The Buzz about Buzzers in Indonesia

So here we have it, the widespread use of buzzers in Indonesia to push the products or brands of companies.

The questions marketers need to ask before they embark on their next foray with buzzers are these:

  1. What competitive advantage is there for their brand when their competitors are all also doing the same – paying buzzers to endorse or “create buzz” around a product or event?
  2. Is there any credibility in it at all given that everyone using social media knows that buzzers are guns for hire and are a promiscuous lot? If there isn’t, what’s the point of using the buzzers?
  3. Are brands squandering their resources by using buzzers, since it is transplanting the old world practice of using Key Opinion Leaders to influence others? That idea is grounded in Edward Bernays’s theory of Influencing the Influencers that is at least 85 years old. A lot has happened since then, specifically the social media that renders most things transparent and demands authenticity and relevance from brands
  4. Shouldn’t brands focus more on how they can use social media to create a great customer experience for their audiences instead?


In Indonesia, buzzers not heard but tweet for money – RTRS
23-Aug-2013 04:00
By Andjarsari Paramaditha
JAKARTA, Aug 23 (Reuters) – In Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, a buzzer is not an alarm or a bell, but someone with a Twitter account and more than 2,000 followers who is paid to tweet.
Jakarta is the world’s tweet capital and advertisers eager to reach the under-30 crowd are paying popular Twitter users to spread their word through social media, starting at about $21 per tweet.
While celebrity endorsements via Twitter are common worldwide, Indonesia is unusual because advertisers are paying the Average Joes too.
These Twitter “buzzers” send short messages promoting brands or products to their followers, usually during rush hour, 7 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m., when Jakarta’s notorious traffic jams create a captive audience with time to scan their mobile phones.
Jakarta has more Twitter users than any other city In the world, according to Semiocast, a social media market researcher, and Indonesia is home to the world’s fourth-largest population, with half the people under 30. All ingredients for a social media marketer’s dream.
“Indonesians love to chat. We love to share. We are community driven as a culture. For us it’s very easy to adopt social media because it is a channel through which we can express our opinions,” said Nanda Ivens, chief operating officer at XM Gravity Indonesia, a digital marketing unit of London-listed advertising giant WPP Group WPP.L.
For advertisers, using Twitter buzzers is a way to personalise the pitch, connecting someone who may have a special interest in a product with like-minded potential customers. A local photography buff, for example, would be a good target for a camera company.
An effective social media campaign will generate real conversations and genuine endorsements, said Thomas Crampton, Hong Kong-based social media director at advertising firm Ogilvy. But one issue with paid buzzers is that they may be seen as endorsing something only for the money.
“It’s not going to be transparent to the people reading the Twitter feed whether they’re being paid, and that’s not very honest,” said Crampton.
“The followers will see that this guy is for sale. It’s really like talking to a friend. If your friend is being paid to tell you something then a) you wouldn’t consider that person your friend and b) you’re not going to believe them.”

PT Nestle Indonesia, a unit of global food company Nestle SA NESN.VX, counts teenage pop singer Raisa (@raisa6690) and heartthrob actor Nicholas Saputra (@nicsap) among its brand ambassadors. They recently tweeted their experiences at a large Sumatra coffee plantation in a campaign supported by hired buzzers who were retweeting the celebrities’ comments and other sponsored messages from the company.
The challenge is measuring success.
“We do have quantitative measurement, which is the number of followers, the number of likes and the number of clicks,” said Patrick Stillhart, head of the coffee business at PT Nestle Indonesia. “But how do we relate that to brands and sales? There’s left a question mark.”
Stillhart said the company uses social media for more than a dozen brands and about 15 percent of its advertising spending goes to digital media. Apart from Nestle, competitor Unilever Indonesia UNVR.JK also followed similar path for their products.
Sometimes things go wrong.
Prabowo (@bowdat), 33, who quit his day job two years ago to scout for buzzers, recalled one cautionary tale about tweets meant to promote an Android product 005930.KS that were sent through a rival BlackBerry BB.TO or iPhone AAPL.O device. Followers could see the gaffe because tweets often include an automatic tag indicating how the message was posted.
Stand-up comedian Ernest Prakasa (@ernestprakasa) fell afoul of the “twitterverse” last year while promoting the Mini Cooper, a popular car made by BMW Group BMWG.DE
“There was a viral video. The idea was, I had to pretend to be locked in a container for several hours and then I escaped with the car. I was asked to act as if I was captured,” said the 30-year-old, who charges advertisers 7 million rupiah ($670) for 10 tweets.
Some of his friends didn’t realise it was an act, and began retweeting he had been kidnapped. They were furious when told it was an advertising gimmick.
“I was cursed at, accused of only trying to create a sensation. I had around 15,000 followers so I didn’t think it could become big. But I also learned that whenever this sort of fiasco happens, stay silent. It won’t last more than two days. Something new will come along and people will forget anyway.” ($1 = 10,490 Indonesian rupiah)

