Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry x-mas

Happy Holidays everyone.

May your wishes come true.

-- Robin Low

Monday, December 21, 2009

Astroturfing: Effects on Social Media

Wiki: Astroturfing is a form of propaganda whose techniques usually consist of a few people attempting to give the impression that mass numbers of enthusiasts advocate some specific cause. In the UK this technique is better known as "rent-a-crowd" after the successful "rent-a-crate" business.


Online: The practice of astroturfing is faking support for a product or cause.

I feel that it is okay to promote your company's products and service using Social Media but Social Media does not condone astroturfing, and the effects may be severe.

These attempts to manipulate the media and public opinion seem to be on the rise. An article on Guardian cites that such practice is commonly found, but for Social Media, when you are blogging or tweeting to build relationship and trust, one simple mistake can be very severe.

This constantly happens in countries with controlled press. When someone wants to prove a point, but no one ever replies, in controlled media, there will be perfect, planned responses to the news article even before it is posted, and when it is up, the perfect responses will soon follow. Fake comments are prevalent when you do not see the responses, but when you are on Social Media, savvy Internet users can usually see through this, and it will cause a loss of trust and even affect branding.

There are a few good articles on Astroturfing, and it is commonly known as a Social Media "Don't". Capturetheconversation has a great article on this.

Astroturfing can be seen in Facebook Games like Mafia Wars and FarmVille, where you are encouraged to say you are a fan of it, just to get some "rewards" I feel that it cheapens the real fans who truely love the game, and you cannot tell whether people are fans because of the rewards or they just love it.

Health Insurers Caught Paying Facebook Gamers Virtual Currency To Oppose Reform Bill <_ This article shows how devious some of the lobbyist are using this technique to garner support. Health insurance industry trade groups opposed to President Obama's health care reform bill are paying Facebook users fake money -- called "virtual currency" -- to send letters to Congress protesting the bill.

A Belkin employee was caught red-handed looking for people to write positive reviews of one of their products. This article shows us how sad some of these practices are, and when you are caught, it reflects badly on the company.

In short, in social media, you need to build long term relationship and trust. Astroturfing is a great way to lose that trust. Use Social Media to promote your products, but be true to yourself and your followers, do not Astroturf.

-- Robin Low

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Free Education

Social Media has spawned off many great knowledge sharing on the Internet. Today, we can find all sorts of free information, including numerous recipes, How to Guides, reviews and other useful tips.

Many things that we know about in the past like encyclopedias, travel guides, and other information books we used to get may be going extinct as faster and more updated information are available online.

As Blogs and Wikis are becoming more main stream, vast knowledge can be found and searched online. With the progress of Web 2.0, the technology is ripe to share experiences, knowledge and information freely, and I feel getting valuable feedback and comments is very important as it furthers the learning process.

I do put up a lot of information I learn or come across on the Internet on this blog, and I share my presentations as I feel learning too is a 2 way process. No matter how expert you think you are on a particular subject, (Even if you have a PHD) there may be other good opinions you can learn from.

I read this article FreeHarvardEducation.com on Boston.com today and was inspired by the great ideas of sharing lecture notes online and forming study groups and sharing knowledge and information.

Why does education need to be expensive and exclusive?

There is a saying that the rich want to stay rich and powerful, and by making knowledge exclusive, they can prevent others from moving up the social ladder. I agree that Educational resources should be as free as possible, and all with the capacity to learn should not be excluded.

In Singapore, there seem to be an economy for selling "Past Exam Papers" from the different schools, and most of these are not very cheap. I find this process and system rather opportunistic as something like past years exam papers can essentially be free information on the Internet, but the opportunistic companies decide to waste paper and print these past exam papers and sell them for a profit.

Though many may argue that in Social Media, much of the information is unmonitored and there are tons of spam and junk, I still feel that there is a good chance, through twitter and other form of Social Media, a blog with good informational value will still be easily found as people recommend it to their friends.

Thanks to technology, one of the core functions of a university - distributing information through its professors - is no longer entirely in its control. It’s a potentially unsettling development for universities and professors, and it has found its way into court, as professors take on commercial note services and grapple with how much to limit the recording and even filming of their lectures. And as it grows easier to publish online and as more and more people gain ready access to the Web, the issue seems likely to only grow.

Some may say, “it’s very hard to keep control of material that finds its way onto the Web.”

I feel however, a good and strong university, when they provide free lecture notes, will actually enhance their brand image as they show thought leadership. The experience you get and the knowledge you learn when you interact with fellow students and lecturers is much more enriching that the simple lecture notes you receive.

As with a free recipe for cocktails, the best way to taste it is to go to a bar with an experienced bartender, even when you have the exact recipe.

-- Robin Low

Monday, December 7, 2009

Boston Police Twitter makes Department look "Human"

Many companies started to use twitter, and so did Government Agencies. Many fail to use Social Media Properly, and often use it as "Just another broadcast Channel".

Though it can be set up that way, companies and agencies who set up Social Media as a form of broadcast channel, I feel, are missing the main point of Social Media -- It is a 2 way communication channel.

I've sent questions and tried to communicate with many companies and Government Departments, and often, I just get a complete silence. From reporting a broken link they have tweeted or asking a question about some vague policies they have, many of these companies hide behind a "cold veil" of silence and just fail to communicate.

However for Boston Police, this was not the case.

The Boston Police use Twitter (@boston_police) to keep the public informed and also respond to questions and replies. They use it to post breaking police-type information that's useful to the public, such as roads closed due to car accidents, crime data, big arrests, etc.







