Inaugural awards show for influencers dazzles but some prominent local names were absent
INFLUENCERS UNDER SCRUTINY
The fight for social media influence in Singapore kicked up yet another notch in the past week, with the launch of an awards show and the authorities moving to tighten guidelines on advertising in cyberspace.
Influence Asia 2015, produced by Singapore-based influencer marketing agency Gushcloud, attracted more than 180 notable bloggers, YouTubers and Instagram users from the region.
Up for grabs were awards such as Influencer of the Year, Top YouTube Personality and Influencer's Choice.
The full-day show was notable for two things - the absence of prominent bloggers such as Xiaxue from chief competitor Nuffnang, and "special appearances" by pop superstars.
While many of the online personalities at the show no doubt have a sizeable following, the loudest cheers on the sixth floor of the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre were reserved for Tiffany of South Korean group Girls' Generation fame and rapper Jay Park.
Even Redfoo of LMFAO made an appearance.
The appearance of these stars, which lent much-needed firepower to the inaugural show, can be attributed to the considerable resources of South Korean digital media agency Yello Digital Marketing (YDM) Group, which acquired Gushcloud in a multimillion-dollar deal in May.
The speed in which the show was put together, said Gushcloud chief operating officer Vincent Ha, is a testament to how much potential YDM sees in the regional market.
The Asia-Pacific is predicted to surpass North America in digital ad spending by 2019, according to a United States-based research firm eMarketer.
This means that Asia is a growing cash cow for savvy marketers tuned to online trends and the organisations which employ them.
Yet, while the social media scene here is set for significant changes in the near future, the authorities are monitoring its growth.
Last week, the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore said it is looking to plug gaps in the best practice codes for advertising on social media and blog sites.
The guidelines require paid advertisements that appear on social media platforms to be identified as such and any commercial relationships to be disclosed. This means that when a food blogger says a chef's speciality deserves five stars and is to-die-for, it is not because he had a free nine-course dinner and an accompanying massage.
The guidelines are up for public feedback from now to Jan 8 next year. More details can be found at www.asas.org.sg.
ST ON INSTANT ARTICLES
The Straits Times is now on Facebook's Instant Articles, as part of an early launch across Asia.
Instant Articles, which is currently available only to Apple iPhone users, promises a faster and richer experience when consuming news and features.
Stories published in this format are marked with a lightning bolt in the top right corner of the thumbnail. (http://str.sg/ZDmn)
One of the stories The Straits Times featured is a multimedia piece on the recently opened National Gallery Singapore.
An interactive panorama takes readers through the highlights of the best conserved and redesigned spaces in the former Supreme Court and City Hall buildings.
Other articles pushed out in this format include ST senior writer Wong Kim Hoh's It Changed My Life touching series, which features stories of Singaporeans who have overcome the odds to turn their lives around.
While a standard mobile Web story takes an average of eight seconds to load, Instant Articles makes users' reading experience many times faster, said the social media giant in a press statement.
The Straits Times is the only Singapore partner in the early launch on Dec 3. Other publishers in Asia include CCTV News from China, Ming Pao Daily News from Hong Kong, Sin Chew Daily from Malaysia and Apple Daily from Taiwan.
Prominent publishers, such as The New York Times, BBC and National Geographic, took advantage of the new format earlier this year.
Instant Articles first debuted in May as Facebook sought to bring richly formatted articles, with interactive features such as zoomable images and auto-playing videos, to its news feed.
The feature is being rolled out to Android phone users progressively.
TOP 15 ST INSTAGRAM SNAPS
A wonderfully timed snap of 20 F-16s forming the number "50" and screaming across a clear blue sky in the lead-up to National Day is the top photo on The Straits Times' Instagram account this year.
The shot, taken by ST photographer Lim Yaohui, has so far garnered more than 1,200 likes.
Another photo captured a particularly poignant moment when an orderly wiped the perspiration off a vigil guard who was on duty during the funeral of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. ST photographer Chew Seng Kim's snap drew more than 900 likes.
These photos, shot and curated by The Straits Times Picture Desk, is one reason why ST's Instagram account has grown from 3,300 followers at the start of this year to 15,000 now.
Deputy picture editor Malcolm Mcleod said: "We are very pleased. We will strive to maintain a consistently high standard of photos that will entertain and surprise our readers."
For the top 15 posts from The Straits Times' Instagram account, ranked by likes, go to: http://str.sg/ZzYH.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 13, 2015, with the headline 'What'sTrending Social media stars raise profiles offline on red carpet'. Print Edition | Subscribe
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