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Content Summit 2017 just came to a close, and we’re glad to say that it has been a resounding success!

From content creation to brand building, attendees were treated to a day of interesting insights and learnings from the various keynotes and panel discussions.

Here’s a recap of the day’s event, and some of the interesting pointers covered in each session! (…continued from Part 1)

Viral Triggers – How To Identify Content That Will Fly And Ride With Them: Karl Mak of SGAG & MGAG

Karl Mak, co-founder of SGAG & MGAG
  • SGAG’s first meme ‘Y U No Curry Sauce’ created on Feb 6, 2012 when McDonald’s stopped serving curry sauce. “It was an epic day and we needed to meme this”
  • The meme went viral so they decided to create their own Singaporean-centric meme page. SGAG was born. The idea is to share funny content and make it go viral.
  • Important to ride on trending events, makes content more shareable and relevant.
  • In 2015, the two co-founders decided to go full-time and make memes for a living. Soon, “what started as a page to share jokes had become so much more”
  • They started exploring things that they have never done before such as long-form formats such as videos
  • In 2016, started investing into MGAG
  • One key pillar for both SGAG and MGAG: creativity
  • How to scale creativity and nurture a creative culture?
    • Break down bottlenecks – Bottlenecks exist in a lot of different companies, especially content companies. Process is very time-consuming so we need to break it down.
    • Design a creative framework – We created a methodology on how to make a funny meme, and this was very insightful for new hires.
    • Finding the right people – Initially we looked at job listings but there’s no such jobs as meme creators. Hard to define what skillsets we are looking for, so focused on attitude: people who are willing to learn, willing to collaborate, fun-loving, love to tell jokes and into the meme scene etc.
    • Onboarding programme – Teach them how to create memes effectively and integrate with the company’s value systems so they learn how we do what we do
  • How to sustain creativity?
    • Breaking down silos – Make them work in teams instead. When they bounce ideas off each other, magic will happen
    • Communication guidelines – The downside about working in teams is that sometimes extroverts tend to lead the project/discussion. In turn, introverts’ ideas are suppressed and a lot of good ideas end up getting lost.
    • To resolve this, establish some ground rules:
      • One conversation at a time. When somebody else is speaking, no one else talks.
      • Let people share their ideas freely and do not shoot down their ideas. Instead of outrightly rejecting these ideas, build on their ideas – work your way around the barriers and suggest other ways to make it plausible.
      • If anyone violates these rules, then buzz the bell. Always create a protected space to brainstorm.
    • Empowering the team – Allow others to share ideas in a safe environment so they can be heard. Take their ideas and execute them well.
    • Embrace constraints – Working in a creative landscape, you often face constraints from clients, stakeholders etc. Embrace it, and understand that it’s all part of the job.
    • Be uncomfortable – It’s not always a comfortable place to work in. Always take up the challenge to go out of your comfort zone.
  • Best tools of 2017:
    • Instagram Stories
      • Short and casual to be consumed on the go
      • Popular format amongst 18 to 24 year olds
      • Quick turnaround and lean production (good for events)
    • Short films/trailers
      • Longform storyline to capture audience
      • Well-crafted characters to keep them invested in storylines
      • Versatile for either humorous or emotional storyline
    • Music videos
      • Localised original compositions
      • Refreshing way of telling stories to audience
    • Relatable videos
      • Facebook’s relatable score on their newsfeed algorithm
      • Tapping on typical Singaporean characters and interactions to gain shareability and engagements

Niche Sites in Singapore – Building A Voice In A Noisy World: James Bitanga of SPOUT 360, Daniel Lim of The PLAYBOOK, and Tan Jun Jie of The MeatMen 

