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.

Why are Maps drawn North to South?

My Taiwanese friend gave me a question. And I returned her with a long answer.

Question : Why are most maps drawn North to South and seldom South to North when from astronauts point of view, they usually see earth the opposite direction?



My Answer : 我覺得我們所看到的地圖大部分是北上南下,因為是約定俗成的知識,且普遍的認知上北上南下這已是我們傳統上變成人人皆知的事。的確宇宙不分南北西東。但是人類總需要一些指標去確認方向於是就發明了這個方向盤,所以就自然而然的變成這樣。如果今天先人發明的是南上北下,那我們也自然而然地覺得那很正常!比如飛機不叫飛機而叫做火車,從一開始就是這樣的話,我們也就不會去質疑它為什麼叫做火車了。


The reason why maps are drawn North to South is due to a tradition set forth by our forefathers. Although the Universe has no clear directions but humans need a navigation guide to set our compass right and put a reference to everything, hence the invention of bearings and directions. If today, bearings were invented with South on the top and North at the bottom, we would naturally find it acceptable. For example if aeroplanes were known as trains all along, we would never have doubted why was it named as trains in the first place.

My other rationale is that although Chinese are likely the first people to draw a complete world map, yet it were the Europeans and Americans who began mass producing it. And they would naturally place the orientation of their own countries on the top. This is due to the psychological way of human habits in looking at things. We always look top down. Even China would not have used the South-to-North Map. China is known as the "middle kingdom", the center of the world. But if placed in a South-to-North map, they will no longer be positioned in the "middle". Hence traditionally, politically and historically, south-to-north maps will never be used and produced widely.

*The above answer is simply my rational with no basis of research. Casual discussion welcome. =)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is the internet giant treading on thin lines?

Google has developed such wonderful services that no one can deny their greatness. Google Earth is almost like gaining access to a top satellite service without owning one. Its technology and integration is first class and awesome. As a consumer, I definitely enjoyed every part of it.

But... is Google treading on dangerous lines? In a recent report by Times Online, Google Earth seems to have revealed photos that has unraveled the secret history of US base in Pakistan. These photos have since been removed with request by several governments. But it was however obtained by Pakistan's English publication before that was possible. And of course, that means internationally, the photo has been officially exposed.

Last year, Google Earth also ran into a controversy when Pentagon requests they remove pictures showing important military bases in USA. Last week, there was also a report on a man's journey to hunt down the treasure of a Spanish sunken ship when he observed an abnormal landscaping with an outline looking like a shoe-print. The case has since been brought to court to review a possible legal excavation of the site.

Will the Google Earth service be brought down due to the many controversies and sensitivity? Will there be censorship of information and protection of interest to control searches and results? Will Google lead to the end of democracy on the Internet?

The Internet is such a wonderful haven because of its transparency and limitless possibilities. Almost anything and everything is available and an abundance of information ready at disposal. However, there is always both sides of the coin to argue. If global safety is at threat, should certain information be censored and deleted? Should the conversations of netizens be monitored and actions taken when something wrong is being said that may cause a social up rise? To what extent will this potential censorship takes place?

Recently in New Zealand, there is a heated discussion over the Guilt Upon Accusation Law, which led to an "Internet Black Out" movement. It is a bill that allows for Internet disconnection without a trial on accusations of copyright infringements. The bill will take effect on 28 Feb 2009 if the National Party takes no further action. Right or wrong? Well, it depends on which side you want to contest. Although I don't agree to the infringement of privacy but infringement of copyrights does not seem right either. Each country has it's own law and it's hard for anyone else to say anything about it. But I definitely don't think the statement that says, "Without Trial" is fair.

Should we or should we not? Perhaps one day it will evolve to an era where there will be a cyber-government who governs the global netizenship. Perhaps cyberspace may be even accepted as part of United Nations? Who knows?

Advertisers Get Heads Up!

Everyone is trying to get attention. Everyone. From the individual to the advertiser. With so much interuptions and vie for attention, to what extreme would one go to gain some eyeballs?

Air New Zealand seem to have the answer to this question. Their heads up initiative got thumbs up responses. When I first saw this ad, I secretly thought it was one most ingenius idea. "Head down to New Zealand" is a very very clever tagline to use with this gureilla marketing effort. It is simple, straight forward and requires some bravery from the volunteers. Participants are rewarded with free air tickets to New Zealand, which well, is icing on the cake and cost the company almost nothing. Most people really do this for the fun of it. Afterall, it fulfills the objective of gaining attention for both parties. The individual and the advertiser. Although it looks like it was not able to reach the mass on the ground, but this eye-catching act has created lots of good PR value, which ended up in global papers and guess where, the internet of course. I got the link of this article from the New York Times through Twitter via @karllong.

