The report concludes that Singaporean companies missed out on a potential SG$809.9 million (US$661.2 million) in sales generated via social media in 2012.
The study is based on a survey conducted with 217 Singapore companies and more than 50,000 Singaporeans, as well as Rock Publicity’s internal assessment of nine other countries in Asia.
In a ranking of effective use of social-media by the companies in each country, Singapore companies ranked last, behind those in Indonesia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, India and Japan.
In 2012, 68.1 per cent of the total population in Singapore used social media at least once per week. This usage is well above the average for the rest of Asia and very close to world averages in developed nations. Nearly two-thirds (62.2 per cent) of Singaporeans have used Facebook and almost half of them have a Twitter account. Meanwhile, 76 per cent of Singaporeans watched at least one video on YouTube in 2012.
The study shows that on average, most residents of the nation bought something via web or social media at least once per month. The online sales market has almost tripled since two years ago to what will close the year at SG$3.1 billion (US$2.5 billion).
Consumers are more than willing to buy products when referred directly from social media, with almost a quarter of all people making such purchases. Estimated sales via social media is SG$753.3 million (US$614.7 million) this year.
Rock Publicity’s CEO, Leon Hill, said that the biggest hurdle is the lack of faith in social media’s value as a communications, marketing and brand-building platform among companies in Singapore.
By monitoring social-media conversations, Rock Publicity found that the technology industries had almost 3000 opportunities per day to start sales conversations with people via social media in both tech and telco sectors. Food/drink followed closely with more than 2500 potential sales conversations per day. Travel/leisure was next with more than 2100.
While only 7.5 per cent of the surveyed companies actively engaged with followers, 51 per cent of them didn’t engage at all. The average delay in Twitter response is about 17.44 hours and 15.12 hours on Facebook.
“It’s certainly true that Singaporean consumers are sophisticated and prolific users of social media, making it an ideal venue for brands to acquire and develop relationships with their customers and prospects,” Ian Mckee, CEO of Vocanic, told Campaign Asia-Pacific. “Sadly the ‘average’ brand marketers in Singapore underinvested significantly in digital and social, and it’s this that shows up in the research.”
Factors leading to this might be fear of change and a business culture where major budget decisions have to be escalated to a level of management that is not "of the digital generation”, he said.
“The most difficult challenge for brands is finding their unique brand voice and then continually adapting their value proposition with their community online,” said Margery Lynn, regional social media director with Dentsu Mobius. “The most successful brands in social media are authentic, interesting and committed. They seek to enhance existing conversations, and in doing so, earn permission to do just that. Ultimately, they win on relevance.”
By citing some examples of effective social-media users, such as F3 Singapore and StarHub, Mckee suggested: “Get internal consensus amongst C-suite to make and support social as a strategic initiative, identify the correct business challenges to address through social with specialist help and develop your plan to achieve them, and operate with a mindset of being fast to learn and adapt.”
“Think bigger," Lynn advised. "Social media shouldn’t only be the function of marketing. Ultimately, the companies that can think bigger will understand how social media can enhance the value exchange between their brand and customers in such a way that it affects their bottom line.”