Identity Theft in Blog Comment Spam

Sheesh! 😡

It looks like that the blog comment spammers are doing  more extensive social engineering.

Their new M.O.: blog comment spammers use names of people who comment frequently in the blog and try to appear as those people. (This seems to happen only in WordPress, as my other blogs have yet to experience this attack.)

The blogger, who would conviently use the comment moderation facility in the WordPress dashboard,  would approve the comment thinking that the commenter is someone who as engaged him/her in a past online conversation in the past. What the blogger doesn’t know is that the commenter is actually a spammer.

In my case, for the last couple of weeks, this went unnoticed– I relied on the comment moderation dashboard but then I was unwittingly approving spam from “Ia” “Eugene,” and “Tess Termulo.” It was hard to discern because the comments looked like real comments!

What raised my alarm is the sudden “enthusiasm” of my blogger friends in commenting in my blog. When I investigated at the detailed comments page in WordPress, I was surprised as the URL’s and emails of the commenters were obviously spammy.

Spammers are becoming craftier and the comments don’t look that intelligible (as they would be caught by Akismet). So I suggest bloggers to be more vigilant in filtering spam and use the detailed comments page in WordPress to avoid these attacks.

form function & class Web Design Conference All Set!

After several months of preparation, planning and the occasional frustration, the form function & class Web Design Conference is all set on July 10, 2009 at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

Just a few more reminders to those who will be attending the event:

  • Payment – Early payment can be done at the AIM Marketing office (3rd floor). Look for Ms. Mel Solomon for the payment of cash or check (payable to the Philippine Web Designers Organization). Online and bankd deposit options are available. Please visit the confirmation site for more information on the payment schemes.
  • Lunch – Many people have been asking, so here’s a clarification: lunch will be served at the event.
  • Adobe CS4 Raffle – Only those who have registered at the Adobe User Group – Philippines Adobe Groups site and present at the event are the ones eligible. The cut-off for membership is at 12nn on July 10, 2009. The final list of entries will be based on the people who are physically present in the event.
  • Google AdWords vouchers – Only the first 100 non-student registrants will get a Google AdWords voucher. We will have different registration tables for those who have reserved & paid/not paid and walk-ins. We have developed a system to give everyone a fair chance to get a Google AdWords voucher, regardless if you have paid or not.
  • Additional Slots – We initially booked the event to have 400 slots, but dur to the demand, we have increased it by 50. Still, folks who would like to come must reserve a slot at the confirmation site.

For more information on the event, feel free to email me or post a comment on this blog post. 🙂

When should you hold Blogger Events?

Imagine you’re the brand/product/marketing manager of a company and you’re evaluating your marketing mix for promotional activities. You’ve been hearing about blog marketing and blogger events as a good vehicle for marketing, but you’ve never gone about blog marketing and you want to try it out. So where do you start?

This blog post hopes to help you answer your questions.

I’ve done reserch, taught, and had practical experience on internet marketing at the Asian Institute of Management and based on my learnings, if you’re a company that’s trying to do blog marketing and blogger events, it starts with your objectives and what you want to achieve.

Most of the time, internet marketing campaigns have these objectives:

  1. Inform people & create awareness
  2. Strengthen the  brand
  3. Get customer leads
  4. Generate Sales

In my opinion, blog marketing (via blogger events) can be very effective on the first two items.  Let’s take a look at them.

When you hold a blogger event, you as a company hope that the event will impress the bloggers enough to be compelled to share his/her experiences in the event. If the event accomplishes that, then a blog post immediate will follow. By this mere blog post, your company would have reached the readers of that particular blogger. This is where the blogger’s traffic come is very handy– the more site visitors the site has, the more your company would have reached. Your primary metric here would be page views and visits.

But there is a drawback. For me, awareness is the lowest level of marketing success since chances of the readers actually purchasing the company’s product/service is quite low. People only know about the existence of the product/service– how it be of value to them is still not established.

