Highlights of the Digital Influencers Marketing Summit

After the Laguna Blogging Summit, I attended the Digital Influencers Marketing Summit. Am I a summit addict now? I guess ever since I attended iBlog8: The 8th Philippine Blogging Summit, I’m like, I want more!

The Cybercrime Law

The hottest topic of the summit was the Cybercrime Law. Atty. JJ Disini started his discussion by saying that when legislators crafted this bill, they had Business Process Outsourcing companies in mind.

BPO companies were afraid of doing business in the Philippines because their data wasn’t protected by the law. In case of a breach in their private data, they wanted to make sure that there were legal courses that they could use to penalize those hackers.

The problem is, legislators did not realize that the BPOs were not the only ones who were custodians of information. Every person is a custodian of information, and that is why everyone will be affected by this bill.

So the purpose of the bill is well meaning, but Atty. Disini said the way it is crafted is “sloppy”, and more so it is dangerous because certain provisions open the floodgates to abuse.

Atty. Disini said that if you commit any crime by using ICT (Information and Communications Technology), then it is a cybercrime. However, the penalties are higher. In fact, you can be jailed up to 12 years. Atty. Disini says, “For example, murder is a crime, but if you commit murder by setting off a bomb using a cellphone, then that is a cybercrime.”

When it comes to online libel, Atty. Disini said that truth is not a defense. As long as it can be proven that you had malicious intent, that you wanted to destroy the reputation of the person, then you can be sued for libel.

Even if you win the case, going to court will cost so much money. Most people might settle because settling is cheaper.

Atty. Disini worried about the chilling effect. Owners of websites, blogs, and social media accounts  may receive demand letters which are orders to take down certain content. If you don’t take it down, you might be sued.

Again, just getting sued will cost so much money. Even if you’re in the right, even if you know you’ll win the case, the threat of getting sued will scare you because you  will lose a lot of money if you are dragged to court.

This threat of being sued can lead you to censor yourself, to not talk, to be meek instead of to justly criticize, to be artificially polite, to be silent. This is the chilling effect, and this is how people can use the law to suppress your right to free speech.

Atty. Disini talked about how other countries protect people’s right to free expression. He said that there is a website called the chillingeffects.org which asks people to send in those demand letters so the site can determine whether the libel law is being used to stem self expression. Atty. Disini also added that in other countries there have been moves to decriminalize libel.

The law also gives the government power to shut down or block websites. He also said that prima facie evidence is enough for the government to restrict or block data. According to Law.com, prima facie means:

Latin for “at first look,” or “on its face,” referring to a lawsuit or criminal prosecution in which the evidence before trial is sufficient to prove the case unless there is substantial contradictory evidence presented at trial. A prima facie case presented to a Grand Jury by the prosecution will result in an indictment. Example: in a charge of bad check writing, evidence of a half dozen checks written on a non-existent bank account makes it a prima facie case. However, proof that the bank had misprinted the account number on the checks might disprove the prosecution’s apparent “open and shut” case.

What I understand from this is that prima facie evidence still needs to be proven in court, but it is enough evidence so that the case will not be dismissed. So with unproven evidence, evidence that can start court proceedings, but without a final verdict on the validity of the case, the government can shut down or block websites.

Atty. Disini said will this law, the government could possibly block such sites as pirate bay based on prima facie evidence that it has violated copyright laws. If there is a social media post that was deemed libelous, then the government can block that post, but if the government doesn’t know how to block that specific post because of some technical issue (like if they don’t have the technical know-how to block embedded files), then the government can resort to blocking the whole social media site.

Disclosure of government information will be harder under the bill, Atty. Disini said. According to the law, if a company or government agency collects unnecessary information, or data that isn’t needed to fulfill that agency’s primary function, then this cannot be disclosed, but necessary information can be disclosed. Why are these agencies collecting unnecessary information? That is a mystery indeed.

Atty. Disini said that now government agencies can have an excuse to not disclose information. They can make things harder for you by asking you to get a court order that compels them to disclose.

Brand Advocacy

Rosario Juan talked about the difference between endorsers and brand advocates, and she discussed why companies should choose to engage brand advocates over endorsers.

She said that endorsers were people with a lot of influence like celebrities, while brand advocates were the loyal customers.

