Ketki Madane
(RIEAS Regional Director in Southeast Asia and Australia)

The invention of the printing press in 1440 created an information revolution which at first was controlled by a few powerful entities. By the 20th century, due to the explosion of the internet and the freely available information online, pioneers in the social networking industry such as Friendster brought a unique flavor to friendship.
After Friendster set the bar for social networking, its competitors came in the form of Myspace, Facebook, Blogger, Linkedin and the newest player – Twitter. As platforms became increasingly sophisticated after newer versions were introduced, social media began to catch the eye of corporations.

Businessweek reported on how the evolution of social media and Blogger, a blogging platform which allows the average internet user to write posts or short articles on any topic of their choice, has now dimmed the line between publisher and consumer. Take for example, the case of General Motors. On occasion, the company has bypassed its public relations department and spoken to its public directly through its blog.

In Southeast Asia, specifically Singapore, blogging platforms have spawned an entirely new trend, allowing entrepreneurs to reap financial benefits from this activity. Starting up “Blogshops”, or online shops on blogging sites has become the most recent burst of entrepreneurship. Instead of buying a domain, registering it and hiring a website designer to create an attractive page from scratch, young entrepreneurs can cut costs in these areas by signing up for free on Blogger, downloading a free online template and updating the site with new products available for sale. Furthermore, Blogger is operated by Google, which offers its customers an optional “AdSense” program. Creation of a free AdSense account allows the program to track click-throughs from advertisements placed on the blogger’s website by unique visitors and eventually generates income.

YouTube, another Google-owned corporation follows a similar Adsense model, but through calculating the number of views garnered. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that one well known Australian video blogger or ‘vlogger’, is said to generate over AUD100,000, while boasting of almost 800,000 subscribers and being ranked 23rd most subscribed on YouTube. This is a reflection of Matt Harding’s success after he posted his original video dancing around the world (Where in the world is Matt?), which created enough interest to have Visa ride on his success.

Crowdsourcing has become a regular resource that corporations tap into using social media. Singapore is increasingly tapping to its public to gain information and use it for entrepreneurial purposes. One such example is the creation of a mobile phone application called ‘Foyage’. Foyage operates on the idea that the public can take feedback into the freely accessible Foyage platform by inputting traffic conditions around the city. A similar application has been developed to assist with weather conditions around the country as well. This has taken two aspects into consideration – a common platform on which users can interact and tapping into the public’s knowledge.

Perhaps the most recent social media platform that exploded onto the scene is 4square, to the extent that even Facebook wanted a part of the action. 4square works on respective mobile phone models and allows users to “check in” to the location they are at. By checking in several times, users can attain title of “Mayor” and unlock various badges for accomplishments (such as checking in on New Years’ Eve etc). 4square’s ability to assist in businesses comes through the tagged offers at the various locations. For example, if User A checks into Café XYZ, he will immediately be prompted with a pop up that says, “Offers available nearby” if locations nearby have uploaded promotions. For example, a popular local brewery in Singapore offers 4square users free fries at selected locations, and the ‘Mayor’ is even offered a pint of free beer. Social media platforms like 4square have been crucial in driving consumers towards businesses through offering of freebies and discounts.

Other niche social media networks such as Deviant Art have allowed budding artists to market their work and Twitter has enabled former Indian United Nations official Shashi Tharoor to directly communicate with his followers allowing him to give instant feedback. Furthermore, with the newer entrants such as Quora (based on answers for questions) and Ning, where users can create their own social networks, it is exciting to see what more developments could potentially come from social media.


Moses, A. (2010, August 20). Our Natalie Raking in $100,000 from YouTube. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from
Baker, S. & Green, H. (2008, February 20). Social Media Will Change Your Business. Businessweek. Retrieved from
M. Harding, (2008, June 20). Where the Hell is Matt? [Video file]. Retrieved from
Foursquare.(n.d.). Brewerkz Indoor Stadium. Retrieved from
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