Saturday, February 28, 2015

Marketing on Social Media (1)

Note: This is a work in progress and so I am constantly doing more research and putting it all together in a simple, doable fashion that will help people to learn about social media and how they can become social media practitioners themselves, especially if they are on a budget and want to promote something of their own.

As I have been writing my series, new information continues to come out, which helps me to see that there are better ways to organize the information that I am giving to my readers. For this reason, don't be surprised if you find Part I updated along with Part II, and Part III as I continue to write this course. 

Part I (updated three times so far)

I have been trying to learn about marketing on Social Media for a long time, but I keep getting bits and pieces of information, yet never really get a cohesive, structured picture of how it is done.

I realized that oftentimes, this is because people who write about social media will give a little bit of information, but not all. They will leave gaps in between, and then sell you their services.

As a result, I decided to do a little research and write down an orderly approach to social media marketing, with all gaps in between answered. In that way, I will better absorb what I learn and can pass it on to whoever wants to learn, too.

Why Social Media Marketing matters

These days it still feels good to see your byline on a print publication such as a magazine or newspaper. The same could be said for advertising of products, services and gaining traffic to websites and blogs. 

But statistics indicate that 76% of businesses today use social networking; and businesses that introduced social media marketing to its overall marketing strategy saw increased revenue of up to 133%.

Steps for marketing on social media:

1. Have a targeted plan. Plan your social media strategy with your specific target in mind. From there, make sure that everything you do on social media aligns with your target market, and your goals for both your short and long term social media marketing plan.

What goes into making a targeted social media marketing plan?

a. Define your target public. You can know who your target audience is in two ways. First, look at your product and determine who would most be interested in what you are offering.

Ask yourself: What are you selling, and what makes it different from other, similar products that can be bought in major stores? Maybe you are selling rare food items that are difficult to access, such as third wave coffee or extremely high-end olive oil. This means your target audience is likely may be a chef, gourmand or an habitual homemaker epicure.

Who do you want to sell your products to? If your product targets families, you may want to focus on the decision maker of the family, the one who decides how to spend the money. In the earlier mentioned example of selling of rare food items that are hard to access, you are targeting high-end restaurants, hotels, resorts, chefs, gourmets, and families who love to cook and don't mind spending a little bit to experiment with something special. You may also want to include people who are old and health conscious, because a number of high-end products focus on squeezing the total potential health nutients within their food products for the benefit of the consumer.

Why should people buy from you? Whether you are selling a product or a service, you have to offer more than just your product/service to convince people to buy from you. Do you sell from a store? If so, are you open 24 hours? Do you run an online store? Free delivery of items would be an added convenience to consumers. Or, you could offer package deals with discounts. It's all up to you.

At this point you have analyzed your product, and figured out why people would have an easier and more pleasant experience buying from your website. The next stage of the job is to know your market better.

Know your market

Demographics: This is the best way to know your market. Are you only selling in your community? Do you sell statewide? Nationwide? Overseas? You have to know the demographic you are reaching for, because this is where you will focus your marketing efforts.

Next you want to zero into your target market in a focused way. Ask yourself:

1. Who is your primary market? Maybe your products can be used by a wide range of people. But you want to identify your IDEAL consumer. This is your target market, and this is where you focus.

2. Get first hand contact with your ideal audience. Join a food fair or convention featuring products similar to yours. This will get you involved with your ideal buyer, and give you a chance to oversee strategies of your competition -- especially your strongest competition. Doing this is an important part of your overall strategy plan, and it will augment your online media source of data and information that can beef up knowledge of your ideal buyer.

Seek out potential customers and ask for informal feedback. For example, if your product is food, offer taste tests, then have a handy laptop where they can fill out survey questions that are vital such as You can, for example, hire a food booth in a food fare and offer free taste of your your ideal audience' name, economical status, food preferences, preferred condiment, and social media sites that they frequent. 

Find out if they've ever bought a food product online, and why or why not. (Especially important if you have an online store). Prepare surprise gift rewards for those who fill a survey that will help you more keenly know your ideal audience. 