(Additional reporting by Jeremy Wagstaff, Editing by Jonathan Thatcher and Raju Gopalakhrisnan) (( 21 3199 7170)(Reuters Messaging:

Bully for the President

How naive can one get? The Internet can be a powerful medium to communicate and engage with lots of people but it has never been a Utopia.

In fact, from the start the Net has had a culture of crash and burn. It has not gotten any better with the millions of people now using social media. In fact it may have gotten worse as it gets easier to be stampeded by a herd mentality.

All this information has been available to anyone interested in finding out the working of the Net. So it is a bit rich for the President to complain about “bullying”. His social media team should have warned him before hand that the Net is a place for big boys who can take the hard knocks, not crybabies.

Which raises the often-asked question of prominent people who venture into social media use: why did they go in, in the first place?


BBC News – Indonesia: President ‘bullied’ on Facebook

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with his wife in Laos in November 2012

Anti-social network? Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s not happy with some “fans”

Indonesia’s president complained about being “bullied” on Facebook, just a day after launching his fan page.

The press team of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – known as SBY by the Indonesian media – signed him up to the social network, along with YouTube and Google Hangout, on Friday, reports the Jakarta Post . And, having attracted almost 100,000 fans within 24 hours, the president declared in his first Facebook post: “I want to be able to communicate more with my fellow Indonesians.” He thanked all his followers for their input but added: “Sometimes I am being bullied.

He later posted a poem dedicated to his wife, who celebrated her 61st birthday on Saturday. By Wednesday morning, SBY’s page had amassed nearly 250,000 “likes”. However, he still has some way to go to match the 2.7 million followers his @SBYudhoyono account has on Twitter .

Salingsilang and the closing of a chapter in Indonesia’s social media scene

And thus closes another chapter in the development of social media in the community.

At its height showed lots of promise and had the potential of becoming a nucleus of the online community in Indonesia. It had a stable of big names in the Indonesian online community either directly involved or supporting their activities: Enda Nasution, Paman Tyo, Ndoro Kakung and others.

In a feat of great imagination they also came up with Obsat, Obrolan Langsat (obrolan = conversations; Langsat = the street in Gandaria where they had their offices). The concept was brilliant: create a place where the online community could hang out and invite interesting prominent people to come speak to these bloggers, buzzers and other social media practitioners who had the power to amplify their messages to literally millions of Indonesians.

As a result they attracted many prominent Indonesian figures including Jokowi, Boediono and Anies Baswedan made pilgrimages to Jalan Langsat to propitiate the virtual gods of the new new order. (Obsat still takes place and is organized by the group headed by Pak Didi but the buzz around the event isn’t as vibrant as it used to be).

In the past two years they also branched into event organisation, organizing Social Media Fest in 2011 and 2012. The first event was a huge success and caused Pesta Blogger, until then the main platform for onliners to get together, to postpone its event by a couple of months to avoid over-saturating the online community with a similar event. The second event, however, was much less well organised, perhaps reflecting the waning fortunes of Salingsilang.

