Tuesday, December 31, 2013

SG Social Media Guru: Can you actually make money online? A true story of a Singapore serial entrepreneur ...

Can you actually make money online? Since my early retirement from the Singapore Armed Forces in 2011, I have been working as a social media consultant where my primary role has been to help small businesses use social media platforms to position as well as publicize their product and services. Even as I work in the social media space, I have remained skeptical about people's claims of making money on the internet. I believed that all these were just Ponzi or MLM schemes where the founders made money from the people dumb enough to buy their hype. Being a businessman, I believed, and still believe, that money can only be made when true value is exchanged i.e. people only pay when you give them something they value.
 
The Challenge
 
All this changed recently when a close friend challenged me. He said, "Justin you tell people that you are a social marketing consultant and that you can help them make money using social media platforms. Have you actually made any money yourself? Or is all your work and frameworks theoretical?" I was stunned. He was right. I talked the talked, but did not walk the talk. Angry but humbled, I set myself the challenge to prove that I could use my knowledge, experience and frameworks to make money online.
 
To make the challenge meaningful (and to show that anyone can do it), I set myself the constraint that I would not be allowed to use any money to build the online business - apart from the cost of an internet connection of course. Thus, if I could actually earn any money, it will be because of the skills, knowledge and frameworks which I have developed.


 
The Outcome
 
The outcome of that challenge was the creation of 2 blogs - SG Wedding Guru and SG Tutors. Today, I am proud to announce that I have succeeded! Using just my knowledge and my social marketing frameworks, I have monetized both blogs.
 
Having reached "initial maturity", I started phase 3 (monetization) 2 weeks ago. Since then, in the past one week alone, I have earn a combined income of $416 from SG Wedding Guru and SG Tutors. Nothing phenomenal you might say, but if you consider that the money was earned without spending a single cent on my part, I think it is. Also, it is just my 1st week's earnings and I am confident that these earning, while meager now, will grow as the value of the blogs grow and they enter the maturity phase. My assessment is that I will be able to able to comfortably earn around $5,000 a month working just 1 or 2 hours a day on these 2 blogs.
 
I can therefore now conclusively tell you that yes, it is possible to make money online with zero dollars - if you know how.
 
What Now?
 
Now that I have proven that my knowledge and framework works, I believe even more strongly that I can help Singapore small businesses succeed. If you are a small business in Singapore striving for that break-through, I can help. Additionally, if you are an individual who wants to be financially independent, I can also coach you to succeed. Following the steps that I have taken, I will help you identify, build and monetize your own online business so that you can make money online.
 
We guarantee that you will earn a minimum of SGD5 per day everyday!
 

Monday, December 30, 2013

SG Social Media Guru: Employees as brand ambassadors

Somehow, when it comes to planning a social media campaign, many businesses forget that their employees are the perfect brand ambassadors. The employee not only knows about the product but also has a vested interested in helping the company succeed.

 
Social marketing is all about networks and a company that is new to social media has to inevitability spend time and money to develop a following. Statics show that most Facebook users have an average of 342 friends (with the 18 to 24 year old demographics having 510). The top Facebook fan page in Singapore is owned by Samsung with 278,061 Singapore fans, while in contrast, the Singapore Army with a strength of over 200,000 (active and NSmen) personnel and only has 20,153 fans.
 
Assuming the Singapore Army trained its personnel to be brand ambassadors. The numbers would be startling. A simple calculation shows that the Singapore Army would have a potential reach of over 68 million (200,000 multiplied by 342). Of course, you will need to discount overlapping friends and those that refuse to be ambassadors, etc. But the point remains that even with a 20% participation rate, the numbers are still staggering.
 
While the numbers may not be so dramatic for a small business, the impact of simply training your 5 to 10 employees to be brand ambassadors is also not trivial. If 5 employees share something daily about your company with 342 of their friends, you will already be reaching out to 1,710 potential customers. For a small company, those numbers are not small. And, if you train your employees on how to create viral posts, you are now tapping on the geometric progression of the 342 friends of the 342 friends.
 
My caveat is this. The numbers I have used are impressive but they are theoretical. What I am saying is that organizations have at their disposal a huge potential source of social marketing power. So the next time you are planning a social media campaign, don't ignore your employees.
 
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CW Fong & Associates is a social marketing consultancy that specializes in social media marketing and social media awareness training for employees. Contact us at Justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com

Saturday, December 28, 2013

SG Social Media Guru: The right way to moderate online comments

In recent months, the issue of internet trolls has been brought to the forefront when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the Singapore government's online feedback portal (REACH) will now require users to login with a valid Facebook account. The purpose of the move is to create a "safe space" for online discourse as the belief is that anonymity feeds trolling.
 
