Welcome the World (WTW) Facebook Page

The Problem

Singapore won the bid in 2007 to host the inaugural Summer Youth Olympic Games in 2010. The Singapore Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee was formed shortly after to plan and organise the Games. Their promotional efforts were largely targeted at the international audience, promoting the Games and attracting visitors to Singapore. Locally, they rolled out collaboration and outreach with:

◦ Youth and Schools
◦ Government Agencies
◦ Olympic Sponsors

In the lead-up to the Games, it was decided that besides international promotion and engagement of only certain groups of the community mentioned above, there was a critical need to also engage all Singaporeans so that they can also be a part of this historical event. This was not just about Sports or Young people; it was a national event for all Singaporeans.

Many local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who had been strong supporters in the Singapore sports scene but were non-Olympic sponsors also had difficulty supporting the Games, given the many restrictions imposed by the International Olympic Council. It was of utmost importance that the entire nation, people, public and private sectors rallied behind the Games, and feel that they had an important stake in the success of the Games. Something had to be done quickly to engage all stakeholders to take ownership and be part of history in the making.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
Facebook was chosen as the platform to launch the initiative, since more than 55% of the Singapore population uses the social media site. Prior to this, Facebook was seen as a complementary tool for other engagement platforms such as outdoor media, television commercial, printed media and TV campaign. We decided then to use the Facebook as the primary instrument to engage the community. This was an initiative that had never been undertaken by the public sector in such a major way.

In June 2010, barely three months before the Games, the Welcome the World (WTW) Facebook Page was launched, with the focus on engaging the community, the general public and youth to be welcoming hosts for visitors to the Games. The positive impact was almost instantaneous. Within one month of its launch, over 50,000 fans from 19 countries ‘liked’ the page and were actively discussing and rallying each other in support of the Games. By the end of three months, after the conclusion of the Games, multiple online contests, hundreds of videos and photographs later, the Page had more than 6 million post views.

The Facebook initiative was part of the Community Engagement Taskforce’s effort to promotional and engagement efforts to all Singapore residents. The dedicated task force comprised representatives from the Government, Statutory Boards, Media owners and MCYS to study the best and most effective platforms that we can use. Besides engaging local businesses and organisations, the taskforce also identified quick, efficient and cost-effective way to reach out to the mass community. The full impact of the initiative must also be sustained before, during and till the end of the Games.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The Welcome the World (WTW) Facebook campaign was envisioned, created and managed by members of the New Media Team within MCYS in partnership with seven youth volunteers (then aged 17 years old), who called themselves the FADERS², from Ngee Ann Polytechnic. The campaign strategy and ideas were crafted with the focus on exciting and rallying Singaporeans, particularly youth, to get involved in the Games in one way or another. With the passion of the youths and the resources and ingenuity of the New Media Team, the campaign was launched successfully within a month, receiving over 18,300 ‘likes’ immediately.

The New Media Team and the youths were very active and creative in constantly creating online activities and shaping topics and discussions to grow the involvement from the fans. By the end of three months, after the conclusion of the Games, multiple online contests, hundreds of videos and photographs later, the Page had jumped to hit over 50,000 ‘likes’ from 19 countries, with more than 6 million post views.

The original intention was to stop the Page after the Games. However, WTW Page had taken a life of its own. Fans were asking for the Page to be kept open as they had become very attached to it. The youth volunteers also wanted to keep the Page alive. The New Media team felt that with the huge impact and reach of the Page, it would be a waste to stop. With the encouragement of the Fans and the dedicated of the youth volunteers, the Page evolved into an online platform that showcased the vibrancy of Singapore, engaging young Singaporeans to get involved in the country and contribute back to society. In addition, this platform developed into an avenue where fans could develop their individual interests and skills and also further the cause of our Ministry. The Page covered other major events, such as the Singapore Formulae One Grand Prix and Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore, and many cultural festivals, such as Chinese New Year and Hari Raya. Contests were organised to educate and engage fans on aspects such as Singapore’s multicultural diversity and sports/athletes development in Singapore.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The objective of the WTW Facebook was to rally and excite as many Singaporeans as possible for the Youth Olympic Games. To achieve this, the Facebook campaign couldn’t just be “another campaign from the government”. It had to be developed and driven by our target audience themselves. Thus, the very first step was to source for and find passionate individuals who would give their time willingly to rally the country together.

After finding seven passionate youths, the following engagement strategies were developed and executed:

1. “Welcome the World” Photo Contest (ran for 2 months)
Fans were asked to upload photos with the words “Welcome the World” on it, to show their warmth and hospitality to visitors to Singapore. Fans would then vote for their favourite. At the end of the contest, the page had over 30,000 fans and 500 entries.

2. “A Girl’s Hope” Television Commercial
“A Girl’s Hope” depicted how an ordinary young Singaporean, visually impaired nine-year-old Adelyn Koh, was proud and excited by the inaugural YOG. The television commercial was uploaded onto the Welcome the World Facebook Page and quickly went viral, generating over 90,000 views on Facebook and Youtube alone.

3. Daily live updates on the Journey of the Youth Olympic Flame (JYOF)
Individual sporting matches, various ceremonies and fun facts along with the hundreds of posts, photographs and video updates from the team, volunteers were also invited to share their thoughts and memories with others. During the two weeks of the Games, over 440 fan photographs and videos were shared.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
April 2010: Source for youth volunteers and develop campaign strategies

June 2010: "Welcome The World" campaign & "A Girl's Hope" TV Commercial

August 2010: SYOG 2010 coverage & fun fact contest

September 2010: F1 coverage & "Fun Facts Race" contest

October 2010: Recruitment drive to grow the youth volunteer team

December 2010: Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore coverage

January 2011: "2010 in Review" contest

February 2011: Chinese New Year Parade coverage

March 2011: "Fun for Family" SilkAir Campaign

April 2011: "Colours of Singapore" Campaign

August 2011: Singapore's National Day coverage

September 2011: Launch of WTW Agentz application & How Singaporean are you" quiz

November 2011: South East Asia Games coverage

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
From the very beginning, the first challenge was to create a Facebook Page that would be able to effectively engage and excite Singaporeans and local organisations without infringing on the Olympics Games’ brand and logo restrictions set by the International Olympic Committee. Organisations who were not official Olympic sponsors were not allowed to use the YOG name, logo or brand in anyway. As one of the target audiences of the Facebook Page was to encourage involvement of local non-sponsor businesses and organisations, this problem was overcome by the selection of the name “Welcome the World”. They were then encouraged to use this slogan on their websites, individual Facebook Pages and other social media sites.

A second difficulty was ensuring sufficient manpower to cover the entire Games, including pre- and post events. With hundreds of events and activities were going on within a short period of time, it was a challenge ensuring that as many areas of the Games was covered extensively with live updates, photographs and videos. A detailed schedule was drawn up of all the activities that needed coverage and the availability of the youth and the New Media Team. For all the other events that did not have any one available, a professional photographer was hired to chronicle the event, thus ensuring that fans of the Page could follow every aspect of the Games. This was so successful that many fans even commented that the Welcome the World Page was the only place they would go to for information and updates.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
Many resources had to be pulled together within a short period of time. We had limited funding to engage technical vendors to create the Welcome the World contest application and to purchase all the Game tickets for coverage. The team had to come up with creative solutions to resolve various challenges encountered, such as:
- Convincing external and internal stakeholders on the usefulness and effectiveness of utilising Facebook as the main campaign tool;
- Building a contest application within a few weeks on a limited budget;
- Working around Facebook’s engagement and contest policies which disallows the running of contests on their wall;
- Creating fun and engaging daily content that would get high response from fans; and
- Procuring sufficient equipment in a very short time, such as photo cameras, video cameras, and computer hardware and software.

The largest resource, and the most difficult to obtain, was human resource. The New Media Team only consisted of two full-time staff members, who had to coordinate the entire development and management of the Facebook campaign. There was a need to find a group of skilful, new media savvy and passionate volunteers who could cover all the activities and Games, providing live updates to enable the fans to follow the Games in real-time online. The team looked far and wide to bring together a group of dedicated youth volunteers within two weeks. The team had to arrange for several meet-ups with potential youths, sourcing through personal and work networks, and manual searching on Facebook.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
After YOG, the focus shifted to showcasing the vibrancy of Singapore and developing the dreams and passions of the Singaporean fans. The youth volunteers were sent to cover many national events, from sports to arts to culture. The youth volunteers were encouraged to use their skills to generate exciting content such as videos, editorials, artwork and even music. Contests and campaigns are organised regularly to educate and engage fans on topics like family bonding, pursuing of their dreams and racial harmony. The fans are also encouraged to help create content and share ideas on what they want to see and what will enrich their lives.

Even organisations, such as Silk Air, started approaching the team to develop national online campaigns that would be mutually beneficial to them and the fans.

The longer term goal is far reaching; continue to engage the fans, especially youth, get them involved in society meaningfully and finally, let Singaporeans have a platform to have a say on how they can physically contribute, relevant to their interest, to the country.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
As of 25 November 2011, the Page has grown to over 110,000 fans from over 20 countries, with over 20 million post views. It is the 7th most popular Singapore Facebook Page , and the only of the top 10 to focus on the development of Singaporean youths for the benefit of the country.

This experience caused a paradigm shift in the way the Ministry and the public sector as a whole, interacted and conveyed messages to the community and the general public. Before this Facebook Page was set up, government agencies mainly utilized traditional media, such as television, printed materials and radio. Social media was mainly only a small element of the entire campaign. In setting up and running the Welcome the World Facebook Page successfully, it showcased the power and multiple benefits of using social media as a key tool in promotion of campaigns.

Upon the success of this campaign, many other government agencies have requested for the team to share this valuable experience and the strategies implemented with them. Similar campaigns have also been executed, showing that the strategies can be replicated throughout the public service.

Contact Information

Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Patrick Ang
Title:   Senior Assistant Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   63540048
Institution's / Project's Website:   http://www.mcys.gov.sg
E-mail:   patrick_ang@mcys.gov.sg  
Address:   512 Thomson Road, MCYS Building, #13-00, Singapore 298136
Postal Code:   298136
City:   Singapore
Country:   Singapore

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