This is a classic example of how just because you think you know almost everything about what you’re doing, doesn’t mean you can tell other people who you think don’t know as much as you do, to shut it. After all, how can they know any better, right?
One day, a team member asked me, “Now that we have our newsletter set up, maybe we should have a popup screen asking people to subscribe?”
Within just 5 seconds, I looked like this:
Oh dear. I was quickly coming up with ridiculous reasons as to why we cannot possibly do that. What have I turned into! My teammate had the WTF look. “Yeah! WTF?”, I asked myself.
It was a humbling experience. More than humbling, it was mortifying.
“Why can’t we at least TRY it?” was the next line I heard.
I was so full of myself thinking I’ve read it all that I didn’t even think that those case studies and best practices might not necessarily apply to our company! (A mistake I think all of us at one point also made. Bah. Look at me trying to drag everyone into this.)
I changed my rage face to something more amiable.
Then I went back to my desk and started looking at possible solutions and if they really did work.
I found Padiact, met Claudiu Murariu, their wonderful and very helpful co-founder, and the rest is history. We installed it on our site and almost a year later, we’re now at 10k subscribers. We were and still are, seeing about 2-3% conversion rates each month. What a waste it would have been if I insisted that I knew everything.
My newsletter popup story might not work for your company or for your website but what I can guarantee you that will always work is this: having team members who are brave enough to call you out, to experiment, and to make sure that it’s not just your business that is growing, but also yourselves.
I was catching up on news/blog posts the other night when I saw this post from Nuffnang. They’re giving away tickets to the exclusive screening of Snow White and the Huntsman.
Okay so that sounds fine. A contest. Cool.
Oh but what is this I see? To join the contest, you need to write a blog entry with this specific title: “SkinWhite and Nuffnang bring you Snow White and the Huntsman.”
As I was reading this, my reaction was, “No way.” Little did I know I’d keep saying that throughout the blog post.
Turns out, not only do you need to use that specific title, you also need to answer this silly question “How does SkinWhite give you that beautiful blush white skin that your prince charming can’t resist?” It doesn’t end there, you also need to blog about the darn “syncrowhite action that works in FOUR ways!”
I promised myself I will look into this over the weekend. So today, I googled the required blog title to see if people are actually participating in this thing.
Holy mother of mindless marketing.
I looked at their blog post’s comments section and saw that there are 38 comments, most of them linking to their blogs; some asking why they haven’t received their confirmation emails. It looks like Nuffnang can only accept 100 entries. If they reach their goal, that would give us at least one hundred blog posts on the same exact topic.
Great idea? I disagree.
Bloggers Can Think for Themselves
At least I’d like to think that. I’ve met a couple of bloggers and they’re smart. They’re creative and they’re hardworking. Isn’t this an insult to their creativity by forcing them to use specific titles and include content (e.g. syncrowhite) they would not otherwise write about? Do they think bloggers are not capable of coming up with their own blog titles that it is given to them in verbatim?
Won’t they also feel like they’re being taken advantage of? Clearly, SkinWhite just wants them to write about their product. Who cares what they think? Here’s what they need to write.
If a blogger, one who really wants good content for his readers (not freebies from companies), saw this contest, would he participate?
More Content Junk, Less Thinking
If Nuffnang and SkinWhite get what they want, then the interwebz will have 100++ blog posts with the same title, same content, same links. Of course this promotes SkinWhite but does this promote quality content? You know, content that bloggers actually think and care about?
I went through the first 2 SERPs to be sure that I have an idea of what types of content they’re getting. A lot of them were just literally following instructions. I’d be lying though if I said I didn’t spot some good ones. I found about 4 “almost genuine” blog entries. I say almost because of my reason number 3.
Bloggers Lose Their Readers’ Trust
Now that I know about this contest, if I read a blog post that talks about SkinWhite, will I say, “Oh wow SkinWhite must really be effective!” or will I say “This was a contest entry. Hmm. I’m not sure this is true.”
Why is she writing this post? Why does it look so advertising-y? Why does she suddenly know all about the syncrowhite action that works in four ways? Oh okay. She wants to win movie tickets to see Snow White and the Huntsman. Hmm.
Do I lose trust in the brand? Maybe, but in this case, I don’t really care about SkinWhite. If I wanted to try it because of these blog entries, I will. If I like it, then maybe I’ll get more. If I find that it sucks, then I won’t buy it again. Simple.
The blogger though, loses credibility points. I read other people’s blogs to learn about different perspectives; not to read contest entries.
