What is one thing that supports us in everything we do on a daily basis? Communication technology. Imagine if suddenly you have no access to telecommunication services, including your phone services, internet broadband etc… Die. See how important telecommunication is to our lives?

Singapore’s telecommunication industry is dominated by three firms, with Singtel leading the way with 4.1 million subscribers out of a total of 8 million, and remaining market share spilt between Starhub and M1. Many customers are very dissatisfied with the services the telecommunication companies (telcos) provide. Why do people hate something that is so essential to their lives? That’s what I want to find out in my individual project. I first explore the research question on why Singtel is unpopular. After understanding the problems, I will move on to explore the second research question on how Singtel can utilise its Social Media Platforms (SMPs) to improve its brand image.

Data Collection & Key Findings 📊

I took a look at how Singtel is performing at 3 social media platforms over a period of 2 weeks and here are some of my observations:

  • Facebook: Singtel performs well in terms of followers growth rate and receiving likes for its posts. However, it faces problem engaging its users (not enough comments on their posts!).
  • Twitter: Singtel continues to perform well in terms of followers growth rate, but much work needs to be done to engage its users, such as getting them to like or retweet its tweets.
  • Instagram: Singtel performs best on Instagram. It has high followers growth rate, number of likes and user engagement. Its strategy of posting pictures that focus on brand identity rather than direct product marketing even puts it in the same league as other companies that have been successful on social media, such as Starbucks and Nike.

Why is Singtel Unpopular? 👎🏻

There are three fundamental reasons why Singtel is unpopular.

  1. Its product and service quality is sometimes unreliable and not up to expectation of the customers.
  2. Customers perceive Singtel’s dominance in the market as a lack of choice for consumers. This is especially amplified when it decided to lead the market by ending the popular unlimited data bundle in 2012.
  3. Its controversial CEO consistently made several remarks that did not go well with consumers, which negatively impacted the brand image.

While these three factors belong to the operations side of the business, problems faced by the business operations will eventually be surfaced on the various SMPs. Users’ rants on SMPs are often visible to the public, and their narratives are beyond Singtel’s control. This creates an opportunity for users to share these negativity to their social networks because some may fear that they might face similar problems, prompting them to share such negativity as a form of protests to protect their rights as consumers. This, in turn, creates more negative publicity. As such, it is extremely important to have a holistic social media strategy that will address and contain these problems in a timely fashion.

Strategies to Make Singtel Cool 😎

I boldly propose three strategies that will help Singtel improve its brand image by leveraging on the power of social media. Since Singtel is performing well on Instagram, my strategies will involve mainly Twitter and Facebook.

Firstly, I recommend that Singtel carries out its product marketing on Facebook by focusing on providing product information that consumers find useful. Figure 1 presents a mock up of a product marketing poster on Facebook based on this strategy. By providing consumers with important information about its products, Singtel can position its Facebook page as a one-stop information hub for consumers who are looking for product information. Consumers can also better appreciate Singtel’s effort in bringing more choices of innovative products and services to its customers.

Figure 1: New Marketing Poster for Singtel TV Trio Pack on Facebook

Next, I propose Singtel to adopt #BringMeTheMusic hashtag campaign that goes in line with Singtel’s latest product — Singtel Music. Singtel will use the hashtag to get users to tweet which of their favourite artists they would want to see Singtel bring over to Singapore for a free concert. Tickets will be given out to selected users who voted for the artist with tweets bearing the hashtag. Figure 2 presents a mock up of how the hashtag campaign looks like when Singtel makes the first tweet, while figure 3 presents a mock up for a response of a user to this campaign. By associating itself with popular music culture, Singtel becomes more relatable to its customers, thus improving its brand image.

Figure 2: #BringMeTheMusic Hashtag Campaign Original Tweet


Figure 3: #BringMeTheMusic Hashtag Campaign User Participation Tweet

Finally, I recommend Singtel’s CEO, Chua, to maintain active Facebook and Twitter accounts. This will contribute towards improving Singtel’s brand image by giving it more personality and making customers feel more connected to Singtel, and allow Singtel to manage crisis more effectively. On Facebook, Chua can provide service enhancements updates to followers so that customers can better understand the efforts that Singtel is putting into service excellence. On Twitter it can help collect feedback and better sense ground sentiment, which is important in helping Singtel manage crisis.

Conclusion 🎉

Singtel faces many challenges with its brand. Although it has certain presence on the various SMPs, it only performs well on one — Instagram. I recommend three strategies to be applied on Facebook and Twitter to help Singtel stay relatable, relevant, and responsive. While these strategies are far from perfect, it may well be the first step for Singtel to regain its brand image and become not only the leading brand, but also the cool brand, in many Singaporeans’ hearts.

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