31 January 2015

3 types of Twitter posting methods for content marketers

When you post in Linkedin, Facebook, or Google+, the post is featured with image snippets, title snippets, and text abstracts.  That is why, the rule in these media platforms is that you post your article in your target community only once.  In Twitter, on the other hand, its 140-character limit and real-time nature make reposting of old tweets tolerable. Because of this, several posting patterns occur in Twitter which are used by content marketers. I shall describe each of these patterns using the military analogy.

1. Police

Police officers normally wear a M1911.  This 0.45 caliber pistol was designed for stopping power, such as during the Moro Rebellion in the Philippines when an ordinary 0.38 pistol is not enough to stop a Muslim amok armed with a kris or kampilan sword.

In a similar way, police twitters posts only the most shareable tweets because of their higher stopping power (the readers are stopped scrolling by the headline).  The number of bullets in their cartridge is usually the number of blog posts that they have.  In Twitter, they copy the title and url of their blog post, put the proper hashtags, and tweet. They do this for each of their blog post starting from the oldest to the newest. As their blog grows, their ammunition also grows.  If they have 100 blog posts, they can tweet each hour for 4 days without repeating themselves.  If they have 500 blog posts, they can tweet each hour for 20 days without repeating themselves.

2. Sniper

Snipers take their time in aiming their shot.  They look for the perfect time--the wind has died down, their target is in vulnerable position, their rifle is loaded, they are concealed in their position, and they fire.  Bang! The bullet whizzes through the air and hits the target's head.

In a similar way, snipers in Twitter study the behavior of their followers and those who follow certain hashtags such as #blogging or #contentmarketing.  Then they weigh the options: should they fire their tweet when the number of twitters is at their peak, hoping to hit more targets with a single bullet? or should they fire their tweet when the number of twitters is low, hoping to hit a few but significant targets due to the longer lifetime of their tweets in their followers' Twitter feed?  Sniper twitters design the right accompanying picture for their tweets--the colors, the fonts, the graphic, and the layout.  They then schedule their post. And minutes or hours later--bang! There goes the tweet. If they failed to get blog visitors with that tweet, they post the same tweet several hours later and pray for a good hit.

3. Soldier

Soldiers were trained to fight in mountains and boondocks (this came from the Tagalog word "bundok") using an M-16 rifle.   This rifle shoots several rounds once you pull the trigger.

In a similar way, soldier twitters tweet about a single blog post several times in different ways.  To do this without trying to appear monotonous, they cull the important statements per paragraph of the blog posts and put these statements in their twitter cartridge.  Each of their tweet consists of one important statement and the blog post url.  If they wrote a blog post of 5 paragraphs, then they can tweet about this blog posts 6 times (one title + 5 important statements) at several hours apart. But once they exhausted their ammunition for the particular blog post, they don't repeat themselves and tweet about the same blog post again.

Conclusions

These are only some general methods that you can use in your Twitter marketing campaigns.  Of course, you can mix and match.  But what is important is that you analyze your twitting habits to determine what kind of twitter marketer you are.  Then you can try out other methods and see if these suit you personality and the needs of your marketing campaign.

26 January 2015

How to interpret and improve your 9 metrics in Twitter Analytics


There are several stats that you can see in analytics.twitter.com.  Let's describe them one by one:

  1. Impressions for a particular tweet (table). This is the total number of people who saw your tweet.  Since Twitter is published in real time, this statistic gives you the instantaneous size of your audience in that one brief moment of fame or infamy. Some tips: Note the time of the day, because your audience size may depend on the time of the day. So make sure that your target audience is awake and tweeting when you tweet, e.g. North America at 8 pm local time. 
  2. Engagements for a particular tweet (table). This is the total number of link clicks, retweets, favorites, and replies for your tweet.   
  3. Engagements rate for a particular tweet (table). This is the total number of engagements divided by the total impressions and the result converted to percentage. This is a good metric for your tweet. Some tips: classify your tweets according to low and high engagements.  What do low engagement tweets have in common?  What do high engagement tweets have in common? Test your theories by using the insight obtained from high engagement tweets.  If you get high engagement most of the time from that point onward, then your theory may be correct.
  4. Engagement rate per day (blue line chart). This is the total number of link clicks, retweets, favorites,and replies for your tweets for each day.
  5. Link clicks per day (purple bar chart). This is the number of times the links in your tweets were clicked for each day.  Some tips: (a) Make sure that your tweets have links to your blog article.  (b) Use a url shortener such as goo.gl.
  6. Retweets per day (green bar chart). This is is the total number of retweets of your tweets for each day. Some tips: (a) Make sure that your tweet is unique, compelling, and timely to convince others to retweet your tweet. (b) Sometimes a good image or infographic attached to your tweet increases the likelihood of retweet.
  7. Favorites per day (orange bar chart).  This is the number of times your tweets were given a star of approval by others for each day. Some tips: Your tweet must resonate with the reader. How you do it is more difficult.  As a rule, make some insights about being human and not just tweet about yourself and your actions--unless you are a movie star.
  8. Replies per day (blue bar chart). This is the number of times people replied to your tweets for each day.  Some tips: start conversations in Twitter by commenting on other people's tweets, within reason, of course. Once people see that you like conversations, they may also try to converse with you, so that the number of replies per day would increase.
  9. Impressions per day (large blue bar chart).  This is the largest chart that you will see.  This chart shows the number of people who saw your tweet for each day. Some tip: Plot the number of tweets that you post per day and see if your chart looks similar to impressions per day.  You may also like to make an xy-scatter plot of the number of impressions per day vs the number of tweets per day.  If the graph is a straight line, then one conclusion that you can make is that the more tweets you make the more impressions you get. But what if your graph is not a straight line even for large tweet data sets?  This is where the fun begins. Maybe there are some things special about some of your tweets? Find these magic ingredients.


