A Conversation with Antonny Liem — Chairman of Social Media Week Jakarta and Chief Executive Officer of PT Merah Cipta Media
Art Direction by Sari Kusumaningrum
Social media is constantly evolving with technological advances, in connection to devices and platforms that enabling new methods for people to interact. One of the examples is the rise of Stories, which is the 2019 global theme of Social Media Week (SMW) titled Stories: With Great Influence Comes Great Responsibility. Today more than a billion people use Stories every day on Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook.
It is not easy to keep up with the latest Social Media trends, so this month, The Peak Indonesia interviewed Antonny Liem, Chairman of Social Media Week Jakarta and Chief Executive Officer of PT Merah Cipta Media, to look at the rising Social Media trends for 2020 and the impact of digital life.
Tell us briefly about yourself, and how did you become passionate to be a part of Indonesia’s creative and technology industry?
The technology and creative industry have always fascinated me, even though I graduated from management and finance studies. I started working in technology as my first job, selling enterprise IT solutions to global corporations. That experience taught me analytical thinking and made me fell in love even more into technology and the solutions they provide to solve problems. After building my professional career in technology, in 2005 I made an entrepreneurial move and joined my partners to build a branding and marketing agency. That was the right timing because in 2007, as the market started to shift to the internet, we launched our second brand which is a pure digital agency. My technology background combined with the creative drive of our marketing agency made our ventures grew rapidly, and we also started to invest in internet startups around that time.
Social Media Week Jakarta is organized by Merah Cipta Media. Tell us how did the collaboration come about?
Merah Cipta Media group or MCM grew from the humble branding marketing agency in 2003 to a group with multiple companies and brands from full-service marketing and digital media agency to investing in startups, as well as multiple online companies. We were one of the first movers in the Indonesian digital marketing and technology industry. In 2014, when we discovered the Social Media Week global platform, we contacted SMW global in New York and explored the opportunity for Indonesia. Because of our industry expertise and network, SMW agreed. They provided access to global platforms around the world including the amazing organizer and speakers network, while we have the independence to organize the event. This makes SMW Jakarta as one of the largest SMW in the world!
You just wrapped up this year’s SMW Jakarta. Can you share some of the social media trends that we will be seeing in 2020?
Currently, we are aware that social media has its dark sides, from cyberbullying to disinformation. However, we also know that there are many more positive sides that social media platforms bring to us; good stories that move and inspire great actions in life. Next year, this awareness is heightened. So both platforms and users will fight hard to minimize the negative aspects that can sprout from social media. Secondly, visual storytelling, particularly video content, will grow further. Thus, social media platforms that provide means, such as Instagram Stories, Youtube or TikTok will grow even more. Thirdly, entertainment or sharing information in an entertaining way will also advance.
In your opinion, how important is the potential to capture the market in Indonesia, as one of the largest social media markets in the world, to brands that harness digital and social technologies? And how can we use this momentum to be at the forefront of this growth?
According to data, not only 90% of Indonesian have social media account, but we are also very active on social media, constantly sharing and spending more than 3 hours per day on social media. This means it is an integral part of our life. As a marketer, especially in the digital era, we always try to go to where our customers and potential market are hanging around, and that is social media platforms. Even better, with the technology solutions that are available today, we can set a targeted approach and tweak our approach as necessary to achieve a more effective solution. Brands and marketers have no choice but to master social media platforms, and not only for marketing push but also to cultivate and engage with their audience. Social media platforms that are utilized accordingly can help brands to create a community of loyal customers that potentially can be their brand evangelists. Great inspiring or cool stories from brands will also create awareness and interest to the brand and acquire new customers.
How do you see the potential of e-commerce in Indonesia? Is there still room to grow? Also, how can businesses use technology to reach the audience and consumers?
E-commerce will still grow, we are still around 11% in terms of the total retail market in Indonesia, so there is still plenty of room for growth. Technology provides the speed of purchase and targeted marketing for the retailers, and today we also see the growth of online to offline where the online e-commerce companies start to build an offline presence as both distribution points and tactical marketing campaigns. O2O is not a new concept but we will see more of it grow as the online e-commerce will start to capture the non traditionally online customers and move them.
Do you think Influencer Marketing can still make a difference in efforts for businesses to promote their brands on social media?
Social media platforms gave birth to a new profession that is called internet influencer. Naturally, users will trust someone they know or admire compared to the brand promoting their cause. Just like social media, originally it was thought to be a fad and yes a few scandals have happened to influencers that gave it a bad rep, but now we also see the rise of professional influencers that have real talents and managed properly by an internet talent agency, which will help brands to work together in a more effective, professional and safe manner.
There has been news that Likes on social media are poised to evolve next year. If so how do you think the social media behavior that we’ve grown accustomed to will change?
Even though it will be hard and even changing some behavior on how people and marketers use and measure social media platforms, I believe we will quickly find a new balance and will not affect our dependence on social media platforms. The likes are still there for the user, but not shown as a single measurement. Perhaps in the near future people on social media will focus more on the conversation and engagement compared to the only double-tap to like something.
How important is it for people to feel more in control of their own experience, interactions and data on social media? And how do you think it will affect social media marketing?
People might be upset or uncomfortable when they know their data are being used, but I do believe that in the larger aspect, most users will be willing to give out their data as they have been doing all along in return of the benefit of using the platform and being connected. The most personal information obviously should be guarded, personal data such as documents, images, and financial data should be protected. In short, I don’t believe much will change in the overall user behavior. Platforms will have to make some changes because of public and regulatory push, but for users, I think most if not all with consent along.
For years, Facebook has suggested that Virtual Reality (VR) was its social end-game. Do you think VR will finally get serious in 2020? Why?
I don’t think VR will be mainstream just yet. The prohibitive aspects of its hardware and connection still do not allow mainstream use. AR, however, will grow faster and bigger with many uses in entertainment and education. But I don’t see people use them in a mainstream way as well in 2020.
What should we expect in terms of the applications of Augmented Reality (AR) in social advertising, shopping, and experiential marketing?
AR will be more available in applications, and marketers will find creative ways to utilize it to create the experience. But I think it is still far from being an integral part of a marketing campaign but remains more like a gimmick or boost for a certain campaign. I look forward to brands to start incorporating AR in everything they do in 5 years though, just like QR code today.
Social platforms have been under the microscope for issues around privacy, surveillance, advertising transparency, online abuse, fake news, and more. Do you think the Government should create more concrete regulatory moves?
Government as the regulator and law enforcement have also felt the direct hit from the dark aspects of social media. From being used to tweak a certain political campaign until the chaos in real life that is fueled by hoaxes in social media. So, of course, regulators will have to step in and start to find ways to minimize those negative aspects. Data privacy laws are one of the starting points, and I expect some more regulations to come, but I believe that the users should also be more educated and be self-regulatory as well because the speed and mass of social media users are just impossible for a government agency to cope with.
These issues also reshaping the users’ expectations. In your opinion, how can social platforms promote good interactions to keep users coming back, staying engaged, and contributing positively?
Social media is always evolving. When they started they always look at themselves as a mere technology platform and let people do whatever they do on their platform. Moving forward they will evolve to their next phase where they start to provide means and features to cultivate good deeds on their platform. They can, for example, put a cautionary mark if a certain post seems to be from an unverified source. Or through technology, they can detect if certain information shows a hoax pattern in their production and distribution. They can also, for example, identify and reward good content, working together with the third party that translates the likes to actual points that help a certain content maker.