Tag Archives: social media

Calculating True Value of Duterte’s Social Media Campaign

For the first time in Philippine history, we have elected a President not because he had more money than the other candidates, but because he had more likes, shares, and comments on Facebook


With the release of the Statement of Campaign Expenditures by the candidates that ran in the 2016 elections, people – especially the voters – are able to get a glimpse of the personalities behind their candidates.

In the case of Robredo, Poe, etc, the lump sum declarations without any details as to who and how much each campaign contributor gave is less informative about the details, but speaks volumes about how these candidates operate. Transparency and accountability are governance principles that may or may not be important to them.

As for President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, by revealing the names of his contributors, he is putting the rest of the country on notice that he is not afraid to be scrutinized. And neither should the other members of his cabinet and all government officials. By setting the standard of integrity higher than it ever was, it is now up to others to follow his example. And failing, suffer the inevitable consequence.

But what the SOCE  forms fails to account for, and here Duterte received more than any other candidate, is the contribution in time, effort, creativity, passion, and all around support given by millions of Filipinos on social media.

While it has been talked about over and over again, with “expert” analysis coming from all colors of the political spectrum, the phenomena that was Duterte’s social media surge may never be adequately explained nor accounted for. Being largely organic – despite what other candidates might say – it is almost impossible to track the growth of the movement and its overall impact on the campaign.

For the first time in Philippine history, the individual efforts of these so-called Dutertards – alone or in groups, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – proved more valuable than the hundreds of millions of pesos donated by the various campaign donors. And while it may be impossible to put a monetary value on these individual efforts of pure volunteerism, the results of their sacrifice cannot be denied. And on June 30, 2016 – as our new President takes his oath – we offer a silent prayer for his success and the continued vigilance of the Dutertards.

The Truth About Corruption in Media

President-elect Duterte has called the attention of the Philippine media to address the issue of corruption within their ranks

Now that President-elect Rody Duterte has let the cat out of the bag and called out the Philippine media for the rampant corruption that is happening within their ranks, we need to look further into this practice – not because we want to take sides in this debate – rather, as the guardians of our civil liberties, the media must be held to a standard higher than the one we hold all the other institutions of society by.


The Truth About Media Corruption in the Philippines

The irony of the Philippine media is that it is one of the free-est in the world in being able to express its opinions, and at the same time it also has among the highest number of media practitioners killed while supposedly pursuing their job.

These conflicting realities – a free and independent media able to talk about any matter under the sun and a culture of violence that has resulted in hundreds of their number killed – is almost impossible to understand using western models of the role of media in society.

Conventional wisdom says that media is the fourth estate, the guardian of the people’s welfare against the abuses of those in power, an incorruptible pillar of truth, justice, and integrity. Under this ideal concept, the tools of repression (i.e. the rampant media killings) cannot co-exist with the almost limitless freedom of expression enjoyed by the Philippine media. Either one is free or not.

In order to better understand this phenomenon, one has to look deeper into the roots and role of the Philippine media in the society. In many cases, media companies are run as a business first and an advocate of truth a far second. In these instances, bottom lines carry more weight in the boardroom than by-lines and the policy of “bank balance news, pay-first views” becomes the norm more than the exception.

From top to bottom corruption is rampant in the media industry, but none more so than in the unregulated community radio stations that proliferate throughout the Philippine countryside. In many of these outfits, any person can walk in, buy airtime for a few thousand pesos a month, and basically broadcast whatever they want.

While on the surface this may appear to be the very model of democracy and freedom of expression, the lack of regulation and even the most rudimentary training on journalistic ethics has turned these radio stations from a platform to expose wrongdoing into a tool for blackmail and extortion. 

The way these “block-time” broadcasters practice “journalism” resembles a mafia shakedown more than anything else. Typically they would start by picking a target – a local government official or a businessman – and launch an attack against some alleged wrongdoing (real or otherwise) that they have committed. This continues for a time until either the victim sends an emissary to the broadcaster or the broadcaster himself visits the victim with a proposal to air his side of the issue. This method of double-dealing is what is colloquially known as ACDC or Attack-and-Collect, Defend-and-Collect journalism.

Sadly, this is also the root cause of many of the the killings of media practitioners in the Philippines. In a country were pride and social standing is paramount, an attack on a person’s integrity – particularly on such a public scale – often constitutes a killing offense. While this can never justify a murder, it does go a long way in explaining how these crimes come to be.

From this perspective, much of the blame should be placed squarely on the media industry itself for failing to clean up its own ranks of scalawags and crooks. By insisting on painting all media killings as an attack on press freedom, they are failing to address the real and rampant illegal activities of those criminals who are hiding under the convenient mantle of “media.” Not only does this oversight protect the guilty, it also demonizes the victims, and endangers the legitimate journalists. 

