In this exclusive interview captured on the sidelines of CommunicAsia 2010, we feature Preetam Rai (Educator, Technologist & Traveler). It’s always nice to converse with an enthusiastic person such as Preetam, who is as passionate about his work as we are about ours.
Preetam is a distinguished educator and an established blogger who has one foot dipped in the tech world and the other in travel and living. Here he talks about social media, consumer engagement and mobile as a marketing platform.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the video are the personal views of the interviewee and and do not necessarily represent the philosophy or viewpoints of their organization or clients.
Transcript of the Interview
My name is Preetam and I am a traveller and blogger. These days I’m travelling around South-East Asia helping run non-profit participatory events that we call “Bar Camps”. We get people to come in and learn about technology, social media, education, and a wide variety of other topics.
Venturing out into the social media space
If you look at Asia in general, you can see that not a lot of the population has an online presence. Of course in big cities like Singapore and Hong Kong you can definitely find a very high percentage of people online but there are still a lot of people who aren’t. So a lot of the traditional methods are still useful. Also, depending on the region you are in, you will have to look into the content and see if it fits the local target audience. For example, I probably won’t put a lot of YouTube videos for a project in Cambodia. More importantly, your content must have ample local language content available and you must ensure that you are using local language keywords for search so that the target audience would find their way to your site.
Balancing social and traditional media
It would depend on your product more or less. To illustrate, let’s say, I’m a university and I want to get more students. I would probably start by going to forums where students converge to ask questions, mingle, trade information and the like. For me that would be better than setting up a blog or setting up a Facebook page. I for one would look at the actual avenues. For example, I would go to Vietnam (or any other city for that matter) and ask people around about where they search for their schools. And then I would narrow down the places where they look and then try to put my input there. If people are asking questions try answering them. If there is somebody who has some wrong information then maybe you can try and correct that. I think one very important avenue is Wikipedia because if you search for something, most of the time this site is the first or second hit that will be displayed. So make sure that your Wikipedia page is accurate. Don’t go in and spice it up and make sure the facts there are correct and that the links are properly updated to ensure that people are directed to your site.
Tips on consumer engagement
The first thing is to not go for the bloggers with very high traffic. To explain why this is so, I’ll cite myself as an example. I have my own blog and I may have quite a number of hits but it may not automatically mean that this is because of my posts on consumer products. It might actually be attributed to my posts on travel since I also write about that and many people can search for it and can find it. I may not be the best guy to refer to about the new Samsung phone or iPhone since people can or are reading about that on HardwareZone.com or anywhere else. My point is, look for a person in a particular area of interest rather than in a general manner. The next tip, which I touched on earlier, would be to pay attention to forums. I think online forums in most of Asia are still among the biggest places where one can interact with people. It’s definitely bigger than any blog. I don’t find companies monitoring forum activity or attempting to engage consumers through it. And my last tip, which might help in countries that have better bandwidth and if you have a product and/or service, is to make descriptive YouTube videos or anything that would be appropriate to a certain region. For example in China, Tudou is more popular so it would be wiser to make content for that over there. To illustrate, let’s say that I’m with Singapore Tourism. I can make videos on how to fill certain immigration forms or make instructional videos on how to buy a bus ticket. I would make these videos available online and also give the option of letting people download it onto their mobile phones and so on and so forth. Have a lot of information available for downloading.
Ideas on mobile as a platform for marketing
People have traditionally been using things like SMS blasts, but I think that it has gone to a point where people are no longer so interested in it because it’s something akin to spam now. But if you have value added stuff then that can spell the difference. For example I’m selling an Asus notebook, along with the CD I can give like some video files which teach people how to use a particular software. That would be more helpful obviously. People can put it on their phone and while they are doing the task they can listen and learn how to do it. Providing some media for their mobile phones to help them accomplish tasks is an interesting thing to do.