Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Trust, reputation and collaborative online model



The Internet business is built for trust. From Amazon to Ebay, many online businesses enable strangers to meet and trust each other for transactions. It took a long time before people embraced the Internet, making it more open and collaborative. Making transaction online relies on a lot of trust. Trust that the buyer pays and the seller actually sells the right product and ships the products that are paid for. There are many checks and balances build in place to encourage honesty and simply do what is supposed.

Trust and reputation are two interrelated concepts. We can find trust at personal level. Reputation expresses an opinion resulting from collective opinions of community members. This evaluation may lead to risks such as penalty of innovative and minority ideas, problem described as “tyranny of the majority”. (http://www.gnuband.org/files/papers/trust_it_forward_Tyranny_of_the_Majority_or_Echo_Chambers_paolo_massa.pdf) If they give each user reputation scores that take only other similar users’ opinions into account, they run the risk of becoming “echo chambers” in which like-minded people reinforce each others’ views without being open to outside perspectives. 

On Twitter, Facebook and Wikipedia, perhaps, most of the webpages on the Internet, having an honor code is very important. On Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the other social networking sites, you use your real profile so your friends, contacts, classmates and other acquaintances can find you and connect. Real accounts and profiles are important for online businesses to function as well. Today, more websites allow you to login using your Facebook profile and your real profile is important for many of the other services to function well. 

However, when people use fake profiles on Facebook, the whole fabric on what the Internet is built on is disrupted. Many people waste their time to maintain fake profiles just to spread hate and troll online. This behavior is very unproductive and serves absolutely no purpose -- sort of like the Nigerian Spam emails you get. Most of the people can see through the veil and ignore the trolls online that are just out to get a reaction and pick fights. 

Sadly, when a government is involved in Astroturfing and running fake accounts to "defend" their own opinions, it becomes a waste of taxpayers money. 

A property which characterizes the relationship between trust and reputation is reciprocity. The reciprocity is defined as the reciprocal exchange of assessment (favorable or not). Decrease any of these automatically conduct to the reverse effect. 

Like it or not, it is important that our society do not degrade to hate mongering and abuse, however controlling the medium, and being intolerant to bloggers critical about their policies, will only drive people to continue their conversations on other platforms and use fake IDs. 

In Singapore , although communication is more democratic today than what it was before, laws like defamation or contempt against critics are use used when the government could simply engage these parties in an debate to collaboratively find solutions to solve the problems.

Singaporeans are not stupid, they are very capable of finding solutions that work for them. There seems to be an open call for ideas, however, many good ideas are rejected by the government because it simply comes from the opposition. There are many views and opinions online, and just because they are different from the government’s view, it does not necessarily mean they are destructive, but instead it means they care about their country to comment. There are always the good, the bad and the ugly, online and in real life. Singaporeans today are better educated, and can think critically. 

To say that “satisfied people don’t go to the Internet, unhappy people do” feels like the Prime Minister has given up on engagement. It takes time to build trust and reputation but it is very easy to lose it. Sadly, there will only be more “unhappy people” as the future unveils more technology to keep more people connected – on the Internet.

-- Robin Low

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Engagement and Relevance.



Many organizations, governments and companies want to get on to Social Media because they want to hear good things about their companies and perhaps get business with the help of word of mouth. However, it is important to know that even when businesses are planning and building social media programs and campaigns to try to gather more support, no matter how enthusiastic they are to create the best campaign, customers will always engage on their own time.

People go on social media to feel connected with friends and family. However, they are not going to "connect" with a brand or a business. Companies must strive to a higher purpose to design sharable experiences that deliver tangible value in return for the customers' "time, attention, endorsement and data."

Even when a customer gives a negative feedback, the feedback can be used as a learning case so other customers may not get the same negative experience. It does take time and effort to give feedback, positive or negative. For some customers, the situation can actually be saved, and resolving it transparently can win positive sentiments as well.

Take in the good and the bad.

Stay Relevant.

-- Robin Low

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Social Media is the Reason Governing is Harder #Singapore


From Today Singapore where replies are disabled, showing how eager the government is listening to the citizens.

