Thailand’s ‘Amazing’ social media presence

Amazing Thailand mobile app menu.

Thailand’s popularity as a tourist destination isn’t only due to its rich culture, divine cuisine and opportune geography. It has well-organised tourism authority that doesn’t trade in clichés and recognises the diversity of the millions of tourists from around the world and their reasons for visiting.

Tourism Thailand has an excellent online presence centred around its Amazing Thailand website that’s chock full information and tools including travel planners, interactive maps and hotel finders and all important special deals.

The Amazing Thialand campaign recently won a Pacific Asia Tourism Award for its “social networking” campaign left by its Facebook site which has more than 150,000 friends.

This fun page is informative and entertaining. It features a Flash game relevant to coming events, currently Songkran Champion, a shoot ‘em up with water pistols – Songkran is a festival where Buddhist monks sprinkle water on worshippers, though in some parts it has evolved into an all out water fight.

Wall posts are engaging and there are plenty of pics and Youtube videos. In the Notes section you’ll even find Thai recipes and job vacancies for anyone seeking an expat lifestyle. There’s also a link to the highly praised Amazing Thailand mobile apps for Android, Blackberry, iPhone and iPad. The apps feature destination and event guides and food and accommodation information. They also have a Google Maps driven location guide to help you find attractions, and allow you to share your experiences via the Facebook and Twitter sites.


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Driving Holden’s social media strategy

Holden has embarked on a widespread social media campaign during the launch of the new Australian-built Cruze.

Cars are excellent products for social media marketing as they attract passion and fierce brand loyalty. Manufacturers can also take different marketing approaches to suit their various models and the kinds of people who buy them.

Holden has recognised the importance of social media for some time and recently embarked one of its biggest online campaigns to market the launch of the new Australian-built Cruze across YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Leading the charge is the company’s Social Media and Digital Communications Manager, Andrea Matthews, who says social media is now a key component of Holden’s product launches. “There’s strong consideration for social media across everything we do.” says Matthews. “But you won’t see us “doing social” just for the sake of it. It has to fit with the campaign and the customer.”

While Holden has a large social media presence and following, with almost 175,000 Facebook followers on its main site, Matthews admits the company is still coming to grips with the opportunities social media offers to its marketing efforts and ways to provide customers added value.

One thing the company does seem to recognise is that social media marketing needs to be, well, social, meaning there needs to be a balance between a carefully planned social media campaign and genuine public engagement. “We’ll time our Facebook/YouTube/Twitter updates so that colleagues know where they appear in the overall plan, but we don’t script our interactions too much,” says Matthews. “It can make the updates far too stilted and not at all natural.

”I feel our social media activity has already moved a long way from just “broadcasting” what we want people to hear.

“We’re listening too, and that’s a strong message.”

When marketing a brand with so many devotees like Holden, getting a strong response via social media is the easy part, but are there any drawbacks?

“Holden has always been a social brand and with such a strong fan base. That has definitely played in our favour, but it is not without its challenges,” admits Matthews. “With such a rich motoring heritage, we have fans who for whom Holden equals high performance V8s only. We also have fans at the other end of the spectrum who drive our small cars and are equally passionate about them. That’s quite a demographic range to reach in a single forum like Facebook.

“That’s one of the reasons we established a stand alone Facebook page for our small car lovers, to give them a place to share their enthusiasm outside of the V8/historic car discussions which were taking place on our brand Facebook page.”

While social media is proving successful for Holden, Matthews says it’s difficult to accurately gauge its performance within individual marketing campaigns. “That very much depends on the objectives you set for the campaign,” she says. “If the objective is around building product/brand awareness and purchase consideration then it can’t be isolated from all of the other things we do as marketers and communicators.

“I’m also not sure that I’m keen on the idea of stand alone social media campaigns – we consume media and messages in so many different forms that social can’t sit on its own. To be used most effectively, it needs to be fully integrated with all of the other brand/customer touch points.”

Finally, if she had to choose just one social media platform to promote Holden’s brand which would it be? “It would have to be Facebook, because everyone is there,” says Matthews. “And with the changes to Facebook, I think brands have got a greater opportunity to build out their content.

“In fact, I think we’re really just learning what opportunities it offers to us and our customers.”

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Irish jig goes viral

Social Media Marketing 101 dictates that said that you can’t simply make an ad go viral. However, a good idea and a well-executed plan will certainly help.