I for one do not agree with the rationale as it is easy to create a pseudonym account. Additionally, trolling is not illegal and there is thus effectively no legal recourse. The solution to creating the "safe space" is thus not requiring users to register, but on how comments are handled.
 
In my consults with companies on developing their social communications channel, I always point out that just like any communications channel (i.e. a call center), manpower is required to operate and run it. If they are thinking of a hands-off approach, then it would be better not to start.
 
The best approach to encouraging online discourse is through moderation. The primary role of the moderator is to monitor the online conversations between participants including the content and direction of threads. In the event the tone of a forum becomes hostile and moves in the direction of personal attacks, the moderator has the duty to step-in to defuse the situation by reminding participants of the forum rules. In extreme circumstances, the moderate should hide, delete inappropriate comments and even ban recalcitrant users.
 
In the context of REACH, the challenge is how to do moderate without being seen as government censorship. My advice would be to establish clear forum rules specifying what behavior is unacceptable (for an example of an Acceptable Use Policy). Then whenever someone breaks the rules, the moderator has the moral authority to step in. In the event that the comment justifies removal, the moderator should remove it but replace it with a "notice" stating that such and such a comment posted by such and such a person was removed because it breached such and such a rule of the forum. By being open about the removal and the reason it was removed, trolls would not be able to claim censorship.
 
In short, the government's move to require login to use its feedback forum is a move in the wrong direction. The nature of the internet and social media prevents central control and any attempts to try will fail. Comments about the government will now go "underground" and the government will now have more channels to monitor.

Friday, December 27, 2013

How Social Media Enables Entrepreneurship

Starting up a business has traditionally been a costly affair and beyond the means of the working class who see entrepreneurship as their ticket out of the rat race. Entrepreneurs of old had to raise sufficient capital to buy inventory, pay rental deposits and renovation costs to open a shop-front, and pay for advertising and promotion. The smallest and simplest of business in Singapore would require no less than $20,000 to start.
 
Social media has changed all this. Today, entrepreneurs who lack capital can establish a business with nothing more than a great idea, passion and determination, a computer with internet connection and knowledge about social media tools and platforms.
 
Two such businesses which CW Fong & Associates has created with nothing more than an idea are SG Wedding Guru (an online wedding resource for Singapore brides) and SG Tutors (an online tuition agency for private tutors). In both business models, there is (a) no physical inventory; (b) a shop front that comes in the form an automatically generated online blog; and (c) advertising that is taken care of by free organic search engine traffic and social media campaigns. Total cost of set-up and monthly running costs? Zero dollars.
 
With a business model of selling advertising space, the role of SG Wedding Guru and SG Tutors is purely to drive traffic to the sites via search engine optimization and content marketing. While it will be helpful if the entrepreneur is knowledgeable about the contents of the site he is managing, this is not necessary. Once the keywords have been identified and the content matrix planned, online research will provide all the information that is required.
 
Thus, Social Media in our opinion is not only a catalyst for democracy (as information can no longer be controlled), but it is also an enabler of social mobility. Anyone, with an idea, the passion and determination to succeed, and the knowledge to use social media can change his life.

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CW Fong & Associates is a boutique communications company that specializes in social marketing. To equip yourself with the knowledge to use social media to establish or grow an online business, attend our social media marketing coaching workshop. eMail Justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Can a change in corporate logo change your company's fortune?

Many successful businessmen around the world believe in the power of fenghui. A quick search on the world wide web will show you a veritable list of the who's who. Being Asian, I have heard and know about the power of fengshui. Unfortunately for reasons unknown, I did not pay much heed to incorporating it into my business.
 
Since I started my consultancy in early 2012, business has been okay but at times a struggle. No matter what I did, I simply could not get that big break-through account. That is until serendipity happened earlier this month. Out of the blue, my business partner (who does all my back-end work in India) offered to design a new logo for my business. Not one to turn down a freebie, I agreed. But this time something told me that I needed to incorporate fengshui into the design.
 
With nothing to lose, I engaged the assistance of a geomancer. Based on my BaZi, I was told that I had too much "wood" elements and that to succeed in business I needed to balance that. This was then translated into colors and shapes and images that I should incorporate into my logo. My creative brief to the designer was thus, use red (symbolizing fire) and have "metal" in the design to counter the wood, and if possible include 8s as it symbolizes prosperity.
 
Small business logo incorporating fengshui elements in the design
 
The design that was finally developed and adopted by me is shown above. Much to my delight, it included the red I needed, the metallic element in the "ribbons" and the double 8s. Perfect! :)
 
You may not believe it, but since I started using the new logo, business has increased significantly. In the past month, I finally signed a new five figure deal for a stalled project I had been pursing for 3 months; I received 2 Invitations to Quote (one of which is also a five figure annual contract); been shortlisted for a major project in July 2014; and I have just received another referral for another five figure six month contract. If successful, the business generated within this past month alone will account for as much as my business for the last 6 months combined.
 
