Archive for the ‘Blogs’ Category

How Was Your Read And Comment Day?

April 29, 2008

What Read And Comment Day?

Yesterday was Read and Comment day, where you have to make an active effort to comment on blogs and join the conversation. It was suggested by Chris Brogan, and true to form, he even left a comment here as well. Read and Comment day also inspired me to encourage people to strengthen their links to people on Twitter, especially the weaker links.

My Report

I put aside an hour last night to really go through my Google Reader (learnt how to use it yet?) and properly digest blog posts and comment. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of when I first started blogging in January when Prof. Netley advised us that we should comment twice as much as we post to establish a presence and drive traffic. I’m a little embarrassed to say that I forgot that along the way, but Read and Comment day really reminded me how important it is not just to create my own content by blogging, but to add value to others’ content as well.

How About You?

Have you found yourself commenting less than usual? Something holding you back from joining the conversation? Go post a couple of comments today. You’ll feel great!

My Conversations

All great topics, especially if you’re into social media. Why not read and comment on them (or right here) yourself?

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Follow Up: Ogilvy’s Open Room – Too Harsh On The Companies?

April 28, 2008

Going through the name cards I exchanged from tonight’s event, I count four from Ogilvy, one from SMU and Nadia’s. (Note: no companies)

Looking around the blogosphere on ping.sg, there are four posts from Jean, Ian, Ridz and Plaktoz (for now). Now I don’t mean to go back to flogging a dead horse, but there is little to no brand coverage. The blog posts are either on the fellow bloggers they met, or the stuff in the goodie bags.

I don’t know about you, but I think there are bigger and better products to get people excited about and posting images (and generating media about) than collaterals in goodie bags.

I don’t mean to be critical or harsh on companies. But I think if you’re paying money to engage an agency to do your PR/marketing/advertising/whatever, and they do something like this (certainly with people like John Bell and Brian and Tania who know what they’re doing), then you really need to make the most out of it and bring some value back to the office.

Report: The Open Room Launches!

April 28, 2008

The Open Room was held today at Ogilvy with the tagline “where brands and bloggers connect”. I was one of the privileged bloggers to be invited, and I have to say I had a blast.

John Bell (who I had the honour of talking to for awhile) kicked it off with 12 points on the Code of Ethics for blogger outreach. Needless to say with my recent issues with journalist-blogger relations, this struck a chord with me and I have to say I think Ogilvy has got it spot on.

The Open Room was a great event for me as a blogger. I got to meet people I met previously from Social Media Breakfast: Singapore like Sheylara, Supriya, Jean, Ridz, Rinaz, Nicholas, Michael Netzley and Aaron, as well as some bloggers I know of online but never really met in person like the Tech 65 crew, Ian on the red dot, Sabrina, Plaktoz and Nadia, as well as a ton of people from Ogilvy. (I’m sure I’ve missed people out, let me know so I can add your link!)

The one thing that I felt was replicated from the IDC Conference was that the companies involved seemed a little unsure about what to do when meeting bloggers. We were identified clearly by our magenta tags (they had green), but yet the two groups never really mingled. I don’t think this is the “fault” of anyone in particular, just that this new social media space and community marketing concept are something corporations are just figuring out right now. I definitely hope this changes soon. I don’t want to be pitched by companies at events like these, but it would be nice to talk to them and find out more about them.

Y’know, start a conversation, have a relationship. Like real people.

For example, I was checking out the new Canon models (because my sister took my camera), but there wasn’t really anyone there I could talk to about it. In fact, most of the “green tags” were gone by 6:30pm. (Probably considered as overtime for them).

I think the issue here is simple: Bloggers have taken a step forward. Companies like Ogilvy have taken a very important step forward by organising something like The Open Room. Now the companies, the very people who the bloggers and agencies are trying to help and engage, need to take that step forward and be a part of the conversation, part of the community too.

After all, at the end of the day, for the bloggers it’s a blogger social event, but the companies should at least go back with something to show for it, be it a new blogger relation or a referral. Because otherwise, the time was wasted wasn’t it?

Edit: Forgot to insert the picture, but we got some swag from the event! Nice touch I must say. Anyone needs the PSP case? I don’t have one so feel free to ask for it. Don’t even think about the Nokia N-gage thumbdrive though!

