Mar 2013

Recently we at Happy Marketer have been blogging about how Facebook has been making an impact in Singapore politicsuniversities and businesses in general. But thanks to our recent partnership with SocialBakers, a global authority in social media analytics, we got a deeper understanding of Singapore’s tryst with Facebook.

We in Singapore aim and love to be numero uno ay anything and everything. Gallup polls may have placed us last in the table of happiness and emotions on Planet Earth, but maybe that’s because we Singaporeans have found a different Planet that we have inhabited and love living on;) An Experian Hitwise study revealed that Singaporeans spend the most time on Facebook – 38 minutes and 46 seconds per session (of the 103 hours spent online per month), about 8 minutes more than New Zealand, which is the second on that list.

There are close to 2.8 million Singapore accounts on Facebook (maybe by 2030 we will have all the project 6.9 million on board!).  Most of the accounts belong to the age group 25-44 (1.43M) and as with everything else in our progressive state, there is an equal distribution between males and females.

The above data clearly establishes the fact that about 56% of the island state spends a lot of time on Planet Facebook. But what do they actually do there? Lets deep dive and get a better understanding of our activities on the world’s largest social network. As per a recent study conducted by Rock Publicity, on average a Facebook user in Singapore had 320 friends in 2012 and this number is expected to shoot up to 372 this year (as opposed to a global average of 245 friends per Facebook account). Every month, we compose 19 status updates, press the Like button 37 times and share 23 times.

Now that’s a lot of engagement time on Facebook and something local businesses should pay heed to. If more than half the nation spends 1/3rd of its Internet time on Facebook daily (as per the Rock Publicity study), shouldn’t there be a case for businesses and brands to engage, interact and serve their customers inside Facebook rather than just “spray & pray” on TV, Print and Radio?

Looks like local businesses, especially the MNCs and SMEs are gradually making their presence felt on Planet Facebook. While I couldn’t find any data on the total number of Singapore businesses on Facebook, thanks to our recent dialogue with Mr. Jan Rezab, CEO of SocialBakers, during his halt in Singapore on 4th March as part of his World Tour, we got some insights on how Singapore businesses are faring on Facebook.

An average Singapore user is a fan of 23 brand fan pages (this sounds low to me and I am sure many of you have at least 50!) and Singapore brands are highly active on Facebook as far as sharing messages and posts are concerned, in comparison to global averages.

Local brands love sharing photos and the users love sharing them and amplifying their reach all the more. Since we in Singapore love rankings and numbers, lets take a quick look on which local brands are making an impact in Facebook from a quantitative and qualitative perspective:

Singapore Brands with the Largest Fan Bases

Although this is a dynamic list with the ongoing Fan War amongst local businesses, as we speak here are the top 10 Singapore Brands with the largest overall fans on their page:

Do you notice something interesting there? There is a freelance photographer, Justin Ng, who is sandwiched between 9 other large corporate brands from telecom, airlines, leisure & entertainment and food & beverage. And mind you, he has been on this list for a very long time and this just goes to show that social media and Facebook in this case has leveled the playing field for businesses of all genres and sizes. I sincerely hope the 167,000 SMEs in Singapore take note of this.  You can explore the Singapore page on SocialBakers to find out which are the Singapore pages with the most fans across categories such as Sports, Politics, Media, Entertainment and Celebrities.

But the fan pages mentioned in the above list also includes fans from other countries. To get a better understanding of the brands that “Singapore fans” are embracing, here is an updated list. Clearly we love our fast food and our leisure and entertainment, although I really hope to see more local home grown, non GLC brands in this list soon. The Singapore-originated Razer was the only such brand that made it to the top 100 of this list.

Singapore Brands with the Fastest Growing Fan Bases

In this race for fans, if you were wondering which brands are fast playing catch up, here is a quick glance at those numbers. These are pages that are adding the most number of fans for the past one month. It is good to see that apart from just travel brands, Singaporeans are taking interest in the Yellow Ribbon project as well 🙂

Singapore Brands with the Highest Engagement

As in business, it does not necessarily matter how many customers you may have but what is paramount is whether those customers are satisfied. On Planet Facebook, a simple way to gauge that, is a metric called the Engagement Rate, which measures how many percent of the total number of fans have either Liked, Commented or Shared a wall post on average.

 And the Singapore brands that seem to be engaging their fans the most are the following:

Interestingly, while none of these brands have a very large fan base, their post engagement rates are at least twice of the nation’s average. The focus seems to be on quality than quantity and rightly so!

Most Loved Singapore Brands in Singapore

Another qualitative metric that helps us understand which brands are the most loved on Facebook, irrespective of the size of the fan base and its engagement rate, is something that SocialBakers calls “Brand Love”. It essentially uses crowd-sourced data from Facebook users to monitor an old-school marketing metric called the Net Promoter Score, which measures the likelihood of a consumer recommending a brand to a friend on a scale of 1 to 10. In this “beauty pageant” of brands, four brands that have scored a perfect 10 include Subway, Watsons, Long John Silvers and Adidas, although I must warn that the sample size for this research is still very low in Singapore and hence the data is not significant enough to be taken at face value.

Most “Socially Devoted” Singapore Brands

Singapore has always been concerned about the level of customer service offered by brands and its commitment to the GEMS project is a testimony to this fact. Here is a new metric that maybe able to throw some light on how service-oriented a brand is, albeit only on social media.

The Socially Devoted metric measures 3 key customer service parameters – how open are brand FanPages to allow fans to post on the page; do brands respond to fan queries and comments & the speed of response.

Globally it is encouraging to note that many brands are innovating and taking the leap of faith in serving their customers through social media and the volume and speed of response is on the rise.

Whilst different industries are committed to customer service at different magnitudes, it is good to note that globally many SMEs are adopting smarter & cost-effective business practices to serve customers any-time/anywhere via Facebook rather than forcing customers to email or engaging them through automated, robotic voices via their IVR-based call centres.

In Singapore, the most socially devoted brands seem to be the mobile telecommunication brands with shorter response times and high response rates.

Now of course what would be good is if this metric also measured the quality of response and how satisfied customers are with the brand responses!

For a country that is labelled to be “emotionless”, it is great to see the level of usage and expression in the world of Facebook, not only by users but also by global and local brands. With such increasing quantitative & qualitative activity on social media, in the coming months, here are a couple of items in my wish/to-do list that I would like to see happen for the development of the local industry:

  1. More local SMEs investing in digital and social strategically for not only brand engagement & awareness but also for customer service, lead generation and hiring.
  2. Whether there is a correlation between brand activity on social media and brand valuation? It would be worthwhile doing a comparative study on the Top 100 Singapore brands, by brand value and the Top 100 Singapore brands on social media.

Till then may Singapore’s tryst with Facebook continue to bloom into a loving, engaging & devoted relationship!


Prantik Mazumdar

Prantik is a Managing Partner at Happy Marketer, who leads the firm’s Social, Mobile & Display Advertising practice. He sits on the Global Digital Board of Time International, a leading luxury chain in Asia.