Fengshui is a powerful edge that any business can use to succeed. I share this personal story not to impress you, but to impress upon you what you can achieve with the use of fengshui in your company logo. As a true believer, I have now extended my company's communication services to include a logo design service incorporating the use of fengshui. If you are a business owner in need of a turn around, or a start-up seeking that extra edge, drop me an email at justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com. Our Fenghui Logo Package costs only $388 (usual price $888).

SG Social Media Guru: How much do you charge for SEO Services?

When it come to SEO services, clients often have two questions - why do rates vary so much from company to company and from website to website?
 
Difference in rates from SEO company to SEO company is simply a function of labor costs. If your SEO consultant lives and works in Singapore, naturally his per hour rate will be much higher than a SEO consultant who lives in India. Fortunately, given the state of info-communication technology (ICT) today, businesses can now take advantage of the global asymmetries of salaries. A SEO consultancy in Singapore can now front the account and do all the back-end work overseas offering great value for the end-user. You may then be thinking of going direct and saving on the cost of the "middle-man". While this is entirely possible, doing so may not save you much as being a business partner, we get wholesale rates. Additionally, by going direct, unless you know much about SEO, your time, energy and effort spent on liaising with your contractor could be used more productively to drive and build your business instead.
 
As for the differences in quotes for different websites, this depends very much on the level of competition there is for the keywords to be optimized for (and to a lesser extent how much work is needed to adjust the programming of your website). Optimization for a website with keywords that are not competitive can be done for as little as SGD2,000, while on the other end of the spectrum, optimization for websites with highly competitive keywords can go as high as $10,000. The main cost factor is the amount of off-site SEO work required. The good news about engaging a SEO consultancy is that achieving page 1 Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is usually guaranteed or you'll get a full refund. So in a sense, there is no risk on your part.
 
In the end, engaging the services of an SEO agency is like paying for any professional service. Nothing good is ever cheap and as a business person you should know that. So select a SEO company you can trust and a consultant that you know or can work with. Saving a few dollars may seem wise on the surface, but when you add it all up (in terms of time and effort on your part), you may end up being "penny wise and pound foolish."
 
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For a quote for our SEO services, email Justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com. We are not the cheapest, but give you great value. "When you focus on price, you fail to see value. When you focus on value, price is not an issue."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Public Communications: Repatriation of Foreign Workers Involved in the Little India Riots Draw Flak

Following what the Singapore authorities say was extensive investigations following the 8 December riots in Little India, 53 foreign workers were repatriated. This  drew swift responses from netizens and organizations like Maruah Singapore questioning if due process was given to the affected workers. Much of the concern stems from the fact that many of these workers would have borrowed heavily to come to work in Singapore and if they were indeed innocent of wrong doing, then repatriating them would be "unjust."
 
Once again, the purpose of this blog is not to question or criticize government policies or actions, but to use it as a case study to assist the student of crisis and public communications.
 
In this context, one can be surprised by the public reaction to the repatriation. After all, these are not Singaporeans and they are presumed to have done actions that jeopardized the safety and security of the nation. In the past, such an act of repatriation would not have received any notice by the general population, much less condemnation.  So what has changed?
 
In the context of public and crisis communications, it is dangerous to adopt the approach that if the public did not raise a concern before, they are not going to raise a concern now. Context and prevailing sentiments affect public response and each incident must be assessed against this backdrop in deciding a response. To illustrate, if an alleged incident of corruption was reported in the news and the public did not react, it does not mean that a second incident would not illicit a reaction. One occurrence can be seen as a one-off incident, while two will allude to a systemic issue. Hence, the communications director that bases his crisis communications strategy based on the first incident is doomed to fail.
 
In the context of the repatriation, my assessment is that netizens are not so concerned about whether the foreign worker is guilty or not. The prevailing sentiment is that our government is working with impunity without any check and balance. Thus, the ability to arbitrarily repatriate someone without "due process" is seen as another abuse of power.
 
If the communication director had the pulse of the ground, he or she could have anticipated the reaction and thus "prepared the ground" by addressing the issue proactively instead of reactively.
 
In short, public sentiments, is ever changing. To be effective as a communicator, one must never use past responses without considering the conditions present then and without factoring the conditions acting now.
 
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CW Fong & Associates is a boutique communications consultancy specializing in crisis communications. We have provided strategic counsel to numerous MNCs both in Singapore and the region with regards to reputation management matters.

SG Social Media Guru: Is achieving #1 in SERP important?

