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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Yes! Social Media Marketing is all about your content to others’ contentment.

A long ago, a famous person from a very famous Brand had asserted, in great frustration of course, “50% of my advertising budget goes astray and I don’t know which half of it!”

What was once told about advertising, quite likely that the same would be told about Social Media Marketing i.e. SMM soon, as almost all Brands are going gung ho to leverage the market and consumers alike through Social Networking.

It’s actually very easy to be present on web, precisely on the various social networking sites such as facebook, linkedin, twitter, google+, YouTube and the likes.

In fact, it’s easier to create a profile page on each of those sites and then fill up the page with some content hoping that an interaction with audience will take place immediately and will continue to grow… exactly the way you wanted in favour of your Business or Brand.

No harm in hoping so, since hope has always been a positive thing to possess on your mind and in your heart.

However, the reality is, to stop and save your hope from turning into hope-against-hope, you need to think and do a bit more than just creating a profile page and adding some content onto it.

First and foremost, you got to understand the basic nature of a social networking site.

Despite the fact that all such sites one way or the other stand for social networking and thereby help a Business or Brand do some Social Media Marketing, but in reality, the nature of each site is unique, and thus impacts the SMM of your Business and Brand, accordingly.

For example, both twitter and facebook are heavily used for social networking, but as per operational modes, as well as in terms of user friendliness and content delivery and exchange facilities, these two sites are very much different. When twitter is still more of a message board kind, facebook is an open forum or platform. That means twitter is better, if one-sided communications are the need of the hour, whereas facebook is better, if two-sided communications i.e. interactions are sought after.

Besides that, the nature and characteristics of your target audience should also help you determine which social networking site(s) you should select and use more, and which you should avoid and use less.

Once that is fixed, comes the most crucial part of SMM and that is: Content.

First, consider the kind of content that you might use. That could be –

a) Text

b) Visual (in the form of photographs)

c) Web Link (Both text and visual types)

d) A/V clip (movie, TVC, song, lectures, etc.)

e) Game (web based, downloadable or non-downloadable)

Second, think of the nature of the content that you feel like using. It’s a very vital part of SMM. The nature of the content should be selected only on the basis of what you actually wish to derive or gain from your SMM practice.

The nature of your content will be perceived by one mostly in keeping with your tone of communications. And, not to mention, this tone (or tonality) of communications is very important for your SMM in order to engage and excite the target audience meeting your requirements vis-à-vis theirs.

Broadly, you might try out the following ways to provide different tones to your communications so as to involve your TG with your content –

1) Hilarious: This is so far experienced as the best tone to win over consumers / customers / prospects. Yet, you got to understand the nature of your content shouldn’t be diluted by your tone of communications. For instance, you cannot afford to share the news of an earthquake through hilarity

2) Direct: This is a good ploy to put forth your communications in case you are trying to pass on some product or service related info and know you are talking to whom rather categorically. In this case, you actually have known who might be your customer or already is. So here, instead of communicating in a generic manner, you can afford to be more direct and guiding

3) Nonchalant: This works perfectly when you just need to share something for others’ notice and knowledge, but not expecting too much of a talking or any productive results out of it

4) Curious: This manner of communications is pretty suitable when you wish to know things from others. It’s a nice strategy to do some market research spending almost zero money but only a few hours of time

5) Free-flowing: This is also pretty workable method to occupy people on your content where a free-flowing discussion takes place. Time to time this discussion might lose its original context and go haywire. But still, the functionality of this technique of communications remains quite productive, while you are willing to know many things about others without even letting them know that you are curious

Third, when you know it for sure the kind and nature of content you want to share and how, you got to take care of the following things –

A) Team building / Self-development and evolution, to execute the SMM

B) Time management, to do the SMM almost on a regular basis

c) Getting better off with the latest analytics, to make sure you are always up to the task being fully aware of what’s working and what’s not for your SMM

As a matter of fact, the size and volume of your business and brand notwithstanding, unless and until you are responsible to acknowledge and accept that in SMM the word ‘social’ is very crucial and therefore you’ve to contribute to ‘society’ and ‘humans’ at large through your marketing… exploiting the new media, your chances of succeeding in the arena of social networking is very remote.