Previously, Singapore can ignore the coffee shop talks as they control and still control all forms of media. Ranked 149/179 on Press Freedom, Singapore has always struggled in winning views.

On Social Media, China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka have a lot of angry people online, and Singapore have their fair share. The fact that in many of these controlled countries with poor press freedom, views are very polarized and there are many hurtful remarks as many of these people use fake IDs.

In the US, you do get the occasional troll, however, there are a lot of constructive feedback as well.

I would say, the reasons why many people criticize about your government or your company is mostly because they do care. They want to share their views, and if you can actually share the reasoning behind your opinion, some may understand and you can win some over.

I must say the Prime Minister is trying to communicate, and I must be supportive of him trying. However, I do have some opinions to share.

Social Media being quick and real time, is actually a great opportunity for you to improve your government. If you truly want to engage, you will find that your actions and words, though gets analyzed by everyone, and critique by everyone, the bright side is that you can get instant feedback. To humanize is very important. If you reply transparently, share thoughts and confess to errors, people can see the human side and forgive. However, demonizing people who do not agree with you does not help at all.

On Social Media, we communicate. We do not wait for the best super-rationale, non-emotional and politically correct answer. It feels detached, scripted and formal. Proper engagement can gain trust and relevance. Policies can be crowd-sourced and co-created. If you want people to engage, you must listed to people, and take in both the good and bad. And most importantly, take actions that can regain the trust of citizens. (yes, even those on social media)

-- Robin Low

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Internet and Cats





If you are on social media, chances are, you probably have watched cat videos and browsed lots of cat images. Cat owners are creating their cat’s profiles, and sharing updates in character on Facebook. Cats have their own friends, wall posts, conversations and even relationships.

A local (Singapore) Cat, @Satsugai Cat has more than 5,000 friends on Facebook, 3,000 fans(https://www.facebook.com/catwisdom)  on Facebook and 20,000 followers on Twitter. (https://twitter.com/satsugaicat) Another cat, Duke Orange(https://twitter.com/dukeorange)  has more than 1,000 twitter followers and more than 1,000 friends. (https://www.facebook.com/dukeorange)  In the US, there are lots of famous cats, Sockington (https://www.facebook.com/sockington) has more than 10,000 fans and 1.3 million followers on Twitter. (https://twitter.com/sockington) Maru the Cat has more than 18 million viewers on a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_AbfPXTKms) . Grumpy Cat has a lot of Memes, A coffee Drink (http://grumppuccino.net/) and a movie deal. (http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/grumpy-cat-signs-a-hollywood-movie-deal-still-not-impressed/

One might ask why people follow cats. I’ve looked at many cat Facebook profiles and cat Twitter accounts, many of them are humorous, some pretty serious, while others – creepy. The things shared on their posts are generally cat or pets related. 

So why are cats more popular?
There is a new dimension of self-expression with cats. These creative people share cat pictures with captions on LOLCats in Catspeak, a language with spelling and grammatical errors made to sound cute. (http://icanhas.cheezburger.com/ ) When someone finds the images with the captions intersting, they share it with their friends who share it with their friends as well. This happens so often that the guy who started the I Can Has Cheezburger network managed to build a multimillion dollar corporation out of silly cat pictures. 

The following are reasons are why cats are popular online.

People relate to cats.
In many ways, cats are very expressive and have a range of emotions which can be captioned. Many people on the Internet are introverts, and cats are seen as self-dependent introverts because they are more likely to spend time with themselves. 

Cats are cute
People like to share cute animals like dolphins, hamsters and puppies. And yes, cats are cute. To add to the cuteness, the behavior of young cats are often unpredictable and interesting, and they can be very creative to get what they want.

That’s how cat owners socialize
You can bring your dog out on a leash to a park, but you can’t with your cat. Perhaps the Internet is the way for cat owners to socialize. If they do not bother to bring their cats for walks, posting their cat photos and videos and commenting on others is the next best thing. They can do it at their own convenience.

