Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Twitter celebrated its 3rd Birthday last weekend and I also celebrated my 1000th follower on the same day. 1000 follower may seem like no big deal to many Twitter-celeb (even a cat @sockington has 200,000 followers!) But the journey from 0 to 1000 could potentially be the hardest learning curve for any tweep or aspiring tweeter.
How can you, without using a get followers scheme, not a celebrity, not a big shot in some top MNC make your voice heard as you build a strong and faithful following. And here are the open secrets I want to share with you today.
5 TIPS TO GET FROM 0 to 1000
- Decide your motivation and objective
All of us have different reasons why we tweet. Some are for fun, just to keep up with friends while others may have career or business motivations and agenda. I started tweeting for fun. But that lasted only 2 days and I gave up. I left the account to rot for one year before deciding to explore again. And this time, I saw the potential. I started with only 8 followers. It took me approximately 8-9 weeks to reach where I am today.
Questions to ask yourself
- Why am I joining Twitter?
- Was it simply to make more random friends?
- Or do I have a targeted industry I would like to meet people from?
- To build and establish my social media currency?
- To build an online credential that could possibly spill over to real life?
- Build stronger customer relationships?
For me, my motivation is direct and focused. To know more people in the marketing, advertising and digital field. To be able to converse directly with these people, and establish my online reputation and social media currency in the longer term. Sharing on Twitter also allows me to hone my skills in a bigger way as I voice my opinions openly on random issues.
- Why am I joining Twitter?
- Be sincere, be honest and don't try to hard sell
Twitter is a sphere where relationships take time to build. (actually, all strong relationships take time to build) You have to prove that you are a valuable connection and people can benefit from following you, vice versa. Here are some ways to get you started.
- Don't try to be someone you are not. When you do, the entire Twitterverse knows it. There are too many wise and intelligent people out there. So don't try to look smart. Just be true to yourself and your heart. Be sincere and really have a desire to connect. (This point was added in after being reminded to re-emphasis it when I read @smashadv's comments on this posting. He's one great friend I've got to know on Twitter.)
- Follow BIG names like @guykawasaki. He's a really nice guy and although he seldom replies, he does when you say something smart or useful. You could get a pretty extensive list at Twitter Counter or WeFollow.com.
- Start conversations with tweeps you follow. Don't keep quiet, make some noise. When I mean noise, I'm not saying you should make a fool of yourself. By starting a conversation (it could be a question or a poll or in response to their tweets), people get a chance to be associated with you and will be more incline to following you as well.
- Retweets. Retweeting is an extremely effective way to fill your timelines with contents and get noticed. However, pick tweets that are in relation to your targeted demographics. When people find your information handy and interesting, they will naturally find a reason to start listening.
- Never. And I mean NEVER attempt to use auto-DMs. Be personalised, be a face to a name. If you try to promote before you build that human touch, you are doomed to fail.
- Forward interesting and new contents. Original contents are as important as duplicated ones. As much as people appreciate it that you are RTing, you would realise after some time, everyone is connected with everyone else. Hence we are all reading the same thing. Take some time to browse your frequent blogs and browse around, or even write something and send it to people. Create discussions on topics and share your views if you agree or don't agree to something and why.
Twitter is a tool where the most ancient art of conversational skills is being tested again. And this is the art of listening. There are hundreds and thousands of conversations and monologues going on at the same time. The greatest challenge in order to fully engage yourself in those conversations, is really just listening.
- Spend at least 15 minutes of your time everyday just plain listening. Read what others have to say. See what is the talking point today.
@robin_low congratulated me on reaching my 1000th follower as he said, "But you really tweet alot." Well, I try to. Although you may find me disappearing in a certain fashion when work starts filling my desk.
- Try to tweet daily. The best hours are US and London time, that is the time zone where most tweeps are online. Although I really have problems staying awake during that period nowadays. I make about 40 tweets a day on the average. You can get an analysis of your engagement here.
Render your help and recommend others and you will soon realise others will do the same for you. Twitter is a beautiful place to be in because no one on it has any bad intentions. The virtue of reciprocity and paying it forward is truly evident here because that is one of the strategies to make yourself heard and valued.
- The rules of success with Twitter is simple. You will realise that the more you give, the more you get in return. And the ratio of your returns will always be higher than your giving.
- Every friday is #followfriday. One of my favourite days when I can get up to 100 followers and know how many people actually values my addition. #followfriday is a really cool initiative by tweeps who takes the lead in recommending other good tweeps to follow. It's a friends introduce friends scheme that opens your doors to all these wonderful people with a wealth of knowledge you would love to tap on.
- In return, you can recommend interesting people to follow simply by writing a tweet like this, "Great folks to follow! #followfriday @belindaang @unmarketing @lucasblack @David_Feng @robin_low @cheth..." And the list goes on till you reach 140 words.
I would strongly suggest you pick a twitter id that is either your name or a witty handle to remember. More often than not, people will choose to use the same title as their blogs, facebook profiles or website.
- Plan your digital footprints in such a way that makes it easy for people to recognise and locate you across all platforms.
- Use a consistent avatar with a great smile of yourself or put on a digital effect that people will remember you about. And not the "standard msn messenger flowers, soccer balls or horses". Make it a YOU.
- Create and Design a Twitter background that will load nicely on all popular screen resolutions. Make sure the background contains all the contact information you would want people to find you in. If you really have a problem with this, drop me a tweet @belindaang, I would be happy to assist.
- If your intention to tweet is professional, do maintain that image throughout all your branding attempts.
These 5 steps are not your typical "quick money making guide" or "20,000 in one month!" gimmick. These are hard and solid rules to building an effective online relationship. Since then, my blog readership has doubled (and 10x in some cases especially during my timely post for the Great Gmail Crash). @jeffoliver decided I was a good case study on effective personal online marketing without a monsterous CV, that he made an analysis of all my social networks to his students. I managed to get noticed enough to earn myself a small little report on Lianhe Zaobao. And I don't see this is the end of all the wonderful things that are going to happen. I had made some hard and fast friends on Twitter and I am confident you will reap some really great rewards too.
Have fun on your journey from 0 to 1000. =)
Monday, March 16, 2009
I first tried my hand at entrepreneurship at 21 years old where I started an European-styled cafe in Tanglin Mall. Thereafter, a second outlet was opened around the vicinity of China Square Central. After about 4 or 5 years, lost money, had to wind the business.
The initial idea was to open a Salad Bar chain. I worked in that cafe for 3 months, and as the owner then would like to let it out, I decided to lease it. It is better to continue something familiar than not as I am good with the menu offerings and customers by then. However, it was still not successful.
No regrets. Youth is all about accumulating experiences.
I graduated from Temasek Polytechnic with a major in Video & Films. Then, I did a year of Film Directing in Beijing Film Academy. The returns were plentiful. It happen to coincide with SARS and our lecturer was infected. I sat not further than 2 metres away from him. It was a blessing that all ends well. But I could clearly see the strength of unbroken unity in Chinese from this one incident.
A Good Book to Read
As a student, I used to enjoy books by Betty Wu Dan Ru. Especially in my teenage days of 17s and 18s. Whenever I fall into a depression, reading her books will help me walk out of the shadow.
Now, I enjoy the books of popular spiritual author He Quan Feng. His books are very motivating, full of wisdom and it gives the readers a whole new horizon.
Life is filled with unfairness, how do we walk out of these circumstances? Actually, no matter what kind of cards life has given you, you can still play a good hand. The importance is how to play your cards.
When I feel my life lacks passion and drive, reading his books will help me motivate myself forward.
The author thinks that, to help someone be happy and remain healthy with a book, is far more helpful than curing with any medicine. His writings are fluent, close-to-heart yet filled with philosophies, witty yet intelligent. It has an in depth understanding to the problem and not simply diagnosing it. At the same time, it provides a vision, that escalates the soul to a higher level. Offering not only knowledge from the book, but a brand new life.
He says, the strength of faith is infinite, every thought we have, every intuition, every faith, will indirectly or directly affect the processes of our birth, aging, ill and death. The only person who can change our mindset are ourselves.
I'm still young, but my health wasn't so good previously. My heaviest was at 75kg and I looked like a 30-year old when I was at 21. I worked very hard and long hours in my cafe and had to do much of the physical chores myself. That caused a problem in my spinal-chord later, which at a point of time, I could barely walk. Apart from seeking treatment, my doctor suggested that I lose some weight, that will be beneficial to health.