The upside of getting an endorser to advertise your brand is that there are legions of fans who will pay attention to what the endorser says. Thus your brand will get a lot of exposure. The downside is that “this is a one time big time deal,” said Ms. Juan. After the commercial, the billboard, or the event, the endorser has no other incentive to promote your brand.

When it comes to brand advocates they might not have the same level of influence as endorsers, but they are the ones who truly love your brand. It is even possible that thay are already promoting your brand through their social media sites and blogs. Ms. Rosario said that her experience in working with brand advocates led her to believe that companies should work with them.

When Ms. Juan worked for Binalot, they decided to create a tweetup. She invited people who loved Binalot and some people who haven’t tried it yet. They were treated to free food, and all they had to do was to tweet about it.

When she checked up on these people after the event, she discovered that the loyal customers became more loyal to the brand. They were still tweeting about it and writing Facebook statuses even after the event. With just an initial investment, the company spurred on brand advocates to do more free advertisement for the brand.

I don’t have a company yet, but I found this information useful. I’ve always hated it when stores I love close down. I never realized how I can use social media and my blog to help my favorite stores gain more customers.

This strategy works because people listen to their friends. Their friends are usually the people who have similar tastes and interests, so a friend’s recommendation will be persuasive.

Doing something creative will also prompt people to talk about your brand. Ms. Juan recounted how one time Team Manila asked for her home address, and she was like What? Why? They said, “Don’t worry, we’re just sending you an invite.”

When the invite arrived, it was a kit with the words “Ambassador of good vibes.” It was so cool that it prompted her to take a picture of it and post it on Facebook with a status message praising the cool invite. Her post was liked and shared by her friends. It also received lots of comments.

Ms. Juan said that there was also a time when Oishi sent six-feet tall boxes filled with chips to people’s houses. This creative marketing strategy created a lot of excitement as well.

New Jobs and New Blogs

During breaks, Janette Toral, passed around the mike, and asked people to introduce themselves. I discovered that the room was filled with people who had job titles that I’ve never heard of before.  I didn’t realize that there were so many people whose jobs were related to working with social media, blogs, and websites.

Janette Toral also talked about the Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs for 2012, which was a writing contest where people create blog posts about the top 10 new blogs that they like. She traced the history of the blogs that won over the years and analyzed the trends in the blogosphere.

The bloggers who won went onstage and thanked people. One girl was introduced as the one behind Pinay Thrillseeker. I was expecting a sporty alpha female to come up the stage, but instead a frail-looking soft-spoken girl with glasses appeared. In a quivering voice, she thanked everyone saying, “Nakakataba ng puso ang supporta ninyo.” 

I though that girl broke a lot of stereotypes right there and then–the stereotype that travel and adventure should only be for men because traveling alone was “unsafe” for women, and that the only way to be a female adventurer was to be a specific kind of woman–the alpha female, the tough girl. You can be female; you can be shy; you can be geeky, but if your heart wants to go on an adventure, nothing should stop you.

Digital Province

Vanj Padilla is trying to build Pangasinan’s online presence. Her goal is to create websites for all the school newspapers of public schools in her province. She said that she wasn’t techie at all, but she just pushed herself to learn. I admired that. I thought to myself, if she can learn all that techie stuff, then I can do it too.

Sleeping Rules

During the open forum one audience member said, “Ang dami ninyong blogs. Ang dami ninyong ginagawa. Natutulog pa ba kayo?” Ms. Maita Siquijor and Ms. Padilla said their sleeping time was 9p.m. No matter how busy they were, they must be in bed by that time.

I think it’s important to take care of one’s health even if one is doing a lot of things. I wish I will be able to create my own work rhythm and manage my time well.

All in all, I am thankful that I got to attend this summit. I learned a lot, and I hope to attend more events like this!

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Note: For some entries in this blog, a few names and details have been deliberately and willingly changed by the author. This is a personal decision made by the author for specific reasons known to her and is not an endorsement for censorship.

All the opinions expressed in this page and in this blog are my own and do not represent the official stances of the companies, institutions, and organizations that I am affiliated with. I am a person. I’m not just a manifestation of corporate interests. I have an identity that is separate from my company because even if human beings are paid for a service by corporations, human beings are not owned by corporations.

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