They also tried moving into social media monitoring, aggregating blogs, creating portals such as Politikana etc but throughout it all was the nagging question of how their business models would actually make money.

Then over the past few months came rumours of a breakdown in Salingsilang, with some names going to another enterprise backed by their investor while the rest were left to fend for themselves. Today’s official announcement (below) confirms the end of Salingsilang.

Salingsilang’s passage is a little sad because it also coincides with how the Indonesia social media scene had shifted. Once it was a tight-knit community with bloggers knowing and bouncing ideas and conversations off each other. There were rants and flames but it was on the whole a congenial community where people cared about what was said, which then became conversations  off and online. There was also a certain respect, probably because there was a greater effort and thinking involved in blogging.

Then things evolved. Facebook and Twitter came into the picture and opened the floodgates to everyman and his dog. In with them came the snake oil salesmen who used the new medium to become overnight social media rockstars by doing what it takes to win as many friends and fans as well as followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter especially allowed those obsessed enough, ambitious enough, or one-minded enough to build up followings, often by the sheer frequency of their Tweets. Then also came mercenaries who made a career of leveraging their insider status in journalism, politics or other professions to tar people; while simultaneously running  consultancies aimed at solving the very problems they create via their tweets and blog posts.

Schadenfreude and churlishness also became the new currency for a Twittering population seeking to gratify themselves gorging on twitwars and scandals. In short the Indonesian social mediasphere, at least to Unspun, has become a much less attractive place to hang out in.

So it is sad to see Salingsilang’s demise as it marks the closing of a chapter. resmi ditutup – Beritagar

Situs, yang sebelumnya dikenal merangkum peristiwa di media sosial Indonesia, menyatakan secara resmi menutup seluruh layanannya, setelah berjalan sejak 2011. Hal itu ditegaskan dalam rilis media, yang juga dimuat dalam

Berikut isi surat resmi dari

Jakarta, 9 Januari 2013

Kepada yang kami hormati,

Pembaca, penikmat, dan pengguna, serta jejaring, maupun keluarga Salingsilang.

Dengan sangat menyesal, kami memberitahukan dan menegaskan bahwa, serta jejaring, dan keluarganya berhenti beroperasi, setelah berjalan sejak 2011.

Penyebabnya adalah fokus pada bidang yang berbeda satu sama lain, yang sebelumnya dilakukan di bawah bendera Salingsilang secara keseluruhan; mulai dari pengumpulan dan layanan data media sosial, pembuatan dan rangkuman peristiwa media sosial, dukungan dan aktivasi komunitas online, konsultasi kampanye media sosial, hingga penyelenggaraan acara seperti Social Media Fest. (2011, 2012), PictFest, dan Ngerumpi Days Out.

Kini, tim yang sebelumnya tergabung di Salingsilang, sudah berpencar mengerjakan project berbeda: di bidang consulting, media dan content, hingga mobile project.

Kami mohon maaf atas ketidaknyamanan ini. Terutama pada komunitas-komunitas yang sudah bergabung, dan mendukung kami sejauh ini. Kami menyayangkan Salingsilang tidak dapat berjalan lagi. Tapi apa boleh buat, itu yang terjadi.

Kami masih percaya pada kekuatan dunia digital untuk mengubah Indonesia jadi lebih baik, melalui media sosial yang masih akan terus berpengaruh di tahun-tahun ke depan.

Kami bangga atas apa yang sudah kami kerjakan, pada tim yang sudah terbentuk, dan seluruh pihak yang sudah bekerja bersama. We had fun!

Perjuangan belum selesai, dan tidak perlu berhenti sampai di sini. Mari terus berkarya, dan bersama-sama creating something awesome!🙂

Kami, tim pamit undur.

Rhoma Irama and his spunky bid for president

Never look down on a dangdut star. You never know what’s beneath him.

Though it is difficult for many to conceive what could possibly be beneath Dangdut star Rhoma Irama, he of the gushing tear ducts, there is apparently plenty of j-ingo-ism to bouy his candidacy for the No.#1 job in Indonesia.

His “supporters” have apparently taken to Facebook.  In social media you never know if these supporters are genuine but hey, this is Indonesia and all things are possible (a bit like Herman Hesse’s the Theatre of the Absurd).

What’s equally possible is that these genuine supporters have come up with a very unique name with an even more unique acronym. Check out their Facebook page.

Screen shot 2012-12-06 at 12.02.16 PM


What is the end game for all social media investments?

Unspun was conducting a social media workshop recently when the topic settled on KPIs – Key Performance Indicators. The answer was simple but I could tell it was unsatisfying to the audience: it depends.

The audience wanted definite answers to tell them when they were getting their money’s worth if they poured money and resources into using social media to connect with their audiences. It would have been easy to pull one of the metrics suggested by off-the-shelf social media monitoring systems and tell them that that was it; or, try to convince them that hashtags and followers/fans are an indication; or even the by-now-ubiquitious “engagement” metrics mainly of comments to a Facebook posting.

The problem, however, was that we had decided to embark on the road less taken by many communications consultants: to tell the truth even when it can be inconvenient.

And the truth is simple. If you subject an organization or brand’s social media efforts to the question: “What is the end game of getting into social media?” the long-term answer must be “to build belief in the organization/brand.”

This is because on the Net, the audience has an overabundance of choice. The audience is also skeptical and  yet prone to what behavioral and cognitive scientists call System 1 Thinking. In less than a blink of an eye, if you are less than “trustworthy” you would have lost them, perhaps forever.

What this means for organizations and brands, more than ever, is for them to develop a distinct point of view — and, if you are old-fashioned, you could call it character — and use this as a compass to navigate themselves through the virtual sea.

Will this result in the organizations and brands increasing their sales? Not necessary. And this is the scary part for most business entities – to contemplate investing in social media that may not yield immediate bottom line results.

Yet what choice is there in a world dominated by the the Net where social media levels the playing field like never before and overwhelms its denizens with so much choice they have difficulty picking one from the other. Should trust be the new metric for social media?

Here’s the skinny on PSY and his Oppan Gangnam Style

OK admit it. You make derisive remarks about PSY and his music video Oppan Gangnam Style because you’re afraid to look silly, but secretly inside you love the infectious and whacky beat of the music.

You’ve probably checked out his video several times on YouTube, contributing to the 10 million hits he’s had so far and the seemingly unstoppable viral craze he’s started.

But because you don’t understand Korean and probably don’t know much about South Korea you have no idea what Gangnam is or what the song is about.

Well, sit bak and relax. Click on PSY’s Oppan Gangnam Stule and check out the infographic below prepared by  British design firm Neo Mammalian Studios (via Masable) that will enlighten you.

Oppan Gangnam Style!

How far would Maverick go to find talent?

How far would a comunications consultancy go to find good people?

In the case of Maverick, the place where I work, plenty far. So far that we actually created a new position of Community Curator this year where one of the main tasks of that job is to organize The Recruit.


What is The Recruit? It is several things. On one level it is our response to the dozens of requests we get each year from final year or newly graduated students for a chance at internship. In speaking to the students, some of whom had interned in other places before we realised that in many workplaces internship is a horrendous experience. Interns go to work but are treated more like gophers than anything else. The work they get to do, if they are, lucky are the leftovers from the staff, usually routine and mundane.

Usually they don’t have any choice as the number of students entering the workforce outnumber the number of internship places in companies. As a result many of them face the daunting prospect of trying to find work without the advantage of an internship experience.

At Maverick we’ve always believed that there is some great talent out there, especially among the final year or newly graduated students. We also believe that it is our obligation to make the work experience of anyone we’ve taken on board a meaningful, educational and fun one. The reasoning is that even if the intern decides to go elsewhere or into another profession when they enter the workforce, they would have been all the richer in life for the experience they’ve had.

