Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Internet Marketing Philippines

What is the state of Internet Marketing Philippines?

Some questions I have, and hope to slowly find the answers to:
  • How much are we really making? (Industry revenue)
  • Who are the most "digital" clients - among multinationals, other big local businesses and SME's?
  • Who are the key players - agencies, boutiques or freelancers?
  • Who is leading the charge on to develop research and data on usage among different segments? 
  • What are the localized industry measurement standards?
I think these are things we need to figure out to properly grow the industry.

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    Mobile social networking primer: Foursquare

    (Or, a starter guide for my dad — He has never belonged to any social networks, not Facebook, Twitter or even Gmail. So I was very surprised to receive an invite to become his Foursquare contact. I wanted to welcome him to social media and help him get started in the space.)

    Hi Dad!

    Congratulations on making it to the social graph (that's what they call our virtual social networks on sites like Facebook and Twitter). Still think it is interesting that you've gotten online via Foursquare, and not through a more obvious platform like the aforementioned Facebook or Twitter. But I think you've chosen a good place to start.

    Thought I'd give you a few tips to maximize your Foursquare membership.
    (Am going to do a follow-up on getting started with Twitter, since I think you'd actually have an even better time with that. But first things first.)

    Ever wanted to be mayor? Foursquare is the way to go

    What it is. A social mapping service that allows users to update their profiles with their whereabouts. Users can manually enter their location (e.g. New York Times Building, Times Square), or select for 4sq's list of venues nearby.

    How to use it
    • Access: You can download an app (for iPhone, Android or Blackberry) or log on to the mobile site.
    • "Check-in": Using the app or mobile site, check-in to different places - Ayala Tower (office), Lumbang (home), Greenbelt Theater, Salcedo Market, Fully Booked, etc.
    • Add a Tip: You give Tips about what to do, eat or see at different venues, or browse others' recommendations.
    • A note on accuracy: You're only supposed to check-in when you're actually at the place you're checking in to. But Foursquare's GPS isn't very strict and you can check-in from across the street or up to a few blocks away. It can tell though if you're not in the area at all and won't give you points.
    • Get points!: Foursquare keeps a leaderboard of your points earned (by checking in, going to new places, etc) vs. your contacts'. You do want "quality" check-ins because only those will earn you mayorships and badges.

    What you get
    • Be crowned Mayor: If you have the most check-ins at a given venue, you are automatically crowned "mayor" of that place. What's the point? Who doesn't want a virtual crown? Some establishments are starting to give mayors special freebies or privileges. Not sure if that's true for Manila Mayors yet though.
    • Get badges: Even better, Foursquare rewards usage with badges. This is where it gets fun - you get these badges for completing different levels of usage - when you check in 1, 10, 25, 50 times, when you check in 4x in a week, etc. There are location-specific badges, like one for making it above 59th St. in NY or riding the Bart in SF 7x. There are branded badges - I have one for hitting five Starbuckses. My badges are proudly on display on the left side of this page!

    Why to use it (or not)
    • Why not: There are privacy concerns - people wonder if they're asking to be robbed by broadcasting to the world that they aren't home. The game also gets tiring after you've acquired several badges.
    • Why: IT'S FUN! Especially if you like games, and it really hits a sweet spot for digital or competitive people like me.
    • Why, when more people are using it: Assuming people use the service regularly, it would be a great way to keep track of friends and family members. It's also a good way to discover new places through friends' check-ins.
    • Why, if you were a business-owner or brand guy: It is a great tool to find and interact with customers. It’s also a nice platform to get people to interact with your brand – Bravo puts listings of their recommended restaurants (e.g. by Top Chef chefs) that people can check-in to, to get Bravo badges. Jimmy Choo just launched a new shoe with a 4sq scavenger hunt!

    And guess what - you can sync your Foursquare to your (upcoming?) Twitter account. But more about that in an upcoming post.

    See you on the square!

    Bea  :)

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    micro-engagement approval

     I remember how long it used to take to get approval on a TV ad, a thirty-second, one-message-fits-all spot.

    We would get the client brief (often missing certain details, like sometimes the product!), work on internal strategy. Then creatives would work their magic and we would be off to client, so confident in our ideas that you would have thought that we had the cure to cancer on a storyboard. Presentation, revisions. Sometimes this would happen one, two, three... up to a dozen times depending on the client in question. Finally, board approval. A producer would be brought in, the project bidded out to production houses and directors. When finally the AE found a way to wrangle creative, client, production team and director on to the same page to agree on budget, timeline and treatment - advertising project management can get so convoluted that when things work out it feels like the starts have miraculously aligned - the real chaos would begin.

