Unspun on a spin through Jakarta, KL and Bangkok

Update: for a hilarious report on the trip visit Kennysia.com, for an Indonesian perspective of the trip read Ollie, who also has this photo of Enda and Unspun pretending to be Austins Powers amid a bevy of Air Asia flight stewardesses at LCCT, Kuala Lumpur (photo grabbed from Ollie’s blog).
Enda and Unspun trying to look cool among a bevy of hot Air Asia stewedesses while other guys try to muscle in on our act
Enda and Unspun trying to look cool among a bevy of hot Air Asia stewedesses while other guys try to muscle in on our act
Elephants can fly and Unspun can be invited by Air Asia on an event they sponsored.

Improbable as it sounds Unspun was actually invited by Air Asia to spend ASEAN’s 42nd Anniversary in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok – all within a day.

Indonesian blogger Ollie poses with the AirAsia girls.

Here’s his report on Maverick Network.

clipped from www.maverick.co.id

On A High with ASEAN and Air Asia

Aug 10, 2009 – This post is filed under English, Ideas, Social Media
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) celebrated its 42nd birthday on Saturday with a difference. It took to the skies for an event that took in three ASEAN cities in a day. Maverick Network dispatched our Technical Advisor Ong Hock Chuan as his alter ego, the vinegary and skeptical Unspun, to cover this event. This is his report.

It is ironic and unsaid, but Unspun suspects he was invited to the ASEAN’s 42nd anniversary celebrations on Saturday because he’s been critical of Air Asia in several postings in the past.

One thing you have to admire about the Air Asia guys though, is that they take criticism in their stride and rather than go into denial, they take on board the criticisms and engage their critics.

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Indonesia leads world in new Facebook users

Unspun just met a client who knows enough to believe that they should use New Media to connect with their customers, but do not know enough about the New Media landscape in Indonesia to convince their bosses that this is the way to go.

The story from CNN below should give them some ammo to tell their bosses that , in spite of Indonesia’s low penetration rate, there is enough numbers and fast growth in social networks, to merit them seriously considering New Media as a channel of communicating with their audiences/markets.

alerted to the news from Dhitri‘s Tweet

clipped from edition.cnn.com
Social networking gaining more ‘friends’ in Southeast Asia
JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) — A few nights ago Yulinar (full name withheld), a 23-year-old insurance agent in Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta, was in bed doing her usual ritual before falling asleep: updating her Facebook status and checking her friends’ updates.
Facebook, the popular social networking site that’s well established in developing countries like the U.S., where it started about five years ago, is now getting its fastest growth rates in developing countries.

During a recent three-month period, Indonesia led the world in new Facebook users among countries with at least a million users, growing by about 120 percent, according to Ben Lorica, a San Francisco-based senior analyst in the research group at O’Reilly Media.

Coming in at No. 2 was the Philippines.

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Vivanews: Head in sand not a solution

Something interesting happened in the Indonesian Twittersphere recently.

Shortly after Unspun and the Indonesian Tweeps gave their thumbs down to Vivanews’ Twitter Blasts (see previous post here), and Unspun as well as Mavericknetwork blogged about it, Vivanews went off air in the Twittersphere.

Why? Ju

Image from Orangscale.net

dging from  the comment left by an anonymous visitor in Mavericknetwork, it could be that Vivanews was actually listening and, as he said, learning (which is a very good approach – promote the guy if any of you at Vivanews is listening to this). Of it could be that my pal with the good looks, Mirwan Suwarso sent Unspun‘s post to Vivanews marketing Director.

Mirwan

Whatever, it is some measure of indication that Vivanews, as opposed to so many other businesses, is at least is aware of the chatter about it on the Net by removing their Twitter account.

But is pulling out a good idea? Thomas at Orangescale.net questions the tactic with this posting:

VIVAnews Deleted Its Twitter Account. A Smart Move?

Not following VIVAnews doesn’t make me stop reading people’s comments about it. There are some blogs brought this Twitter account into discussion. Today, I noticed that @vivanews_com account had been deleted by the account holder. Maybe, it’s because the Twitter users’ (especially in Indonesia and its followers) responses.

Now, the question: Is it — deleting its Twitter — a smart move? Is it the best option? I think, it’s not. Let’s figure out why the account was closed.

  • VIVAnews wanted to get another account, and announce it as its official account. When it was published, I couldn’t find any link of it at their site, or something mentioned that it was official.
  • They (people at VIVAnews?) want to do it better in the future.
  • They want to “remove” people’s comment.

