Saturday, June 28, 2014

Social Media: The new political battleground for hearts and minds …

The on-going presidential election in Indonesia continues to reinforce the trend that social media is the new battleground for the hearts and minds of the electorate. Recent past elections in countries like Malaysia and Singapore have credited social media’s influence as a major factor in the outcome of the elections. Besides, US President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, few incumbent governments have been able to replicate Obama's success in this information domain.
 
It is safe to say that incumbent governments know the importance of social media and many are trying to establish their online presence. Unfortunately, there are three key challenges limiting their ability to win in the social media domain:
a.         Hierarchical vs Flat Decision Structure. An inherent characteristic of social media is that it is non-hierarchical. Everybody and anybody is able to effectively share their views and perspectives as and when it happens. This is a significant advantage to opposition candidates (and their supporters) as, unhindered by bureaucracy, they can aggressively and rapidly “push” their agendas on social media. By the time an official response is issued, opposition candidates would have gained first mover advantage and the government will now be fighting from a defensive position to correct electorate perceptions. And by constantly pushing new agendas, the opposition maintains the information initiative which ties-up government resources and keeps the government “cornered”.
b.         One vs Many. As social media is now ubiquitous, the “attacker” to “defender” ratio is overwhelmingly in favor of the opposition. Anybody with a view or grievance against the government can go to social media. Unlike main-stream media there is no editor to filter the relevant from the irrelevant or the genuine from the fake. In a country the size of Singapore, even if .1% of the 4 million electorate engages the government on social media, that will mean 4,000 people. The Singapore government, or no government for that matter, will not have the manpower or resources to wage and win this battle.
c.         Anonymity. The third and possibly the biggest challenge for incumbent government is that of online anonymity. Fake accounts can be easily created and, at the extreme, a single individual can have an infinite number of online identities. As such, without a system that ensures accountability online, it is easy for unscrupulous politicians to plan and execute campaigns of disinformation, rumors, untruths, myths and smears (DRUMS). While it is possible for the incumbent government to disprove these DRUMS or even identify the culprits, it will once again require considerable time and resources.

In short, the new political battleground for the hearts and minds of the electorate is clear to all. Unfortunately, the “terrain” on which it is fought favors the attacker (or opposition) and there is little that incumbent governments can do. The only way, in our opinion, is for incumbent governments to step-up efforts to educate the electorate on the dangers of social media so that they learn to filter the truths from the rhetoric and thus make an informed decision on who to cast their vote for.

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Note: We welcome comments about our views. However, as I believe in taking responsibility for ones views, anonymous comments and those assessed to be from fake accounts will not be approved for publication.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Social Media and Online Scams

The dangers of social media has now extended itself into the realm of industrial espionage. SG Corporate Training has published an interesting article on how corporate spies and online scammers are now using social media to launch sophisticated attacks.
 
In their article, SG Corporate Training elaborated on the increasingly use of two-phase attacks by scammers as identified by the counter-industrial espionage team at CW Fong & Associates. In the two-phase attack, scammers first seek to enter the target's "inner social media circle" by cloning an acquaintance and then sending an innocuous friend request. Once the scammer has entered the circle, they then monitor the target for vulnerabilities which they then exploit. As the "attack" comes from within, the target's defences are down and the rate of success high.
 
The dangers posed by social media is not new. As early as 2009, Thomas Ryan (an online security specialist) demonstrated this via what has become known as the Robin Sage experiment. More recently, Cascade Insights ran a similar experiment to demonstrate to their clients the importance of having a robust social media policy.
 
In the end, users of social media must be aware of the dangers that lurk. While social media is a great way to stay connected with friends, this same tool creates vulnerabilities which criminals can exploit. One good example which the article by SG Corporate Training gave was the criminal exploitation of travel information. If you had posted on Facebook that you would be away on vacation in the Philippines and a friend suddenly receives a message from you that you had been robbed and needed an urgent loan to get back to Singapore, chances are your friend would not think twice about sending you the money.
 
Given the wealth of online information available and the ease with which anyone can create an online identity, users of social media must be careful about who they include in their "inner circle" and the information they share.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Anti-G Vitriol - Have Singaporeans become a nation of cyber-bullies ....

For those that follow this blog, you will know that I have consistently abstained from making political comments. However, as a Singaporean, I have become increasingly disturbed by the types of attacks against the PAP and the G in online forums and social media that I think I need to express my views.
 
Don’t get me wrong! I believe it is not only correct, but important, for Singaporeans to shape their political future. I however feel that it has reached the point where things are bordering on the ridiculous. We are now at the point where regardless of what the G does, there will always be a section of the population that will find fault. Even something as simple as the PM queuing up to buy food will bring out the trolls. It is now a case of damned if I do and damned if I don’t.
 