25 January 2015

Distributor Management: Winning Tools in Managing Distributors as Partners by Emilio Macasaet III

A few days ago, I read a tweet from Josiah Go that Emilio Macasaet III is launching his book in Powerbooks, Glorietta 4 this Tuesday, 27 January 2015, 6:00 pm.  His book is entitled, "Distributor Management: Winning Tools in Managing Distributors as Partners".

The following day, I asked the National Bookstore in Katipunan if they have the book.  The lady in the information counter checked her database and asked me to wait.  She went up the spiral staircase.  After a few minutes she was back holding the Distributor Management book.

A. Book Cover Design

I like the book's cover design. The cover photo are chains of silver with a green link.  I think the image is apt since a distributor manager (green) links two things: the company and the distributor.  A weak distributor manager would severe the relations between the company and the distributor. A strong distributor manager would preserve the link between the company and the distributor for many, many years.

I checked the back cover.  It contains his photo in coat and tie.  The green background of his photo matches with the green link in the front cover--very consistent color scheme.

The first two paragraphs of the back cover describes his qualifications to write the book:
Emilio C. Macasaet III is a Partner and the Chief Distribution Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. He is also the Chairman and CEO of Field Partners Inc., an on-field sales training and coaching company. He conducts various sales seminars, consulting, and training programs in most parts of Asia-Pacific and Middle East.
He obtained his MBA from Ateneo de Manila University and took a Doctor in Business Administration (DBA) program at De La Salle Graduate School of Business wherehe was a former MBA professor in Distribution Management.  Bong also attended an executive program in Marketing Channels at Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Chicago; and other special programs at Singapore Institute of Management (SIM), Singapore, and Burke Institute, USA. Bong partly writes a column in Business World newspaper.
The last paragraph is a recommendation by Josiah L. Go.

B. What is the significance of the book for distributor managers?

In his interview with Josiah Go, Emilio Macasaet III said:
Here’s a test. Ask someone to go to any popular bookstore or to check Amazon.com for a book that offers a fundamental step-by-step guide to effective distributor management. None. I’m now catering to an almost un-served market. This book, “Distributor Management: Winning Tools in Managing Distributors as Partners” aims to help Distributor Managers go back to the basics on how to effectively manage distributors as partners. Operational frameworks and structured procedures are meticulously written to help readers learn and immediately apply the essential elements in managing a distributor partner. I have also included very important templates like the Territory & Distributor Fact Books, Check-Point Meeting forms, Cycle Plans, and basic financial metrics useful in understanding the distributor’s business health. Readers can alter, enhance, or refine the templates to make them useful for their specific needs. 
This is the only book on the subject in the market which already serves as a basic manual to effectively manage a distributor partner. You can actually give this book to a novice salesman with latent talent, and he’d be ready to go. I teach distributor management for various companies in Asia-Pacific and Middle East, and most of them find the structured procedures and templates very useful and immediately applicable. Now, they’re in this book and available in National and Power Bookstores.
This is a nice positioning: Macasaet filled the hole in the distributor management literature.  Hence, if you are distributor manager, you should read the book.

C. What is the significance of the book for CEOs?

Business is war.  To succeed in war, you not only have to manage your troops, but also those of your allies.  The distributor manager is the general who shall manage your allies.  Leaders of allied troops are not commanded, but only persuaded, i.e. they should be dealt as partners.  To do this effectively, the distributor manager must know everything about the distributor--his sales force, his outlets, his motives, his areas of coverage, etc--not through espionage, but through transparency, for transparency, according to Macasaet, is the one that builds trust.  And this is where the Distributor Fact Books, Check-Point Meeting forms, Cycle Plans, and other metrics come into the picture.  If distributors know that they are being evaluated according to certain set of standards, they can either live up to those standards and demand from the distributor manager those same standards of excellence. or they can opt to cease as distributors and offer their services to another company--even to your competitor.

So if you are the CEO of your company, I suggest that you check out Macasaet's book and give a copies of it to your distributor managers.  Gather them together one weekend of brainstorming sessions and retreat.  Make them answer the end-of-chapter reflection points proposed by Macaset.  Here is an example of tactical reflections at the end of Chapter 1 (p. 13):
  1. As a distributor manager, do I have a clear understanding of my critical roles and responsibilities?  Can I imagine myself in this role?
  2. Do I know my Key Result Areas (KRAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? Have I discussed this with my boss in person?
  3. Do I possess the basic sales, personal, and business competencies which I need to succeed in my job?
And here's are the classic application exercise:
  1. What I will stop doing
  2. What I will start doing
  3. What I will continue doing?
These are similar to what St. Ignatius wrote in his Spiritual Exercises: "What I have done for Christ, what I am doing for Christ, what I ought to do for Christ?" Macasaet also mentioned Thomas a Kempis, the author of Imitation of Christ, in his book.   And given the author's Ignatian background in his MBA at Ateneo de Manila University, it is possible that Macasaet, perhaps unconsciously, adapted the Spiritual Exercises to serve as the framework for the distributor manager's business retreat.

Business is war and St. Ignatius is a man-of-war.  Since Macasaet refers to distributor managers as generals, it may be worth remembering what Sun Tzu said in his Art of War:
It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
D. How do I get a copy of the book?

The book is available in National Bookstore branches.  The cost is Php 288. If you are free this Tuesday, 27 January 2015, 6:00 pm, you may like to attend the book launching of Emilio Macasaet III's book, Distributor Management, at Powerbooks Greenbelt 4.

Branding lessons from a Hello Kitty bag

It's Christmas season and a friend asked me to look for a transparent lady's bag.  I went to Gateway Mall and searched, until I reached Rustan's Department store.

