Evaluating Social Media Readiness in Asia

Ogilvy colleague and Managing Director (read: my boss) John Bell put forth a practical model for assessing the market readiness for our enterprise clients in the second phase in social media adoption as they begin to activate local markets across the globe. In my role as a regional strategist based in Hong Kong, I live and breath this evaluation process in helping our clients make decisions regarding where to focus their efforts in 20+ markets across Asia Pacific.

John lists three categories for evaluation with critical questions for each (full post here).

1) Enterprise Readiness

2) Local Market Readiness

3) Market Conditions

I’d offer up few specific points worth investigating for enterprises with priority markets in Asia:

1- Don’t Build in a Vacuum

The reality is enterprise readiness is not easy. It takes considerable organisational horsepower to build consensus on measurement, putting pen to paper on the brand playbook, leaping over the sales, marketing, pr silos. It’s messy and takes time.

Brands at the twilight of phase one – nearly but yet not complete – should already be activating and training local markets. This evaluation process is not liner. In fact, the leading enterprises I’ve worked with run this simultaneously with a built in feedback mechanism so the important lessons bound to pour out while building capacity at the local level are channeled back up to global.  Ready the enterprise while simultaneously building local capacity and both hub and spoke benefit.

We often subscribe to the multiple hub and spoke model for clients (it works for us at Ogilvy) and we’ve learned that those spokes need to flow both ways. See below for reference from the Altimeter Career Path of the Corporate Social Media Strategist.

2- Two-way Hub and Spokes

Successful enterprises know that Asia is an exporter of ideas and creativity in social media. Show up at a brand or agency brainstorm in Ho Chi Minh City, talk to digital creatives in Beijing or ask your Taiwan team to give you a demo of their wildly popular BBS ingeniously run off of Telenet.

A UK or US-headquartered client cannot toss the enterprise social strategy and brand content to Hong Kong or Shanghai and expect a word -by-word translation.

This import model doesn’t work in social media because enterprises risk serious innovation leak if there’s not a pipeline in place designed to channel the creativity and ideas destined to come flowing back to global HQ.

Be warned: do not make the mistake of dividing your Asia social media efforts based on the number of Facebook fans by country (see below from Tom Crampton) or any other stat your Intern googled. Indonesia, as an example, is the second largest Facebook market in the world, and also home to a fascinating and jaw-dropping complex cultural and business environment that may consume resources at a faster rate than other markets.

3- Pilots to build local teams

The following are must-have stats that your local team can and should easily pull (riff off of John’s post) and the second list of questions will yield deeper insight when planning and evaluating long term engagement:

  • Dominant social networks (local vs global socnet)
  • Dominant search engine
  • Mobile penetration
  • Broadband penetration
  • Trust in WOM
  • Censorship Level in Social Media (reality of some Asian countries, particularly China and Vietnam)

In order to know where to focus your efforts long term, a pilot program in a carefully chosen market answers to deeper questions designed to assess local market readiness:

  • Is the local market an influencer or grassroots driven web ecosystem? Hint: No market in Asia is a symmetric 50 /50 split
  • Does that social media monitoring tool really work in Vietnamese, Bahasa Malaysia, etc?
  • Does this global enterprise program need further tweaking to “fit” in China?
  • Can we really get general consensus on measurement?
  • Do we need a regional hub serving Asia for added support – a mini-hub in cities like Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai that can serve as a single contact point for global HQ while coordinating 23 cities in Asia.

With so many languages, cultures and different web-climates, Asia warrants an extra level of attention and evaluation. Curious to know lessons learned from others as more and enterprises assess market readiness in social media.