Have a raffle afterwards and offer a free sample product to the survey winner. Take pictures and upload them on your website.

3. Publications: You may also be able to find information in publications, which may track demographics, sales information, trends in your industry, and other useful consumer information through:

Learn their obvious characteristics. Once you have settled on your demographic and ideal audience, you can expand beyond learning the obvious special characteristics of your market. You can get a lot of information about your ideal audience by social media that will not be covered in a form. this can include local values, preferences in pop culture, general likes and dislikes, etc. You are looking for patterns in these types of information that can guide you in the look of your website and how it will function;  the content that you will put on your website, the ads you will make for your products, your website blog, and the like.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why The Ostrich is Lovable, Mating, at Paradizoo

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

Okay, I know there are misgivings about zoos. But Paradizoo is so spacious and lovely, and the animals are the sweetest things ever. They don't look sad or feel caged.

I'm saying this because I love zoos. Everywhere we've been, I always ask my husband if we can see the zoo. I remember one zoo where a monkey was in a cage. The monkey loved to be touched. He put out his arms so we could touch him, then turned his back so we could rub it, then put his head against the cage. When we walked away he tried to follow us to the other end of his cage, so we went back and touched and rubbed him as much as we could.  That was a sad monkey and a bad zoo.

At Paradizoo you can see that the animals enjoy a huge space, and they love people. The ostrich had the sweetest face, ever. We fed it, and it seemed to be smiling.
That's our guide. He had 1,001 facts about every single animal, flower and organic vegetable grown in Paradizoo.

In this photo he is holding some seeds and the ostrich is bowing its head down to get it. It also is a sign of submission, most likely because the ostrich knows the guide well.

The ostrich looked so sweet and grateful after my husband fed it. Our pleasant guide, who is smiling in the middle, urged us to feed the ostrich with the seeds in our palms. He said it would only hurt a little. Well, I did and the ostrich bit enthusiastically, and it has no teeth but its beak had force. More than anything, I felt very bonded to this lovely big bird.

That's the sweetie in the shade. Some interesting things I learned about ostriches:

1. This one's a guy because it's black. The girls are brown.
2. Ostriches run when they're in danger. A single ostrich kick can kill a lion.
3. Ostriches don't really bury their heads in the ground. But when they're in danger they lie really flat on the ground so only their bodies show like mounds.
4. Ostriches can live without water longer than camels, because they get their water from the plants they eat. But if they see water, they'll drink it because like Mt. Everest, it's there.
5. Ostriches can carry people on their backs and some people have ostrich races.
6. If you're in a truck and an ostrich is running after you, you can push its neck to keep it away. That will work for awhile.
7. Ostriches use their wings for balance, especially if they're turning a curve.
8. The ostrich mating dance is quite romantic. In the video below, the black one is the male.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

How to Upcycle an Old Suitcase

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

I love to upcycle and I hate to throw stuff away. I used to use this broken suitcase as a garbage bucket, where I'd put a large garbage bag in and change it weekly. (I would also clean the "garbage bag suitcase" weekly).

One day I had a feeling my sister was not impressed with my upcycled garbage bag. So, I made it into a dog bed. It worked out very well, because I discovered a lot of our pillows were no longer useful. (That's another blog).

I learned how to upcycle old pillows in several different ways. One way is to make a dog bed. I knew the suitcase was clean because every week I cleaned it with hydrogen peroxide with every garbage bag change. So I gave it one more clean, filled it with pillows, added throw pillows (we have too many of them) and covered it with a soft quilt and throw.

The bed was intended for Winniechurchill, which is why her picture is on it. This is because only Mocha is allowed to sleep on the bed with us. But Winniechurchill waits until we're all asleep, then she climbs on the bed and I wake up with her snuggled at my feet.

To my surprise, it was Mocha who loved the bed, not Winnie. Mocha still sleeps at night with us, but the dog bed is her afternoon or day bed and at night, sometimes she'll stay in the dog bed before going to bed with us when we sleep.

