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Innovating The Singapore Blogosphere

Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence team - Pat, Brian and Tania

Ogilvy PR's 360 Digital Influence team - Pat, Brian and Tania

The way the Singapore blogosphere is growing, throw a stone randomly these days and you’re likely to hit a self-proclaimed social media expert, guru or master. Mention Facebook, Twitter or Plurk, and you’d be swamped with unsolicited advice from all over on how such social media platforms do, or do not work, in the Singapore context.

Which is why it’s a pleasure when you meet the true players of the game.

An Open Door Session

The unimaginatively-named “social area” at the Ogilvy Centre was getting packed, and the audience – about two score Singapore-based bloggers – jostled for seats that provided a good view of the projector screen. Welcome to one of Ogilvy’s Open Room sessions.

Ogilvy PR’s Tania Chew, who came up with the Open Room concept, shares that it was meant as a way to get clients comfortable with communicating with their customers and influencers in a more open, casual way, and “not the usual press release/press conference way with one-way messaging push”.

“(We hope) that clients will start to get it,” says Tania, “and get comfortable interacting with bloggers. (They need to) start to understand that they way people communicate has changed and will continue to do so.”

“If they don’t start getting the groove, they’re going to lose out.” Booze was provided by Tiger Beer who, by virtue of their sponsorship and presence, must apparently get it.

That day, the topic was on “how to market your blog like a brand”, with speakers such as Tokyo-based blogger and web producer Jon Yongfook Cockle, ex-SPH journalist Arti Mulchand, and local bloggers Brian Ling and Andy Heng.

Content Is King

If you’ve not heard of the latter two bloggers, it’s probably not a surprise. They’re not well-known in Singapore, but their content reach a global audience. And their traffic is impressive by any standard. Both focus on niche content – Brain’s Design Sojourn looks at industrial design, while Andy’s ToysREvil covers everything toy-related.

Both shared to the gathered bloggers on how they approach their branding when it comes to their blog. Andy was a revelation, sending the audience into peals of laughter with almost every sentence. Yet his humorous manner belied his amazing grasp on what makes a blog really tick.

Andy was asked to share at the Open Room by Patricia Law, Tania’s colleague and along with Brian Koh forms the trifecta of Ogilvy PR’s Digital Influence team in Singapore. Pat got to know Andy through a common love for toys, and as she puts it, “if you spend half the time hanging out with creative boys and girls, you’d know his blog too”.

“And the fact that the local general blogosphere doesn’t know who he is”, Pat laughs. According to urlfan, Andy’s blog is currently ranked #10,279 around the world. That’s creme de la creme. “Local bloggers need to see the bigger picture and that the Internet disrespects geographical boundaries.”

Three’s Not A Crowd, It’s Social

Open Room sessions, contrary to what some might believe, are not elitist events where the delusional self-imagined best of the blogosphere invite themselves to have a social media orgyfest. Instead you’ll find a congenial atmosphere where bloggers share their experiences with their peers, and of course, Ogilvy clients who wish to find out more about this curious virtual world known as the blogosphere.

It’s about bloggers helping bloggers. Innovation and directly value-adding to the entire social cybersphere. Tania, Pat and Brian knows that it is still early days for the Singapore blogosphere, but it’s apparent they feel that they are also charged with helping it grow responsibly.

The Open Room is their way.

Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.

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  • Daniel

    @Alfred: It’s certainly true that a product should speak of itself. I’m dead against paying bloggers to write anything, as it goes against the grain of everything our professions stand for. You are also right in that the dynamics of the media industry has shifted – journalists no longer have the last word. The recent furor over Leonard Lin (of Tyler Project)’s interview with MyPaper is a case in point – any misquotes can and will be taken and addressed online.

    @Pat Law: It was my utmost pleasure. I learnt more about blogging in Andy Heng’s session than I have from anywhere else. About promotion – promotion is definitely critical, although I’m almost sure Alfred is referring to “misrepresentation”.

  • Pat Law

    Thanks for your very kind words, Daniel. We’re glad you enjoyed yourself. You are right – I’d like to think that we’re in our infancy stage with the local blogosphere but that is not to say we’re not growing. And yes, as practitioners in this field, we do feel we have a part in helping it grow responsibly.

    @Alfried Siew
    Out of all the 4Ps of the marketing mix, I’m one who believe that the most important P is still PRODUCT. That said, I recognise that somehow, PROMOTION (advertising & public relations) has somemore superceded in importance. I do agree that if a product is crap, people will find out eventually. It’s definitely important to keep it real. But can we, given today’s climate with fixed budgets pegged against specific deadlines to meet sales, afford to forgo PROMOTION?

    I doubt so.

  • Alfred Siew

    Everyone can claim to be an expert because nothing’s settled yet, nobody knows what’s going to happen next, as people will start to use both mainstream media (for the masses) and social media (from the masses) to decide on what cellphone to buy, where to eat and who to vote for. As a journalist and blogger, I can say one thing: “keep it real”. No point paying bloggers to write good stuff, or pampering them like old media or rushing in blindly to get a few ‘influencers’ – if the message gets lost, or worse, is seen as ‘staged’. Old rules apply: if a product is crap, people will find out eventually. It’s just that social media gives you an additional avenue to get your message across, should someone from the old media think it’s crap. They used to be the last word – they are not now.