In consultations with clients about their social media marketing strategies, I am often asked if achieving #1 position on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is extremely important, or if being on page 1 alone is enough.
 
While there are studies that have shown that  90% of all clicks go to the #1 result, I personally disagree with the findings. This is because while search engines are good, they are not perfect and users know this. It is this weakness that make search engines attach an extract of the information available on the site with all their search results. Users of search engines are therefore likely to read the description before clicking on a result and not blindly click on the first result given by the search engine.
 
Additionally, as users typically view multiple websites during a search for information, they will also click on the other sites provided by the search engine. With this understanding of human behaviour, it is our position that being #1 is not necessary. A company just needs to be on page 1 to benefit from SEO.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

SG Social Media Guru: 3 Reasons Why Every Company Must do SEO ...


While SEO has been around since the day search engines were created, many Singapore business owners still do not use SEO in their social media marketing strategies.  This is surprising because studies have shown that 90% of all buying purchases involve at least a search on Google, Yahoo! or Bing.
 
If you are not yet convinced as to why companies need to use SEO, here are 3 reasons:
 
Reason #1: You need to stand-out on the web
 
There are over 633 million websites on the world wide web and, for any business you are in, there is likely no less than a few hundred competing websites. Research has shown that 97% of all online searches do not go beyond page 3 of Google. As such, you may have the nicest website or even the best product for sale, unless you are indexed and ranked in the top three pages, chances are nobody will ever know about your company.
 
Reason #2: Good Advertising ROI (Low Cost in Comparison to Google Adwords)
 
"Organic listings" are free. Once you are indexed and ranked well, you need not pay for any clicks to your site. Thus, in a sense, SEO is a gift that keeps on giving. Additionally, the result of SEO is long lasting as, unlike paid advertisements, your ranking does not suddenly disappear once you stop paying for it. Plus, from the perspective of credibility, a well ranked site is considered more "credible" that a Sponsored Site on Google Ads.
 
Reason #3: Your Competition is Doing It!
 
Many of your competitors already know about the benefits of SEO and they are using it. If you are not even ranked on the top three pages of any search engine, you are not even in the game. Acting like an ostrich with your head in the sand and telling yourself SEO is not important, only gives your competition more time to take away customers that should be yours.
 
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DIY SEO Tip: 3 Steps to Producing an SEO Article

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CW Fong & Associates is a boutique communications consultancy. As we work with trusted partners from around the world, we are able to offer you SEO services at attractive rates. We are not the cheapest, but we offer you the best value. As someone once said, "when you look at the price, you cannot see the value. But when you see the value, price will not be an issue."

Friday, December 20, 2013

Public Service Announcement: Actions for Earth - Global Youth Summit 2014

Be part of Actions for Earth Global Youth Summit.  The inaugural event will be held in Singapore from 15th to 18th January 2014 at the Singapore Science Centre.
 
The Global Youth Summit aims to empower found people to plan, collaborate and implement innovative and sustainable living solutions on a local and global scale.  The theme, "waste not", will inspire our young delegates to create solutions and take actions to reduce waste.
 
To find out more, or simple to stay up to date on the latest green initiatives, like our Facebook page.

Singapore and international youths working for sustainable living

Thursday, December 19, 2013

SG Social Media Guru: Another example on the need for awarness training

SGAG published a clarification to a story run on STOMP about how a Singapore Armed Force's (SAF) soldier was seen to make a young child carry his gear.  While the clarification by SGAG ended with a "positive" ending for the SAF, time and resources were wasted in tracking the soldier down, getting the truth behind the picture and then making the clarification.
 
If you are a for-profit organization, this is time and money which could have been better spent on revenue generating activities.  The proliferation of social media has created the phenomenon of citizen journalism.  You can therefore be certain that anything you do, anywhere it is done and at whatever time it occurs, if it is "newsworthy" someone will post it on social media. What fuels this phenomenon is that online platforms like STOMP pay netizens for stories they publishes.
 
Social Media Awareness Training is therefore no longer a luxury, but a must have for all employees.  To organize an in-house talk for your organization, contact our consultants at justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com
 
 
 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SG Social Media Guru: Why Social Media Awareness Training is no longer a luxury for employees

The Singapore Straits Times today (18 December 2013) published a Bloomberg report that the Australian Fair Trade Commission has upheld the sacking of an employee over a critical Facebook posting.
 
As social media platforms become more ubiquitous and the strawberry generation enters the workforce, the link between expressing a personal view amongst friends (like over a cup of coffee) and being seen as speaking on behalf of your employer is being blurred.  While many know the reach of social media, many are still unaware of the dangers of ranting one's frustrations online.

 
The above case can be seen as minor and ended in the sacking of the employee without his employer facing a lawsuit from the affected client. To protect your organization, social media awareness talks are no longer a luxury but a necessity.
 
