The Singapore opening represents the three-year old agency’s seventh office, and follows the launch of offices in São Paulo and Munich earlier this year, and openings in Paris, Milan and Sydney last year.
The office startes with an initial team of three, headed by managing director Simon Kemp who joins from BBH Singapore where he was an engagement planner.
“I had worked with We Are Social when developing Chupa Chup’s global media strategy and really enjoyed it. I had been looking to delve more seriously into social media work, so when the opportunity came to work with them in Singapore, I seized it,” said Kemp in an interview with Campaign.
Singapore, added Kemp, made sense as a regional base thanks to the large number of multinational brands with Asia-Pacific headquarters based in the city-state and there are opportunities for growth within Singapore itself.
“By and large, social media marketing from the big brands has not kept pace with audiences in Asia. Friendster was huge in Asia as far back as eight years ago, but brands haven’t really built on that ongoing trend,” noted Kemp. “The smaller brands however have been very savvy in their use of social media.”
A recent study by PR-agency Burson-Marstellar noted that while brands in Asia were present on social media, the initiatives lacked consumer engagement and overall marketing mix integration.
“Brands here have been held back by the fear of giving away control. They’re enthusiastic about the medium but are afraid, and also, have been waiting to see what others are doing,” said Kemp.
While many marketers have moved beyond questioning the need for social media, quite a few are still dubious about the need for an external agency. “There’s still a perception of, ‘If my teenager can use Facebook, why do I need to pay someone to do it?’ Which is like saying, ‘If my kid can draw in kindergarten, what’s the need for art?’. The onus is on the agency to create an appreciable difference in quality,” said Kemp.
Ultimately, he added, companies need some degree internal capabilities to manage social media, but there is also a need for external expertise as it doesn’t make sense for most brands to cultivate that level of specialisation,”
We Are Social’s key point and differentiation, said Kemp, is its focus on building conversations between brands and their audiences. “Everything we develop is designed to encourage participation with the audience, which is needed in a region where brands see social media as being an awful lot about talking and not listening.”
The Singapore office’s core objectives are to establish expertise in Asian markets, executing global work in markets like China and Southeast Asia. “How we grow from here and where our next office is established depends on demand. We’ll be recruiting people for specific projects quite soon and expect to grow quit quickly,” he said.