Big thanks to Brian and Tania for inviting me, looking to future events!

What Would Life Be Without Twitter?

April 22, 2008

I’m a huge fan of Twitter, but it’s been wonky since Saturday and today it just got too much.

I was happy to take it as random downtime, and wait for it to get back to normal by tomorrow. Until I read something from Bryan Person:

My friend Jack Hodgson is convinced that Twitter’s death is coming, and that we should start preparing for it now. It’s nights like tonight that I really think he’s onto something.

What? Twitter’s death? Life without Twitter? No way!

Death or no death, people around the blogosphere are beginning to notice. Dan York also weighs in on how we have come to rely on Twitter, while Frederic and Paris Lemon approach the issue the same way I do. For the tool that enables conversation and for people to stay connected, Twitter sure isn’t communicating much about what is going wrong.

It does make you think how this affects organisations who have invested time into Twitter like @downingstreet (for the British Prime Minister’s office) and @deltaairlines as a means of keeping in touch with the public? A loss of faith in Twitter? Migration to another platform?

If Twitter does go down, who will you turn to? Scoble thinks it’s FriendFeed. I’d go for Facebook Chat, if only they’d implement it for me already.

Who The Other IDC Panelists Are (They’re All Much More Popular Than I Am)

April 21, 2008

I got home thinking about the final post on the IDC Conference and saw this:

138 views from Kenny Sia, a Malaysian blogger who was at the IDC Conference as well. I didn’t get to interact with Kenny that much, but I know he’s pretty popular both in Malaysia and Singapore.

Meenakshi aka The Compulsive Confessor was who I spent the most time with (probably cos we’re the closest in age), and I must give her credit for what she writes particularly taking on the age/societal/cultural gap in India. The team researching India for our Social Media in Asia Wiki highlighted some of these issues, and it was great hearing it first hand. She has a book deal. Do I need to prove her popularity?

Finally there’s Victor from Hong Kong aka Hong Kong Phooey. He blogs mainly about tech (check out the recent entries on the ultra-portable PCs). Also, 400,000 hits in 18 months. Amazing.

In the short time I had to interact with these bloggers, I think they’re all incredibly smart and definitely understand how web2.0 and social media work within their niches. Clearly we share different audiences, but that’s the beauty of it isn’t it? That four different people can be blogging about four very different passions, and yet be invisibly united by social media.

Advertising/Sponsorship And The Blogosphere – Issues To Consider?

April 20, 2008

Coming back to thoughts from the IDC Conference, one topic of debate was whether advertising on blogs is okay and whether it sends the right kind of message. Let’s look at it both from the corporation and from the blogger’s point of view.

The Blogger Point Of View.

I personally think third party advertising (ie Nuffnang, Google Adwords/Adsense) is okay. You’re not directly endorsing whatever they’re advertising, just making use of your internet “real estate”. And just like the real world, if you have prime real estate (ie high blog traffic of the right demographics), then why not make some money out of it? After all you’ve worked hard to build that brand and/or community and adding value, no reason why you shouldn’t reap some reward.

What I do have issue with if going straight for advertising. Starting out blogs with the intention of selling space or drawing attention to your 125×125 boxes that you’re willing to sell at $15/week or whatever. It makes me question the validity of the blog and if I should worry about whether you’re telling me A is better than B because A is in one of the 125×125 boxes.

I’m going to condense this with the issue of trust. I haven’t had companies approach me with incentives in return to review stuff. One thing I did opt in for was Joseph Jaffe’s Use New Marketing To Prove New Marketing campaign, where I receive a copy of Join The Conversation and post a review in return. (It’s coming soon). I think that’s fine for three reasons:

1) It’s directly in my niche

2) Jaffe doesn’t ask for a positive review, just an honest review.

3) It’s clear that I got the book for free and I’m reviewing it in return, as opposed to when I plug books that I paid money for.

