SEO, SEM, Big data, content marketing, newsjacking, social media, UX, visual storytelling are all key words for digital marketing, but what are the 5 key things we need to know for digital marketing? Watch my video ūüôā



Storytelling is the most basic yet most powerful tool in communication. It is the quickest way for people to make connection.

Visual storytelling is gradually become more important as more photo and video based social platforms come to life. Photo and video are more likely to be shared than purely text. So here I am, trying to step forward and catch up with the “visual” trend. Enjoy the infographic!
content marketing

David Meerman Scott popularized the term “newsjacking“. He defines it as the process of injecting your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business. Newsjacking is a tactical, short-term, low rewarded marketing tool.431411

When I first heard the concept of newsjacking, I thought of the techniques of surfing. Back in the days, my coach taught me to observe the waves and find the perfect moment and be quick to ride on the peak of wave. That is exactly how newsjacking works as well. So here are the lessons I have learned from surfing and how it can apply to newsjacking:

Lesson 1: Observe the ocean and watch the waves (Real time)

As marketers, we need to continuously observe and pay attention closely to news events. Follow news real time and always be ready to pick up the news and start injecting your ideas. Newsjacking is real time marketing that uses current event to create conversation with audience and create buzz.

Lesson 2: Find the perfect moment and act fast

Marketers¬†need to inject our ideas when the news is breaking even before journalists scramble for additional information. Marketers need to act fast and increase your media exposure as the news event get more attention.¬†According to Scott, social media makes a fine tool, “real- time is a mindset.” When the time is right, marketers need to react to the breaking news quickly and injecting creativity with the message.



Lesson 3: Predict the wave time or wait for unexpected

Breaking news events are like waves, you might be able to know approximately when the wave will be strong base on your knowledge. However, most of the time we cannot predict them. Scott points out that there are two variations of newsjacking. The first one involve planning around events that are known in advance. The second ones, a more interesting approach, is to jump on stories that is totally unpredictable. Keep your eyes on interesting stories.

Lesson 4: Be careful of the bad weather (bad news)

Bad weather is just as uncontrollable as negative news. We need to be careful when we try to newsjack negative news. Non-profit organization usually is exempt from the risks. Because non-profit organizations are contributing to something thoughful, positive and meaningful even at times of bad news. Bad news can remind people to contribute and help people in need.

Lesson 5: Find a right surfing board for you (the right channel and right content)

Finding a right surfing board will make your surf smoother or faster, just as finding the right channel and content to spread. Newsjacking isn’t just about finding the right timing. You need to understand the news event and get a good handle of it, then create meaningful and relevant content. The right content will make people want to share it, the right channel can make people see it and spread it faster.

An example of NGO newsjacking

After Oreo’s “Dunk in the dark” tweet became so well-known in 2013, newsjacking is no longer a new concept. Many companies start to pay more attention to current events as they prepare for marketing on social media. Non-profit organizations were making effort to use newsjacking. This year’s Oscar was a great time for companies to newsjack. I found the organization called “Stand up to cancer” tried to attract attention¬†on their Facebook¬†post.



Stand Up To Cancer posted a photo on Facebook and wrote “Watching the Oscars? How about this for ‘Best Picture’?” Within 3 hours, this post generated more than 7800 likes and 1200 shares. People instantly start talking about the post and spread the word of “people who are fighting cancer are the true winners.” In 24 hours, this post has won 14046 likes and 2450 shares. Normally their posts would only make around 600 likes, but this one post made exceptional result because of newsjacking. Newsjacking is a powerful tool when you use it right.



Be observant, act quickly and make smart move will make you a good surfer as well as a marketer. Start newsjacking.


Social media is like a mysterious box. You never know what will happen next. I was surprised to see so many posts related to Airbnb at the night of March 15th, and started reading through some posts to find out what happened.

Ari Teman, a comedian with more than 2000 followers on twitter, has been a loyal user of Airbnb to rent out his apartment in Chelsea, New York City. His experience with Airbnb has been positive, until this one. A guy name David rented Ari’s apartment for March 14th, claimed that his brother and sister in law were “visiting for a wedding”. That night, Ari Teman stopped by his apartment to pick up a suitcase and found that “David” has gathered a group of people for a orgy party in his apartment.