You'll notice some black streaks on the white pillow. Mocha moved the quilt and throw underneath and sleeps straight on the pillows, as she likes our scent. These pillows used to be on our bed. The black streaks are textile paint when I was working on another project.

Well -- at least one dog likes the dog bed.

Friday, February 20, 2015

What Was Baclayon Church Like Before the Evil Storm Surge

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

We visited Baclayon Church just a few months before the earthquake and then the storm surge came and swept and broke a number of its pillars. This is the church that has one pillar that shows the face of Padre Pio. That pillar is still standing.

 Baclayon is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines and, until the two natural tragedies -- was also one of the best preserved.

It was built by the Jesuits but by the 19th century, a modern facade was added so you are confused as to where the original church begins and the new additional facade picks up.

Under the Spaniards, churches had to be tall, strong and sturdy structures because when there were typhoons or storms the people would run to these churches for cover.

Baclayon was the first seat of the Spanish missionaries in Bohol. They were Jesuits and they came in 1595. However, attacks from Muslims forced them to move inland to Loboc.

Initially the church was still a pretty basic structure, nothing fancy. By 1717, Baclayon was a new parish and serious construction began.  Filipino forced labor, some 200 of them,  grabbed coral stones from the sea which they would square and block and pile one atop the other.

Some one million egg whites were used to cement the stones together. When the church was complete in 1727, it had a dungeon (to punish errant Filipinos), and an old convent which today houses a museum or church relics, some dating to the 1600s. Of special interest (to me, at least) are books that had carabao skin covers, and Latin librettos covered with sheep skins.

I was amused to see this historic building also had its own reflexo-foot therapy. With limited transportation in those days you wondered if similar foot therapy existed and was often practiced.

On the ceiling and to the left you can see samples of cuadro paintings that date back to 1859. They were the works of Liberato Gatchalian.

Baclayon Church is called La Purisima Concepcion de la Virgen Maria Parish, or the Immaculate Conception church.  The National Museum of the Philippines declared the church a National Cultural Treasure. It was also named a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. It was formerly among the tentative list of Philippine UNESCO World Heritage sites. However, it was severely destroyed by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013, which was quickly followed by the storm surge.

I couldn't understand why it had so many towers and support pillars, but two of them are belfries. Many of the side towers were destroyed by the earthquake just a few months after our visit. We were fortunate to see it in its original beauty.

One of the support pillars has a "miraculous" image of Padre Pio on it. It just suddenly appeared, and people were very touched by that. This pillar was not affected by the storm.

The Baclayon Pipe Organ, built in 1824, is the third oldest in the Philippines. Over time it deteriorated to a splash of pipes on the floor, the food of termites. However, its bellows remained intact, and the organ was modified in 1902.

More indoor action.

 What I especially liked were these rounded arches, strong pillars and old walls.

And, I was surprised by the fact that they tied bottles to the trees. I asked why, and they said that it helps to make the fruit come out faster. I tried googling trees tied to bottles. Apparently, this reason is a first.

I did find a Blue bottle tree tradition that is meant to keep evil spirits away. I'm not worried about evil spirits, but the tree looks kinda cool.

 I fell in love with this tiny cottage and its magical old doors.

How to get there: Baclayon is 6 km. east of Tagbilaran. You can travel by bus,  jeepney  or tricycle. Tell the driver you want to go to Baclayon church and ask him to remind you when you're there. But keep an eye out for it yourself, too. Best to depend on yourself, but two brains also give you double the chance of success for the simple reason that two minds are at work.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Music and Mito's Place

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

Last night our (Ed's and my) friend Cindy invited us to Mito's Place, which is in 138 Aguirre St., BF Paranaque. She suggested that we go there at 9 pm so that we could here this fantastic singer, Michael Puyat.

When we arrived, Cindy was already with a group of people, including (Only first names) Elena, Michelle, and about four other guys. (Sorry, I forgot their names, too but they were very nice). It turned out, Michelle is the wife of the singer, Michael.

