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(  on Facebook and 20,000 followers on Twitter. ( Another cat, Duke Orange(  has more than 1,000 twitter followers and more than 1,000 friends. (  In the US, there are lots of famous cats, Sockington ( has more than 10,000 fans and 1.3 million followers on Twitter. ( Maru the Cat has more than 18 million viewers on a video ( . Grumpy Cat has a lot of Memes, A coffee Drink ( and a movie deal. (

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. ( ) 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 (  at an event at the Internet Cat Video Festival. (

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.


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.


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?


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.


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