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. 


06 June 2015

How to design a flower logo using LibreOffice Draw and MS Paint

Fig. 1. Original flower logo. Fig. 2. New flower logo with wire frame.

The original logo of the Summa Physica blog is a photo of a little white flower (see Fig. 1). It looks like Sampaguita, the national flower of the Philippines, but its number petals is just five and it has no scent. The five petals reminds me of Leonardo da Vinci's painting of the Vitruvian Man, with the petals corresponding to the head, the two arms, and two legs.  Five is the number of the man, since man has five limbs (including the head), five digits on each leg and arm, and five senses on the head. Man is the measure of all things, says Protagoras as quoted by Plato. But I prefer to think only that Man measures all things with his five fingers and five senses. After all, the inch is based on the thumb.

A. Wire Frame

The motivation for the Summa Physica logo design is that I wish to easily remember dimensions of the flower.  To do this, I used LibreOffice Draw and drew a circle. I then divided the circle into 5 equal parts using 5 lines. This now forms a star. To draw the petals, I looked for the circle which touches the center of the original circle and two adjacent points on the ends of the star.  I drew all the five circles to form the outline of the star. To form the outlines of the petals, I repeated the same procedure but this time essentially rotated the the original star by $18^\circ$. I changed the color of the wire frame of the petals from black to green. In this way, it would be easier for me to know which is which. As a capstone. I drew a circle surrounding the small 10-rayed star at the circle. The wire frame is finished.

B. Coloring Tools

I screen-grabbed the wire frame and pasted the picture in MS Paint. Actually, I tried to color the flower in Libre Office draw using filled polygons.  My problem is that the units are discrete to the nearest millimeter I think, so I can't do design by sight; there are some rough edges somewhere.  I still don't know how to remove the snap-to-point feature of Libre Office draw. Perhaps, I should use a drawing area larger than A3--maybe, I should use A1 or A0. Also, I have difficulty understanding how the curves are drawn, whether the program use quadratic or cubic bezier control points. But Libre Office so far has more powerful features than Google Drawing, such as area transparency and bitmap images. So I'm sticking with Libre Office for now. For high-precision drawing, I may need to draw using my old and trusty LATEX picture commands. (see Fig. 2)

C. Color Choices

So I am stuck with MS Paint. I don't know Adobe Photoshop or GIMP. MS Paint works just fine for me. What green should I use? I need a green that blends well with the forest background of my blog (image by sndrk). I moved the cursor around Blogger's color palette and found the green that I need: HEX #3b4e17 or RGB (59, 79, 23). I used this color in MS Paint and painted the leaves.

For the yellow, I tinkered again with the Blogger palette that looks more like the center circle of the flower. I found #ffd966 or RGB (255, 217, 102). I used this in MS Paint and painted the center circle. But for some reason, I don't like the color. (see Fig. 3) So I filled the circle with another color which is in MS Paint's standard palette: RGB (239, 228, 176) or HEX #efe4b0. Design is really a self-inflicted agony.

According to the Rule of Tincture, Green (color) on black (color) is not allowed, because they blend together. White (metal) on green (color) is okay. Yellow (metal) on white (metal) is not allowed unless for exceptional reasons, like it's the flag of Vatican City or the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Maybe, I can get away with this, since Summa Physica was derived phonetically from St. Aquinas's Summa Theologica.


D. Conclusions

There are many things that needs to be done:
  • Fix the colors to satisfy the Rule of Tincture. 
  • Change the design of the flower, so that it is more akin to the original flower. 
  • Find an appropriate background picture that agrees with the logo's flat design.
  • Fix the dimensions of the design, especially the intersections of curves
So far, my mind can rest on this design for now, and put those pesky design issues at the back of my mind, so that I can focus on blogging for Summa Physica.





05 June 2015

Book review: Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars

Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars
1. Why did I buy the book?

I was lured by the book's title: "Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars."

I don't know Mitch Meyerson.  But I know a one of his other co-authors: John Jantsch (Duct Tape Marketing). If John Jantsch is one of the co-authors, then this book must be good. I have also heard about Chris Brogan somewhere in one of my readings. So when I saw his name endorsing the book at the back cover, something lit up in my brain: his name sounds familiar. And familiarity breeds liking. So I got the book.

2. Who is Mitch Meyerson?

In the book's back cover, we read:
Mitch Meyerson is a speaker, consultant, and author of 11 books including Mastering Online Marketing and Guerrilla Marketing on the Internet. He has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and has trained and certified more than 600 coaches in his acclaimed Guerrilla Marketing Coach and World Class Speaking Certification Programs.
Oh, is he the guy behind Guerrilla Marketing? No, the word has become synonymous to Jay Conrad Levinson. Actually, Mitch Meyerson has a website: Mastering Online Marketing. His book, Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars, is featured there.

3. What is something significant about this book?

The book introduces you to the thoughts of the online marketing superstars whom you may know nothing about, so that when you go to a bookstore and see their names, you can buy their books and be assured that what you bought is useful to you as an online marketer. Mitch Meyer's book covers a wide range of topics: blogging, visual media, SEO, linking, social media, podcasting, and video marketing. I'm sure you'll get a really useful tip here somewhere.

4. Did Mitch Meyerson write a chapter in his book aside from being a content curator?

Yes. His specialty is online marketing, so his topic is related to it:

  • Website Conversion: Turning Strangers into Customers by Mitch Meyerson

What I particularly like about his article is his 8 keys for optimizing your website.  It's actually a checklist that you can give a score yourself or ask a friend to do it for you:

  1. Professional Look
  2. Easy and Effective Navigation
  3. Build Confidence Through Testimonials
  4. Sell the Result (Relevant Benefits)
  5. Have a Clear Call to Action
  6. Social Media Integration
  7. SEO Keywords (title/headers/copy)
  8. Multimedia: Audio and Video
The table was taken from the Guerilla Marketing Coach Certification Program.

5. Do you recommend this book?

Yes, I strongly recommend this book. It is a rare feat to gather superstar marketers all in one book. Well, to do this, you have to be a superstar yourself. So check it out.


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.