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Are Asian businesses using Twitter?

27 November 2008 7 Comments

We have heard (and I posted here and here) a lot about using Social Media Tools for Businesses. However, as mentioned in this conversation, most of the examples that we see today are ‘western’. Almost no effort is visible on how have businesses in Asia adopted to the Social Media phenomenon. This is more true of newer tools like Twitter.

I did a research on this lately and spent some 2 good days trying to find examples to  share with Storm Chasers, i.e. readers of this blogzine. Sharing the findings with you, in this post.

Methodology: I tweeted on my network, asked questions on Facebook, researched companies in general on twitter (using Twellow, Twitterlocal and other tools), sent DMs on Twitter- to brands and people with seemingly relevant accounts, researched whom they followed and tried to find if they had easily identifiable Asian accounts as well. Dirty job. But somebody had to do it. Took me good part of a working day, but in the end, compiled something worthy of a post on this blogzine.

As always, posts in this blogzine are meant to be conversations- if you know other resources worth mentioning, please feel free to mention in the comments.This is version1 and will be in perpetual addition- every time when someone leaves a comment, it’ll be added to the list.

Headers are classified as per categories that merit a special section. Some are supplemented by International examples for the benefit of those who’d want it.

News feeds (Many examples of this one- virtually every news portal/channel worth its salt has this service)

Similar are the accounts of headhunting firms- where they tweet about the latest opening and related stuff. One example:

  • NewChinaCareer: The largest English job board for Hong Kong and China

My take on this category: Most news companies are using this platform to tweet news items via automated RSS feeds. While this does have some merits, I think the real advantage will be when these guys can really engage and be more useful. Can people send pics or posts or comment or reply to them? Can there be a new breed that reports via microblogging? Can their be TwitJournos? Or Twitcitizens? (Like citizen Journalists?)

Professionals

There are many professionals who have adopted these tools. While I am leaving the Internet marketing and the expected professionals (maybe will add if you like), I wanted to highlight professionals from non internet community who have adopted to this very well, and are using successfully. For those who are not from the industry, let this be inspiring.

  • Katie Day: Teacher-librarian @ UWCSEA East SIngapore @librarianedge
  • Chris Smith: Educator based out of Thailand. Runs school community resources at Shambles.   @shamblesguru

Companies/Established brands

Awfully and woefully less data. Forget the only Asian businesses- even the big multinationals do not have easily identifiable Asian accounts. This list pains the most. Please add or it’ll bleed.

  • Kodak: Gord Weisflock: A Canadian living in Shanghai. His bio reads: Kodak Graphic Communications Group – Marketing and Business Dev. Mgr. – Asia Pacific Region…used to be Creative Director/Commercial Photographer, tree planter
    • Tweets not just on Kodak issues but design, printing, cameras, photography and other stuff around his interests
    • Another popular (and the original one for Kodak- not Asian) is @kodakCB by Kodak Chief Blogger
  • Dell: This is a company that used to receive flak for its customer service at one point of time. But they changed. And Dell seems to be using twitter very efficiently what with many twitter accounts. Basically tweet latest offers, but are also available for issues. Tweets in local Asian languages on various local accounts- See English here for Direct2Dell International
  • HP
    • Could not see any Asian country HP account, but found this instead. Cool stuff:
      • Spreading holiday cheer- an interesting concept where they spread cheerful news by giveaways and feel good stuff. Global @HPholidaycheer
  • Gurrage
    • A site on Garage Sales focused on Singapore currently- has a twitter account- where it not only tweets latest best deals from the classifieds site- but also interacts with its followers! @gurrage

Groups, associations and niche publications:

  • Web Wednesday Hong Kong: @webwednesday : Asia’s premier networking event for internet and digital media specialists. Founded by Napoleon Biggs.
  • Charged.mobi: @JayOatway. Jay Oatway (Editor of Charged — a mobile lifestyle magazine based in Hong Kong) has an account that just reached 1000+ followers in the week of 24th Nov. Tweets about his day and stuff he thinks is worth sharing (eg Bruce Lee table tennis video). After his comment below, I am making this listing a bit more clearer. Interestingly ‘Charged’ also have their own account @chargedmob . On this account, of course they evangelise all things mobile and share stuff they think is worth sharing. Intrestingly on this account I did not see much ‘interaction’ as it seemed they were mostly ‘tweet outs’ in general and no engagement with the followers per se (which is different from Jay’s personal account)

PS: Them and us share a similar favicon :p

Interesting Twitter accounts:

  • Idea of the day: One free idea- everyday! The location says Earth, and how right it is.
  • TweetBomb: It is hilarious and ridiculous at the same time, but seems to have caught the fancy of people.  Bio  says “When I say to bomb @(name), everyone send a Tweet to that user’s name with no other text. (example: @rdeal1 – hit enter). We’ll do one a day!!!” Location: Everywhere.

Well that’s it for version 1.0. I know it is not much. It can mean a few things-

(a) businesses in Asia are not using this tool much (rejoice Social Media Marketers for the opportunity)

(b) there are not good enough tools for twitter for getting that granular data

(c) I did not put enough research effort (that’s not true! “Oh my eyes, my fingers and my relationships”.) Either ways the list is going to be updated- come back after a while to get this ‘Asian Businesses Using twitter’ list grow.

In the end, if you need to more about this research, or otherwise feel the inexplicable urge to add me on Twitter, I am @shalabhpandey

Thumbnail photo courtesy Preetam Rai’s flickr

update on 28th Nov: The twitter traffic and coversation reached its peak following the mumbai blasts- angry, and concerned Indians thronged the twitter space and used the space for blood donation, helplines. messaged to people all over the world.

update on 1st January 2009: Another good discussion on this topic by Gaurav Mishra of Gauravonomics on Indian Businesses using Twitter

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  • http://www.brandtology.com Kelly Choo

    Interesting study Shalabh! Although it’s a start (I can feel your pain in your eyes, fingers and relationships because it really sounds familiar… ouch!), I think there’s some headway for you to expand this into something more extensive later, like an Asian study on other forms of Social Media and how it relates to companies.

    I can add my 3.14 cents into this discussion by saying that companies in general in Singapore (and probably around the ASEAN region) are still feeling their way around in the dark (hurray for us?). The opportunity is there but on the flip side we have to “educate” the market.

    Needless to say, micro-blogging has yet to catch on too in this region (China maybe a different story with many Twitter clones). Companies are still blissfully unaware of its potential.

    However, that said, I believe we can expect more growth in this area when micro-blogging tools like those found in iPhone and in other phones become more pervasive as data plan costs go down. In the not to distant future, there will be an army of highly connected people who have access to the Internet 24×7 and be able to post anything, anywhere at anytime. I would then think micro-blogging will become “mainstream” and companies should be ready to look into this.

    Anyone has any thoughts on this?

    - Kelly Choo
    http://www.brandtology.com

  • shalabh

    Hi Kelly,
    It could only come from an experienced person who realizes the effort!
    Yeah it really is an opportunity I guess and it is upon the marketers, agencies and consultants to make it work.
    I am surprised though that there are so few examples- there have to be some more!
    And you guessed it very right. There are posts lined up for other social networks as well :)
    Again you are right that it will become mainstream soon. We saw the Twitter effect in the Mumbai attacks recently and the conversations were really massive.

  • http://charged.mobi Jay Oatway

    Hey there Storm Chaser,

    Thanks for the link action.

    Just to set the record straight: I do have quite a bit of interaction on Twitter with people. However, you’re right in that I don’t use Twitter as a place for a lot of idle chit chat. Who would want to follow that.

    Anyway, keep up the good work. I like your site.

    Best Regards,
    Jay Oatway

  • shalabh

    Hi Jay
    My indication was not on your “personal” Twitter (which is quite buzzing) but that of charged.mobi twitter account.
    Will put an update on the site so it becomes clearer.
    Thanks for the interaction and encouragement.
    Shalabh