L to R: James Bitanga of SPOUT 360, Daniel Lim, founder & MD of The PLAYBOOK, Tan Jun Jie, co-founder of The Meatmen, Jacky Yap, GRVTY Media (moderator)
  • Why do you choose to go into this vertical?
    • Tan: It started as a hobby. I used to be in the post-production line, making ads and stuff. And I like cooking, so making food videos was a natural progression. Moreover, videos are very shareable on social media platforms and we wanted to tap in this. The first video that went viral is sio bak (roast pork) and it garnered a few thousand likes.
    • Lim: It started as a side project. An interest of mine has always been streetwear and sneakers and when I shared these content on my personal Facebook page, it gained a lot of traction. I also noted that people who are keen on this content always read from international sites such as Hypebeast, which lacked local-specific information such as where to get ‘x’ sneakers in Singapore. So I wanted to bridge this gap and provide such information to local sneakerheads.
    • Bitanga: Our founder is a gamer himself, and SEA is a growing region for gamers. We want to bring together the gaming community in Asia and we want to push and create an actual e-sports category, and eventually for Olympics games. SEA needs its own gaming platform, and that’s why SPOUT 360 is born.
  • What are your thoughts on running a content site in Singapore?
    • Tan: Singapore is small, but that does not mean that you cannot create content or run it as a business. You shouldn’t see it as a limitation, but as a challenge.
    • Lim: For us, having a focus on Singapore is actually an opportunity for us. You can easily find information online, but what’s not available is specific information that’s relevant to us – eg. where to find specific models in Singapore?
    • Bitanga: The focus is not so much on the numbers. In fact, the top 25% gamers in the world are Singaporeans; and we want to leverage this influence. It may not be the biggest market to capture in terms of readership, but it’s a perfect platform to start.
  • How do you seek to create good content in this ‘noisy’ world?
    • Tan: We have the responsibility to always find a different angle. We can reapproach the topic in a different manner, and this includes presenting the content in different variations and platforms. The possibilities are endless even though the world is already flooded with content.
    • Lim: Always seek to produce content that stands out. For us, we first started with articles. But we realised that videos are a more engaging format, so we started exploring video content too. And as Jacky mentioned earlier, livestreaming is going to be huge also. So always prepare yourself to be a pioneer in the next big thing.
    • Bitanga: The e-sports industry is pretty much dependent on how much news is coming out in this industry. There’s a limitless supply of content, so we do a little spin on it and deep-dive data statistics.
  • How do you create content that satisfies your audience?
    • Tan: Interaction is very important. We have a few thousand comments, but we try to respond to every single comment because it makes our audience feel like you are listening to them. People want to look at new things, but they also want to be heard. It’s getting to a point where it’s getting difficult, but we try!
    • Lim: We categorise our audience into three different segments:
      • They know what they want and actively search for information – so we make our content searchable
      • They know what they want but don’t have the time to look for it – a lot of audience reside on Facebook groups, which operate like forums. It’s a very closed community of about 30,000 people. They are thought leaders amongst their own circle of feed. And when PLAYBOOK first started out, we seed our own content in these groups but 3 to 4 months later, we have our own fans sharing content on behalf of us. So the key idea here is to make your content discoverable on social media.
      • They don’t know what they want until you show them the content – A lot of people fall into this group. So we use a lot of visualisation aids such as photos to catch their attention.
    • Bitanga: Brand voice is very important to us. We’re the first to create a SEA gaming community. So it’s about choosing your distribution channels and harping your presence. We also adopt an online-offline strategy. The gaming community is not a reading community, it’s a very active community. So we want to make sure that we are creating offline events that are relevant to help engage this community and then bring them to our sites.
  • Since you’re a very niche platform, do you have trouble convincing brands to choose you over mainstream platforms?
    • Tan: Niche is not small. We just present our content in a certain manner. And when working with sponsors or clients, it’s more about alignment. The thing about niche is that you will stand out from everyone else and that’s how people will notice you. When we started Meatmen, we did western dishes – but the whole world is doing that already. When we started specialising in local dishes, that’s how we found our voice.
    • Lim: I agree with Tan, niche is not small. It’s specific, well-defined and well-targeted. Our target audience are males, aged 18 to 35, and have a good spending power. So if particular target audience is what you are looking for, then there are definitely ways in which we can work together.
    • Bitanga: I agree with that sentiment. We educate advertisers on what e-sports is about. We are actually evangelising the idea that we are a huge community that professionalises games and this helps to target profile readership and we can help deliver eyeballs to their campaigns.
  • If I am a new publisher and want to start a new niche site, what are some potential challenges that I may face?
    • Tan: A pitfall for new creators is to just follow what already works. They don’t bother to value-add and try to make their content better. Don’t do what’s already out there because it means you are easily replaceable.
    • Lim: Keep in mind to always balance the passion and the business side of things.
    • Bitanga: Look at monetising the content in different formats and explore different revenue streams that are complimentary to your main niche.