Definitely, I think this simple "human billboard" idea could look less glamourous and insignificant as compared to Australia's recent "Best Job In The World" campaign. But my my, these two pacific countries are going all their way out to create some hype. I'm impressed.

Marketing is really not about who has the most advertising dollar to spend. But rather, finding a channel that can most effectively send out the correct message and best fits the objective. Flashing giantic ads may create some awareness but probably not the excitement or urge to purchase. What advertising should really try to do here is to build a positive emotion on the consumer that will lead to action. All marketing efforts are redundant without a call for action.

This "human billboard" concept is fun, engaging and attention-seeking. As much as the creative people had fun conceptualizing about it, I'm sure the participants had as much fun being a part of it. After all, you can be assured they will continue to be an Air New Zealand customer for a long time ahead.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spread the anger around!

If you had to name one successful viral campaign that had made an impression on you in the past 5 years. Which would be your favourite? For me, it definitely has to be the Subservient Chicken by our friends from BK. The campaign was launched in 2004 to promote its tendercrisp. And the simple idea produced astonishing results, entertaining millions around the globe. Especially the office workers who just wishes their boss will become that chicken in the video.

Burger King then launched a very successful "Whopper Sacrifice" in 2008, a campaign tapping on the power of networking on facebook. And the new member of their viral campaigns is the SEND AN ANGRY GRAM that has just been launched this year, to promote their Angry Whopper. This is a pretty fun campaign that allows you to send really angry words to your friends and whosoever.

Playing with taboo almost always mean success (Refer to Mark Hughes's book, BuzzMarketing). And BK recognises that.

Emarketer recently interviewed the man behind the success of these campaign, Jeff Benjamin. So here's Jeff sharing his thoughts on viral with you.

Creating a Whopper of a Viral Campaign FEBRUARY 13, 2009
Jeff Benjamin, Vice President and Executive Creative Director, Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

Jeff Benjamin, the award-winning creator of online viral campaigns such as the “Subservient Chicken” and the recent “Whopper Sacrifice” for Burger King, spoke to eMarketer about how to think virally.

eMarketer: The Crispin Porter + Bogusky employee handbook goes into the agency’s philosophy. One point is, “Keep money in context.” What does that mean?

Jeff Benjamin: There are a lot of people wasting money on the online space, and then there are a lot of people using their money really effectively.

We try and find spots where it’s not just about buying impressions—it’s about creating something that makes people create the impressions for you for free. People can do the advertising for you if you give them the inspiration and the tools.

That was the case with the “Whopper Sacrifice” application [a recent campaign for Burger King]. We did do a little bit of a media buy on Facebook, but ultimately it was all about people putting it on their page and creating impressions and sacrificing friends. You’re getting more bang for your buck at the end of the day.

eMarketer: What are some misconceptions about viral marketing?

Jeff Benjamin: One big one is that in order to be provocative and get a lot of buzz, you can’t be true to your brand. I think a lot of brands make that mistake. They try to become something else just for the sake of being viral and making something sticky.

You always have to make sure those things belong to your brand. Otherwise, I don’t think it’ll work and people won’t remember you for it. It won’t do anything to further the brand.

People go into brainstorming viral, and you can’t go into it with that intention. What you can go into it with, though, is the idea of making a great ad. If you do make a great ad, people will talk about it. The viral part will sort of be a consequence.

But a lot of times, clients will come to us like, “Hey, we want something viral.” That’s not very inspiring, because that doesn’t really give any insight into what the ad really is.

Ultimately, we want to create great ads that are going to do great things for the client. If we do our job right, the consequence of that will be something that gets passed around and talked about.

Even before the Internet, viral advertising always existed. It’s just changed its form. What’s been effective over the years keeps evolving. Like right now, I don’t think viral is creating something terribly subversive or anything. I think it’s about utility and tools that make our lives better or easier.

--- Interview from eMarketer

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The way I remember Singapore

Just a quick update for everyone incase you are wondering (although I don't suspect you will), 2 publishers called me back. Yes I know it isn't a big deal, but there are only a handful of publishers in Singapore.

I believe the concept is intriguing, working hard to make it happen.

Hopefully the next time I write here, I've got a book deal.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A little insanity goes a long way...

There are a couple of stuff I'm planning for. Which in actual fact, I've been thinking for a pretty long time. There's two main ones to share with you.