I felt that this response on Twitter is Great. It was professional, and handled very well. Boston Police being on Twitter, gives the department a human angle when such a response is received, reminding us that the police after all, are human beings too.

-- Robin Low

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I slept with Tiger Woods

This is the first of my series of videos to show how ridiculous tabloids are, and how people are willing to be in front of the camera to say things that my hurt others, just for fame.

I'm not talking about the people in my video, but the people to volunteer to be interviewed by Tabloids to say that they slept with Celebrities. Some want money, but most are just about the 2 minute fame!



I managed to put together this video in about 4 hours, and thanks to the people on the street, I managed to get them to say that they are "celebrities" and they sleep with Tiger Woods.

I would like to use Social Media to show how ridiculous some of these claims are, and hope by starting a "I slept with Tiger Woods" Campaign, people will slowly forget about the rumors that is circulating and just leave Tiger Alone!

So if you support the Champ, please join in and do a video of yourself or your friends, or just people on the street, and tell them to pretend to be a celebrity and say the following: "Hi, I'm (insert name here), and I slept with Tiger Woods."

Simply reply to the video and hopefully, we can have enough videos out there that the other rumors and tabloid junk become less fun and interesting and the world can leave him alone!

Besides, its great fun making this video and everyone on the video enjoyed it.

Have a great time watching this video.

Please use the above link to comment and post your video in reply as well!!

-- Robin Low

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tiger Woods Accident - Case Study (cont)

The following are the rumors gathered:

1) Rachel Uchitel is having an affair with Tiger Woods.

2) Elin Nordegren hit Tiger Woods with a golf club in a domestic dispute and chased Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods had to drive barefooted and as Elin Nordegren smashed the rear windows of his Escalade, and as he turned around, he hit a tree and a hydrant.

3) Tiger Woods and his wife argued before the accident about the National Enquirer publishing a story alleging that Woods had been seeing a New York nightclub hostess, and that they recently were together in Melbourne, where Woods competed in the Australian Masters.

4) Jaimee Grubbs, 24, a Las Vegas cocktail waitress, tells this week’s edition of Us Weekly magazine that she had a 31-month affair with Woods, starting in April 2007, and that she has more than 300 text messages — some of them described as “racy” — to prove it.

Tiger Woods Accident - Case Study

The following are the facts gathered:


Facts Gathering.

1) Tiger Woods crashed his sports utility vehicle into a fire hydrant and a tree on Nov 27 at 2:25 am.

2) Tiger Woods suffered facial injuries. (Not confirmed if it is from the crash)

3) Tiger Woods got a $164 fine and four points being added to his driver's license.

4) Tiger Woods withdrew from his own tournament, the Chevron World Challenge, explaining that he would not play again until 2010 as a result of the injuries he suffered.

5) The back windows of the SUV Tiger Woods drove was smashed.

6) Jaimee Grubbs, 24, a Las Vegas cocktail waitress, tells Us Weekly magazine that she had a 31-month affair with Woods, starting in April 2007, and that she has more than 300 text messages — some of them described as “racy” — to prove it. Kalika Moquin, ia another woman who allegedly hooked up with Tiger Woods.

7) Photos of Tiger Woods and Rachel Uchitel surfaced.



8) Tiger Woods was found without shoes.

9) Elin Nordegren Tiger Wood's Supermodel Wife was wielding a golf club when the police and ambulance arrived.

10) The story's longevity endures because of Tigers denial. If Tiger came out with the truth, the story would have ended.

11) Tiger Woods hired Mark NeJame a well known lawyer who practiced criminal defence, even though for Tiger Wood's case, the "minor accident" did not require him to have a lawyer.

12) Tiger Woods is still silent but he is one of the top searched topics on Google and a trending topic on Twitter.


Tiger may be worried by the squeaky clean image he built up, he is a brand, and his image does worth more than most companies.

Tiger Woods was this year confirmed as the world's first athlete to make a billion dollars. Here is a rundown of the endorsement deals he has acquired over the years.

1996
General Motors - worth $10.9 million (£6.6m) per year and ended in December 2008.
Titleist - five-year deal worth $20 million (£12.07m).
General Mills - financial arrangements not disclosed.
American Express - two five-year deals ended in 2007.
Accenture -financial arrangements not disclosed.
Nike - five-year deal worth $40 million (£24.14m).

1999
Woods begins his involvement in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series of video games.

2000
Nike contract extended for five years and worth $105 million (£63.3m).

2003
Woods gets involved in the launch of Buick's Rendevous SUV.

2004
Buick renew Woods's contract for another five years in a deal understood to be worth $40 million (£24.14m).

2005
Woods collaborates with TAG Heuer to launch the world's first professional gold watch.

2006
Woods signs a new six-year contract with EA Sports - the company behind his video game series.

2007
Together with Thierry Henry and Roger Federer, Woods becomes an ambassador for the Gillette Champions marketing campaign. The deal is believed to be worth between $10-20 million.
Gatorade announce that Woods will have his own brand of sports drink. Over five years, experts predict the deal to be worth in excess of $100 million (£60.3m)

Crisis Management: Tiger Woods Accident

Crisis Management: Tiger Woods Accident

Case Study

Tiger Woods, a well known Professional Golf Player injured in an accident. According to a patrol accident report, Woods crashed his sports utility vehicle into a fire hydrant and a tree at 2:25 am in the early hours of Friday morning and suffered facial injuries as a result of the incident.

