Podcast Of The Month: April

May 7, 2008

Without doubt the podcast of the month for April goes to For Immediate Release which I usually have problems keeping up with (it’s released twice a week, one hour each), but the content for April was excellent and I found myself listening to it first among my podcasts.

  • #336 highlights: Using Twitter/Friendfeed differently for business, conducting proper blogger outreach
  • #337 highlights: Facebook tools that can really help you
  • Live call in show #5 highlights: How should companies reach out in social media without offending the people in it? Great analogy of standing at a party table and interjecting about insurance while they’re talking about something else.
  • #338 highlights: Kami Hyuse Seaworld case study and talk of the virtual internet
  • #339 highlights: Dan York & Sallie Goetsch take over. Lots of Twitter news and I have a comment left via Twitter!

I have to say, hands down, if you’re doing anything in the digital/social media space, you need to be listening to this podcast.

Other notable listens this month:

  • Inside PR #106 – Live episode with a great question “Who owns the social media space?”
  • Managing the Gray – Manic Mummies episode, great case study on GM and how to do sponsorship in social media.
  • Marketing Over Coffee – “Captcha and Turk“, lots of stuff on startups as well as a whole slew of WordPress plugins I never knew about.
  • Shill #6 meandered a little this month, but still a worthwhile discussion about whether there’s any value in re-posting news.
  • Six Pixels Of Separation #98 (interview with Collin Douma), #99 (very interesting, almost counter-intuitive information regarding online reviews) and #100 (long conversation between Mitch, Brian Eisenberg and Avinash Kaushik).

Did you listen to any of these podcasts? Are you listening to different podcasts? I’m always on the lookout for great social media related podcasts, recommendations always welcome.

Advertisements

Blogs Worth Reading: April

May 6, 2008

I’ve decided to take a page out of Louis Gray’s book and highlight six blogs (in no order) that have really caught my attention in April, as well as one link that I feel is a recent notable read.

1) Bryan Person – BryanPerson.com, brains of Social Media Breakfast

2) Dan York – Disruptive Conversations, correspondent for For Immediate Release.

3) Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff – Groundswell, authors of Groundswell.

4) Brian Koh – Harmless? Bananas!, Ogilvy PR and co-creator of The Open Room.

5) Eric Berlin – Online Media Cultist

6) Tara Hunt- Horsepigcow

The amount of new blogs I’m subscribing to monthly is decreasing (I suppose there’s only so much information I can process), but if you know any great ones, recommend them in the comments space below!

Social Media Breakfast: Singapore 2! 24th May 2008

May 5, 2008

As Sham has already reported, SMB:S2 will be happening in three weeks on the 24th of May, 2008. All the details can be found at the Facebook event page.

Who should come?

Anyone interested and passionate about the social media space, be it blogging, podcasting, social networks, micro blogging etc. What this event is not, however, is a blogger outing that is so popular around Singapore. Read up about the original event and check out the blog coverage if you think you might be interested!

ps: The event is open to all so feel free to invite fellow friends to the Facebook event page, hopefully people who can help move the conversation further.

There’ll definitely be more news and updates as and when it happens, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, we already have 19 confirmed guests on the Facebook event page, won’t you be one of them too? What would you like to see that this SMB? More structure? A proper format and/or discussions? Let me know and we’ll see how we can factor it in.

Twitter Customer Service Case Study: Firefox

May 5, 2008

I’ve only been using Firefox for two months and made the change primarily because of it’s enhanced security and great plugins. Somewhere along the way, being the sometimes-technologically-challenged person I am, I changed a setting that caused my downloaded files to be saved when I wanted them to be opened.

So of course, I turned to Twitter:

And got a reply back very quickly from @firefox_answers:

And I was amazed. Firefox has two things going for it: great product and great customer service. Not going to go into the debate of which is better, but it’s important to have both.

Before you start thinking “Sure, great for companies like Firefox or Microsoft whose users are right in front of Twitter”, but what if your company could jump in and respond to these questions?