So we combined all those thoughts and came up with The Recruit, where we will run a contest for final year and newly graduated students for an internship position at Maverick. The best of them will get a chance to intern at Maverick, where they will be involved in working for some of the huge brands that we handle. At the same time, we’ll involve then in some of the cool events Maverick organizes such as Pecha Kucha where they’ll get to meet influential and interesting people.

And if they are really good they’ll win themselves a permanent position with us. A permananet position with Maverick unlocks some of the unumsual but fun and gratifying perks we provide to our staff. Some of these perks include the Personal Development Fund, where if you work at Maverick for a year, you’ll be entitled for the Personal Development Fund of up to a month’s salary worth. You can use the fund to take a course that you’ve always wanted to help you develop personally (the course should have nothing directly to do with sork so some Mavericks in the past have taken it for learning belly dancing, diving, getting a drivers’ licence, Reiki etc). Of you can use the fund to travel to somewhere that you’ve not been before. Mavericks have used this fund to go to Santorini, Greece, Australia (to watch U2), Hong Kong and lots of other exotic places.

And we do all this because we recognize that the most crucial element in our business is talent. We are after the best talents and The Recruit, we think, is a great way to discover the best of the best talents coming into the market. So if you know of someone or is a final year communications student, then check out our website about the The Recruit
and give it a shot.

Why Fauzi is being Foked on social media by the Jokowi crowd

The video below that is well produced and catchy with a huge dose of humor is yet another reason why the incumbent Jakarta Mayor Fauzi Bowo is losing out big time in the popularity stakes to challenger Jokowi and his running mate Ahok.

Joakowi supporters and his camp are proving very adept at using social media to boost their popularity and to answer the allegations and slurs from the opposing camp in their Facebook account and the many support groups and pages surrounding them.

Is this the election that will change the way Indonesian politicians use social media? It all depends on whether the Jokowi-Ahok team can win at the gubernatorial runoff elections against the money and influence of the Golkar machine backing Foke.

If they do it may make the politicians sit up and realize that the old ways of politicking using traditional means of communications – such as billboards, newspaper ads, TV commercials – have had their day. It may also send the message that ad hominem attacks, smear campaigns and playing the bogeyman with race and religion are no longer effective.

It may or the politicians from the entrenched parties may be so pig headed that they persist in their ways. But a Jokowi-Ahok victory will point the way for others without the backing of huge money to follow.

10 years later in a company called Maverick

Been traveling so much lately that this is the first time I’ve had to update this blog.

The posting below is from my company blog Talking Points that I wrote on the fly to commemorate our 10th anniversary. I suppose it is a good sign that all of us in Maverick are so busy that we’ve hardly had time to commemorate our 10th anniversary, but there will be a time for partying soon.

When Maverick first set out on its journey exactly 10 years ago this month, we had an audacious ambition: to be the most respected communications consultancy in Indonesia.

We weren’t content to be a Public Relations agency as Public Relations mostly meant media relations; we also didn’t want to be an agency, doing the bidding of clients who may not necessarily know better on what’s good for their brands.

So we set out to play in the field of communications and to be consultants first and foremost, with agency work as the support for our consultancy services.

A decade has passed. How have we done?

Let’s look at the desire to be “most respected” first. On a scale of 10 I’d say we have hit an 8 or even a 9. The client list we have is nothing to scoff at with the likes of Acer, Airbus, Airbus Military, Brand A, Coca-Cola, Nestle, HM Sampoerna and SMAX.

Then there is the Crisis and Issues Management practice which makes Maverick the go-to firm for many of the nation’s largest and most established law firms needing litigation support, multinationals facing labor unrest or consumer food companies having problems with their products. The client list is equally impressive but the nature of the work precludes us disclosing their names.

Where social media is concerned, we officially set up Raconteur, our digital storytelling division, a year ago and already it is making a name for itself as the digital consultancy that delivers results, not hype. In the beginning of this year it won a huge account in SMAX snacks. It has also handled the launch of a Google Chrome campaign, just introduced Evernote to the Indonesian online community and is working to help the Taiwan Trade Office (TAITRA) promote the island-nation.