This video of a flashmob striking Sydney’s Central station is currently doing the rounds and has attracted plenty of interest helped of course by St Patrick’s Day. Rather than a bunch of uni students dancing to Rick Astley, it was a well planned Irish Dance spectacular starting with one boy who was gradually joined by more and more dancers dressed in business and school attire much to the amazement of commuters. The performance entertained the crowd at the station and the video has attracted more than 130,000 views in two days.

It’s very well filmed and edited which gives it away as a viral ad, which is confirmed at the end when the Tourism Ireland logo appears. My only criticism, from a marketing point of view, is it goes a bit too long. I reckon quite a few viewers would have moved on before the Tourism Ireland brand appears at the end.

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The more people ‘Like’ the FJ Cruiser, the cheaper it will be

Toyota has taken put a rather welcome twist on crowd sourcing by reducing the price of its new FJ Cruiser by $5 for everyone who Likes its Facebook site as part of a competition.

As the car maker says on its Like My Ride website it is “offering you the chance to buy a Toyota FJ Cruiser at a reduced social price. For every “Like” the price will drop by $5. You’ve got until Monday, 28th March to reduce the price as much as possible. Toyota will even throw extras as the price drops… adding to the bargain. Get sharing!”

As I write this the site has 1156 fans meaning the price of the retro looking four-wheel-drive has already dropped from its retail drive away price of $50,334 to $44,559. Anyone better at maths than me might have already worked out 10,067 Likes would mean a free car. However the small print (and there’s a lot of small print) says that the most the car can be discounted by is $20,000 to rather reasonable $30,334 – meaning 4000 Likes.

Once you Like the page you can fill in a form for a chance to buy the car at the reduced price.

This is an interesting promotion that will probably receive more attention than if Toyota were giving away a car. It also gives them a massive boost in its social media exposure and a database of potential customers.

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If you’re going to San Francisco be sure to check in

Standing with my arm in the air gripping a hand hold on a swaying train carriage, my wandering eyes noticed that many of my fellow commuters clutching smart phones were doing a lot more than just texting or listening to music. That’s when it hit me: with such a captive audience why don’t transport operators promote ways for passengers with smart phones and tablets to interact with advertisers or the transport system itself?

It could be as simple as a poster with a Twitter or Facebook address to encourage people to provide receive more information about products, or enter competitions, that appeal to commuters – such as travel, recruitment, coffee/lunch deals. Alternatively the transport operator could promote its own Twitter feed or app* for passengers to receive the latest travel information or provide real-time feedback.

One transport network that has embraced social media is 2009 San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), which uses Twitter and Facebook as a means to keep passengers informed and interested its services. But the jewel in the crown of BART’s digital campaign was its pioneering use of Foursquare.

In March 2009 BART became the first public transport organisation to partner with Foursquare to encourage patronage on the network by creating badges for users who checked in at stations before and after catching trains. The idea proved an instant success.  The Foursquare partnership also allowed BART to learn more about its users through the places and businesses they checked into before and after using the system and revealed what many people were using public transport for.

All this information could prove valuable for businesses that want to advertise at nearby stations to attract non-Foursquare users and, paradoxically, get some ads back on trains walls.

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Your own online Idaho

You know an online tourism campaign is doing it right when you find yourself wanting to visit the destination in question within moments of viewing the website. Bonus points if you’ve never really given that place a second thought.

Take the US state of Idaho. Till now I knew it as a place of potatoes and the where Ernest Hemmingway lived and ended his final years. But the Idaho: Adventures in Living web site changed all that in an instant and proved a very inviting source from which to learn more.

The rustic-looking homepage uses on-screen space well. There’s a slide show showing promotions and images of the state’s diverse natural beauty, plus a host of things to send your mouse to including maps, special deals, 360-degree virtual tours, and the obligatory places to stay, go and do – which are divided into useful sub categories.

The website is backed up by an active social media campaign called the Great Idaho Getaway Sweepstakes, which gives entrants a chance to win monthly prizes such as resort stays with complementary theme park and tour tickets. You can enter via Facebook, Twitter or email – entering all three ways increases your chances.

Idaho Tourism is also pretty busy on Twitter with both its @visitIdaho and @Idahowinter accounts, the latter keeping snow conditions and special ski pass deals. There’s also an entertaining Visit Idaho Facebook page replete with information and deals, fan photos uploaded by satisfied travellers and YouTube videos including it’s the Great Idaho Getaway, an entertaining reality presentation about a family’s vacation through the “Famous Potatoes” state.

