Thursday, March 03, 2011

Blogging is a Mass of Niches

So another issue is rocking the Philippine blogosphere with a proposal to put together a National Bloggers Association. Creating an organization is well and good. It is best done when there is a good number of people who have the same interests. In the Philippines alone there are hundreds of trade associations and thousands of interest groups which people join based on their profession, interests or hobbies.

I have my reservations about joining a National Bloggers Association. Let me explain why:

1. Blogging for me is just a hobby. I've been writing since I was a kid so I just essentially use blogging as a platform to express my thoughts and share my ideas and as a journal too.

2. My blog is my own world and I do not want it to be subjected to a standardized code of ethics or metrics. I used to be editor in chief of our college literary paper and it was painful for both the editors and professors to give feedback to the writer. Our publication back then was like a volcano because of the different temperaments of writers and artists.  Writing is a very personal act and subjecting bloggers to a standard/code of ethics is like building multiple number of volcanoes across the country.

3. Section 4 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides, "No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances." (highlighting added). The law provides for our freedom of speech and expression already, and the press makes sure that this isn't tampered with.

5. Each person has his own set of beliefs and values. In the past 5 years everyone in the blogosphere thinks they are right even when others think they are wrong, but we end up doing anything we want anyway. Following the 10 Commandments is hard enough, maybe we should just all follow it and the rest will fall into place.

I thought I'd write about this issue after reading the failed attempt in Singapore to put together a bloggers association. The Media Bloggers Association in the US also never moved forward in 2009 despite having been tapped by the Associated Press as a partner. Reading about it made me realize why it never worked.

Blogging is a mass of niches.

In short, to each is his own. And this makes it hard for advertisers and companies who would like to tap bloggers for their digital marketing campaigns. What they should realize is there will never be a one shot deal with bloggers. And it's not about getting bloggers to post your press release, but getting them to write about their experience with your product/service. And, of course, you have to do your research on which bloggers to tap.

As my mentor, Dr. Ned, kept telling me a few years ago, "The future isn't about marketing to the masses. It's going to be about you talking directly to consumers who are interested in your product." So don't expect everyone to read a specific blog, because it has its own niche (hundreds/thousands of readers). Yeah it's hard, but at least you have added content online about your products/services.

So this proposal about a National Bloggers Association... I don't know, I think I'll stick to joining or participating in select projects/activities since any attempt in the past (this the the nth attempt) never really flourished. Besides organizations really work with just a handful of people moving (I've observed that with local professional orgs too), so its actually better sometimes to just have interest groups work with different projects to get more traction.

Well, it's a free country and everybody has a choice :)

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A Tool for Exporters

When my Mom and I were exporting furniture back in the late 90s one of the things that I had a difficult time in was researching the right market. The furniture we were producing served a niche market and the only way to get information was to go to the Bureau of Export Trade Promotion library. It would take me a whole day just to get the right data and the info wasn't usually updated. It was hard and when you are a start-up company it's even harder when your target market is out of your reach.

When my Mom and I gave up on our export business, my interest on it stayed on. I eventually found work that allowed me to help exporters and I've been on a look-out for things that would be interesting. I recently found out about Google's Global Market Finder. The research tool provides exporters data on possible markets that they can tap for their products. Here's an example of a search I did for rattan specifically for the Americas market:

Aside from locations it provides information on export opportunity, local monthly searches (on that country), suggested keyword bid (if you're doing a Google Adwords campaign) and competition (a gauge on whether competitors are targeting that market too).

How I wish this tool was available a decade ago. To do your own analysis, just go to

Monday, January 24, 2011

Are You Afraid of the Big Bad Blogger?

We have seen the rise of social media in the past few years. Companies have been riding the bandwagon by finding ways to have their products and services talked about in blogs, micro-blogs, social networking sites etc. A number have been paying PR companies to handle it for them, a number have been doing it on their own. Some projects work, some don't. Marketers are probably asking if using social media to reach their consumers is worth it.

Margaux Salcedo published an article on the Sunday Inquirer Magazine, "Please Don't Give Blogging a Bad Name". In this article she calls out an unnamed PR agency and blogger for committing extortion on a resto owner who has refused to pay PhP120,000 a month to have good reviews on a popular food bloggers site. This issue isn't really new. It has been talked about in the community for more than two years now. Margaux only managed to bring it out in the open. 

I am not really interested in the name of the agency and blogger. What I am interested in is putting another perspective into this issue since it's been apparent -- big time (like this) and small time. 

Extortion/black mail is rampant in any industry. There would always be bad apples in any industry. Granted that what this PR agency/blogger is doing is wrong, one should be like Georgia and hold steadfast to what you think is the right thing to do. Your company's reputation should rely on the good service that you provide and not because of a PR spin. Word of mouth marketing works because of that and not because you pay an agency or a blogger to do it for you.

A number of companies have asked me for help on their social media strategy, but since I'm too busy with my day job I just tell them this:

1. If you want to utilize social media to reach out to your customers do it yourself.
2. Be clear on your objectives. Is it to show testimonials? Get more sales? Clear your reputation? Community building?
3. If you really need help, find someone you can trust to help you out. And check the reputation of that person/company you are hiring. Also check if their past campaigns have been successful.
4. What social media helps in is just to get more content online about your product/service. It doesn't really scale and when you do events the effect is just short term.
5. And finally, don't allow anyone to rip you off. 

So don't be afraid of BBB. Be like Georgia :)