31 December 2015

Why minimalist trailers won't work for ordinary films

Film Marketing

A. The Force Awakens

Rich McCormick in Verge has argued that "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" broke internet records because of its minimalist trailer, i.e. by removing the voice over that says "In a world..." and by hiding the major plot points:
The Force Awakens' clips showed impressive restraint in an age where two minutes are jammed with as much exposition as producers can throw at the screen, pulling back on the amount of detail and building excitement by deliberately avoiding major plot points....The first teaser for The Phantom Menace's first teaser dropped the dulcet tones of the "in a world..." voiceover man, relying instead on carefully selected shots that Star Wars-starved fans could pick over again and again. In the process, it broke the internet before breaking the internet was a thing people aimed to do. The Force Awakens, again, bucked the trailer trend by omitting the kind of information that most trailers include as standard, and spawned thousands of feverish fan reaction videos, posts, and discussions.
 The Force Awakens can afford to do so, in the same way that IBM and GE need not write "International Business Machines" or "General Electric". IBM and GE has already spent millions of dollars in building its products and advertising them for several decades that their logos or initials are already well recognized icons of their respective companies. Similarly, the Force Awakens was built on the foundations of 6 Star Wars movies by George Lucas which are all blockbusters. A fan watching the trailer would already see parallels in the previous movies: Rey and Luke, R2D2 and BB-8, Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. The fan is already assumed to know the force, light saber, Jedi, Dark Side, and Storm Trooper. With these data, the fan can already make connections and try to deduce the major plot points, which builds up the excitement to watch the movie.



B. Shawshank Redemption

But what about an ordinary movie like Shawshank Redemption? The first word of the title is already a marketing headache since it does not conjure anything familiar. There is no Shawshank Prison as prequel that the reader can spring from to make sense of the Shawshank Redemption. With these handicaps, the trailer has to reveal major plot points to give the viewer what the movie is all about: the court verdict, the life in the prison, and the theme of hope. But even then, the film never became a blockbuster in the cinemas; it was only later that the movie was found to be exceptionally good. Had it been shown in today's era of blogs and social media, it would have a fair chance to be a blockbuster in cinemas, too:
Despite its box office disappointment, the film received multiple award nominations (including seven Oscar nominations) and outstanding reviews from critics for its acting, story, and realism. It has since been successful on cable television, VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray. It was included in the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Movies 10th Anniversary Edition.[3] It is now widely considered one of the greatest films of all time. In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". (Wikipedia: Shawshank Redemption)


C. Lord of the Rings

A trailer must tell what the film is all about: the setting, the characters, and the conflict. How the film will try to resolve the conflict, the trailer can leave out. In the same way, when marketing a book, the setting, the characters, and the conflict must be spelled out in the book's marketing copy at the back cover. Here is an example from the Lord of the Rings:

In ANCIENT TIMES the rings of power were crafted by the Elven-smiths and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him.  After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.

When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tal, mysterious stranger called Strider.
Notice that the first three paragraphs of the marketing copy reveals the setting, the characters, and the conflict. The third and fourth paragraph describes the major plot: it is a quest to Mount Doom to destroy the Ring. Whether Frodo and company would accomplish the quest is left for the book to tell. Also, the copy reveals something intriguing through the word "mysterious". All these creates a tension or a cliff-hanger that needs to be resolved by reading the book.



D. Conclusions

The principle of "less is more" for movie trailers is only for those who have already invested more in marketing in the prequel movies. But for films who have just built their fictional world out of nothing and who has only one chance to convince the customer to view it, the marketing principle should be "more with less" for the trailers--more revelations of major plot points in less number of minutes.

30 December 2015

Social media poster design workflow using GIMP and Google Drawing

How to Use Graphic Design to Sell Things, Explain Things, Make Things Look Better, Make People Laugh, Make People Cry, and (Every Once in a While) Change the World 
For a week now, I have standardized my poster design work flow for my Blogger, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest social media accounts using GIMP and Gogle Drawings. GIMP is the free counterpart of Adobe Photoshop, while Google Drawings has excellent poster design features, though you still have to handcraft many of the templates unlike in Canva.

1. Blogger

What I usually do is to find good pictures from Wikipedia, usually those with Creative Commons or public domain license. I download the picture and use GIMP to resize it to at most 800 px width. I export the picture from xcf to png.

I open a file in Google Drawings, go to Page Setup, and click on 16:9 width to height ratio. This ratio is a good fit as Facebook snippet, though 2:1 ratio would also do fine.

I insert the png picture in Google Drawing file canvass, placing the picture in the left side. To find the background color of the canvass, I right click the canvass and click on background. Sometimes I choose among the tabulated preset colors for the poster. But usually I first go the GIMP's xcf file of the picture and use the color picker tool to find a suitable color for the background and the text from the picture itself. Below the GIMP's tool palette, there's the rectangular box showing the color chosen. I click on the box and copy the HTML color code. I paste this color code in the custom color option for the background in Google Drawings.

My favorite font for the text is Oswald and Cambria, which are found in Google Drawings. I place the title text on the right side of the picture. Below the title text, I write the by line: "by Monk's Hobbit".  Below the byline or below the image, I write the picture credit. Usually the picture credit details can be found by clicking on the Wikipedia picture. This is usually true for Creative Commons licenses with Attribution requirement. Otherwise, I copy the title of the picture and the author, then the picture's Wikipedia url address. I also add the the license of the picture, whether it is Public Domain or CC BY-SA 3.0, for example. All these picture credit details I write in Arial. I am really conscious about picture copyrights and I don't use pictures which I don't have license to use. Otherwise, I would get sued and my blog may go up in smoke.  It is better to be safe than sorry.

I download the finished poster in Google Drawings into png and then upload the picture into my blogger blog. I place this picture at the top of my blog post and choose the extra large picture size option in Blogger, which has a width of 640 px. This is optimum since my blog text page layout has 800 px width. Uploading a header picture for your blog post is important because Blogger will use this as a snippet for your Related Posts and Recent Posts widgets.

I click publish and view my blog post. The picture should show up well.


Why the man should take a lead in a relationship and in marriage
Why the man should take a lead in a relationship and in marriage. Blog source: Monk's Hobbit. This is an example of a poster for Blogger, Facebook, and Google+.


2. Google+

If I chose my blog to be linked to my Google+ page, the blog  post will be automatically published in Google. Otherwise, I copy the url of my blog post and post it in Google+. The blog header picture would show up nicely, but you have first have to write your own post snippet before publishing the Google+ post. Notice that I don't design a separate poster for Google+. I still use the same 16:9 width to height poster ratio.


3. Facebook

I copy the blog post url and paste it in my Facebook post. Facebook will then show you several pictures from your blog. Usually, I hide the other pictures and choose only the header picture. Sometimes, the header picture can't be found in any of the choices, so I upload the picture manually.

4. Pinterest

I go back to the original poster I designed in Google Drawings for Blogger. I click File-->Make a Copy. My naming convention for my blog post posters is
  • blog_name_title_key_words_dateinYYYYMMDD. 
What Google Drawings will do is to make a new file:
  • Copy of blogname_title_key_words_dateinYYYYMMDD. 
I change this to:
  • blogname_title_key_words_dateinYYYYMMDD_pinterest.

 I change the poster by going to File->Page Setup-->Custom--> Pixels. I choose a width of 800 px and start with an 800 px x 1600 px to be modified later. I upload the png picture which I used in the blog to the poster's canvass and place the picture at the topmost area, stretching the picture at the vertex to preserve the width-to-height ratio, until the edge of the picture matches the boundaries of the canvass. You will know this since Google Drawings will show a red line.

Once the picture is in place, I write the title text below it using the same fonts I use in the Blogger header picture for consistency, but with different sizes. I try not to exceed more than three lines for the title text. I avoid superimposing the text into the picture as usually seen in social media, because it requires greater thought to the layout and design. At the footer of the picture, I place the picture credits in Arial font.

I download the poster in png and upload it in Pinterest. I type the title of the blog post and the corresponding hashtags, and then post the picture in one of my Pinterest categories. Once the picture is pinned, I click the edit icon and add the blog post url, so that clicking the picture would lead the reader to my blog. Well, I could also pin the picture directly by pasting first the blog post url and choosing the header picture to pin. but in my experience,  a 16:9 width-to-height poster ratio is not optimal for Pinterest where vertical posters are the norm. That's why I design separate posters for Pinterest.


5. Twitter

Star Wars: How the Spiritual Exercises can hlp us discern the two sides of the Force. Blog source: Monk's Hobbit. This is an example of a poster for Twitter.

Twitter has an uncanny ability to determine if you use public domain photos and block them. So for now, I avoid putting photos in Twitter posters. The reason for this is that if I put a picture, there would not be enough space to put the text, unless I superimpose the text over the picture--something which I don't like (but I may change my mind later). I go for the simple text in monochrome background. The poster size I use is 16:9 width-to-height ratio, which is the same one I use in Blogger. This ratio is approximately the same as the 2:1 width-to-height ratio preferred by Twitter. For my poster naming convention, I use this:
  • blogname_title_key_words_dateinYYYYMMDD_twitter.
I upload the poster in Twitter, copy the blog post title, put the relevant hashtags, and schedule the post using Tweetdeck.

Conclusions

Standardizing my poster design workflow for social media saved me time in thinking about layout and colors. The result is a consistent brand image across my social media platforms. I also showed that GIMP and Google Drawing can be used together to make a simple poster with colors drawn from the image using GIMP's color picker for use in poster text and background to create a unified poster color scheme. I hope some of the ideas here may also be useful to you when you design your own posters for social media.

07 November 2015

4 marketing lessons from a sour milk

Milk Money: Cash, Cows, and the Death of the American Dairy Farm
A. THE SOUR MILK

I buy fresh 1 liter of fresh milk about once or twice a week in a supermarket--those milk sold in paper boxes labeled UHT processed or Ultra High Temperature, hot enough to kill microbes to give milk a longer shelf life.

There are two brands that occupy the position "fresh milk" in my mind. I bought one brand.

At home, I would open the carton and drink 1 cup of milk after a meal. I place the remaining milk in the box and placed it in a refrigerator. After three days, the milk already tastes bad.

Maybe, it's just a freak accident.

I bought the same milk in the same store. The same thing happened. The milk tastes bad.

I chose another brand with the same price. The taste is ok. So what's wrong?

As days and weeks passed by, I saw the price of the milk plummet by 10%, then by 20%. Then later, the milk brand was gone from the shelf. Whoa! What's happening here?

Then after a week, boxes of the same brand are back at the regular price, the same as the competition. I bought the same milk brand. Maybe this time, this should be good.

It still tastes bad.

I checked the expiration date. It expires in a month or two.

And since that time, I checked the expiration date of the milk I buy and choose only that which will expire in 6 months at least.

Yesterday, I bought milk again. I checked that milk brand again. The milk will expire in a week!

Terrible. The brand manager should be fired.

B. SOME MARKETING LESSONS

Here are some branding are marketing lessons that we can learn from this sour milk story:

1. Brand managers must take care of their brand

They should monitor the expiration dates of their products to make sure that the customer really gets the fresh milk that they wish to get. If they doubt the quality of the milk after a particular duration, even way before the expiration date, then they must change the expiration date. In this way, the customers would trust the quality of the brand.

2. Brand managers must recall defective products. 

If they think that products are defective, then they must remove them from the selves or throw them to the sea or donate them to charity if it is acceptable to do so. No fancy advertising can salvage a bad product.

2. Brand managers should buy the products that they sell. 

No, they should not buy them at their own factories and avail of factory prices. Rather, they should buy them where customers really buy them, e.g. supermarkets and grocery stores. Is the product easy to find? What products are sold beside it? Business is war and the store's shelf space is a battlefield.

3.  Brand managers should use the products that they sell.

If it's food, they must eat it. If it's a drink, they must drink it. If you can't drink milk that will expire in a month, then they should not sell it. Here's the golden rule: sell to others the products that you actually use yourself.

13 July 2015

How to use content marketing to advertise like David Ogilvy

Confessions of an Advertising Man
A. David Ogilvy as a content marketer

I was reading Jeffrey Fox's book, How to Become a Rainmaker: The Rules for Getting and Keeping Customers and Clients, when my eyes caught the following paragraphs:
David Ogilvy was the greatest copy writer in the history of advertising.  Ogilvy was also an awesome Rainmaker: He brought in wonderful clients to his advertising agency.  He was a master at giving and getting. One of David Ogilvy's memorable advertising campaigns was a series of ads he wrote to promote his agency, Ogilvy & Mather, in New York City.
Unlike the typical, predictable, and egotistical advertising that most agencies produce to promote themselves, Ogilvy "gave" his genius away.  Instead of telling potential clients how great O & M was, instead of writing about himself, Ogilvy gave away how to do what his agency did.
One ad, headlined "How to Write a Corporate Ad," gave an accurate, detailed road map on copy points, layout, typeface, mistakes to avoid.  Another, headlined "How to Make a Television Commercial," revealed Ogilvy's approaches and secrets
One can imagine the internal debate at O & M; "If we tell them how we do it, they won't need us!" But the sage and savvy Rainmaker knew coffee companies made coffee not ads, and that automakers made cars not commercials.  He figured potential clients would not go to his competitors and say, "Make me ads the way Ogilvy does it." (Fox, How to Become a Rainmaker, pp. 163-164)
 What Ogilvy did is simply content marketing at its finest.

B. How you can also be a content marketer like Ogilvy

What if you are not in advertising business like Ogilvy? Can you still use content marketing? Of course. Let's look at some hypothetical examples:
  • Typewriters. If your firm specialize in old typewriters, you can blog about the history of a specific typewriter: the engineering problems that the typewriter overcame, the famous people who used the typewriter, the fortunes of the company who made the typewriter, the different types of fonts available to the typewriter, the design of each part of the typewriter, the types of metals and plastics used in the typewriter, the engineers who built the typewriter, etc.
  • Flowers. If your firm sells flowers, you can blog about the different types of flowers, how a particular flower blooms, how to cultivate a flower, what soil type is good for different flowers, how to arrange flowers for different occasions, what vases go well with different flower arrangements, the farms where the flowers came from, the poems about flowers, the painters who love a particular flower, etc.
  • Bus. If you are a bus firm, you can blog about different bus models, the different types of bus engines, the interior designs of different buses, the places your bus go to, the important events that your bus may pass by, the accidents that happened along the road, the peak and off seasons of passengers, etc.
  • Farm. If you are a farmer, you can blog about your crops, the different kinds of fruits that grows in your farm, how to properly use a particular fertilizer, how to to make a compost pit, how to identify the different kinds of worms that ravage particular plants, how to irrigate the fields, how to identify different rice varieties, how to enjoy the fresh air, how to build a hut, how to milk a cow, how to keep milk fresh, how to make cheese, how to process different fruits into jams, 
By giving your readers valuable content related to your business, you establish your expertise in your field and position your firm at the top of your reader's mind in your chosen product category.

28 June 2015

How to leverage offline talks in your content marketing strategy

TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking

I had the opportunity to listen to two talks given by Rappler. The first one was given by my colleague, Chay Hofilena, in Ateneo de Manila University. The second one was this year with Rappler's founder Maria Ressa and her social media staff at the CBCP Media Office during the preparations for the visit of Pope Francis. I also had the opportunity to hear stories about talks given by Rappler from my friends and acquaintances. These data gives me a glimpse of Rappler's content marketing strategy.

A. PROPOSAL

Rappler goes out of its way to talk to different institutions, in order to tell them  about Rappler cutting edge digital technologies and how Rappler can share its expertise for free by giving talks, e.g. how to write news and feature articles, how to conduct social media marketing campaigns in Facebook and Twitter, etc. It's an offer an institution can hardly refuse.  After all, the institution does not have to pay Rappler anything.  All that the institution needs is to provide the venue and the people to listen to the talk.  This is the essence of content marketing: you offer valuable content and people will stop what they are doing to listen to you.  This is the opposite of traditional advertising where you bombard the viewer with shocking or glaring photos and videos in order to catch or force their attention.

B. TALK

Rappler's talks usually have three parts:

1. About Rappler

Rappler's speakers always starts by discussing what Rappler is: unlike news websites that evolve from newspapers, Rappler is a purely online news website that capitalizes on the power of community participation and social media. Then the speaker talks about Rappler's projects:
  • Move.ph is citizen engagement arm that uses media to push for real solutions to development issues, such as education, governance, climate change, gender, health, and disaster risk reduction and management
  • Project Agos is an online platform for helping the community and government work together to fight against climate change and disasters

From a marketing point of view, this immediate introduction of the product (Rappler) just before the main beef of the talk is similar to how advertisers insert commercials just before the viewers are hanging on their seats wishing to know what will happen next in the story or show. But unlike traditional advertisers whose advertisements the viewer can tune out by changing channels, Rappler already has the audience permission to say something about Rappler or simply about anything.  This is permission marketing. It is similar to having people like you in Facebook or subscribe to your blog via email, where you are assured that whatever you have written won't be deleted or tossed to the garbage bin by the reader.

Duration: 20 minutes

2. Talk Proper

The talk proper is what the audience came for, such as news and feature writing or social media marketing.  By teaching others, Rappler positions itself as a thought leader. In marketing parlance, we call this content marketing--provide exceptional content to the reader, so that the reader will come to you and not you to the reader.  In the web, content marketing is done by writing good content in your blog or website and people find this content using search engines like Google and referrals from influencers in Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

Duration: 20 minutes

3. Questions and Answers

In this part of the talk, the audience ask Rappler's speaker something about the Rappler itself or about the talk.  In marketing lingo, this is called engagement. If the speaker can answer the questions well, this cements in the audience's minds that Rappler is really good news website worth visiting.

The questions from the audience also provides an insight on the audience's demographics and their concerns, which Rappler can exploit in two ways:

  • Improvement of Presentations. Rappler can gather the questions and answers into an FAQ, which can be given to other speakers who will speak on similar topic in other places. The answers to these questions can also improve the succeeding presentations
  • Finding Exeptional Talent. Rappler can spot exceptional talent in the audience whom they can recruit as writers, programmers, graphic designers, or social media marketers. Spotting exceptional writers are one of the most crucial, because Rappler can ask them to guest post in Rappler's platform (e.g. Move.ph) for free, in exchange for visibility and wider readership. Content is money in content marketing. With content you can drive traffic to your website.  If you get sufficiently high volume for traffic and monetize just 1% of them through ads or product sales, the revenues can be significant. If the writer writes for free, whatever traffic-generated income from his content can already be considered by Rappler as net profit.
  • Market Research. In one of its talks, Rappler said that its main business is to give funders an insight into behavior of their readers, which can be potential customer's of the funders' products. These data can be obtained directly from Rappler's website, especially through its patented mood meter, which consists of circles whose sizes depend on the number of people describing their moods after reading the article. This content consumer behavior may also be gleaned from the types of questions posed by the audience in Rappler's talks.
Duration: 20 minutes.

C. POST-TALK METRICS

There are four metrics that Rappler may use to measure the effectiveness of its talks:

  • Gain in Rappler's subscribers per talk. This can be measured from Facebook likes and website e-mail subscriptions. Rappler can plot the number of subscribers per day or per week for each of these marketing platforms and compute the time derivative of the subscribers (how the number of subscribers change per unit time). If we assume that the normal growth in the number of subscribers is linear, then the the time derivative of the number of subscribers is a constant or a horizontal line in time. This is the subscription velocity. The time derivative of the subscription velocity would be zero and this is the subscripton acceleration. A talk can give a non-zero subscription acceration. 
  • Number of participants per talk. This can be obtained from the list of people who signed up before joining the talk. Usually, this list includes email addresses. Rappler can then use these email addresses to build its database for e-mail marketing.
  • Number of volunteer writers recruited per talk. This is really an invaluable metric. Making people work for your for free in exchange for intangible things like fame or being heard already puts your company in the level of Gawad Kalinga who promises dignified homes, the Communists who promises equality of all men, or Catholic Church who promises heaven. 
  • Number of salaried personnel recruited per talk. These talks are also opportunities to spot exceptional talent. After Rappler recruits volunteer writers, read their written pieces, and see the traffic-pulling power of their prose, Rappler can decide to hire these writers to write regularly as a salaried personnel.

CONCLUSIONS

Rappler uses talks to market its website.  First, Rappler proposes to give useful talks about news and feature writing or social media marketing to institutions.  If the institutions agree, then Rappler sends representatives who shall give talks on these topics, preceded by a marketing piece: a discussion about Rappler and its projects. The talk ends with a question and answer portion.  The answers to the questions may be used by Rappler to improve its succeeding presentations, find exceptional talent, or get insights on the audience's profile for market research that may be useful for Rappler's funders.

You may also use Rappler's content marketing strategy by using talks to solve the target audience's pain points, which would give you the platform and the permission to invite the audience to visit your website or buy your books.


20 June 2015

5 reasons why people don't follow you back in Twitter

Twitter Power 3.0: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time


You wish to increase your followers by following other people in Twitter, hoping that a percentage of them will follow you back. You even automated certain things, such as using an app to find the the influencers in your field and another app to find unfollow people who don't follow you back after one day. Yet most of them don't follow you back. It's a sad and dreary life.

Perhaps, the reason why people don't follow you back is because you are one of the following:

1. Porncaster

You post pictures or gifs of naked or nearly naked women. If you wish to attract followers who are also porn addicts like you, then you are doing well.  But if you want to people to follow you because you want to sell some goods or you wish others to learn from your expertise, then that porn stuff would not sit well with people who are serious about business, so they immediately click the unfollow buton.

2. Twitterbot

You are not a real person, but a Twitterbot. All your tweets are exactly the same as the other account who followed me immediately after you did: an account with a handle consisting of a random set of characters (e.g. @12qber45) selling several product and promising 5,000 followers for $5.

3. Imemine

All your tweets are just about your life: what you had for dinner, the problem with your ex, your outfit for the day, or why that waiter is so slow. It's always about "I" or "me" or "mine". If you are a movie star or a public figure, those things are newsworthy enough to be featured in newspapers and blogs. But if you are a nobody, well, nobody else would care except your close friends.

4. Irregular

The last time you tweeted was a week or a month ago and the interval between your tweets is several days. So far, you haven't even reached 100 tweets.

5. Alien

Twitter is not really your home.  You live in another world--in Facebook perhaps.  And you push the content from Facebook to Twitter. We can see the tell-tale signs: those three dots (...) that says you were cut off in the middle of your speech because it exceeded Twitter's 140-character limit. You don't engage with other people in Twitter by favoriting their tweets or sharing them. You just stay there in the air, hovering over Twitter netizens, refusing to get your feet on the ground.

Conclusions

If you wish people to follow you in Twitter, don't be a Porncaster, a Twitterbot, a Imemine, an Irregular, or an Alien. Instead, post wholesome images, be a real person, be concerned about others, post often, and really make yourself part of the Twitter community.

17 June 2015

Blog content distribution workflow for different social media channels

A Writer's Badass Guide To Branding, Blogging and Social Media
Writing your blog post and clicking "publish" is not the end of the writing process.  You also must tell others that you have written something somewhere; if you are really serious about content marketing, you can't just rely on Google search referrals for traffic. And this is where social media comes in.  Social media is a wonderful source of traffic aside from Google. But different social media platforms have their own unique quirks and personalities. Mastering these content distribution platforms requires time, but the additional substantial traffic from these platforms is sometimes more than what Google search referrals can give. What you need is a process--a content distribution process that you can repeat again and again for different articles, until you reach the point where you do not anymore have to think much: the process has become part of your system, a habit. And habits consume less brain power, allowing you to think of more important things like love and life.