Panel: How We Are Complementing Our Content Strategy With Influencers: Roger Yuen of Clozette, Dew Francis of Discover SG, Roshni Mahtani of The Asian Parent

L-R: Roshni Mahtani, founder & CEO of The Asian Parent, Dew Francis, Brand Manager of Discover SG, Roger Yuen, founder & CEO of Clozette, Natasha Tan, GRVTY Media (moderator)
  • How would you definite influencers in your individual space?
    • Roshni: We represent influencers in the mummy space. They can have a very small following, but they are experts so their opinions hold a lot of weight (eg. doctors). But of course we also have bigger parent influencers that have a following as high as 1.4 million Instagram followers.
    • Dew: There are micro-influencers and big-name influencers such as Xiaxue, which some may say are too commercialised. So that’s why we utilise micro-influencers which are more small-scale. At Discover SG, we cover topics such as food and places to go in Singapore. As a startup, we need to keep our company lean and small, so we send these micro-influencers (we call them ‘ambassadors’) to conduct food-tastings for us. They give us their opinions and our editorial team churns it into an article.
    • Yuen: At Clozette, we are not an influencer agency, but we have a network called the Clozette Creators Network. There’s a distinct difference between a creator and an influencer. Ms Yeah is a great example of both, but a creator might not necessarily be an influencer.
  • When do you identify the need to integrate content strategy with influencers?
    • Roshni: We produce 20 to 30 content on a daily basis. So with the help of influencers, we can increase the amount of content that we create. And because they already have a strong following on social media, instead of putting all our effort on Instagram, we can tap on their strength.
    • Dew: Because our target audience is millennials, we utilise these influencers to feed information to other millennials. They are also a good tool to generate word-of-mouth marketing.
    • Yuen: Often times, we counsel the brand the rather than just giving them the top influencers. Instead, we recommend them influencers who are right for their brand and those who are able to articulate their attributes.
  • Any good or bad case studies to share?
    • Dew: Influencers shouldn’t be treated as ad fillers. They are personalities, and they have things that they stand for. A good marketing campaign that uses influencers I can think of is Youtiao666 x Circle Life – this campaign caught a lot of eyeballs and successfully took their personality and weaved it into their campaign. A bad one is the Fire Festival in the US. They used the influencers to hype the event, which was successful – a lot of people were enticed into buying tickets because the festival looks so “happening”. But the organisers under-delivered and this created a lot of disappointment.
  • Are there any more interesting ways we can work with influencers to adapt to the ever-changing content landscape?
    • Roshni: Media junkets. We often send influencers on trips overseas so they can review the place or appear in videos. The key idea here is to be authentic. You don’t have to limit yourself to just posting on social media and tapping on their reach. It’s also about using your network to boost their reach so both of you can grow in tandem.
    • Dew: Tap on their personalities, tap on what they stand for, and you can reach greater heights.

Panel: How To Use Content Effectively To Build Your Brand: Melissa Chan of Vulcan Post, Terence Lee of Tech In Asia, Neel Chowdhury of Inc. Asia