  • I wonder what’s good on tv tonight
  • Why does my [insert brand] printer keep printing it’s test page?
  • What should I get for mother’s day

The list goes on. There’s some commentary on how the vast majority of Twitter users talk about frivolous things. That may annoy some, but to companies, it’s an opportunity to jump in, join the conversation and make a positive difference the same way Firefox did for me today.

Are Bloggers Really Influencers? More Thoughts

May 4, 2008

A few more thoughts on the influence issue, part one is here. Once again, I’m exploring this from the consumer’s point of view based on how I surf and am affected (or not) by what the blogs I read say.

Case Study 4: Podfire Soft Launch

The Podfire soft launch got pretty good coverage on ping.sg. I think that night and the day following, easily 3-4 of the top then most read posts were on blog coverage of the Podfire launch. One thing about influence and popularity is network effects.

One person talking about it positively on ping.sg is very different from five people talking positively about it. Again pulling in the “people like me vs bloggers” debate into the picture, I’m thinking someone who knows some or all of the five people talking about it (or any other topic) will probably feel a compelling reason to at least check it out.

Will it lead to the complete viewing of a video? Will they be repeat viewers? I don’t know, but by that stage, the product has to speak for itself. But leading them to click is the first step.

It’s Not About Reach Or Circulation

I read a comment somewhere ridiculing the buzz of the Podfire launch saying some people didn’t hear about it. Completely missing the point. I’m always asked in school whether I saw an article in the newspapers, or a good/bad advertisement on tv last night, and the answer is usually no. So…. people didn’t hear about it via print or tv either and therefore it’s useless?

The important thing for Podfire (and how blogs should be approached), is to try to reach the immediate community (small as they may be) and work from there. It’s targeted as opposed to the shotgun approach.

Get Help!

Su Yuen has a Facebook application called Get Help. It allows users to post out a question and get replies back from friends, acquaintances or maybe strangers. Again, the idea of influence seems relative. Anyone can help on the app, to varying degrees of influence. Would you discount a brilliant idea via Get Help just because a person who replied is a stranger?

Even “Weak” Links/Influencers Play A part

Case Study 1: Camera Buying
When I was deciding which dslr to get, Ingrid recommended a friend to of hers to help me out. I didn’t have any idea who that friend was prior to this, but I did continually go back and ask her what she thought of product A over product B, and bought the final camera based on that advice. Could I have made my decision by reading a professional photographer’s review? Sure. But the fact that I could interact with this person and listen to firsthand experiences made a difference to me. It just happens in this case she isn’t a blogger. But… what if she was?

Case Study 2: Iron Man
Twitter has been alight with raving, positive Iron Man reviews. I’m reading about people from all over the world (majority of whom I’ve never even met) saying how good it is. The Straits Times gave it three stars. After watching the show, I’m glad I didn’t listen to an “expert” reviewer, because anyone who’s watched the show will know it’s not deserving of three stars. Would you like to listen to an “expert” reviewer and forgo the show? (Assuming three stars is your threshold for “not watching”)

Ultimately this issue is still a tough one to tackle. My point here is not to say bloggers are the influencers, but that pointing to the various research without considering the intricacies of it is probably a bad idea. We know about the Long Tail (The ants have megaphones) and about the Wisdom of Crowds and crowdsourcing, and blogging fits squarely into the realm of these phenomena.

Are Bloggers Really Influencers?

May 4, 2008

The topic of “influence” has appeared a number of times, generated out of the “Why social media struggles in Singapore” post. I was writing that post from the corporation’s point of view, and questioning whether a certain factor (size) may be a factor that has hindered social media’s growth.

But let’s look at this from the point of view of the consumers: Are we really influenced by bloggers?

What The Research Says

Forrester\'s Research

Edelman Research

Result summary: People trust “people like themselves” the most, an “bloggers” the least. Okay wait, before you stop reading this right now and say “Okay, let’s cancel our blogger relations initiative”, read on.