Below is my content distribution process that you may also wish to adopt:

1. Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn

Copy the url of your blog post and paste it on your status field in Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. These social platforms will then get the post title, image snippet, and text snippet. Facebook and Google+ allows you to choose the pictures that you see in your post (you can upload your own), while LinkedIn chooses one for you. If you wish to highlight a particular paragraph from your article, copy this paragraph and paste it above your blog post snippet.

If you have a nice poster from your article, you may also post it separately, but make sure that it has a link to your source article with some pertinent paragraphs.  The paragraphs are important, because it is only how search engines will be able to know what the picture is all about. The link to your source article is important, especially if it is your article.  That link is your call to action to visit your blog, because it is in your blog or website where sales happen, e.g. your readers buy your e-book, purchase from your affiliate site, or click on your advertisements.

2. Twitter

Make a Twitter Card poster.  My recommended size is 614 x 473 px, with the important message inside the centered box with dimensions 564 x 310 px; outside of this box, your readers may not be able to read in their news feed unless they click on the picture to see its entirety. Think of these Twitter cards as billboards, so the rules in billboard advertising also holds for Twitter cards, e.g. limit your important messages to 7 words.  News feeds, like cars, run fast.  So keep your message short to be remembered.

Upload your Twitter card together with your blog post title. Put some relevant hashtags. Make sure that the hashtag that you chose is one of those which Twitter suggests; otherwise, nobody or very few are following that hashtag and your tweet would reach a very small audience.

Since long url's tend to occupy about 23 characters, you need to shorten them. To do this, go to goo.gl and paste the url of your blog post there to get a shortened url version. Paste this shortened url in your tweet after your hashtag. Schedule your tweet. After some time, you'll see your tweet published.

Make a Twitter Container containing all your published posts with Twitter cards.  You can drag and drop your tweets there, by clicking and dragging the crossed-arrow sign. In this way, you can easily find the goo.gl url of your article by just scanning your Twitter cards. This is because humans process information faster in visual form. You can use the same url link if you wish to repost your tweet in the future or a variant of it. Otherwise, you have to go to goo.gl again to shorten your url.

There may be some important quotes or sentences that you think is worth highlighting. Usually, these are either topic sentences of each paragraph or some important quotes from great men, e.g. Aristotle.  You may also tweet these by adding the relevant hashtags and the shortened url of your blog post.  The aim here is not just to tweet for tweeting's sake, but content marketing: the reader may like the quote and click on the link that leads to your article. Just make sure that you don't tweet from the same article in succession.  Instead, scatter them around.  My personal rule is that two successive tweets from the same article must be spaced 7 tweets apart, with the other tweets between them coming from different articles. The number 7 is a good rule to follow, since it is the limit of human short-term memory. One caveat: quotes and topic sentences do not have the same stopping power as a headline, i.e. your blog post title.

3. Pinterest

You can make a Pinterest board consisting of your Twitter cards. But these cards are not really optimal for Pinterest where larger fonts and pictures are the standard. Post vertical posters with width to height ratio that don't exceed 1:5, so that Pinterest won't truncate your poster.

The quotes from your blog posts are important. Make a poster out of them and post them in Pinterest. Again, make sure that you use the post from the web option, which is done by posting the url address of your blog post.  Pinterest will then provide pictures from that blog post. You can choose the pictures to post in Pinterest. Again, Pinterest is just a social media content distribution channel.  The aim of that poster should lead your reader back to your blog post.That is, if you click on the "visit site" button, it should go to your article.

Conclusions

Writing a blog post is not enough. You need to learn how to promote your blog post in social media.  Different social media channels have their own personalities and quirks. You need to master them in order to distribute your more content effectively to drive traffic to your blogs.

