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Understanding Digital Campaigns in Indonesia

Guest Post - 1 April 2013

Naning Utoyo is a Singapore-based researcher at MRM Worldwide. As part of her tasks, she's responsible for finding out about the way digital campaigns in Indonesia are conducted. Although she is an Indonesian, she has spent much of her professional career overseas and to understand the digital scene better, she solicited comments and opinions from digital strategists and advertising practitioners in the country and was kind enough to share her findings, thoughts, and discussions, with DailySocial.

Indonesians feel the need to belong When I worked for Yahoo! Koprol, aside from the engaging nature of the product, one of the main things that kept Koprol alive back then was the community. Dellawati Wijaya who was the community manager of Koprol at the time told me that there was a minimum push from the marketing department because the communities that formed within Koprol were very solid and grew organically. With numerous meet ups (locally known as KopDar, short for Kopi Darat, a colloquial for meet up), Koprol's communities were among the most solid communities in the country.

Indonesians love to be part of communities and they seek opinions and testimonials from people inside their social circle. "They think and act in terms of collaboration, adhering to the principle of gotong-royong (“joint bearing of burdens”) to people help each other out during tough times", (Accenture Research).

Prize hunters are common Many online Indonesians belong to a group referred to as quiz hunters. These people will seek any kind of quizzes being held online through social networks, company websites, blogs, and so on. They may seem like eager participants and looked like they help spread the word about the brand and the competition, but they're really only after the prize. Once the competition is over, they move on to the next one. As this can be detrimental to a brand's efforts in creating an engaged fan base, brands and agencies should be mindful of quiz hunters and account for their participation in running events with prizes and giveaways.

In Indonesia, you don't have to be a public figure to have a million Twitter followers There are people who are really good or passionate about a particular subject, people who are well known in the business, people who are good in story telling, and even pseudonym accounts that have hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers as well as those who buy followers. Social network accounts of these people tend to have a massive following, whether intentional or not. In many cases, once they have reached a large number of readers or followers, they take advantage of this by accepting advertising or promotional offers from the brands and agencies that approach them. Those who run these promotional campaigns are locally referred to as buzz agents or buzzers. We'll discuss about buzzers a little later.

Indonesians have widely adopted mobile technologies and love social media "The Twitter-sphere in Indonesia is very volatile. Campaign strategies that worked in 2011 might only achieve 20% effectiveness today," according to a public relations executive who wishes to remain unnamed.

Based on Accenture's digital research report, Indonesia is projected to become the world's 4th largest mobile market by 2013. Indonesia is 4th among the largest number of Facebook users in the world, and 3rd highest on Twitter. These facts might explain why most Indonesians digital campaigns are conducted over Facebook and Twitter. What brands should pay attention to however, is that although Indonesians are exposed to mobile technology, many of them don't really understand the ways to maximize it, especially among the middle to low class market, or mass product target market.

If I may illustrate an example, BlackBerry is really huge in Indonesia, but a significant number of them subscribe to data plans that are meant only for social network and messaging applications. These people are not able to use their BlackBerry devices to browse websites or access emails and they are fine with that. On top of that, despite being avid Facebook users, many Indonesians aren't familiar with the Internet.

Do campaigns need to start with a massive buzz? Ismail Fahmi of Satucitra advertising agency said, "Every campaign needs a great story. Buzzers are needed to accelerate the campaign".

Agencies face a dilemma in proposing social media campaigns to clients. In many situations, clients' awareness of social media is limited to spreading hashtags and gaining followers on Twitter and Facebook. They also consider return on investment based on the number of likes, retweets, followers, mentions, and such. As a result, this creates identical campaigns across different brands and we end up with a sea of hashtags on our Twitter feed.

The commonly adopted strategy is to hire buzz agents who initially would discuss the products among themselves and eventually picked up by their followers, or hiring people to pretend that they participate in the quizzes being run by the brands, artificially creating a public discussion. Sometimes agencies would hire people who have publicly expressed a dislike towards their clients' brands and products in the past and present a scenario in which these people eventually turned around and become enlightened.

"In the end, it all depends on your client objective, preference, and time frame. Usually clients want big audience to get more people involved. That's why the buzz, and hence, the awareness should be high", said Natalia Turangan of XM Gravity.

Do buzzers have such a major impact on campaigns, or are they merely catalysts? “Social media is frequently used for engagement and building brand recall. Almost all social media campaigns don’t directly have impact on brand sales. But it should be able to persuade people to develop interest with the brand”, said Pitra Satvika, co-founder of Stratego, a digital agency based in Jakarta.

Influencers, or maybe buzzers, are merely catalysts that are able to accelerate the campaign. Some agencies use buzzers to promote website to the audience, but again, the leads are not that effective. They say it is more effective to use Facebook ads since the price rate for Indonesian buzzers are quite expensive nowadays. One source who has used promoted tweets say that the response rate has been more effective compared to running a campaign through the use of buzz agents, and more cost efficient. Buzzers are used to create engaging conversations about the brand on Twitter but the use of Twitter's official advertising products delivers more positive results in comparison, especially though the use or promoted trends and tweets.

Buzzers are different from brand ambassadors who carry the flag for the brand for a longer period of time and have a different set of tasks. According to Alderina Gracia who works for a JWT agency in Bangkok, "Indonesians are already capable to distinguish who gets paid for tweeting or blog posting and who does not".

Delivering what's important From my discussions, it's evident that the value of social media accounts with large followings is similar to page impressions. No matter how many retweets, likes, or mentions you receive, it doesn't guarantee that the brand will stick to consumers or whether they know what the brand represents.

The real challenge isn't to create buzz on Twitter but whether consumers decide to buy your products following the campaign. It's not too different from the traditional advertising campaigns when you think about it. It's equally important to find out what the clients need based on their objectives and deliver the proper solution rather than simply agreeing to perform their requests without conducting a thorough examination.

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