I think as long as people know that there was a sponsorship involved, they’re fine with it. The big issue is when they’re misled. Then the backlash really comes. For example if I took Jaffe’s book and said it’s God’s gift to marketers/PR agencies/advertisers/the whole world, but didn’t tell them I got $0.10 for every book sale that comes from me, that will hurt me when it comes out. And believe me, it will come out. (That said, I am not making money from Jaffe’s book in any way)

And as a blogger I’d treat any similar “freebie” the same way. I’d be happy to take your product and give it a spin, but the fact that I had that privilege, is not going to colour my review or thoughts either way.

The Corporation’s Point Of View

Many businesses don’t look to bloggers to get their word out yet, because they’re worried about control. What if I give the blogger A and he says A sucks. Well, it comes with the territory. If you don’t give the blogger that product, someone else is going to pay money for it and blog that it sucks anyway. The fault is the product, not the message.

I think the most important thing is not to come across as a company who wants the same thing every company wants (even if you do). Because bloggers will know. A great case study which happened in the US, but could well happen anywhere, is the GM sponsorship of a Manic Mommies event, as covered in CC Chapman’s Managing The Gray. It’s a lengthy case study and you should listen to the podcast to get the full story, but essentially they didn’t say “Here’s $30k, do what you want but plaster our logo everywhere”.

No, they listened to what the Manic Mommies needed and focused on finding the common space where they can add value and build relationships, which really is what this whole space is about.

Ultimately, this space is new and is ever-changing. But trust, transparency and reputation will always be important. The method of doing your advertising online, who you approach and the results may vary, but you have to do it right. Not just “right” in terms of achieving the right metrics and ROI, but right in the proper way that values people and relationships, which will pay for it self many times over in the longterm.

Blogger-Journalist Relationships – We’re People Too Dammit.

April 19, 2008

This is thought #4 from yesterday’s quick thoughts on the IDC Conference. But I think it’s the most time sensitive so I’ll get to it first.

I’m a fairly young “serious” blogger. By that I mean my blog has only existed for about 100 days, though I’ve had a “webpage” as they called it back then, since 1996.

In the past 100 days, I’ve loved it when people drop me a message to say they’ve read my blog and find it interesting or they’ve heard about what I’ve done at Social Media Breakfast: Singapore or stuff like that. It’s lead to great conversations, new networks, new friends and even a couple of internship offers. I’m glad that at least some people within my niche feel like I’m adding value to this community, and are willing to talk to me about it.

In last couple of days, though, the ugly side of social media has begun to rear it’s ugly head with people I don’t know adding me on Facebook (without even telling me how or why they know me) and one person demanding for stuff on Twitter, from his/her very first tweet to me.

Needless to say, I categorised these instances as spam and just ignored them.

But then, yesterday took the cake.

Two separate journalists talked to me, one in person at the IDC conference and one over the phone. The first simply came up to me, did not introduce the topic she was writing about, did not ask if I knew anything about the topic she was writing about, or if I would like to say anything about it and just leaped straight into asking me questions.

The second called me while I was having dinner, didn’t ask if it was a good time to talk, but at least identified how she got my number.

Firstly, isn’t this communication 101? You’re calling someone you want to get something out of. The very least you can do is be courteous.

Second, both these journalists clearly have no idea who I am, and what I blog about. I know because both their pieces were on topics with absolutely nothing to do with what I blog about. Why would I be a relevant person to get a comment from? I told the second journalist that I had no idea whatsoever about the content she was asking me about and I didn’t feel like I was the best person to comment. It’s like asking an engineer in to comment on the latest healthcare procedures.

Did they bother to do their research? Or was it just easy access to a blogger – any blogger – that they could milk for a comment for tomorrow’s news? Are they presenting a proper quote with proper representation to the public that actually pays money for that paper?

I’m going to borrow a question from Michael Netzley:

What happened to the journalistic ethic and the grand claims that journalists are different because they actually research their stories and get independent confirmation of the facts?

Reuben, who I was having dinner with, heard my side of the conversation and clearly knew I had no idea what the phone “interview” was about, and told me I should have just said “I’m sorry, I’m having dinner”. On hindsight, I should have, but I didn’t want to be rude.

But I am very certain, that in this case, my extended courtesy to these journalists were not reciprocated in any way whatsoever.