Travel Memories

It’s been a while since I took to the road. Work, that dreaded four-letter, has had me tied down with deadlines for months – with the end still no where in sight. In times like these, I usually occupy myself by revisiting old photos taken during previous travels.

A floating house along the banks of the Agusan Marsh. This is near where the caught Lolong, the 21-foot saltwater croc a few years back. 
Another floating house. This time on stilts. The Agusan !arsh can be a great location for a reality TV series about a group of people riding araft from Davao to Butuan
Anyone want to play ball?
Sunrise after a night of fishing for tuna in siargao

Advertising in the Age of Social Media

Six years after Mashable first declared June 29 as the official “Social Media Day,” businesses all over the world are still learning to embrace the growing power of this new platform in influencing how people make their buying decisions. After decades of having no other choice except radio, television, or newspapers, the explosion of all these amateur mass media outlets has led to a lot of confusion about how they can be used effectively in areas of marketing and advertising.

In the early years of Friendster, Multiply, and Facebook, most companies treated social media as just another place to promote and sell their products – no different from any of the other outlets that they used in the past. What they failed to realize was that, instead of the traditional audiences made up of “listeners,” “viewers,” and “readers,” this new medium had communities, which were founded on common interests and more prone to resent and reject ads that did were obtrusive or did not fit into their virtual neighborhoods. 

Over time, and as familiarity with social media dynamics grew, several rules have emerged on how company’s can engage with their audiences effectively, while staying within the context of what is acceptable. Among the most important of these has to do with “branded content” and its primacy in any marketing or advertising campaign.

According to “The Ultimate Guide to Branded Content,” by newscred.com, “it’s an understatement to say that content has become the heart and soul of marketing. The idea revolves around a fundamental trend in consumer behavior (where) today’s buyers are highly self-directed and research-driven. By the time that they reach out to your organization’s sales team, they’ve likely made a decision about whether or not to do business with your brand.”

They go on further to explain that, “when executed correctly, content becomes a brand asset (that) lives on the internet forever and has the potential to generate leads for years. Write one amazing article, and it will appreciate in value by gaining momentum through search engine rankings and incremental exposure through social channels — as audiences discover great content, they’ll feel inclined to share it for years to come.”

The importance of content in marketing, particularly in building your brand, makes it imperative that you have someone in your organization who understands what he or she is doing. Content creation can be one of the most difficult things to do for any marketing campaign, and it is not made easier by the practice of most businesses of delegating the work to people who are not qualified for the job. While in the short term it may appear more cost-effective to just let someone from HR or sales write your company blog or tweet about your new product, in the end it will cost you more in wasted efforts and lost opportunities.

Companies who are serious about using social media to build their brands and sell their products are therefore best served by investing in the right resources for the purpose. This means getting great writers who can create original content that will allow them to tell their firm’s “unique and compelling story” while demonstrating “expertise” on the subject matter in a way that will both “entertain and educate audiences.”

In practice, this means that you should start with your company’s story and how it intertwines with that of your customers. By doing this, you engage them in meaningful conversations and not just those tired and worn-out sales pitches that you used to give. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning audio historian, Studs Terkel, “People are hungry for stories. It’s part of our very being. Storytelling is a form of history, of immortality too. It goes from one generation to another.” Businesses that are able to build on the common touchstones that they have with their customers, become an integral part of the community and its history.

Companies also strengthen their brands when they demonstrate their usefulness within the community by directly sharing their areas of expertise with their customers. Says Aaron Shapiro, author of the book Users, Not Customers: Who Really Determines the Success of Your Business, “Brand awareness and sales are achieved not through traditional advertising, but by developing brand-relevant programs that help users accomplish the task at hand.” This shift in focus from the detached promotional efforts of the past to today’s more hands-on approach towards customer interactions is a key element in building relationships between your company and your clients.

Lastly, instead of talking about your product, try to talk more about the people who build and use them. It is a simple fact of social media that the most popular posts or tweets or photos are those that reveal something about the person (or persons) behind it. The sooner you understand that your customers are less interested about the latest bells and whistles in your new thingamajig than they are about the behind-the-scenes drama that went into its making, the faster you will be able to win their hearts, minds, and wallets. 

The lessons we have learned, and continue to learn from social media shows that – above all else – people love to connect with other people. Whether it is simply to express a point-of-view or to talk about how much they love or hate something or someone, it is these personal connections – these investments in sincerity – that generate the most response from others in the community. And those companies that are able to grasp this quickly might be the only ones who will succeed in a future dominated by social media.