Hence, be social, and try to content people with your content, and in the process earn everyone’s consent for your success in social media marketing through social networking.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

facebook and India : Two’s company might just be all’s benefits

The world’s changing. So is India. The impact of this change is very well felt across society… involving politics, economics, education and knowledge, communications, entertainment, media and marketing, lifestyle, and life, precisely a life on web.

This life, termed as ‘social networking’, is actually bringing a sea change to lives, mostly for the youth exposed to mobile, tablets, laptops, PC, and Internet.

Among many social networking sites, it’s facebook, which clearly tops the charts of mind of many Indians. Whereas a latest survey reveals social networking on rediff shows the maximum growth in terms of market share, while facebook has the third highest growth rate… albeit over a much larger user base, worldwide.

In fact the survey report also confirms India ranks 4th and has 14% market share for the social network and online forums, with facebook, YouTube and orkut continue to be the top three social networking websites here.

The study divulges it too that the country that has experienced the fastest growth in facebook usage over the past year is India, as social networking accounting for an increase in market share of 88% in August 2011, compared to August 2010.

Plus, India ranks 8th in terms of average session time spent on facebook. And in August 2011, the average session time spent on facebook was 20 minutes 21 seconds.

Here are some interesting data from the infographic on facebook usage in India –

A. Almost half of the small businesses being surveyed had a facebook page for their company

B. Of those companies that had a facebook page, 77.5 % of them set it up on their own and only 3.5% of them hired a professional or agency to get it done

C. 19.5% of the small businesses surveyed designed their facebook page even before their company website

D. Businesses use facebook for different reasons and see different benefits. Most businesses use facebook to share basic information about their business (85%) and over half of businesses that use facebook share content like pictures and videos (62.4%) and 47% of them use it have conversations with the customers

E. The major benefit of having a facebook page is increased web traffic. 47% of businesses say they see a significant amount of traffic coming from facebook and 43% say that their facebook page generates even more traffic than their website

F. Among the businesses that do not have a facebook page, the common reason for not having one was lack of time to create and manage

More to mention, top Indian cities with registered facebook users are Mumbai (5.28 million), Delhi/Gurgaon (5.26 million), Bangalore (3.03 million), Hyderabad (1.71 million), Chennai (1.69 miliion) and Kolkata (0.82 million), and these figures are counting up, continuously, everyday.

In this situation, and when google has launched google+ as well, for the reason obvious, facebook needed to be proactive and it has been.

With the revamp of its exiting APIs, as well as with the introduction of new APIs, especially Timeline, facebook gives a clear cut message to all that it’s not going to be idle or lag behind and is always up to it, when innovation is the need of the hour for social networking.

But, if this innovation keeps restricted only within the limits of technology, facebook might not strengthen its footholds, as strongly as it probably hopes, in India.

For a simple reason, because India is a different market, where hi-tech technologies are still seen as a threat to mental peace and user-friendliness by the larger base of users. And that too, irrespective of their socio-economic conditions.

In addition, a Brand is always prone to fall prey to a ‘consumer-assault’ through his action, reaction or word-of-mouth recommendation / propaganda, socially, which might not be as severe elsewhere, as it is in India.

To understand what it means, please see the following visuals –

Besides, technology can’t be a sole differentiator for a social networking platform, where people come mostly for enjoyment and entertainment, and ease and easiness of work, business or pastime… thereby to express self in his very own way.

So, finding a proper positioning, globally vis-à-vis country wise is essential for facebook in the present context.

For example: Xerox is to photocopying – where the action of photocopying itself has transformed into ‘doing Xerox’ to people in general. At least in India.

Exactly in the same vein, facebook needs to create a positioning plank for itself to make an average Indian believe ‘social networking’ means ‘facebooking’ only.

To do so, facebook might think of offering three major benefits like –

a. Easy applications for everyone just as simple as emails, chats, etc.

b. Can be done from anywhere, even beyond the urban land

c. An alternative to newspapers, magazines, books, etc. for knowledge and education, but at the same time saving trees from newsprints and all

Below are the two ads, to highlight how facebook can convey the said benefits to people in India, even at the grassroots level –

Last but not least, facebook should never afford to deny that social networking for people in India – hailing not only from urban areas but also from suburbs and hinterlands – does hold the ground for Brands and Businesses alike… to thrive on and benefit from ‘social media marketing’ (SMM). And these people really have the aspirations to go ahead and possess the purchasing power, which might even give complex to the urban lads more often.

