Tag Archives: Blogger

5 things I learned from doing this blog

Like what I’ve said in my first entry, I’m no first-time blogger. Naturally, I would already have the hang of this in no time. Boy was I wrong. This time, blogging felt like some forgotten talent, a skill that has gone unused for quite some time (much like solving algebraic equations). As an appropriate 15th blog post, I would like to share the difficulties that I have faced in keeping Comm de Garçon up and running.

  1. Picking a topic is about as easy as licking your own elbow. Knowing what to write about is obviously my biggest challenge. Given that I am not an expert in communication (at least not yet), analyzing trends and writing about their implications on how organizations should function is no walk in the park. A lot of big news happened over the course of my first entry to this one and yet I did not go beyond my comfort zone to write about them, which brings you to my second learning…
  2. When in doubt, stick to your guns. Like I’ve said, it’s hard talking about something that I have absolutely no knowledge about. This doesn’t mean that I’m uninformed about current events though. I just felt that I won’t be able to verbalize them to the best of my ability. It’s childish how I deal with my personal insecurities but then again I do not want to pretend that I know everything. I’d rather do a boring post about something that I am truly interested in (I’m pretty sure my peers are tired of seeing me write about fashion) rather than write a pretentious entry about a recent event just for the sake of doing timely social commentary.
  3. Typing the entry is only half the work. I’m pretty sure that a lot of people type their entries on some word processor and then copying and pasting it here on WordPress. That’s the easiest way of actually putting out a post. However, since part of opening your blog to the public means being able to engage them for more than five minutes or so (just enough to get them through an entry or two), putting supporting media is necessary. Formatting it to fit the post certainly feels like a chore that one would rather not do (like washing the dishes for instance). Adding content (photos, videos, etc.) that would grab their interest involves searching for that material, choosing the one with the best quality, and then uploading it to some external host website. This is precisely why each blog post would take me at least an hour to make. Thirty minutes if inspiration strikes.
  4. Proofread, proofread, proofread! I am a self-confessed grammar Nazi so you could just imagine my horror if I spot a grammatical error or a misspelled word in my entries. Sometimes things just sound better in my head or when I say them out loud. That being said, I tend to forget that translating something that is orally acceptable into a written piece of work requires much reviewing and rephrasing. My ideas don’t always come out as how I heard them in my thoughts which is why I’m apologizing right now for any “What the hell did he just say?” entries.
  5. Dig a little deeper and you just might find oil. Of course, I’m speaking metaphorically. I’ve learned that one must not take everything in its face value. There’s so many implications, so many subtexts behind every situation. With that, I really need to give more time in assessing all the events that happened during the duration of this semester. I know very well that I missed out on a lot of good potential entries but you know how writer’s block can be.

Many of my peers have said that blogging can be a total drag unless you put your mind to it and I admit that with this blog, I didn’t exactly use up all my critical thinking capacity for it. Regardless, it was fun having to put my OrCom hat on and act like I know a thing or two about stuff. I still have a lot to learn  and discover, and just because this is technically my last required entry doesn’t mean I’ll stop posting here. For now, I just need a little breather before I can write about anything again.

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She’s everywhere

On September 4, 2010, my org, the Junior Marketing Association – University of the Philippines Manila (JMAUPM), held a seminar on various online marketing strategies. The guest speakers for the afternoon were Zack Bulatao of CreatiVoices, freelancer Tricia Gosingtian, Camille Co of Coexist, and Beam Mariano of Artwine. Each of them shared their experiences as well as tips on how to market one’s brand. Miss Gosingtian in particular elicited much excitement and anticipation from the audience as she is the most prominent figure among the four.

JMAUPM EBOG and BOG with Tricia Gosingtian (Photo by Tricia Gosintian)

JMAUPM EBOG and BOG with Tricia Gosingtian (Photo by Tricia Gosingtian)

Tricia, despite the fact that she is not involved with any particular company unlike the other speakers, is arguably better-known because of her internet popularity. Since she uses a plethora of platforms to promote “Tricia Gosingtian, Inc.”, it is really no surprise that most of the audience members know her or have at least heard about her. It is her knack for for projecting such an appealing public persona that made her a fixture in the Philippine social scene and blogosphere.