L-R: Terence Lee, managing editor of Tech in Asia, Neel Chowdury, editor-in-chief and President of Inc. Southeast Asia, Melissa Chan, editor of Vulcan Post, Jacky Yap, managing director of GRVTY Media (moderator)
  • Why would people want to be featured in their publication?
    • Lee: Our audience are entrepreneurs, founders, anyone in tech, there’s almost an obsession with what readers want to know about them.
    • Neel: We present journalism from a different approach. Inc is a learning tool for (would be) entrepreneurs – content for their day to day. We also feature very successful companies, Grab, Go-Jek etc. This lets them remain in touch with entrepreneurial roots – show others how they started and succeeded.
    • Chan: We write personal stories to share their successes, and also to share with readers “Hey, there is this new startup you should know about.”
  • What are your content strategies?
    • Lee: All the stories are posted on Facebook, so the question is: How do you engage readers on Facebook?
    • Neel: We have to design content for Facebook and social media. This shapes the length of articles – they have to be shorter, punchier. We also import an analytics dashboard onto the site, this lets us track numbers and engagement as well as heat words. We publish almost 70 articles each day, how do you decide which ones to publish? The analytics dashboard plays a part in deciding what content goes up. We also have the option of using Inc.com content from US, but we also have to use our editorial instincts.
    • Chan: There’s a large focus on videos, on changing well-performing stories into video format. However, 3-minute videos won’t replace articles. Instead, they complement each other and converge when you add the link to the article in the video post.
  • What type of tools do you use?
    • Lee: Spreadsheets. We also build our own analytics to track how much of an article a reader sees.
    • Neel: Content marketing tools, and also how much of an article or video people sees so as to make judgments from there.
    • Chan: Pollen, which helps to ‘pollinate’ and spread articles further. We also use Google Analytics and Facebook insights. We also look at our consumption habits. We treat ourselves as readers and ask ourselves, what do we want to read about?
  • Would there be any new formats coming up (e.g. podcasts)?
    • Lee: We tried podcasts before, but it didn’t take off here. Podcasts are a very US thing, so we keep our focus on videos, graphics and articles.
    • Neel: We launched our print edition in May 2017. Regarding the idea that print is dead, it’s not entirely true. Print raises brand profiles and serves as outdoor advertising that most digital brands do not enjoy. A lot of our content is also best showcased in print (quality photography and layout), Print is a good vehicle, if not the best one. Digital media companies are competing in a world dominated by the behemoths of Facebook and Google. Print is an escape.
  • How do you lengthen the lifespan of video content since brands spend so much more to invest in them? What about maximising the reach of a Facebook video other than spending money?
    • Lee: We embed videos in related articles, such as a Jack Ma video in other Jack Ma-focused articles. We also explore other distribution channels.
    • Neel: Our content is to meant to help budding bosses. By nature, they have a longer shelf life.
    • Chan: We have multiple platforms such as The PlayBook and Millennials of Singapore. We cross-share content between the verticals. This lets us reach new audiences.
  • Is it justifiable to spend so much on social media if it doesn’t translate to sustainability or conversion of business?
    • Lee: We use social media to boost our own reach and ticket sales. Social media also helps to drive conversion to boost our profile and services. It’s investing in our own infrastructure.
    • Chan: We use content marketing on brand building. Readers trust us on certain topics, and having a strong brand adds credibility to your words.
  • How do you build a brand across SEA when every country is different?
    • Chan: Each country has their own team, so we know what appeals, what the market is like etc in each country. We are in such, a single team but also divided.
    • Lee: Localisation. The goal is also to bridge communities across SEA. Each country’s teams have different teams connecting the countries and the diverse groups of people.
    • Neel: A basic idea behind the founding of Inc was that each country would look to neighbouring countries and expand laterally, as proven by Grab, Go-jek. As such, we feel comfortable targeting SEA as a whole. People in the ecosystem are more closely tied together.