So let me get this out of the way: I do not blog for publicity. I do not need or want to be quoted in the press, especially when it is in no way related to me. I don’t do this for money, I don’t care about fame. I’m here to add value to my immediate community and to spread the word about social media, be it in personal or business use. My goals are community, awareness and education.

Now I’m not a big shot in this space. And I don’t need anyone to treat me like one. If anything else I am astounded by the appreciation people have shown me so far. But I do ask that you show me the basic courtesy when it comes to contacting me.

The one thing I am conscious of in my blog is my personal brand. Yesterday I made the mistake of commenting on issues that I probably shouldn’t have. I don’t know how the articles will come out It could be good for my personal brand, it could be bad. For all I know i come out sounding like a genius in tomorrow’s papers. It doesn’t matter. That’s why I feel the need to post this at 5:20 in the morning, so that you know I’m not writing this in response to whatever comes out in the press later today.

I would like to think these were isolated incidents, and that we have many, many professional journalists out there who hold themselves to a professional code (which apparently is something they pride themselves on). Either way, this has been a learning experience for me, albeit one that has left a bitter taste in my mouth, and it’s not going to happen again.

If this incident means taking some backlash from the journalism community, by all means. I could’ve easily sat on this and kept quiet, let the articles get published and just wait it out, but I think bloggers need to be aware of this.

I personally find it marginally amusing that for all the concern about “control” and “responsibility” and “messaging” and “amateurism” etc in social media, I find these exact things lacking in mainstream media.

Or am I being naive to believe they should exist there in the first place? Because my takeaway from these two instances is that they don’t care about the story, much less me. Grab a contact, get a quote or comment, publish that piece of text regardless of the accuracy, reliability and credibility of the article or the source.

Related Links:

The whole discussion about blogger outreach is in For Immediate Release #336 at around 18 minutes. I think everyone who is considering connecting with any blogger needs to listen to this carefully before going down that path.

Also, you can read about Bryan Person’s frustrations with lazy PR pitches, and draw the similarities easily.

In the interest of full disclosure, another reporter who I met at the IDC Conference was fairly decent and asked if I would be interested in contributing to that particular newspaper. Whether or not that actually happens, I want to lay this out publicly so that other bloggers out there can read this and learn from it.

Quick Thoughts On The IDC Panel Discussion, And I Want Yours Too.

April 19, 2008

Haven’t had time to really get online after the IDC Conference, because of a night out with my two closest friends Rubin and Reuben with some grown up talk (jobs and marriage). But I really wanted to squeeze out a real quick post on today’s IDC Panel discussion and give you a sense of what I’ll be talking about over the next couple of days.

First, a big thank you to @litford, @byzantin3 and @ridz84 for watching the live webcast and sending me nice messages on Twitter. I’m sorry I didn’t reply because I switched off Twitter on my phone for the day. Didn’t want to be distracted while on stage. Again, thank you for taking 45 minutes off your busy lives to hear what I had to say!

Second, an even bigger thank you to Geek Goddess Estee for coming down in person to support me there and for passing me a book on New Media. Can’t wait to read it!

I’m going to mention @litford twice because he has a recap of the topics and questions and answers on his blog as well as posting the live feed. If you missed it, check out the discussion over there.

Next, I have 5 points that I’m going to blog about in detail over the next few days, but I want to throw them out here first.

1) Advertising and blogging.

Again, Brian has talked about this in his thoughts from the panel. I was listening to a podcast on the way home and coincidentally it serves as a great case study for how to do advertising/sponsorship in the blogosphere. It’s a North American example, but I think it applies pretty well.

2) On Gen Y not reading the newspapers.

MediaSlut as always has started a very good conversation about how this may be worrying. I was told from Debbie that @ridz84 agreed on the live chat with me that most of us don’t read the papers, and before I respond to MediaSlut, I’d like to take a straw poll just to give an indication if I am guilty of a gross generalisation, or if there’s some truth to it.

3) Trust.

I think this came up as a common underlying thread between all the panelists. How important is trust between you and a blogger? Does it even matter? Or is it just another one of the many, many fragmented voices online and there’s no differentiation?

4) Relationships.