Is this the type of blogging environment Nuffnang wants to promote?
BONUS: Seriously, what’s wrong with not being fair-skinned?
This weekend, yet another whitening product is getting flak for their most recent commercial:
SkinWhite in this campaign does the same thing albeit not as ridiculous as Block and White. It basically tells me that the only time a “prince charming” will like me is if I have “beautiful blush white skin.”
What are we? 12? Is this Disney country? Who wants “princes”??? This is why women have fairy tale worlds, referring to men as princes (because they think they’re princesses).
Why would you want to be a princess anyway?
In the real (non-Disney) world, princesses usually couldn’t choose their prince. That choice was made by their parents in order to form alliances between countries. I’m pretty sure King Daddy and Queen Mommy didn’t care whether he was Prince Charming, Prince Douchebag, or Prince Dumbass. Once married, the princess was then expected to obey all her prince’s commands.
This is how PowerMax Consulting Group‘s event was for me and since we don’t have a Yelp for conferences, I will write my “review” here hoping that at least one person will read this and be more discerning when it comes to conferences they choose to attend and pay for. (I’ve also written about last year’s Search Engine Marketing Conference, if that’s something you want to check out.)
I found out about this event through a friend’s forwarded email. The email didn’t look professional but I thought it sounded pretty interesting anyway so I bookmarked it. I am not even going to say anything about their email and how it looks like. Not even their website, which got this response after I gave someone their website link:
Very legit comment btw.
To be extra clear, I only attended the morning session of the Philippine Internet Congress‘ 2nd day schedule. If you’ve attended both days and feel that my review is inaccurate, feel free to write your comments below. I am basing my post on the 4 hours I spent at the Megatrade Hall.
They tried to rip us off.
Here’s the conversation I had with them (I went with my co-worker):
Lady at the registration booth: Have you registered? Me: No, not yet. Do you accept credit card payments? Lady: Yes. *a couple of seconds after she uses her calculator* That would be 19,000+ (I forget what the exact amount is but it was 19k something for 2 people)
Uhh, what was that? I didn’t even get the chance to show her the email.
Had I not emailed someone from the company, would they have charged us Php 19,000+? Did they do this to someone else? Even if this wasn’t intentional, this is still terrible because that means their staff are uninformed and will end up making their attendees pay more than what they have to.
They had singers… and dancers.
So we walk in and there are about 15 people in the room. It’s 8:45 AM and their schedule says it will start at well, 8:45. Nuninoo. Nothing. 5-10 minutes later, I hear a voice. It sounds like I’m at a wedding. Where am I?
Then he says something like, “Ladies and gentlemen, while waiting for our speaker, let’s listen to [insert name] as he serenades us with his rendition of ‘Breakeven’ by The Script!”
No one claps.
It’s about 9 AM… and we’re listening to someone SING. I look around and no one seems to be reacting and by that I mean they’re all poker-faced. I look at my coworker and we both end up looking like this:
He sings again before Jim Ayson speaks, this time doing an Adele cover and eliciting this tweet from a participant:
We obviously didn’t get the memo that this was a variety show slash conference because before the lunch break, about 3-4 guys in plaid shirts start dancing to a mix of Teach Me How to Dougie and other pop songs.
Here’s a picture I took of them:
Sorry but I came here to learn. Not be entertained. Also, I really think that there is a more appropriate type of venue for these types of performances.
They had tons of technical difficulties.
Ear-splitting mic feedback, videos not playing properly, speakers having to use a mic so they can use it as their laptop’s speaker. Why are these things happening when it’s already their second day?
See it’s fine if only one of those things happened but all of them? That just tells me they didn’t prepare for this. That, or they don’t mind that they’re getting a significant number of technical issues.
Their conference kit is terrible.
I’m really beginning to think that conference sponsors/advertisers here like to waste paper. I did not keep a single flyer nor did I look at one for more than 5 seconds. They were photocopied fliers on green and yellow paper. I suppose I should return them to the organizers next time. Also, why force participants to poke holes on their shirts by giving them button name tags?
Well, at least I’d be able to use 3 items here: the free 20 sheets of bond paper I got, the Philippine Internet Congress notebook which has photocopied sheets that I can write on (also comes with photocopied ads on the last 10 pages), and the canvas bag. Oh but wait… while taking pictures of the notebook… the sheets came apart.
We left after that as we had other plans. I am not going to go into their line up of speakers anymore. Just know that I loved Janette Toral and Jim Ayson‘s talks. If they didn’t have them, I would have definitely asked for a refund.
