RM1.8 million Facebook. When a reporter asked me yesterday about the Tourism Ministry's RM1.8 million Facebook called Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia, I immediately opened the page. My initial response was, "Looks like any Facebook page .. doesn't feel like RM1.8 million to me". Then I noticed the apps and asked her to call me back in 10 minutes so I could fool around with the apps. Half an hour later, I told her the page still looked like any Facebook page but the apps, which not revolutionary, are quite fun. Simple but OK. "But is it worth RM1.8 million?", she asked me. I said if it brings in tourists, it may be worth millions -- even billions -- of ringgit. Tourism brought in over RM50 billion in receipts for the Malaysian economy every year.
I have written about Curi-Curi Malaysia: The Most Expensive Website In the Worldi with regards to another initiative during the tenure of another minister in-charge of our tourism. The posting was made in September 2008 and the initiative was supposed to cost RM36 million. In the case of the RM1.8 million Facebook apps project, it seems too small an investment in the social media. The ministry spends millions and millions on ads and promo campaigns using traditional media -- newspapers, tv, billboards, the London bus, etc. It should be putting its money in the new/social media, not just Facebook apps but also Twitter, blogs, credible news portals like The Malaysian Insider, etc.
A more holistic approach means bigger spending but also better returns. And as long as the returns are good and the processes above board, it will not matter if the Ministry spends RM18 million or RM80 million. I asked the reporter it would be good if her article can compare the Facebook investment with how much other countries are doing and how much they are spending on the Social Media to promote tourism.
I have not see a copy of today's The Malaysian Reserve so I have not read her article, but I've managed to come up with some interesting facts:
1. Click H E R E on Australian government's heavy use of Social Media. They have set aside a budget of A$150 million over the next three years to manage a social media campaign to attract tourism to Australia. That's a lot of ringgit and should excite our big spending minister, Yen Yen, but YB please don't get over-excited, eh.
2. Our poorer neighbor the Philippines, which has drawn many Malaysian tourists especially the men, spends 100 million pesos or about RM7 million on social media to promote tourism, including attracting more Malaysian men to cum instead of going to Jakarta, Medan or Bangkok.
3. Pepsi is spending RM20 million on Social Media to rejuvenate. The campaign is called The Pepsi Refresh Project.
Additional reading: The Rise of the Social ad Spending, click HERE and HERE.
p.s If some links don't work, please Google. To paraphrase Anthony Loke (DAP-Rasah), even a 6-year old can Google it.