I accept that the angst that Singaporeans feel is real. I too have my angst and unhappiness with some of the G’s policies. My fear is that we are becoming a society that petty. Sure, you have the right to express your views, and you have earned this right as a citizen of Singapore. However, where does it end? To put it bluntly, we have become a nation of cyber-bullies.
 
This blog post will elicit three responses. One group will support my view; the second group will think about what I am saying, draw their own conclusions and perhaps becoming more constructive in their online engagement with the G and PAP; and the third group will merely attack me as one of the PAP’s or G’s lapdog. To be honest, I am not interested in the third group as I believe that they are blinded by their emotions and will never be open to any alternative views. The real target of this blog post is to appeal to those that are still thinking logically to consider their own actions – the second group.
 
Here is my appeal ….
 
Attacking and criticizing government policies is the right of every citizen. However, when those attacks start becoming personal attacks against the individual politician (regardless of whether they are public figures) I think we have failed as individuals and as a society. In fact, it is my opinion that those who need to resort to personal attacks to win an argument are those who have in fact lost the argument at the intellectual level. So my dear Singaporeans, I urge you to continue to fight and argue for what you believe in. But I hope that we can stop becoming a nation of cyber-bullies and argue against the policies and stop attacking the individual.
 
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Note: I welcome comments about my views. However, as I believe in taking responsibility for ones views, anonymous comments will not be approved for publication.

News Release: Launch of SG Insider Deals

SG Social Media Guru is pleased to announce the addition of our newest blogsite SG Insider Deals. The addition of SG Insider Deals complements CW Fong & Associates' existing network of social media platforms by reaching out to tourists visiting Singapore, as well as the demographics of “kiasu” Singaporeans looking out for the best deals.

SG Insider Deals builds on the concept that in Singapore, as in any country in the world, finding the best deals is often as simple as knowing where to look. SG Insider Deals leverages on CW Fong & Associates' extensive networks and over 20 years in business to find and share with its users the best promotions available in Singapore.

Designed for locals and tourists alike, SG Insider Deals is a comprehensive online resource for promotions that are well known to the public, as well as those that are known only to a select few. Regardless of where the deal comes from, SG Insider Deals will enable its users to save.

To date, early adopters of the SG Insider Deals platform now offer special promotional rates on deals on Actual Day Wedding Photography packages, tickets to Universal Studios Singapore, tickets to the Singapore Zoological Gardens and tickets to the Singapore Flyer.
 
SG Insider Deals: For the best bargains in Singapore!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Lesson in Crisis Communications: Roy Ngerng and the “suicide bomber” strategy

The Roy Ngerng saga continues with his recent termination by his employer Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Despite Ngerng’s own initial admission (on his Facebook page) that he was "expecting the termination" as he "had been distracted at work", Ngerng now claims that his termination is politically motivated. This change in tact is not unexpected as it is in line with Ngerng’s “escalate at all cost” strategy.
 
As a crisis communications consultant, there is much we can learn …
 
Irrational Opponent. From the very beginning of the crisis, Ngerng has been single-minded in his pursuit of political capital. For what ends, we can only speculate and only time will tell. At each turn of the political “chess match” between PM Lee and Ngerng, Ngerng has consistently out-maneuvered the PM. This is because PM Lee has assessed Ngerng to be a rational opponent and thus each of PM Lee’s move was calculated based on a rational response by Ngerng. Alas, this was not to be the case as Ngerng is not acting rationally. Much like it is impossible to stop a suicide bomber willing to sacrifice his own life for a cause, Ngerng’s consistent escalation of the situation is pushing PM Lee into unchartered territory.
 
Lesson for Crisis Communications. In a crisis communications situation like this, it is important to determine the opponent’s end game. Knowing this will not only give you an indication of his likely strategy and his response to your moves, but in the case of a “suicidal blogger” necessitate a change in strategy.
 
Building upon the suicide bomber analogy, Ngerng’s outcome is a foregone conclusion. The damages awarded is likely to be substantial (remember Ngerng had asked Han Hui Hui to state that his comments have received more than 1 million views). Ngerng will thus unlikely be able to pay the damages and will eventually be made a bankrupt. The question that remains is how many Ngerng “kills” in the process and whether he can pick the place and time of the “explosion” so that it can become a rallying cry and catalyst for other anti-government activists to follow.
 