Ari quickly searched the renter’s phone number and found a tweet advertising $20 dollars for an “XXX Freak Fest” at his address. He called the police and tweeted out to @Airbnb.


As Ari Teman tweet out to Airbnb, the news went viral on Buzzfeed, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. He even wrote an open letter to Airbnb complaining about the situation. Ari got over ¬†$87,076 in loss because of the damage in the apartment. He was also evicted by his landlord. This incident reminded many Airbnb users of risks associated with renting your own home to complete strangers. This is not a story about Ari Teman or the guy “David” but Airbnb.

So how did they respond to this mess?

Aribnb’s response was quick.

Airbnb tweeted back to Ari after an hour stating: We’re really sorry to hear that. We’re working on it and will be back to you soon.” They immediately sent a locksmith to replace¬†the lock of Ari’s apartment, made plans to accomodate Ari in a hotel for a week¬†and wired Ari $23,817 to make up some of his loss.

Airbnb wanted their users to know that this incident were rare, so they announced a statement regarding the situation on Gawker:



April 11th, Airbnb announced a update in the terms of service (hopefully they amended it to prevent similar incidents).

Four lessons learned from Airbnb:

1. Be prepared

We all know crisis is unpredictable. In the digital era, social media is the most used communication channel. When something goes wrong, it is convenient for customers to complain on social media platforms. Be prepared.¬†Social media should play an important role in company’s communication strategy and make sure there will be someone (human) responding to the posts or tweets.

2. Respond quickly

When a social media crisis happens, don’t sit back and wait for miracles. Respond quickly and take responsible actions. Company should react to the problems as soon as they know about it. The first 24 hours are crucial.

3. Take responsibility and be sorry

In the Airbnb case, we clearly know that Airbnb did not make sure the “verified user” was really verified. Despite all the legal issues, Airbnb was responsible for the incident. They quickly took actions to fix the problem and admitted the mistake they have made.

4. Legal team, PR and Marketing team should work together.

Legal team can help to solve the incident and make adjustment to policies preventing future crisis. PR team should quickly respond to the crisis and make press release regarding the issue to show that the company is actively solving the problem. Marketing can rebuild users’ trust by articulating their process of verifying users and the positive experience of other users. It is interesting to know that if you read through Airbnb’s twitter feed, you will not find a single tweet related to the issue. Instead, you see tweets about the happy feeling associated with traveling.

Oh! you are reading my blog. This action might tell something about you. You are probably my classmates, my lovely professor, or you are really into marketing. Every little action we have on the web will become a tiny part of the big data. Every click, every tweet, every check-in, every view tells something about ourselves. Big data, contains all those information for millions of people. ¬†When we want to predict how people react to a new campaign or new store layout, Big data is there to play the magic. However, as we all know magic doesn’t work every single time. Big data has its limitation as well.

“Big data is high volume, high velocity, and/or high variety information assets that require new forms of processing to enable enhanced decision making, insight discovery and process optimization.” Gartner

What is the value of big data?

In an article I read, the process of using big data looks like this :


Data itself doesn’t mean anything. We need to use data to gather information and discover insights of people. Through analysis of data we can get to know the answers of what people really want, when do people want it, how can we reach them, and how do they like us to reach them. ¬†Information and technology help us to understand the patterns of past data and more accurately predict the trends. The better you predict the trends, the better you can alter the outcome into a favorable direction.¬†I surely have heard about this process somewhere, uh-huh, my statistics class. If data can help us do the same thing,¬†then why do we need BIG data? Getting more data enhances the chance to find useful information to make better prediction.

We are living in the era of big data. Spotify’s “recommended playlist”, Amazon’s “Customers Who Bought Items in Your Recent History Also Bought”, Netflix’s “recommended shows” and Gilt’s “Your personal sales” are all done through big data. They knows what you have bought, what you have looked at, how long did you spend on certain product and they can even predict how likely you will buy another similar product.

Success user of BIG data:



Netflix gives viewers what they want. ¬†According to the article I read, Netflix looks at 30 million “plays” a day, ratings of subscribers, three million searches, what time do people watch shows and on what device. Netflix even look at when do people pause, rewind and fast forward. Netflix¬†used big data to understand its users and¬†even know what shows people will like before they do.