This is an excellent example of a tourism campaign that lets the product do all the talking and gives it every opportunity to be heard.

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How effective is Google People Finder?

A lot has been mentioned about Google’s Person Finder set up for the Christchurch Earthquake. So how does it work?

When you get to the page, not surprisingly found very easy via Google, you’re given two options – “I’m Looking for Someone” and “I Have Information about Someone”. In the first box you enter a full name or part name of a person you’re seeking information about and a list of matches appears with subtexts appears, many with photos.

I typed David and list of people with David as a first of surname, or within names such as Davidson, appeared under which most thankfully said “Someone has received information that this person is alive” or “This person has posted a message”. Then there’s the disturbing “Someone is seeking information about this person”, “Someone has reported this person missing” and worse still the very confronting “Someone has received information that this person is dead”.

Interestingly, and somewhat disturbingly, the few person is dead messages I came across in the system seemed to be fake or someone’s idea of a joke.

The system allows for a person’s name, address, physical characteristics to be listed. There is also a message window for additional information such as where that person was last seen or believed to be. In most cases you can avoid any messages with no information attached. The person who submits the form can enter their email address and phone number which can be accessed publicly via a spam stopper.

Google Person Finder is really just an efficient online version of the walls you see plastered with photos of missing people after disasters around the world. It’s not a perfect resource, and is only as good as the information people provide. And sadly it can be subject to misuse, idiocy or can be exploited by journalists to get in touch with families of missing people and survivors.

But, when you view the site it’s immediately evident what an important role it can play to restoring the piece of minds of people in disaster zones and their and friends and family around the world. It also helps free up telephone communications which are often at a premium in such situations, and takes a the burden of relief agencies such as the Red Cross which can concentrate on helping find and identify those who are still genuinely missing.

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Celtics score online

Worshipping your sporting team is not something you grow out of. Even as an adult there’s a period each season when you get into that zone where you want to lap up every piece of information related to your team during that incessant period between matches.

Social media is fast helping to fill that void, but it’s incredible how many sporting organisations are denying themselves constant coverage by sticking with the stock standard website with fixtures, player profiles, news and member info.

One team that’s doing it right is NBA giant Boston Celtics. With sell-out crowds a given, the Celtics realised it could use social media to reach out to those fans who couldn’t make it to it’s constantly sold out games. It also recognised a lot of these fans were tweeting about the games or commenting on the website as they watched on television.

The club turned its website into a virtual TD Banknorth Garden where fans can congregate on game days and spend the intermediate time lapping behind the scenes stuff, the team’s history, stats and of course merchandise and ticketing information. It goes to show what a team can do if it has more flexibility and ownership of their websites and aren’t restricted to a cookie cutter approach by their leagues.

The Celtic’s Facebook page has more than 3.2 million fans and features weekly articles, interviews, ticket opportunities and its popular 3-Point Play, an interactive stats prediction game that fans can play against each other. Over on YouTube the team has a rather more modest following of around 4400 but that’s probably because the videos, including post-game wraps, interviews and 3-Point Play updates can be seen on the Facebook page. The Celtics have almost 130,000 Twitter followers who receive live game updates, team news, heads up on ticket sales.

All in all there’s plenty for even the biggest Celtic fans to sink their teeth into and feel like they’re part of the team.

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ABC uses Flickr to attract weather pics

Each night the state news bulletins on ABC1 feature images to use as backdrops for the weather segment. The images, which are different every evening are submitted by viewers, who receive a mention for their efforts.

The ABC is now using Flickr for people to submit images to appear on air. Apart from providing the ABC with a constant flow of weather art, it allows us to enjoy the pics in greater detail.

The site is only new. Hopefully in time they’ll add a category featuring images that have been used on air.

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Crowd sourcing gets love in action

A Greek advertising campaign called Love in Action shows just how popular a social media campaign can be when you involve the public. What started as crowd sourcing exercise to get people to choose from several storylines for what was essentially a half-hour chocolate ad ended up taking Greece by storm.

The producers were inundated with more than 1000 real life love stories which they then narrowed down and again put to a public vote. Casting auditions were put online and again put to the vote and fans regular updates of the production process.

As this video shows, the project became so successful that Greece’s top TV channel picked it up and showed it on Valentine’s Day where it attracted more than 330,000 viewers, which equated to about 12 per cent market share. Its online launch attracted a further 150,000 views in Greece alone, and 20,000 fans on Facebook.

Click here to view the Love in Action film with English subtitles.

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