Surprisingly though, Tricia shared that her celebrity status came by accident and insisted that she did not expect this kind of attention from people. She said that her so-called success stemmed from her “hobby of being self-centered” and everything else snowballed from that. What began as her simple outlet for her creativity (she is a professional photographer after all) has catapulted her to internet fame, so much so that she has approximately 19,000 followers on Tumblr (it is is ranked second in Topblogs.com.ph in the Fashion and Beauty category), 13,000 likes on Facebook, 9,000 followers on Twitter, and and 5,000 fans on LOOKBOOK.nu. She’s also in YouTube, deviantART, Flickr, Chictopia, and has her own food blog. One might ask how does a typical 20-year-old girl achieve this kind of feat (in less than two years’ time, mind you)? Her secret is remarkably simple: by being everywhere.

Tricia’s meteoric rise to the cyber-stratosphere is a well-thought-of and carefully-orchestrated effort on her part. By capitalizing on her initial popularity on Tumblr, she was able to redirect her readers to other web platforms in which she is also using. It is a product of a domino effect of sorts. When people see different links, especially to social networking sites, on her blog, the tendency is for them to click on them and eventually follow, like, or become a fan of her account on that site.

Organizations and brands can learn a thing or two from Tricia’s marketing strategy, specifically in tapping online communities and promoting online. In order to achieve online visibility, one must learn how to catch the attention of one’s target audience or primary stakeholders and have them tuning in for more. In Tricia’s case, she gave people something nice to look at in the form of her well-taken photographs and her insights on fashion. Brands should be able to captivate their target market by providing content that is both relevant to their cause and in line with the interests of their audience. Some actually commit the very common mistake of relying solely on the existence of a Facebook fan page in the belief that the mere presence of such would already suffice for visibility effort. In order to establish oneself in the internet, consistency and more importantly, active participation (responsiveness) of the brand is necessary to effectively achieve their cause.

Certainly, successful online marketing does not stop at existence for existence’s sake. To be a front-runner on the realm of internet promotions means that one should grab every opportunity (seize whatever popular web platform at the time) for marketing oneself. Only through that could one reach popularity of Tricia Gosingtian levels.


Tumblr and then split (My case against excessive reblogging)

Each website has a unique way of obtaining its fair share of regular users and subscribers: be it through an innovative platform, a clever marketing strategy, or simply a fresh take on an old idea. We all know how Facebook suddenly took the Philippines by storm and in effect forced tech-savvy social butterflies (read: the middle class) to flee from the much maligned Friendster to migrate to their site. Most former users cite the overcrowding and the “lowering of standards” because of the prevalence of the so-called “jejemon” crowd. Facebook somehow gave the promise of an egalitarian society (free from outrageous custom HTML/CSS and a plethora of embedded YouTube videos and glitter graphics) that caters to those who believe that social networking should be done in a clean, streamlined, and user-friendly interface.

Lately it seems, that mass indeed followed class. Soon enough the everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, with the people whom the digital elite have ditched for Facebook slowly making their presence felt in the new “netizen” stronghold. And then came Tumblr. Tumblr was in many ways like Facebook except only a few people in the Philippines knew about. Once again, the upper classes came running to Tumblr, thinking “Sanctuary!” Whilst Facebook has yet to have its foundations crumble like Friendster and MySpace before it, Tumblr continues to be somewhat of an seemingly exclusive online community, despite the fact that it is very much open for all.

Why use Tumblr anyway? For one thing, Tumblr has the sharing features of Facebook (e.g. photos, links, videos, audio, etc.) minus the restrictive attitude it has regarding who can see what you post, much like unprotected Tweets are on Twitter. It is, for the most part, a great marriage between the two other sites I’ve mentioned but is actually a blog host site. Like Twitter, you can easily follow anyone you think is interesting enough so you can keep up with them. It takes away the awkwardness of having to ask permission to be someone’s friend, as with Facebook. Since it is a blogging platform in the first place, it is much like WordPress and Blogger in the sense that you can post whatever you want, when you want. In sum, Tumblr makes use of each website mentioned’s individual strength and condensing it into one.

An example of some people's cynical attitude towards the typical Tumblr post and aesthetic.

An example of some people's cynical attitude towards the typical Tumblr post and aesthetic

But if it’s all good, then why am I even writing this entry? As an old-school blogger, it somehow disappoints me that Tumblr is just being used to rehash other people’s general statements instead of actually bothering to write an actual entry on it. Since it is immensely popular nowadays in the country (which, I may add, has a relatively poor educational system), more Filipinos are opting for the easy way to blog. It basically has little or no effort required to convey an idea. One simply reblogs and reblogs without actually divulging anything substantial from their life experiences, which of course is the very core purpose of a blog. I, for one, believe that any blog, micro or not, should be an avenue wherein people can practice their communication skills. Tumblr, I think, is a fad that cultivates the disease of laziness that was inherited by Filipinos.