Limitation of Big data:

More data does not mean good data. In the process I shown above, after we collect data, we still need to analyze them and convert data into insights/information. Marketers are still needed to decide what data to collect, and interpret the meaning behind data. If big data is the magic, then marketers are the magicians. Marketers can’t rely solely on big data. Data can only tell you the past preference or past behaviors of people, but how accurate can we use it to predict the future? We don’t know. Data might show that a good story can capture people’s attention for a longer time, but data cannot tell you what story to tell or how to tell the story. Marketers should use big data as a tool to better understand customers and improve marketing strategy instead of following what big data tells you.



When I think of brands, I think of the stories behind them.¬†When I need to buy something, I tend to choose the brand I know/I like/I love. When I make a purchase, “brand ” gives me a sense of trust and security.¬†That’s how brands have a connection with me at times like that.

Recently I read an article “To keep your customers, keep it simple”¬†by Harvard Business Review that points out people don’t necessarily want a relationship with brands. ¬†The study analyzed more than 40 variables of how people interact with brands and found “decision simplicity” (the ease to gather trustworthy information about a product and the efficiency to weigh purchase options) is what customers really want. The study shows that people’s top reason to connect online are: to get information and discounts and to buy things. Understanding what customers want and keep their purchase journey short and simple will win their purchases.

Another article from New York Times Riding the Hashtag in Social Media Marketing holds a different point of view. It suggest that brands need to involve customers, keep connection with customer and finally win their heart and purchases.

What do you think? Is simplicity enough for keeping the customer in a long run?

In my opinion, simplicity is crucial to maintain “stickiness” of a customer¬†but it is not enough. Both of the articles have strong logical reasoning behind conclusions, but I think the two of them combine make a better strategy. Make the process simple and easy for people “stick to the brand”, then engage them with contents/stories to keep them around. When brands¬†think building relationship is not as important as transactions, then they are only think about short-term goals. Digital relationship building is for the long-term. It may not increase your profitability in a short-term, but the customers connection may keep you in business.

Three key factors to build digital relationships

1What-do-your-customers-really-want.Understand what customers really want.

When customers use social media, what do they really want? Do they want discounts, information, brand stories, channel to give feedback, or a way to interact with brand? Learn their needs and give them what they want with simplicity in mind. Also know about what content your customers want to share. A New York Times study show that people are more likely to share valuable and entertaining contents to other and share causes that they passionate about. The more you understand what they want, the more they share, they like and they support your brand.

2.Building trust, building relationship is the cornerstone of digital marketing.

People tend to choose a brand that is known and well-liked than a lesser known brand. When a customer do not even know your brand, he/she would probably choose others over your brand no matter how simple the purchasing process is. Just as the article Riding the Hashtag in Social Media Marketing mentioned, Gary Vaynerchuk creates conversation that make people know about his brand VaynerMedia. When people see others are actively engaging with a brand,especially people they know, they tend to have stronger trust in the brand. So creating buzz on social media, sometimes will open the door to customers’ heart for you.

3.Reciprocity in Digital Marketing is important.

We tend to like a person more when he/she do something kind for us. Same thing apply to brands. When a brand share/retweet its fan’s content, that fan must be excited and LOVE that brand more. That fan would probably become a more active supporter of the brand and make repeat purchases. Treat your customers/ followers¬†better. Give them little surprises or customized discount when you know what they want. Give, Give,Give then ask for a favor. A favor can be as small as retweeting, generate ideas for new product or even convince them to become part of the loyalty program. Brands can use digital marketing to interact with customers and make them evangelist of your brand.


People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

Emotional memory will stay with us the longest. As marketers, we want to make our brands most appealing or most memorable. How can we use people’s emotion to capture their attention? After the Superbowl, almost all my classmates would talk about the Budweiser Puppy Love commercial. It tells a affective story that make people feel the happiness of love. Maybe the commercial wasn’t completely linked to the Budweiser’s products, but the story surely stayed in people’s minds. Storytelling has the most strategic importance in intriguing people’s emotion/feelings.

I recently read an article from Harvard Business Review blog about Why/How “puppy love” succeed in the crowds of SuperBowl Ads. Surprisingly, this little “story” has the same structure of Shakespeare’s plays, it includes an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and a final outcome in just 30 seconds. We felt distressed when they saw the puppy whines and put his little paws on the window when he depart the puppy adoption place. We can almost felt the sadness of the¬†Clydesdale when he looked at the puppy. Then we saw the¬†Clydesdales stopped the car from leaving and reunited with the puppy. We had a little “awe” moment right there.

