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Friday, 25 February 2011

Asian Companies Slow On The Uptake?

Burson-Marsteller’s Second Annual Global Social Media Check-up looks at how Fortune 100 companies use social media, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blogs.

Twitter has emerged as the most popular. Seventy-seven percent of companies now have accounts, up from 65 percent the previous year.

Burson-Marsteller found that social media has very quickly gone from an interesting emerging communications trend to a critical part of the media landscape, and companies are reacting to that change.

"Last year, our Global Social Media Check-up found that 79 percent of the largest 100 companies in the Fortune Global 500 index are using at least one of the most popular social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or corporate blog, but companies were mainly using these channels for one-way communication to broadcast corporate messages.

This year, the study found that the Fortune Global 100 are now more likely to directly engage users on social media, and companies are increasingly “@” mentioning and retweeting on Twitter and allowing and answering posts on Facebook pages. This is a clear indication that companies are now putting resources behind social media monitoring and engagement in a way that they were not 12 months prior. "

So overall the understanding of what social media actually is and its potential has vastly increased in the short space of 12 months.

However there are cultural considerations that have shone through these results.  Asian firms are far more reticent to embrace social media

Aude Lagorce of MarketWatch believes that the reasons behind Asian firms’ slow digital adoption are numerous, complex and vary by geography and industry, but at the root, they are cultural.

Setting up a page on Facebook or launching a corporate blog gives a firm a “face” with its stakeholders, helping to make it seem more approachable, caring and responsive.

This is a paradox given that Asians are early and passionate adopters of digital technology and social media platforms, particularly the home-grown variety.

But as  Kenneth Hong, LG’s global communications director explains: “The mentality in many Asian cultures is that you want to be in control, and taking risks, such as changing your communication strategy, using digital more is, well, risky.”

The hierarchical organisation of many Asian companies is based mainly on seniority and experience. As a result youthful enthusiasm and creativity find it difficult to flourish in such a conservative environment, which in turn hinders the adoption of social media in business.

To put it more bluntly, many of the senior executives are out of touch but do not wish to lose face in the boardroom by broaching a topic which they are not fully conversant with. And if  this digital leadership does not come from the top the lesser ranks are unlikely to blight their careers by raising the possibilities.

Similarly, online advertising spend in Asia lags behind the global trends although a primary reason is a doubt on the return on investment.

However there is a silver lining to the recent recession; it kick started a major advance in online advertising as it proved to be a low cost alternative to other more traditional media such as television. Asian companies were therefore more will to try it out.

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Singapore's digital advertising spend jumped 26% in 2010 when compared to the previous year.

Burson-Marsteller’s study showed there was a 6 percent increase overall  in Fortune 100 companies using at least one social media platform. Among Asian companies the increase was 34 percent.
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Monday, 21 February 2011

The Older The Better

There remains a common misconception that social media and use of the Net are solely the domain of the young.

A new report from Neilsen has confirmed that as populations age, the significance of consumers over the age of 50 will grow in importance.

"Already in the U.S., the Baby Boom generation accounts for the largest share of sales of any generation across most product categories. Understanding this new marketplace will be essential for brands that will grow in the 21st century."

Baby Boomers will redefine what it means to be old in exactly the same manner as they redefined what it meant to be young and middle aged.

Despite the global recession that has scuppered or delayed many peoples retirement plans, the baby boomer generation remains one of the most affluent and prepared for retirement.

A lot of online marketing focus has been on the Milliennials, those aged 18-33, while the affluent and retiring bay boomers have somewhat slipped off the radar.

It is true that Millennials are more likely to do the following:
  • Use social networking sites
  • Use instant messaging
  • Use online classifieds
  • Listen to music
  • Play online games
  • Read blogs
  • Participate in virtual worlds
But a recent Pew Internet survey discovered that internet users in Gen X (those ages 34-45) and older cohorts are more likely than Millennials to engage in several online activities, including visiting government websites and getting financial information online.

The fastest growth in the use of social media has come from internet users 74 and older: Site usage for this oldest cohort has quadrupled since 2008, from 4% to 16%.

The jury is out on whether blogging is is being surplanted by the use of other social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

The middle aged and older are sticking with it even if younger generations are losing interest.

The Pew survey shows that among 34-to-45-year-olds who use the Internet, the percentage who blog increased six points, to 16 percent, in 2010 from two years earlier.

Blogging by 46-to-55-year-olds increased five percentage points, to 11 percent, while blogging among 65-to-73-year-olds rose two percentage points, to 8 percent.

One of the most popular platforms, Wordpress, recorded more than 6 million new blogs in 2010 with pageviews up 53%.  There were 23 billion Wordpress page views last year and new posts were up 110% to 146 million. Hardly an online activity on the wane.

People reading blogs on Wordpress

Defining the Generations:

US Online Activity

According to eMarketer the US senior population by 2030 will reach an estimated total of 72 million, nearly 20% of the projected total population.

While traditional media is still the main focus for seniors, the internet is quickly increasing its reach. Online penetration among older users is beginning to rival newspaper and radio usage, and this trend is expected to continue, reaching 56.0% by 2015.

All evidence points to seniors using the web for increasingly varied activities, graduating from email and search into social media.

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