I really have nothing against people who use Tumblr but for those who just join for the sake of reblogging everything that they see, it really bothers me. It has somehow become a popularity contest wherein people share information not because they want other people to see it, but for them to be credited and be followed. I feel that if one has to reblog, one must also provide some insight as to why he or she decided to reblog it. I must admit that it is somewhat hypocritical of me because I am sometimes guilty of being an active over-sharer of things I find interesting but there should be some substance to the person behind all the things that he or she shares. I understand completely that not everyone will agree with me but I simply want blogs to be like blogs again. It’s either that or consider Tumblr as an altogether different kind of service. The whole concept of a blog is somehow lost since what one re-blogs is not necessarily one’s own thoughts but the thoughts (or photo representing said thought) of another person.

I must confess that it is hard to rationalize my jaded attitude towards Tumblr and put it into words. Maybe it is because of my preference for “traditional” blogging (which is based more on writing) or maybe it is because I haven’t tried it yet. Who knows? I might try it later on so I can finally put to rest my dissonant cognitions regarding this issue. However, probably by the time that I do decide to register an account, everyone else might have already tumbled and split to a new social networking site.


The power of (fashion) blogging

Two days ago, I was invited to a product launch party for Sally Hansen’s new Insta-Dri Fast Dry Nail Polish. During my on-the-job training over the summer, I learned that as a Public Relations practitioner, a good reputation should always come hand-in-hand with a good consumer relationship. That being said, our company invited the editors of the country’s most prestigious fashion glossies (Zo Aguila, Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan Philippines and Cindy Go, Beauty Editor of Preview, among others) to try the product firsthand as well as cover the event, which included a mini-collection presented by renowned designer Tina Daniac. Needless to say, the event was a hit among the editors as well as to the distributor of Sally hansen products in the country, Unisell Corporation.

Sally Hansen

Sally Hansen: America's #1 Nail Expert

Now, how does blogging fit in to this picture you ask? Well, I had the privilege of being introduced to Miss Daniac at some point during the soirée and while we were having a little chit-chat about the evening’s activities, she mentioned that events like that should have more bloggers in the guest list. I was dumbstruck for a moment with her remark. At first I thought, “Us? seriously?” There has always been a long-standing hostility towards fashion bloggers in the Western world particularly because some can be relentless in their criticisms and given their fair share of regular readers, spell h-e-a-d-a-c-h-e to most designers, especially if they get scathing reviews. There are however, a fabulous few who actually have much respect in the industry in their blogging ventures, take Tavi Gevinson (The Style Rookie) for instance. Anyway there I was, conversing with a Philippine Fashion Week darling who was consequently disproving my earlier belief. Later I realized that, in the Philippine context, it made perfect sense.

It is common knowledge that the local fashion industry has yet to have the due recognition and loyal customer base it deserves from the Filipino people. In other countries, fashion is “big business.” Here, only those who know of the industry’s existence (beyond the mass-market brands like Bench, Penshoppe, and the like) are the ones who get to appreciate it and in turn buy from it. Given this dilemma, what better way to achieve sufficient publicity through a wide range of media? From the point-of-view of fashion designers, making money is necessary to strengthen their respective businesses. Publicity is a commodity for them as much as fabric and thread.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Fast Dry Nail Polish Press Launch.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Fast Dry Nail Polish Press Launch

With fashion bloggers (and blogging, in general), they are able to tap into their target market who do not make much use of print media. We know that a blogger can be a potential opinion leader and in turn can convince his or her readers to take into consideration whatever it is that he or she recommends or gives an opinion about. In short, blogs step in where mainstream journalism stops. They reinforce what big-name journalists say about a certain designer but at the same time, can go against them. Regardless of what the reader chooses to believe, the publicity generated is valuable to any designer who wants to make a lasting impression in the local fashion scene. Needless to say, fashion blogging is Public Relations at work. Granted that at least one blogger (with a sizable readership, that is) gives a positive response to a product (or in the case of Miss Daniac, a mini-collection), it can possibly lead to more potential consumers.

I realized that this is very much an application of what we were talking about last Saturday during our OrCom 152 class. Nowadays, the broadcast model of communication is no longer the most ideal structure of communication. The playing field has been leveled off because of the current preference towards a more interactive model. One now has the liberty to choose whose opinion to adhere to. Also, putting it in the perspective of the Social Media model, the more people who share this information, the more likely will an organization (Unisell Corporation, for one) can flourish with the products and services it provides. With this new way of information exchange, building lasting customer relations just got a whole lot easier.

