PR and Social Media in Asia

I stumbled upon this wiki on social media when I was doing random surfing this morning about PR in Asia. It is really quite interesting and I believed it is put together by some university students.

I’ve been invited to a couple of social media events/ gatherings and the discussion topics have always been focused on which tools/ networks/ channels/ methods are best to reach out to the audiences. I realised there is always a tendency to generalise too much and assume that what works in US will work in Asia when we discuss marketing communications, public relations and social media.

The last couple of months, I’ve been traveling to different parts of Asia and spending time, trying to understand the different markets that I am managing in Asia Pacific region. It’s interesting to note how diverse and unique each Asian market is when it comes to managing PR/ communications in each country. It is even tougher to come up with a regional campaign that works across several Asia countries. When we talk about Web 2.0, PR, communications in general, at times we forget that there is the cultural element. Communications in an emerging market versus communications in Latin America will obviously be very different. How consumers in different market consume information is also very different and that should affect the way we plan our communications campaigns. As much as we have all heard that in the Web 2.0 world, it is all about the people, the online communities gathering together, sharing information, contributing to conversations, everything is becoming  more globalised. However, as I’ve observed and agreed with the students who wrote in the wiki, i think we’ve missed several points.

So obviously despite the market’s globalization process, there are differences between countries …because of cultural factors…which are partly responsible for the marketing environment in that market. Asia is a region with many layers: different languages, different cultures, and different technology preferences….all in a region filled with different countries, laws, etc. It does pose a tough challenge, not only for inter but also for Intra-national communication.

These observations are quite accurate. There are a lot of so called “social media experts” out there who sometimes called me up and said, “hey, we can offer you help on regional campaigns using social media….”

My immediate thought is, do you really know how people in India consume information? Have you stepped into Bangalore and understand the language difference? Do you understand the technological great divide between different cities in India or do you know what’s really big in Vietnam right now? Do you know that, web/ PC penetration is so much lower than mobile phone penetration in many Asia countries? So, it makes me wonder at times how companies and agencies hire their “experts” who hardly step out of their own country and hardly understand communciations on the web, let alone the 2.0 or the ability to reach/ engage consumers out there in Asia. Sure, some of us may understand how the web2.0 and how PR works (in general) but to put together some really successful campaigns, it takes much, much, much more than that.

In HK for instance, there are three primary communities in Hong Kong. The expatriates, who favor English, the local Chinese whose first language is Cantonese and the increasing numbers of mainland Chinese immigrants who use Mandarin. These differences are important to businesses as based on their target audience; their medium of advertisement has to change.

While we raved and make a huge fuss about Facebook, nobody really bothers about it in countries in Asia. In China, Korea and Japan and other emerging markets, there are some really big and powerful social networks that are locally relevant to the people.

When it comes to PR, it doesn’t really matter if Techcrunch or New York Times are raving about a certain product or website, if i’s not locally relevant to ie: Thailand or Vietnam, (that are not even english speaking markets) or big markets like Korea, India and China, honestly, the key media there don’t really care.

I have always hoped to find more great bloggers, influencers and thought leaders in Asia who cover topics on social media and communications, especially those who have not only in-country knowledge but cross-cultural, cross countries expertise. If you are one of them, please do drop me a note. We’ve heard so much from the US and UK folks, I think it is time to hear from Asia’s point of view on the topics of Social Media and new media. (honestly, it’s really not about knowing how to set up a second life account and far more than using facebook to set up an event invite).

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28 thoughts on “PR and Social Media in Asia

  1. Pingback: UpComingCamera.Info » Blog Archive » PR and Social Media in Asia

  2. Hi Priscilla,

    Thank you for stopping by the wiki. The site you visited is the on-going class project for my social media course at Singapore Management University. Each semester the students do the research while also studying social media applied to marketing, corporate communication and PR. The students have been great, very enthusiastic about the research, and some bring local-language ability allowing us to begin searching the non-English sites and statistics.

    The site will again be updated on April 7, 2008 and you can expect quite a bit of new information. Once this update is completed, I will be creating and sharing my social media map of Asia, which should help companies better understand the growth of social media in different countries and how the online space can be used more effectively within and across countries.

    Meanwhile, I have a fair number of social media-Asia blogs I follow. You can track the shared feeds on your Google Reader or Feedburner at http://www.google.com/reader/shared/02711948118778809683.

    Please feel free to spread the word about the wiki. We are always looking to grow the community and, as you say, move beyond the US/Western Europe centric view of social media. There is an exciting social media world here in Asia and our counterparts in the West have as much to learn from us as we do from them.

    Thanks for the blog post and please let us know if we can ever be of assistance. Many thanks to my student Daryl (UniqueFrequency on WordPress) who picked up on your post.

    Michael
    Singapore Management University
    CommunicateAsia blog

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  4. Thanks for this, Priscilla. I did a lot of guerrilla marketing and Web 2.0 work for my previous company, muvee.com, that was focused mainly on the US…and I’m only just beginning to focus on the regional scene here in Asia for the digital influence work I’m currently doing at Ogilvy PR. I’ve been toying with the idea of hosting a casual “fireside chat” to talk about these issues and I’m wondering if you, Michael and others here would be interested. I’m hoping to bring in 1-2 bloggers who have a really solid global perspective to join the chat.

  5. Thanks Michael. I really enjoyed your students’ research and thoughts. Will check out the site on 7 April again. The link is going into error page, any other URLs to share?

  6. Tania, great to hear from you. I can’t really say I have solid perspectives, I am exploring and learning alot myself but sure, give me a yell when you guys want to chat. I’ve been talking to one of your colleagues, Brian Koh. 🙂

  7. Hi Pris,

    Just to let you know both Tania and Prof. Michael will be attending Social Media Breakfast: Singapore on Saturday. So you may get the chance to discuss such matters earlier than you think!

    ps thanks for the Tweet. Quite a few of my classmates were thrilled to note that someone is actually reading our wiki!

  8. Hi Daryl, that’s the power of social media. I’ve sent the link to some colleagues and like-minded friends, hopefully those who read this blog pick it up too and able to share more thoughts. Keep up the great stuff you guys are doing.

    I’ve seen the social media breakfast invite on facebook but I am traveling a lot these couple of weeks, will try to make it.

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  10. Hi Priscilla,

    I’m a little to reply on this one – but then again local style remains the same today, plus I wasn’t an expatriate in Asia when you originally wrote the post.

    A massive bugbear for is people assuming that what works in the west will work in Asia. As you pointed out, the environment is totally different – even across Asia itself – it requires local know-how and knowledge.

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