Now, if your company wants to strengthen its brand via blog marketing, that’s a different story.

If you ask me, when you strengthen your brand, you want to communicate the brand’s personality and (hopefully) the positive associations with it. This is the time that as a marketing manager, you will have to carefully choose which blogs you deal with. Since your goal is to create a mindset for your customers, you want to choose bloggers that will strengthen the positive associations (happiness, coolness, etc.) with your product/service.

A simple example: Suppose you’re a brand manager for Coca-Cola, one of the top brands of the world. Like  most fast moving consumer goods, a bulk of Coca-cola’s sales are in retail. So how would it leverage on blog marketing and blogger events? Coca-cola may locally launch a blogger event related to a marketing campaign and invite bloggers who may fit the company’s target market or bloggers who passionately write about the topic (food bloggers or fashion bloggers for example). Your metric goes beyond the page views and visits– reactions, social network shares, and even negative comments may be your metrics.

Because of the focus of these bloggers, the company will reach a smaller amount of people, but these people may be more relevant to the company’s product of service. I a firm believer that relevance  is directly proportional to the probability of purchase.

To summarize my points:

  1. A company who wishes to engage bloggers should look at the campaigns objectives first. This will serve as the blueprint for the blogger event.
  2. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with engaging bloggers, regardless of their topic, if you just want to create awareness or inform the general public.
  3. If companies want to strengthen their brand, carefully choosing bloggers to create the positive associations with the product or service is the way to go. This may result in reaching a fewer, but more relevant group of people.

Like many other activities, Blogger events may be a good “below the line” marketing activity for companies of done right.

Working With Bloggers, The Right Way

Last April 15, 2009, the Winning Internet Marketing Strategies & Tactics course at the Asian Institute of Management had a Bloggers’ Round Table Discussion to help managers and media strategists understand the blogging phenomenon and Philippine bloggers.

We invited several bloggers to share their insights and I was very delighted that the following bloggers heeded the call:

 

 

The discussions centered bloggers sharing their thoughts on the blogging community and the business folks asking queries about working with bloggers on promotions, events, and marketing activities.

We had a very rich discourse and some of the points that emerged were:

 

  1. Bloggers are diverse: We come in all shapes & sizes, and different backgrounds, interests & motivations
  2. Despite the diversity, bloggers have one big thing in common: passion
  3. Bloggers follow a personal code of ethics (e.g. advertising, blogger events, etc.)
  4. For most bloggers, online reputation matters
  5. When working with bloggers, authenticity  of the advocacy & commitment of the company/proponent is important (i.e. “one shot advocacy events,” hard sell to bloggers)
  6. Money is generally looked down upon as a reward/incentive
  7. When working with bloggers, companies should strive to make an impression and make sure the blogger has a story to tell after the event

 

The round table was a success that future offerings of the course will feature a similar discussion.

Thanks to all the bloggers who shared their time and insights during the Blogger Round Table Discussion.

Here are some some of the posts on the event:

Some photos:

It Started at Plurk…

Funny how things start.

The Philippine Web Designers’ Organization (PWDO) is now an officially registered entity in the eyes of the Philippine Securities & Exchange Commission. Here’s a scanned copy of the certificate:

But little do people know that the PWDO was sparked from a discussion thread in Plurk last September, after WordCamp 2008. Seven months after that– after sever meetings in Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Gateway Mall in Quezon City, after several planning sessions, and after bumps along the road, the PWDO is now a bonafide organization.

Thanks to the efforts of Ia Lucero, Mae PaulinoJojo EsposaJP Dela Torre, Alfredo Palconit, and Aja Lapus for making this registration possible.

Where do we go from here? Making the BIG Web Design Conference in July 10, 2009 happen. 🙂

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the following bloggers:

They shared their valuable time and insights at the 1st Winning Internet Marketing Strategies & Tactics course at AIM this afternoon.

Newpapers, Information & The Future

The storm the newspaper industry is trying to cook up early this week has been in my mind the past couple of days.

