Have You Caught the Magic?

I have always wondered if we are “overdoing” social media, with everyone wanting to jump on the bandwagon without a proper strategy, and wanting to start a Facebook page for the sake of having one.

Hence, when I had the privilege of listening to Pete Teo, Malaysia’s very own multi-award winning singer/songwriter/film producer, at the Social Media Club (Malaysia chapter) inaugural event last week, I really wished I could put him in front of many people and hear it from him straight!

Teo, famous for his anti-racism music video Malaysian Artistes For Unity that became a popular national culture phenomenon last year, recently produced the 15Malaysia project, which also instantly became a hit. The 15Malaysia website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were primary channels for publicity, in addition to print media.

15Malaysia is a short film project consisting of 15 short films made by 15 Malaysian filmmakers. These films deal with socio-political issues in Malaysia and feature some of actors, musicians and top political leaders.

When the project was launched on Facebook on 17 August 2009, it reached 10,000 fans within an hour. Today, it has 86,852 fans on Facebook, 1,488 followers on Twitter, and 366,363 video files downloaded from the 15Malaysia website … and still counting. (The tremendous amount of traffic has busted four servers and Teo has also received a lot of help from the public through his SOS tweets.)

While he has successfully made use of social media to promote the 15Malaysia project (which has just received an invitation to screen all 15 films at the Golden Horse Film Festival in Taipei this November), Teo said that it’s not about the tools. Social media is only a tool and is as good as it gets if you do not engage people in an emotional way. He aptly stated that, “You cannot ‘formulate’ your way into this (social media success).”

Think before you jump. The important questions: What are you trying to sell? What is your message? How does your project engage the public and what value are you offering to the community?