How to BBB (Become a Better Blogger) ?

  

     For the last three month, running this blog was quite an interesting journey.  Though I have an experience to run some blogs, WordPress is not that easy for me who has been tamed in the Korean blog style. Yet, blogging in New York helps me become a better blogger. I am not going to repeat how blogging is great or why blogs make the world as a better place. So predictable! Instead, I would like to talk about my story that how blogging changed me throughout this semester.  

By sharing ideas with others and by visiting theirs blogs, I can truly experience the openness of blogs beyond the national border. At this time, I consider this blog as my personal journal so that I have expressed my opinion regardless of topics. Compared to my other Korean blogs, most posts in this blog are informal, controversial, and even personal. Honestly, topics like ‘North Korean Twitter’ or ‘Case Study: Presidential Election Campaigns in South Korea’ are still very sensitive issues to post in South Korea.  

As I always feel afraid of talking about my political stance or criticizing about governmental issues, it was a great opportunity to overcome this fear without any social pressures.  Ironically, I found that I feel more comfortable to talk in English than in Korean about what I think about something controversial.    

In that point, this blog would be a good turning point to improve my other blogs in the future. Though most posts are now focused on informative content about vegetarianism and New York City, I want to add my personal opinion more. And I firmly believe that this will make the viewers fun and interesting. Thank you for helping me become a better blogger, Wordpress!

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Case Study #3 – Social media in Politics of South Korea

 

In politics of South Korea, social media campaigns become a watershed for the elections, given the rising influence of the Internet on young voters.

A case in point is the former president Roh Moo-hyun’s surprise victory in the 2002 presidential election. Roh was a trailblazer in using the Web to get his message out, a strategy recently perfected by U.S. President Barack Obama. At that time, Nosamo – an online-based supporters’ group for Roh - also played a key role in garnering votes from young people via the Internet.

* Roh, playing guitar. From the online advertising in 2002 presidential election.

Since then, politicians in South Korea have turned to online politicking to reach people. According to Joongang Daily, in 2008, one in two lawmakers have a weblog, a kind of online journal, or personal homepage, including a mini-homepage on Cyworld.

Some critics say social media campaigns would help “rich parties” gain an unfair advantage against minor opposition parties suffering financial difficulties. Yet, I think minor parties can rather take a financial advantage of social media in political campaigns.

The minor opposition Democratic Labor Party and Democratic Party have recommended their candidates use online campaigns, but have had difficulty pursuing such campaigns because of a lack of money. However, the main problem of online campaign budget is online advertising, not social media management.

Under the revised Election law passed 2006, parties can advertise their candidates or election pledges on Internet portal sites. Thus, major parties have launched online advertising for each election on popular portal sites Naver and Cyworld. The parties post candidate profiles and policies as banner ads on the Internet. According to   National Election Commition, online advertising costs between $16,000 and $21,300 a week to use portal sites’ advertising banners.

When it comes to social media, however, the budget can be cut. In South Korea, the main communication channel between politicians and voters are mini homepages in Cyworld.  For deeper relationships with potential voters,  more and more politicians started to spend more time as well as care into not only building their homes on the Internet, but keeping them attractive and maintained, too.

Take the case of the main opposition leader Park Geun-hye, who set up her mini homepage  in 2004 for younger generation. Park had ‘the first date in her life’ with a 17-year-old, who was countered as the 1,000,001st visitor to Park’s mini homepage and took the prize of a public date Park. In addition, she keeps posting photos from her private life, including those of her family.

Responses have been huge. Now the page view is running up to 2,600,000 with Park. In addition, there are a lot of text, video and music files about her that are being created by the Internet fans, and her speeches are also popular content. Recently, she also joined in Twitter and has sent out her messages in a daily basis.

Although social media seems a tiny portion in political campaign, these are powerful tools to promote individual candidate and his/her campaign pledges in a long term.

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Case Study #2 – Social Media is a New Force for NGOs

 

There’s a radical new approach in online community to drive  NGO campaigns. For a long time, most NGOs used to mail (or call) potential donors for donation and to give them paper-flyers for PR.  Now, the Internet gives a new opportunity to change these approaches in less time-consuming and less expensive ways. In this post, I would like to introduce the National Audubon Society (Audubon for short) as one of the  sucessful NGOs wisely using social media in its saving wildlife campaign.

Founded in 1905, Audubon is on the ground working to rescue wildlife, restore habitats, communicate the impact for additional funds and advocate for more support. I am sure that most people still remember the oil explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Seven months after the tragic incident, the oil continues to gush, not only wreaking havoc on human lives but on precious ecosystems and the animals.

Ironically, this explosion becomes an opportunity for Audubon to take back leadership in the wildlife organization category. As grassroots action has increased, Audubon has  also reinvented its strategy to integrate more people interested in saving wildlife. Of course, social media is using as a key promotion tool for Audubon.