To arrange an in-house session for your employees, contact us at Justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Crisis Communications: How to Pre-empt Negative Publicity

Why Pre-empt Negative Publicity?
 
One communications strategy I teach participants of my crisis communications workshops is the concept of pre-empting negative publicity. Conceptually, as any response to a crisis will always be seen by stakeholders as reactive, even if the response is factual and is the 100% truth, stakeholders will invariably ask themselves if the response is spin.  As such, the more effective strategy in managing a crisis is to pre-empt it.
 
Usually at this point, participants will have a puzzled look on their faces.  Doesn't the nature of a crisis means it is unpredictable?  If it is unpredictable, then does it not mean that you cannot pre-empt it?  The answer is yes and no.
 
Predicting a Crisis
 
Yes, a crisis is unpredictable in the sense that you never know when it will happen.  But no, a crisis is always predictable in that you can usually foresee the likely types that will happen.  For example, in high risk industries like construction, you will never know when a construction worker will be injured from falling debris or a fall from a high place.  However, using past accident or near miss data, you can identify the types and scenarios where accidents occur.  With this knowledge, you can then take proactive actions to pre-empt negative publicity.
 
Pre-empting a Crisis
 
The concept of pre-empting is to put in place what I term supporting or contradictory information in support of your organization before a crisis happens.  Thus, if your analysis shows that negative publicity due to company negligence or lack of care for workers is a likely outcome of a workplace injury, your company should regularly issue news releases of actions you have taken to care for your workers. Such actions can be an education program where workers are regularly reminded of the need to follow safe work practices.  Or, it can be the winning of a government or third party work safety award. Or even a town hall meeting with the CEO where he speaks about work place safety.
 
With such information firmly in the stakeholder's mind before the accident occurs, stakeholders will immediately reference their past impression of the company's attitude towards it workers and negative publicity is unlikely to happen.  Contrast this to when an accident occurs and the company begins issuing statements of the past actions they have taken to ensure work place safety.  Which is likely to have a stronger effect?
 
Conclusion
 
In short, pre-empting is a powerful strategy to negate negative publicity. And as the above example shows, it is not as difficult as it seems.  All it takes is for the corporate communications team to be pro-active in crisis communications.
 
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CW Fong & Associates is a boutique communications consultancy specializing in crisis communications and social media marketing. If you wish to have in-house workshop on Managing Crisis Communications in the Era of Social Media, contact our consultants at justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com

SG Social Media Guru: SEO Tip - Allowing External Links on Your Blog's Comment

One of the strategies we teach at our social media workshops to generate blog traffic is to create inbound links from credible or authoritative blogs. A good link not only drives large amounts of traffic but can in some instances increase your page rank.
 
The question now is once you have started getting out of the "sandbox", and gained your own "authority", should you moderate other sites' links from your site.
 
Search Engines like Google are well aware of this SEO practice of using blog comments as "link farms". They are also aware that the blog owner is unable to prevent such links from happening. As such, Google is unlikely to penalise the blog owner if there are many outbound links on their site to spammy sites. Penalisation, if it does occur, will be to the linking site - but more on that in a separate post.
 
Thus, in our opinion, there is no harm in allowing any site to use your blog's comment section as a link farm. In fact, we would encourage it as having more comments and links makes your blog look popular to your readers. Having said that, we would however still recommend some form of moderation by blog owners. After all, you do not want your competitor having a link on your blog drawing potential customers away from you.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Branding Tip: Use fengshui to give your company logo design that extra edge

In the world of business a professionally designed logo (and corporate identity) is often what separates a successful start-up from an also ran.  Why?  Simply because a professional looking logo tells potential clients that you are serious about doing business and gives the impression that you are a "big player."

The point of this blog is not to tell you that you need a logo.  If you are reading this, you would probably have figured that out yourself.  The point of this blog is to tell you what you can do to give your logo design that extra edge - feng shui.

Similar to any other communications consultancy, CW Fong & Associates assist business owners in creating their corporate identity.  However, what sets us apart from our competitors is our belief in the power of feng shui.  When we tasked to do a logo design, besides obtaining your creative brief, our consultants will also obtain the primary owners date and time of birth.  This additional information will then allow us to determine the owner's "eight characters" and then work with our geomancer to determine the right colors, shapes and even images that need to be incorporated.

Even tycoons like Steve Wynn, Donald Trump and Richard Branson are known to incorporate feng shui elements in their business projects in Southeast Asia. There are also reports that banks like Chase Manhattan and Wells Fargo Banks also use feng shui to increase and secure their wealth.  If they are using it, why shouldn't you?

To give your business start-up that extra edge to succeed, contact us at justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com and ask about our start-up logo package. Rates start from a low of $388 (usual price is $888).