My husband wouldn't let me take any photos so I have had to borrow this logo from Mito's website. But come to think of it, videos are so much more fun. So, before I tell you that their four cheese pizza is to die for and is large in size and has a tasty thin crust at a reasonable price considering its size, (oh, and did I mention that I loved how the cheese flowed over the sides? Makes you feel rich), let me give you a sample of Michael Puyat's smooth singing style.

Nifty, yes? Can you imagine hearing that for over an hour on a cool night with interesting people? And on top of that, Michael doesn't mind sharing the spotlight. There were others who he asked to sing whose names escape me, but they were also good. But Michael is exceptional. He has a range that is amazing and he controls his voice very well, really bringing out new meanings to lovely old songs (although he did also sing Jason Mraz).

Now, I didn't know that Richard Merk was sitting in another table until Cindy told me. I never dreamed, however, that he'd actually sing. Let me tell you, I have yet to hear anyone sing a Stevie Wonder song and give justice to it, much less one of my favorite Stevie Wonder songs.

And then, someone was singing Knocks Me Off My Feet, and giving it a jazzy touch, and a quirky fantastic ending, which made this song totally unforgettable. And for the first time in my life I was madly infatuated with Richard Merk. Because I have watched American Idol for years, and sometimes The Voice and I always wonder what gives people the audacity to sing a Stevie Wonder song. Until now.

Sadly, I couldn't find a YouTube video of Merk singing that song, but here's a great one of him singing with his mom, Annie Brazil.

So you can just imagine what a great night it was. Thanks Cindy, for inviting us and for bearing with my infatuation overdose blues over we knows whose. Loveya, gal pal.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What Happens When the Roosters Crow?

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

There is absolutely no scary movie about roosters. There is no scary movie called "When the Rooster Crows". The only scary movie I googled about roosters is Rooster Teeth. But I have a nagging suspicion that roosters have no teeth.

When my sister Sami was a baby, there was a rooster near our house that suddenly crowed. She cried so loud, Dad spent almost an hour trying to calm her down. He smiled at her tenderly and asked her, "Do you want me to kill the rooster?"

Roosters scare babies, that's it.

I was delighted seeing this man with his rooster at the terminal for tricycles. He allowed me to touch it, and proudly placed it on the ground to show me how well trained the rooster is. It never strayed from its owner.

It was just a sweet moment of the day, but I will never forget how much he loved his rooster, And I loved that rooster too. If I didn't have dogs I'd have a pet chicken.

We should all be thankful for special moments like this, don't you think?

Monday, February 16, 2015

What is The Coolest Way to Save Money?

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

I plan to save P68,900 by the end of the year. This chart to your left is the most doable approach I have ever seen in my lifetime.

I'm gonna spend the money on a vacation for the family here in the Philippines. If there's some money left over, I'll start putting it into stocks or a mutual fund or something.
Where did this amazing, doable money plan come from? Only from the most fantastic Filipina blogger I have ever come across. Her name is Kuripot Pinoy  and if you visit her site, you will find different ways to adjust this format to suit your earnings.

This has inspired me all year so far (it being only February). And, I'm passing this onto you. I visited Kuripot Pinoy today and found out SHE'S GETTING MARRIED. Good things happen to good people who show you good ways to live a life where dreams are reachable.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

How to Get Wonderful Freebies From Olay

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

I'm not lucky in raffles, and the only freebies I got online were stickers for a cause I never even knew existed.

But a friend I met told me there are lots of good things online, and she sent me a link to prove it.

I was shocked to receive this wonderful body lotion from Olay -- and a second body lotion for my husband! Plus, discounts for really wonderful products both useful and opulent.

I fell in love with Oil of Olay all day moisturizer when my sister Terrie send me some from Kansas. To my surprise, it actually diminished my eyebags to a reasonable level.

So getting this Olay body wash was most welcome. It is so soft on your skin that you feel completely babied.  It lingers after your bath, like a good body wash lotion should. I just smelled my arm right now and it's totally odor free from my bath last night.

Ole' for Olay. (Corny but I couldn't resist it). And the certificates were just delightful. They included Head and Shoulders and fabric conditioners which I gave to my husband since he always does the marketing. And for me, all the other fun stuff like Olay Regenerist and Olay White Radiance, Pantene Shampoo, Vidal Sassoon shampoo, Herbal Essence shampoo, and an Oral B Power Care toothbrush.