I think, rather than closing/deactivated its account, the account holder should stop the auto-update and show that they’re listening. They can do it by removing its feed(s) from Twitterfeed. Then, they give respond also via Twitter. Why? Because it’s the medium. They can ask for feedback, and how they can make it better next time.

It can be a better counter for the negative comments on Twitter. If they think that closing account will remove the negative comments, they’re wrong. It’s still accessible in Twitter database, unless people who wrote tweets delete them. See these screenshots: one and two. Those screenshots were taken, even the referenced account has been deleted.

Now, will they join Twitter again? I’m curious.

Unspun agrees. If Vivanews wants to make an impact in Web2.0 they must realize that they are either part of the Conversation or they can be toast. Clamming up and putting their head in the sand is Neolithic by today’s standards and is no longer an option. A good example of why this is so lies with examples discussed in the excellent book The Truth about SEO by Rebecca Lieb.

Lieb gave the example of the bicycle lock maker Kryptonite and Dell in Chapter 4 of the book, Your Reputation is On the Line. Somewhere around 2004-5 both companies got into trouble, Kryptonite for selling an expensive bicycle lock that could be opened by a cheap ball point pen and Dell for incurring the wrath of uberblogger Jeff Jarvis.

Both companies were trashed on the blogosphere. Yet if  you Google them (at least until twhen the book was written) you see two different results. The negative stories from those days still haunt Kryptonite in the first two pages of Google. (This is no longer the case today – I just checked – perhaps Kryptonite learned as well). Google results for Dell were different – searches for “Dell Hell” were relegated to the umpteenth page of Google search results.

The lesson here? When confronted by a PR fallout on the Net, don’t put your head in the sand and hope the bad things said about you will go away. On the contrary, these bad things will stay around forever in the Net unless you do something about it. What companies in trouble should do is to be part of the Conversation and help shape or steer it so that the chatter is about things positive and meaningful to you and your Net stakeholders.

Now, if Vivanews was really smart, they should revive their Twitter account, apologize for the slip up, maybe even ask the audience what news they would like to receive in Twitter and be part of the Conversation. Unspun would think that this is crucial for Vivanews since it, presumably, at some time wants to be seen as a purveyor of information in the Web 2.0 (and beyond) era.

Hmmmm…maybe they should send their marketing/PR person to (get ready for shameless plug of an event Unspun‘s office is organizing) the PR and New Media Workshop being organized by Maverick’s New Media Division?

Also read: Toni’s news at navinot: Kita adalah Anak Manja Dunia Digital

When a Twitterer becomes a Twit

Twitter is the flavor of the day and everyone, it seems, is getting into it.

Indonesian companies and individuals are no exception. Even the traditional media has entered into the Twitterverse and it is interesting to see the strategies, or lack of, they adopt in this very 2,0 or the Web 2.0 medium of micro-blogging.

The Jakarta Globe seems to do it well, with periodic Tweets alerting the Indonesian Twitterverse to important developing stories and links to them. Unspun remembers them experimenting with live Tweets from football matches but that seems to have disappeared into the ether.

The emincence primus of Indonesian Twitterverse, Aulia, also thinks that Breaking News does it well. Unspun‘s begun subscribing to them and too early to tell, but so far so good.

Not every media house does it well, however, and in a recent act of charity Unspun reciprocated Viva News‘ follow on Twitter. Big Mistake! In the tradition of no good deed ever going unpinished, Unspun was beseiged with spates of Tweet Blasts several times a day from Viva.

Irked by the Twittering diahhrea, Unspun‘s asked in Twitter, with trademark typos, if other Tweeps thought Viva News’s Tweets were useful and informative or annoying. Almost all who responded werte unanimous: “annoying.”

Twit Tweets

There is a lesson to be learned here and that is that Old Media habits of marketing a product or service doesn’t work in New Media. The last thing anyone wants is some impersonal RSS feed crowding your Twitterzone with irelevant information that you can’t respond to. (Technically, Viva News can response to all the adverse comments but let’s see how long it will take before they realise that they were not part of this Conversation).

So what should one do? The ever popular and omnipresent Enda Nasution (the Dr Manhattan of Indonesia’s Twitter and Blogging Universes?)  poffered this link as advice. Perhaps Viva News, which is ironically an online news portal, should bo back to school and learn the new rules of marketing?