As a well known public figure and a highly endorsed athlete, the media started to speculate over what conditions inside the Woods home might have caused him to have an accident. And to satisfy the public's insatiable curiosity for the details of celebrities' lives, tabloid media started to dig deep and assigned unwarranted significance to the accident even when the police say that the accident on Friday was neither alcohol nor drug related. Woods was cited for careless driving, fined $164 and no criminal charges are being pursued, the Florida Highway Patrol said on Tuesday.

However, Woods remained silent and said, "This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way." Rumors started to circulate about Woods is having an affair and Elin Nordegren, Tiger Wood's Wife was also reported at the scene of his accident, brandishing a golf club she reportedly used to get in Woods' car and free him, which Woods called "courageous" in his statement, but there are rumors that the wounds on Wood's face is due to the golf club.

US Weekly did the interview with this newest woman claiming a 2 1/2 year affair with the married Woods.

Tiger Woods has carefully protected his image during his years atop the professional golf world, but in the wake of tabloid allegations of infidelity and a still unexplained early morning car accident after Thanksgiving, that image is now being scrutinized.

For every moment of silence, more questions are raised and rumors created about the Woods family. "Tiger Woods" is a trending topic on Twitter and a popular subject on YouTube. If silence is the strategy the corporate sponsors want to adopt, are there social media strategies that can be adopted on behalf of Tiger Woods to allow Tiger Woods to battle and put aside the rumors without Tiger actually coming out and making a statement?





-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As a public relations practitioner, I feel that the best solution is for Tiger to come out and tell the truth. Let all the rumors come to an end and just give the harsh truth. Of course, if the accusation of him having an affair is true, he should consult his wife, come to terms with his wife and perhaps break the truth together. Whether his wife forgives him or not, the truth should be out there to prevent other speculation, then an apology that his behavior is not acceptable as he is a role model would make him look human, and in time, his fans will forgive him as he is still the #1 Golf Player and he can get back to focus on his game.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

However, if I was a Public Relations consultant hired for this crisis management and Tiger Woods was unavailable to comment on anything due to contractual agreements from his sponsors, I would do the following:

1) Gather the facts through investigating the scene and get what ever is avaialble.

2) Search the internet and social media for all the rumors on Tiger Woods.

3) Construct Blogs, Tweets, YouTube Videos, to do the following:

a) Show how some of these rumors are hilarious and so far from the truth. (Funny sells, and can go viral)
b) Shed more light on the facts, and share any available information. (Truths)
c) Create spin off content that is ridiculous about the incident, get laughs to ease the rumors.

4) Monitor the public opinion and social media for the new development in the crisis.

5) Participate and encourage the hilarious and ridiculous videos, hopefully creating a lighthearted side to the crisis, and laugh it off.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Social Media is for You!

Today, there are more people on the Internet than ever.

Social Media sites are getting mainstream, and like the email, more and more people are savvy enough and comfortable enough to write their own blogs.

Many people decide on their purchases on reviews they find on the Internet. Google is part of everyday life and I personally use Search Engines everyday!

Our lives have changed as a result of the Internet and how web searches work. With Social Media, everyone is empowered to have a voice and as a result, everyone may have a digital footprint.

Have you ever searched yourself on the Internet? Did you find things you previously have written?

The Internet has a "long memory" and it can be of your advantage or disadvantage depending on how you use it.

The following are some tips that can help you leverage on Social Media.



-- Robin Low

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Vlogs; podcasts; wikis

A good way of being “not just a normal blog” is to have video and podcasts from time to time. Furthermore, videos are great way to pull traffic. Getting a video up on YouTube is free, and besides being able to link it back to your blog or your site, you can embed the video in your blog as well, and add some context and comments on your blog to make the video even better.

Anyone who spends some time on the web cannot have failed to notice the new wave of opportunities and to a lesser extent threats. The web is basically being used in different ways to reach out to people of all kinds and it is intriguing the way things are going. It makes the Web look and feel flat. The evolving Internet has led to the continuous fall of the dot com craze and replaced leading to the next generation of web applications. YouTube is a classic example of how the next generation websites have taking over the Internet. It was founded in 2005 and in less than two years Google bought it for a staggering $1.64 billion.

With Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Twitter, Blogs and YouTube, you can expect nothing but a new world of reaching out to people and hence a way of sharing knowledge to both the deprived and people who can afford. This new web experience is what Tim O’Reilly termed as Web 2.0 in 2004. Till today, there has not been a clear definition for this phenomenon that has come to stay until we see the birth of a new one. Because of the complex nature this new phenomenon of sharing knowledge, it became very difficult for everyone else to agree on one definition for Web 2.0.

One of such next generation web applications is Video blogging. Video blogging are just another innovative way of using the blog. Blogs are defined as the published text of an author’s thoughts, with entries displayed in a reverse chronology. Readers can subscribe to it, link to it, post comments and share links.

-- Robin Low

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Facebook profile vs. Facebook Fan Pages.

Table to explain differences.

Facebook Profile Page

Facebook Fan Page

5000 friends limit

No Limit

Need friend Authorization

No Authorization required

No mass messaging

Can click to message all fans

Friends send you message to join games

No messages to join games

Can be tagged

Cannot be tagged

With phone authentification can get username

Needs at least 25 fans to get username

No insights

Insights of where comments are from

Share Video, Photos

Share Video, Photos

Use RSS, Flickr, YouTube and Picasa by default

Need applications to use RSS, Flickr, YouTube and Picasa

Extensive information can be input (personal information)

Minimal information can be input. (Mostly just webpage and company info)



-- Robin Low

Microsoft Patents The Sudo Command

What?? Can this even be possible?