Cats transcend culture
No matter what language you speak, cat videos can speak to you. Recently, in August 28, 2013, over 10,000 tickets were sold for Lil Bub and Friends (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx6cY84XmwU)  at an event at the Internet Cat Video Festival. (http://www.walkerart.org/press/browse/press-releases/2013/walker-art-centers-internet-cat-video-festiva)

Cats are funny
Cats seem to be cute and self-possessed, but at the same time arrogant and self-pompous, making them perfect vehicles for Internet humor. Cats have a lot of dignity and somehow humans like to see them getting humiliated online.

Culture shift to own cats
Many people own cats because of their lifestyles. Geeks tend to own cats as cats don’t need walks and cats are pretty independent. Everything is good when food and water is provided and the litter box is not full. Cats are also gaining popularity as pets as people who own pets later in their lives tend to get cats and many household with cats tend to own more than one as well.

On the Internet, people can be interacting with friends and other pet lovers by commenting and sharing cat video or pictures, even when they are allergic to cats. Thus Internet cats become a social object to be shared and conversation point to help connect people. Perhaps people secretly want to be like cats as cats seem totally comfortable being exactly what they are and they live for the moment.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Convergence of Social


Social Convergence

Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR is not fit for purpose, and we need something better to hold corporations to account for their social and environmental impact. Business is business -- If there is a conflict between maximising shareholder value and an environmental or social impact, the bottom line will win out in this model.

In many cases, CSR is framed in terms of restricting harm a business can do or to "white wash" its business activity, and little to do with having any good impact they can actually bring. In many cases, the more harm you do to society, the more funds is placed into CSR, as donating money to some causes or funding some initiative with a tiny fraction of the profits make is going to make the world a better place.

On social media, the customers do play a big role in sharing the good and the bad. Many corporations which may have been in the spotlight for doing something bad will have a lot of negative buzz created. This will in turn cause possibly boycott of the products or these customers pressure their politicians to do something, which may have a negative effect on the bottom line of the corporation. And sometimes, no amount of CSR can change the opinions of the public.

A common question asked is "Is there a better way in which we might assess and improve business’s impact on society and the environment?" When people start to get more information from the articles they read and conversations they engage in, many things that corporations are involved in get exposed. It is not enough just to have a CSR program and believe that it will change the impression of the public, corporations need to think beyond CSR and engage with stakeholders beyond shareholders.

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On Social Media, the question asked is "How can we used New Media to get closer to customers?" Basically, people like to do business with people they like. However, in many organizations, their primary focus is on operations, margins, and efficiencies over customer experience. It is hard for a customer to empathize when the organization is more focused on a spreadsheet. It is impossible to change if you can't see what it is they value.

Humanizing the brand and being customer-centric starts with breaking down internal silos. It is having a culture of listening and communicating with customers as well as using feedback to improve relationships and experiences. Its about empowering the employees to improve and contribute to a new era of customer engagement and collaborations. They have to care, not because they are human, but because it is part of corporate culture.

Innovation and collaboration is an outside-in and an inside-out process. Engaging with customers forces a groundswell that inspires top-down transformation from the bottom-up. It is time to invest in relationships that yield insight and impact. To gain influence, the business must earn affinity, loyalty, and advocacy through ongoing relevance.

There is much learning and adaptation, and a corporate culture that recognize the connected customer and having a management infrastructure necessary to adapt is key.

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Putting 2 and 2 together, transforming CSR with customer advocacy can bring the social to the next level. In an era of capitalism,  many people feel the income gap problem between the haves and have nots needs to be addressed. Striving to have high stock price does not mean a company cannot also have high social capital. Philanthropic Capitalism -- the merger of philanthropy and capitalism may set the stage for a new era of socially responsible businesses.

There are many opportunities wealth provide, and many questions on the responsibility of wealth. With more companies increasingly interested in humanistic capitalism, a consumer can find opportunities to work together to make the world a better place through everyday commerce.

Many companies are mismanaging CSR opportunities. Because the initiatives need to yield more returns in the form of sales or simply branding, often millions of dollars are spent on CSR Programs and millions more marketing the campaign. The companies are also not transparent and not taking on the core problem or even the problems they cause while doing business, and CSR are often seen as "white-washing" the companies.

