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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.