I can patent Digital Media Training?

-- Robin Low



Microsoft Patents The Sudo Command






Microsoft has been granted a patent for a sudo command, because apparently you can patent a command that goes back to the mainframe days as long as you explain that it's a "personalized version" with a GUI.

Groklaw has an explanation of the history of sudo and details about the patent, but it all boils down to this: Someone at the US Patent Office must've been snoozing when they approved this patent application. Either that or the command worked on a person.


Source: Gizmodo | http://gizmodo.com/5402796/microsoft-patents-the-sudo-command by Rosa Golijan - Thursday, November 12, 2009 12:20am

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Social Media Rankings

Social media marketing has a direct effect on search engine rankings and engines are using social voting systems and bookmarking trends to determine quality sites. So, can you use search engine rankings to determine the popularity of the company in a certain industry?

As more people are getting on Social Media, many companies too are not missing the boat. I often get thess questions: "How to I determine the success of Social Media of a company?" or "How do I determine the Social Media Ranking of companies?"

I came across this article which does not answer the above questions, but it is an interesting read.
--> Link <--

There is no doubt that when you engage the public, and as you gain more influence, there will be more blogs and forums talking about your products and services. But how does anyone determine whether you are more successful in Social Media than someone else?

In my opinion, there are very simple rules to follow on how successful a company or someone is, on Social Media.

1) Number of Fans/Followers/Subscribers - This is a very basic information. The more the number is, the more people you can reach. As with the rankings and ratings, this is a numbers game. Whether this truely reflects the quality of the crowd, you need other ways to determine.

2) Number of Comments/Feedback - This reflects on how many people actually liked the post so much that they have to give feedback. The more influential the company, the more the comments there will be. This is often correlated with number of followers and subscribers, but I have seen cases where the audience is so targeted that several hundred fans give more comments than another company with several thousand fans.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I often ask myself, why bother with the numbers game. I guess the reasons I can think of are often, "Ego" and "Justification". Many companies who go into Social Media often like to think that they are doing well by searching rankings and ratings online to please their "Egos" and to justify the time and effort spent.

I strongly feel that the effects of Social Media efforts are very long termed strategies. The information on the Internet will be there for years to come, and if the information is of value, people will appreciate it and companies can treat it as a form of Corporate Social Responsibility, a good way for them to give back to the public and the industry. Good Social Media Strategies provide value and long term sustainability, and eventually, this will help branding of the company more than any short term rankings will.

-- Robin Low

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

20 Types of Blog Posts

• Instructional - Instructional posts tell people how to do something. I find that my Tips posts are generally the ones that are among my most popular both in the short term (i.e. loyal readers love them and will link up to them) but also in the longer term (i.e. one of the reasons people search the web is to find out how to do things and if you can rank highly with your tips post you can have traffic over a length of time).

• Informational - This is one of the more common blog post types where you simply give information on a topic. It could be a definition post or a longer explanation of some aspect of the niche that you’re writing on. This is the crux of successful sites like Wikipedia

• Reviews - Another highly searched for term on the web is ‘review’ - I know every time I’m considering buying a new product that I head to Google and search for a review on it first. Reviews come in all shapes and sizes and on virtually every product or service you can think of. Give your fair and insightful opinion and ask readers for their opinion - reviews can be highly powerful posts that have a great longevity.

• Lists - One of the easiest ways to write a post is to make a list. Posts with content like ‘The Top Ten ways to….’, ‘7 Reasons why….’ ‘ 5 Favorite ….’, ‘53 mistakes that bloggers make when….’ are not only easy to write but are usually very popular with readers and with getting links from other bloggers. Read my post - 8 Reasons Why Lists are Good for Getting Traffic to your Blog for more on lists. One last tip on lists - if you start with a brief list (each point as a phrase or sentence) and then develop each one into a paragraph or two you might just end up with a series of posts that lasts you a few days. That’s how I started the Bloggers Block series.

• Interviews - Sometimes when you’ve run out of insightful things to say it might be a good idea to let someone else do the talking in an interview (or a guest post). This is a great way to not only give your readers a relevant expert’s opinion but to perhaps even learn something about the topic you’re writing yourself. One tip if you’re approaching people for an interview on your blog - don’t overwhelm them with questions. One of two good questions are more likely to get you a response than a long list of poorly thought through ones.

• Case Studies - Another popular type of post here at ProBlogger have been those where I’ve taken another blog and profiled them and how they use their site to earn money from their blogging (e.g. - one I did on Buzzmachine - the blog of Jeff Jarvis). Sometimes these are more like a review post but on occasion I’ve also added some instructional content to them and made some suggestions on how I’d improve them. Case studies don’t have to be on other websites of course - there are many opportunities to do case studies in different niches.

• Profiles - Profile posts are similar to case studies but focus in on a particular person. Pick an interesting personality in your niche and do a little research on them to present to your readers. Point out how they’ve reached the position they are in and write about the characteristics that they have that others in your niche might like to develop to be successful.

• Link Posts - The good old ‘link post’ is a favorite of many bloggers and is simply a matter of finding a quality post on another site or blog and linking up to it either with an explanation of why you’re linking up, a comment on your take on the topic and/or a quote from the post. Of course adding your own comments makes these posts more original and useful to your readers. The more original content the better but don’t be afraid to bounce off others in this way.

