Before the vlogs, before the hashtags, before doing it for the gram, and before the dancing Tiktoks, there were blogs: the original summary of all different social media platforms bundled into one. A blog could have your photo albums like Instagram, your rants and short thoughts like Twitter, your daily diary like BeReal, your how-to kit like YouTube, and your little mashup of everything like Facebook. Bloggers were the influencers before the influencers. They were the ones invited to brand events to write about their experiences, in hopes of going viral for the world to see. Bloggers are the OG content creators of the digital marketing landscape. So how has this fast paced dancing ting ting ting video world changed through the years?
Our main subject to help shepherd us through the current state of the content creation world is Vince Golangco, the founder and CEO of wheninmanila.com. Wheninmanila.com is one of the earliest viral blogs that had all the information you needed about Manila, the Philippines, and anything trending to Filipinos here and around the world. @wheninmanila was the go-to site for everything buzzing in the digital world of Pinoys. They helped restaurants get discovered, introduced people to small businesses, shared stories on current affairs and helped create a meme or two.
According to Vince, the blogosphere as he knew it has changed drastically.
His website, wheninmanila.com, started around 2009 just as a personal diary of his travels and adventures in the Philippines. It was extremely viral due to the fact that, before Tiktok and other social media platform searches became a thing, people used Google to search for anything and everything. In other countries, netizens would look up reviews for restaurants or bars on Yelp, but since Yelping never really took off in the Philippines, blogs were the way to go.
So how has the digital landscape changed in 10 years? Vince says that it is still very similar, but one big change is the barrier to entry. Today, the process of creating content on a social media site like Instagram or Tiktok, can be much easier thanks to all the apps and tools that have emerged through the years. Moreover, the emergence of short-form content like 140 character Tweets (now 280 characters) and quick 7-second viral Tiktok videos, can make virality a bit more attainable overnight.
When asked if this was a good or bad thing? Vince says that he is not a fan of gatekeeping, so he believes that the more, the merrier. It allows for much more diversity for the audiences to enjoy. He says that it also helps content creators to stay on top of their game and keep striving to make better content, as they have to stay up-to-date on trends and what the audience likes.
What the @wheninmanila founder loves in today’s content creation world is the variety and abundance of information and entertainment. “It’s great that I get to meet content creators of all shapes and sizes at each event I go to. I love meeting content creators from different walks of life, and from different provinces around the Philippines, or from all over the world as well!” he said.
On how his site, survived for so long? Vince Golangco says that they constantly had to adapt to digital trends and ride along each wave of social media platform popularity. They had to create accounts and maintain each social media site individually. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Tiktok and other sites all have a big @wheninmanila presence. According to him, the different social media accounts actually help each other and compliment each other as they tend to send traffic from one site to another. So people seeing photos on Instagram tend to click on links to read the full story on their site. Or posts about cool budol finds on Facebook can lead people to their Shopee store to get the promoted items. “It’s all a synergy and they really do wonderful things together. You just have to find a way to make them work with each other” he added.
They’ve always had a big presence on Facebook, Instagram and the other earlier social media platforms, but more recently, @wheninmanila grew tremendously on the newer Tiktok platform. “I love how we grew recently on Tiktok and got to reach out to a whole new audience,” he said, “Tiktok made us feel relevant to the younger generation, many of whom see other sites like Facebook as a messaging app their parents are on, so they don’t tend to hang out there often.” “But of course, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter all have massive audiences of their own who love those sites. So you just really have to be on all the relevant platforms to reach different demographics and different audiences” Vince said.
As far as lessons learned, Vince says that today’s content creators should always think of their audience first. Instead of making content that they think might go viral, just make content that they want to make themselves, and that their audiences will enjoy or learn something from. “You have to either entertain or educate,” Vince says. “Also, try to evoke an emotion when you create content,” he adds, “putting someone in awe, or making someone smile, or letting someone feel joy, are the best ways to get people to like, comment, and share your content.”