Panel: Livestreaming – Is This The New Content Frontier: Kenneth Tan of BeLive

Kenneth Tan, CEO and co-founder of BeLive
  • What is livestreaming?
    • It is interactive, there is feedback and there is the simplicity of it all (no elaborate set up, it’s real). It is also spontaneous (bridges the audience gap) and authentic (anything that can go right or wrong can happen).
  • Why is everyone livestreaming?
    • There is democratisation of content, more user-generated content, the barriers to content production have broken down, and media consumption today has changed. Case studies: Risabae Caxsandra Tan, Captain Sparklez, MC Tian You, Warren Buffett.
    • Engagement is extremely high – people spend almost an equal amount of time across all social media platforms.
    • Declining data costs, increased data speeds, authenticity (people are now skeptical of expensive ads, they prefer to hear someone “real”
    • FOMO (content urgency) – people want to know things right now.
    • Brands using livestreaming have also seen almost a 10x conversion rate e.g. Taobao.
    • Ease of production as a livestream
  • What are people livestreaming?
    • Fenty Beauty (Rihanna) + Maybelline (10k lipsticks sold in 2 hours on MeiPai).
    • Creative (BeLive): 25mins average viewing time, $1k products sold. It’s a way to test Live commerce (L-commerce)
  • What makes BeLive better?
    • Brand cleanliness, it’s not just pretty girls showing skin.
    • 24/7 moderators watch for explicit content. It is also extremely difficult to get onto our homepage unless curated by the team – this dissuades explicit content.
    • Image recognition tech. E.g. there is a tag for skin colour shown on streams, which sends an alert to moderators.
  • How can brands move away from scripted interviews to spontaneous livestreams?
    • Have talking points but not scripts. Let the hosts lead the show like emcees.
  • How to build your audience
    • Be interactive! Talk to audiences and respond to questions. If you know your audience, make sure to connect with them on topics.

Panel: Closing The Gap Between Publishers, Brands And Agencies: Lesner Chua of DSTNCT, Pat Law of Goodstuph and Lee Kai Xin of WILD Advertising

