So I’ve been part of a street team for a year and these are what I’ve learned…

Being part of the L’Arc~en~Ciel Philippine Street Team is a huge achievement for me. We may still be eons away from having our ultimate goal of having the band perform in the Philippines, but the rewards I’ve gotten in the first year alone are very much invaluable. To say that it is life-changing is an understatement. It gave me direction and ingrained in me lessons on leadership in a way much more profound than that provided in being in a classroom or office setting.

These are just some of those gems:

BRAND BUILDING – As a market research professional specializing in brand health, it is my duty to provide insights to companies on how they can develop their brands. Being a key part of the street team enabled me to put those insights into practice myself.

Now a golden rule in brand building is to know your market and in our case, our “market” is 3-pronged: the existing L’Arc~en~Ciel fanbase, the non-fans or those who are not even aware of the brand and to some extent, the former fans. We have to know what makes them tick. Needless to say, our big challenge is to appeal to the non-fans while still catering to the needs of those who are hungry for all things L’Arc~en~Ciel.

The strategy then is to build awareness. We need to provide timely information via the right channels.  This is where social media plays a crucial role. Concurrently, we also need to live up to being a street team per se. In other words, we have to go out into the streets. Well, maybe not literally. Participating in conventions and similar events allows us to cast a wider net and to put a personal touch to our cause.

Awareness is only a starting point. People would be more likely to be engaged if the offer is relevant to them. This is why we created the #LArcMNL campaign. #LArcMNL is the very foundation from which we build all our efforts. Communication materials, activities and events are fashioned to appeal to Filipinos. The juxtaposition of L’Arc with the country’s capital is a constant reminder that this campaign is for us local fans. It also differentiated our offerings from other L’Arc~en~Ciel related sites online.

And then there is also the matter of brand identity. Perhaps it may be just nitpicking on my part but I pushed for a conscious effort in the team to observe consistency in the our usage of the team’s logo, even down to the color and placement. This extends too to all branding elements of not just of the team’s but also of L’Arc~en~Ciel’s.

SOCIAL MEDIA SAVVINESS – The medium is the message. This maxim holds true even in the realm of organized fangirling.

There was a time when I’ve sworn off Facebook and got turned off by tumblr but eventually I’ve learned (or in the case of tumblr, still learning) to immerse myself into the forms and functions of each medium and the respective cultures that inhabit them. The team has also explored other sites online taking into consideration how they will enrich the campaign in terms of reach and response.

Speaking of reach, no matter how much literature on it I’ve read, I still cannot fathom much of Facebook’s so-called Insights. Furthermore, understanding Edgerank is a pain. Nevertheless, using it to our advantage and learning how to create an app are on my bucketlist.

CONTENT CURATION – Currently, we maintain a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Facebook group, a website/blog and a tumblr account. In all seriousness, managing all of those is an acrobatic feat in itself. But each medium has its own strengths and learning how to harness them separately and in synergy is an arduous but important process.

Many factors come into play: access, accuracy, relevance, timeliness and even the availability of the person who can make the post. There are slow news days and then there’s a deluge of updates. We are required to sift through all of those while of course, still keeping in mind the needs of our “market”. It’s also about maintaining a balance between quality and quantity. In other words, understanding the difference between being up to date and spamming.

We actually had a meeting once wherein a question was posed on whether our content is fangirl-friendly enough. Should we post more eye candy? Inject more titillating pictures? Then again we run the risk of alienating people who are not into that. I am actually one of those. I mean I do appreciate seeing a sexy picture of hyde now and then but barrage my newsfeed with it and I would promptly unclick Like.

Perhaps it can be said that I take this task of managing our content too seriously but I sincerely believe that it will advance our cause. People’s attention span is dwindling. Delivering critical content at the right time and via the right medium is essential. Besides, it’s fun. I get to wear different hats: journalist, historian, researcher, advertising specialist…the list go on.

NETWORKING – I am an introvert by nature which is why this is where I am making the most adjustments. It’s inevitable. When one deals with information, having the right connections is a big plus. Even more so, nurturing the local fanbase actually demands that we reach out to as many people that we can. Getting out of one’s shell is part of the bargain.

File this under major work in progress.

TIME MANAGEMENT – Oh man. While street team work could be fun because you’re doing what you love for the one you love, it can also be excruciating sometimes, especially when trying to fit it into the rigors of everyday life. And as any fangirl would know, it gets even more difficult when other people cannot seem to understand why we are investing so much time on this.

As much as possible, street team work should not interfere with responsibilities to our family, to our day jobs and to our other social obligations.  Nevertheless, we do have to uphold our commitment to deliver on time.

The beauty of working as a team is that we get each other’s backs. Everyone is accountable for something but in case someone is in a pinch, another person could help out or takeover. One just needs to be gracious enough to give enough leeway or an early heads-up, particularly when the task would affect the progress of other people.

PEOPLE MANAGEMENT – John Maxwell said something about leadership ability being truly tested when one gets to work with volunteers and I couldn’t agree more. People’s level of commitment extremely varies and  you have to be careful not to be too demanding lest you end up with overburdening them. The reality is that when there’s no other incentive apart from passion, it’s easy for people to leave once that passion is extinguished. Volunteers may opt to leave at any time they want. The street team has only been in existence for a year but we’ve seen our share of quitters. And sadly, we can’t hold them accountable.

As a volunteer myself, I know how it can be difficult sometimes to squeeze in resources for street team related tasks. Therefore, I couldn’t fault other members of the team for missing out on a deadline or two. But be too lax and the entire team’s performance might suffer. Really, it’s akin to dancing atop the thin line separating being empowering and being indulgent. Boosting the team’s morale and giving each member positive reinforcement must be on a high. At the same time, one has to be ready to cast a firm hand in order to get things on track again. But at the end of the day, it all just boils down to trust.

The L’Arc~en~Ciel Philippine Street Team is my baby and it kinda pains me that I can no longer oversee its growth as closely as before since I moved to another country. But I left with my mind at ease because I opted to give full confidence to the people I have entrusted it to. We are a team, a solid one at that, and as long as everyone believes that, we are inching and inching closer to reaching our goals.

And then finally, TEAMWORK – Or to put it more succinctly, valuing teamwork. I’ve always been independent and prefers, as much as possible, doing things myself.  But the street team has taught me more than ever that it’s ok to rely on others. A rainbow is majestic because it is made up of different colors arching as one. We shouldn’t be much different from that.

It’s not a L’Arc~en~Ciel song but somehow I feel the song MISSION totally encapsulates my thoughts about teamwork right now. There shouldn’t be any walls. We should embrace the journey ahead as one and of course, with music to guide us.

Ok, special shout out now to all L’Arc~en~Ciel fans based in Manila. Please join the street team in celebrating its first anniversary with L’Arcoustic Jamming Session and Pool Party! Click here for more information.

I am coming home!

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It has been a grand 4 weeks Singapore! Tomorrow, I fly back to the Philippines.

Must say I welcome this development with mixed feelings. The original plan was to stay in Singapore for a while until my work visa for (random Asian country) has been approved but obviously that didn’t pan out well. Nevertheless, I am happy to be heading back.

I’ll update my entries for 2013 Challenge (which I am über delayed already) once I am settled. Most probably by this weekend. A lot of catching up for me!