Rustan's in Gateway Mall is inconspicuous.  From the outside, it looks like a small store with white Christmas lights hanging on the entrance.  But when I went in, it opens up to new caverns, like the Dwarven Mines of Moria.  You see some flight of steps here and there, some walls, but you don't get to see everything all at once, unlike in SM Department Stores.  Perhaps this is really the design given the space available to Rustan's at Gateway: the compartmentalized design makes you focus on each product as if you are the  only person around, making you feel special, far apart from the masses in the malls.

"Sir, where are your lady's bags?" I asked one of the attendants.

"It's on the lower floor," he said.

I went down through an escalator.

When I reached the floor, I met some staff carrying plexiglas display stands--probably for shoes or for jewelry. I looked around.  There were lady's bags made of leather in colors brown, yellow, and green.  I didn't see the brand.  I didn't even check the price.  Where's that bag? I asked myself.

Perhaps, this is the difference between men and women in shopping.  Women tend to wander around and wonder: "Wow! A bag!  How lovely! Will this match my shoes?   Will this go with my dress?"  Men, on the other hand, focus only on the task at hand and forget everything else.

"Sir, I am looking for some transparent lady's bags," I asked one of the attendants.

"We have no transparent lady's bags.  But you may like to check our bags here." He brought me to the luggage bags!

"No," I said. "I am looking for a lady's handbag. Transparent."

"Sorry, Sir," the sales lady said. "We don't have the bag."

I took a leave and left.

On my way out, I spotted some bags near the entrance/exit. Oh, a transparent bag, I said to myself.  I checked it out.  It's a Hello Kitty bag.

"Do you have other designs? I want a transparent bag with no large Hello Kitty painted over it."

"No, sir," the attendant said. "That's all the designs we have at the moment. Are you buying for yourself or for your friend?"

"I am buying for a friend."

"It's a Hello Kitty bag.  Your friend would surely love a Hello Kitty bag."

I checked the specs.  It says that the plastic simulates the strength of a leather--or something to that effect.

"How much is this?"

"Twenty-six fifty."

"Ok. I'll get this."

I went to the cashier area.  Some of the staff at the back are wrapping gifts.

"Do you also wrap gifts?" I asked

"Yes," the cashier said.

"What's the cost for the gift wrapping?"

"It is free, Sir."

"Why?"

"For any item worth at least Php 500, the gift-wrapping is free."

"But my item is less than Php 500."

The cashier checked the price.

"Sir, the price of the bag is Php 2,650."

"Oh, I thought it's just something less than Php 300."

Twenty-six fifty. Yes, that's Php 2,650.  It is interesting how we talk about prices.  If we ask about the price of shoes, we say three-five to mean Php 3,500.  This assumes that the other person already understands the price range of men's shoes.  But when it comes to lady's bags, it's my first time to buy one and I have no idea at all.

"Sorry, I won't buy the bag," I said to the cashier.

"It's ok, sir," she said and smiled.

So goodbye, Hello Kitty bag. Maybe someday I'll have a chance to say hello to you again.

18 January 2015

How to add a Pinterest widget to your Blogger blog using JavaScript

Pinterest allows you to install a Pinterest widget to your blog, so that the latest pictures of your pins would be visible from your blog. If your pins are pictures from your blogs, then putting the Pinterest widget would also be a way to drive traffic to your blog. If most of your pins are repins from other sources, then the Pinterest widget is just for vanity and not for content marketing.

To put the Pinterest widget to your blog, go to your Pinterest profile.  On the upper right hand corner, you will see the Edit Profile button and the gear icon.  Click the gear icon and the drop-down menu would show the following: Account settings, Make a widget, and Log out.  Click "Make a widget". You'll see a Javascript code similar to the one below:

<a data-pin-board-width="400" 
data-pin-do="embedUser" 
data-pin-scale-height="200" 
data-pin-scale-width="80" 
href="http://www.pinterest.com/quirinosugonjr/">
Visit Quirino's profile on Pinterest.</a>
<!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page -->
<script async="" src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js" 
type="text/javascript"></script>

Now, go to your Blogger blog. Click Layout, then Insert Gadget. Choose HTML/JavaScript gadget. Paste the Pinterest code.  Save what you did then view your blog. You will notice that the height="200" may be too large: the widget shows only the latest four pictures and there's a large white space below them. To correct this, you may set the height="80" instead.  In this way, you remove the large white space and widget would look just right.

Just a note: JavaScript codes can easily be installed in Blogger, but not in the free Wordpress.com blogs.  If you host your Wordpress blog yourself, then you can use the script.

How to use categories and tags for your blog

Categories and tags are two methods for classifying your blog content.

A. Categories

In categories, you look for parent-child relationships between phrases.  For example, the main category is house, you can break this down into house-walls, house-floor, and house-window.  This subcategory classification is by component feature.  The other method is by function: house-dining, house-kitchen, house-bedroom, etc.  You can even subdivide this further, such as house-bedroom-bed and house-kitchen-sink.  The important thing is that the categories and subcategories must have an ordering principle behind them.  That is, you cannot use house-dining and house-windows at the same time, because one is a subcategory by function, while the other is a subcategory by construction.

The advantage of categories is that you can easily see the content structure of your blog.  The disadvantage is that it is difficult to classify articles according to categories.  Think of each blog article as an animal and think of yourself as Carolus Linnaeus.  Linnaeus classified animals and other living things by grouping them into different groups and subgroups and sub-subgroups, and so on: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.  Now, can you do the same for your blog articles? If you are wise, you only use one level of category classification, e.g. kingdom.  If you are not contended, you may add one more: phylum.  If you are a perfectionist, you add still one more: class.  No blogger in his right mind would have more than three levels of category classifications.  If you want more than three levels, hire a librarian.

