Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fan-gating - Yay or Nay?

I'm sure many of you would have come across similar imagery to the one above when you're on Facebook brand pages. This is call fan-gating. The reason why many brands do it is to get more people to Like their brand / page. I'm against the idea that brands need to fan-gate especially if it's a contest by the brand. I feel that people should be able to participate freely, but not necessarily like your brand / page.

Speaking from an ethics point of view, personally I feel it's not right. Why do you need to Like the brand before joining a contest? If your brand sucks, it sucks and that is the perception that the brand would need to fix though marketing efforts or PR, but definitely not forcing people who do not believe in the brand to Like the brand.

I am against this is because someone who Likes your page for the purpose of joining a contest or for the purpose of any promotional offer, is not a quality fan. They would most likely tend forget, Unlike, or won't engage with your brand anymore once the contest / offer period is over. Why would this matter you ask? Well, simply put it in terms of advertising dollars. How much would you pay to get a non-quality fan versus a quality fan?

At the end of the day, the idea of having brand pages is all about having long term engagements with quality fans. Think about it. Would you rather have 5,000 fans with 1% engagement rate, or would you rather have 100,000 fans with 1% engagement rate? What then happened to the advertising dollars spent on getting those fans? The development cost for the application to run that contest? Would it be money well spent if your goal was to grow fans by fan-gating then? Maybe not. Similar to respect, Likes should be earned and not forced upon.

What do you think? Should brands fan-gate?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Online Privacy: Some Ways To Protect Yourself

Some joked that the Internet (or WiFi) is now part of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which is true to certain extend if your work actually involves you accessing the internet on a daily basis. While the internet is great, it does have a darker side to it.

Online privacy has become a major issue in the past few years or so. Simply because people are ignorant, and not many people even know what it actually means. In layman terms, if your online privacy settings are weak or set to "default", most of your personal information from websites you visit, from social media content you consume on Facebook, Twitter, etc becomes public information.

Recently, there was a case of a website showcasing a collection of photos of girls (some of which are almost nude) to which most of them are underage. It's shocking because these girls innocently upload their photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, without realizing that once it's up, it's available to the public. When I refer to public here means anyone (not necessary someone you're friends with or know) will be able to save your photo or use it for malicious intend. You can read about the full story here.

In a recent article from Social Media Today, you can see that 67% of Facebook users check their privacy settings only once a year or never at all, and that 50% never ever used the "View As.." function to know how others view your profile (I'm sure some of you don't even know that this feature exist on Facebook right?).

Photo credit:

Another thing about photos being uploaded on the internet, they do carry location information of where the picture was taken if you use a mobile device. There used to be a site called (service now disabled) which you can upload a photo and they can show you exactly where the picture was taken. This is possible because mobile devices allows location services where you would use it for apps like maps and check-ins (Facebook & Foursquare). This will allow wannabe stalkers to know which places you usually frequent and plan their "attack".

Be vigilant!

Do remember, while the internet is great, there are some steps that you can take to minimize the abuse of cyber stalkers.

  1. Review you Facebook privacy settings. Create groups and permissions of who gets to see what content and photos. For me, I only allow friends or people I know well enough to view my photos. To acquaintances, I only allow them to view selected updates. Once you created the groups, read this: on how to select who to view what content.
  2. It does not mean that you have to change your profiles to "protected / private" mode. What I post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are very different. I post photos of my family and friends on Facebook simply because I have privacy and permission settings to control who views them. As for Twitter and Instagram, I chose not to post photos of my family simply because I would like these profiles to remain public and I wouldn't want the public to start stealing photos especially that of my family members.
  3. Be careful of "Check Ins". "Checking-in" can be fun (especially on Foursquare), but it can also be dangerous. Only allow people you know and trust know where you are. The easiest way to avoid this is by looking through your Foursquare friend list. Remove anyone who you think you do not know well enough as a precaution. Only add friends who you know.
  4. Blogging only of the past. I know this is something rather hard for people to do especially if they are going to an exciting destination or some place really nice. But think about it, if I want to take advantage of that, all I have to do is to read where you will be going and on what date and time in order for me to plan my "attack". In my view, if you must blog about it, limit the information about date, time and with who for security reasons. The best is to only blog about past events to avoid the hassle.
  5. Check your privacy / security settings regularly. As services like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram changes their privacy policy from time to time (and they don't usually inform users until someone discovers it), it is important to always check your privacy settings from regularly. Checking once every 2-3 months would be a good habit. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Things Not To Do On Social Media #243: Do Not Take Sides

Usain Bolt, currently the fastest man on the planet is also probably one of the most marketable athlete in the world. With brands around the globe just lining up for his endorsement, there are just some things that you cannot do on social media - taking sides.