I had the great fortune of meeting two brilliant people from HP who I could share my huge enthusiasm for Snapfish with as well as talk about the HP Mini-Note a little bit. Very smart people who definitely realise the value of engaging in this space and meeting them in person convinced me that they’re not just doing it because someone at corporate or their PR company said to do so. From talking to them I could tell that they truly believed it was a worthwhile endeavor and that’s the reason why they are doing it.

At the same time I had a couple of crappy experiences today too which I’m not sure I want to talk about in detail, but at the very least I will mention vaguely.

5) Corporate Interest.

I am genuinely, genuinely curious about whether companies are interested in social media/new media/web2.0/whatever as an option right now, (which is already too late). Or if they think this is going to be another fad that will pass through in a year. The reason why I ask this is because I think one big issue, corporate blogging, was brought up today, but it didn’t seem to generate much discussion after the panel. The other thing which is a smaller issue, was that we ended the panel on a note about microblogging, specifically Twitter. I’m sure companies in the audience could benefit from such a quick-action response mechanism, but again I’m not sure that was a conversation that was going on after the panel.

I just want to say I don’t mention #5 because I think they should be talking to me about these issues. I don’t claim to be the best person for them to talk to because after all, I’m still a student observing all of this from the comfort of the university. But is this conversation happening at all?

All in all, today was really great for me. I would’ve liked to have heard some questions from the floor and hear some of the real questions and concerns that companies have when thinking about engaging in this new space that is changing so rapidly, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough time. Was probably good that they timed us though because I think we could’ve gone on till tomorrow with no problem at all.

Well those are my quick thoughts on today’s discussion. If you have any please feel free to chime at the comments below, or if you like, drop me an email at uniquefrequency[AT]gmail[DOT]com.

Xiaxue’s iPhone Fiasco: Entertaining But Negative For Singapore’s Social Media Scene

April 12, 2008

I read about Xiaxue’s iPhone blunder via Sheylara two days ago, and here’s the video in question:

The (new) Mediaslut posts:

If I was Apple, I would fight back, take Xiaxue out for lunch, give her the spill on the iPhone and work on convincing her why the iPhone is better than the Chinese fake!

Spot on. For Apple.

But the (new) Mediaslut also says:

Xiaxue’s post about the Apple iPhone is a social media practitioner’s dream come true.

Think of it. A local Singapore blogger get globalised all because of a video review.

Really? Sure, it’s entertaining for two minutes, but for all of us web 2.0 evangelists and social media junkies, especially those on the agency side, let’s step back and look at the bigger picture.

We’re firm believers in what social media can do for us, personally or for a business. But in all likelihood we have to pitch this to a supervisor or client, for their approval. Now, what do you think an MNC client will do if we suggest blogs? One thing they might do is Google “popular Singapore blogs” or some variation of it, to see who’s active in this scene. Who’ll they find? Mr. Brown at #1 and Xiaxue at #2.

Is that going to inspire confidence in them and convince them that Singapore’s social media scene is worth investing in? For better or worse, Xiaxue is arguably the public face of Singapore’s blogosphere, and those looking at social media for the first time may not look beyond that to find the others in the long tail actually contributing and adding value to the social media scene. Is it any wonder businesses in Singapore don’t seem to take blogs seriously?

Reading about social media in Asia, we don’t have many of the problems facing our neighbours that obstruct social media. We don’t have the low internet penetration of Indonesia, nor the geographical issues of India. And yet out social media scene in the business setting is sadly lacking. Is this a possible reason why?

I think it’s okay for us social media evangelists in the fishbowl to see an issue like this and laugh it off as an inside joke. But we have to remember that as the main advocates of this media, there is more at stake. We need to recognise that yes, it does put us on the map, but the implications of that are not always positive.

What we cannot do is be insular and blind to the concerns and issues this raises to the large majority of people who are not in our same fishbowl – those looking in deciding whether this fishbowl is a nice place to swim in.

And we need to know how to tackle these issues, reassure concerns and look your client who just saw that video in the eye and say without hesitation: the water’s fine. come swim.

Because if we don’t, who will?

Edit: In case you don’t read the comments, the (new) Media Slut wrote an excellent post in reply to this post which you should check out. I think it’s a really good conversation that’s taking place (and we’re not taking directly opposing views if you ask me), and it would be great if you would comment either here or at Media Slut to enhance our conversation.

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