The way I remember Singapore
I had a plan to write a billingual Coffee-Table book (you know, the kind of photographic pictorial with lots of poetic captions. Pretty much a concept book.) to record Singapore before 2010. The thought had been stuck in my mind for the longest time but no actual moves were actually executed to put it into action. Browsed a few bookshops (I browse bookshops when I'm bored, lacking inspirations or simply depressed) then dropped by a cafe round my neighbourhood yesterday and decided to get an Erdinger. I was staring into this neon signboard and a perfect phrase depicting the scene floated into my mind like magic. The lights of the city from the eyes of an 8-year old child and how the same scene is being translated differently as we age. And yes, I told myself. That is what I want to do. I want to make that thought a reality.

So today, I did a research on the local publishers and wrote to every one of them, with a brief summary of the concept. It's my first time tackling with publishers, so you could imagine I had absolutely no idea where to start from. With the recession this year, I can expect publishers are weary about selling unsolicited works. From publishing books that are more leisure than educational. I suspect I would have alot of convincing to do. The next is putting the team together. That would take alot more work. I don't mind working on the project alone really, but I recognise the fact that I may not be the best person for everything. Will keep everyone in view on the outcome. Will probably start a book blog if a publisher indicates interest. It is essential that this book is printed within a designed lead time, as it is planned to celebrate Singapore entering the new era of 2010.

The remake and rebirth of Market-Share Blog
Hosting on blogspot is great. I don't have to take care of all the templates, CMS and marketing. Blogspot is easily searchable and friendly to use. I don't have to worry about downtime because Google cannot afford to disappoint. So I am relatively happy here actually. But on the other hand, I also understand the importance of personal branding, of owning an address and "home" that helps to create an impression. And I reckon that it is best that I move back to my own host. The idea is not hard and stone yet, but plans are underway. If you have some experiences or opinions to share, I'd be more than happy to hear it out. In any case, do expect http://www.belindaang.com to be ready for access anytime today. ;-)

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Great Expectations

We've heard it perhaps a thousand times, since the beginning of the credit crunch. In any case, this is actually a familiar word somebody must have told us at some point of our lifes. The keyword is... Managing Expectations.

This is however more relevant in times today where people are losing their jobs by the minute, if not second. There is an estimation of 6 million unemployment in China, 8% in USA and on our sunny isle of Singapore, a 3% high. No one has the answer to when this tsunami may end. Finland's government has collapsed. Hence it is far more important for us today, to be able to manage expectations. Expectations of our life, of our job and our desires.

If man was ruled by needs and not wants, if greed was replaced by gratefulness, the world will not see itself being washed into these great big waves, a deja vu of the Great Depression, where Karl Marx once observed that history will repeat itself. As he said, the first time was a tragedy, the second is a farce.

I ran my own food business for a short period of 4 years. And as an employer, I made a very interesting observation. In contrary to common beliefs, I realised that age nor qualification is an obstacle to getting the desired job. Usually the people who manage to get a job, always gets a job, no matter how many times they have job-hopped. And the people who fail in getting a job, will never get their hands on that ideal job. It is all a matter of attitude and managing of expectations. As they all say, to change your life, first change your mind.

There are always similar traits in people who carry a positive attitude. They are polite, full of smiles, able to express themselves well, sincere and eager to contribute. The people who tend to fail in an interview are usually self-absorbed, mr-know-it-all, mr-know-how, rude or it may seem to pain them to say an additional word when questioned. They are almost too eager to ask what the company can provide than to ask themselves how they can add-value to the organisation. Usually, I like to judge my first impression of people from a handshake and if they will put the chair back. I think it tells alot about a person, about his/her attitude , upbringing and interest. A firm handshake and putting the chair back in its original position lightly will definitely get in my good books quite immediately.

Returning to the topic of managing expectations. There are alot of adjustments to make and it's all in the head. Firstly, don't expect the same salary and job comfort. There will definitely be alot of intensity and adjustments in salaries. Especially for fresh grads waiting to embark on an exciting career, I'm sorry to say it may not sound too exciting afterall. For the mid-career change, who has just got retrenched or terminated, it may not be easy to find a job in the same capacity in this period. Take the best use of this time to upgrade skills and get yourself intouch with the industry. Opportunities are only for those who are prepared for it. Hence, make sure you are always prepared, always on your toes. When the economy rebounce, you don't want to be caught left behind.