Saturday, December 14, 2013

How to Use Facebook's Events App Correctly

SG Sales Guru suggests that Facebook is arguably the largest, and hence, most powerful social media marketing platform due to its size.  Unfortunately, many business owners are unable to monetize their fan base as they lack the knowledge.
 
One area is the use of Facebook events app.  SG Sales Guru noted that when it comes to using the events app, many business owners adopt a "post and forget" strategy.  This is the wrong strategy and it does not leverage on Facebook's strengths.
 
To find out how you can use Facebook's events app correctly, follow this link:
 
 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Media Feature: On American Express' Merchant Knowledge Centre

We are pleased to update that our Principal Consultant, CW Fong, was featured in the American Express Merchant's Knowledge Centre.  Our Principal Consultant was interviewed on his views of how being social media savvy can help small and medium enterprises stand out from the crowd.
 
Click here to view the full video interview.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Marketing Concepts Explained Simply for Singaporeans

Marketing concepts can sometime be confusing.  This is where a good teacher makes a big difference when he or she can come up with great analogies to help make the difficult simple.

Follow the link below to hear how a marketing professor uses a beautiful blonde (after all sex sells), a party and a rich man, to explain the concepts of Direct MarketingAdvertising and Brand Recognition.




Our New Corporate Identity for 2014

CW Fong & Associates (CWFA) is pleased to launch our new corporate logo.  Since our establishment in 2011, CWFA has gone through numerous painstaking refinement in our business model to find our niche.




Today, we are pleased to announce that CWFA is a one-stop communications solutions provider to Singapore Small and Medium Enterprises.  Providing strategic counsel, CWFA works with business owners to conduct an unbiased analysis of the client's communications and business challenges.  Thereafter, CWFA will then work to develop and implement solutions to these challenges.  Where the business owners lacks the capabilities, CWFA then works with our pool of qualified and trusted associates to deliver the solution.  In the end, CWFA measures our success by our clients' success and hence our tag-line "your partners to success."

Our core services include social media marketing, crisis communications/ reputation management, strategy formulation, branding (logo designs), collateral production (printing) and sales training.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

Riot in Singapore's Little India - Why Security Agencies Need to Use Twitter

A riot broke out in Singapore's Little India a couple of hours ago (8 December 2013). Almost immediately after the start of the riot, the incident became breaking news and trended on social media platforms like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.  The Twitter hash tag of #LittleIndiaRiot was also quickly established.

Residents and innocent by-standers living and visiting the area were obviously concerned for the safety and well being of themselves and their loved ones. As no information was forthcoming from main-stream media, many turned to social media to understand the unfolding situation and to decide what safety measures to take.

Given the immediacy of Twitter, Twitter naturally became the primary source for information.  Unfortunately, the Singapore Police Force's Twitter account had no information about the riots, nor did it provide public safety information.

The failure of the Singapore Police Force to capitalize on social media, is in my opinion, a serious flaw. Thankfully, the riots were confined and did not spread. If it did, the Singapore Police Force's failure to provide timely and actionable information to innocent by-standers, would be unforgivable. Much worse if there were injuries or even deaths.

My point is this. Twitter is a powerful emergency communications tool which emergency services must use in a crisis.  Besides giving the on-site incident commander an effective means to communicate immediately with large numbers of people, the ability to do it instantly and from something as simple as a smart phone is priceless.

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CW Fong & Associates is a boutique communications consultancy that works with MNCs to develop their Business Continuity Management processes.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Crisis Communications: Theft of Account Information from Standchart Singapore. Is it time to reconsider the Sub judice Law?

News of the theft of account information from Standard Chartered (Stanchart) Bank Singapore has been making its way around the world.  In fact, some international media reports have hinted that the theft may hurt Singapore's reputation as a private banking hub.

What is conspicuously missing is any form of statement from Stanchart.  This is however not surprising has Singapore has and has threatened to use the Sub judice law.  This law  makes it inappropriate to comment publicly about cases "under judgement".  Making such comments is an offence and can lead to contempt of court proceedings.

As a crisis communications consultant, my job is to help corporations deal with the fall-out of incidents that may harm its reputation and hence its brand value.  While I can appreciate the value (and the purpose) of the Sub judice law, I believe that the nature of global communications has made it irrelevant.  

Firstly, Singapore is pushing itself to be a global player and many industries have heeded the call and based their headquarters here.  When something occurs in Singapore, the ripple effect around the world on the brand and reputation of the company around the world cannot be denied.  Denying these international companies the ability to respond to challenges to their reputation is thus counter-productive.  And as police investigations and court proceedings can take years, damage done cannot be undone.