Since 2007, Audubon has expanded its social media strategies from its website to blog and web-zine. As publics (activists, volunteers, and donors) are willing to know about Audubon, it is important to educate them about the organization and to give them right information. In that point, Audubon’s web content are enough to satisfy publics’ learning expectiation.  

When it comes to oil crisis, however, Audubon needed more powerful strategies to provoke grassroots. Its Facebook page (Oiled Wildlife Rescue Volunteers) began to build strong relationships with over 8,900 fans. Audubon also launched SOS (Save Our Shore), a webpage that people from Facebook can donate money and volunteer their time for saving wildlife. In fact, this Facebook idea came from a 14-year-old young girl named Nicole Yarnold. She is the daughter of the new president of Audubon, David Yarnold. When Nicole and David talked about reaching a younger audience in terms of the BP crisis, she offered him to open Facebook page. So far, her advice has turned out to be great.   

 *A Picture of volunteering work in the Gulf of Mexico from Facebook (Oiled Wildlife Resqued Volunteers) 

 Audubon blog has also filled with interesting stories about its volunteers. By uploading pictures, letters and videos from grassroots, Audubon shows people that it values the voices of people caring endangered wildlife after the oil spill.  For example, 11-year-old Olivia Bouler began sending original bird web-illustrations to donors of Audubon after hearing about the oil spill. Her artistic talent has touched many contributors and has drawn more people’s attention via the Internet to save wildlife.

In the non-profit sector, what makes people engaged in campaign is passionate activists, not fancy advertisings nor famous celebrities.  Based on two young girls’ efforts, I believe that social media strategies has helped change Audubon more active organization to engage people than before.

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Case Study #1 – Social Media Changes Business landscape in Fashion Industry

 

Gone are the days of passive consumers who accepted whatever numerous PR and advertising messages spoke out. Consumers are now becoming  savvier and more jaded.

In the era of maturialism (combining words ‘mature’ and ‘materialism’, according to trendwatching.com ), smart consumers no longer tolerate being treated like inexperienced audiences. They want more direct conversations and more daring innovations to experience new product.

With the growth of social media networks, companies practice more active maturalistic marketing campaign for adult consumers. Today, I would like to introduce the social media case study of Calvin Klein Jeans  showing how it successfully launched its new line of jeans.

In New York City last August, Calvin Klein posted a huge QR code on two billboards for its new Fall collection, named Calvin Klein Jeans X, with the words “Get it Uncensored.” Smartphone users can capture the code, which links to the racy 40-second uncensored commercial featuring top supermodel Lara Stone. In addition, smartphone users can share the link of the video with other connect users via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

This advertising campaign using QR, quick response, bar code  encouraged the interaction of New Yorkers and helped them to remember CK brand. I think this billboard campaign contributed to move fashion brands a bit closer to the Fashion-social-technology era.  

* What is QR code? A QR code is a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera, and smartphones.  – from Wikipedia.

The main goal of the campaign is engaging consumer audiences rather than building brand awareness. In that point, this campaign seems pretty successful. For grown-up brands like Calvin Klein, communicating with mature consumers is a key to keep up the brand loyalty. As consumers expect brand communications and innovations to be candid and to be mutual, companies now needs to find the new communication strategies free from the boundaries of traditional marketing.

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Huh, the Winner of Talent Show ‘Superstar K2′

 

We are living in the world that a cocktail waitress from Texas (Kelly Clarkson) and a mobile-phone salesman from Kingswood (Paul Potts) became TV superstars. And here comes another Cinderella story from South Korea!

Last Friday, ventilator repairman Huh Gak won the finals of Mnet’s talent show Superstar K2. Mnet, a famous Korean music cable channel as MTV in the US, started the talent show named Superstar K last year inspired by American Idol. And this year, Superstar K2(season2) rocked the nation for the past three months.  

My favorite performance of Huh – ‘Don’t Say Goodbye’ sung by Seungchul Lee (one of the judges)

Although Superstar K2 aired through cable channel, it became the first Korean cable TV show to break the 10 percent mark in viewer ratings (even the last episode hit over 19 percent). Considering the average viewer ratings of cable TV shows in Korea, less than 2 percent, Superstar K2 clearly wrote the new history of the Korean broadcasting industry.  

There are many reasons that Superstar K2 was much more popular than Superstar K (season1).

First, the success of Superstar K grabbed the advertisers leading them to invest heavily in the next season, Superstar K2. Including Coca-Cola, the main sponsor of Superstar K and K2, more companies – Samsung, Lancome and Motorola – involved this year secured the financial status of Mnet.

Second, Superstar K2 increased the viewers’ participation by using social media and text service. Since the show came down to 11 candidates, the winner and the loser of the week had been decided on pre-online votes, judge’s evaluation and real-time text votes. Thanks to the two-way communication strategy, Superstar K2 naturally drew more attention of people and media than the last season. And it became a social  syndrome in South Korea where most people dream the winner of its competitive society.