Paul Zak has done a study on how storytelling affect our brain and our behaviors. In a series of studies, Zak has shown that when people watch a short, sad story about a father and a son, two neurochemicals are produced.

1. Cortisol-when people feel distress, this neurochemicals encourage them to pay attention to story.

2. Oxytocin-this neurochemicals promotes connection and empathetic feeling. Oxytocin also make people more generous.

Paul Zak’s study also show that oxytocin’s ability to help us connect and make us more trusting. In one of his studies, participants under the influence of oxytocin are more likely to give more money to charity. Zak said “This research suggests that advertisers use images that cause our brains to release oxytocin to build trust in a product or brand, and hence increase sales.”

Telling a story is not enough. Telling a good story that include a climax and final outcome is crucial. Storytelling with visuals is even more effective in building trust.

I read another article that also talks about emotion in marketing. In the article , the author mentioned the result of an analysis of IPAdataBank: advertising campaigns that use purely emotional contents work twice as well as just rational contents.

We don’t need scientist to tell us emotions are important in marketing.¬†I still remember Dove’s “Real beauty campaign”; I still remember Coca Cola’s “one-hundred years old man sharing secret of happiness” ad; They are certainly very effective because I still remember these ads by heart.

A picture is worth a million words. People get the most direct feeling when they saw a picture, no matter it is a happy one or a sad one. Storytelling is powerful. Storytelling equipped with visual is more effective.

As I wrote in one of my blog post about NGO websites, most NGO’s website looks like an informational brochure. NGO try so hard to throw all the information onto their audiences and forget their main goal is to make people feel the meaningfulness of what they are doing.Tell people a story behind the scene. Tell people how their donation make those suffered a little happier. Tell people stories that intrigue oxytocin. Tell people story with powerful visuals and capture their attention longer.

Little bit by Perrin Lamb (play it, it will make you happy)

We were all born with a kind heart. With this heart, we show solicitude¬†to our love ones, we smile to people who helped us, we give support to help people achieve their dreams. We appreciated the little things others have done for us. We also feel good for little things we do for others.¬†The powerful Google created a platform for people to “give a little, change a lot”- One Today App.


One Today highlights a different organization everyday and allow users to donate as little as $1 a day.  Users can view and share  details of the organization right in the app. You can also share information of your donation to all your social media platforms or just do good secretly. If you want to raise more money for the organization, you can match your friends to make more donation. For every dollar you donate, there will be a 2 cents payment processing cost and the rest will all go to the organization you selected ( which I think it is a standard for online transactions). Non-profit organization can simply register on OneToday website to let people learn about you and raise money for meaningful projects. Yes, it works both ways.



I came across this app when I was looking for a NGO app. OneToday grabbed my heart immediately, the logo of One Today look so simple and clean and it is developed by Google. The layout of the app is very pleasing and easy on eyes. It shows a “happy or positive tone” photo of the project that reminds you the happiness of doing good. Then as you scroll down, you immediate see “How your $1 help”. The app highlights the most important information with a larger font that makes it attention grabbing.

According to a study, an average app session time (from opening an app to closing it) only lasts 71.56 seconds. So when it comes to app, SIMPLICITY is the key to success.

One Today perfectly illustrate simplicity of an app for the following aspect:

  • Simply discover: ¬†Showcase One charity project a day. Even ones you have never discover.
  • Simply donate: ¬†One dollar a day by pressing One button. You can simply pledge the donation to the organization by tapping the gift box button. You can choose to pay one by one or accumulate the amount.
  • Simply track:¬†You can simply track your progress of impacting the world. You simply feel good about yourself.
  • Simply share: You can simply spread the love by sharing with your friends and family. You can also match your friends to donate their $1.

I love this app, it definitely worth that little time to download it.

It is not just an App.

It is a platform that connects kind hearts.

It is a community for good people.

It is a marketing platform for NGOs.

It is a simple way to be a better you and make a better world.