IM2 Rant #2: Now watch them get into trouble

One of the things Unspun teachs clients and students in his classes on crisis management is that not everything is a crisis.

In the beginning, you have an incident, which is something that is a departure from best practice.

If you pay attention to the incident and solve it in a timely manner it usually goes away. But if you don’t then there is a good chance that it turns into an emergency situation.

An emergency is something that rquires timely involvement from senior management. It has become a serious matter and unless you resulve it in good time it would likelu turn into a crisis-like situation.

A crisis is an emergency out of control. It is out of control because the media would have gotten involved and focussed public scrutiny on your company’s every action and word uttered. At this stage everyone is watching how you handle the event. They are quick to judge and judge you they will based on how your respond to the situation at hand.

One thing worth noting, I usually tell clients, is that a crisis is a man-made situation and like anything man-made it has lots of early warning signals. It is when these signals are ignored, not acted on or dismissed without basis that the situation turns ugly for the corporation and they have a business crisis in their hands.

By this reckoning Indosat’s IM2, the so-called HSDPA service, is on the cusp between an emergency and crisis-like situation. Why?

In spite of all the warnings that IM2 has had about how bad their service has become (see Unspun‘s postings here, here, here here and here, plus do a Google search yourself, or a Twitter search and you’ll see what I mean) they’ve ignored all early warning signals. So far they have been lucky. Apart from a small article or two about customer dissatisfaction they’ve escaped media scrutiny.

But their streak of good luck may just be running out. Why?im2

If you are on Twitter you would know that The Jakarta Globe is about to write either an investigative piece or at least an in depth piece about customer dissatisfaction over IM@s service. This would spill the issue out ofthe net and blogosphere onto the tradition media. If IM@’s streak of bad luck holds, then other papers will pick up on the story and before you know it IM2 directors would have to answer to their shareholders and other stakeholders on why they have allowed this issue to simmer and make its way from an incident to and emergency and finally to a crisis-like situation. (You have to ask yourself whether a supposedly established and large corporation like Indosat/ IM2 monitors what goes on in the net and blogosphere at all. If they did they would have known how many unhappy customers are out there, the extent of their unhappiness and the fact that a newspaper has been soliciting views from Twitters on who’s unhappy about IM2 – this includes Unspun who will sing like a bird about his sufferings as a narrowband user of IM2)

Personally, Unspun hopes that some high-powered and highly-paid person in Indosat/IM2 will be held accountable for all those senseless minutes that we users have had to endure because of how slow the service has become lately, and for thrashing IM@’s brand.

When Unspun’s contract with them runs out in May, guess who they’ll be losing as a customer forever?

Building your brand? Try PR instead

This is something that PR practitioners have always known but the Advertising-Media Complex has consistently tried to cover up – that PR can build brand value more effectively than advertising.

This is especially so in an age of enhanced skepticism, the TV remote and oversaturation of competing advertizing and the all-too-transparent Web.

clipped from publicaffairsasia.com:12080
PR can do more to advance brand value than advertising, according to a survey of the “Top 100 Global Brands” released this week.

The Text 100 survey evaluated the media prominence of top brands and found that public relations may be more important than advertising to brand value, especially for companies that sell feature-rich or complicated products such as consumer electronics, financial services and automobiles.
The findings of the Media Prominence Study show that on average 27 per cent of brand value is tied to how often the brand name appears in the press.
In industries that involve more research before purchases are made, public relations can account for nearly half of brand value.
In the computing industry, media prominence accounted for 47 per cent of brand value, or 16 times that of the personal care industry.
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IM2 Rant #2: Why aren’t competitors moving?

You’d think that with thousands of their customers pissed off by their bad and slow connection on their HSDPA, competitors of IM2 would see an opportunity for the quick kill.

Here’s what Unspun would do if he was a telco and a competitor to IM2: Get one of my IT people to write a script for the Huawei E220 modem that IM2 uses so that it is compatible with thier SIM cards. Provide reliable, reasonably priced data services.

The only thing stopping IM2 customers from junking thier IM@ service is the investment they’ve made in purchasing the modem. If th modem can be used with other telco users they, like Unspun, would gleefully junk IM2 to repay them for the contempt they show to their customers.

If anyone has figured out a way to make a SIM card from another phone provider work with the Huawei E220 modem please let Unspun know. He, together with his blogger and offline network of friends will help spread the word so fast that IM2’s broadband will never be able to match them.

So what’s stopping competing telcos? Surely there’s a huge opportunity here to take market share from IM2?