Blogopolis 2015: Shifting Gears

8:29:00 PM


I was fortunate enough to get a free pass to Blogopolis: Shifting Gears, the third iteration of Nuffnang's annual conference for bloggers and social media enthusiasts. This year, I decided to go against the usual way of reportingyou know, AP-style and quote-heavyand thought I'd pick out six of my favorite points from last week's summit and weave in what I gleaned from my five year-experience as a professional communicator. (Which isn't really that impressive, so forgive me if, at some point, I will sound like I don't know what I'm talking about.)

Disclaimer: Take everything with a grain of salt!


Be very anal with the information you put out.

I may or may not have twisted Senator Bam Aquino's words. Before I proceed with my version, let me give you the Senator's. In his talk, Bam (nucks, close) said, "We're very anal about putting out information" and as a public servant, he has to be if he wants to gain public support (active participation, not just funding) for his projects.  He provided several instances wherein his personal updates garnered more attention than things of actual relevance to the general public. For example, when he shared a poster about a Negosyo Center in Iloilo (an implementation of the first law that he passed in July 2014), it only got two (2) likes and three (3) shares, but when he expressed support for our country's DOTA team, it became his most RT'd and favorited. That's the life of a celebrity. Fans are more interested in their hobbies than the causes they represent.

That said, let me twist the quoted words a little bit. I believenot only for the Senator and bloggers, but for everyone who has some way of sharing informationthat it's important to be just as anal in crafting the message as we are with the channels and frequency we choose to get it across. Whatever it is you wish to talk about behind your personal podium, it must be relevant (next point) and beneficial to your readers.

Allow me to expand a bit more about the second value. Beneficial simply means people can gain something from reading your blog. It can be information (trends, instructions, reviews), free stuff (contests, promos) or entertainment. It must leave the reader something they didn't have before landing on your blog. (Feelings don't always count.)

And when you decide to have a blog that adds value, you have to build credibility to be heard and never fall into complacency. And to me, that starts with involving two things in your process: (thorough) research and (a lotta) proofreading. If you aim to be informative, then you better make sure you get your facts straight. When I write restaurant reviews, I double check the menu and receipts. When I do post-event material, I review dates and names. I've littered this particular post with cross-reference links. You have to go over your post many times before you publish, with the end goal of not leading your readers down the wrong path.


It’s important to be relevant, not to be first all the time.

YES. Thank you Mikka Wee (Pepper.ph) for pointing this out!

Having worked as a journalist at one point in my life, I do understand the temptations of being first to put out a piece. Sometimes though, in our obsession to "be first", we miss out on details and information that can only be had by waiting it out a little bit. (Exclusive interviews trump breaking news.) Being hurried for the sake of search rankings can also result in overlooked typo errors and unverified information.


If you want to represent your cause, [then you have to] represent it well.

Even better, Gang Badoy-Capati wore it. Gang was able to relate a worthy advocacy (I didn't catch what it was specifically, lol) by simply donning a pair of mismatched runners. It was witty, hard to ignore and, more importantly, it made a point that would have otherwise gotten easily lost in the sea of live tweets.

Going back to the Senator's case, I think his dilemma can be helped by understanding a basic blogging (and advertising) principle: Know your audience. 

Senator Bam has always been a champion of the youth and, bless the good Senator, his office has something to show for it. He had the SK Reform (an anti-dynasty provision, banning children of politicians to run for seats in Sangguniang Kabataan) approved on the third reading. This is clearly an issue relevant to his target market but, for some reason, the traction it received was nowhere near a post about his newborn child.

I find that relevance, in this attention deficit age of the Internet, does not stop in simply having a message but it includes (again) how you craft it. I'm confident enough to say that at 18 to 24, the general populace don't really give a rat's ass about the SK. Heck, half of us probably don't even get what purpose it serves. It doesn't mean that they can't make us care, but as the Senator himself realized, "If you don't talk about the kind of stuff [the people] want to talk about, it's hard to get through". And the truth is, people don't want to talk about policies on a day-to-day basis.

I can think of many improvements that can be made to up the relevance of his message: better-designed posters, for one, will go a long way. Ours is a visual generation. Even the virality of memes depends largely on images. Personally, I feel like I'll respect our politicians more if 1) they stop plastering their faces on tarpaulins announcing their latest initiatives (basically, stop congratulating yourselves for doing your job) and 2) they spend a little more on design. We are SO OVER Wordart and abstract 90s backgrounds. Also, the color schemePLEASE.

Senator Bam can also explore humor in the copy. Since he clearly has a lot of gamer followers, why not find an obscure relationship between SK and DOTA? Effectively reaching an audience requires learning their language, setting aside jargons and principles that a hormonal teenager would not care to understand. (Psst, Senator, you should hire an advertising agency or get in touch with creatives open to, uhm, side projects. *wink)


You gotta live what you say.

It's what Gang repeatedly referred to as being a 3D person."You have to go out the streets in order to blog well!"

Write out of experience. In blogger terms, don't simply share canned press releases. You can't be a travel guru if you've never been anywhere else. You can't review a product you haven't tried. You can't report about an event that you weren't invited to (unless you're a pretty talented gatecrasher).


See yourself as a brand.

The only difference between you and a product brand is that the latter has a host of people handling marketing, research, creative and media. Also, millions of pesos. But this is not to say that you can't do what they're doing online. In fact, in social media you (the consumer) are considered king, and brands are pawns in your ever-changing spending mindset and habits.

So, as a blogger without teams at your whim, how can you work it like a brand online? Here is a breakdown of what they do and how you can implement everything as a one-man team:

  • Marketing: Ask yourself what you have to offer. You should be selling something (an idea, recos, beliefs), then figure out who you want to sell it to and how you can get them to buy it. 
  • Research: Know the art and science of things. Know your competition. Know what you're talking about. Know how else you can grow your offerings. As Pinoy Fitness' Jeff Lo puts it, you are to "continuously improve yourself and your craft".
  • Creative: Write something other people would want to read and beautify it with images that people would want to look at.
  • Media: Explore other touch points. Readers aren't going to magically land on your blog upon opening their browsers. You have to go to them and hang out wherever they're hanging out, whether it's Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or summits like Blogopolis. Promote, promote, promote.

True creative content lies in your intent.

It all comes down to WHY. Why are you blogging in the first place? What do you wish to achieve?

For Berto in Brogues' Joaquin Valdes <3, it's about having "true creative content [that] promotes, inspires, influences and empowers". Other bloggers who have answered the question publicly in the past peppered their statements with "share", "care", "raise awareness", "help" and "reach".

Having come across different points of view, here's what I found: There is no right answer to this. There are no formulas or templates that will help you arrive to a convincing blog mission and vision statement. Forget the buzzwords. Intent is personal. It's all you.


Nuffnang Blogopolis: Shifting Gears took Filipino bloggers to a higher ground on February 21, 2015, at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City. Here's a throwback: Going 'Into the Wild' at the 2013 Blogopolis.

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