Brunei's “national twitter account”

Through his twitter @BruneiTweet and blog Projek Brunei, he features the lives of young Bruneians, their thoughts and the vibrancy of local netizens.  He shares local stories to showcase the Bruneian life and the efforts of netizens to promote a wired community, educated, well informed and full of aspirations towards nation building.

BruneiTweet has already featured bloggers like Sarah – the Ukulele player,  to Izad Majid – the Educator and Ultimate Frisbee  Brunei Crew, and IzamRyan – a  Bruneian chartered accountant who currently resides in Singapore.

I interviewed him about his online projects and his other advocacies.

1. How did you come up with the idea of Brunei Tweet and ProjekBrunei?

I started @BruneiTweet on 22nd December 2009 and it definitely was not an overnight decision, in fact…it probably took me about 4 months to prepare! Along the way, one of the things I realised was that there was a missing piece in the Bruneian twitterverse. There wasn’t yet anyone I could follow or ask for help for general questions I had, e.g. for directions, for recommendations for the best nasi katok (rice in packets) , for information on coming events, etc. So, I did a quick SWOT analysis and decided to be part of the solution. In short, I started @BruneiTweet on 22nd December 2009, primarily to be that missing piece.

So, what do I do as @BruneiTweet? I primarily retweet (a lot of) people, helping them pass their tweets along to the masses. It is a simple idea, but over the last 9 months, I have helped people sell things, find places, provided directions, and announce various things, e.g. information about sales, road accidents, bad weather, electricity outages, and sometimes, for urgent things like when specific blood donations are required for patients at the hospital.

I am also a sucker for reading people’s Twitter profiles and having a quick glance at their blogs. By April 2010, after reading lots of blogs and RTing a lot of tweets, I came to my next conclusion: I needed to start a website to tell the stories of the many Bruneians I was following. 140 characters on Twitter was no longer enough! So, again I did another SWOT analysis and after a couple of months of website development, etc – I launched on 19th June 2010.”

2. What was the response of your readers?

“Twitter: The first few months of tweeting as @BruneiTweet was c-r-a-z-y. There were mixed reactions to the whole notion of a ‘random’ tweeter following, mentioning and / or RTing them. But over time, familiarity has been established, and recently more and more tweeters have been making the first move, asking me for help with retweets. I dare say that many friendships have been formed as well! 8)

Website: The website on the other hand was launched six months after @BruneiTweet, so the initial readers were my ‘tweeps’. It is now September 2010, and I am honoured to say that there is now a strong number of local readers, plus the number of unique visitors from all over the world has been growing from strength to strength.”

Indeed, I found out responses from his Tweets are encouraging:

Jeremy Yeo: Thanks for the RT @BruneiTweet, you're doing a great job connecting our community! :)
Nawawi B: #FollowFriday @BruneiTweet -Probably the closest thing to the country's ‘official’ / national twitter account :-P #Brunei
Yvonne Lim: Keep up what ur doing. Heaps of thanks for starting BruneiTweet – definitely keeps the active internet-goers of Brunei connected
Joe JinYuh Chan: I think @bruneitweet's blog is excellent. Love its focus on è positive. Worth a visit.

Ranoadidas, a local prominent blogger  said that
“@bruneitweet, one of the most active Twitterians in Brunei, did Brunei (and indirectly tourism) a favour by reaching the masses worldwide after a post on “A Life of a Bruneian” was featured on CNN iReport and wow, you will be surprised to see the number of views as compared to other contributors on the CNN iReport.”

3. Why do you think your blog / tweets appeal to your readers?

“I think one of the keys is that, since the start, this journey has been an interactive one. Those who have been following me from the start would remember the ‘Massive #FollowFriday ShoutOuts’, the frequent ‘Big Question’, and the “I am @BruneiTweet” limited edition t-shirt Twitter contests. Having the website has been complementary to this with the ‘#BuckleUpBrunei’ projek, the Fun Polls, and more recently, the CNN iReport.”

He recently received an invitation from CNNi to portray excellent examples of getting the local and overseas Netizens together.   His recent pictorial project on CNNi - ‘A day in the Life of Bruneian’- showcased what ordinary Bruneians do.

4. Tell us more about the CNN iReport initiative: ‘A Day in the Life of a Bruneian’. What does your daily life look like?

“On 15th September 2010, I received a tweet from @CNNiReport; they wanted an iReport from Brunei. For those unfamiliar with the iReport, the idea is for people to submit stories, reports, photographs, audio and / or videos from their corner of the world of events, breaking news, travel hotspots, etc. I invited my tweeps to tweet me pictures of whatever they were experiencing throughout their day, and submitted a pictorial iReport called ‘A Day in the Life of a Bruneian’.

What does my daily life look like? Let me share with you how I go about deciding who to feature and what stories to tell on, and how long a write-up takes.  I usually take a quick look at people’s Twitter profiles and blogs, and more often than not, I have found that everyone has a story. In particular, I search for and try cover a variations of stories to showcase how truly diverse we are as Bruneians. I then make initial contact, and when I decide I have sufficient information after a few email exchanges, I start the write-up. Now, what my readers probably don’t realise is that this process of initial contact, emails, write-up, proof reading and picture editing collectively takes up about four hours at the very least. Yup, at least four hours of prep for every feature on my website. So the next time anyone reads any of the features, read sloooowly and feel free to add comments or ‘share’ it! 8)

The idea is that I will be putting together a special article called “A Day in the Life of a Bruneian” to showcase the best of Bruneian life and living. And as usual, this projek involves YOU! How? Tweet back photographs throughout your day of where you are, things that you see, what you are eating, etc to @BruneITweet.”

5. What are your future plans?

“In no particular order:
I intend to go beyond the two-dimensional interaction, and go ‘live’.
I intend to do more projek collaborations, particularly with local SMEs.
I intend to release a few more @BruneiTweet limited edition t-shirts.
My list of future plans go on and on really, but at the end of the day, I know that intentions don’t account for much. So, join me on this journey, keep me in check, and perhaps sometime next year we could do a follow-up on what we have achieved.”

Good luck BruneiTweet! :)

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