Secondly, the nature of global communications is such that Sub judice laws are impossible, or extremely difficult, to enforce.  Even if Singapore has this law, people and other news entities (not based in Singapore and hence not subject to Singapore law) will continue to talk and report about it.  Singapore's AGC does not have the bandwidth, or resources to challenge these international entities.  Thus, via the internet, such comments will still reach Singaporeans and the Sub judice law is ineffective in achieving its intent of preventing the perversion of justice.

In my opinion, the Sub judice law is archaic and has been made irrelevant in era of social media.  The law is thus just little more than a statement about our judiciary's belief about due process and should thus be repealed to allow international companies to defend challenges to its brand and reputation.

I feel sorry for Stanchart as they are unable to respond to this challenge on their reputation as a leading global financial institution.  Years of hard work and money invested to build trust in their private banking business have been lost.

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CW Fong & Associates is a boutique communications consultancy that specializes in social media communications and reputation management.  justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com

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Do-it-Yourself SEO Tip: A 3-Step Guide to writing an SEO article.  Click here to read.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Social Media Marketing Strategy: Exploit Initial Success

As mentioned in an earlier blog posting, the search engine optimization (SEO) process is a closely guarded black box where, other than small select groups in Google, Yahoo and Bing, no one else really knows exactly how websites are indexed and ranked.

While many can analyze the outcome and make informed guesses, there is no way of figuring out exactly how algorithms like Google's new Hummingbird work.  As such, when you begin blogging and attempting to optimise for the keywords and phrases you want,  chances are your company/ professional blog will be indexed for words you never expected.

To the inexperienced social media consultant, this will be seen as a sign of failure. To experienced, it is a god send because it signals that you are beginning to get out of the "SEO sandbox". The experienced social media consultant would then exploit the situation and commence optimising for the unexpected keywords and phrases.

You may be wondering what about the original keywords you wanted? Do you forget about it?

The answer is no. By exploiting the situation, you focus on increasing your site's "credibility" for that keyword or phrase. This in turn raises the search engine results page (SERP) of your site to the search engines, which then allows you to leverage on it to eventually be ranked and indexed for your desired keywords.

The algorithms to index a website (and by extension a page) are extremely complex. Even so called experts cannot give guarantees. If all the pieces fall into place, you may get it right the first time. However, if you are doing DIY-SEO my bet is you won't, and this SEO strategy that I am proposing will help get you there - albeit through a slightly longer route.

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If you are a small business owner in Singapore and you need help with SEO and Search Engine Marketing (SEM), do contact our consultants at justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Social Media Marketing: 3-Steps to Producing a SEO Article

Why Optimize for Search Engines?

With research showing that up to 90% of purchases today involving some form of social media platform, the ability to produce a search engine optimized (SEO) article is now an essential skill of sales and marketing.  While seemingly overwhelming, writing a SEO article is really easy if you know how.  Use the following 3-Steps and you will be on your way to SEO success.

Step 1: Write the article

In all my social media marketing consultations, I always advise my client to include a blog in their marketing mix.  This is because a good blog can generate as much traffic as any company webpage.  Additionally, blogs also allow you to optimize for infinite number of keywords and phrases as each blog posting is a separate opportunity to be indexed.

The main thing to remember about maintaining a blog is consistency.  Writing an article a day is simple as a blog posting need not be a thesis, but can be as simple as a 200 word reflection about a related topic.  The best writing technique to help you accomplish this is to use PREP.  Simply state your POINT of view, give your REASON for it, provide an EXAMPLE to support your reason and then re-state your POINT.  This technique is taught and used by countless numbers of speakers and writers to great effect.

Step 2: Adjust for Keywords and Phrases

Once you have your content, the next step is to adjust for Keywords and Phrases.  To do this, take a separate sheet of paper and list out words which you think people will search for to find your content.  Think as laterally as you can, as you never know which words may be important.

Once you have the list in hand, go over your article and insert them into your article by replacing similar words and phrases you have used. The trick to doing this is to ensure that the article remains grammatically correct and that the keywords and phrases do not look out of place.  Also, do not overdo it or advanced search engine algorithms might think you are "keyword stuffing" and penalize your site.  A safe working ratio to have is a keyword ratio of about 2%.

Step 3: Add outbound links

The third and final step is to add outbound links.  In SEO, everybody knows and agrees that inbound links from quality sites are like gold.  Getting such links is however not easy and is beyond your control.  As search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing endeavor to provide their users with "quality sites with quality contents", providing outbound links to quality sites will make you a good resource site which in turn will increase your page ranking.

To do this, once you have your article, simply identify relevant keywords and phrases and then Google them.  You then find top ranked websites (with relevant information of course) and hyperlink them in your article.

Conclusion

So there you have it.  A simple 3-step process to produce a SEO Article for your site.  If you are reading this, then it must have worked.