14 June 2015

Marine World in Fukuoka City, Japan

Last 2-6 March 2015, I attended the United Nations/Japan Worshop on Space Weather in Fukuoka, Japan. This 5-day workshop at Hotel Luigans in Fukuoka is about Science and Data Products from ISWI instruments. The Marine World is just across Luigans Spa and Resort Hotel. Here are some of my photos of the Marine World:

Building near the sea
Approaching the Marine World in Fukuoka City from Hotel Luigans. The design is like an upturned clam shell. Night is coming and the sun sets over the horizon.

Building with palms near the sea
This is a building between the Luigans Hotel and the Marine World. It's possibly a port that gives access to both Hotel Luigans and Marine World.

Road to a cream building lined with trees under blue sky
A view of Luigans Hotel as seen halfway from Hotel Luigans. I love the contrast between the brick-red and cream building with the blue sky.

Stairs to a clam-shaped building
The stairway to the Marine Worl

Benches beside the swimming pool
A view of the benches for the dolphin show. Notice the arched domes.

Swimming pool theatre
Notice the interesting rails on top. I don't know what they're for. Perhaps it shows the scoreboard or some announcements.

Swimming pool for dolphins
This is the view of the pool in its entirety.  I like the strength of the blue and that of the orange. Orange and green looks nice together. Notice the lights from the harbor across the sea.

Girl with two dolphins
Okay, everybody! The dolphins are here!

Swimming pool with dolphins
There are several dolphins now in the pool. I took some photographs of them leaping as high as the balls on top, but the pictures are blurred.

yellow-gray fishes in the aquarium
Some gray fishes with yellow fins. in the aquarium. I don't know what that blob is on the right. Perhaps its a coral.

ceiling aquarium
The ceiling is also teeming with fishes!

The domed aquarium entrance
The domed aquarium entrance.  The color is green. On the farther end you can see a violet colored cylindrical aquarium.

Violet cylindrical aquarium with fishes
The violet cylindrical aquarium.  It is the same gray fishes with yellow fins. Notice that the room revolves around this central cylindrical aquarium

Mangrove in an aquarium
A mangrove tree in an aquarium. Reminds me of the dangerous Mewlips in Middle Earth.

Crystal globe with blue light
I don't know what's this. Perhaps its a representation of the earth as a water world. Actually, if you go to outer space, you will see this blue sphere around the earth--the atmosphere.

paths of currents in Pacific ocean
The paths of the currents in the Pacific Ocean

shells
These are types of shells. Notice that it's a lightbox. Or maybe not.

Aquarium with blue lighting.
Aquarium with blue lighting. The little fishes look red.

Three aquariums in a room
Triptych: a three-panel layout for the aquariums.

Two aquariums with fishes
This is just the same aquarium, but in the corner of the room. The difference is the blue light on the left.

box aquarium with fishes
A single aquarium with cream colored sand. The lighting is natural white light.

Fishes, stones, and sand.
Fishes, stones, and sand.

White squid with yellow stripes in green waters
White squid with yellow stripes. Looks yummy! It's interesting how the squid makes a wave-like motion of its fins to move.  Its tentacles are now lumped together to lessen the fluid drag resistance. I like the yellow and greenish-blue colors.

Lighted aquariums on both sides of the path
This is a dazzling display of lights for the aquariums. It feels like you have crossed the Red Sea with the Israelites. Or perhaps like you are in an alien space ship.

Dinner area beside a giant aquarium
Food will be served in these circular tables behind the giant aquarium wall.  On the other side are sharks! By the way, the chocolate tables reminds me of little chocolate cakes.

School of fish in a giant aquarium
The fishes are going to school.  Good for them.

Lobster
Oh, a crayfish! Looks yummy. The exoskeleton of these creatures are the inspiration for exoskeleton technology in military.

School of fish in a giant aquarium
The schools of fish again. But this time there's a shark with two lampreys. Suckers!

School of fish and the shark with two lampreys
School of fish with the shark and two lampreys. It's a free ride--and free food, too!

Shark with two lampreys
Shark with two lampreys up close and personal. 


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