SG Elections: New media elections

Singaporeans will be going to the polls in about six day’s time. This time, the elections have taken on a multi-dimensional approach as new media has come to the fore. During each rally each night, thousands of images, tweets and Youtube videos would be uploaded, shared, and commented on.

From Facebook fan pages for various political parties and specific politicians and activists, to YouTube videos, to live streaming of political rallies, to multiple blogs and viral images, there is no doubt that the power of new media is a force to be reckoned with.

I’ve listed below some of the many links that will help you get a handle on the politics of new media and the new media of politics!

Singapore: Social media, youth, and elections

Singapore elections: Nicole Seah and the social media effect

What Can We Expect In The 2011-2012 Singapore General Elections?

Singapore Elections 2011 – Can Social Media And Politics Mix?

Facebook, YouTube the new battlegrounds in Singapore elections

Social media: The new battleground in Singapore elections

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#Quakebook

The power of social media.

In the wake of the recent Japanese earthquake, the whole world has been galvanised into action. Many are raising funds, volunteering, doing something, anything, to try to help the situation and lessen the devastating impact of the horrifying earthquake and subsequent tsunamis.

An interesting project that has developed in the aftermath is #Quakebook, the labour of love of 300 strangers who came together online to produce an e-book of 89 stories of people’s experiences in the earthquake and tsunami, all in the name of charity to raise funds for the Red Cross, to benefit the victims in Japan. The call to action was made on Twitter (hashtag #quakebook) and the stories unfolded on Twitter.

Read all about how they did it and their motivations on the Quakebook blog, and do your part to help in this worthy cause.

The Importance of Social Media: To Know and Be Known

What was once thought of as being an additional channel for teenagers to socialise and communicate is now seen as an important avenue for companies and organisations to be in the know and to be known. Adults and teens alike are not only using social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and forums for socialisation and self-expression purposes, they are using social media to share information on just about everything including how they feel about brands and products they have bought. And such user-generated information is often seen to be more credible than the information found in company websites which are often regarded by netizens to be highly suspicious marketese.

Thus, it is crucial for companies to be in the know of what is being said about them in the various threads of digital conversations. Ignorance is certainly not bliss, and knowing how they are regarded, whether good, bad or ugly, will help them to be in a better position to counter the negative sentiments and play to the positive ones. Who can forget the catchy tune of the viral YouTube hit United Breaks Guitars based on Dave Carroll’s bad experience with UA. Apparently, within four days of its YouTube release, UA stocks fell by 10%. If UA had paid closer attention to Carroll and what he was saying about it online, it would have been in a better position to help the situation.

Many brands also recognize the importance of being known via social media as well. Advertising on Facebook and Twitter is now seen to be the norm than the exception as these are the platforms that most people gather on. However, this also needs some savvy handling or the backlash could be painful, as in the case of Kenneth Cole’s infamous Cairo-protest-related tweet. Of course, closer to home, Singapore’s Health Promotion Board came under some fire for a rude mis-tweet by one of its employees, which no doubt compromised the organisation’s credibility somewhat, despite many netizens expressing their sympathy for the hapless, or rather, careless employee in forum discussions.

However, if well-wielded and harnessed, social media platforms could prove to be a useful means to engage consumers and extend a company or organisation’s brand and influence. For example, the Old Spice ad campaign that went viral in the States last year helped to rejuvenate what was previously regarded by many to be an old brand.

Beyond commercial uses, social media has also been used for humanitarian ones. We know of various non-profit organisations raising their own profile as well as that of their causes via social media. Currently, in the devastating aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, we see how social media have been increasingly used to help people connect with their loved ones, as well as how charitable organisations are using social media to raise funds to help the homeless and needy in Japan. And therein lies the beauty and efficacy of social media in helping individuals and organisations to reach out and engage, and to know and be known.

Media Monitors Group buys Brandtology

For a company that tracks and measures social media sentiments of companies and brands, Brandtology, itself has been very much in the news recently and would have found much to analyse as it tracks its own brand, especially with news of it being bought by the Australian-based Media Monitors Group.