B. Tags

In tags, you just write the phrases relevant to your blog posts.  It doesn't matter what relationships exists between these phrases.  For example, this blog post can have the following tags: Blogging, Categories, Tags, Blogger, Wordpress.

The advantage of tags is that you don't anymore have to think in terms of relationships between key concepts.  You just write them down. The disadvantage is that you can't see anymore the content hierarchy of your blog articles.  If you are writing a niche blog, this is dangerous because you would easily lose focus, and your blog can into multiple subjects which can deplete the power of your blog, in the same way as when you do not use a lens to focus sunlight on a sheet of paper, you cannot burn a hole.  One option to go around this is to use a tag cloud widget: those words or phrases that you use as tags more often, becomes larger than other tag words or phrases that you use less often.  The tag cloud can then give you a visual reminder of what things you blog more often.  If you don't like what you are seeing, you can immediately change course and refocus your content.

Can you use tags and categories in a single blog post?  In Wordpress, this is ok, because there are separate widgets for categories and tags.  In Blogger, it is difficult to make this distinction.  As a rule, the key words or phrases that you allow to be seen in your menu header shall comprise your categories.  Those that you do not put in the menu headers, but may be found below your article, we may classify as tags. Note that Wordpress allows you virtually infinite number of tags, while Blogger only allows you about 2,000 tags per blog and 20 tags per post.

17 January 2015

How to get things done with a 6-hole organizer notebook

An organizer comes with several holes that allows you to insert and remove pages by opening and closing the steel or plastic rings.  Normally, an organizer has many specialized paper layouts to help you get things done: to do list, calendar, contacts, and assorted note papers.  But sometimes, it is not worth to buy each new set of fillers.  If you prefer not to be constrained by the paper layout designs, you can simply buy the ruled paper fillers for this notebook and make your own calendar as you go along to get things done.  Here's how.

1.  Get a 6-hole organizer (3 3/4" x 6 3/4")

This size is optimum if you don't intend to use the organizer only for getting things done and not for taking lengthy notes.  Each page has a space for the date on the top corner, a space for the page number on the bottom corner, and a series of 24 horizontally ruled lines.

2. Make your TODAY page

In the first page of your organizer, make a calendar of activities for the day.  Write the date on the upper right hand corner.  Then on the left side of the page, write 7, 8, 9, 10, ..., 16, 17, 18 on every other line.  This corresponds to the hours of the day.  In this way, each line corresponds to a 30-minute task or event.  Fill up this calendar with your tasks and events.

3. Make a NOW page

Write the date on the top corner.  For each task that you plan to do now, draw a tick box on the left side, then the time of the day, and finally the task.  By concentrating only one task at hand, your mind can focus.  Also, one simple task is easier to do than many tasks, so writing down that one task gives you the confidence that you can do it.  Don't do anything else unless you finish that task.  Once you finish the task, look at your watch and determine how long from the starting time it took you to finish the task.  Write that time on top of the tick box.  Check the tick box with a red pen.  That little check mark is a reward for your brain: it won't anymore pester you with a reminder that you need to do this particular thing.  Remember: the brain has no sense of time regarding tasks: it only tells you whether you did what you promised to do or you did not do it.

4. Make a DAILY CALENDAR

Reserve a page for each date.  Write the date on the upper corner of the page.  For each task on that date, draw a tick mark followed by the description of the task.  If the task is actually an event, write the starting and ending times of the event after the tick box just before the task description.  When the time comes that you are going to make your TODAY page based on the tasks for the particular day, check out the events and their corresponding times.  Put these events in your TODAY page and use a vertical arrow pointing down to mark the beginning and end times.

If a day has no corresponding task, don't waste paper by getting a new paper and writing down the date on the upper corner.  Instead, don't do anything.  In this way, as you scan your calendar, you can immediately see ahead what needs to be done.

After the day is over, reschedule the undone tasks to different dates.  Throw away your calendar for that day and also your TODAY.  Start a new TODAY page and make a new calendar of activities for the day based on the events and tasks listed in the CALENDAR for the day.

13 January 2015

How to design posters for blogs and social media using Canva

Whenever I checked out my Facebook feed, I never fail to notice some excellent posters.  "How did they do that?" I asked myself. "Did they use Adobe Photoshop?"

A. Poster Making with Oil Pastel

I really like posters. When I was a kid, I joined on the spot poster-making contests to illustrate certain given themes. My favorite medium then was oil pastel.  I would color the background by drawing the pastel chalk left to right, then smooth out the colors using cotton dipped in baby oil. The posters take a while to draw in pencil.  The titles need to be centered properly.  And if you made a mistake, you really have to work hard to erase the pencil and pastel marks using a rubber eraser. It was a tough work to be a poster artist then.

B. Poster Making with Office Suite Applications

When the computers became ubiquitous, I moved to computer-aided poster design using MS Power Point and then Libre Office Presentation.  Because of my background in manual drawing and painting, I still draw objects as if I am using a pencil, then fill them with color.  I insert figures and texts and choose the layout.

MS Office and Libre Office presentation applications have layout options for the type of presentation slide that you wish: bullets, picture and text, graphics, etc. But these things are designed for presentations and not really for posters.  Posters are difficult to make, because you have to take into consideration many things:

  • Fonts.  The fonts will you use and their relative sizes are crucial to the design.
  • Colors. Choosing what colors to use is not easy.  You need some background in graphic design to pull this off properly.
  • Graphics.  Infographics are now being used more and more, so graphics elements for people, phones, and many things are needed. It is difficult to find icons and pictures for these.
If you have no background in graphics design, and you just want to create some beautiful posters for Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social media in a matter of minutes, Canva may be the answer to your problem.

