Trust and Credibility in Social Media

the oatmeal-social mediaI just wanted to make a quick post about a request from a client. Paraphrased, they said that I should: “Post about our new product in gaming forums, and mailing lists from our partners, etc.”

Not only that the use of external mailing lists beyond the content constraints that the user signs up for is illegal, but can also destroy a reputation of an up and coming product.

It fails to grasp that the success of social media is built on two things – trust and credibility. Trust is gained from the length and longevity of the relationship; and credibility built via social proof (virality, endorsements, “Likes”). Any brand strategy for products should avoid posting to well-established social networks or groups, that the said product may not have clout with.

Let me give an example: it would be brand suicide for a company who makes Cupcake Princess Fighter* to promote the game to a forum full of Battlefield 4 fans just because we know that there are “a lot of gamers there”. However, if Cupcake Princess Fighter’s comment on cupcake articles or trends-in-fighting games topics in LinkedIn or Facebook, then the brand can be built as a new, credible, emerging player in the cupcake, fighting game market.

Social media is about one simple principle: that engagement is built on avoiding the context of marketing. As much as social media is part of marketing, it is the anti-advertising strategy where the brand tries to convince the public that the brand can be trusted and that the brand is not trying to directly sell them something.

As The Oatmeal’s comic about social media implies, engaging in social media does not mean direct marketing and reaching as many people as possible (AKA spamming). Instead, there must be two simple techniques that should be applied:

  1. Engagement and communication with fans and similar entities and brands (not necessarily direct competitors)
  2. Contribution to the growing information in the internet. This could mean creating a graphic, a meme, or simply answering a question posed by somebody.

Social media is one huge party with cliques, groups and relationships that need to be understood and nurtured. These entities need to be listened to, and engaged with so that they will listen to you. Failure to understand this can mean your brand being trolled off the face of the internet.

*Not a real game. But it would be cool if it was!

How to Deal with Negative Reviews on Social Media

Occasionally I will be putting up questions raised in various Social Media websites and my reply to these discussions.

From LinkedIn: “This issue is rearing its ugly head again and the outcome will probably be the same. Yelp will prevail. Rather than butting your head against a wall, how can you manage negative reviews? Or garner positive ones?”

~ Joaquin H., Social Media Account Executive

Read more


As a teacher, I always make sure to sprinkle activities to make sure that students can have a different way of remembering and applying concepts they learn in the classroom. After all, stimulating the brain (particularly the hippocampus) with positive emotions and experiences (with having fun, or doing something unique) is enhances memory and is conducive to learning.

Just a few days ago, I drafted a game about negotiation for a class after discussing some concepts discussed in Getting to Yes, by Fisher, Ury & Patton. It was a short discussion but I think the concepts discussed in the book, particularly about Principled Negotiation and the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) was valuable to any student. We will have to negotiate our salaries, decisions with coworkers, deals with clients and wedding cake colors with one’s spouse.

With that, I just dug around my cubicle and found some index cards and came up with a simple game called, Card Trade. With a set of resources and a simplified goal, I was able to develop a game that allowed to practice their skills in negotiation with each other.


There are five sets:

  1. 1 Purple, 1 Green, 2 White, 2 Blue [GOAL: Collect five yellow]
  2. 1 Purple, 1 Green, 2 Yellow, 2 Blue [GOAL: Collect five white]
  3. 1 White, 1 Yellow, 2 Green, 2 Blue [GOAL: Collect five purple]
  4. 1 White, 1 Yellow, 2 Purple, 2 Blue [GOAL: Collect five yellow]
  5. 2 Purple, 2 Green, 2 White, 2 Yellow [GOAL: Collect seven blue]


  1. For my class of ten, each student is paired up, forming five groups.
  2. Each group is given their set of cards with their corresponding goal. The goal is kept secret. Nobody knows what are the goals of other groups.

The Game:

  1. Have everyone look at the resource cards and the goal they have for their team.
  2. On your “Go”, let everyone know they can start trading with only the cards to use as currency.
  3. First player to give the goal card + the cards with the correct goal colors and the right number of cards win.

After the Game:

  1. Congratulate the winner, and thank the class for participating.
  2. Discuss emergent concepts and techniques they used in negotiation or in the game. Some guide questions: (a) What were your conditions for making a trade? (2 for 1? 1 for 1?) (b) What happened when somebody refused a trade? (c) What are some examples of your BATNA? (d) Did people attempt to cheat? (e) Did you negotiate for colors you did not need? (f) What are the factors that affected who you negotiated with? How does this phenomena affect professional negotiations?

Footnote: I thought of doing Settlers of Catan (try a smaple game, on your computer) because it had a very dynamic resource system to it but I thought that it could be too complex for a ten person class, and can take a lot of time.

Don’t Jump the Gun – Pay your Programmers $200?

In a post in a developer blog, I wrote a quite verbose reply on post advocating a $200 per hour salary for programmers.

Programmers are amazing. The mastery of such languages that programmers use to create tools and environments is undoubtedly not a common skill. I know this considering I spent at least four years finishing my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science (sleepless nights, coffee and the search for the syntax error caused by an invisible space). However, looking at the psychology of the situation, there are a lot of repercussions if most organizations offer such amounts to all programmers as a matter of policy.

Read more

Is Any PR, Good PR? – Ocean Marketing Edition

MARKETINGIf there is one thing a good PR company would understand, is that angry customers will say and do what they want to say and do if they are unsatisfied… and that poor handling of one unsatisfied customer can snowball into a catastrophic, PR nightmare.

A heated exchange between Dave, an Avenger Controller customer, and Paul Christoforo (@OceanDeepSea* @OceanStratagy*, note the misspelling), a now-former marketing representative for N-Control (the makers of the Avenger Controller) was recently published in In the series of emails, the customer writes amicably to inquire about the shipment of the new controllers for those who have pre-ordered it. Things get ugly when Dave asks about why those who ordered the Avenger Controllers on a later date are getting a ten-dollar discount and while those who showed their loyalty by giving their money earlier are not getting the same treatment**.

Despite a sound argument for early adopters to be treated fairly, the debacle begins when Christoforo decides to berate the customer with PR gems like: “so put on your big boy hat and wait it out like everyone else” and “no one is special including you or any first time buyer“. This then turns into an ugly exchange between the customer and the Avenger Controller representative. Dave, then decides to CC other prominent gaming news websites to the conversation.

Read the whole exchange on Penny Arcade.

A Twitter exchange between Lowe of IGN and Christoforo.

It then gets worse when Christoforo, thanks Dave for the gesture: “LOL Thanks for the Free PR I know the Editor N Chief of Kotaku , IGN , Engadget I’ll be meeting them at CES...” It then continues to an awkward exchange between the Mike Krahulik, owner of and Paul where Paul continues to drop names to justify his popularity while telling him, “We’re not renting a booth at pax east this year, bigger and better shows to be at we got nothing from the show” and “Your sites amateur at best my son could put together a better site than yours and you run PAX ??” After that last comment, PennyArcade published the whole exchange. What’s worse is that this debacle continued with inflammatory twitter remarks (see right screen grab) with IGN editor, Scott Lowe (NOTE: There was apparently a deleted, more defamatory tweet prior to the one I grabbed, which can be found at

Read more