Saturday, November 26, 2011

The persistent social media notice board (or "Singapore Police Force's first 'Facebook Arrest'")

In my view, the Singapore Police Force's (SPF) Facebook page is a very successful social media initiative by a government agency, in terms of public awareness, receptivity and amount of consistent "chatter" (i.e. comments).

I've not done any recent environment scan, let alone a comprehensive survey. But looking at the comments and number of congratulatory Likes for its recent "win", it's easy to conclude that the SPF Facebook page is certainly a popular one:
Singapore Police Makes Its First “Facebook Arrest”

The "win" was this, as reported by ChannelNewsAsia, 25 Nov 2011 (emphasis are mine):
SINGAPORE: Police have arrested two loanshark suspects based on a lead that came from a photo that was posted on the police Facebook page in July 2009.

A netizen called the 999 number on November 11 after seeing the photo, saying he could identify the suspect.

Fuller details over at the SPF press release, "Singapore Police Makes Its First “Facebook Arrest", 25 Nov 2011:
This significant development came about on 11 Nov 2011 when a public-spirited person called 999 and informed that he could identify a loanshark suspect from a photo posted on the Police Facebook Page since July 2009. This has led to the arrest of the suspect and another suspect, both 19 years old, for suspected involvement in loanshark harassment activities in the Bukit Merah area. Investigations are ongoing.

At first I missed the part about the initial public appeal for information posted in July 2009 (ASIDE: for a skimmer like me, maybe the post could have said something like "Facebook breakthrough for a two-year old unsolved crime..." or something to that effect).

Anyway, I understood why the SPF considered it a significant "operational breakthrough". The inference was that traditional channels (newspapers or TV) tend to have a limited duration before information fades from public awareness. Even if people remember something, verifying it via the source would be hard beyond a few weeks.

I'm reminded of the "Think Before You Post" advisory video, warning young people about the persistent nature of the Internet. For fighting crime, that quality is a good thing.

I also noted that the SPF Press Release stated that one of their aims, for starting their Facebook Page in 2009, was to "(take) advantage of the viral nature of social media".

I'm not entirely clear how much of the cascading effect took place. Reading the press release, I understood the sequence of events to be:
  1. SPF posts the information on the suspects on Facebook in 2009.
  2. Fast-forward to 2011, a member of the public recognised the suspect and contacted the SPF.

I wonder how that member spotted the FB photos of the suspects. Scrolled all the way to earlier posts? Heard about it through a friend, who heard it from a friend? Maybe even a fall-out among gang members and using the FB post to disguise the fact that the caller already knew the suspects?

But the above is moot (and probably suggests I've too active an imagination).

What's important is that the case was resolved, with the help of the public. This "Facebook Arrest" is also likely to send a strong signal to would-be-criminals about the even longer arm of the law.

Of course the downside of a "social media cascading effect" would be called a social media witch-hunt, or Internet Vigilantism. The viral nature of social media works both ways.

Having said that, I don't recall a case of a social media witch-hunt in Singapore. Which may suggest that for something as serious as identifying suspects to the police, Singaporeans are a calm and rational lot on the whole.

Which also suggests to me that the public has a very high level of trust in the SPF's thoroughness and professionalism.

I certainly have.

The SPF would not receive any public tip-offs at all, never mind through a social media channel, if it did not have the trust of the populace.

I think that's one reason for it being a successful on Facebook.

When the SPF identifies someone as a suspect, intuitively I do not question that. I would have assumed the SPF has enough evidence to make that charge (it's not a small thing to be publicly announced as a suspect in a police investigation, even if subsequently proven to be innocent).

That sort of trust is like Internet reputations: Slow to earn, fast to destroy.

Gladly, the SPF has maintained that social trust for as long as I can remember. Its efforts in maintaining its Facebook page does a good job of reinforcing that, and probably enhancing it. I've always admired was the consistent level of chatter over at their Facebook page. I don't get a sense of it being an echo chamber effect.

It's not just my view about the SPF being successful on social media:
On the topic of strategies, and agencies needing to know what they want to use social media for, the Singapore Police Force was brought up as a role model that knew exactly what they wanted to use the social platforms for—information sharing and recruitment—and used it well.

I was told the above was an unsolicited comment about the SPF. Yet another win.

Back in May 2008, I wrote a three-parter on whether the SPF should have a blog (part 1, part 2, part 3).

They started their Facebook page in July 2009. Some people feel Facebook makes blogs redundant, but I've a different opinion -- perhaps for another post.

I wonder if SPF is planning for "the next step" wrt social media engagement. In my view, they are doing a darn good job already. I don't forsee the SPF embarking on the level of engagement like this last case study I blogged about, here and here).

But then again, maybe the SPF will lead the way. Again :)

UPDATE: Walter blogs about it, here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The "No Bed Bugs Essential Spray"

My wife concocted a homemade essential oil spray. She did a bit of research over the Internet. To get rid of bed bugs. She says it works.

I thought it made our home smell like a classy boutique hotel. I asked her what name she's calling the fragrance.

"No Bed Bugs Essential Spray", she says.

Reuse a 120ml spray bottle or perfume atomiser.

Fill it up slightly more than 3 quarters full with boiled water (in lieu of distilled water).