• ‘Problem’ Posts - I can’t remember where I picked this statistic up but another term that is often searched for in Google in conjunction with product names is the word ‘problems’. This is similar to a review post (above) but focuses more upon the negatives of a product or service. Don’t write these pieces just for the sake of them - but if you find a genuine problem with something problem posts can work for you.

• Contrasting two options - Life is full of decisions between two or more options. Write a post contrasting two products, services or approaches that outlines the positives and negatives of each choice. In a sense these are review posts but are a little wider in focus. I find that these posts do very well on some of my product blogs where people actually search for ‘X Product comparison to Y Product’ quite a bit.

• Rant - get passionate, stir yourself up, say what’s on your mind and tell it like it is. Rants are great for starting discussion and causing a little controversy - they can also be quite fun if you do it in the right spirit. Just be aware that they can also be the beginnings of a flaming comment thread and often it’s in the heat of the moment when we say things that we later regret and that can impact our reputation the most.

• Inspirational - On the flip side to the angry rant (and not all rants have to be angry) are inspirational and motivational pieces. Tell a story of success or paint a picture of ‘what could be’. People like to hear good news stories in their niche as it motivates them to persist with what they are doing. Find examples of success in your own experience or that of others and spread the word.

• Research - In the early days I wrote quite a few research oriented posts - looking at different aspects of blogging - often doing mind numbing counting jobs. I remember once surfing through 500 blogs over a few days to look at a number of different features. Research posts can take a lot of time but they can also be well worth it if you come up with interesting conclusions that inspire people to link up to you.

• Collation Posts - These are a strange combination of research and link posts. In them you pick a topic that you think your readers will find helpful and then research what others have said about it. Once you’ve found their opinion you bring together everyone’s ideas (often with short quotes) and tie them together with a few of your own comments to draw out the common themes that you see.

• Prediction and Review Posts - We see a lot of these at the end and start of the year where people do their ‘year in review’ posts and look at the year ahead and predict what developments might happen in their niche in the coming months.

• Critique Posts - ‘Attack posts’ have always been a part of blogging (I’ve done a few in my time) but these days I tend to prefer to critique rather than attack. Perhaps it’s a fine line but unless I get really worked up I generally like to find positives in what others do and to suggest some constructive alternatives to the things that I don’t like about what they do. I don’t really see the point in attacking others for the sake of it, but as I’ve said before this more a reflection of my own personality than much else I suspect and some people make a name for themselves very well by attacking others.

• Debate - I used to love a good debate in high school - there was something about preparing a case either for or against something that I quite enjoyed. Debates do well on blogs and can either in an organized fashion between two people, between a blogger and ‘all comers’ or even between a blogger and… themselves (try it - argue both for and against a topic in one post - you can end up with a pretty balanced post).

• Hypothetical Posts - I haven’t done one of these for a while but a ‘what if’ or hypothetical post can be quite fun. Pick a something that ‘could’ happen down the track in your industry and begin to unpack what the implications of it would be. ‘What if….Google and Yahoo merged?’ ‘What if …’

• Satirical - One of the reasons I got into blogging was that I stumbled across a couple of bloggers who were writing in a satirical form and taking pot shots at politicians (I can’t seem to find the blog to link to). Well written satire or parody can be incredibly powerful and is brilliant for generating links for your blog.

• Memes and Projects - write a post that somehow involves your readers and gets them to replicate it in some way. Start a poll, an award, ask your readers to submit a post/link or run a survey or quiz. Read more on memes.

Feel free to add some comments to discuss further!

-- Robin Low

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Training of Social Media at Aitken Spence.



Aitken Spence in Sri Lanka was very much into Social Media and giving great customer service, converting customers into agents to spread word of mouth. And to do this effectively, they have contacted Digital Media Academy to provide training at their premises.

They have a very informative Facebook Fan Page (http://www.facebook.com/ASHSriLanka)

I was very impressed in their eagerness to help in spreading the information on the interesting travelling locations and tips for Sri Lanka and other places where their hotels are located, and I find their passion in the travel industry and their willingness to share information on travelling, to help the travel industry very encouraging,

Aitken Spence Social Media team is trained on leveraging Facebook, Twitter and Blogs to provide their company as a thought leader and create more awareness on their products and services. By leveraging on their satisfied customers, Aitken Spence hopes to better engage their customers with their accessible channels on Social Media to stay in touch with their customers and provide a more engaging relationship, and hopefully leveraging them for word of mouth.

This strategy has been proven very successful by many leading brands and companies, and being the first to enter fully into the Digital Media Space to engage their customers in a large scale is seldom seen in Asia. I would say that they are probably leaders in the Social Media for the traveling industry, and it would take some time for other companies to catch up with the system.



I'm sure the progress they make in Social Media realm would become a success story and used as a case study for many to follow, and I would love to learn from them their stories of customer satisfaction and engagement which is not seen in any other Hotels in South Asia.



The training was completed and there are many strategies in place to enhance the company's image and branding through the use of Social Media. Though they lost the Cake Challenge in class, for getting less fans than Singapore's favorite cat, they progress a lot since the start of the class and I wish them all the best for their Social Media Endeavors.



Class of Oct 09, at Aitken Spence Hotels in Sri Lanka.

-- Robin Low

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Podcasting


“The benefits of podcasting and video podcasting are numerous. As with any modern technology it has taken some time for podcasting to develop to its full potential when it comes to its uses in daily life except for providing entertainment.”