Here’s the situation: The print newspapers in the U.S. is really feeling the economic crunch and one by one, print newspapers are shutting down. The thing is, it’s not solely the economic recession’s fault that newspaper publishers are losing money– more and more people are getting their news online for free. What the newspapers are doing now is taking an offensive against aggregators of their content (*cough*Google*cough*) and get what they deserve.

To the papers, it seems obvious: between the economy and the internet, they believe they have some semblance of control on the latter. But Google CEO Eric Schmidt snapped back at the papers and said that the whole industry should adapt to the changing market.

I may sound biased but I’m siding with Google on this one– the whole information & media industry has dramatically transformed that it took one global recession to magnify the sea change. It’s not just newspapers, but it also includes movies, television and radio. What the traditional media needs is a sound business model to be sustainable in a world with an abundance of information.

I still believe that information that we get on the internet is not free– we have to spend on the broadband connection to get the news and we have to pay for the electricity and the computer with which we consume the information. What’s happening is that the papers have found themselves cut-off from the value chain, that is, they are not getting a share of our wallets. Newspapers have gotten their a piece of the action primarily from advertisers. But since the economy took a nosedive, ad revenues have followed suit.

In an ideal world, the newspapers can have a business model similar to cable television or movies– they can charge with either a subscription-based or “pay-per-view” business model. But here’s the rub: what the newspapers are offering are available elsewhere without cost. Quality may not be up to par, but information can be obtained in foreign newspapers, blogs, and even social networks. My theory is that average folks these days are happy with “good enough” quality of information and that the value that the New York Times of the world is bringing or adding to information is no longer that high.

The decline of traditional print media has been followed by a lot of pundits and bloggers alike and the U.S. newspaper industry is now in survival mode. (Time has a great article on how to make newspapers viable again.) They want to convince the consumers that they should pay up. But it may be too late for them to reverse the habit of people who are used to “free” information. So now what?

I think the problem of the papers is the scale of their operations. Simply put, they’re too costly and trying to cover too much. Maybe what we’re going to see in the future is the “specialization” of information sources– papers will cover less and focus on more specific topics, like opinion or business inights, and “outsource” the rest to other newspapers with the domain expertise.

“Information Outsourcing?” Yeah, it sounds crazy. But who knows? It might save the print newspaper business.

Internet Marketing Course at AIM

A few hours ago, we had a mini press briefing for the upcoming “Winning Internet Marketing Strategies & Tactics” course at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) slated on April 13-16, 2009.

Prof. Ricardo A. Lim, Associate Dean of the W. SyCip Graduate School of Business, presented AIM’s first offering of the Internet Marketing course tailored specifically for managers and business leaders who want to learn more about taking their marketing efforts on the Internet and understand how blogs, social networks, and e-mail marketing fit in their marketing efforts.

AIM is quite excited about this new course because it’s aligned with the institute’s direction to integrate new media and technologies to its management education curricula. The course mixes AIM’s case method with practical exercises, such as creating Pay Per Click campaigns with Google AdWords (course participants will be given Google AdWords vouchers) and evaluating the their company’s online reputation & identifying the gaps with their “offline” brand.

Along with Prof. Lim, I’ll be teaching a couple of session of the Internet Marketing course. Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet, Jayvee Fernandez of A Bugged Life, and  AIM Professor Richard Cruz complete the roster of trainers. The topics that we will cover include:

  • Marketing & the Internet
  • Generating Traffic: Internet Advertising & Search Engine Marketing
  • Creating the Mindset: Manage Your Company’s Brand and Reputation Online
  • Building Relationships: Turn Website Visitors into Your Customers
  • Web 2.0 & Social Media: The Power & Wisdom of the Crowd
  • Blogging & Blog Marketing: Conversations that can lead to Conversions
  • Evaluating Your Internet Marketing Campaigns with Web Analytics

For more information, visit the course website at http://www.MasterInternetMarketing.net.

UPDATE:

Online media coverage: