SMG Trains Citizen Journalists for SEA Games

Awesome work by our SMG Social team. They were involved in getting Citizen Journalists ready for the SEA Games.

Do check out the links below for more info.

Go SEA Games and good luck to all our the athletes taking part in the 2015 SEA Games.

Campaign Asia,smg-trains-social-media-volunteers-for-sea-games.aspx

Indian Television

Mumbrella Asia:


Digital Market Asia


Gearing up for 2011: Malaysia

[First posted on January 26, 2011]

What will the themes Exchange, Expectations and Experience mean to you as a consumer this year? How will it shape businesses or shift behaviors?

We share some thoughts on emerging spaces and themes for Malaysia in 2011. Enjoy!

What’s your take? Let’s hear it.

My three game changing ideas

[First posted on January 18, 2011]

I’ve been invited to a small but exciting gathering of digital practitioners calledMashup. This is a very encouraging sign of industry growth and the willingness of collaboration irregardless of background; it’s not something that you can find in any media industry.

The session that I’ve been invited to, only the second one since its inception, is themed “3 game changing ideas that if/when implemented, they’d change the way we view life”. I quickly jogged down a few ideas in my notebook and thought of sharing these ideas here before I design a simple 5 minute deck for the Mashup session.

Social Traveling

Assigned flight seats are a norm, so are pre-arranged meals. They are not just limited to business and first class travels, but also economy as well. So make sure you choose the right airline. Now what if your favourite airline could do much more than that? What if your airline, or even a 3rd party company, could tell you whether a friend or acquaintance of yours is also travelling to the same destination on the same flight? Or to a lesser extent, you’re able to find out who else would be at the airport at the same time as you without the need to announce on Facebook or Twitter that you’re bored to your wits waiting for a delayed flight.

As a frequent traveler (I consider once a month as frequent?), I can say that my experience of travelling would almost completely change. As I check in my flight via mobile a day before, I am able to check whether any of my other friends would be flying on the same flight or other flights at around the same time. If not, I’m able to fill out a simple psychographic profile of myself and enable the system to match my interests with someone compatible. I get to choose whether to sit together with that person during the flight…has to be a mutual consenting process, of course. No one likes stalkers.

As I check into the airport via a dominant service provider (could be 4SQ or FB Places), the airline/airport immediately finds out of my arrival. My profile is pulled up that shows what books I like, what shows I watch, how influential I am (Klout scores, anyone?), how frequent I travel, how I like my meals, do I like being woken up for meals (very important to a lot of people), and the whole lot. A message is sent to me to physically check in at a customer service counter, not check in the flight, but to receive a welcome gift/beverage while at the same time relevant retail and F&B promotions are sent to me based on my interest.

Would all these require extra miles from the airlines/airports? Probably. But if both on ground and air service staffs are trained differently to be savvy to these new ways of understanding customers, I reckon these solutions would even make customer service easier and more efficient. Imagine stewardesses holding tablets that pull customer info as they go about their duty – hot 🙂

Social Brand Loyalty Programmes

Two words: mobility and crowd-sourcing. I wonder when the likes of Bonus Link and Real Rewards will consider changing their modus operandi; there is an inevitable evolution shifting towards digital and mobile integration if they are to truly capitalize on changing consumer consumption trends. Let me challenge curent practice: we don’t need to swipe loyalty cards to earn points. We simply need to check in. I’ll challenge the norm again: we don’t need a list of unattractive, repetitive and over-valued items to redeem as rewards after a long wait of saving points only to find out they’re out of stock, we redeem for the things we like and consume like a pint of beer, send a friend a birthday gift, get upgraded to first class, a free movie ticket, etc.

In fact, if a bunch of friends check in together and spend a good time buying stuff, we’d get extra benefits/points.We can share part of the benefits with other friends and poof – instant customer referral. New customer visits from friends as a result of our recommendation will give us referral points for being a goodcustomer friend. For thrifty consumers who would rather save, continue to offer big ticket items as redemption for larger cumulated points.

Farmville and Cityville did not become the behemoth of games they are today without some well-thought viral ideas, and they are excellent ideas readily applicable (with some modifications) to real life businesses.


Mobile commerce has not gained traction in Malaysia yet, I would love to be proven wrong. When it does, we’ll look at shopping very differently. Especially the men.

What would be the ideal mobile shopping? Even in the US, prominent retailers are only beginning to find the right formula. Nevertheless, an ideal experience for me would one of tailored and private shopping. Utilizing a universal social graph (I’m assuming there’s one, and Facebook is front runner to create it), the retailer remembers me and my past purchases. I’m able to create an avatar of myself that allows me to ‘try on’ clothing before I buy. While browsing goods, I’m able to see if my friends are shopping as well – I’d have in-shopping chat with a friend while contemplating on purchase. If privacy allows, I’d also be able to see what other friends have bought and recommendations of relevant items. Upon purchase, I get to share a RM20 coupon with a friend for the same clothing line. Most importantly, while all the shopping happens, I’ve total control over whether anyone has view of my purchase. I won’t want anyone to know if I’m buying lingerie, right? *yikes!*

Lastly, retailers should do it the Zappos way: purchase returns at full refund within a 365 day grace period. Okay…before I get labeled an idealist, they should limit this to certain items only that’d help minimize risk to retailers. At the end of the day, when the product brand name and quality relegate to second-tier priority and shopping experience moves up, these retailers won’t be selling physical goods anymore. They’d be selling customer service.

Influence and blogging

[First posted on January 11, 2011]

Malaysia’s a blogging nation; if cats/dogs had fingers, they’d blog too! (and probably rant about the ridiculous outfits their owners force them to wear under scorching Malaysian weather) On a serious note, I’m personally happy that the local digital industry is blessed with strong blogger communities managed by two sucessful companies:

a. Nuffnang/NomNom Media – I’m unsure what their official name is, but I still refer to them as Nuffnang. Lead by Timothy Tiah.

b. Advertlets – managed by the ever-so-popular-amongst-the-ladies, Josh Lim

I remember the early days (2006-07) of engaging bloggers as a way of credible, user-generated, and believable communication with consumers. We’d review profiles of bloggers, share a campaign brief, receive drafts of written content, somewhat spoil the advertorials by trying tad too hard to sell the campaign, and track results by reviewing the number of comments received and post views. It was all that we could do in regards to buying social influence in the digital space, short of spending millions on ambassadors.

Fast-foward to 2010-2011, the greater industry have been furiously debating/discussing about the now revived social influence topic, partly fueled by the rapid growth of Klout: a platform touting its ability to assign influence scores based on the quality and quantity of one’s social circle. It started off with only measuring Twitter scores, now Klout includes Facebook as well.

I’ve read about the web being an attention economy to advertisers due to the short attention span of web content consumers; I’ve also read about the content economy to brands that understand consumers’ innate craving for content creation (especially the Gen-Ys) and narcissism; there’s a different economy that’s flourishing on the web that has always been around but was in an intangible form, ever so elusive to marketers – the influence economy.

What is the currency of this economy, you ask? It’s literally everything that we do online – status updates, tweets, photos of that fine Phuket vacation, that new catchy song from Linkin Park that we like, etc you get the drift. Mark Zuckerberg found his true calling and made the publishing of these minute details about ourselves possible and accessible by just about anyone (until you control your own privacy, even then there are no guarantees).

Now what does influence have to do with blogging, besides the obvious readers/traffic that one gets to the blog? Stop for a while and think for a bit – why do we ‘buy’ advertorials from popular bloggers? In a stripped down and concise response, it is to leverage on the bloggers’ influence on their network of audience, including friends.

A bigger question is this: should we buy advertorials at all? Or even sponsored Twitter broadcasts for that matter? Influence isn’t constricted to just five paragraphs of biased opinion about a brand; influence manifests itself in every word and action of an individual. Hence, bloggers should no longer be only about these; don’t keep selling us advertorials, tweets, blogger events, movie screenings, or any of the tried-and-tested blogger sales pitches. Sell us measured influence.

Whether we like it or not, budget allocation hinges on proper brand/business justifications that usually rely on statistics and facts (no shit). Klout’s core ability of assigning influence scores becomes a pretty sight for agencies and marketers because we finally have a standard measurement methodology that top-level management decision makers may relate to. Are Klout scores enough to justify investments in sponsoring bloggers? At this juncture of their development, probably not yet. If so, what other metrics should we consider?

Ending this post with important challenges to the blogger community: how should bloggers management evolve? Are advertorials still the right way to go? Or should we treat bloggers as ambassadorial talents? In essence, how do we sell digital influence? I’m sure the answer will pop up sooner than we might think, and I’m excited to begin the journey in achieving that.

Move over foursquare

[ First posted on January 4, 2011]

Strangely, just when you think coupons are dead, they are back! Location based services (LBS) will continue to be huge in the next year and will become the modern day equivalent of a coupon book. Soon everyone will realize that how not very exciting is Foursquare is. How many badges do one need? Going to a place and check in. The more you check in, the higher chances you will become the mayor of that location, and perhaps get some benefits. Now isn’t there a simpler way to earn these discounts? People are cheap and want coupons or vouchers. So imagine the next time you walk into your favourite store, you will receive a mobile coupon that entitles you to immediate discount off your favourite jeans. No more snipping and chasing for coupons and vouchers. No one really likes to carry them anyway. If you are a bargain hunter, now imagine you don’t need to be seen on the aisle that says 70% off.

Foursquare is a nice location based social networking site, enjoy it while it last.