    Casting, acting workshops, costume reviews. Then the shoot - sometimes early in the morning, sometimes very far out of town, hazy day/s of catered food and lights & action. The film would be graded, sound dubbed (I think), creatives present at all events. Then agency viewing of the edit or "offline", then client viewing. Revisions. Back and forth, revisions. And once ready, preparation of the final or "online" material. The AE would then head to the Ad Standards Council for yet another approval of the material. By this time the media agency would have gotten involved, then release tapes would be prepared and sent out to each of the stations in the visual media schedule.

    All of this for one material.

    This is what I started thinking while reading about micro marketing. I guess the idea is that we're living, marketing and selling in a long-tail world and millions of micro-segments exist. And we can reach them now online, often 1:1 in real conversations.

    But that idea takes on a different meaning when you're the digital person in a traditional (media) world. I can't imagine how approval is going to happen when digital kicks in full force and we're going to have to get clients to sign off on millions of micro-messages. Maybe we'll need to hire someone to handle approval management. Daunting. Still exciting.

    the search is on for cute boots

    I love this because it reinforces my point about Facebook-as-news-source.


    Surveillance via Facebook

    Facebook is the new “mass media”, and fulfills an important media function: Surveillance.

    photo by gerlosvia PhotoRee

    There are many communication theories that cover our relationship to media. A quick search on Google reminded me that it was Lasswell (he had the “who, says what, in which channel, to whom, and with what effect” model) who theorized that mass media fulfills, among others, a surveillance function, and gives the audience information about what is going on in the world that “everybody” knows. In the former “mass” media age, this pertained to news – as it relates to me today, updates on the identity of the Times Square bomber or the race for Vice President in the Philippine elections.

    Like many communication theories, Lasswell’s has received criticism for being too simplistic and general. But I’ve always rememebered and agreed with the idea of surveillance. I think, regardless of mass media, that we are observant beings who have varying levels of voyeuristic tendencies – everybody gossips. And as social networks like Facebook have expanded in terms of both reach (currently over 10M Philippine users) and granularity (status updates, likes, comments, privacy settings, etc), there is a lot more information going around that we can monitor.

    Surveillance & me
    When I was in college, I was pretty “tsismosa”, that’s Tagalog for “gossip”. In our group I liked knowing what was going on – most especially in the love / lust / like category. When we went out drinking, people would wait for me to get tipsy in case I spilled the latest tsismis (gossip). Friends actually ended up revealing a lot of secrets that they assumed I’d already heard. Good times.

    Since I started working, I’ve lost touch with a lot of people and have certainly regressed in terms of knowing what is going on with everyone. I no longer have the latest news on who is getting together, breaking up, who is looking for a job, in danger of getting fired, in the process of being pirated, etc.

    Surveillance via Facebook
    But since more Filipinos started getting on Facebook in 2007, it has become my news central. It tells me who has resigned, who is travelling and where, who has broken up or is getting engaged, what bands are coming to town. From the latest Farmville acquisitions, or the extra Café Word stock, to the sports / elections / entertainment updates, Facebook is a great way to survey what is going on in my social sphere. Event invitations tell me the must-see concerts or the must-attend parties, relationship status tell me who is newlly single and on the rebound, tech-savvy friends give the latest must-have gadgets, and pop-culture junkies tell me what movies, music or YouTube clips not to miss. From thousands of miles away, I’ll even find out which of my officemates are being subjected to torturous overtime.

    I don’t like to read the news (hence the extremely “personal” connection to the surveillance function!) but I am even more attuned now to current events. If it is important, someone will post it on Facebook. That is actually how I found out about the Times Square bombing or read vice presidential candidate Mar Roxas’ supporters praying that he would somehow still win the VP race.

    Mass, i.e. Many-to-many
    Facebook is not a “mass medium” in terms of old-school broadcast that distributed one set of content to a mass of people, one-to-many. But it is “mass” in the sense that it broadcasts content to millions. Only the content comes from all the different users, making it a many-to-many mass medium.
    In addition, the fact that the “many” are my personal contacts actually helps to validate “news” since I know that I can trust most of them. I am also usually aware of the different personal value systems and the biases each one may have. And even taking that into account, there is no longer a need to depend on an “omnicious” news commentary.

    Maybe it’s just me. But paying attention to my Facebook news feed makes me feel like I’ve got a handle on what’s going on in the world, coming from a network that I actually care about – my social graph.

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    buzz campaign - who you gonna call?

    Or, AI(D)A in the NYPL

    So I went to the New York Public Library on 42nd last Saturday. I love books and wish I could have grown up with establishments like these in my city (in fact I dream of opening on in Manila one day), so I definitely wanted to go at least once on this trip. I was on Skype with my family (who are back home in Manila) right before I went, and my sister mentioned that I should try doing my own take of a "sweded" Ghostbusters spoof. Right.

