Thursday, April 28, 2011

Social media - will it translate to opposition victory?

There is much evidence that the opposition is engaging more on social media than the incumbent party. In fact, with the controlled media in Singapore, many have turned to the Internet for a more balanced view of things. There is much anger among the people as well. Many felt that the PAP is censoring comments and not reply to them online.

I believe in previous elections, the turnout was much higher for the opposition as well, and for some cases, the PAP won.

In 1988, the PAP targeted Francis Seow, a former Solicitor-General of Singapore and President of the Law Society. Mr Seow was ‘exposed’ as a serial womaniser and tax cheat, and was also accused of being a ‘foreign agent’ who was out to destabilise Singapore. Mr Seow’s WP team in Eunos GRC won 49.1% of the votes before he was hounded out of the country on trumped-up charges.

n 1991, the WP’s Jufrie Mahmood, who also stood in Eunos GRC, attracted flak for being a ‘Malay chauvinist’.

In 1997, the WP’s Tang Liang Hong, who was running with then-party leader J B Jeyaretnam in Cheng San GRC, was accused of being an ‘anti-Christian Chinese chauvinist’. Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong turned the battle for Cheng San into a personal battle, saying that voters were making a choice between him and Mr Tang, even though Mr Goh was not a candidate for the constituency.

Eventually, Mr Goh and 11 other PAP leaders, including Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Teo Chee Hean and Dr Tony Tan, sued Mr Tang for defamation on the grounds that he said that the allegations of racism were “lies”. In doing so, they argued, he was alleging that they were “liars” and therefore unfit for office. Unsurprisingly, Mr Tang was ordered to pay millions of dollars in damages to the PAP leaders, and was forced to leave Singapore as a result.

In 2001, Dr Chee Soon Juan, the leader of the Singapore Democratic Party, was the ‘chosen one’. He was sued for defamation by Mr Goh and Mr Lee (Kuan Yew) because he brought up the issue of a clandestine billion-dollar loan to Indonesian President Suharto. Dr Chee was also branded a “heckler” and “street hustler”, and was ordered to pay more than half a million dollars in damages. He was made a bankrupt and has been unable to contest any elections since then.

And in 2006, in an incident that remains fresh in the memory of many Singaporeans, the WP’s James Gomez was accused of dishonesty and “criminal intimidation” because of a discrepancy with regards to the filing of his minority candidate form. The “Gomez Saga” dominated the agenda in the lead-up to polling day, with little attention given to the actual debate concerning national policy. Dr Gomez was detained by the police for questioning the day after the election, in which his WP team clinched 44% of the vote in Aljunied GRC.


PAP Rally


WP Rally


There is indeed more people interested in politics today than it was 5 - 10 years ago, and the once politically apathetic youth are participating and sharing information as well.

I have no doubt that if it is an online poll, the Opposition would win, but with the myriad conditions and rules placed, a lot of the online community, whom are Singaporeans overseas are not eligible to vote as they have not registered. (Its not even nomination day, and they were already not eligible.)

For the case of Obama, it was not only on online chatter, there was much activity on the ground and the ground coordination was very well organized and online supporters/students are activated to raise issues with their friends and families, and share what they have learned. This is not seen in Singapore yet.

So is online social media and large turnouts enough?

Only time will tell...

-- Robin Low


Monday, April 25, 2011

Build trust! Don't Astroturf.

It is very important to build trust. Even when there is lack of engagement, using fake IDs to post to your page will only destroy what little you have built.

It is not hard to check on the fake profiles, and when someone found it out, well, the rest is history, and what ever engagement that was built, and reputation will all be destroyed.

I feel sorry for the 13,000 fans. How many of them are real?

-- Robin Low

Friday, April 15, 2011

Social Media Progress Report -- Singapore

Singapore has a very high Internet Penetration and mobile user base, and it is not surprising that the usage of Facebook is on the rise.

Singapore Facebook Statistics
General info
Total Facebook Users: 2 498 300
Penetration of population: 53.14%
Position in the list: 49.
Penetration of online pop.: 68.29%
Average CPC: $0.63
Average CPM: $0.35

Info from Socialbakers

As a results, there is a flurry of companies and organizations getting on Facebook. I've done some training with a few groups, and it has been going on for months and now my classes are at maximum capacity, however, for a lot of the more conservative companies, I realized that many of the companies are still not engaging in conversations, and their major concerns are still negative feedback!

People are going to talk about your company whether you are on Facebook or not. If people cannot post comments on your Facebook page, it is like telling your fans, I'm not interested to hear from you!

My friend Jeremy Woolf from Text100 shared another link: placebook Which has a map showing the number of Facebook users. Its pretty interesting and informative to look at.

He also shared the Twitter Reach

With more savvy Internet users and a highly educated population, it is strange that many of the businesses want to use social media and is afraid to get negative comments.

Well, my solution is:

ENGAGE! You need to find out the problems and solve them. Win your customers back!
Ignoring them does not solve anything!

-- Robin low

Monday, April 4, 2011


For creating awareness and getting noticed on Social Media, participating or in the case of Carlos Miranda Levy, running TEDxEarthquake9.0 to create awareness for his Relief 2.0 and shine the light on the new Relief practices which is more inclusive, and gives survivors options.

Many of the survivors are business owners. Although they have lost everything, their homes, their stores, or even their loved ones, many are still strong, and want to restart, but they are unable to do so as they do not have enough money to do so.

This is the similar situation to many survivors in disasters all over the world. After the disaster destroys physical infrastructure, human capacity remains but it is often ignored by conventional relief efforts, and the survivors are turned into refugees.

Relief 2.0 is a new approach to Relief after a disaster, and it leverages on social media to be effective and efficient.

Relief 2.0 is the practice of running the last mile in the field through independent field units supported by mobile technologies and social networks, connecting resources, stakeholders, needs, organizations, volunteers and survivors in an efficient, effective and timely manner, filling the gaps created by bureaucracy and slow response from top-down hierarchies.

It is the result of field experience, the relentless pursuit of committed volunteers to be effective and respond to the requests of disaster survivors and the humane sympathy and empathy of global volunteers who remotely support their operation using mobile phones, community radio, the Internet and social media and networks.

In Relief 2.0 we deploy multidisciplinary and mixed small independent units of locals and foreigners, empowered to assess each situation and make decisions on their own, constantly connected and supported by mobile technologies and a distributed network of contacts which monitors and follows their activities and requests via mobile phones, SMS, twitter feed, blogs and social networks and relays any need they have to others who can in turn relay to others until the needs are fulfilled by someone in a broad network of volunteers, stakeholders and concerned institutions.

As opposed to top-down, rigid chains of command and action, these units form a distributed open network where each member has connections in multiple directions and is willing to hook up to other networks. When confronted with a a problem, each unit solves it with self initiative without waiting to be told what to do, and when unable to do so, relays the need and enables others to help.


At TEDxEarthquake9.0, Relief 2.0 will be one of the talks and it will indeed leverage on the branding of the TED talks, and create a lot of awareness in the process. Many other quake related technologies will also be revealed, and there will be a simulcast in Tokyo, Singapore and other parts of the world.

TEDxEarthquake9.0 will be held on Sunday April 10, 2011 - 1pm 6pm. At Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.

-- Robin Low