Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bloggers Blog About Brands: Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2008: Brands Enter the Blogsophere

(Click on the mind map image for a bigger view. Once open, move your mouse to the image and your mouse cursor will change to a magnifying glass. Then click on it.)

Technorati released the 3rd to 5th (last) installment its series on the State of the Blogosphere 2008 focusing on the How of Blogging, Blogging for Profit, and Brands Enter the Blogosphere.

Some observations based on the report:
  • Bloggers who publish quality post several times a day and create readership events tend to thrive.

  • European bloggers spend and earn more in blogging.

  • Asian bloggers seems to earn more compared to its US counterpart based on ad values/revenues.

  • There are two findings in the report that I didn't include in the mind map:
    • time spent on TV, Internet, radio, etc. (long usage on the Net in my studies is affected by how long has the user been using the Internet)
    • perception of blogs and media (as bloggers are also the respondent and therefore more likely to be supportive on the potential of the medium)

  • Brands managers should take blogs seriously. 80% of bloggers mention brands in their blog either as a review, love, hate, or experience sharing.
Prior to this, I published two post giving early snap shots about the report:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lessons learned in dealing with Xoom online money transfer

For the past 3 days, I've been posting on Plurk and Twitter my worries on an ongoing Xoom money remittance transaction. I was trying its unique service that allows Paypal as fund source and the amount gets directly deposited to a recipient's bank account.

My frustration has escalated to the point that I began ranting and searched on past messages about Xoom problems. The latter is what one usually does first before going ahead with any provider. Although often skipped if entity is perceived as "reputable".

The lack of notification and replies to concerns inspired me to make such a topic of my column today - reliability of money remittance services.

Within a few minutes after the article went live after midnight, I immediately got an e-mail from a high-level person there apologizing for the inconvenience. My Paypal "void" request got processed and was offered a coupon to consider trying the service again (which I just did a few hours earlier and now monitoring).

Obviously, the entity must be using some form of an alert system to be able to pick that up right away. I think it would not have reached that point if they were only monitoring sites like Plurk and Twitter as problems can be spotted at its early stage right away in these sites.

I hope this is enough to prove why monitoring is important especially if the service rendered is availed of users who have account on these sites (a big chunk are also bloggers).

On the other hand, competitors can try offering their services to those who expressed problems and ask them to try it out.

In the end, these resources are out there. It is up to marketers and customer service people on how they will use it to better serve their customers.

The Six Hat Salesperson

(Click on the mind map image above to view the full size. Use your browser's "zoom in" feature to magnify further.)

Each one of us is a salesperson in our own way. This is whether we are marketing products, our services, the companies we work for, or simply getting our job done. To remain competitive, there are six areas we must continuously work on. Dave Kahle referred to it as the six hats and discussed in his 1999 book, "The Six-Hat Salesperson."

The year of publication actually caught me by surprise as the principles it preaches are still as applicable today. Although in the process of reading, I can't help but wonder if this picked up on the 8th Habit (white water) or Six Thinking Hats or the other way around.

In summary, here are qualities each salesperson must have:

Astute Planner mind map

First Hat - Astute Planner

  1. Must know how to take advantage the power of useful information about one's customers and competitors.
  2. Processes must be in place to gather and prioritize what is useful.
  3. This knowledge is also valuable when communicating with customers as being able to demonstrate understanding can lead to formulation of right questions during the sales cycle.

Trusted Friend mind map

Second Hat - Trusted Friend
  1. Becoming trusted by our customers and prospective clients is important. One key aspect is knowing the profile of the person (director, thinker, socializer, supporter) you are dealing with and their preferred communication style.
  2. The salesperson must strive to give and earn respect, make the client comfortable, and gain trust in the process.

Effective Consultant mind map

Third Hat - Effective Consultant

  1. Becoming a consultant requires being able to demonstrate that you know your customer more than anyone does. This includes asking the right questions to understand the customer needs further.

Skillful Influencer mind map

Fourth Hat - Skillful Influencer
  1. Buyers make their decisions to purchase through steps of small decisions.
  2. Getting through the decision process requires proper presentation of products and services in line with customer needs while keeping an active sales discussion to close a deal.