If you encounter any of their events in the future, my advice is to make sure that you know at least 2 or more speakers in their line up and that they’re worth going for.
I know there are already a number of Filipino women in the tech scene out there (e.g. awesome Ms. Myla Villanueva) but for this post, I’m talking specifically about those who are active on Twitter or who blog often. I’m obviously not looking for a PH counterpart of Meg Whitman or Marissa Mayer as I don’t think they will have time to tweet or blog, but perhaps someone like Alexia Tsotsis, Sarah Lacy, or in Asia, maybe someone like Vanessa Tan.
Okay fine, so the last three names I gave are all writers. But maybe that’s a sign? Look at some of the popular tech blogs in the Philippines… YugaTech, unbox.ph, pinoytechblog, are they represented by women? Do they have women contributors/writers?
Is it safe to say then, that Filipino women are just not inclined to writing or talking about tech? That they’re not interested in it? Or is it just because the tech industry here is still really small? I will leave that question alone for now.
What I did end up doing was bugging Francis Tan, asking if he knows other women from the Philippines who like blogging or tweeting about tech-related, even social media, topics. Like me, he was only able to give a handful.
But a handful is better than nothing! Here’s the list:
Alora Guerrero used to be the Managing Editor of techie.com.ph and is also the lady behind TechLokal.com. She tweets daily and shares interesting articles. She also seems to have a very bubbly personality!
Marga is a PR consultant and a digital marketing strategist for a mulitnational software company. I obviously just copied that from somewhere. Ha! But in all seriousness, you’re sure to get not just tech news commentary but also thought-provoking tweets from her.
Kat is one of the more “social media active” female Ruby on Rails developers here. I don’t know if there are others out there but if you ask me to give you a woman RoR dev, her name is the first one I’ll give you. While I don’t understand some of the things she tweets about (I’m no developer), it’s always good learning something new. She also tweets about non-dev topics of course.
I met Ros last year at Twestival MNL – she was one of the event organizers. Ros is an internet marketer and a heavy social media user so if you need to stay updated with the latest social media trends in the Philippines, be sure to include her in your to-follow list.
I know my list is extremely short so if you know someone who fits the description of what I’m looking for, please let me know! I’m not going to stalk them or anything (or maybe I will…), I just want more Filipino women (in the tech scene or someone who just appreciates it) to look up to and be proud of. :)
I’m a huge fan of Sheryl Sandberg so I will end this post with this (really short) video:
You don’t have to think hard about what this app does as you can tell by its name but to be extra clear, this is an app that you use to check out what movies are (surprise!) now showing.
NowShowing is a Days of Thunder project by ProudCloud, a Manila Ruby on Rails shop. (I once asked what a dev shop is so if you’re asking the same question, that basically means they do dev work, in this case RoR, for clients.) Days of Thunder happen every Thursday and Friday at Proudcloud when engineers get to work on what I call “side projects” that are not for their clients. This one is from their website:
Thursdays and Fridays are Days of Thunder at Proudcloud dedicated to internal projects, dangerous experiments, and building stuff we can contribute back to the community.
Giving back to the community is a cool idea that somehow reminds me of Taxikick and TrafficDito. (Disclaimer: I work with the team behind TrafficDito so you can consider this as my mini-product placement for the 2 readers of this blog.)
NowShowing the iPhone app isn’t the first movie guide app in the Philippines. I, together with a couple of iPhone-using friends, have been using ClickTheCity to check movie schedules. So when this came out, my first question was, “How is this different from CTC’s app and why will I add more apps to my phone when I already have one that does the same thing?”
Ask no more! Here’s a quick list of things I found more interesting about this app:
Movie reviews come from Rotten Tomatoes. I like this because I trust the Tomatometer and that’s how I decide whether I should see a particular movie or not. I know that CTC also has their own “Critics Rating” by Philbert Ortiz Dy but yeahh… Not a lot of people know him. Plus points for integrating Rotten Tomatoes with the app. But wait, what is this I see?
How can there be zero ratings for those 2 really popular movies in the US? A quick look at RottenTomatoes and I see Alvin and the Chipmunks got a terrible 13%. Not sure what went wrong here but there goes their first advantage.
You can watch movie trailers within the app.This is something CTC doesn’t have and something that’s really useful. This is actually how I saw the trailer for A Mother’s Story and thanks to this app, I have decided I will not watch it.Except for that minor issue with the message that tells me I have to watch it on YouTube (I thought it will launch the YT app), everything was okay.