    But while I was in one of the reading rooms on the third floor, who should show up but the "Ghostbusters"! Attention.

    They walked into the room, serious expressions on their faces. Soon two "ghosts" showed up - as in two guys wearing bed sheets. I thought I took a video of the "chase" that ensued, but it didn't work out. (I don't know how but the video I actually took was of my laughing chin.) The busters chased the ghosts out of the room.

    On my way out, librarians were handing out petition letters - ah, the product sell. Turns out that the library's budget is in danger of being cut and they looking for support to retain it. Interest.

    Naturally I turned to the web. This is what came out when I first opened their website:

    It lists the "product features" that may be lost if they lose the $37M. I would definitely sign up if I actually lived in New York! If I was an actual resident who was at the library or on their website, it seems likely that I were some sort of stakeholder and would definitely care if up to ten branches were shut and service cut down to four days a week. I would have signed the petition. Action.

    I think they could have made the Ghostbusters effort even more hardworking by seeding a video of the chase, or asking one of the dozen people who pulled out cameras to post their images. Unless that wasn't their intention at all? I don't know. But I found it extremely unexpected, especially since it happened on my first time to the library! If their objective was to increase sign-ups, it would have worked on me!

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    Can Google Trends predict the outcome of the Philippine elections?

    Here is the Google Trends screenshot on Noynoy, Villar, Gibo and Gordon. Looks like Noynoy has the most searches as of today - is that how the elections will play out? Let's see.


    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    digital marketing: channel strategy

    I used to link my Twitter & Facebook status updates – when I updated one, it would automatically push it to the other. I would write “I had the best time last night!” on Facebook, and it would go out to the Twittersphere, and all of my tweets about the latest digital conference were blasted to my Facebook contacts. Off-strat?
    There are so many social media platforms and it’s hard to keep track of, let alone maintain, dozens of profiles – social networks, professional networks, blogs, microblogs, lifestreams and most recently, social mapping services. Even Yahoo! and Google now ask for status updates. We want to be everywhere at once, but actually keeping up appearances on all these sites can become complicated and time-consuming.
    So we turn to sync – auto-updating Twitter and Facebook with one entry on Plurk. Or we register for services like Quub that update multiple sites at once. 

    Channel strategy
    Each of us has an online personality manifested by presence on different web channels – Facebook, Multiply, LinkedIn, a blog, etc. And we need to recognize that each channel has (or should have) a different objective. LinkedIn is a professional channel. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube could lean more toward professional or personal, depending on our contacts and how we use the service. But to keep ourselves sane, it helps to figure out what we are doing – and what we hope to achieve – on each site.
    Most people are in it purely for personal reasons – connect with friends and broadcast the latest farm acquisition. But as more people turn to the web for professional branding, the lines blur .
    What I’ve done is to map out (a) the key platforms where I want to participate, and (b) what kind of communication on each, depending on whether I have, or want to have, more of a personal or professional network on each one.

     Personal vs. Professional 
    I finally decided, for example, that Facebook should stay a private channel. It is a site where I interact with a lot of close friends, which isn’t necessarily something I want to expose to a potential employer (theoretically :P). I also have so many notes and photos that have nothing to do with my professional self, not things I want to come out about me on a Google search. So Facebook is just for personal contacts and people I actually know! Most of my Flickr photos are private as well.
    Twitter, on the other hand, is supposed to be a professional channel – digital questions and thoughts, Foursquare updates (a grey area – personal details since they’re location-based but also professional for now, since participation is a digital thing?), links to blog posts. Not to say that I don’t shout out to friends and update about other interests (#nyc, #glee, #yankees!) as well. Other professional channels that I want to build on are LinkedIn and Posterous.
    Figuring this out has helped me decide what content to post on which site.  

    Brand channel strategy 
    Brands need to take the time to do this kind of segmentation as well. The line isn’t as clear as Personal vs. Professional, but communication should still change depending on the channel. Simply syncing Twitter, Facebook and a corporate blog with one-size-fits-all content is a terrible strategy. As a consumer, I think that brands that have exactly the same content on Facebook and their corporate blog are lazy. Users should get added value from engaging with a brand on multiple touchpoints. Cross-linking is of course a great practice, but communication can’t end there.
    Here are some ideas to get started on strategizing communication on the most basic platforms:
    • Facebook: Take advantage of the community and easily visible reactions to your content. Ask users questions and post things that they can “Like”. Maximize tabs with unique and engaging apps.
    • Twitter: Great for 1:1 conversations and short-form updates about brand, product and industry news. Great way to announce links to new content on other platforms.
    • Corporate Blog: Longer-form content about brand, product, category or industry issues. It is a great way to build credibility within your field.
    • Posterous or Delicious: Re-posts of industry news.
    Trial-and-error, but start somewhere 
    There are no hard-and-fast rules and I think most brands will have to try several tactics across the board before finding out what really works. But getting out there and trying is what is important.
    I read an article today about Boeing’s reaction to a letter from an eight-year-old who volunteered ideas about a plane design. Their initial response was to send him a letter officially saying that they weren’t accepting his suggestion, probably an SOP response formulated by their legal team. People criticized Boeing at first, but they jumped in to the discussion and explained their situation to consumers, “We’re expert at airplanes but novices in social media. We’re learning as we go."