L-R: Pat Law, founder of GOODSTUPH, Lee Kai Xin, interactive director & partner of WILD Advertising, Lesner Chua, co-founder of DSTNCT, Johnathan Chua, business director of GRVTY Media (moderator)
  • How do you use publishers properly, and what are the problems in leveraging media wrongly?
    • Law: How effective the publisher is depends on the brief on hand. E.g. if you put Rolls Royce on TSL, how many of their audience have licenses or can afford a car? Know your brief, brand, objective and on digital media you can track data and adapt accordingly.
    • Lee: Engage the publishers for their content. Brands engage publishers for their unique tone but end up asking for drastic edits because the content is not what they’re used to. In the end, the content does not resonate with publisher’s audience. Wrap content around the big idea, and not just listicles. E.g. Mothership Adulting quiz.
    • Chua: There is a cause and effect for every piece of execution. Use content creators and publishers for integrated content strategies, e.g bulk buying article, giveaways etc.
  • What are the best practices around the world and what’s missing in Singapore – the relationship between brands and agencies, and the types of media players in Singapore?
    • Chua: It’s most important to tie back the project to the brief (campaigns) – what is most effective? What feeds that brand, there are times you might use influencers – it all depends on how it feeds back to the overall strategy.
  • Is there a lack of brand-agency trust?
    • Law: Singapore has a small market and it’s a capitalistic world. Half the time, the battle is about the client saying no, you can’t break guidelines and do that. It depends on how far you want to fight. Another problem is no budget! Sometimes it’s nice to work with the government as they have the budget if you can convince them. It’s not that we don’t want to do it, there’s an uphill battle and from a media publication standpoint? Talk to IMDA.
    • Lee: There are gaps in the small market, and it’s tough for niche brands to fight for audience, content. It’s like what happened with The Middle Ground financial planners, eg. Dollars & Sense – good content but niche audience, so that’s a problem too.
  • What does a government agency need to consider when coming up with content strategy other than profiling successful stakeholders?
    • Lee: Who’s your audience? What content are they looking for and the content could be event-specific. E.g. what type of content do people want during Mother’s Day? From there, we weave in the messages. We rarely feature successful stakeholders (cliche) but more human interest stories.
  • What is the advantage of having a publisher market your product when your company already has an in-house marketing team?
    • Lee: The publisher has reach to your audience. You are established, but there are people in your target group that do not visit your page. Eg coke drinkers don’t go to Coca Cola’s platform. We call it decentralisation of content strategy – you have your own platform, but there’s a wider ecosystem around it.
    • Law: Publishers are your “wingmen”, they help you to boost your credibility.
    • Chua: The in-house brand team understands the brand and have certain perspectives of the brand. The publisher brings a new perspective. 
  • Some companies build their own social media capabilities while others outsource. Pros and cons?
    • Chua: We have the art and copy people. Creatives like to be challenged and get bored and turnover rate might be high in terms of creative aspect unless the brand is willing to try new things. [My] creatives like to be challenged on new projects and not just stick to one brand.
    • Lee: It’s costly to build the entire range of capabilities in-house. Agencies also have the expertise and specialisation and can add value.
    • Law: Depends on what social media is used for – it’s far better and more cost-effective to train in house. When it comes to creativity, some parts may not fit for in-house so it can be a balance of both in-house and outsourced.
  • What do you recommend for B2B and older audience?
    • Lee: Our primary audience on Facebook are aged between 35 and 50. It’s a misconception that older people don’t use social media, it depends on whether your content resonates with them. Same for B2B, you could use LinkedIn but B2B is more complex, is it about SMEs or MNCs? SME targeting is actually very similar to consumer targeting.
  • What happens during a serious crisis and what did you do?
    • Lee: There was one radical example when an old-school brand selling sharks fin was targeted by animal activists on social media. These activists were not part of the company’s target audience and there was nothing much the company could do (no plans to stop selling the product). In the end, they took down their social media presence. If you aren’t ready for social media, it is difficult to survive in an online crisis.
  • Advertisers have smaller budget for content marketing than traditional marketing. How do you keep your business sustainable and profitable?
    • Law: Some advertisers still think social media is free. It’s not, just that it is cheaper and there is a lower barrier of entry. To keep the industry healthy, give the middle finger to anyone who wants it free. All the production costs, hourly costs are the same. If you’re going to run as a big agency and undercut others by offering free services, the industry will not grow.
    • Lee: Brands prioritise traditional media over digital marketing, but if you give [us] the money you would spend on a full colour page ($30k), we can do so much more for you, tracking the reach etc all the way to end of the campaign, including sales.
    • Chua: Social media is a lot more than Facebook and Instagram, it can mean social, publishers, influencers etc. It’s how you use it to the best if your advantage.
  • Aside from what has been mentioned today, what else should brands should be doing to try and create engaging content?
    • Chua: What do you want to create the content for (e.g conversion vs increasing visibility), have your objective in mind. For engagement types, understanding the audience is most important. It’s also key to note that people use Facebook and Instagram differently (e.g. sharing content vs feed curation)
    • Lee: It requires a strategic review of what the brand is trying to achieve, what are the short and long term objectives? It may make sense to work with influencers, engage publishers, or even become a content creator. But it all comes down to what is your strategic direction.
    • Law: If you have any form of social media property, you don’t own the data. So what if you have 5 million fans on Facebook? Can you reach out to them separately and data mine them? We are in a world where we’re renting an apartment and spending a lot on furniture. But the truth is that your landlord (Facebook) can take everything away overnight.
    • Lee: Look at data and making sense of it, and using it to optimise your content data. Aside from the best time to post, there’s also A/B testing and even changing a single word in your caption could make a world of difference.
  • How to deal with the high turnover rate in industry, and what happens when a point person leaves halfway during a project?
    • Law: Culture is everything. People will leave, it’s part and parcel. I just had 2 employees rejoin the company and when they return, they return with more experience and appreciation for the company. Training and up-skilling, and the other little stuff might seem frivolous but it makes a company. It also depends on who you hire. There are people who are very talented, but they would not fit into our culture so I can’t hire them. And if people want to leave over a $100 pay increment, let them go.
    • Lee: Culture is important. What we have as independent agencies is that bosses are on top of projects, if someone leaves, we step in as stabilising roles even though it may not be our role. We ensure that it’s stable and no effort to the client.
    • Chua: It comes down to who you hire and if they fit the culture. Invest and take care of them. Do not hand hold them so that they have independence in projects – you only step in when they need help.
  • Where does traditional media stand today, and when do you tell your client that it’s time to go traditional or include them?
    • Lee: We all still live in the offline world, traditional media still matters to increase touch points with audience. But it depends on your audience – which touch points are the important ones.
    • Law: Traditional media is already evolving, and it will marry and merge with digital media.There are certain impact or romance that can’t be delivered with a Facebook quote. Traditional media will not die, it will evolve.
    • Chua: Traditional is important for presence such as with ambient set ups etc with links back to Facebook. Using traditional media depends on where your phase of project is at, and (to sustain) engagement, it is also good to have an offline presence.

Featured Image Credit: GRVTY Media

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)