Adept Human Resources Manager mind map

Fifth Hat - Adept Human Resources Manager
  1. Managing yourself as a resource is the main concern here. This includes spending your time effectively, tapping your strengths, and having clear goals.
  2. Have an information management process to ensure that you get what you can handle and have clear end-uses.
  3. Cope with failure, adversity, and fear.
Master Learner mind map

Sixth Hat - Master Learner

  1. An effective salesperson is someone who takes learning seriously to acquire new insights, information, knowledge, and improve behavior positively.
  2. A commitment to learning is established with goals and resources set aside to make it happen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Most Bloggers Want to Make Money on their Blog - Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2008: What and Why of Blogging

(Click on the mind map image for a bigger view. Once open, use your browser "zoom in" feature to increase image visibility.)

On the 2nd day, Technorati released 2nd part of its series on the State of the Blogosphere 2008 focusing on the What and Why of Blogging.

Some items that caught my attention:
  • The popularity of blogs will continue to escalate as a growing number of bloggers see its potential to earn income either on a supplemental, full-time job, to primary income source. This opportunity may further attract younger bloggers, especially from Asia, to pursue this.

  • Bloggers are social networkers as most blog to speak their mind, share knowledge, meet new people, and even be recognized in an industry. This in turn requires revealing of identity where most bloggers don't mind.

  • A successful blog means a lot of things to different people. But mostly agree that it is mostly about personal satisfaction (being happy in what one does).

  • More companies are becoming open in giving free products to bloggers.
These are initial thoughts and will update as I get more insight.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Asian Bloggers Stand Out in Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2008: Who are the Bloggers?

(click on the mind map image for a bigger view)

Technorati is releasing a report series on the State of the Blogosphere 2008. It started today with its special focus on "Who are the Bloggers?".

Head on the links above the for the full report details. I prepared a mind map version of it and made initial observations.
  1. I'm not sure if I got it wrong but gender report (male) for both Asians and Europeans are at 73%.

  2. When the report showed that Asians are more concern with their identity (which I assume also meant reputation and recognition), it made me understand better as to why awards are more popular on this side of the world.

  3. Asians more inclined to participate in paid to post product reviews. I guess in addition to economic disposition of bloggers, compared to other parts of the world, a good number of developments happening in this field are in our places as well. As Vint Cerf also said, Asia will primarily influence future online applications and Internet growth.

    This may also mean that a lot of them recognized that blogs can be a source of supplemental earnings, full-time job, to primary source of income.

  4. Most Internet users today in Asia are very young and that is a big factor for the age of most bloggers in this region.
These are initial thoughts and will update as I get to digest the report more in the days to come.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

25 Thinking Skills for Thinkers

(Click on the mind map image for a bigger view)

In Edward De Bono's Thinking Course book, there are at least twenty-five thinking skills tackled in the book that are under the following areas.
However, I guess those who did not have the chance to read it won't necessarily get the rationale. I created a mind map version of the Thinking Course, the way I perceived the lessons learned from the book. The idea is to discuss each thinking skill in the group and put it into practice.

In the real world, its application to a person like me is to make a deliberate effort to think things through, not simply following patterns and emotions that I am comfortable with.

It will also help me analyze how decisions of others are made and the thinking process applied.
In the process, be adequate in dealing with their thinking style.

I hope you will also take an interest in this topic and join the thinking activities so we can learn more from each other's experience.

Important Issues on Philippines 2010 Election

I'd like to start a discussion on what do you think are the important issues should voters consider as priority when analyzing politician's or political party agenda come 2010 Philippine Elections. Those who participate will be invited to be part of the Philippines 2010 Election Bloggers social network and join the Bloggers Election Handbook development.

Personally, I am likely to look at the list below. However, the existence or mention of a program is not enough. There must be a clear program on how they are going to do it, where will the funds be taken, and its return or benefit.
  • Environmental agenda particularly:
    • Implementation of Clean Air act
      • Our country's pollution, greenhouse issues, and other ecological concerns feels like getting worst everyday. I'd like to see a clear action program in relation to that, rather than deferred implementation.
    • Alternative sources of energy
    • Solid and toxic waste management
  • Education
    • It has become an expensive budget item. What program shall be undertaken to ensure its quality while making it within our means?
  • Government Debt Reduction
    • We always hear that a big chunk of our national budget is spent on payment of debts. How do they plan to reduce it without accumulating more debt?
I'd like to believe that the discussion of important issues is important to start at an early time while there are no clear political players. This way, voters can exchange insights on important concerns and increase one's awareness on other issues too.

