What can this guy teach you about Social Media?

Social Media might be a complicated medium, but the formula for success can sometimes be breathtakingly simple.

For example, Adoi Magazine recently asked me to take a look at some of the most successful Social Media programs in Malaysia – and the results were eye-opening.

Facebook dominates the Malaysian Social Media scene, as it does in most markets. It delivers over 11.1 million active users in Malaysia, providing 75.5% reach and no less than 14,000 million page views.

But whilst Facebook is the star of Social Media, who’s the star of Facebook?

At the time of writing, these are the Facebook pages with the most fans:

5. In fifth place is iluvislam.com. This page is packed with content and connections to fulfill its vision: “to be the world’s leading Islamic media of choice [and] to inspire others & to aspire to be the best!” It shows the power of shared values and beliefs, and the power to connect Malaysians who share those values and beliefs. At the time of writing, their page has achieved no less than 780,000 likes.

4. In fourth place we fall from the spiritually sublime to the nauseatingly ridiculous. But, honestly, it’s no wonder that McDonald’s Malaysia has clocked up more than 840,000 likes, because it’s swimming in greasy promotional offers for breakfast and lunch, with happy meal toys and opportunities to appear in happy TV commercials. Wow – how happy can one Facebook page get?

3. In third place it’s the fabulous Tony Fernandes’ page for AirAsia. This page is alive with cheap flights and promotions throughout its AirAsia Bazaar and its ‘Whale Of A Sale’ – no surprise that it’s amassed a massive 1.1 million likes.

2. In second place, is the amazing Maaduu. This is the page for access to limitless free Korean entertainment. Or as Maaduu explained this morning to one of its Facebook friends: “Maaduu is always here for everyone to enjoy, relax, be entertained with the best K-dramas and K-pop on-demand anytime, for FREE! FOREVER!” It’s no surprise that Maaduu has commanded the affection of almost 1.2 million likes.

And what’s Malaysia’s most popular Facebook page?

1. The magical, marvellous, trouble-making two-some of Upin & Ipin! (It’s Upin who’s looking down on this post from the picture above.)

Upin & Ipin are, in fact, two lovable cartoon kampong characters who star in their own TV series. Their Facebook page is filled with the content, character and charisma of these lovable twins. In addition, they are connected to sponsors like Wyeth, who offer character-driven promotions for all their Facebook friends.

Not only do these guys have the most popular page in Malaysia – their page is no less than four times more popular than the second most popular Facebook page. In fact, Upin & Ipin have more likes than the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th most popular pages combined, with an almost incredible 5.4 million likes! It’s around 20% of Malaysia’s entire population and 32% of the country’s internet population.

What can we learn from these most popular pages?

Obviously, Social Media is an incredibly complex business – and most marketers are still wrestling with the ways to best make it work.

But – when it comes to creating the most basic elements, like Facebook pages that engage consumers – the rules of success are brutally simple. And three of the most critical are these:

1. Content is King: People don’t go on-line to connect with brands, they go on-line for entertainment and enjoyment. Malaysia’s two most popular Facebook pages are built on content, and enable consumers to interact with content. Wyeth’s joint promotion with Upin & Ipin shows how brands can leverage the attraction of content – but, make no mistake, it also shows how content is king, and brands are slaves.

2. Promotions Pull: When consumers are asked why they interact with a brand’s Facebook page, the top two reasons are simple: Discounts and Promotions. Similarly, the single reason for the popularity of the AirAsia and McDonald’s pages has got less than nothing to do with ‘brand affinity’, but everything to do with promotional offers. And in social media, promotions pull.

3. People Not Products: Why do people go to social media? The answer’s the same, every time. Consumers say that they use social media sites to connect with family and friends first, followed by news and entertainment. They do not go to Facebook to connect with brands.

So the first, most fundamental principle that brands have to learn is that consumer interests are infinitely more important than consumer products. Hence the power of iloveislam.com, the appeal of Maaduu and the irresistible affection for the heroes of our article: the charming Upin & Ipin.

Never forget these three principles: Content is King; Promotions Pull; People Not Products. If you are able to keep your social content based on these simple principles, you’ll find the whole business is child’s play.

For more perspectives on Social Media, look at some of our recent posts on Social Media and Viral Communication.

For  regular updates on New Media and New Asia, follow twitter.com/HEREcomesNOW.