Are Bloggers Really Trusted The Least?
When I saw the findings, my first thought was “But, what if a blogger is someone like me?”. This is something lacking in the research, and is brought up by Jason Mical and Jeremiah in the comments:

[By Jason]I believe about marketing and the direction it’s going in the digital space, and you have a proven record of posting insightful things that I find useful in thinking about this as well. So I would classify you as ’someone with my interests’ before I would classify you as a blogger in this regard.

[By Jeremiah]I agree, I wish I had more insight to how the questions about “do you trust blogs” were done. We need to see the context, as it could be broken down to:

“do you trust bloggers with similar opinions, that you read frequently”

or

“do you trust random blogs you stumble across”

Perhaps the questions could even be posed a different way: “do you trust the opinions of bloggers?”

I don’t think the lines between “people like me” and bloggers are as far apart as the research shows. And I definitely do not think the results are as disparate as the research claims.

I have a couple of case studies I thought of off the top of my head, tell me if they make sense to you, and keep in mind this is written from the point of view of a consumer.

Case Study 1: Xiaxue
I don’t read her, definitely don’t identify with her, to me she’s a “blogger”. But how about the 20 thousand people who read her blog daily? Does she have no influence over them? From the amount of comments generated in her defense whenever someone slams her, I’d say she has considerable influence over them.

Case Study 2: Kenny Sia
I had the privilege of meeting Kenny at the IDC Conference and he blogged about it, linking me. That one post generated almost 1,500 traffic to my blog, the next closest being tomorrow.sg with about 500. I’m not sure how you want to classify tomorrow.sg, but looking at the data, clearly 1,500 people think Kenny is not “just a blogger” but someone who influences them and makes them think “I identify with Kenny, he thinks Daryl is worth putting a link to, so that might probably be interesting to me too”, and hence the clicks. I can’t speak for everyone, but that’s definitely my personal thought process when browsing blogs.

Case Study 3: FriendFeed
FriendFeed is growing in popularity in North America. The level of activity after it opened from beta is exponentially higher than the level of activity before. Let’s look at the other categories from the research. Review on tv? Review on retailer site? I don’t think so.

Friendfeed was spread via word of mouth online from people who follow the early adopters and advocates like Louis Gray. Certainly I don’t know Louis personally (though we’re mutual readers of each others’ blog), but neither is he some anonymous blogger online. He’s someone I know covers a great niche in the social media space on rss aggregation, and I’m interested in all things social media, hence I definitely trust and believe his opinions. In fact I also signed up for LinkRiver, AssetBar and Yokway based on his recommendations. Admittedly I only use LinkRiver with any frequency, but I think that’s attributed to the product rather than the medium (Louis).

This post has gone on a little longer than I thought it would and I have a few more thoughts on reach as well as “weak” links or influences which I’ll try to post this evening. In the meantime, what do you think? As clear cut as the research suggests? Or are there intricacies at work that are unexplored? Do you classify bloggers in the same category as “people like me”? Or are they clear and distinctly separated?

Why Students Should Blog – A Few Pointers

May 2, 2008

Hack College posted an article on the Case for Student Blogging and @KellySutton posted the same question on Twitter as part as a competition to win a Hack College t-shirt. I’ve been wanting to write about this for some time, so it seems like a good time as any.

I’m going to write a few segments:

  • Whether you already have a blog
  • How it can get you an internship/job
  • My personal experience
  • Other intangible benefits
  • Whether blogging restricted just to people like me, ie those interested in social meda.

But I Already Have A Blog!
Actually, no, you probably don’t. Having a Meepok Blog (ie one where you talk about the meepok you had over lunch) is not a blog. It is a blog in that you’re capturing down your thoughts, but it’s not a blog where you’re adding value. And that’s the kind of blog you need to have if you’re in school, especially a university looking for an internship and/or employment.