Manage expectations in your lifestyle. Man has always been in a neverending pursuit for luxury and material wants. In unforeseen weathers like this, cash is king. Keep that dollar for a rainy day use, be very very careful with spending on credit (actually, don't even try), manage and plan loans with delicate care and read investment products thoroughly to understand your risks before attempting to outwit the market. Understand that you may not be dining out as often, cut down on that monthly shopping spree and perhaps trade in your BMW for a Toyota.

Be grateful about the things you have in your life and not the things you seem to be losing. In actual fact, we lost nothing. We had nothing to start from anyway. If we all rule our lifes with our needs and not wants, we will see a lighter side of life.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Welcome, the real era of Social Media Marketing

I have been spending quite some quality time on twitter and reading useful blogs of others. As I am writing, I am still continuously trying to figure out what may be the correct focus to direct this post.

Social media has always been a very skeptical form of marketing for alot of traditional marketeers as there is no clear ROI or statistics which can be provided as a base for business. Especially in the context of Asia, where almost everything must be "seen" or "touch" to "believe". However, this may all change with evolution of statistical tools on individual social networking platforms and most of all, the recent launch of Buzz Gain. If you need to get excited over something, then this must be it!

Currently in Beta stage (Free for limited period), Buzz Gain is a really simple web-based client that allows you to track over 100 social networking sites and search your keyword on blogs, microblogs etc. This allows a complete consolidation of data, including listening to all the important conversations about your product or business all in one site. Learn about who you should be tracking or following. And at the click of a button, analyze your demographics as graphs are created automatically to explain trends! Now you know WHO is looking and talking about you, WHO you should be talking to and WHAT are the results or outcome of the conversations. Finally a one-stop and affordable solution to all Social PR headaches.

Although I wouldn't say the program is perfect just yet. Afterall, it is still in beta launch. One of the biggest turnoff is its speed. The program would have been close to a wonder if it loaded up nicely and promptly too. The beta version may be showing signs of lagging and delayed information. More insights of analysis and information can also be developed, hopefully at a later point of time. But at the very least, if you have no idea where start on your social PR, now here's a useful assistant.

The service would probably have very large potential in Asia also, especially in China. With latest stats by Internet World Stats, China's internet population leads the world with approximately 253 million internet users end December 2008. And we are looking at a merely 19% penetration of its entire billion population. Imagine how much this service could potentially do for clients wanting to enter the dragon's gate? There are over 578 million internet users in Asia alone (versus 885 million in the rest of the world), where rising markets like India only has a 5.2% internet penetration currently. (Statistics are quoted from Internet World Stats) With the consumer market so saturated in Europe and America, brands and businesses are quick eyeing on the big piece of cake in the less-than developed far east.

However, Asia's consumer behavior and internet trends may differ with those from the West, with their own specialised and isolated platforms (such as qq.com in China). And these are usually quite contained within their own communities. Hence services such as BuzzGain will need to obtain a better and more thorough understanding of the system to efficiently get it right. Even as a fellow Chinese, I'm finding it tough to keep up with the lighting speed trends of the China market. Their growth is tremendous and they are quick in developing tools that match those of the West. Moreover, the web structure in the east is not as organized and there are alot of "noise" to filter before actual contents and conversations can be read and analyzed. Hence adequate time will need to be invested to study the market in detail.

In the meantime, I would like to give a pat on the shoulder of the BuzzGain team. If you haven't signed up for a demo, do so today. You'd be pleasantly surprised at the convenience it provides. And if you have a word to say to BuzzGain, feedback on how you think it could help you better, or just thank them for the wonderful innovation, give a BUZZ to @mukund on twitter. The fine man will be more than pleased to hear from you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The screwed banks.

No, I really don't mean to be rude, nor has this posting has anything directly involved with marketing either. I am simply personally fustrated with the OCBC bank of Singapore. I wouldn't say they have a bad service because the telephone operators have been rather patient with me. But I'm just wondering what's wrong inside?

The bank sent me a letter to inform me of some pending documents they need from me to facilitate a certain application. So, I walked in personally to a bank to verify the documents and submitted it on the spot, with the copy of the letter the bank sent me. The bank staff even took the letter from me as a reference. About 3 days later, I received an SMS on my phone to inform me the documents have been received and my application status will be informed via mail. So I assumed it is all in processing.

Just yesterday, I received ANOTHER letter to "remind" me to submit the "pending documents", WHICH I already did more than a week ago! (maybe 2 weeks) I was baffled. So I called the call centre for assistance. And they said they'll check. They called me back again today to tell me the relevant department has yet to receive my documents.