You can access the map for mall addresses right from the app. CTC doesn’t have this either. Some people might not find this too useful though since it’s likely that you already know where all the malls are but for the noobs out there, it’s a pretty cool feature.
I downloaded this app a couple of weeks ago and so far I have been using it mainly because CTC’s app is annoyingly slow (they show you their mobile ordering ad first before allowing you to access the app). Only then do I remember I have a faster loading app but then I see the faulty RottenTomatoes review rating so I end up going to RottenTomatoes.com to check. Aside from that issue, it does what it’s supposed to do. It’s a good app for movie buffs. :)
If you’re interested in the nascent “tech scene” we have here in Manila, I found out about NowShowing from an article on StartupPhilippines.com. You can also check out StartupDigestPH headed by John Arce.
A social media dork? Yes, that’s me! If you want to get the latest news in the tech industry, you’ll need to be dependent on Google Reader. In my case I use FeedDemon, Reeder for my phone, and Flipboard (best app ever!) for my iPad. I initially started off using my trusty bookmark folders and making sure I check my ‘News’ folder every day but that didn’t work out as I ended up forgetting to check some sites and then eventually all of them. Then I tried subscribing to them via email and that just drove me nuts. It was stressful seeing you have 100 unread ‘emails’ per day! I wish I made full use of Google Reader 3 years ago! I have a bunch of sites I subscribe to (including those I feel are thought leaders) but I’ll only list out three of the major tech news sites for now and hope you’ll help me add some more to it.
Quick background on TC for my fellow dorks. TechCrunch was founded by Michael Arrington in 2005. While some of you may know Mike (we’re tight like that, first name basis nah mean?) as one of the biggest jerks in the tech media industry what with pictures like this:
…he’s actually a good example of how it’s never too late to build something great and even out of your ‘career path.’ Mike founded TC when he was 35. Before that, he was just an average corporate lawyer! Now, TC makes about $10 million a year with 9.2 million visitors a month. It’s no wonder all tech-inclined people seem to think everyone and their grandmas are reading (or used to read – some may think they’re too ‘mainstream’ now) TechCrunch. Sometimes though they end up being like a less gossipy Valleywag spilling details on CEOs fighting and whatnot. Add to that all the drama they’ve been happily publishing after the AOL acquisition. But hey, at least you’re in the know, right?
All girls know this. Pete Cashmore is HOT. (Btw, Pete Cashmore is taken. Sorry.)
His hotness and love life aside, Mashable was founded when Pete was NINETEEN, sick, and in Scotland. Interestingly, it was founded the same year as TechCrunch. It gets more pageviews (50M pageviews per month) than TC but makes less money – although they did say they’ve doubled their revenues.
You might run into some duplicate stories if you also follow TechCrunch but what I like about Mashable is it has a lot of social media news and tips you can follow. It’s definitely not as product-oriented as TC but with Mashable, you know they really try to engage their readers and give a more ‘community-oriented’ aura.
If you’re an “interwebz marketer”, you know you should be reading Mashable. They might be posting 100 articles a day (double that for TC) but you have to check it at least once every two days and scroll through the articles to stay up to date.
GigaOM was founded in 2006 by Indian writer, Om Malik. He was already 40 when he founded GigaOM. And he isn’t a jerk. Ha.
If you don’t want the AOL drama nor news on Ashton Kutcher or Justin Beiber, this is a good option for you. Some readers say they’re about to take TechCrunch’s place after TC got bought by AOL but we’ll see.
I personally don’t read too much of GigaOM but I’ve asked some loyal readers and from what they’ve said, GigaOM produces higher quality content as they do more research on new products and technologies. They may not be breaking stories but they’re more analytical than TC. Shoo, if you have extra cash and want super in-depth data/research, why not subscribe to GigaOM Pro? What’s $199 a year for quality research and analysis right? No? Well, they let you in on some snippets of it anyway… sometimes.
GigaOM does have significantly less pageviews than both Mashable and TechCrunch at 4 million uniques, but they do have a better business model than both of them. This year, they’ve already raised a total of $14 million dollars in funding – more than both VentureBeat and BusinessInsider. That tells us a lot in terms of their future as a company.
There you have it! Three sites for the social media dork.
If you don’t like constantly checking these sites or getting a crapload of articles to read on your reader, then you can just go to Techmeme – a tech news aggregator that uses both algorithm and human editing to find the most popular stories.