Podcast

A podcast is a series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and downloaded through web syndication. The mode of delivery is what differentiates podcasts from other ways of accessing media files over the Internet, such as simple download or streamed webcasts: special client software applications known as podcatchers (like iTunes, Zune, Juice, and Winamp) are used to automatically identify and download new files in the series when they are released by accessing a centrally-maintained web feed that lists all files associated with the series. New files can thus be downloaded automatically by the podcatcher and stored locally on the user's computer or other device for offline use, giving simpler access to episodic content.

Most dictionary definitions of a podcast fall into one of two camps as of September 2009. One set focuses on the "on-demand" nature of podcasts. Another set requires the automatic or syndication posting. There are problems with both definitions. The first is too open. Under such a definition, a paid music download could technically be a podcast. Most audiences would disagree. The second is too limiting. It does not allow for manual downloads. Researchers at the Center for Journalism and Mass Communication Research at the University of Texas at Austin are proposing a three-part definition of a podcast: first, that it is episodic; second, that it is downloadable; and third, that it is program-driven, mainly with a host and/or theme.

Podcasting benefits

Customer Support
Tutorials for customers to listen to (and watch) podcasts about your products and services. Customer support podcast available for customers to listen to, in which frequently asked questions about a certain service or product are asked and answered are very helpful.

Press Release
Press releases contain new information about a happening, a product design podcast or a new business situation that the world needs to know about, as quickly as possible. Publicity is the key to the success of many business ventures and spreading the word in as many ways as possible is all important. Podcasting has now been discovered as one of the ways with which a press release can be spread successfully. A feed for a press release can be added to an online directory, included with news feeds and can be put up on a business website for interested customers.

Product Development and Launch
In this case news and knowledge about a new product that is released on to the market is given in a podcast. This feed could be listed in a special podcasting directory for new products or can be passed on to users in shows. Emails with a link to a podcasting feed about a new product can be sent out to magazines and newspapers and will be put up in a special section of a business website to focus the users' attention on the new release.

Industry News and Updates
Industry professionals and customers like to be kept informed. With podcasting there is a possibility to be kept informed with automatically refreshing news feeds.

Branding
Branding a podcast is one of the most important things to do before a podcasting show can be marketed and promoted on the Internet. Effectively branding a podcast will help establish a brand and its image and purpose.

Other benefits of Podcasting.

Podcasting is Asynchronous
Unlike normal radio, with which you have to tune in at a specific time to hear a show, you can listen to a podcast whenever it's convenient for you.

People are Tired of Existing Options
Especially when it comes to commercials and branding of products people tend to switch off when a promotion is broadcasted on the radio or television.

Podcasting Requires Little Effort
There is no need to check your favorite sites each day to see if they've posted a new MP3. Pocasting technology allows you to automatically find your favorite sites, and tools allow you to automate the process of downloading the MP3s. You just hook up a MP3 player and load it with the most recent downloads.

How to sound like a pro

Have a script
Planning topics to discuss, possible guest interviews, and your show's length in advance will go a long way when producing a professional sounding podcast.

Editing your podcast
Your finished podcast should flow seamlessly from one sentence to the next. If your editing has caused abrupt interruptions, or simply doesn’t make sense, then perhaps you should reconsider your editing style or seek help from a professional to fine tune your production.

Room Tone - Natural Sound Temperature
A location’s room tone is its auditory fingerprint. These are non-specific sounds generated by the natural acoustics of the room. Editing may also be required when sounds overlap. If they occur while you or another individual in your podcast are speaking your editing can be more challenging. To preserve the original performance, try to find another take of the word(s) in
question and edit or splice the word in to replace the unusable take.

Production Techniques - Mixing in your show intro, imaging, and musical transitions. Then announce the name of your podcast and the episode number. It is most effective if this is the voice of an announcer, distinct from your own. Try fading your background music in when a new segment beings. Lower the volume level of the music when you are speaking so that your listeners can hear every work you say. At the end of the segment, fade your background music out. Use musical transitions between the various segments of your podcast. These musical transitions are known as bumpers, stages or sweepers.

Key Points About Mixing
Balance the volume levels of the voice-over, music and sound effects. You are now ready to export your podcast recording into an MP3.

Submitting podcast

List of sites that accept podcast submissions.

Podbean - submit podcasts
iTunes - submit your iTune podcasts
PodSubmitter - submit podcasts
Dailysplice - submit podcasts
Podcastalley - submit podcasts
Podanza - Submit a audio or video podcast feed
Podcastblaster - A searchable podcast and video podcast directory

After you have added your podcast


Just like having your videos on YouTube, when you have your podcast, you want to drive traffic to your podcast by telling your friends on Facebook, Twitter and adding links from your blog.

You will frequently receive comments about your podcasts. Reply to the comments respectfully. Except for the comment spam that you will inevitable receive, almost all of the comments you receive will be useful to you.

Plan your next podcast, have a feel of what works and what doesn’t and make your podcast a regular one for your audience!

-- Robin Low

Monday, September 28, 2009

Elements of a successful twitter account

Everyone and their cat are now on twitter. This makes twitter a very affective tool for communication, networking, broadcasting and marketing.

Be Yourself. People don’t do business with business cards, they do business with people. This is your chance to put your personality in front of an audience, and create a lasting and positive first impression.

Relationship. If you are following people, start chat, reply to them if they are asking for information you know. Great way to be noticed is to chat and build relationships. If people follow you, follow them back.

