By Edd K. Usman
MACTAN CITY — Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach is a lover of social media like millions of her fellow Filipinos. She recalled fondly that the votes of her countrymen helped her win the Miss Universe crown two years ago. “The Philippines was number one in online voting. It was a big help.”
But before her triumph, she had no clue the online voting could be a tremendous boost to her candidacy.
Last Sept. 13, she had a session with Manila journalists and Cebu bloggers at the sidelines of the 2017 Asian Carriers Conference, which has been re-branded as “ACC”. She gave a brief workshop at the ACC titled “Disrupting the Miss Universe in the social media age” at the Lobby of Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa, the ACC venue.
Wurtzbach, of German and Filipino parentage, said Filipinos crashed the site of the international beauty pageant on the night of the voting process.
A model and actress, she acknowledged having her worst and best experiences on social media.
“My worst experience was during the competition when I would see or read some comment that upset me and kind of rattled me for the night. It was unnecessary — you are representing the Philippines in the Miss Universe. So, one comment from social media should not let you lose your focus on your ultimate goal. I’ve learned to just ignore them,” she said.
She raved at the power of social media, apparently speaking of Facebook, to reconnect with relatives you haven’t seen for years and living in other countries.
“I really did not imagine five years ago that I would be able to find and connect with my ‘titas’ (aunts) and cousins and that I would be able to see my niece or my sister even though they are in another country,” she said. Wurtzbach can’t even tell when she came to know how powerful social media is but she is slowly realizing that now.
The beauty queen advised that people should do it for fun and be harmless, not to post anything that would make other people feel bad — unless one is ready for the consequences. Or, just don’t do it, she emphasized, because what follows is bashing and nitpicking.
Asked about whether technology is good or bad, “Of course, it is good,” she said. “It has its disadvantages, of course, but that comes only with irresponsible action in using technology; but I think in general technology can be very good.”
“We’ve seen that with beauty queens, we’ve seen that with athletes, we’ve seen that with artists and talents who are showcasing their ability in the international stage,” she said, adding they end up trending.
Meanwhile, Eric Alberto, PLDT EVP and chief revenue officer, cited the 2017 conference for having many firsts, one of them its re-branding “as the ACC and no longer as the Asian Carriers’ Conference.”
He said in his welcome address the ACC took off as a group of carriers and now transforming into an influential gathering of technology thought leaders and innovators.
Alberto said the arrival of Silicon Valley technopreneur Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist of Apple, was appropriate as he provided insights on customer experience during the digital age.
“In the ACC, our conversations are continuously leveling up. In the past conferences, we have engaged in many discussions revolving around technology, innovation, and emerging trends. This year, we shall focus in addressing one of our major challenges, that is, our continuously evolving customers, how technology is shaping their habits and behaviors, and why it is imperative that we deliver the best customer experience,” he said.
The PLDT executive said new technologies and applications’ rise has given birth to the new customer, who is digitally-savvy and ever more powerful.
“They demand that the products and services we render be of utmost quality, available in real time and on-demand, and they demand that these be free or near-free. Indeed, [it is] a disruptive business model which is far and detached from what we have all been accustomed to as carriers.”
Alberto batted for the mining of customer data, which he dubbed the “new gold,” to win the new consumer.
“It is vital that we mind these data to have a more intimate understanding of the consumers, develop valuable insights from such mined and curated data, for us to be able to create differentiated, personalized offers, and ultimately provide all of us unique competitive advantage.”
While each carrier has a different transformation journey, the common goal, he emphasized, is to be the customers’ preferred and trusted technology service provider.