Seriously? A Blog Helping Me Find A Job?
Yes. An article got featured in the New York Times about Christopher Penn’s (from Marketing Over Coffee) social media resume about the same time that Seth Godin questioned the need for a resume at all. ie: Your blog should speak for itself. Granted, we’re early days into this line of thinking, but if you’re just entering university now, a lot can change in the four years till you graduate and join the workforce. In fact, I just saw a social media internship today saying that including a blog and/or Twitter stream would be helpful.

My Personal Experience
I started this blog with no expectations except to contribute to the community. However through it I’ve gotten an invitation to advise a company on internal/external blogging, to be a panelist at a conference that costs $680 to attend and three internships. (Full disclosure: I couldn’t take up two of them, the third has yet to be confirmed). Ultimately it doesn’t matter whether or not it works out. The point here is: When was the last time you heard of offers coming your way just via a blog? No formal submission of resume, no cover letter? It’s a whole new world that frankly, surprised me as well.This can happen to you. But you have to start right now.

Other Intangible Benefits
As the world progresses, more and more of our lives are going to be lived online. Blogging/Tweeting/Podcasting etc creates and online presence and reputation for you. When your prospective employer Googles your name (and believe me, they will), you don’t want the first thing they see to be a story of you drunk at a club via your friend’s blog. You want them to see a thoughtful article you’ve written. Online reputation for your personal brand is priceless, and the difference between a good or bad one is how much effort you put in to develop it.

Another intangible that I’ve found particularly for me, is that it helps me write better and faster. I take an average of 20-30 mins to punch out a blog post. That translates to my school work where I’m writing papers and it takes me 45 minutes to get two pages out and send it for editing. Lightning fast.

Final point on intangibles, the great thing about everything being online is relationships. Whatever you blog about, the chances that someone will pick it up is always there, someone may be scanning Twitter for keywords that you mention in your blog, or simply Googling randomly or using StumbleUpon. Why not provide them an opportunity to connect to you?

But I Don’t Blog About Social Media!
It doesn’t matter. Your blog can be on anything. Drawings/sketches if you’re looking to be a creative in advertising. Commentary on the sub-prime crisis if you’re in finance. What changes in interest rates mean if you’re studying economics. Anything that you can point your future employer to and say “Look, I’ve been on top of this stuff for awhile now, and that makes me more valuable to hire than the other person who just submitted a resume with his grades.”

So what do you think? Are you reading this right now and thinking “Bullshit”, or are you thinking of what to name your blog? Let me know. If you’re thinking of starting a blog but you’re unsure of what to do/how to get about doing it, feel free to drop me a comment as well. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’d like to help if I can.

Why Social Media Struggles In Singapore

May 1, 2008

One thing I’ve continually questioned is why social media is blooming slowly but not blossoming rapidly in Singapore. I’ve noted that we don’t have problems other countries do, but yet social media is still a very, very small slice of the pie.

Discussions with Michael Netzley, John Bell and Ridz have all resurfaced the same theme: We’re too small. ie the benefits of social media don’t translate as much when you can sms a friend and meet him/her in person in 20 minutes, compared to someone living on the opposite coast in America.

Social media events in North America bring together people who see each other a few times a year. We can see the same people twice in a week at events here!

When we all read the same papers, watch the same news and television and generally consume the same media, does new media still bring additional benefits to the table?

Tracking social media events over the last few months, it does indeed seem like the same people are going for the same events. It’s not a bad thing in itself, but it also means that options to companies are limited. Kami Hyuse’s case study on SeaWorld is an amazing one with great ROI. Attracting 22 roller coaster enthusiasts? That would be hard to replicate here. Obviously I don’t mean for roller coasters (because we have none), but for almost anything in general. It would be easier and simpler (maybe even more cost effective) to put out a print ad than to do a blogger outreach programme, just by impressions alone.

HP did a great blogger outreach programme, but does that value dilute if another company tries something similar and the same bloggers turn up?