C. Poster Making with Canva

If Wordpress is known for its many blog themes--free or premium--then Canva is the Wordpress equivalent for posters.  In Canva, you have many standard poster designs to choose from--a few are free, while the rest you buy for one dollar. There are also many, many pictures to choose from, which you can search using keyword. Some are free, while many are for one dollar.  If you are a photographer, Canva may be a way to monetize your photos.  If you are a graphic designer, Canva may be a way for you to monetize your layout and font choices.  If you are neither a photographer or a graphic designer and you a pressed for time to create your perfect poster, then Canva may be for you.  

There are three peculiar things that you will notice when you make posters in Canva:
  • No Grid. There is no grid in Canva.  But Canva makes up for this by drawing a line connecting the midpoint between two elements, e.g. two circles, whenever the two elements are centered properly.  This dynamic centering and relative positioning may be advantageous to graphic designers who prefer the intuitive feel of design rather than the mathematical description of coordinate locations.
  • Color picker.  If you wish to change the color of a particular element, a graphic or a text, you click the filled circle with color, then a palette with several basic colors would pop up. If you don't like the colors, you can click the + sign, which would show the color picker.  The color picker is a color wheel with colors from red to yellow to blue with hues ranging from bright to light.  You can pick the colors by moving the small circular cursor or by typing the color number.  This is the first time that I used this circular color picker and I love it. 
  • Templates for Social Media. There are templates for your Facebook posts and Facebook background picture.  The sizes are predefined, so you don't have to research the dimensions anymore.  This is really cool. 
Canva is a non-designer's poster design tool especially for rapid poster designs for blogs and social media. Check out canva.com.


11 January 2015

Duct Tape Selling: Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar

It has been two months now since I bought a business book.  I need to buy one.  So I went to my favorite bookstore and searched for a good book to read.  I found some books that I like to read: The Caterpillar Way and Uncommon Grounds (History of Coffee).  I am slowly getting interested in business biographies and histories.  But I saw a book with name "John Jantsch":
  • Duct Tape Selling: Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar
Oh, how can I refuse the guy?  I liked his two books: Duct Tape Marketing and Referral Engine. John Jantsch writes well.  He is one of the few writers whose prose I can read again and again without getting bored.  He writes as he speak, as if he is talking to a friend or customer.  He is never pompous, but writes direct to the point.  Here's a sample of his prose from pp. 48-49:
Craft your sales affirmation as your answer to the question, "What do you do for a living?" Instead of instinctively responding, "I'm in sales," consider how your customers see you and the roles you fill.  They don't think of you just as a generic salesperson; you offer specific value.  So your sales affirmation might be "I help manufacturers look at problems in a different way" or "I challenge business owners to think bigger."
You may never actually utter these words to a real person, but I hope you see how creating what I call your "talking logo" might help you stay focused on consistently showing up with your core value proposition in mind on every sales call and during face-to-face sessions with your clients.
Your talking logo, much like an effective company logo, is your personal branding identity phrase. 
So why did I buy his book.  For one reason: John Jantsch.  The book's cover does not matter to me, though the design is good: it is red, following the marketing adage that if you don't know what color to use, make it big and red.  There's a duct tape picture to suggest its connection with the classic text, Duct Tape Marketing.  And the author's name is written with the tagline: author of Duct Tape Marketing and Referral Engine.  Indeed, this is a good book cover, because it helps the reader connect with his best selling books.  That is, if the reader likes his previous works, then the reader must also like his new book on Duct Tape Selling.

At the back cover are recommendations from other authors  though the only author I knew there is Seth Godin, whose book, Linchpin, is one of my favorites. But when I returned to my room, I immediately removed the plastic and browsed the book.  From what I can see, John Jantsch does not wish to repeat himself.  If he said something in his previous books, he rewords them or summarizes them in his new book, so that his words do not become stale and always remain fresh, always providing new insights, and amplifying points not covered in detail before.

This book is difficult to put down. If you are a blogger like me, then this book is for you.  John describes here the importance of making your expert platform--your blog--as a means to establishing your reputation, because no one buys from someone no one hears about.  The readers always search about the author or product and if you become the authority on this particular product based on the quantity and quality of your blog articles, then making sales become much easier.

I strongly recommend this book by John Jansch: Duct Tape Selling: Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar. I give it five stars out of 5. Check it out.

10 January 2015

8 blogging personas based on Dungeons & Dragons characters

A blogging persona is a person you wish to project to your reader. Think of a persona as a mask, because that is what it originally is. But a blogging persona is more malleable than a mask, because it acquires a certain personality. So you can think of a persona as character in a role-playing game like Dungeons and Dragons. By being consistent in your blogging persona, you define your blog's brand. Here are some examples:

1. Wizard 

This blogger casts spells on his reader, such as the marketers's suggestion spells: "as you relax on your chair and drink your cappuccino, you wonder what it is like to live in a larger house for your growing family." He may also use magic wands, staves, socks, and shoes: "Buy our scientifically designed shoes and we guarantee that you'll run faster than before."

2. Fighter

This blogger loves war with words.  He may be a street fighter who writes expletives before throwing those verbal punches and kicks.  He may also be  a knight who makes a formal challenge of verbal joust against his fellow knight, with clear debating rules.  The last man who cannot anymore make a logical reply to an argument loses and gracefully accepts defeat.

3. Ranger

This blogger is usually an investigative journalist or a forensic scientist.  He can smell rotting things in government, business, and religious institutions.  He can track down crooks based on their footprints, or DNA samples.  He usually uses a bait to lure the wolf out of his lair, and then he goes in for the kill.  He can shoot down the most powerful politicians and generals with a few strokes of his pen or clicks in his computer.  As a media personnel, he is usually immune to litigation.