I lost almost 20kg. Now at 56kg, all women loves beauty. I am even further more concern about my diets and exercising regime. Frequent jogs, skipping, tennis and even workouts at home. Now I feel younger and full of energy!
Currently am in events management, busy planning for the APEC dinner, busy, busy yet will still slow down my footsteps to do some writing for my book, and if possible, make some short films in the future. This is still one of my dreams yet to be realised.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
And the best part is... this is what is written from their website.
Besides conducting dialogue and tea sessions, we will also work closely with the mainstream media to convey key issues, as well as tap on new media such as SMS and blogs to engage more Singaporeans, especially the net-savvy generation.
Every government agency is pressured to pick up social media skills to engage the new-age Singaporeans. But it must be understood this job is a niche by itself and cannot be filled in by simply "any marcom" executive. I don't know how well each of these portal is working, but I think there are too "excluded" instead of being "included". If I don't have a business on these sites, I can't be bothered to check it out. The "publishing" factor is still stronger than the "engaging" factor. I suspect they are on the wrong track from the start. STILL, trying is better than not trying at all.
But PLEASE, don't try to send me a snail mail again asking for an email reply. That's dumb.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
At my booth, we were an informative and awareness exhibition, hence do not offer direct employment opportunities. Despite we explained the forms at our counter are simply survey forms, people were queuing to fill those in.
Apparently, many people have the impression that if they fill in every single form in the entire exhibition hall, someone will hire them.
Which you and I know, it's not true. But it was good for me, I fulfilled my KPI, filled up 4,000 forms in less than 2-days. I was however, a little depressed at this scenario I'm observing.
Over the first 3 days, we also have credible speakers giving talks at our booth on the potential of the tourism industry and the current openings available at their organisations. The major attraction are the 2 Integrated Resorts that will be opening end 2009 and first quarter of 2010. Together, they are likely to offer more than 20,000 jobs in all. In this career fair alone, there are almost 2,000 openings that almost 20,000 people are vying for.
As the Vice-President for Casino Games in Marina Bay Sands (MBS is one of the much anticipated IR, first to open in 2009 Dec) was giving a talk on the job scopes and potential openings that will be offered in this hiring exercise, I walked to the back counter of my booth where probably about 10 people are filling in the application form for MBS. I invited them to come forward and listen to the talk. Before I could finish, all of them have walked off. (And obviously without a smile nor a thank) .
And you can't help but wonder, if one aren't even interested in what his/her potential employer has to say. What makes him/her thinks the potential employer wants to hire them?
In the report by The Straits Times on 7th May 2009, a fresh graduate was quoted saying, "'It's a tough year ahead. I have no particular preference for job positions, as long as I can get one." Indeed, that is an encouraging mentality, to manage expectations in tough times like this. But in an employer's point of view, that would be the very reason why I will not be hiring someone like him. WHY? You may ask?
Recession is really the best time to hire talents. There is an abundance of talent in the marketplace as compared to the good times where everyone is trying to vie for the best. The cards now lies in the hands of employers and they are free to pick whomever that may best benefit their business, without paying outrageous salaries or incentives. At the wide choice of talents available, why should I (as an employer) hire someone who has "no particular preference or interest" versus someone whom values the position as an advancement to his/her career path. Why would I hire someone who "just need a job" versus someone who really is interested in contributing? The problem with many job seekers is always the same old issue. As much as you are concern if the company can pay for your next meal, the company is concern about how much value-add you can give them.
Hence, instead of thinking, "I have no preference." Start thinking, "How do I make myself THE preference."
I came across a lady, well-groomed, somewhat well-educated, English speaking, probably late 30s to early 40s, who came to enquire about the two IRs. She asked, "There's Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World there, where's the third one?" From her accent, you know she is a true blue fellow countryman. We looked at her with slight disbelief and said, "Mam, there's only two IRs in Singapore". Then, she asked, "Oh... then is Resorts World Sentosa in Sentosa?" Honestly, how do you expect me to answer a question like that. I really don't wish to humiliate her intelligence.
But it suddenly dwells upon me, in the past 10 or 20 years where she held her last position, did time stood at a standstill? Perhaps losing that job was a push back into reality.