Meanwhile, social projects, socially driven by staff and customers can be supported by the company, and this gives a different dimension to the social engagement. Otherwise, companies can also use their influence to promote and create social awareness. The RED program for Starbucks is a great example where customers paying with the RED rewards card also contributes to Global fund to help people living with HIV / AIDS in Africa.

Philanthropic capitalism nurtures empathy into a competitive advantage. It allows the corporation, the staff and customers to do good while doing business together, and with social media, amplify their efforts for a greater cause.

It is natural for Social Media to converge socially. It is the future direction for the social evolution.

-- Robin Low



Monday, September 2, 2013

What is the use of Vision, Mission, and Core Values?

Singtel is a large organization, it seems to be well funded, but with such bold Vision, Mission and Core Values are those shared throughout the organization?

Mission


Breaking Barriers, Building Bonds.

We enable communication by breaking barriers and building bonds.
We help businesses and people communicate anytime, anywhere and in various ways.
We make communications easier, faster, more economical and reliable by:
  • Breaking the barriers of distance, price, time and technology, and
  • Building strong bonds among SingTel employees, and with our shareholders, customers and business partners.
We believe that creating and delivering value to our customers, employees and shareholders is fundamental to our business.

Core Values


SingTel's Core Values underpin our desire to create a unity of purpose across the Group. They reflect our common aspiration to foster a performance-based culture that is open and innovative, and that promotes mutual trust and engagement.
 

Customer Focus

Our success is based upon our customer focus. We listen to, and connect with, customers and treat them with dignity and respect. By understanding and anticipating their needs, we make it easy for our customers to do business with us. We aim to offer them value and quality services to enrich lives and enhance business success.


Challenger Spirit

The creativity and innovation of our people set us apart. We look for better ways of doing business and share a passion for making a difference. When faced with challenges and opportunities, we do not say “Cannot” but ask “Why not?”.  We are tenacious and we compete fairly.

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With Traditional Media, you would think this is such a great caring company. Probably a good company to do business with. However with technology and social media today, marketing is no longer a simple job. Customer service is not just a nice to have department to generate report. Engaging in social media is not just something a company could do because its cool or everyone has it.


Singtel Word Cloud.

Many of the words used to describe Singtel does not seem that positive. Isn't the vision share throughout the company?

 

Singtel actually has quite a good response team on Facebook, they can direct the customers to the right place to share their problem. However, these other places are not very accessible. I've tried calling Singtel in the past and it too such a long time before I could talk to a human on the other end, I usually end up going to a Singtel store, and sometimes, they want me to call to resolve the problem.

So in essence, customer service is not so good.


And yes, on Twitter, Singtel is not so well spoken of. just type in Singtel in Twitter search, and I've always came out with negative remarks.

You can also find a lot of blogs talking negatively about them. So why are companies on social media if they are not engaging? Are the vision, mission, core values not shared by the employees?

I feel this is very common in traditional Asian companies. When the organization get to a certain size, the management although would like to embrace new technology, trends and communication channels, the staff, customer service and other employees not necessarily gets empowered much to do things. As a result, most of the brilliantly written values are not shared through the organization.

Lets look at the govern....

I guess I should not go further and you get what I mean.

It is important that the values of a company is shared throughout the organization. If the customers want to be treated right, the staff has to be well trained, paid well and empowered to do their jobs. Having social media does not make customer service better.

-- Robin Low




Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Facebook Facial Recognition Fail


Well the first photo is not even a person and all my other friends are ... old enough to drink.

Certainly not kids...

#Facebook facial recognition engine, you are creepy and plenty of fail.

-- Robin Low

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Public Relations / Social Media Crisis Management

In view of the multiple online negative sentiments generated when 3 students got into trouble after shaving their heads for charity, I have decided to share some tips on crisis management again.