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If you are a Singapore-based small and medium enterprise and you need help with your social media marketing, contact us at justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com

Monday, December 2, 2013

Singapore DNC: A Game Changer for Financial Consultants and Property Agents

Since March this year, CWFA has highlighted the need for property agents and financial consultants to prepare for the introduction of the Do No Call (DNC) Registry.

With the introduction of the DNC registry, traditional ways of sales prospecting via SMS marketing or tele-marketing have become obsolete overnight. Agents and Consultants who did not prepare will now need to play catch-up with those that heeded our advice and began using social media for sales prospecting.

One effective technique we teach our clients is what we call "sphear fishing". Unlike SMS and tele-marketing, which is akin to trawling, sphear fishing is based on the use of indicators to identify clients who need your product or service.

For example, Financial Consultants can  systematically comb their friends status updates on Facebook to spot changes in life-style. If a friend has a new born, you can approach them to establish an endowment policy. Or if a friend has mentioned going overseas for a holiday, you can approach them to buy travel insurance. The opportunities are endless. And the best parts are that you can prospect from the comfort of your home and you can literally cover hundreds of friends in a day.

Social media platforms like Facebook are a powerful tool for sales. Used wisely, it can make you more efficient and effective in selling your product and services.

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To learn how you can use social media to build your financial consulting business, email us about our coaching programme. Justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com.

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For more sales training tips, visit SG Sales Guru

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Reputation Management: Singapore's Twelve Cupcakes Controversy

When TRS published the story about Twelve Cupcakes alleged exploitation of its foreign workers, its CEO Daniel Ong responded with a ranting email attacking TRS.

This is a rather unusual response as, instead of being interested in setting the record straight, Ong appears to have decided that attacking the messenger's credibility was a good crisis response strategy.

As a reputation management consultant, I must admit that such a strategy does exist in our playbook. However, this strategy is only applicable if the allegations were made by an individual and it is possible to prove the messenger's malicious intent. In this instance, TRS is seen by netizens as a "news" platform and attacking it only makes Ong look foolish.

Alternatively, Ong's response could be an attempt to shift the conversation away from the allegations by baiting TRS into an argument about its status as a news platform. This too is in our playbook, but would only work if TRS was a less established platform and thus likely to take the bait.

Whatever Ong's thinking behind his responses, I must say that the strategy (if there is one) is ill-conceived. Or, if there is no strategy, then he needs to think of one. If Ong is reading this, go to our crisis management framework which we have shared in this blog . . . the "correct" answer is there.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Another Social Media Success Story: Driving Traffic to Our Client's Website

CWFA does it again!  :)
 
We were engaged by a client on 20 Oct 2013 to develop a high traffic website for his Singapore-based company.  Using a combination of paid, earned and owned channels we are happy to report that as of yesterday 23 Nov 2013, we have successful achieved traffic of over 8,000 hits per day.  As we continue to work on our client's site, we are confident of achieving an average daily hit rate of no less than 100,000 per day within the next 3 months.
 
If you are not getting the traffic you need for your business or eCommerce site, we can help.  Contact our social media consultants at justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com for a free social media audit.
 
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Note: Results will vary from client to client depending on a variety of factors.



Part-Time Jobs: Sales Consultants Wanted

CWFA has secured a term contract to provide a regional training company with part-time sales consultants.  These consultants will assist in handling customer queries during sales previews.

Working at least once a week for 3 hours per session, the successful consultant will be paid a show-up fee as well as a commission for every successful sale.

If you have done exhibition sales for wedding boutiques, fitness clubs and/ or renovation companies, you have the skills we want.  On the other hand, if you do not have the experience, but are prepared to learn and earn, we have a training programme for you.

To find out more, email the following to justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com

Name:
Age:
Sex:
Sales Experience:
Availability:
Contact No.:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Social Media Training for Employees (Singapore): Why it is a must ….

I came across this story on STOMP earlier this morning and I must say that the positive impact of a simple act by an employee has done more than any PR campaign can hope to accomplish.




Coming from a "neutral" third party, this image of a parking enforcement officer helping a frail old lady alight from a taxi in a no-parking zone shows that they are only humans doing an unpleasant job.

I am not sure if the CISCO officer received social media awareness training, but the exact opposite could have become a PR nightmare.  Imagine if instead of helping, the CISCO officer insisted that the taxi could not stop there and then stood by watching as the old lady struggled to alight.  The image taken and the accompanying headline would have been extremely damaging.

With the proliferation of smart-phones and social media, every employee is now a PR tool for an organization.  Train and equip them with the knowledge and they will pull off amazing acts like the one above, or ignore the need to train them and wait for disaster to happen.

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For social media awareness training, contact justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com