4. Thief

This blogger can never write a decent paragraph.  So what he does is to copy what others have written and paste them into his blog without attribution.  He may not actually copy the whole article.  Instead, he may just copy a paragraph from one blog, another paragraph from another blog, and so on, then put them all in one article--even if the tenses, transitions, and writing styles don't match.

5. Assassin

This blogger is a public relations operative.  His specialty is backstabbing and poisoning.  Usually, he is hired by politicians to spread false news.  He befriends his target to gain his trust, then uses a pseudonym to attack his target using satire disguised as news or a full-page column that lists all the target's scandals with accompanying tables, charts, and photos.

6. Cleric

This blogger writes self-help articles from how to increase your brain power to how to heal your aching heart.  He talks about spiritual things from Catholicism to New Age Mysticism.  He may practice divination by writing horoscopes about love and work.  You may ask him if putting your stove in your bedroom facing East is unlucky in the year of the Wood Sheep (2015). Note that clerics are fighters, too.  They won't easily back down in a verbal fight, especially if it concerns the truths of religion.

7. Druid

This blogger is the priest of nature.  He warns people about the coming Climate Change apocalypse, whether global warming or global cooling.  He rallies against the cutting of trees to make way for malls and roads.  He fights for the survival of dogs and dolphins.  If he goes nuts, he marries his cow or chestnut tree.

8. Bard

This blogger loves poetry, literature, and history.  He may talk about the poems of Robert Frost, the stories in Lord of the Rings, or the essays of Chesterton. This blogger may also be into music from classical to hard rock. He can talk about musical scales, the Beatles, Gregorian Chant.  Their music can change your mood and feelings, giving you +1 to your reading ability score in foreign languages like Chinese and Calculus.

So what kind of blogger are you?

07 January 2015

11 questions you need to answer before you start a blog


In his book, Epic Content Marketing (2014, p. 160), Joe Pullizi listed 11 questions that you need to answer before you start a blog.  I think the questions are important for me because I have been overhauling this blog several times in a span of two years, always deleting everything that I have written in order to start fresh from scratch. Perhaps, now I can finally settle down after answering these questions one by one.

1. Who will be your primary reader (subscriber) of your blog?

Content marketers who blog and use social media.

2. What do you want to tell him or her? (What's your story?)

I have been blogging since 2008 in Wordpress through my Monk's Hobbit blog.  I made many other blogs aside from this, but I soon abandoned them. In 2010, I convinced the Department of Physics to launch the Ateneo Physics News blog in Wordpress.  In August 2013, I moved the Monk's Hobbit to Blogger, because I feel that Blogger gives more options in the free account, e.g. Javascripts and template redesign without CSS.  And I loved Blogger since then.

I joined affiliate advertising to monetize my sites in order to test my referral and copyrighting skills.  My aim has always been to suggest to the reader the most relevant product I can find related to the paragraph, and that's usually a book because I love books. I read business books and include their purchase in my monthly budget.  I am not a business man, but only a physicist with a passion for reading really good books--physics, philosophy, theology, literature, and now in business.  And all these interests converge in social media and content marketing.  These two things are what this blog is all about.

3. Do you understand the key informational needs of that person?  What are his or her pain points?

Many content marketers are thrust into the position without knowing anything about content marketing, even though they have expertise in related fields. They may be creative individuals in an advertising agency who make big advertisements remembered by hundreds of thousands but could not sustain an changing informational campaign on a daily basis. They may be copywriters who are appointed as chief content officers overseeing pamphlets, blogs, newsletters, brochures, etc. They may be bloggers who decide to monetize their sites but suffer from low site traffic.  They may be small business owners who want to use social media to promote their products. And many more.

4. Are you hanging out online where your customers are?

I am a Facebook power user with active membership in several advocacy groups.  My students and friends can chat with me in Facebook.   I also maintain several Facebook pages, such as Monk's Hobbit, Geometric Algebra, Ateneo de Manila University Physics Department, etc.

A few days ago, I finally learned how to schedule Tweets using TweetDeck.  Twitter became so much fun.  Most of my blog traffic in the QuirinoSugonJr blog comes from Twitter. I monitor hashtags in real time and study hashtag analytics.

I haven't yet posted much in LinkedIn.  It's a different demographic.  It's primarily for job recruitment, so the articles that you need to post there should be aligned with the recruiter's and job applicant's mindset.  I am not yet into that.

I already know how to do Pinterest, but I am not yet hanging out there.  Nevertheless, Pinterest, together with Twitter, shall become part of my two-pronged content marketing strategy.  I still have to design the content classification of my Pinterest boards, then I'll go full blast in my content marketing there.

I have Google+ and this blog is linked to my G+ account, i.e. all my blog posts are immediately reflected there. But I don't yet hang out much there.  I think I still need to change the topics that I follow, so that the feeds would be more interesting.

I don't hang out much in You Tube, because I don't do videos yet.  But I'll soon make my own videos.

5. Are you leaving comments that add to the online conversation on the blogs you cover?

I read comments in my blogs, delete the spam, and respond as a human.  One blog article in Monk's Hobbit actually have more than 1,000 comments! Religion is really a controversial topic. Some of my responses there I made into blog posts.

6.  Do you have a firm grasp of the keywords to focus on that your customers are searching for? (See Google Keyword tool)

I haven't yet used the Google Keyword Tool.  But I check out Google Trends and see what keywords are most searched. One of them is content marketing: it is linearly increasing in time after several years.  That is why in this blog I'll focus on content marketing.

7. Do you follow those keywords using Google Alerts or watch their usage in Twitter? (Do so to find the influencers in your market.)

I use Google Alerts for several keywords, e.g. geometric algebra. In TweetDeck, I monitor a particular hashtag related to the Pope's visit in the Philippines: #PapalVisitPH. I want to see if people are really tweeting about the papal visit using that hashtag.