“Due to the replacement of the water pipe, we will be out of water from 1o:00 am – 3:00pm during the day.” My apartment building sent out an email last week, I carelessly deleted it without a glance. Maybe I was thinking I could live without water for just an couple hours, ha, I was wrong.

When you always have your loved one around, you will not realize how important he/she is. The same thing apply to water.

It was an total hazardous day. I had no water to brush my teeth, wash my face,take a shower, cook noodles, and flush my toilet. It was only for a few hours. I can hardly imagine people who are living without even just one drop of clean water.


I saw this little quote from’s twitter feed and learned that hundreds of thousands people died from the lack of clean water everyday. I curiously click on a video about them to find out more information. has done tremendous work to help those in need and built stronger community in less developed countries. I was touched by the work they have been doing, but not so much for their website.


The layout of the website seems very clean at first glance, at least above the fold. As I scroll down, I feel that the organization is throwing a lot of information on me. Also,¬†I have a hard time looking at the navigation menu because all words are capitalized.¬†There are almost too much graphics that distract me from finding the right information. It seem like is trying really hard to “sell” me their concept, efforts and projects.¬†I like the color tone of blue and white, which reflects the personality of the organization. However, I would love to see a website that clearly pinpoint the importance or impact of what they are doing and how we can help.’s website is responsive on phone and tablet, but I think they can better arrange the order of information shown on mobile website. provide a lot of educational information about water crisis on their website. I was shocked when looking at the number of people who suffer from contaminated water.


I really can’t go without clean water for even a few hours. Can you?

Maybe we can all donate our voice and money to help making the world a little better.If you want to help, maybe you can DONATE now?

Wouldn’t you feel good when people compliment you? ¬†

“You look beautiful today.” “You are such a good friend.” “You have good tastes.” “You ¬†let me feel the warmth of the world.”

What would be THE BEST compliment you want to hear? Sometimes it is difficult to think of one, because you know your uniqueness is more than one sentence of compliment.

For me, there is one sentence that will light up my little inner world: You are so special.

DSCF0692(I bought this little sticker during my trip in Cancun)

Yes, Mama always says “You are special.” to me. As I grow up, I find out that it is not easy to be special in this universe. There are too many people who look alike, act alike, dress alike and even¬†think alike. I start to doubt my uniqueness. Yet, there are moments when I still feel I am special to people.¬†


From time to time, I will receive friends’ postcard from all over the world. ¬†I guess, in this busy world, I must have something special to let¬†people ¬†actually take time to handwrite me a postcard. Oh, maybe you are thinking “why don’t I have any friends who would send me postcards?”, don’t worry, you must have something else special in you. What about doing ¬†a self-assessment test?

In my digital marketing class, my professor¬†gave us a chance to find out more about ourselves. She asked us to take Sally Hogshead’s¬†Fascination Test¬†. A test that will tell you how other people perceive you and how you can fascinate people. Sally Hogshead had a inspiring Ted Talk explaining the seven triggers of fascination: Power, Mystique, Passion, Prestige, Alarm, Vice/Rebellion and Trust. These 7 triggers forms 49 archetypes (personality).

So here is my result:


I am the “Talent” who is expressive, stylish, emotionally intelligent. ¬†(Ha, that little blue number under the chart made me feel special.) My primary trigger is Passion which enable me to create strong and immediate emotional connections with people, communicate expressively and have an attractive personal and professional style of interaction. ¬†I love making new friends and quickly build strong emotional bonds with them. Many times, my friends would told me they felt that we have known each other for years while we might have just met. Maybe the Passion trigger speaks to why people would send me postcards and why I am special to them. ¬†My secondary trigger is Prestige. People with prestige trigger can “rapidly gain respect from others, motivate people for higher quality deliverables, pay attention to the smallest details.” After last semester’s campaign project, I was told that my high standard for myself really motivated my teammates to try harder.

Before I took this test, I actually wrote down some keywords for my self. I think I am :enthusiastic, sensitive, detail-oriented, passionate, caring, ambitious, social, optimistic, humorous. And here is the list of keyword I got from the test: enthusiastic, expressive, intuitive, social, impulsive, ambitious, detail-oriented, recognized, uncompromising, focused. ( the matched keywords were bolded) I am surprised that test result accurately describes my traits and the keywords matches up. 

Want to find out more about yourself and how you can fascinate others? Take the Fascination Test!


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