Life is so very, very good.

Friday, February 13, 2015

How to Use Hair Conditioner in Different Ways

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

I hate to throw things away. That's why these two bottles of hair conditioner stayed in my bathroom for a few years. They were freebies when I bought my hair dye.

But in the process of organizing my house I had to decide what to use, throw, upcycle, et. al. So I googled hair conditioner to see what other ways it can be used.

One way recommended was as shampoo. Hair conditioner isn't as bubbly so I had to double the dose and make sure the whole hair was covered. Afterwards I loved how easy it was to comb my hair, and I loved the way my hair fell quite naturally and followed its natural tendency to curve outwards at the ends.

Here I am wearing hair conditioner only, no shampoo. Seems quite right, don't you think? And my husband says it smells just as well. However, I don't plan to do this every day. There will be days when you will need something stronger and I will likely shampoo twice or thrice a week. But using just conditioner (from the hair dye) has kept my white roots at bay longer than usual.

Other alternatives for hair conditioner: You can use it to spray your curtains to add a sweet scent to your room. So, stop throwing away those free packets of hair conditioner. They are very useful. For more uses, try going here:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How to Heal a Dust Allergy With Hydrogen Peroxide

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

All my life I thought I was allergic to dust. Now I know better – it’s mites living in dust balls that are the enemy. The dust allergy always happened in my bedroom, so I cleaned it (every two days) but would end up with a worse allergy of unstoppable sneezing, nasal congestion, and nose and throat itching. A whole roll of toilet paper could be used up in one night. Only a Sinutab capsule could preserve our toilet paper supply.

I noticed that of my three dogs, only one of them, Ashley Belle Pumpernickel, exacerbated this “dust” allergy. But I would (theoretically) slash every particle of dust with a scythe before even considering banning Ashley from the bedroom.
It helped to clean with a surgeon’s mask on, but it was also tedious to wear. I’d clean all my countertops, shelves, everything on top of countertops and on shelves, change sheets weekly, and curtains monthly. Nada.

Then one day on Facebook I saw a list of many alternative uses of hydrogen peroxide. Now, there are two kinds of hydrogen peroxide. They both come in white bottles but one has blue lettering and the other has red. I replaced all my cleansers (including super strong mold cleaners) with the red one, which is stronger, because by then I had a mad fixation of hatred for germs.

Short story – I don’t deal with sneezing allergies at night anymore.

Here are some pointers on cleaning with hydrogen peroxide:

  1. It’s much cheaper than normal cleaners, and more effective than expensive super strong cleansers.
  2. Unlike alcohol, hydrogen peroxide will not disturb paint or varnish.
  3. It’s painful. Don’t let it touch your hands while cleaning. Use a big rag, or (in my case) a thick wad of cotton that is changed several times in a cleaning session (just because I love to look at all the dirt that I have destroyed).
  4. Before you clean the floor with hydrogen peroxide, sweep those dust bunnies up, throw them in a trash bag and stash that trash bag in the garbage bin outside. (But I confess, I have sometimes flushed the dust bunnies down the toilet – not a good long term solution if you love your plumbing system).
  5. For your dog – get a good shampoo for the skin and hair and bathe twice weekly. Your dog will be very grateful for this.
  6. Get a dehumidifier. It will control your dust mite population.

About dust mites (and how they led me to love hydrogen peroxide)
  1. Dust mites emit enzymes that break down human cells to enter our bodies. They are contemptuous douchebags.
  2. Dust mites hang around your house all year. You can’t kill all of them but you can control their population.
  3. When you see a dust bunny, rejoice. You are about to rid yourself of some 19,000 contemptuous dust mites. Okay, that’s thinking positively. A typical dust ball will have only up to 500 of them.  
  4. Dust mites eat dead human and pet skin cells. They are the scum of the earth, literally.

Now, back to hydrogen peroxide – if you want to know other uses of it, go to