    photo by Great Beyondvia PhotoRee

    Saturday, May 1, 2010

    digital marketing on mobile - will it finally take off in 2010?

    Is this the year mobile will finally take off?
    NEW YORK - Mobile is happening. Location-based social networking services are battling it out, and the city is alive with augmented reality apps. Barcode scanner apps are must-haves for competitive pricing while shopping. And iPads abound!  

    If 2009 was Twitter year, 2010 is the year of (mobile) social mapping.

    There is huge potential for a country like the US with near perfect mobile penetration – everyone is walking around with a GPS-enabled device that enables location-based and contextual communication that is hopefully more relevant. At the same time, users are ever-connected to the web and can pull up content as needed – it still blows my mind that I can watch YouTube videos while waiting for the train thanks to the great (and often free!) WiFi.

    Is this the year mobile will finally take off in the Philippines?
    Technically mobile took off in the Philippines in the mid-nineties. We could text with one hand and were "d2 na me"-ing before anybody in the first world. Today we have a flourishing blogging community and are some of the most engaged social media users in the world. We even have our own crop of YouTube celebrities.

    So why hasn't anybody monetized mobile?
    (I'm trying to find stats on the mobile internet access in the Philippines "not taking off", but haven't yet. I don't think it is a huge stretch though to say that it has not reached mass-level usage.)

    My take on this is that people are hesitant to pay for mobile browsing. The availability of the iPhone and Blackberries has certainly helped to drive usage. But the reason that mobile communication really took off in the Philippines in the first place was that at just PHP 1.00 per text (that's only USD 0.02!), it was the cheapest and easiest way to communicate. Most people still prefer Prepaid (similar to AT&T's Pay-as-you-go Plans) to Postpaid, which locks users in for two years with a minimum monthly spend whether or not the phone is used. Prepaid allows users to load their mobile accounts with micro top-ups, as they have disposable cash. That's the third world model I guess. In which case, are people going to spend their extra cash on mobile surfing?

    Going online in the Philippines has rapidly risen over the past few years with the rise of Internet Cafes, where users make micropayments per minute or hour. This way, Filipinos can skip the (expensive) hardware hurlde of having to invest in a laptop or PC, then having to pay an additional fee for dial-up or DSL. There are in fact vendors trying to sidestep this problem - Smart's SurfTV gives users a modem that can be connected to their TV, loaded through prepaid credits and used to go online.

    I think though that we will see Filipinos turning to the mobile (instead of their TVs) to skip that hardware hurdle, as data plans become more affordable and user experience on mobile improves.

    Opportunity mapping
    Here are a few areas that need to be improved to drive mobile internet adoption
    • HARDWARE: Affordable handsets with cameras and GPS and better mobile surfing user experience.
    • CONNECTIVITY: I think that telcos should let us mobile surf for free! Give consumers a chance to build the behavior and habit of mobile browsing, with faster connections - Filipinos love watching YouTube videos, that should be the litmus test on wireless internet speed.
    • CONTENT: If people can get a better experience checking or updating their Facebook or Twitter accounts on their computers, they may not pay extra to do it on mobile. Not to say that I and many others don't already do this! But we need some location-based applications or content that have different user experiences when used on mobile. Foursquare is a good example, and it won't even work on a PC.

    Summing up
    I'm not sure where telcos are going with this (not as if I don't have a telco client, I should definitely ask), but I would seriously invest in some of these opportunities to shift Internet usage from PC to mobile. The potential of creating a context-aware platform of relevant communication that combines data, behavior (e.g. each user's past searches or sites visited), as well as editorial content (trendspotting and trend-pushing) is huge.

    Telcos have to be the first to invest in some value-driven communication that will educate the market and build the behavior.

    I used to think that nothing would supplant my net access through PC. But now that I've seen the difference of mobile surfing, I would at least add it to my "repertoire" (as our strat planners would say). In addition, I would pay more to have access to products and services on-the-go — ever hear a song then download it on the spot on iTunes? Life-changing!

    real-time social media stats

    Awesome! Via Socialtimes.com
    © be your digital best / digital marketing philippines

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