Monday, July 25, 2011

Presidential Race in Singapore with Web 2.0

As the Presidential Race heats up, the Presidential Candidates get on their A game and starts engagement on social media.

Dr Tony Tan decided to engage bloggers and influencers in Signapore in a lunch meeting. Famous Bloggers like Mr Miyagi, Mr Brown, Yawning Bread, TheOnlineCitizen, MotherInc, Alvinology, Dr. Cherian George attended and of course some of them wrote about their experiences and probably increased his profile a little.

Tan Cheng Bock launches smartphone apps. "For the 71-year-old, it is a big step in leveraging on the power of social media. He confessed that he had not known what "apps" were just two months ago." I don't understand why he would do such a thing, probably just to get the attention of the press?

I feel that social media is continuous engagement and building trust, not a cheap app and just having a Facebook Page or Twitter account can do.

Tan Kin Lian to rely on social media I was not really aware that Mr Tan Kin Lian has a "Popular Blog" and I wonder if he would engage on conversations on other blogs forums and popular pages like the Online Citizen to create awareness, build trust and credibility.

These are clear signs that the Presidential candidates believe that Social Media is a great way to influence people, and they are willing to learn to engage the public using social media.

I hope their efforts will continue even when they are elected so that they can hear the voices of Singaporeans and those who supported them!

-- Robin Low

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The DaVinci Incident

Once a pride of Singapore, Dr Doris Phua, Singapore's women Entrepreneur of the year in 2001 and 2002 is now the center of the news. And you guess it, its not good news, but a rather bad one.

News after news, the high end furniture store DaVinci furniture is under the spotlight now for products that are not really from the "country of origin" as stated... Which is not from Italy or USA, but rather .. Made in China.

Furthermore, there are reports that are coming out on forums, and discussion boards on the wood which they claim, used in their products made from high density board, rather than real wood.

News like "Furniture retailer to face press"
"Furniture retailer Da Vinci under fire "
Chinese Upset Over Counterfeit Furniture
Picture gets worse for Da Vinci

"DaVinci is the place to go for Versace sofas, sumptuous Fendi Casa calf-skin couches or stylish chaise lounges stamped Made in Italy. A DaVinci bedroom set can sell for $100,000. "

That same day, however, customs officials in Shanghai said they had evidence that DaVinci was temporarily storing Chinese-made goods in a Shanghai warehouse, including cattle-hide sofas produced in nearby Zhejiang Province. The officials said that after a day spent in Shanghai’s Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, the products — with the paperwork duly filed — were imported back into the country.

From the news reports, interviews and the myriad of blogs bashing DaVinci furniture, Davinci furniture's reputation will probably take a long time, if ever, to recover.

However, in digging deeper, I realized that the Chinese search and even in English forums, there was much talks about the quality and authenticity of the furniture.

Along with perception, news and other social interaction, this fueled the situation into a crisis, one could have prevented if DaVinci Furniture actually monitored and engaged with their supporters in conversations.

There are a lot more op-eds bashing "DaVinci Furniture"

Will DaVinci Furniture's reputation recover from this incident?
Will there be more scandals from the foreign import companies in China?

Only time will tell.

-- Robin Low

Monday, July 11, 2011

KFC employees playing with your food.

Malaysia's Version of "Playing with your food"

If you have been following the Social Media crisis that happened to Dominos in 2009 (or 2010) 2 employees shared a series of videos about their disgusting behavior in the kitchen when they played with your food. Well, there is a Malaysia version which involves KFC employees now.

In June 2011, someone uploaded these videos and there was an uproar. Although KFC Malaysia may have acted on this crisis, their reputation of having flies in their restaurant and "slow moving" employees that give bad service does not really help them in dealing with the crisis either.

En. Mohammad Alwi, KFC Malaysia’s Director of Restaurant Operations, made a personal address to the public in two languages – Malay and English. In the video, he apologizes and ensures customers that KFC Malaysia has taken action to prevent the same incident from happening. Here’s how:

1. Cameras in kitchens: KFC Malaysia has installed cameras to make sure that the kitchen team can be held accountable for their actions.

2. Appoint supervisors: One lead cook will be appointed at every kitchen to supervise the food preparation process.

3. Improve the training program: The training program will be made more rigorous to ensure employees understand the value of KFC and food hygiene.


This is a lesson that many companies in the world must learn. No matter how big or small a restaurant chain is, it is important to have a social media policy and good training guidelines on the consequences on behaviors on social media.

It will take years to build your reputation, and with a small antic and video on YouTube, the confidence you may have built will be destroyed.

A lot more may be mitigated if KFC Malaysia engages regularly with their fans and supporters, and build up a community who can help monitor and defend its brand. Leveraging on staff, and empowering them as the voice to reach out, I really doubt such an incident will happen. Perhaps poor training + badly treated staff without background checks.


I felt that the reply video from the director of operations was not sufficient. The case does not seem resolved and there seem to be not enough actions taken by authorities to the staff involved to show that there was any serious consequences.

The Malaysia Food and Safety board did not even investigate, and this is even more troubling as it shows that the food safety level in the country is pretty much no present!

My guess is that this is not became a full blown crisis as the Dominos crisis yet, and as such, not much is done, and there will probably be more to come as companies are still slow to embrace social media.

But for those who do, at least they will be well prepared and hopefully their staff will not create a social media crisis for them.

-- Robin Low

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Asia getting on Social Media

I've many friends who asked me about how Asia is getting on social media and all the data I've got, they all point to very strong growth in the region.

With strong growth of mobile technologies and mobile broadband in Asia, it is not really a surprise that it shows in the pick up rate of social media here.

As more people try out Facebook and Twitter, it is no doubt that they will be curious about the other social powered tools that leverage on crowds. If you own a business and you want to find out more about things like Foursquares, Facebook Pages and how to use Twitter to engage the public, there is a course tomorrow in Singapore.

1) Aventis Social Media Marketing Professional Certification program (Stage 1)

This is an extensive course which introduces you everything about social media, to engaging the public and measuring success. With this course, you can plan and start your social media campaign for your company.

And if you already think you have enough knowledge about social media, there is a second part of the course just on Real Time Marketing and new ideas on Social Engagements. Get information on actual case studies of companies that succeeded and failed, so you can learn from these examples and do have to run into the same mistakes.

2) Real Time Marketing and Public Engagement (Stage 2)

I just arrived in Singapore after running the course on the Eastern Coast of United States, and the course in Singapore starts tomorrow, be sure you check it out!

-- Robin Low