Bald Solidarity Proves Hair-Raising to Singapore School
-- Wall Street Journal
 
Singapore Students Get In Trouble For Not Wearing Wigs After Shaving Heads For Charity
-- Huffington Post

When it reaches international media, the national problem suddenly becomes the talking point and there are a lot of buzz all over social media, all reacting to the news.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat even talked about it in a post on Facebook on Wednesday morning as he praised the resolution. And ultimately, with the words form the top, the situation seems to be resolved. The students need not wear wigs and all the blame was on the principal and not the education system in Singapore. The resolution did not take too long before it became a more serious discussion, and everything seemed to be rather resolved. Some people agreed with the principal about the agreement made should be followed, while other feel that the principal should support the students and not force her backwards beliefs on them.

With other company and crisis like Scoot's virtual flight contest, McDonald's Hello Kitty Promotion and National Geographic's publicity stunt at Raffles Place, it is important to know the basics to resolve any PR or social media crisis.

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Here are some few steps when a crisis hits:


1) Gather the facts through investigating and get what ever is available.

2) Search the internet and social media for all the rumors and other information which the crisis generated.

3) Construct Blogs, Tweets, YouTube Videos, to do the following:

a) Show how some of these rumors are hilarious and so far from the truth. (Funny sells, and can go viral)
b) Shed more light on the facts, and share any available information. (Truths)
c) Create spin off content that is ridiculous about the incident, get laughs to ease the rumors.

4) Monitor the public opinion and social media for the new development in the crisis. 

5) Participate and encourage the hilarious and ridiculous videos, hopefully creating a lighthearted side to the crisis, and laugh it off.

6) Channel the affected consumers / conversations to pro-brand environment (like corporate blog / Facebook Page)

7) Actively listen online and identify potential escalating issues and resolve them quickly.

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Many companies do not care about social media crisis until it happens. Most of the incidents come from situations out of the control of the companies, and will happen whether the companies have or have not engaged on social media.

It is important to have a clear understanding and all the facts right, and most importantly -- act fast. Crisis can happen to anyone at any time. It is important to know how to react to these situations when it arise and fix it before it becomes a meltdown.

-- Robin Low

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Disruptive innovation



Disruptive Innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on and disrupt an existing market and value network.

Sustaining Innovation is innovation that evolves around existing ones with better values, allowing companies to compete against each other's sustaining improvements.

Disruptive technology is a subset of Disruptive Innovation as the innovation may be a simple process or mindset. Civil Innovation, Relief 2.0, and many other organizations are focused on changing mindsets of "helping" to Engage, Enable, Empower and Connect. And transform inefficiencies, bridge gaps, address value creation and connect stakeholders instead of just providing aid indefinitely.

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I think there will always be disruption innovation happening for profit. Social Media, has changed a lot of the media landscape. Spotify, Pandora and other online media streaming are changing the way people consume music. It does benefit the consumers to have alternatives, and sometimes, it is not the fault of the big brands and companies that they fail.

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I would like to think and see more disruptive innovations in the real of social good. "Good Disruptions" are needed urgently for the environment, reducing the income gap, and simply promoting peace.

I feel that the financial markets and other disruptions that create wealth for the few already wealthy individuals are already creating such a big divide between the rich and the middle class, that the conventional methods of taxing the rich and redistributing wealth does not work well today.

There are many inefficiencies on how many people perceive themselves as change agents or helping, but in reality, what they do is focused on the short term, and there is actually a lot of resources used (that can be more efficiently used) and does not even solve the root problem.

Sometimes even before looking at education reforms, one may even need to look into solving housing problems, lack of infrastructure and opportunities, etc. If a person does not have a roof over their heads, it is hard to think about having a good education to better themselves. If NOW does not get met, and survival is hard, the FUTURE does not seem that promising either.

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I am writing and exploring more on GOOD DISRUPTION over the next few months, if you have any requests on specific industries, please let me know. And if you want to contribute, feel free to contact me.

-- Robin Low

Monday, May 20, 2013

How to Reply in Facebook like a Pro


Emoticon Name, Followed by Shortcut Code

  • smile :-) :) :] =)
  • wink ;-) ;)
  • grin :-D :D =D
  • kiss :-* :*
  • grumpy >:( >:-(
  • glasses 8-) 8) B-) B)
  • sunglasses 8-| 8| B-| B|
  • upset >:O >:-O >:o >:-o
  • confused o.O O.o
  • pacman :v
  • unsure :/ :-/ :\ :-\
  • frown :-( :( :[ =(
  • cry :'(
  • heart <3 li="">
  • angel O:) O:-)

Enjoy!