Hence, why did I recieve the text message? And why did I walk-in to the bank personally in the first place if it is redundant? And why would there be conflicting information from the same department in the same bank?

Did the recession drove the banks into turmoils and so the office is covered with flying papers everywhere? I don't know... but OCBC had better look into its internal process.

AND another comment to ALL banks... please save your papers. You could potentially cut ALOT of cost from that. Why keep sending reminder letters in this era of technology? Do consider practicing some form of environmental friendly policies.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Digital Presence

I had some time on my hands over the weekend to devote to my digital presence. And so I updated my linkedin, contributed to twitter religiously, finally updated myspace too (which I haven't done so for maybe years?) and I would say the results has been quite satisfactory for me in a mere 3 days.

Firstly, I doubled my twitter followers (which isn't alot but I would say are quality connections), did up a background for my twitter page so people can locate me easily. The active responses I post also mean I get to absorb alot more wealth of information as the tweets are updated almost every minute. Hence every minute I'm learning something new about the industry or in another part of the world.

Secondly, I decide to post the question on a possible internship with marketing experts over Linkedin. And I'm pleasantly surprised by the quality offers I manage to get. Although I don't have an abundance of replies but I have gathered enough offers to last me for the entire year if not two. Opportunities to take a few weeks off work to explore internship in Abu Dhabi, Poland, New York, Sydney etc are indeed very attractive. The next challenge is now trying to arrange my schedule at work to make it happen. Perhaps this could potentially spark off a new practice in the industry where frequent exchange as such may lead to an overall upgrade in the quality of marketing professionals. Afterall, exposure is extremely important in our line of job. However, employers may have to be alot more open-minded to the idea of this practice and that sharing does not mean divulging confidential information.

Finally, perhaps the major challenge I find that has to be tackled is actually blogging. It's extremely easy to blabble on and on without a focus for contents. But it is an art to be able to find an attractive angle and offering fresh and not recycled contents to readers. Fresh perspectives are usually the main attraction for returning visitors. But I have to admit it is easier said than done. As I'm honing my skills in convincing you, I hope you'll be patient and hang in there.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I was just thinking quite aloud today, if I have been doing enough learning and picking up enough new information? If I don't log on to my TweetDeck, I basically spend the day not absorbing much. But once the influx of thoughts from all the expertise I'm following starts flooding over, that's when the real information and education starts infiltrating. If you ain't on twitter yet, you better start doing so. I'm NOT joking. (Add me if you haven't)

Every marketing book I have at home is half-read. I probably should invest more time into digesting the wealth of knowledge. If I have a new year resolution this year, it should start just right from that. And so, I was also wondering if I'm interested to travel and mentor under marketing/branding experts for a couple of weeks, would anyone be willing to take me in, all self-paid? Probably someone would, if I seriously asked. After all, I don't have the luxury of taking a month leave off my work. At least not for now. But I do have the serious intention to explore. If anyone is reading this and don't mind offering me the opportunity, I would love to take it up!

Drawing up a brief blueprint of my future, deciding how I want it to be, what do I want to be and how do I reach it. Still in sketchy stage and all drawn with pencil in my mind. Hence erasable and editable.

Food for thought :

Friday, January 2, 2009

The strong waves of 2009

Happy New Year folks! It's 2nd January 2009. I have to start practicing writing the right date. I tend to waste too many cheques in the first month of every year.

Today didn't exactly start off on a fantastic note, when I had to give my intern a ticking as she was absolutely not paying attention to what she was doing. (it's only a minutes for goodness sake, and I had to make her change it 4 times!) But let's leave her to make the final changes for now.

Many people have told me, 2009 will come in a fiery big tsunami wave. It will sweep away anything that is in its way. The worse has yet to arrive, that's what I'm hearing. Our Prime Minister made his traditional New Year speech yesterday indicating a forecasted -2.0 growth for Singapore in 2009. The annual budget has been pushed forth to January, hoping policies will aid individuals and companies to tide these fiery storms earlier. It hasn't quite hit me directly yet, but from the look of it, it ain't going to give a warning when it strikes. I am not an economic expert and I can't tell you anything new from this post. Which I bet you haven't heard anything new for a long time from anyone else either, that is.

Despite the crisis, it definitely isn't the first time the human race has been hit hard. This can't be tougher to survive than the world wars nor the Great Depression back in the 30s. Somehow, human are rare creatures whom can find and create opportunities in all situations. Even animals find their own way into survival.

The future holds a future in itself. So let's anticipate an optimistic 2009 and may we brave the storms like warriors together!