All inputs and blog posts on the various issues are collated in this Philippines 2010 Election Issues and Concerns spreadsheet. Hopefully, come election season, the list of concerns in the said spreadsheet can be used as a guide or checklist when finding out the agendas of political candidates. Depending on your point of view and beliefs, be able to assess who among the candidates shall likely deserve your vote.

Many thanks to those who shared their insight so far:
To keep the ball rolling, I invite you to share your point of view on this topic. I know that most of us haven't done any post related to politics. But I hope this will give you a good start.

Just post a comment with a url to your post and will link to it. Those who participate will be invited to be part of the Philippines 2010 Election Bloggers social network and join the Bloggers Election Handbook development.

I look forward in learning and gain more insight. Let's renew our interest in the country's electoral process once again. Here is also an interview with Arbet Bernardo who shared his insight on political blogging and why we should be involved.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I want to have a brilliant memory

(Click on the mind map image for a bigger view)

I get bothered when there are details that I used to know and can't recall anymore. People greeting me but can't remember their names. Take for instance my YahooGroups, LinkedIn, Facebook, and mobile phone contacts where no less than 90% met face-to-face before.

After reading Tony Buzan's Brilliant Memory, I learned that using both sides of the brain can help in sharpening one's memory. Principles include:
  • Having a key image (word or number also applies)
  • Imaginative whenever creating a mental picture of the concern that must be remembered using senses, exaggeration, colors, and rhythm. Use a story line to piece the information together. Seeing things positively (with fun) aids in memory retention too.
  • When there are fixed details to remember such as delegation members name, codes, train stops, among others, there are many ways that information can be associated to another. This includes using numbers, rhymes, alphabet sound-like, memory room, and social means.
In order for this to be effective, according to Buzan, it must be deliberately observed.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Mind Map 101 & Examples

(click on mind map image for a bigger view)

My thinking and writing has change ever since I learned how to mind map (one of Tony Buzan's 7 tools for transformation) and understood its purpose. This got further clarified when I attended a Tony Buzan mind mapping workshop last May. This I owe a great deal to Ardy Roberto who also introduced me to iMindMap.

Mind map helps you to plot or map out your ideas. It also helps putting information into our brain using imagination and association.

Looking at the example above, a mind map typically has the following:
  1. It has the topic at its center and branch out from there.
    • The central idea, ideally, must be represented by an image.

  2. Create branches and sub-branches out of the central idea.
    • Don't hesitate to play around with the branches by making them curvy or use other presentations.
    • Use a different color per branch to make it more appealing.
    • Put images in the branches

  3. Use one keyword per line for flexibility.
I must admit that the use of images and curvy lines is partly dependent on the software you have and how creative you are in coming up with images.

I find mind maps helpful in doing the following:
  1. Conduct a presentation
    Gone are the days when my slides are all about text and screen shots. I find it interesting to use mind maps to elaborate a point and discuss ideas.

  2. Show survey and poll results
    An alternative to charts is to show survey results in a mind map format. Very useful in giving a one page snapshot.

  3. Project discussion
    When designing website and blog projects, mind mapping the plan and steps with the client and team members allowed me to communicate the scope much easier. The same can also be helpful when creating a site map for a website or blog.

  4. Writing book summaries and review
    I find it easier now to do book and report reviews with a mind map. Also personally, if I can't mind map a book, it implies that the structure of it was not well thought of.

  5. Mind map a book project
    My latest book, Blogging from Home, became possible after I mind map its outline. It was a helpful tool in communicating as well with my layout artist. I'm glad to be getting positive feedback also from book buyers where some are becoming eager to learn how to mind map.

  6. Communicate ideas and lessons learned
    I find mind maps helpful in discussing lessons learned and insights on a variety of topics.
There are numerous tools you can use to mind map such as:
  • Tony Buzan's iMindMap
    If you can afford it, I find it to be one of the best tool for this purpose.

  • MindMeister
    It has an offline edition and allows you to collaborate with friends. Invite 10 friends to register and try the tool to get 3 months free premium subscription.