Value. Give people value, let people learn things from your tweet relevant to them. Having clear themes can help getting focused messages out and having targeted followers promotes re-tweets.

Clear language. Think before you tweet, provide good tweets, labeling your links, use #hashtags and CAPS to emphasize on topics to help readability.

-- Robin Low

Friday, September 25, 2009

Insight and tips on Facebook.

Facebook is not easy to understand as there is constant innovation and changes done all the time, to leverage on it, you need to understand it.

Remember, in Social Media, most successful campaigns are word of mouth campaigns. Facebook is one of the most impressive user acquisition channels on the Internet and most users spend more than 20 minutes per visit. Even when it is almost impossible to broadcast to everyone on Facebook at the same time, there is nothing preventing you from trying to reach out to everyone relevant to your business.
 
In addition to your personally-defined set of social graph connections, you also have a set of connections defined by your participation in Networks, Groups, and Events. A Network is a group of people that are part of a common workplace, geographical location, or a school. This is a formal affiliation as defined or approved by Facebook, and typically you need to have an email address to participate. A Group is a collection of people similar to a Network, except it’s user-defined and members can be selected, invited, or simply join to participate. An Event is a time- and or location-specific occurrence, that also may have a collection of associated individuals who have RSVP to attend.


On Facebook, you should simply look at simply conduct activities that would engage your fans.

The aim of Facebook fan page is to celebrate your customers, provide them a place to interact and spread your brand to their friends.

As a social media platform, “selling and offers” are frowned upon like spam, and will become a big turn off for many people.

Cleverly sculpted messages which include these information can sometimes be seen as informative and it is essential that your fan page provide more valuable than your sales pitch.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

7 Reasons to leave blog comments

Consistently leaving high quality comments on other blogs is a great way to market and grow your own blog (and your personal brand). Here are some reasons why you should leave comments on blogs.

1.) Link Building
Every comment you leave will be a link to your blog which will help with your (Search Engine Optimization) SEO efforts. The theory goes build as many links as possible from high quality sources and your SEO will improve.

2.) Attract Attention
If you are leaving comments on a bigger more established blog, there is a very good chance you will attract the attention of the blogger. Use this exposure to pitch guest post ideas, or gain attention of the blogger by posting about one of your articles

3.) Disagree or Add to the Post
If you are able to disagree or add to a post, this will increase your profile as a subject matter expert. Adding quality comments arguing against or extending the original post.

When disagreeing, use facts and other information to support your point of view. You don’t want to come across as a troll when you attack someone you disagree with, but you should rather bring someone round to your side of the argument with quality analysis.

4) Extending the Conversation
Leaving comments extends the conversation, it helps to build a community on your favourite blog, and if you are conversing a lot, your profile can only increase.

5.) Give the Blogger some Support
When a blog is new, it feels like you are posting into a void, no-one is leaving comments or giving you feedback. If you come across a new blog give them a little boost by leaving them a comment, tell them you like their work and give support on their posts.

6.) Increase your Profile
Selecting high profile blogs in your niche, and adding valuable content can increase your profile to the readers of that blog, who in turn may visit your own blog and hopefully become one of your readers.

7.) Make New Friends
Lastly, leaving a comment is just like saying hello in the real world, it can be the start of a beautiful new relationship, say hello today instead of skulking in the background.





-- Robin Low

Monday, September 21, 2009

Traditional media is dead!

  • Consumers do not trust advertisements. (They would rather read a review on a blog or a webpage rather than corporate page)
  • Consumers are immune to interruptive marketing. (too many mediums, too many ads)
  • Consumers are informed, and information is readily available.
  • With a global business, it cost too much to reach out to everyone.
  • With social media, the cost is $0, no external company needs to be engaged.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Some really cool Twitter Tips (Use of CAPS)

This is very simple but it works.

Simple usage of CAPS can easily improve the quality of your tweets. This is especially IMPORTANT when you only have 140 characters to play with.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here is a new tip,

When you tweet, use the first word in ALL CAPS to categorize the message or to giving emphasis to the message. In addition consider keywords you can use (only one) that are well used.

Example:

TOOL: great twitter tool at www.xyzurldot.com

Example:

IMPORTANT: mj just passed away

VIDEO: cat loves water:
http://bit.ly/ZE5Ul

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Remember, make sure you think and plan before you tweet.

It will help people understand you better and possibly get you more followers!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Starting a blog

Starting a blog is just a few simple steps away. Here are a few steps to follow and you will be on your way to start your very own blog.

1. Determine a theme. Most bloggers take one of three approaches. Some write on whatever happens to interest them at the moment. In this sense, their blog is truly a “web diary.” Others, select a single theme and stick to it. Frankly, this takes a lot of discipline. Still others focus on a primary theme but occasionally deviate from it. If you want to develop a following of loyal readers, I think the latter two approaches are best. People who have similar interests will keep coming back for more.

2. Select a service. Some of these are free, such as Blogger.com, LiveJournal.com, Blog-City.com, and MSN Spaces (also Xanga.com). Others charge a nominal fee. Examples include SquareSpace.com, BlogIdentity.com, and Bubbler.com (also TypePad.com). However, even the fee-based services usually offer a 30- to 60-day free trial.

3. Set up your blog. Most of the blogging services make this a very simple process. Don’t be put off because it sounds technical. It usually isn’t. You won’t need to become a geek. However, you will have to make some decisions about how you want your blog to look. You’ll have to decide on a “theme,” meaning the colors, number of columns, and the overall look and feel of your blog. You may want to include your picture. If so, you’ll need a digital copy. Regardless, this is something you can tweak as you go.