Though it's not a crime to express a liking for a particular football team, you cannot down play or "insult" the other opponent's team as it is often seen as disrespect and cheap.

In this case, Usain Bolt who just posted a picture of him together with Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry.

The problem is, Bolt cheekily mentioned that he was a fan of Manchester United, one of Arsenal's fiercest rival in the English Premier League and how Henry "played for the wrong team". Although this picture got a lot of "likes" on Instagram, there were a couple of comments from followers (presumably Arsenal fans), who were not too impressed.

The only plus is that this is on his personal account and not for a particular brand. Imagine the PR nightmare the brand has to go through if this were to happen? However, personal or not, if you want to be a well respected ambassador for brands, you should not take sides let alone belittle the competition.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Red Bull's Danny MacAskill's Imaginate

I'm always a fan of Red Bull, not so much the drink, but for their creative way of promoting something. Always challenging norms and doing things creatively. In this video, it shows Danny MacAskill riding to what seems like something out of Toy Story. Very entertaining for a 7+ minute video which already has close to 5 million views on YouTube to date.

The best thing about Red Bull is they do not need to even advertise the product. Everything is done to what Red Bull does best - promoting their extreme sports ambassadors. Love how they also seeded the Red Bull-Infiniti F1 car in the video. This is what a branded content video should be. Think of Project Stratos and you can clearly see what I mean.

 "...Our approach towards communications is that we don't really talk about ourselves too much. Rather, we focus on what we do - the events we create and produce and the athletes we support - versus who we are." - Patrice Radden, Director of Corporate Communications, Red Bull.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Death of SMS?

With the rise of mobile chat applications such as Whatsapp, Viber, WeChat, Skype, etc. It's not really surprising that we see a decline in overall SMS usage here in Malaysia.

We are already seeing a decline of total SMS sent in 2011 vs 2012 in Malaysia (93,120.5 vs 87,567.3)

In the near future, mobile chat applications would probably replace SMS as a preferred form of future text communication as it gives the user more flexibility as well as options. Mobile chat applications allows:
  • Real-time response 
  • Multi user participation (groups) 
  • Sharing of files 
  • Most importantly - No extra charges to send a message
The SMS usage numbers will only decline even more within these 2-3 years as more mobile applications become available and smart phone usage increases. So SMS, your days are numbered!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Social Media Revolution

Just exactly how big is social media? Well, it's pretty hard to imagine, but social media is now part of our everyday lives. You are immerse in it, exposed by it or using it either conciously or sub-conciously.

Just to illustrate, here is a video written by international best selling author and keynote speaker Erik Qualman (@equalman). It's part of a series of social media videos that are the most watched in the world. You'll be amazed with some of the stats. Enjoy!

About Erik Qualman
Erik Qualman is an American author of Socialnomics, Digital Leader and Crisis. He is also an international keynote speaker speaking on Gen Y motivation, digital leadership, digital media and future trends.Wikipedia

Monday, June 25, 2012

All You Ever Wanted To Know About McDonald's

Ever wondered how McDonald's burger patties are made? What goes into making the perfect Big Mac? What are Chicken McNuggets made of? These are some commonly asked questions about McDonald's globally and I bet even you would like to know the answers to them as well. Well now you can. McDonald's Canada (@McD_Canada) gives their customers to ask everything and anything about their food.

I first came across this when a colleague of mine shared a video which showed Hope Bagozzi, Director of Marketing of McDonald's Canada going down the field to answer a customer's question on "Why does your food look different in the advertising than what is in the store?". Bagozzi went to a McDonald's outlet, then bought a burger and brought it back to the photo studio and made a comparison to explain why that the ad and the real burgers are different.

The thought of opening a question forum like this, is always subjected to pros and cons. In this case, McDonald's as a brand seemed "more caring" especially when Bagozzi went on ground and took effort to shoot a video to answer a question posted by one of their customers. Customers do appreciate the effort for doing so and in turn, they will trust the brand more for it's transparency, honesty and effort. However, things like these could also lead customers into posting stupid things or using it as a channel to complain or to vent hate about the brand.

Q: "When you say 100% beef, do you mean whole cow: the organs, snout, brain, kidneys, etc or just plain beef we buy @ the grocer?"
Nevertheless, it's still a very good thing McDonald's Canada did. I love the campaign for the fact that they do not rely on a Facebook page for customer interaction, and I do hope that customers would use it for getting answers rather than for malicious intend.

Campaign site:
Note: You can only post questions if you're residing in Canada as it detects your IP address