-- Robin Low

Thursday, April 25, 2013

So fast, so creative.



For many of you who do not follow Internet trends, here is an upcumming... meme.

Kind of popular now, about a "sneaky blowjob"



If you find more, feel free to share.

People are so fast and so creative!

-- Robin Low

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Will Freddie Mercury be Trending soon?


I have seen more and more Freddie Mercury Memes and Art, and is this going to be the next trend that is coming to you on social media?

If you noticed other Freddie Mercury Art, please let me know!

-- Robin Low





Wednesday, April 3, 2013

10 reasons why throwing money does not solve anything.

Singapore wants to be a financial hub, a knowledge hub, high tech hub, bio-medical hub, and now an aeronautical design hub and a social business hub. Singapore plans to spend $$$ to make it happen, to attract a lot of foreign companies to come in.



I've seen a lot of money spent on projects, and not much success, yet more money is thrown in. The following are some of the reasons why I think there will not be much success even if the government throws in more money in this path.

1) Good talents are not appreciated.

Software developers, Engineers, Bio-medical researchers, Industrial designers, Social Entrepreneurs are not really respected much. In Asia and Singapore, most of the time, you are respected by the car you drive, the house you own, and the salary you draw. Even if you may create a lot of social impact, the Singaporean society does not care much for it.

Talented Software developers, industrial designers, engineers do not get their fair salary, as a result, these trained people would rather go towards a managerial role, to be an IT manager, or project manager, which pays more and gets more respect, but nothing much to do with technical skills.

2) High Supply of IT graduates from Asian Countries.

India and China are producing an enormous amount of IT graduates every year. A good engineer or software developer is nothing more than just a number. So these jobs becomes some what a commodity.

3) Low demand for real talent in these developing industries.

With the IT, engineers in large supply, and the start of these new industries in Singapore, there is still not really a lot of pick up for these workers, hence the low salary. There may be an initial surge when the company is desperate to look for these staff, but once they have enough, the salary become stagnant.

4) Local companies in Singapore do not really invest in technology.

Even with the great push from the government, SMEs do not really use technology much, most SMEs are not even online, let alone use technology to solve their problems. Hence there is also relatively low demand for good talents.

Many company complain about software developers being hard to find, but that is because the skills that they need are obsolete, too old to maintain a legacy IT system, or the skill set is too specific, because everyone is following a trend, and hiring the same people. However most of the time, these companies do not want to pay for talent. $2000 per month in Singapore will not get you much of a programmer, though you may get one who claims to have a lot of experience, but may rarely deliver. Even when the business is paying a lot for rent, they rarely pay enough for labor in Singapore.

5) "Kiasu Culture"

Although Singapore government wants Singapore business to be market leaders, like the next Silicon Valley, designing new cars and forms of transportation for the world and discovering new cures to save humanity, the fact is, the price of failure is still too "high"

The risk adverse nature of Singapore does not approve of "radical projects" and most things need to be "proven" before funding can proceed. If things are proven, then how are they new and cutting edge?

6) Lots of laws, rules and regulations

When Singapore invites a foreign company to come, it is rarely straightforward. Such invitations often come with lengthy paperwork, some promise of funding which may or may not materialize and an application process which takes months or years, and may somehow fall apart when the next "scholar" boss does not agree with his predecessor.

There may be much willingness to innovate, but the laws and regulations are very tight. In the finance industry, there is so much room to offer more value with IT innovation, but the whole product when it finally completes have too much "safety" built in, that it can actually make online banking, a VERY negative experience which you have to call the customer support constantly to get new passwords and reset the account after 1 month of inactivity.

7) Low technical skills in higher management.

Most companies are run by people with MBAs rather than MEng or MSc. There may be good management skills however, a lack of technical abilities may make it hard to understand the challenges and may not allocate enough resources.

It takes good technical expertise to recognize and promote technical talents, and since managers are the ones who recruit and promote, this may lead to a vicious cycle.

