Alan Soh

I am my own columnist, sharing my own thoughts and recent experiences!


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Social Media Influencers & Singapore Budget 2018

influencers

Singaporeans do it almost 24/7, particularly the millennials who are born in the 2000s.

According to a 2016 annual report compiled by social media agency We Are Social, there are 3.6 million active social media users in Singapore. There are 4.65 million internet users.

The top 3 social media platforms used among Singaporeans are Whatsapp (46%), Facebook (43%) and Instagram (18%). In terms of media consumption habits, Singaporeans spent an average of 4 hours 14 minutes on internet via computer or tablet device daily and 1 hour 39 minutes on social media via any mobile device daily.

It is no wonder many service providers, advertisers, public relations agencies are leveraging on the power of social media to promote awareness of their services, products or events among Singaporeans these days.

This probably creates a greater need for influencer marketing, of which it is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on social media personalities who have a substantial number of followers; whereby they can be “tasked” to persuade or convince their followers to buy a product or patronise a service on their social media channels. Globally, it is expected to be a growing industry projected to reach US$5billion (S$6.6million) in 2018.

Depending on their own personalities, these influencers could be into arts, sports, travelling, fashion among others.

 
Singapore Budget 2018 falls on 19 February.

Based on current economic conditions, Minister of State for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Kiat will be delivering his Budget Statement in Parliament, announcing a number of monetary measures for businesses, and for the ordinary Singaporean on the street.

In an efffort to reach out to younger Singaporeans, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) has engaged over 50 social media influencers to do an Instagram campaign to promote awareness about Budget 2018. In a press report, its spokesman said the social media campaign which lasts a month, is estimated to reach 225,000 instagram users. Its spokesman also said it paid “market rates” to the hired influencers.

 

Is it a good tactic for MOF to tap on the influencers to generate interest about Budget 2018 in Instagram?

I understand the Government is trying to do an effective outreach to young Singaporeans about budget and financial planning. But personally as a mass communications student and a former public service servant, I do not think influencers are the best people to create the right buzz for government policies.

Firstly, are they the right people with the relevant knowledge? In other words, are they qualified enough to be spreading word about Budget 2018? Seriously speaking, it sounds not convincing if say, one engages a fashion influencer with a performing arts background to spread word about budget/finance. The subject requires some knowledge in economics or a flair in analysing facts and numbers. Get what I mean?

Often, these influencers are perceived to be young people who are very much into branded items, clubbing, luxury lifestyles, looking fashionably trendy etc. For serious topics such as Budget, it will be more appropriate to go for an influencer who exerts a professional image. For example: a somebody whose real profession is an economist?

Secondly, the number of social media posts these influencers make pertaining Budget 2018 may not translate into higher levels of public awareness. Because they can just simply click a “like” because they like the influencer. Will these followers read those crafted messages pertaining Budget 2018? Very likely, no.

There is a high tendency that these messages could “fall on deaf ears”. This is because majority of their followers are of a much younger age group who may not be in tune to government policies. In terms of preferences, they are more likely into fashion, IT games, Starbucks, smartphone games than profound subjects such as GDP, economic forecast, inflation, and politics.

I agree totally with this statement made by Associate Professor Ang Swee Hoon, Business School, NUS in the ST article titled “Can influencers create the right Budget Buzz?” published on Sunday 21 Jan 2018. She said: “If the influencer’s personality is not a (right) fit, then the buzz becomes about the misalignment instead of the Budget process”.

I am aware that this Instagram campaign could be just one of the tactics in MOF’s integrated marketing communications strategy to raise public awareness about Singapore Budget 2018.

However, I’m afraid it could putting taxpayers’ monies to waste..

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Boosting Your Public Relations

Here’s an article which I’ve seen in Facebook and very much agreed with. It  is written by Mr Dennis Teo, owner of the Flaunt PR.

Facing the press can be a daunting experience. Getting publicity for yourself can often be frowned upon by others and runs the risked of being tagged with titles such as ‘media whore’ or ‘celebrity wannabee’.

The truth of the matter is, generating publicity can be an easy task if you understand the dos and don’ts in handling the media. A little publicity might give you that little extra fuel to steer your business towards the right direction.

Use the following tips and pointers to snag some publicity for yourself and get that extra career boost.

Have a PR plan in place

One needs to take charge and be responsible for his or her own publicity. As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Review your goals and targets for 2010 and ensure they fall into your master PR plan. A PR plan should include your objectives, targets, strategies and deliverables, to name a few. The duration of the PR plan should be from 6 months to 1 year.

Prepare your PR tools in advance

‘A press kit is to publicity what thunder is to lightning. Without it, a campaign has no voice.’

That is what Jodee Blanco says in The Complete Guide to book Publicity (New York, NY: Allworth Press, 2000).

The press kit is the foundation of any media relations programme. In the kit, it should include – press release, bio sheet, company history, fact sheet, brochures, testimonials, photos.

Apart from having the right PR tools, make sure other communication materials such as website, brochures, newsletters etc are all in place.

Hire a Publicist

If you do not have the time to handle all press matters, the right thing to do next is to hire a publicist.

A publicist will have all the necessary PR experience to manage your reputation. He or she will also have the right media contacts to ensure that you are profiled well in the relevant media.

Write a column

Writing a column for a trade publication or a local newspaper is a wise move. A column gives you credibility and catapult you to a wider audience. And since you will be viewed as an expert, it will open doors to many speaking engagements and opportunities. Other benefits include payment for the column. You could be paid for a fee by the magazine or newspaper.

Create rapport with the journalists

You can create your own media database and update it whenever you meet new journalists. After your interview with the journalist, send a thank-you note via email to leave a stronger first impression. During festivities, it doesn’t cost much and take up much time for you to send them an e-card or email. You’ll be surprised how far this little gesture can bring you.

Do not neglect the social media

According to Wikipedia, social media is defined as media designed to be disseminated through social interactions, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques.

The two applications highly popular amongst Singaporeans are Facebook and Twitter.

Other popular forms of online marketing are Google ad words, podcasting, blogging and email marketing.

Do not neglect social media. With its viral nature, the mileage and reach is astounding and tremendous.

Whether you run a commercial enterprise, a non-profit organisation or an entrepreneur, the tips and ideas will help you generate tons of publicity. Your name, product, services or agenda, will all receive news coverage if you pitch it correctly.