Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Blog!

If you are still directed here, that really means you haven't seen my new blog yet.

Visit belindaang.com now!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Getting from 0 to 1000.

@paddytan was asking me today, now that everyone is jumping on twitter, has blogging dip in trend? Well, the conversation has prompted me to write this posting.

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 fr
om 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

  1. 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?

    • Etc

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. Invest Time and a Listening Ear
    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.

  4. Paying it Forward
    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.

  5. Personal Branding for Twitter
    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

Coffee Time, Lianhe Zaobao, 16 March 2009

Attached is a copy of today's Chinese papers with a small little feature on me and my interests. This is a forth nightly column that features people from different walks of life and talks a little about their favourite movies, books, food and ways of keeping fit.

A brief translation :

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.

Keeping Fit
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.

Alternatively, you can find a larger scan here at http://news.belindaang.com/

Saturday, March 14, 2009

REACH out???

I received a letter by post from REACH today. REACH is a movement by the Singapore government to encourage ground feedback on shaping government policies and to engage more Singaporeans in country affairs. But this letter has left me quite baffled.

It says, "... Attached is a simple survey form which will take about five minutes to complete. Please update your particulars as well, and send it back to us via EMAIL." And indeed, attached is a two page survey form. The entire letter package includes a return envelope, a cover letter and a 2 page survey form. My rational is... since a cover letter has been attached, why can't they just send the userid, a new password and a URL LINK to the survey instead? Now they are asking US to TYPE in a TWO-PAGE survey via EMAIL and send it back. This doesn't makes sense because MOST of us don't take the trouble despite they promised a token, no one really cares. Secondly, their staff would have to take the trouble and time to document each email and tabulate the information properly, then update their system to ensure the particulars are updated. The entire process-flow don't make sense to me?!?!? And it is NOT environmental-friendly.

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.
Ahhem... and the best part is... "especially the net-savvy generation". What makes them think the net-savvy generation is going to reply a SNAIL MAIL and take the trouble to type out an entire survey form? Well, I did write an email to them, to explain why I don't think this is a good idea. And I insist I'm not typing out the survey form. If they want, they can setup an online link to facilitate that.

Obviously, this blog posting might sound like I'm unreasonable to some people. But REACH has a facebook group, which they did not "invite" their entire online membership to join. (At least I had never received any invitation before, despite I found the group and joined anyway). There are 249 discussion topics on the group, where the most heated discussion has a pathetic number of 12posts by 7 people. REACH has a Twitter account with barely 27 followers. It seemed whoever initiated that had a good idea that didn't quite push it through. I would like to repeat. USING the social media is not equal to UTILIZING the social media. It doesn't mean putting someone on the job IS doing the job. Although putting someone on the job is an improvement to having no one at all.

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

Give me a Job!

I was managing a booth for my client at Career 2009 almost the entire of last week. And in the past 4 days, I had been going through repeatedly in my mind how I should write this entry. There are indeed lots to say and a lot to reflect on our society and people.

Let's began with the turnout of the event. It was an astounding success, there were more than 500,000 attendees throughout the 4-day exhibition, as reported by The Straits Times. It was the first time in history that job seekers were queuing like breadlines and swarming in like bees. People were rushing and crowding in every single booth literally demanding for application forms.

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

Singapore to tap on New media for next General Elections

In a recent interview with our PM Lee, he mentioned the party will be looking into exploring the power of new media with the coming General Elections. The article is copied in exact text below :

THE Government will leverage on new media in the next General Election, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said.

In an interview with Channel News Asia to be aired on Tuesday night, he noted the growing influence of the Internet on politics, citing the recent United States presidential election as an example and said Singapore would go the same way.

President Barack Obama's campaign, for instance, used new media to put out their messages, organise and even raise money. But PM Lee said the change here will not be an an easy one.
'We are still learning. It is not easy to make this transition. It is like going from sea to land or vice versa, you are changing your medium and you need to get comfortable with it. But we are working hard at it.'

He also said the party was on the lookout for more MPs comfortable with new media. His remarks are the latest sign of the Government's changing mindset towards new media.
Last month, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lee Boon Yang said that the Government is 'fully into' e-engagement, when responding to suggestions made by the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society.

Since then, Government agencies have also begun responding to forum letters posted on The Straits Times website. PM Lee stressed, however, that traditional media will always have a place in presenting trusted, unbiased and informed opinions. But he didn't dismiss online views outright.

'Well, there is a place called the Wild West and there are other places which are not so wild. And the new media - some of it are Wild West and anything goes and people can say anything they want. And tomorrow take a completely contrary view and well, that is just the way the medium is,' he said.

'But even in the Internet, there are places which are more considered, more moderated where people put their names down and identify themselves. And there is a debate which goes on and a give and take, which is not so rambunctious but perhaps more thoughtful. That is another range.'

The interview on the evolving media landscape was in conjunction with Channel News Asia's 10th anniversary in March.

By Jeremy Au Yong

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.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Great G Crash - The Day Gmail Rocked the World.

The fact that this blog is hosted on Google and I had to login with my Gmail account makes the post even more ironic.

I have named today, THE GREAT G CRASH. A very significant day for all global netizens. The day where the entire planet stops to talk about its downtime. It will be interesting to find out on how many tweets and blog entries were created to commemorate this event.

Google manages to get Gmail up as we speak. Not too bad, it managed to restore the service within a minimal downtime. However, downtime is simply unacceptable for an internet giant like Google. Technical glitches? Yes, we all know that happens. But downtime for Internet Giant will mean coverage on the paper's headlines tomorrow. Bad publicity? Well, not necesasary.

If this was meant to be a Buzz Marketing strategy for Google, attempting to tap on a taboo scenario... I would say they have been extremely successful. EVERYONE is talking about it. From Singapore, to USA, to Argentina and Eygpt to wherever. Google has certainly created a talking point (if any publicity is good publicity) and Gmail has further positioned itself as the top of mind recall free email service even more strongly than before.

Could there be a possibility this was the plot? Very unlikely, but still, it shows us how an information can be spreaded across the globe so swiftly. And what one service provider like Google is actually capable of. That thought could be both provoking yet scary. With that much dependence and information hosted on Google's servers, it would be most unimaginable to think about what would happen if Google simply disappeared for a day.

Is it time to rethink about how we would better diverse our dependency and data (like you would do profiling for investments) that would put our digital property at less risks.

All netizens will remember today. The Great G Crash. Let us observe a one minute silence of mourning.