8.  Can you commit to blogging to at least two to three times a week? (Content consistency is key.)

I can commit on this.  I still have too many things to write about. I usually write at night.  I wish to chronicle my little discoveries in blogging and social media.

9. What is your ultimate goal in starting a blog? One year after you start blogging, how will the business be different.

My ultimate goal in QuirinoSugonJr blog is to help other people see content marketing as not just for media companies but also for corporations, research institutions, universities, and even private individuals.  All people have a story to tell. All have something to say.  What is just needed is a overall content marketing strategy.  And I can help here.

One year after I start this blog (let's start counting today), I wish this blog to contain 200 articles on blogging, content marketing, and social media.  I wish people to purchase the books that I recommend even not through this blog, but in other venues such as book stores.  These books are carefully chosen for paragraph relevance, good reviews (4/5 stars), and social proof (more people recommend it than most books in its category). I wish to buy these books myself if I have the money and the time to read them all. Finally, I hope that my blog readers would someday comment and say, "That was a really good book that you recommended.  Thanks!"

10. How will the executing process work within your company and how will you market the blog?

Since this blog is a personal blog named after me, there is no other blogger than me.  I shall make all the editorial and marketing decisions.  I shall market this blog through social media, primarily through Twitter and Pinterest.

11. How will you integrate the blog with the rest of your marketing?  How can the blog make everything else you are doing better?

My other blogs are all about specific topics: Catholic for Monk's Hobbit, Business for Quinori, Physics for Summa Physica, and Literature for Monk's Quill.  What I envision QuirinoSugonJr blog is to be a place of refuge, a place to blog about blogging itself.  In doing so, I can blog better and use social media to promote my posts more strategically. We all need to reflect on what we are doing, for according to Socrates, "an unreflected life is the life of a dog."

How about you?  What are your answers to these questions?

How to transform your post tag labels to blog categories in Blogger

One of the perennial problems of bloggers is how to categorize their posts.  Sometimes, one category has 100 articles written about it, while another category only has 10, and still another has only 2. Clearly, one needs a balance in the number of articles per category.  If a category gets too many articles compared to the others, that category needs to broken up into sub-categories.

But categories are like the roots of a Balete tree (strangler fig): while the roots are hanging on the tree branches, you can still cut them with your hands; but when the roots touch the ground, receive nourishment from it, and grows strong as a tree trunk, you can only chop it off with a bolo or axe. The same is true with categories: while your blog posts are few, you can easily change your blog categories; and as your blog posts increase, your categories become more and more fixed.  What you need is a category determination system which evolves with your content.

One way to solve this problem is to use Blogger's tagging or labeling options.  To do this, go to the Blogger Dashboard. Click Layout.  Add a Labels Gadget in the Menu Header with the following options: By Frequency, Cloud. Click Save. Then click Save Arrangement.  If you go to your website, you'll see that the tag labels are arranged from left to right by frequency (number of times the label was used), with the size of the keyword proportional in some way to the frequency resulting to a tag cloud. Note the first 3-7 dominant keywords from the left.  After this, go back to your Labels Gadget.  Delete the non-dominant keywords by unchecking them.  Click Done. Change the settings to the following: Alphabetically, List. Click Save.  Then Save Arrangement.  What you get is a menu header according to your most frequently used keywords.

As a rule, keep your keywords short and if possible only one word--or make it two words, if you can't help it.  The reason for the one-word rule is that labels are the building blocks of your content structure, and they can be combined with each other in different ways to form something like Lego building blocks. For example, Home Management and Time Management are two distinct keywords.  But if you subdivide these keywords into Home, Management, and Time, you will see that Home has a frequency of 1, Management has 2, and Time has 1.  Thus your dominant keyword would then be Management.

It is a good practice to review your tagging system once a week to see if there are new labels that make it to the top 7 dominant keywords.  If this happens, update your category menu headers accordingly.  In this way, your category menu headers would evolve with your articles and show only the most dominant content categories of your blog at any time.

06 January 2015

10 things to do before publishing your post in Blogger

The things I write here are for Blogger users. But most of the things here also apply for Wordpress users.

1. Write the title

The title should give the reader an idea on what the article is all about. Crafting an effective title is one of the most difficult skills in content marketing.  A poor title would not invite readers to click in search engine results. An over-promising title such as cliffhangers also tend to disappoint and already became stale from overuse. And a blank title is just plain lazy. As a rule of thumb, don't go beyond 140 characters, because that's the Twitter limit. Subtract 23 characters from this because you need to have your tiny url posted in your Tweet. Subtract another 17 characters perhaps for your hash tag.  Thus, an effective title for Twitter marketing should not exceed 100 characters.

2. Write the article

It doesn't matter whether the article is one paragraph or ten paragraphs. Just write.  If you need inspiration, you may like to make a blogging notebook where you can write down blogging ideas as they come to you on the fly.  Then later, when you have time, you open your notebook and develop the ideas you have jotted down.

3. Divide the article into sections

If the article is about 6 to 8 paragraphs, divide it into logical sections so that each section has only about 3 to 4 paragraphs.  Human beings can only count with their 5 fingers. And human short term memory is 7 chunks.  Beyond that is many.

4. Add references using url links

If you reference an article, be sure to write the name of that reference and link to it, even if you don't like the website. I think this is a moral thing to do, rather than use the HTML no-follow attribute. After all, you owe that author that piece of information.  Give credit to where the credit is due.  Acknowledge that you don't know everything.  This is a sign of humility.

5. Add pictures

Put relevant pictures to your article in the order of mention. My favorite pictures are books.  Of course, these pictures can be ads. Put a caption to the picture.  Add properties title and alt. Preview the article to check if you already have enough pictures.  Pictures are important in Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn since these are used as thumbnails or snippets for your articles.

