Resurrection of TokyoFinds

BIG NEWS

I laid TokyoFinds to rest at the beginning of the year.

Thanks to Leah and Angie at Tumblr, IT HAS BEEN BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE!!

REJOICE. Visit Finds here: tokyofinds.com

Sidenotes: as much space as I take up on the internet, TokyoFinds is the only place I post under a paid domain LOL
For those wondering what Finds is:

Instead of polluting my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with all things Tokyo and Japan, I decided to deposit them here. Enjoy.

Big shout-out to Leah!!!!!!!’n Thank you, thank you thank you!

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Why I Love the Internet

Warning: this post has nothing to do Japan, Asia, chat apps, or tech but an ode to the Internet.

There has been a stranger tweeting me with his photos.
Take a look:

Screenshot_5_22_14_2_57_PM

 

And one more for good measure:

Screenshot_5_22_14_2_58_PM

 

I totally get how people might be creeped out by him. I mean, he’s this old guy posing in front of a pile of dirty dishes. Heck, I can’t even tell if all his teeth are in place.

I think he should be celebrated.

This man, let’s call him John, is tweeting photos to random females from all over. I don’t know how he finds them, the women he are tweeting are really, that random (I checked his stream). He is using Twitter as a dating tool.

Looking at these photos of this man I am calling John, I assume he lives in South Carolina. Or far up north in Florida. Maybe Arkansas, or some state in the South in a town with a population of 500.

He lives in a trailer littered with beer cans and there are piles of ashtrays filled with charred cigarette butts — he smokes every cigarette until it reaches the filter. His kitchen counter has no space, covered with heaps of  Wonder Bread, Oscar Mayer bologna, Kraft Singles, and BBQ potato chip wrappers. He has a tv with rabbit ears that only has one channel: FOX.

He works as a dish washer at a truck stop and his apron is stained with maple syrup, ketchup, mustard, mayo. Every night after work, he stops by the bar along Highway 5 to drink a warm beer, served by the 50 year old bartender Barbara.

He owns a Samsung SCH-293874923861723 — a prepaid, throwaway Android with maybe a three hour battery life. 3G connection.

This man John, whose life I can only imagine, has found his way onto twitter. He created an account. Figured out a way to take photos. Then tweet the photos to random women all over the world. And I fucking love it. How can you not?

I love that the Internet gives everyone a voice. Even John from Timbuktunowhere. And this, is only one of the many reasons why I love the Internet and technology so so so much.

It’s really, the little things.
*if you need another reminder, I posted another one a while back here.

WeChat 101- Quit Comparing WeChat and WhatsApp

WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram and Snapchat are not like WeChat, LINE and KakaoTalk.

I’ve written about LINE and KakaoTalk but now it’s time to intro the last player – WeChat. WeChat is not – I repeat NOT anything like WhatsApp or Viber.

Aside from multi-media communication capabilities: photos, video, walkie-talkie and broadcast features, in August of 2013, WeChat completely overhauled their product with v5.1 to add a bunch of new features and functions.

They keep differentiating themselves from the rest of the chat apps and this is why:

  • in-app payments
  • P2P (peer to peer) and O2O (offline-online) core strategy aside from games <– HUGE
  • multiple monetization streams

Payments

WeChat-2

WeChat Payments connects bank card to WeChat account so users can make payments in-app.
Users can make transactions happen through 1. payments to WeChat authorized partner retailers 2. P2P (peer to peer) or in plain English other WeChat users – example: users can send one person a specified amount, or send money to a group and divide the lump sum among a group of friends.  If I had a penny for every time I’ve had issues with group payments where one person pays too much, too little I’d have about four extra iPhones sitting around. Or think about that one person who never has cash, etc., etc. WeChat group payments is the perfect resolution for group events / activities.

O2O / P2P Commerce

WeChat also partnered with sites and services – whether through acquisitions or buying a stake in the company – doing flash sales or becoming the preferred payment partner. To date, DianPing – China’s answer to Yelp, with a Groupon type group buying feature DianPing also offers coupons and discounts and users can even order food for delivery – is one of the most notable.

The other is Didi Dache – China’s Uber – where users can order a taxi and make payments, all in-app. Since forming the partnership in Jan., WeChat reports

  • 21mm cab rides have been booked via WeChat
  • 700k daily bookings via WeChat
  • Didi Dache and WeChat also pay cab drivers bonuses when the drivers use their services vs a competitor

WeChat also aggressively positions themselves as the entry point for global brands who want to reach China’s youths. Most recently, Vivienne Tam and WeChat collaborated to bring NYFW (NY Fashion Week) to WeChat users.

They’ve also done campaigns with Mc Donald’s, Starbucks, Burberry, Pepsi and Maybelline – bottom line, they are making money becoming a payment solution and by advertising as well.

Another monetization channel through partnerships is content. WeChat and Chinese media outlets bring news and entertainment to users. However, instead of solely bringing content into the app like Flipboard or Facebook’s Paper, they have their media partners build proprietary micro-sites into WeChat with proprietary URLs ie: mp.weixin.qq/majorchinesenetwork and charge users subscription fees.

They’ve also ventured into streaming video, launching a standalone TV with CNTV (major Chinese tv network).

If you think that’s all, they are also China’s small business e/m-commerce solution (like Etsy or even Amazon).
Small business accounts are

  • free to create — fee is dependent on level of API customization and how much a business wants to integrate their products and services into WeChat
  • transactions are conducted inside WeChat — which leads to increased time spent inside app
  • bar-code scanner capabilities so people can scan a bar code in a store of something they see and shop for it online for example
  • built in loyalty cards and point card systems

Major brands and retailers to even a college student with a fruit stand can buy and sell on WeChat – that’s how simple it is.