The day she left the doors of those offices, it was "Welcome to the Real World".
How can anyone not take interest into what goes on around them? Apparently, plenty of people choose to do things only when there is a need to. Now that there's a need to find a job, then they realise opportunities don't lie around waiting. It must be sought after.
Little did people realise, knowledge and relationships takes time and effort to be acquired. It does not happen overnight. I have an intern from my company who asked a peer after one of my presentation, "What is a continent?". No, she's not in High School (even high school kids should know anyway). A month later, during an appraisal session, I asked her if she had wikipedia or googled the definition of a continent. She replied, "No." So I probed further, "Aren't you curious?". She said, No. I said, "Why not?" And the anticipated answer is, "There is no need to."
Yes I know, what is new?
The point is. This is obviously not a problem lurking amongst the older generation, as the younger people are experiencing the same bad habits and misconceptions. And may I repeat it has absolutely nothing to do with education level nor academic excellence. Over a BBQ with a friend, he was sharing with me some shocking moments he had whilst giving a speech to a group of MBA students in a local University. He was sharing on the importance of Accounting to Entrepreneurs. A guy, representing the entire cohort stood up and asked him, "What is a P&L? Can you please don't use abbreviations?" Yes I repeat, a group of MBA students asked him that. Another occasion, a friend's cousin was interviewing some University undergrads to take up positions as Intern in an MNC technological company. A dream company for many, which I can't name. One of the top candidates was posed with this question. "What is your passion?" He gave a most astonishing answer. "My girlfriend!"
Obviously it doesn't take rocket science to understand how one should behave during an interview. It also doesn't require a PHD to understand basic fundamentals of business like a profit & loss statement. Ignorance is a very scary thing. But the sheer denial of ignorance and reluctance to change is absolutely unacceptable. Many have once heard this famous quote, "For the only thing that never changes is change itself." But few really recognises it.
It has become quite clear in the past 40 years that English has become the common and official business communication language in Singapore. However, some non-English speaking older generation have chose to stick with their dialects and mother tongue. I am not saying it's a bad thing. We need to have all these rich cultures and lingual in our community. But somehow, they must understand upgrading is essential in guaranteeing a constant employment opportunity.
Should we only start to pick up new skills when we need them? Probably by the time you realise your need, it would be too late to start learning all over again. I would sadly say, the people who are not getting jobs now will not be able to get jobs in the next one year. Employers and the society doesn't owes anyone a living.
To change your life, first change your mind.
Although I don't deny there are genuine victims of this recession and there are genuine sob stories. But what makes the great difference between one who survives out of valley and one who dwells in misery is really - all in the mind.
Friday, February 27, 2009
My two dime worth
I believe the evolution of tapping on new media in Singapore is possible. But evolution means it will take time to grow through stages of change, trial and error. And I agree that real name should be used.
A blogger, Angelina_jo mentioned, "May be our PM still does not get it, Sporeans cannot use their real names esp if they are against Govt policies, for fear of reprisal." I think the concept has to be put right first. Being "Against" has to be with grounds and rational. If accompanied with constructive suggestions and evidence, then the word "against" no longer applies. I would think, when Singaporeans first decide to speak, appropriate and respectful language should still be used. Ultimately, respect is essential for any conversation. Be it to the government or simply your neighbour. Only with due respect, would anyone be interested to listen. And if someone chooses to speak up, make sure its a valid statement and not simply some form of intended scandal and message of angst.
I am sure both public and government can make out the difference between the two. The Internet has a long memory and even our government understands that. SG government is wise enough to know what advices are to be taken positively and negatively. Just a reminder, our island's success is by no chance simply a case of luck.
But again, USING the new media platforms is not equivalent to UTILIZING the new media platforms. Obama had a Social Media Head. Does our Singapore government have one? Training to get the staff hop on the social media wagon may not be the best way to implement these measures. Focus, time and in depth understanding of netizen behaviours and social media scope of influence is essential to the success of such a campaign. Obama has been crowned the best marketer of the year by adage. His online strategy was a revolutionary well planned case of Digital PR and marketing combined. In a moderated society like Singapore, the extensiveness of such an effect probably cannot be matched.