In this scenario, the PAP’s playbook of seeking legal recourse for defamation has worked against them. Ngerng  has used this well-known strategy in his favor and has literally set PM Lee on a collision course. Any attempts by PM Lee to cease his court actions will portray him as afraid of Ngerng and undermine his credibility. The only thing, as a crisis communications strategy, that PM Lee can do now is to let the legal process run its course and work to minimize the body count and divert the explosion to a time and place with the minimal of impact.
 
While we at SG Social Media Guru do not condone or support Roy Ngerng in any way, and we in fact condemn the manner in which he is seeking political change, we do however acknowledge that he is indeed a good chess player.
 
In short, in a crisis communications situation, never assume that your opponent will behave rationally.
 
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Important Note: This post is not a political commentary but is used to derive learning lessons with regards to crisis communications. We welcome discussions on the merits of the crisis communications ideas discussed, but will delete political commentaries.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

SG Social Media Guru Supports the Launch of the SG Youth Ambassadors

SG Social Media Guru is pleased to support the launch of the not-for-profit organization SG Youth Ambassadors ....
 
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything,
but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” ~ Helen Keller
 
Recognizing the growing desire of Singapore youths to make the world a better place to live, the Singapore Youth Ambassadors (SYA) has been established as a platform to enable this. Formed by a team of passionate volunteers who have been involved in community work for more than twelve years, SYA aims not only to help youths make a difference, but also to enrich the lives of the youths who participate.

 
How SYA differs from other youth programs is in our emphasis on youths making a difference on other youths. As such, all SYA programs are youth-led in terms of planning, organizing and execution. The SYA does not belong to any individual or organization, but to every youth who believes that education is for all, regardless of your station in life. At SYA, we emphasize the spirit of excellence, responsibility of actions, moral uprightness in our personality, team spirit in our work, a good attitude towards living and, most importantly, service to mankind.
 
Our Program for 2014
 
To help youths make a difference, the SYA has lined-up four events for 2014 - Asia Student Leadership Conference, Asian Arts Festival 2014, Youth Environmental Summit and Hospitality Tourism Forum.
 
a. Asia Student Leadership Conference (ASLC) (3 to 7 August 2014). The ASLC is a leadership program that aims to imbue in youths an understanding of responsibility and the under-taking of it. In line with our approach of an event by youths for youths, speakers at the event will include youths with adults acting only as mentors. Incorporating youths from developed and developing countries, we want participants to recognize that they are the future and that together they can make a difference in the world. Key partners for the Conference are the Salvation Army, the Singapore Science Centre, the Boys brigade and Paya Lebar Methodist School.
 
b. Asian Arts Festival 2014 (AAF) (8 to 11 August 2014). With the theme “breaking Boundaries,” the AAF aims to promote Art for everyone. The AAF will use Art as the platform to breakdown the barrier between people and to youths (including the disabled) to share their dreams and to go beyond their own limits. Research has shown that “vocalizing” a dream increases the probability of achieving it. Key partners for this event are the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS), Paya Lebar Methodist Girl School and the London College of Music.
 
c. Youth Environmental Summit (YES). The YES is a program dedicated to educating the next generation about the importance of saving the earth and instilling the responsibility in them to protect it. Besides raising awareness of the impact of human actions on the environment, the YES will demonstrate to participants that every little “green” action helps and how youths can make a difference in protecting mother earth. The YES will focus on including participants from countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos and Myanmar.
 
d. Hospitality Tourism Forum (HTF). The HTF is our tourism forum. Through the HTF we endeavor to help more youths understand the service industry and how they can contribute in this area. This is a platform to showcase youths contributing to the economy of the world.
 
To be a part of the solution, you can make a difference by liking us at SG Youth Ambassadors.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Social Media Marketing Singapore: Instant Online Presence to over 300,000 Singaporeans

Traffic! Traffic! Traffic! To succeed online, you need to have traffic. The challenge for Singapore SMEs is that it takes time (and money) to build an online presence. Recognizing the need for businesses to be able to quickly establish an online presence, CW Fong & Associates has developed an online marketing system that will provide any Singapore-based business with INSTANT online presence.
 
Leveraging on a "system" of mutually reinforcing established social media platforms like blogsites (SG Wedding Guru, SG Tutors, SG Corporate Training to name a few), Twitter (@SG_Insider), Acesse Marketing, Paper.Li (Hashtag Singapore) and CWFA's very proprietary Facebook Page Champions, CWFA is able to provide your business with an instant online presence to over 300,000 Singaporeans a month. The power of our online marketing system is in its persistence in front of your target market, and the "word of mouth" effect.  
 
Social Media Marketing Strategy for Singapore SMEs
 
 
To find out how we can help you succeed online, email our Principal Consultant via Justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com.

Social Media Marketing - Why Native Advertising

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