I’ve anecdotally heard that 20 million is the magic number for social media to take off. Not in the sense that it’s an automatic qualifier (Indonesia has 25 million but that’s a fraction of it’s population), but it’s an indicator. Given that we’re at something like 4 million total population, does it mean that we’ll never get there?

That said, there is obviously a huge social media interaction on platforms like hardware zone, to some extent Facebook and others, suggesting to me that there is an audience, but we haven’t found a way to properly leverage it yet.

There are a lot of instances when I wish companies would engage the social media participants. But let’s think about it, if 5,000 people talk about your brand in a year (and I’m already stretching it), would you hire a person to monitor that and engage? Or is it easier to close an eye to that miniscule number, and focus on other things? Let’s face it, most companies aren’t Dell with hundreds of thousands of customers complaining. It’s a real question where companies only have a limited amount of resources, and have to prioritise.

Do you think our size is the biggest limiting factor? Do you have other thoughts on why social media’s influence is still limited in Singapore? Most importantly, do you see it changing? In how many years? Or will this being small turn on its head and be a strength? I want to hear from you.

7 Things You Didn’t Know About My Social Media Journey

May 1, 2008

Jasmine from my social media class tagged me for a meme for “7 Useless Facts About Myself” and I thought this would be pretty cool to do, but I’d tweak it to fit the theme of the blog. So here we go:

  1. I had my first “blog” (well it was called a website then) in 1997 (when I was 13). Links and archives weren’t the norm back then, so basically each time I added in new info the page grew longer and longer and longer.
  2. Before blogging “seriously” at this blog, I’ve covered everything from comic books, music, movies, books, food, you name it.
  3. I used to be a guest writer for Fanboy planet (one article here) back in 2002
  4. The first friend I made online is also my closest. We met in a chat room.
  5. I was always very proud of my ICQ number having only 7 digits (early adopters rule!)
  6. Until I moved here, I blogged by manually tweaking html codes. ie manually inserting dates, links, pictures, etc by typing out the html codes.
  7. Despite being a very heavy web user from 1997, I’ve never made any money from it.

There you have it. I won’t tag anyone, but feel free to replicate this on your blog and share something fun about you and your passion!

Event Coverage: Podfire’s Soft Launch At Geek Terminal!

May 1, 2008

Second social media event in two days (the other being The Open Room by Ogilvy), is none other than Podfire’s soft launch at Geek Terminal. I came armed with my camera because Michael says I don’t post pictures!

Michael Cheng of Podfire!What Is Podfire?
Podfire is a network for local podcasters/videocasters to come together and basically run their shows. Issues with hardware? No problem. Just come with time and a remarkable idea, Podfire will do the rest. The first two shows to be launched are Blogger’s Treats, a show featuring blogger’s favourite food haunts (featuring Sabrina and Daphne) and The Geek Goddess show, centered around web and tech happenings in Asia (featuring Estee and Peter).

How Were The Episodes?
I must say the episodes definitely impressed me in terms of quality and post-production. Having dabbled in videos myself, believe me when I say it’s hard work. Pacing was a little iffy, but hey, we’re bloggers, not TV hosts!

Geek TerminalThe Event
The event itself was pretty good. As usual I met a ton of people. Shannon for the first time ever, the aforementioned Daphne, Claudia, and Nicole for the first time in person and people who are by now “regulars” like Nadia, Michael Cheng, Jean and Ridz. As a new blogger, it’s all about meeting new people and forming new relationships for me.

The Aftermath
I gotta say I’m giving serious thought to entering the podcasting world with Podfire. My biggest issue is that my niche is covered so well in North America that it would be a great challenge to differentiate. Gonna have to think about it over the next week or so.

Ridz Taking PicturesThe second thought I have is that I’m getting closer to cementing my thoughts that social media may not be primed to work in Singapore despite our great infrastructure, lack of a language barrier, high internet penetration rate etc. I’ll probably blog about that tomorrow.

Thanks for reading and before you go, check out the two inaugural episodes! (As usual, WordPress is giving me issues with Vimeo videos, so click on the links at the top of the page!)