Facebook is free, but it's Tourism Malaysia's social media advertising campaign that costs RM1.8mil, says minister. TOURISM Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen was supposed to be seething in anger with reports insinuating the ministry spent RM1.8 million on six Facebook pages.
The Malay Mail senior writer Marhalim Abas braved the traffic and a possible tongue lashing to find out what was really going on. Exact source from Malay Mail: Tourism Minister defends RM1.8 million Facebook promo.
JUMPING ON THE BANDWAGON: The world is going digital and if you're not in social media, you're outdated, says Ng
Q: What is the real story behind the RM1.8 million?
A: The ministry's efforts to embark on a digital promotional campaign and branding via the social media was heavily twisted by Loke (DAP MP Anthony Loke) and caused confusion among Facebook fans and the media. He said the ministry spent RM1.8 million to create six Facebook pages. It was reported in the Chinese Press with, which I see, an intent to mislead the public.
Q: What was the money used for then?
A: Firstly, it was not used to develop the Facebook pages; you and I know those are free. Even I started my DrYenYen page on Facebook for free. Of course it's stupid (to spend that amount) since it costs nothing to set up a page. Some media correctly reported the sum was for a social media advertising campaign.
Secondly, the sum was used to create and develop the campaign and branding of six major tourism events -- Citrawarna; 1Malaysia Mega Sale and Year End Sale; Night Festival; Fabulous Food 1Malaysia; 1Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism and 1Malaysia Green; and Clean Campaign. The campaign involves content. Promoting and branding a campaign need back servers. You also need to manage the campaign and monitor the response.
Thirdly, data collection and data monitoring. Fourth, campaign evaluation. We don't have experts in Tourism Malaysia. It's okay if it's just your personal Facebook page but this is a global brand, a national advertising campaign.
Q: Who is running the campaign?
A: Our advertising agency. They have been entrusted with domestic tourism promotion. They used to do TV, radio, billboards and print campaigns, and now social media. See what it says? (while holding up a Press clipping) Tourism Malaysia spends RM1.8 million on Facebook. Of course everyone wants an explanation! The Deputy Minister (Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit) was clear but he (Loke) skipped so many (details) and said even children know Facebook is free.
He purposely distracted people from the real issue. I'm happy to report the Citrawarna page has garnered 24,000 fans in less than a month. We are aiming for at least 120,000 fans within six months for the entire campaign.
One newspapers interviewed many people who talked about how much it costs to develop a website. I'm not talking because this is not a website.
Q: You said the papers got the wrong Facebook page. Can you show us the right one?
A: People think a social media campaign is simple. I deny the attempt by DAP, especially Loke. Of course, when people see his statement, they say it's stupid as Facebook is free. You see the confusion created by DAP? This is a national tourism campaign which forms the RM56 billion national economy.
This is not our website, this is an open country (while holding up another Press clipping). Ours is here, Tourism Malaysia Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia (shows the web page on her iPad). Whoever did the interviews was barking up the wrong tree. You should interview the social media advertising agency.
Q: Why advertise in social media?
A: The world is going digital. The cost of digital advertising is going up because everybody is using social media. Total advertising in social media last year was RM12.7 billion. If you're not in the social media, you are outdated. We need to attract new types of tourists, the so-called Foreign Individual Tourist or FIT. They go on packages. They check AirAsia (website) and pack their bags. Or they go on Facebook. Facebook has 700 million fans, 10 million of whom are Malaysian, so we have to go to social media and its advertising is not free.
Do you know why Google and and Facebook are so rich? Because you and I are all their fans. Tourism Malaysia's social media campaign must be top class. We cannot be mediocre. How can Loke talk about Penang Tourism 'not having to pay anything'? Theirs is only a Facebook page! No campaign, no applications, contest or advertising. It's like a personal page. In two years, Penang Tourism gained 120,000 fans. Loke is either clueless or wants to distract (the attention) from my social media campaign, which is something the country needs.
Q: Are other countries promoting their tourism via social media?
A: Australia's tourism authority announced they are going to spent RM150 million annually for three years on social media advertising, promotion and marketing. Queensland is spending RM5 million this year for social media while the Philippines is spending RM7 million. Thailand's tourism authority is increasing its budget for social media by 40 per cent. There is a clear shift towards social media. That's why we went that way.
Q: Why is Impact Creations Sdn Bhd handling the social media advertising campaign?
A: Because it is my advertising agency in change of domestic tourism promotion. They manage everything so they can co-ordinate and collaborate their campaigns on TV, radio, billboards and electronics. We asked them to start on the social media campaign. We launched the Facebook page on May 18.
I read someone claimed she went to the page and found nothing much there. Of course, this is a six-month campaign. Another said he did not see RM1.8 million on the page. What about my advertising on Google and Facebook? Social media is not cheap. The Opposition is clever. Take one part and blow it open. I must state I consider the statements (by Loke) an attempt to mislead and discredit Tourism Malaysia.
Q: Where can we see the advertisements?
A: Its on CNN. Have you seen the Malaysia Truly Asia campaign? Our first advertisement on the social media campaign is on Citrawarna, on our Facebook Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia. The advertisements are related to my events.
Q: Why is Impact Creations involved in the social media campaign?
A: As I said before, Impact Creations is the domestic tourism promotion. The tourism promotion is divided into different countries. China and East Asia are under Mascom and Oceania (under) Saatchi. These companies won the tender that created a lot of brouhaha before. They all got an annual RM30 million contract for three years and RM30 million is the ceiling, they cannot go higher.
Q: It was alleged they were given the tender because they are your friends.
A: People can say what they want. I have been a politician for 45 years, everyone is my friend. The owner of Mascom is my friend. M&C Saatchi's Datin Sharifah (Datin Sharifah Menjelara Hussein) is my friend. You are also my friend. The agencies won in an open tender.
I did not seat in the tender decision committee. I have been accused without justification. The tender board chose these companies for financial and technical reasons. I have answered the allegations clearly in The Star (newspaper) and I answered to Parliament clearly as well.
Impact Creations have the right to outsource or in-source.
After seeing the comments in Facebook, it was important for me to clear everyone's minds. When we have social media campaigns, even my son who is overseas can see what's going on.
Q: Besides Facebook, what other social media are you working with?
A: Mostly Facebook because it's interactive and visual. Twitter is mostly text. It is now important to go to social media for tourism campaign. Print is losing out.
Q: Because print is seen as boring?
A: Yes, sorry. But the most positive and negative reactions are from you.
p/s: Ayat backing diri sendiri dan kroni..macam tak biasa :P