At last, there were attractive young contestants. Let’s look at the Final four: Jain Jang, John Park, Seungyoon Kang and Huh Gak (I called them Fantastic Four). Jang was the only female contestant who made it to the top four through performing non-mainstream music.  Park has already famous since the beginning of this season as the one of the top 20 from American Idol Season 6. Kang, 16-year-old boy, appealed 10s to 20s with his cute appearance but with sexy voice. At last, Huh showed his strong will to music against social prejudice in Korea toward mid-lower class people.

From left to right: Kang, Huh, Park and Jang

Now Huh regards as the Korean Paul Potts, whose dream of becoming an opera singer came true. Not only Huh won $180,000 plus a car, but he also gets a chance to release his album. Literally, it was a 1.34 million of shot.

“I will be a singer that reaches out to your heart.” His words in tears, after announced the winner of this season, touched every heart of Korean who watched the show including me.  I hope that another Cinderella will continuously show the miracle to us next year.

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Semiocast Study – Asia as a New Emerging Region for Twitter

 

Twitter, the micro-blogging service, continues to drag the hearts and minds of Asians.

When Twitter was launched 3 years ago, it usally attracted responses from celebrities in Asia who were accused of capitalizing on the features to drum up support and a greater fan base.

Now the horizon is way more expanding. Not only the younger trend-setters, but the older opinion leaders (e.g. CEOs from South Korea, politicians from Japan and monks from India) are also brisky contributing to the Twitter world.  

Despite Twitter started from English service, people continue to see exciting growth from Asia via multilngual services. For example, lawmaker Kenzo Fujisue now tweets - all in Japanese – daily-basis to his 5,500 followers. CEO of Hyundai Mongjun Jeon first heard about Twitter from his communicadtion advisor and recently started to tweet in Korean.

And here is the interesting study. According to Semiocast, the Paris-based social media measurement company, Asia is now the first and fastest growing Twitter region.

*Followed by the UN’s statistic division’s classification.The figures is broken down by 6 regions: Asia, North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Oceania.

The company conducted a 24-hour study on about 2.9 million tweets in June 22nd 2010 to find that the most traffic originated from Asia, not North America. In case of the U.S., it now only accounts for 25% of tweets, drastically down from 30% in March 2010.

As the first Asian Twitter nation, Japan ranked the second highest with 18% of tweets worldwide. South Korea ranked seventh in terms of tweeting despite its relatively small number of population.  These figures prove Twitter’s sustained popularity in Asia. 

Since Twitter is considered the idealest social media tool to connect people, more and more Asian communities from everywhere want to use it for their success. As the U.S. is no longer the hero in Twitter world, the more resources are necessary to improve global social media. With careful research and detailed measurement in the non-US nations, we should find out how to communicate with them.

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Google Korea, Hero or Villian?

Rules, Ethics and Privacy. These three words should be at the core of the Internet world.

Recently, South Korea has investigated whether Google broke its privacy laws in pushing out the localized Street View service like other countries – the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, and Australia.

* Last year, a partnership with Google Korea allowed Yahoo! Korea to provide YouTube video clips on its Street View service. Some experts has blamed this service in terms of the privacy invasion.

Google Korea claims that it has done nothing with the collected data insisting the fragments of information collected by the Street View are meaningless. Yet, some security experts suspect that personal information such as e-mails, passwords and Web browsing records may have been compromised.

Just last year, most Korean Internet users praised Google Korea as a safe zone for privacy. This was after it opted to cripple the Korean version of its YouTube service against government regulations.  

*Korean government considers more ways to monitor Web behavior and impose rules on Internet users. For example, people should verify their real-name (no online anonymity) for leaving comments on major Korean websites.

Yet, now we know that Google is deeply involved with privacy issue. According to Joong-ang Daily, the confidential Google document – recently unearthed by the Wall Street Journal – states that Google has been conducting serious internal debates about ways to monetize its vast amount of users over the past few years.  After this article, there are increasing calls for Google Korea to improve the way of handing personal data.

Unfortunately, the growth of social media (e.g. Facebook and Cyworld) has certainly stoked Google’s sense of urgency. Unlike the fear of a privacy backlash had prevented Google from pushing targeted advertisements based on particular Web behavior, social media websites have been using the personal information of their customers more liberally, which has allowed advertisers wider freedom in targeting ads more specifically.

The growing presence of social media services which now has more than 15 million Korean users, is threatening to Google Korea. Considering the competitiveness of the Internet business, the secret Google document seems understandable. 

Yet, I just hope that these collected data will be used for the business, not for the government or any other purposes. Given the power of having personal data, there needs to be careful consideration on whether others could be violating the communications privacy law.

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