-fartsy guy…I have to wear a suit because it's a management office. Are you your brand's target audience? If you are not - as a marketer - do not impose your thoughts onto your agency or force them to listen to you because you are paying them," he advised.
When measuring the success of social media outreach, Tay recommends using simple metrics instead of getting caught up with complex calculations. Two that he tracks:
Reach on Facebook: Compare the posts on your Facebook fan page versus total number of fans. "Benchmark against yourself and not the world," he said.
Engagement: Add up the total "likes" and "comments" and divide that by impressions, or Facebook page views. He said that most of the brands he's worked with in the past achieved a ratio of 0.3 to 0.4. "It's a simple formula, there's no fluff about it," he said.
This column was first published Dec. 5, 2011 on ClickZ Asia.
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Anna Maria Virzi, ClickZ's executive editor from 2007 until 2012, covered Internet business and technology since 1996. She was on the launch team for Ziff Davis Media's Baseline and also worked at Forbes.com, Web Week, Internet World, and the Connecticut Post.