  • FreeMind
    An open source and free mindmap tool.
To learn more about mind maps and how to do it, I suggest watching this video and check out Tony Buzan's book How to Mind Map and Embracing Change.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Dennis Mendiola: Imagination Knows No Limit

(photo credits: Mario Babiera/MBC Images)

Dennis Mendiola started Chikka with minimal capital in the beginning and during the time of dotcom bust. Customer service, innovation, and good technology were the company’s competitive advantage. Its flagship Chikka Text Messenger represents one of the most sustainable revenue-generating mobile services in the country today.

Its latest incarnation is the all-new Chikka web 2.0 site. Founding CEO Dennis Mendiola explains, “The web-based Chikka Messenger is compatible with all major instant messaging networks and imbued with the superior mobile enabling capabilities we have built our business early on. Over 40 million have registered to use Chikka Messenger since we launched in 2001. Today, with millions of log-ins to all versions of Chikka translating to millions of advertising impressions (monthly), Chikka is one of the most attractive on-line media properties in the region today.

“Of great value as well is a formidable arsenal of intellectual property and patents filed around our messaging solutions. We are doing well and continue to push product breakthroughs to grow our community and our business.”

Dennis Mendiola stepped down as CEO recently, passing the leadership to co-founder Chito Bustamante, and took on the new role of Chief Imagination Officer (CIO). Personally, I find the position intriguing. In my talks and write-up about e-commerce, I often say that what will limit you is your imagination. Seeing a person carry such a title sets a lot of expectation.

Focused on realizing shareholder value for Chikka’s numerous investors, Dennis is currently exploring strategic options for a merger with companies that complement its strengths.

“The Internet is now on an uptrend again because the "big boys" and the more innovative upstarts have finally realized that there is no sense in keeping their communities isolated within their digital "walled gardens". Even mighty Apple, once a staunch advocate of walled gardens, now allows third party application developers to write software for their new iPhone 3G and sell through their newly launched "App Store". Now everybody is thinking of building apps for the App Store, on Facebook, on Friendster, etc.”

“Partnership is key. Sharing the "wealth" is a great motivator for innovation. I am now focusing my energies on platforms, not on one-off applications, that would allow service providers and developers to launch their creations on the net and on mobile without the hassle of setting up things from scratch. We should all be building the highway and malls that would give them quick market access and hence, the shortest path to profitability.”

Serving Red Cross
Another role that he took on recently is that of a Red Cross Governor. Dennis has projects which he believe is worth sharing with the development community that can help the organization raise more funds and be more effective in saving and helping out disaster victims.

"First, I think the Red Cross should allocate a greater part of their resources in saving lives by getting people in calamity or disaster prone areas out of harm's way versus rescuing them when the disaster has already struck - with its victims caught unprepared, unaware. This is where technology comes in: Early Warning Alerts.

Today, there are about 10 million Internet users and about 50 million mobile phone subscribers in the Philippines. The Internet and the mobile phone present the most effective and immediate means of communicating to the general population, the dangers coming their way. Think Myanmar: 90,000 lives lost with 56,000 missing. Think Tsunami: 225,000 killed. Tens of thousands of lives could have been saved if only the authorities had a way of alerting the population in the affected areas early.

Comparing these numbers to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, considered catastrophic by U.S. standards, the number of lives lost, about 1,836, is much less compared to the Asian calamities I mentioned. Their Amber Alert System and rapid means of disseminating information had a lot to do with their effectiveness in handling the situation.

If the U.S. has their Amber Alert System, we too can have one, perhaps in the form of a mobile "Amber Alert" system.

Another area that needs special attention at the Red Cross is fund raising. Most Red Cross organizations outside the Philippines source funds from big corporations. At the Philippine Red Cross, we rely mostly on sponsored events and actual sales generating businesses to generate funds.

Technology can be best put to use by allowing what I call the "democratization" of gift giving. Why not allow people to donate via the net using Paypal? Why not via mobile phones using the operators' existing payment currencies such as "load", Smart Money, and Globe G-Cash? In the same way that Obama is winning the fund raising race via donations in small denominations (versus McCain's big-money-by-big-people way), we too can tap the masses via low denomination donations made possible electronically. Now a concerned Filipino can donate as little as P20 to the Red Cross, which otherwise would not have been cost-effective if he had to ride a jeep to a Red Cross office just to hand the P20 bill in."