P.S. Sally Hansen’s new line of nail polish did not disappoint. Also, Tina’s collection was amazing! *winks*


Tweeting is the new black

Twitter, it seems, is making quite a splash in the Philippine shores. Although it is a relatively new phenomenon here in the country, people around the world have already been very much acquainted with this micro-blog service. First thing’s first, what on earth is a micro-blog anyway? This reminds me of the time when people back in the early 2000s were very much baffled with the term “blog,” which by the way is short for “web log.” Of course, we all found out later on that it was simply a digital medium in which we can freely share our thoughts with the rest of the globe (or not, depending on your privacy settings) and comment on the musings of others as well. Micro-blogging is just that, only made simpler.

Blogger

As I've mentioned in my first post here, I used to write in Blogger.com.

Neologisms aside, I remember back when Blogger.com (that’s “Blogspot” for you old-school bloggers out there) was the de rigueur blogging service that our adolescent versions of ourselves signed up for. LiveJournal and Xanga were popular too but most teens favored Blogger because of the more user-friendly interface and of course, the option to customize its appearance. What’s funny was that back then, people were very much concerned with having really long blog entries (I am guilty of this) with the hope that some random classmate or friend (who happens to have a blog of his or her own) would be intrigued and thus comment on it. Also, if you post regularly and more intriguingly, that person might add you to his or her blogroll. There also came a time when photo-blogs were the “in” thing and had people migrating to Multiply (which has now been dominated by online merchants). Again, the personal branding bug has bitten us hard and the itch that came with it (to publicize part if not all of our personal lives, no less) is insatiable. Nowadays, however, times have indeed changed.

Twitter

Follow me, @zidvicious, on Twitter!

The creation of Twitter (as well as Plurk) has changed the way people blog forever. With the addition of the suffix micro-, it meant that blogging is now made easier (in the same way micro-miniskirts made the women who wore them seem “easier”). It is easier in the sense that you don’t have to compete with yourself or fellow bloggers with who has the longer post. The challenge with Twitter is how do you compress your thoughts into 140 characters or less. It becomes even more challenging if, like me, one prefers to spell out everything. I have always been a staunch believer that if you have the leisure of typing out words in full (read: if you’re using a keyboard), you should.  The only time I deem it acceptable to shorten words is when you’re SMS-ing someone. Add to that the fact that I have a lot of thoughts running though my head at any given time. It makes for quite a debate with myself as to what words to use and what phrases to contract to fit into the limit.

I think that the reason why most people sign up for Twitter is the ability to “follow” celebrities (or in my case, fashion blogs and modeling agencies) for real-time updates on what they’re doing at the moment. It’s the feeling of being somewhat of a fly-on-the-wall (especially if said celebrity uses TwitPic or TweetPhoto) that makes fans seem closer to the people they idolize. It must be noted also that Plurk does not have the kind of prominence that Twitter has, mainly because the latter capitalized on the already established popularity of its famous users. The “verified account” badge makes it more credible. However, some use Twitter to make themselves feel like celebrities in their own right, in terms of “Tweeting” every excruciating detail of their relatively boring everyday lives.

"Fail Whale"

It takes more than one click of the Refresh button to make the "Fail Whale" go away.

On the other hand, some people are more sensible by following media institutions like GMA, ABS-CBN, BBC, CNN, and the like to get news updates from all over the world. It amazes me how much traffic goes on in Twitter especially when big news breaks. Sometimes, it cannot accommodate everyone and thus prompts the “Fail Whale” graphic to appear. During functional hours, however, Twitter can also be used as a platform in which organizations can make announcements or maybe press releases; with the message more easy to understand and direct to the point. An organization can somehow gauge the number of its target audiences by the number of followers they have or by how issues related to them are trending in the Twitter-verse.

Profile of a Twitter User

Companies are starting to use Twitter in promoting their brands.

Even though Twitter has somehow convinced people to start micro-blogging, it hasn’t stopped people from using conventional blogs like Blogger and WordPress. This comes as a relief to people who think that writing for more than one paragraph is dead. At first, I was rather skeptical in signing up for a micro-blog because I was convinced that writing should be done in its most traditional sense (length and depth being the primary factors that I judge upon). I have come to realize eventually that you can indeed be both insightful and meaningful in less than 140 characters; it really depends on how you construct your thoughts in order to convey a complete idea. Communication may be more compact nowadays but it’s the quality of it that counts at the end of the day.

NOTE: You may have notice that I did not include Tumblr in this post. Much as I want to talk further about the Tumblr phenomenon here, I shall do so in my next entry since it demands a more in-depth discussion.