6. Add labels

My personal limit is 5 labels, since this is the number of labels that my JavaScript code uses to generate the list of Related Posts. Be sure that you have a labeling system. Whether you use single words only, compound keywords, or compound keywords with hypens, it does not matter as long as you are consistent. In Wordpress, you can afford to be lazy, since the number of tag labels is virtually infinite.  But for Blogger, you are limited only to 2,000 labels for the whole blog.

7. Add permalink url

Use keywords separated by hyphens. Delete prepositions and articles.  Search engines like Google may consider the distance between keywords, giving more weight to closer keywords in Page ranking.

8. Put a location

If your article mentions a particular place where the event happened, put this in the location.  You can type the place, and Blogger can search for you to click it.The location is important especially for local search, when your potential readers live nearby the location you specified or specify the location in their search.  Google may give weight to your article more than other articles who have different locations.

9. Write a search description

Write a search description.  This is important since Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn use your search description as snippets.  I have seen articles that do not put these in their blogs, and the social media platforms get instead the description of the whole blog itself.  Your chance of trying to convince the reader to click on the article now relies solely on the pulling strength of your title.


10. Schedule your post

All is set.  You can now publish your article or schedule it.


04 January 2015

5 reasons why I use TweetDeck to manage my Twitter account

This is my first use of TweetDeck.  I logged in using my Twitter account: @QuirinoSugonJr. I used TweetDeck for five reasons:

1. Twitter owns TweetDeck

Twitter bought TweetDeck last 25 May 2011.  It has supported Facebook and other applications before, but now has focused only on Twitter.  This makes sense, since Facebook has its own post-scheduling capabilities, which makes TweetDeck unnecessary.  The fact that Twitter owns TweetDeck, you can be sure that TweetDeck will always be in pace with Twitter's developments.  Also, since TweetDeck is focused only on Twitter, you can be assured that your Twitter experience is as wonderful as possible.

2.   TweetDeck columns gives you a bird's eye view of your Twitter activity

When I first saw this feature, I said, "Whoa!" The standard columns are the following:
  • New Tweet
  • Home
  • Notifications
  • Messages
  • Activity
You can't see all these things at once in Twitter.  And the best thing is you can add more columns. Just make sure that your screen is large enough. My screen resolution is 1920 x 1080 px.  With this resolution, you can have about 6 columns.

3. You can add other Twitter accounts to manage

I haven't yet tried this, but I prefer to manage only one account to build my @QuirinoSugonJr Twitter brand. I shut down my @MonksHobbit account.  Actually, it is still there, but I am not anymore using it.

4. You can schedule posts

This is the clincher for me.  This is the reason why I logged in to TweetDeck. As a content marketer, I need to post some tweets extracted from my articles with the tiny url links of the articles and post them at different hours of the day at different days.  This is like fishing with several fishing rods or with one fishing rods with several hooks or just simply with a net.  Whatever the analogy is, the aim is to catch more Tweeter readers from all corners of the world living in different time zones.  Duc in altum. "Cast into the deep," Christ said (Lk 5:4).  Christ made Peter and the Apostles fishers of men.  And so are we in the content marketing and social media business--fishers of men.

5. It's Free

This is all I ask.  There are no stats.  But it is ok: I can see the stats in my Blogger dashboard and in Twitter Analytics. Right now, Google and Facebook are the major referrers to my blogs, with some vistors from Twitter.  I hope this will change with TweetDeck.

One blog or many blogs?--that is the question

I still can't figure out what to do with this blog. Perhaps, I over think too much when it comes to blogging. Talent is both a gift and a burden, as my high school Trigonometry teacher once told me. I know that I have a gift for blogging, but this gift is also a burden. And a blogging fit has seized me again with the following question: Should I consolidate my blogs into one blog or should I make separate blogs for each of my interests? I have been trying to answer this question again and again. And my blogger friend in FB would always laugh at me and say that she also had too many blogs before; now, she just have one blog. And she advises me to do likewise.

Having many blogs has advantages. A blog with a different name gives you focus. It is as if you are donning a costume and do your specific superhero duties. And you become recognized by your blog's name. Then you don another costume and do another superhero duty. One day you are Superman--super strong, super fast, but super weak when faced with a Kryptonite. The next day you are Batman--intelligent, good-looking, martial arts expert, and billionaire. The costumes by themselves do not give Superman and Batman extraordinary powers; rather, the costumes provide a reminder of their identities as superheroes with specific functions and missions, in the same way as the habits of religious priests and nuns remind them of their chosen habits in life, i.e. how they work and how they pray.

But having many blogs is also tiring. You tend to stretch yourself too thinly like butter, as Bilbo used to say. A man can reasonably blog about one to two hours a day. If he writes in only one blog, then he would already have seven blog posts at the end of the week. But if he has seven blogs, then even if he spends an hour or two a day for writing, he would still end up only one post per blog per week, which is nothing much. And this can be frustrating.

On the other hand, if you have only one blog, then you can devote all your free time to that blog. You can write more posts and enjoy seeing your blog grow.

But because you have only one blog, it cannot anymore be a niche blog. You would then tend to cover as many topics as you can think of. As a result, your blog becomes a porridge that your readers won't have something to hold on to, And this is particularly true for personal blogs: you write about sports, food, movies, politics--things that you would normally post in in Facebook or Twitter updates. The only thing that holds them together is you: you are the one who wrote them. The brand now becomes you yourself. You are brand you.

Right now, I don't have the answer to the question. What works for your blog may not work for those of others. For this blog, I'll try to consolidate my posts again, except for my well-established blogs like Monk's Hobbit and Clifford's Chalk. But doing so also makes me sit in sadness as I watch good blog names finally go to rest.

Notice

The author is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for him to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.