  • Cedar wood essential oil x 10 drops
  • Clove essential oil x 5 drops
  • Lavender essential oil x 20 drops
  • Rosemary essential oil x 5 drops
Shake like mad.

Red Potion
Originally uploaded by Artform Canada

BTW, you can freely copy the above. A mere listing of ingredients and procedures cannot be copyrighted. Unless the listings have "substantial literary expression-—a description, explanation, or illustration, for example-—that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook". Source: U.S. Copyright office (Singapore follows U.S. Copyright law pretty closely).
U.S. Copyright Office - Recipes

Wednesday, November 09, 2011 Goes Creative Commons

Announced on 7 Nov 2011.'s statement:
"Beginning today, we’re releasing all staff-produced photos under a Creative Commons (CC BY-NC) license and making them available in high-res format on a newly launched public Flickr stream."

More info, from the blog:
"...’s announcement that from now on all staff-produced photos will be released under a CC Attribution-Noncommercial license (CC BY-NC)!’s Editor in Chief Evan Hansen says,

“Creative Commons turns ten years old next year, and the simple idea of releasing content with “some rights reserved” has revolutionized online sharing and fueled a thriving remix culture. At, we’ve benefited from CC-licensed photos for years — thank you sharers! Now we’re going to start sharing ourselves.”"

Here's's CC-BY-NC Flickr stream, at
Flickr: Wired Photostream's Photostream

What's significant to me was that is a recognisable brandname. Their very public statement on CC was also very clear to me (see quote at the beginning of this post).

They have made a long-term commitment rather than a one-off publicity stunt (some people might think this was a one-off thing if they only noticed the selected 50 images).

Their Flickr stream would be one good resource to get CC-BY-NC photos of people in the tech industry (since covers that sort of news extensively).
Steve Jobs at iPad announcement 2010 Michael Arrington Mark Zuckerberg JJ Abrams at WonderCon 2009 Steve Wozniak

Probably images of gadgets, events and tech stuff.
Nissan Leaf Chevy Volt Factory Comic-Con 2008

(Which reminds me: I've not blogged about YouTube's "hybrid" adoption of Creative Commons; check this and this out).

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Social media Twitter interview: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

The level of competency and the manner of response, shown by the organisation's social media manager/ staff, says something about the overall competency of the organisation.

This recap, of what happened two weeks ago, illustrated that to me.

Ivan Chew (ramblinglib) on Twitter @ShannonPaul Twitter _ @ramblinglib @ShannonPaul

Minutes after I blogged and tweeted about this post, I received a twitter reply from @ShannonPaul, Social Media Manager of Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan. With an offer to answer questions.

Got to admit, the speed of response was impressive. But even more so, it was the unsolicited offer to answer questions.

I replied that I'll think of good questions to ask. But before that I corrected my mistake on the blog post. Sorry, Shannon, I really thought "Shannon" was a guy's name. Forgive this librarian's ignorance.

Before asking my questions, I decided to do some homework. Read up Shannon's blog (was humbled by her About Page, subscribed!) plus her current work at A Healthier Michigan.

Decided on my five questions, tweeted to Shannon, to which she replied almost immediately as well.

Here it is (in actuality, I tweeted all five questions in a continuous thread, and perfectly happy if Shannon only answered some of them. But she graciously answered all; in between she was also responding to other tweets):

Me: Q1: how did you discover my post about BCBSM? I tweeted it but neither the tweet nor url mentioned BCBSM directly.
Shannon: We use @Radian6 to monitor brand mentions. They're usually really fast, especially at picking up tweets :)

Me: Q2: how did that YouTube comment episode turn out? Happy customer? Satisfied? Still cheesed? both parties met objectives?
Shannon: I don't believe that person ever followed up with me, but I can't be 100% sure in this case.

Me: Q3: what's the top 3 goals for @bcbsm's social media forays/ strategy?
Shannon: Top 3, eh? Build/strengthen relationships with consumers and business customers, gather feedback, provide quality health info
(Shannon managed to answer coherently within 140 characters. Fwah! Talk about being concise.)

Me: Q4: apart from an overall social media plan, does @bcbsm social media team have specific goals for the week/ month?
Shannon: Q4: Of course, but they're a bit granular and vary from week to week :)

Me: Q5: what would ur employer consider as 'success' for @bcbsm and @HealthierMI?
Shannon: Q5: Goals vary by business area. For @HealthierMI 2011 is about building an audience, 2012 will be about loyalty/engagement.

That's the five. I honestly felt like asking 50! Found the responses very useful. It corroborated with some ideas I had in mind for my new work scope (updates in another post).

Thanks again, Shannon.

Here's the other thing: Shannon's responses were also examples where the Social Media Manager/ staff can respond off the cuff and still keep their jobs!

Obviously she did not have to obtain clearance from Blue Shield Michigan's official corp comms department for some of the responses (for instance, the one about their success criteria). Unless, their corp comms staff was sitting right next to her. I doubt that.

To recap what I mentioned at the start of the post:

Perhaps the more subtle part was this -- the level of competency and the manner of response, shown by the organisation's social media manager/ staff, says something about the overall competency of the organisation.

To me, it says a heck of a lot about the organisation's understanding and approach to online engagement. Particularly their intent and the service potential.