Freeman Cebu Business

Rappling with Rappler

TRADE FORUM - Chris Malazarte - The Freeman

I would like to personally thank the organizers of the first Social Media Influencers Summit 2013, Ruben Licera and Bjorn Bernales, and my ka-facebook friend-historian, Ka Bino Guerrero, for inviting us to be part of the event and for allowing us to share what we think about social media from our view as solutions provider in the real estate market. More than just the opportunity to get acquainted with the participants who are equally inquisitive as we are to know the tools and trends in social media, we also had the opportunity to exchange thoughts with the guest speakers who were all selfless with their ideas and experiences, making the whole event truly and interactively illuminating.

When you're too confined with what you do and with what you use every day, you sometimes miss to see the many colors that come out of the social media prism. I thought I knew social media too well believing that managing more than half a million followers from the pages I created on Facebook two years ago, was enough to tell me the real deal in social media until I came face to face with Maria Ressa. She was the keynote speaker of the event and I was privileged to meet and chauffeur her from the airport to the venue. Although our tete-a-tete was rather short, it was nonetheless, terse and insightful. It was like getting a whole semester of social media lessons in less than an hour of talk.

I was humbled and felt so reduced to learn from her the many faces of social media not just from the view of providing information and engaging people to such information, but how people take and discern issues, and the way they feel about them on a personal level. In other words, it's still a long road ahead for me to be able to achieve the "supposed to bes" in social media. But in a nutshell, she emphasized the importance of context and "intel" for us in the business of providing social media services to understand what always tethers the noses of people on their computers or their mobile devices.

Maria Ressa, the familiar face we once knew on CNN and ABS-CBN, holds one of the most powerful and influential social news networks in the country today, Rappler.com. Still on its beta stage, Rappler's phenomenal rise in the news community demonstrates a whole new perspective in the way interesting stories are created, delivered and talked about. Maria, as an example, shares how her correspondents cover stories armed with just an iPhone or Android, uploads them in Youtube and then all the way to their followers’ Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest feeds. At Rappler, you get high-octane stories using less fuel.   

In less than two years, Rappler ranks 123rd most popular site in the Philippines (per Alexa.com), averaging over two million visits a day. And as to how they did it real quick… only Rappler knows. But as I have said, Rappler has the best intel around to keep their audience thirsty of the stories they want to follow. Rappler’s Mood Meter is one example. It’s a tool that lets readers express how they feel about a story that they’re currently reading. It’s pretty much like the “like” button on Facebook, only with more choices: Happy, sad, angry, don’t care, inspired, afraid, annoyed or amused. People also get to react and exchange conversations with one another on the same stories that they read. What makes the conversations in Rappler so “worlds apart” from other social news network is the quality of the exchanges or the “wisdom of crowds” as Maria wants to put it. And you will be surprised that its readers mostly don’t care about Kris Aquino’s recent move to drop showbiz and all this noise about Senator Chiz and actress Heart Evangelista. Put it this way, Rapplers only care to comment over an issue (that’s actually not worth the comment to begin with) if only to express the inanity of them all in the lives of people.

Context, perspective, and innovation are the cornerstones to the connection between Rappler and rapplers. The vision to make a dent in social transformation also drives Rappler to make a bold difference in the way stories are ought to be delivered and consumed online. And I believe that change in society can come quickly if all of us in the social media practice will also make that crucial step in our own network.

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