WeChat states they have 300mm active users per month and YoY growth of 124% (note: these numbers are before the Red Envelope campaign that reportedly activated 20mm transactions within 9 days and announcement of all their partnerships).

WeChat is not fucking around.

I’m sure there are so many more features and functions, products and services I may be missing. This is information I gathered through English sources (FT, Economist, WSJ, Techcrunch, The Next Web, Tech in Asia and some random Chinese sites I ran through Google Translate) but even if I don’t know all the details, it’s pretty clear they are one step above the rest of the chat app herd.

One can argue their success is due to the uniqueness of the Chinese market and how the economy is intertwined by a select few and with the government, but strip away all that noise and look at WeChat as a product. They are still several steps ahead of the rest — even LINE, that I am a massive fan of.

2014 is going to be a year to closely watch Asia.

Tragic Incidents and Social Media

There was a 23 year old beaten and murdered outside of a California club. The news has been passing through my Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds all day. I’ve been meaning to Tweet or Facebook or something about the incident, but think it deserves more than a Facebook post or a 140 character tweet.

This is a tragic incident and my heart is absolutely broken at the notion of such a young girl meeting her death from such an every day activity as going out. This could’ve happened to anyone and it does. Just Google “beaten to death outside of club” if you’re into that sort of thing.

What’s really disappointing, is how people took the time to take photos and video to upload onto Instagram, Twitter and Facebook while this young girl was getting the living daylights beaten out of her. And then she ended up dying.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s up to the spectators to be superheros but I wonder what it was like before all this social media stuff.

I mean, if people have the time to take photos and video, shouldn’t they… well, call for help? There are club bouncers for a reason. Or at least call 9-1-1 before taking the photo and choosing a filter.

Think back to when we had our Nokia phones, BlackBerries and even Sidekicks and we saw someone getting beat up. Did we still stand around and watch? Did we pretend not to notice? When did we start thinking collectively as a society, that it’s ok to share with our networks vs. helping?

Or is our sharing, just a way to help us humans process such shocking events?

Either which way, something to think about as functioning humans in civilized societies. And especially, for our next generations.

Coverage on the incident are here and here.

Messaging Apps are Not Social Networks

There is a lot of emphasis on Facebook’s youth demographic decreasing and how messaging apps like Snapchat, LINE, WhatsApp and KakaoTalk are becoming the new Facebook and I can’t help but to think: wow, people don’t understand product and technical differences.

Facebook is a social networking platform. Messaging apps are tools for communication.

It’s not that people are leaving Facebook or Instagram for messaging apps, it’s that people are using messaging apps as tools to communicate differently.

There is room for both in the world. It’s just that people are choosing how to talk to those they want to talk to (messaging apps), rather than putting themselves out there for everyone and – literally – their mothers to see (Facebook).

So just like how most people don’t want to socialize with tens and hundreds of people every second of every day, many are choosing to socialize with people in different ways. And they are doing so with photos, videos, text and content.

Facebook and messaging apps are two different things.

12

Finally: Facebook ‘fesses up

Busted!

AdAge just told their readership Facebook states in a sales deck that:

We expect organic distrobution of an individual’s page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have meaningful experience on the site.

What that means in normal people talk is this: we are tweaking our algo so all you brands with your millions of dollars in marketing funds can no longer free-load. Pay up or your ‘introducing our deliciously fresh new toilet cleaner’ announcement will be buried in a mountain of “I hate my job, my life, my friends, I’m so fat I want to die” and “look at the bajillionth photo of my kid from an angle shifted 0.00099090809890834 pixels to the right” posts in the newsfeed.

Paying Facebook to make posts more visible isn’t a new practice, as I started seeing the shift back in 2011. I did a lot of digital work for major brands and entertainment properties that heavily relied on Facebook’s look at this post…again and again and again again every time someone comments or LIKEs effect. Hell, even regular people can pay to have their “my piece of shit boyfriend just cheated on me. I hope he dies.” Facebook update pinned to the top of our newsfeeds (I’ve seen it happen before haha).

I really don’t blame Facebook for finally cracking down and expecting mega brands with their super budgets to pay-up. The bummer lies with the small to mid-sized business looking to extend their reach. Or even startups that focus their entire traction strategies on social — namely Facebook.

Just like how we never saw another phenomenal success like Farmville on Facebook’s gaming platform (remember that?) I guess TOM’s success — the Japanese 500 portfolio company that reached 10M fans in less than a year — will never be repeated. Maybe they will go down in the Guinness Book of World Records or something.

I for one, welcome the change. It’ll be fun to see how the fluffy social media gurus-ninjas-futurists-[insert whatever else douche-y name here] will scramble to step their strategic games up.

May the best man or brand or strategist or agency win!
source: AdAge

The Internet Highlights Stupidity

It really bothers me when people share Buzzfeed articles like the collection of racist comments directed to the newly crowned Indian Miss America. I wonder when people are going to realize the people at Buzzfeed scour Twitter, searching for the worst of the worst.

Then everyone is outraged, re-sharing the collection of stupidity and calling out these idiots who think terrorists are from India.

As much as I want to say racism will ‘go away’, let’s be honest. There are and will always be ignorance in the world. We live on a planet where 7B people co-exists. There will always be people with closed minds — whether we like it or not.

So to the people who are bothered by these morons getting five seconds of Internet infamousness by RTing and sharing these articles all over your social networks… Surprise! You too, are contributing to the stupidity by encouraging publications like Buzzfeed to keep on putting together these kinds of garbage ‘stories’.

C’MON. Think!
The post in question is here.