By Mikhail Lecaros
Last Thursday, The Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines held its first-ever online General Members’ Meeting. Appropriately, the topic of the day was business in the time of COVID-19, as community quarantine and social distancing measures were observed, with the entire session being carried out via the Kuma video conferencing app.
Team Asia’s Beatriz Lim served as moderator for a panel discussion that included Kuma founder Ronald Ros, who graciously walked everyone through the app’s many colorful embellishments. Also on the panel was Rail Cockfield III, of yup.gg, a platform specializing in the monetization of esports in the region. The final panelist was Karl Mak, CEO and co-founder of the Hepmil Media Group, who joined in the conversation from Singapore.
The discussion centered around the global pandemic that’s been making headlines across the world, drastically affecting the manners in which people communicated, worked, and played. Describing the situation in no uncertain terms as, “The New Normal”, Cockfield pointed out there was simply no way for things to return to the way they were, and that, “brands can either adjust or risk being left behind.”
Echoing the sentiment, Mak pointed out that current practitioners are in the rare position, thanks to social media, to witness the “grinding halt”, as major international brands cancel billions of dollars in marketing and advertising campaigns, while others are outright shifting their focus to align with the current status quo. Regardless of one’s position on the matter, said Mak, “The ongoing crisis has underscored how truly interconnected the world has become – we’re all in this together.”
On the leisure front, Cockfield revealed that one side effect of the world working from home, is that, aside from videoconferencing providers such as Kuma, online gaming was seeing unprecedented growth. The Steam platform, for instance was seeing its highest-ever numbers, with 20m users paying in the last three months alone. Likewise, Mak, whose company handles meme creation and distribution in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines via its SGag, MGag, and PGag platforms, shared that more people were crafting, sharing and posting memes than ever before, as the ability to laugh in a time of adversity became seemingly more important than ever.
Whether the focus was on big industry or SME’s, the panelists agreed that the biggest opportunities here lay in how brands adapted their messaging to be relevant to their target audiences, as previous barriers no longer applied. “Everybody who was on the fence is no longer on the fence,” said Mak, referring to how the virus has proven to be a massive equalizer in getting global consumers to embrace concepts like e-commerce, esports, and telepresence.
Speaking from his position as the owner of a platform used by numerous influencers, Ros noted that content creation on Kuma, once fun, frivolous, and lighthearted, had increased, but now with a focus on more essential fare, such as tips on how to stay virus-free. In addition, he said, art and performance-based posts had become increasingly popular, as audiences were turning to culture for solace in these uncertain times.
Now, more than ever, as per Cockfield and Ros, the most crucial aspect in any content creation is authenticity, as this would allow consumers to relate to brands. In turn, Mak said that this would allow brands the opportunity to examine what their audiences wanted, engage them in real conversations, and learn precisely how best to give it to them.
Speaking on how best to spend the time working from home, Cockfield pointed out that now was the perfect time for new ideas to ferment, as “isolation breeds inspiration.”, especially given that the chances of a “back to normal” grow more distant with each passing day. Indeed, noted the three panelists: While things may never revert to the way they were, there exist massive opportunities for any brands, corporations, and industries willing to take the effort to extend beyond their comfort zones, accept the global realities, and take the next step forward.
Cockfield summed up the sentiment, saying, “Do what you can to adjust now, but as soon as we are through this, be ready to roll.”
For more information on upcoming IMMAP GMM’s and other events, follow @immapPH on Facebook or , visit our site at immap.com.ph.