There is also Gauge, our media monitoring and analysis division that continues to establish itself as the most comprehensive and high quality service of its kind in Indonesia, in spite of newcomers to the industry. It’s addition of social media monitoring and analysis as a service has also been a hit to our clients.

And last but not least, we have Brio our newest division that leverages Maverick and Raconteur’s experiences and knowledge as practitioners to provide training to corporations in need of communications and crisis management skills. It was set up this year and already it has hit all the financial targets we have set for it.

Together these divisions add up to an offering greater than the sum of themselves. This is good news for clients who may need and want a full spectrum of communications advice and service.

All, this, however has been possible because of two things. The culture and the people in Maverick.

We like to think that we have a culture that is unique and un-replicable by other competitors. It is a culture where individuals are continuously challenged to produce their best, and then go one step further. At the same time it is a nurturing culture where each and every Maverick has the responsibility to support and encourage their co-workers to greater heights and successes.

Getting social in Central Asia

Let me start this blogpost with a confession: when i was first invited to be a trainer at the Tech Forum Central Asia in Almaty, I had to Google the place up.

I had never heard of it before and when I discovered that it was the old capital of Khazakstan, thought that I at least knew something of the country, but for all the wrong reasons, as it was confined only to Borat, him of the repulsive Slingshot costume.


The other facet of the trip was also as monumentally confounding to me – I was to join a group of technologists to help train the youth in Central Asia about social media and its uses. What did I – who grew up with a typewriter in my first job – know about technology to teach the digitally savvy youth of today?

But not being one to pass up a challenge and a hint of adventure (think Mongols, think Silk Road, think of vast plains and the Soviet system) I signed up and that was how I found myself in Almaty last Friday and Saturday (June 15 and 16).


The Tech Forum Central Asia was the first of its kind to gather youth form Central Asia to discuss how they can use social media to benefit their societies. It was organized by the Civil Alliance and sponsored by the US Embassy in Kazakhstan as well as several corporations such as Chevron.

It was apparently a feat to gather the participants from all the “-stan” counties – Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgistan, Pakistan and, of course, Kazakhstan – because the governments in some of these countries are suspicious and fear the combination of youth and the internet. Although some delegates had a hard time of getting a passage out of the country they all managed to come to the forum.

The result is a very eclectic and spirited Tech Forum Central Asia where the curiousity and passion of Central Asian youth came into contact with the more exposed and savvy use of social media of the trainers who came from Britain, the US, Pakistan, India and Indonesia – represented by the very talented Hanny Kusumawati and myself.

The format of the forum was based in the Tech Camps run by the US State Department, where participants were first exposed to a speed geeking session – think speed dating but for geeks. Essentially, the trainers have five minutes to share a story or a case history, where social media has been used to great effect on behalf of an organization, to a small grpup pf participants. St the end pf 5minutes a whistle is blown and the trainers tell the story Again to them. They are allowed to ask questions.

I shared the story of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, a NGO that works to release captured Bornean orangutan into their natural habitats and how its foray into social media allowed it to be more searchable on the Net. It also allowed the BOS to become the primary source of information on the state of orangutan capture, treatment and release after a SCTV documentary put the topic on the national news agenda.

The participants were then given free reign to join groups for discussions ranging from crowdsourcing and crowdfunding to mapping, the use of video on the Net, gender issues and Net strategy. There were several discussions sessions, each one designed to sharpen their focus on their areas of concern, culminating in problem solving sessions.

Some of the problems they raised gave us a glimpse of issues important to the youth of Central Asia, namely women’s rights in male dominated societies, how to raise funds for causes, racism against Asiatic-looking central Asians in Russia and other Caucasian-dominated countries and how to help the disabled more.

What surprised Unspun was the extent of English being used in what was once a Russian-dominated region. What delighted Unspun was the warmth and curiousity of the delegates and the many volunteer helpers and translators that made the TFCA a success, at least as the begining of a discourse among the caring young Central Asians who want to do something for their societies and see the internet as a potential tool for making their missions easier and more effective.