Finding success as a digital political strategist, the Authority Asia CEO shares his stumble into social media and eventual big break, insights on #CancelCulture, and how Filipinos share information across digital platforms
The amount of people who have found success in social media has been quite a common story that we’d often chance upon viral Facebook posts and YouTube recommendations nowadays. As people find themselves plugged onto their smartphones and creating content for a wide array of social media platforms, going viral has been easier than ever.
To Bran Reluao, becoming a viral sensation and using social media to its full potential is not so much of an accident. It has always been in the works for the Authority Asia CEO. As he recalls his modest beginnings as a sophomore college student who discovered his foray into the infamous algorithm, he confidently says, “Most people adapted to [social media], I was born into it.”
Learning the ropes of the algorithm
As a college student, Bran Reluao only wanted to express his feelings on the micro-blogging site, Twitter, albeit anonymous. Just like any eager student going through the motions of balancing studies and life, an outlet to vent his frustrations and musings was a good method to cope. His relatability in the app became an avenue for his brand—a then-popular quote page—to amass two million followers in no time.
Through his popularity as an administrator of a popular Twitter quote page, he also met with fellow community managers on the popular digital platform with the same niche. Behind the scenes, fellow page managers would share their own tips and hacks on how to grow their respective communities and build their brands. In turn, the Twitter ingénue built new accounts with a similar theme and acquired various communities, even on Facebook, in the process.
It was at the height of the popularity of the tandem of GMA stars, Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza’s AlDub, that Reluao figured out how the highly-controversial algorithm worked. “When I figured out how to make a certain hashtag trend in a certain period of time, PR agencies and name brands would approach me to trend their hashtags. It was all for fun before, but I realized there was [a potential] business here,” shares the digital strategist.
Building his brand
From his safe space, his navigation of his communities on social media became an avenue for him to explore its promising advantage and turn it into a now-enterprise with a consulting firm Bran Reluao & Associates, and digital marketing agency, Authority Asia. Unlike other digital marketing agencies that have cropped up during the explosion of social media platforms into our everyday lives, Bran Reluao decided to focus on a distinct niche—politics.
The quest for potential clients was an arduous task for the then-start-up founder. He would reach out to mayors and governors but was met with numerous rejections. “I’ve pitched a lot to various traditional politicians in the country. However, they believe that there’s only one way to properly campaign.”
Eventually, through a vice-governor friend, Bran got a kickstart for his start-up company. Around that time, the Southern Luzon official sought his services and wanted to promote the tourism industry in their province. Using the experience he has as a community manager and his aptitude in communications—his undergrad degree—they were able to succeed in their campaign by increasing tourist activity by 70% with mainstream media even featuring the province and calling it a hidden gem.
Using his strengths and effective social media strategies, the seasoned digital strategist now has a cluster of clients that are public personalities, both in government and show business. A testament to being a true expert in his field, his most recent client, a lawyer, garnered 1.2 million followers in sixty days.
“I create strategies based on data. I’m able to craft a formula that’s very effective for all my clients. The formula that I have makes me unique and apart from my competitors,” says Reluao.
How (mis)information spreads on social media
Social media has evolved into more than a means to share your life with your friends and family, it is now one of the biggest sources of breaking news and current events.
In almost 10 years since he has been a figurehead in his various social media communities and eventually established two companies, Bran Reluao has seen significant development in how people, particularly Filipinos, receive, perceive, and share information, whether it’s political or personal. Through his deep dive into his niche and the controversial algorithm, he even coined the term “digital politics.”
One most rampant in this era that heavily involves digital politics is the battle of fake news seeping into our algorithm. For the digital marketing expert, he explains how inaccurate information spreads across platforms in our immediate sphere of influence, “When we share fake news, and you are a credible person to a particular friend or follower, those who follow you [on that platform] automatically think that what you have shared is true. True or false, they will believe it because they trust you.”
Where cancel culture and societal issues meet
In recent years, netizens have also become accustomed to seeing, and with some experiencing, “cancel culture” as part of the social media adventure. The Authority Asia CEO shares how relevant this debatable discourse has become in Filipino society, “Maybe it’s not ‘cancel culture’, but a call-out culture. From another perspective, it can be good. You call out the bad things. But how do we define the bad and the good now?”
He further adds, “Sometimes, people ride on or are pressured to comment as well since it’s a viral conversation. It depends on the situation. Cancel culture should not be weaponised. It should shape us for the common good.”
Despite a number of adverse effects of critical social media praxis, there is still some merit in its usage. Social media has become a pathway for people to be more attuned to societal issues and has encouraged people to be more involved. Bran highlights how you can also leverage these platforms to get your causes noticed. He shares, “You use the digital world as a tool to influence people and rally them for your causes in a very short amount of time.”
Rallying people behind causes was also the highlight of the recent 2022 Presidential Election. It was a testament to the level of online and real-life participation we’ve seen from Filipinos where both cancel culture and advocacy for societal issues during the campaign stretch took place. Reluao notes, however, “Digital politics is not confined to political campaigns. It encompasses everything. Everything is political.”
For more information on Authority Asia, visit their official website and follow their Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Photography by RYAN AGUSTIN
Styling by PATTY YAP
Makeup by JAKE GALVEZ
Hair by JULIA FRESH
Production Design by GINGER EVENT STYLING BY GINGER GADDI