8) Startups run really lean

In Singapore, there is a large push for various startups, but they rarely have enough funding to pay sufficiently. Without enough capital, without enough seed funding, it is hard to get the right talents to succeed.

If you are a really good software developer or a designer, with today's global economy, it may not be that hard getting paid a good amount overseas, rather than starting your own company in a country that does not fund you enough, and have a lot of red tape in your way of success.

Even if you have a successful innovative product, the market in Singapore may also be too small to sustain your high tech innovative company. Otherwise, the SMEs are not ready to use your technology as well. Market is not here.

9) Higher burn rate

Cost of living is really high here. Salaries not so. The jobs that get high salaries in Singapore is often in Banking or Real estate development. Technical skills not so in high demand. If you have a talented team with a low budget, if you can relocate to the neighboring countries, like Malaysia, you can stretch out your budget for much longer.

There is not much advantage to develop the latest technologies in Singapore, especially when there is not a big enough market here for it. Cost of food, rents, transportation is simply too high, even higher than New York City or Silicon Valley.

10) The people funding don't know what's going on

In the government, the people in charge rarely know what they are funding, and as they are scholars or directors in charge, they must "Pretend" to know. Not saying that all Army Generals with a Masters of Arts in Literature does not understand Bio-tech, the people in charge of funding are neither researchers, entrepreneurs or software developers.

They care about their KPIs which may be linked to "innovation and high tech" which they know nothing about, as a result, they fund projects who are mentored by their friends or people they know, rather than on real merits on things they don't understand.

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I am just generalizing based on my experience, and I am sure there are cases of success out there. I do feel that the government budget for education is too low, and there should be more focus on having low cost offices and incubators that can have rent controls, rather than funding unworthy projects.

There should also be more people in different industries coming together and discussing collaborations and cross overs as I think that is where innovation occur now -- cross discipline, rather than just deep specialization in one area.

Singapore has it strengths, and what makes us different, makes us better, when you copy others, you rarely can be a leader. When you spot a trend, it is already too late. Create the trend.

-- Robin Low

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

That Annoying Facebook Sound.


Are you annoyed at the beep you get when you receive a new notification?

This is how you turn it off.

1) Go to the gear on the top right of your screen.

2) Select "Account Settings"

3) Click on the Notifications Tab

4) Uncheck the box that says, "Play a sound"

5) Save Changes!

You are now saved.

-- Robin Low

Monday, February 25, 2013

Candy Crush Saga


Candy Crush Saga is one of the biggest games currently. Available on Facebook and Mobile devices, you can play the game and your progress will be shared among your devices.

I have about 1400 friends on Facebook, and this is the first game where I have more than 140 friends playing! That is 10% of the people I know on Facebook!

I could say that the game hits a lot of good Gamification principles.

1) The game has an easy onboarding. The first 20 levels are rather easy, and although it gets progressively difficult, it did not seem impossible.

2) The game is interesting, colorful and catchy music. Its not too cheaply made, and the graphics and gameplay is actually pretty good.

3) The game gets challenging. As the level progresses, it does get increasingly difficult.

4) The game encourages social gaming. With 5 lives to start with, you do get stuck on some levels, and you can ask your friends to give you lives, or you can wait 25 minutes for a life. So the game does benefit people with a lot of friends playing and many of my friends invited me to the game. Otherwise you can always pay for more lives.

There are parts of the game that require friends to give you a ticket to continue, so you need to invite friends and connect with Facebook, which in turn promote the game and get more people to play it.

6) The game is free! Joining the game, getting the app on your phone is free. Progressing in levels is also free!

7) The paid parts of the game is tempting but not essential. I think this is a strong model as some competitive gamers that want to advance WILL pay to move forward, but for casual games to continue playing and attracting more people to play, they can do it for free.

8) Good use of PBLs. There is a good use of the points, badges and levels. You get to see how you do compared to your friends in each level which may encourage you to replay a same level to beat your friend's scores. You also get to see which levels your friends are and your friend's progress.

I really like the implementation of the game, and I think is it one of the most downloaded game on the Android store and it is also the top game now.