The sale of Brandtology for an eight-figure sum signals the increasing importance of social media monitoring as a growth market. Media Monitors Group, CEO John Croll, shares in the company blog that “the acquisition further strengthens Media Monitors ability to provide the highest quality and most comprehensive suite of media intelligence services across [its] region and beyond”.

According to Brandtology’s founder and CEO, Mr Eddie Chau, as quoted in the Brandtology blog post on the acquisition, the move is “the logical and exciting next step for Brandtology, allowing [it] to continue [its] rapid growth across existing and new markets and maintain [its] focus on research and development with the financial strength and broad Asia Pacific sales network of the region’s leading media intelligence company behind [it].”

This is clearly new milestone in Brandtology’s development. Not bad for a three-year old Singapore start-up, which has become a global leader in online and social media intelligence. This would also be a boost and an encouragement to the local start-up scene.

All a-flutter and a -Twitter over HPB’s rude tweet

Subscribers to the Singapore Health Promotion Board’s (HPB) Twitter account must have received a rude shock when they saw a rude Tweet instead of HPB’s usual tweets on topics such as the flu epidemic and healthy living.

That tweet was quickly deleted and followed up by apology tweets from HPB, saying that the profanity was a mistake. It was human error. A staff member in charge of tweeting for HPB had sent the rude tweet thinking that it was from a personal account and not the company account!

In a way, HPB showed its maturity in how it dealt with the situation. Instead of being defensive, it apologised for the rude tweet (and I’m pretty sure the staff involved has been counselled). Many netizens also showed their maturity in accepting the apology. Instead of deriding the organisation (a government body no less), many were understanding of the human error on the part of the staff and accepted HPB’s apology.

But I’m sure that has not stopped the PR and corporate comms divisions of many other bodies from holding emergency meetings on the corporate use of new media, and using the HPB example as a cautionary tale.

Could have been a love story

Came across this little cute could have been love story on Youtube.

It shows a pair of friends communicating via the Facebook chat function, and while they are clearly into each other (to the viewer), they keep revising what they want to say, stripping off all sentimentality and emotion from their original expressions and paring them down to seemingly nonchalant and platonic responses, such as a simple cool.

While social media platoforms do make it easier for someone to access another person and communicate with each others, especially in real-time, the usual should-I say-this and what-will-he/she-think-of-me-if-I-say-this hang-ups still remain in (budding) relationships.

In a way, that’s quite reassuring and that’s what makes this such a cute little story. Could-have, should-have…well, it could have been a love story. Enjoy.

I’m sure you will smile when you watch it.

China Blog Helps To Trace Kidnapped Children

There’s been recent news of how a microblog set up in China has helped to reunite parents with their long-lost abducted children. Set up on China’s Sina.com by a Chinese professor,Yu Jianrong,  known for “championing the rights of China’s huge underclass”, the microblog gets people to take photos of child beggars and orphans and upload them to the site. One could easily send photos to the campaign’s email address: jiejiuqier@sina.com or use the mobile app for it.

It was just one such photo that led to the happy reunion of a father and his six-year-old boy who had been kindnapped three years earlier. Six other children have apparently been able to have happy reunions with their families, through the help of the microblog.

These have captured the attention of the Chinese government and have sparked renewed efforts by the state police to crack down on such abductions. The sad plight of kidnapped children who are often  forced into a life of slavery and hardship have been documented in various websites and blogs. One example is a project on Kickstarter that features documentary on the issue.

Unfortunately, just as the microblog has been hailed as a success in helping to rescue some of the children from their sad plight, there are others who now say that the online campaign is flawed and has put the children’s lives in greater danger. Because of the sudden interest in taking photos of the child beggars and posting them online, some say that the kidnappers will now resort to more serious ways such as disfiguring the children to prevent them from being recognised by their families.

Thankfully, efforts to rescue kidnapped children will be  more sustained. There will be a special fund set up for long-term help for a nationwide crackdown on child begging. Yang Peng, secretary-general of the One Foundation, announced on his sina.com.cn micro blog on Saturday that a dedicated fund will be established and affiliated to the charitable organisation.

Let’s hope that with sustained and concerted efforts by all, there could be a stop to this ruthless problem and the children can be protected.