4. Write your first post. Okay, now you’re ready to create your first post. If you haven’t done a lot of writing, this may prove to be the most difficult part. If you don’t have a lot of experience, keep your posts short. Develop momentum. Get the hang of it. Stick to what you know. You probably take for granted the fact that you have a great deal of specialized information that others will find helpful—possibly even fascinating. If you don’t know where else to start, begin with a “Welcome to My Blog” post. Tell your prospective readers why you have started your blog and what kinds of things you intend to write about.

5. Consider using an offline blogging client. This isn’t a necessity but it will make blogging much easier. An offline blogging client is like a word processor for blogging. It enables you to write when you’re not online and then upload your post when you connect to the Internet. The two most popular are BlogJet and ecto (yes, the lowercase “e” is part of the branding). BlogJet is my favorite, but it’s not available for the Mac. ecto is available on both Windows and Mac platforms. You can try both programs before you buy.

6. Add the bells and whistles. Most blogs allow you to post the books you are reading, albums you enjoy, and various other lists. TypePad is especially adept at this. You can also incorporate third-party services like Bloglet. This enables your readers to subscribe to your site and receive an e-mail whenever you post a new entry. The best way to get an idea of what is available is to read other people’s blogs and take note of what you like.

7. Publicize your blog. You’ll want to make sure you’re “pinging” the major weblog tracking sites. Most of the blogging services handle this automatically, as do the offline blogging clients. Don’t worry if you don’t understand this process. You don’t need to understand it to use it. (Here's a simple explanation.) Basically, your service or software will send a notification to the tracking sites to alert them that you have posted a new entry. If your software doesn’t allow this, you might want to make use of pingomatic. This is a super-easy service that will ping fourteen different services. All you have to do is enter your blog address whenever you post a new entry. If you want to manually enter a comprehensive list of ping services, here’s a list to get you started.

http://api.my.yahoo.com/RPC2
http://api.my.yahoo.com/rss/ping
http://bblog.com/ping.php
http://bitacoras.net/ping/
http://blog.goo.ne.jp/XMLRPC
http://blogdb.jp/xmlrpc
http://bulkfeeds.net/rpc
http://coreblog.org/ping/
http://ping.blo.gs/
http://ping.cocolog-nifty.com/xmlrpc
http://ping.rootblog.com/rpc.php
http://ping.syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php
http://ping.weblogs.se/
http://rcs.datashed.net/RPC2
http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/
http://rpc.pingomatic.com/
http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping
http://rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2
http://topicexchange.com/RPC2
http://www.a2b.cc/setloc/bp.a2b
http://www.bitacoles.net/ping.php
http://www.blogpeople.net/servlet/weblogUpdates
http://www.weblogues.com/RPC/
http://xmlrpc.blogg.de/
http://www.blogroots.com/tb_populi.blog?id=1
http://xping.pubsub.com/ping/

8. Write regularly. This is the best advice I could give you for building readership. If people like what you write, they will come back. However, if there’s nothing new to read, they will eventually lose interest. So, the more regularly you post something, the more your readership will grow. I suggest you schedule time to write. It won’t happen on it’s own. At some point, it comes down to making a commitment and sticking to it.

Finally, I would suggest that you be patient with yourself. Writing is like anything else. The more you do it, the better you get. If you have a little talent, and stick with it, you’ll eventually get into the rhythm and joy of it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Social Media

Social media is a new way of communication. By experiencing social media, using flickr, twitter, youtube, facebook and digg, I find that you get to meet many different people with similar interests forming great networks which you can be proud of.

With this new communication tool, I feel that now, the individual can make a difference. When you have a good idea for a business or a just cause, you can share this idea on your blog with the people in your network and as they propagate your idea through word of mouth, you may find enough people with similar interest that may help you in your endevours.

More heads are better than one. If you would like to share an idea for a cause like saving the rainforest, join a group, tweet, link up with people on facebook and Linkedin. You'll find that many people are willing to give advice and help out even if they don't know you. Likewise, you may come across someone who needs your expertise in some advice and you could help them too.

It is a great concept, making the world smaller and allowing people from diverse background share their ideas, which may allow sometime simple and good to become GREAT!

I hope to educate more people in using social media as it has enriched my life much. I am starting classes on How to leverage Social Media on Monday in Sri Lanka, so stay tuned on this blog for the latest updates on the lessons teached and lessons learned during the social media course.

-- Robin Low.

Facebook makes money, tops 300 million users

Facebook makes money, tops 300 million users

For those who still doubt the effectiveness of social media in reaching out to people, this is just in. Well 300 million people is not that much people to some, however, it is the largest Social Networking site, and its success means it is here to stay.

Facebook is now generating enough cash to cover its operating expenses, as well as the capital spending needed to maintain its fast-growing service.

From operating out of a dorm room 5 years ago, Facebook is increasingly challenging the Web's established powerhouses like Yahoo Inc and Google Inc.

Well, Facebook offers a lot of services, and individuals and companies can definitely benefit from the services. It creates networking opportunities in the form of groups, and helps you connect with your old friends and lost friends.

For companies, Facebook is a platform which allows the companies to show their capabilities, services and products, and allow the users to come in and comment, as a free feedback channel. Organizing events reaching out to fans is much easier as well.

I would like to congratulate Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg for the success of Facebook and the success to come.

--Robin Low