I wish for all its success, and unlike a lot of annoyed folks on Facebook when they receive a Candy Crush Saga Request, free free to send me lives or tickets to help me move up the levels!

-- Robin Low

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Social Media Measurement, Actionable vs Vanity Metrics


Many companies use the wrong metrics to measure their performance, especially when it comes to social media. I've done many training on Engagement and ROI, and often companies like to focus on what many call, "Vanity Metrics". Pageviews, unique visitors, registered members, conversion rates, email-newsletter open rates, number of Twitter followers, or Facebook likes -- Do you think they are important? Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, does not think so.

Vanity Metrics look good, and is easy for a fan to see how popular you are, but there is a question that is hardly asked, "So What?"


These are 4 "Actionable Metrics" to focus on.
  • Relevant revenue. Note the word "relevant," which refers to recurring sales in your core business. Don't count revenue from one-time or stagnant sources.
  • Sales volume. This can be a number like units sold or active subscriptions, something that shows whether or not enough people want to buy what you're selling.
  • Customer retention. Metrics like "new customers" can hide the fact that although you may attract 1,000 new users a month, you're losing 900, which means you're not going to scale.
  • Relevant growth. Too often, companies compound the stupidity of their choice of metrics by creating a metric tracking the growth of vanity metrics. You should be looking for a traceable pattern in which the actions of your existing customers create new customers. That's what Ries calls an "engine of growth."
 These metrics are valuable because they measure success at your core business. To measure the value of your social-media activities, you have to look at the results the company is getting overall and track how social media was involved in moving the needle.

Social media is a big-picture, interdisciplinary concept that covers an evolving set of digital methods through which stakeholders interact. These methods can become major marketing channels, customer-service delivery channels, and new ways of gathering intelligence. Internally, your team can use social technologies to share information, build relationships, and get work done. Much of this is profoundly important, yet intangible. Intangibles are the enemy of actionable metrics.

To use Social Media effectively,  a company has to discover its actionable metrics and act on them instead of the vanity metrics.

-- Robin Low


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tips to pitch a story



As a small business or an entrepreneur, it is important to learn how to pitch an interesting story or ideas to the media (influential bloggers or mainstream media)

Here are some tips to make you pitch like a pro. Always consider your audience.


Newsworthiness (CITPPM)
(List is from Carol Howard, On Deadline — a good book about media relations.)

Come up with newsworthy ideas to pitch, based on CITPPM —

C - Consequence - Is the story of any consequence to your readers?


I - Interest -  Is the story interesting to your readers?

T - Timeliness - Did the event just happen or is it going to happen?

P - Proximity - Is the story a local or national story?

P - Prominence - Prominence of the coverage?

M - Magnitude - Does the story have magnitude?



After getting a good newsworthy story, think about your pitch.

What constitutes a good pitch email? 

Visual. Many people read the news online because there is a catchy picture. If you have a nice shot of your product, (screenshot for software), include a few good ones for the editor to pick (make sure they are not too big) and the pics you send catches their attention too.

Concise. Make sure you are concise enough to sell your company in one or two sentences in the email copy and title. It's like pitching to an investor, really.

Detailed. Include as many information about the company and the founders in your attachments. It makes our lives 10 times easier.





Good luck with your pitches!

-- Robin Low

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Shift in Engagement.


Many businesses in Mexico are now shifting their engagement, from Brian Solis's blog, "Touch points open and close whether a customer stands on the stage of awareness, consideration, purchase, or post purchase. It is in those moments that engagement, regardless of source or shape, affects the next steps and impressions of customers."

With customers owning multiple screens, laptops, tablets, TV, smart phones, engaging customers in the journey of decision making process does help a lot as each stage has different needs.

The customer journey management (CJM) is now getting common, and Hotels, Restaurants, Art Galleries, Artists are now not only interested in the social side of engagement, many of them are also thinking of ways of making the decision making process of a product or service more hollistic.

You get to meet, socialize and know more about the businesses you visit, and they are also interested in going further to engage with you online, and sharing information across the different mediums and screens you use.

With such a competitive world, you have to get in the engagement or be obsolete!

-- Robin Low