PS: Here are two relevant links for all to understand how the market is changing and reacting to social networking –

Saturday, October 8, 2011

With Pidi, Avenue South Pallymangal Samity Durga Puja wins three awards in 2011

This year (2011), Avenue South Pallymangal Samity (Santoshpur), Kolkata celebrated its 45th year of Durga Puja.

The crux of this year’s Puja Theme was Pidi – the flat wooden seat pad, our ancestors, mostly the woman in Paschimbanga (erstwhile West Bengal) used to use to sit on.

This Pidi actually happened to be ‘an own world’ to those women, who hardly had the luxury, comfort and freedom to express and live unlike today’s divas. Sitting on those Pidis, those women would liberate themselves the way they want, in many ways, in line with their varied emotions and work… complementing their daily existence and life.

From having the first rice (annaprashan) to playing with dolls; celebrating womanhood after having the first periods to getting married; hailing pregnancy to breast feeding; cooking for the entire family to performing Pujas and religious rituals; embellishing and ornamenting herself (shringar) to lamenting on near and dear ones’ death… for anything, everything, this Pidi would personify the woman, who had been someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s wife, someone’s mother and someone’s grandmother.

In short, the Pidi not only was a hard reality to those women but also a winning streak… letting them turn into ‘Dashabhuja’ – a Maa Durga herself – to fight against all odds and negativity as inflicted upon them rather forcefully by the demons of man (read men) made society and its uncouth prejudices.

To highlight and illustrate this, the Pandal of Avenue South Pallymangal Samity (ASPS) was made with Pidis only.

The structure of the Pandal was built with Steel in keeping with the safety standard, eliminating Bamboos or anything inflammable. On this structure a number of Pidis were placed with different types of Alpana on them, where each Alpana tells a story of the then day to day life of a woman.

Inside the Pandal, the hue was kept as twilight-red in order to express the sun-setting stage of the Pidi in our life at present, as well as to represent the Furnace or Chula, which also suggests an END.

As a whole, the Theme, Pandal, and idols altogether was an effort to pay homage and tributes to ‘womanhood’, particularly remembering those women who are no more seen (on Pidis) just like the Pidi itself.

And this effort of ASPS in 2011 was finally rewarded with the three following awards:

a) Pratya – Bachhorer Sera Abishkar (Pratya – The greatest invention of the year)

b) Rotary International (Dist. 3291) – Special Jury Award

c) Thana Samanya Committee Shreshtho Puja – 3rd Prize

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sonal Kalra dissected at Brand Lab

Who’s Sonal Kalra? Editor – HT City, Delhi. Okay. Is she a celebrity? No. Has Paris Hilton gifted her a bag? Aare nahi re! Then why so much craze about her? Sorry, there’s no craze actually. Then? Only calmness. For? To make you ‘A Calmer You’. Kaise? Aise…

A brand and a human are quite similar in nature. Apparently we might feel that it’s humans who consume, compliment and complement a brand, but it’s just the other way round. A brand consumes, compliments and complements humans i.e. consumers in order to survive, live and excel… or extinct.

For example: If worldwide, on a given day, nobody buys and drinks Pepsi, nothing will happen to anyone. But, Pepsi will realize what has happened to the Brand’s bottom-line (i.e. Sales figure) thanks to that one single NO-Pepsi day!

The same applies for HT City as well. When readers read this supplement of Hindustan Times, it actually consumes, compliments and complements its readers.

Precisely, HT City does it mostly by riding on Sonal and her famous Sunday Column ‘A Calmer You’.

That means here the actual Brand is Sonal Kalra who is consumed, complimented and complemented by all of us and vice versa.

Given this, I’m trying to decode rather dissect Sonal, so as to present the real Brand value of hers, as well as to suggest how this value can be redefined.

I shall be doing this on 5W scale by: WHO, WHAT, (for) WHOM, WHY, and HOW.

Who Sonal is

A daughter. A lady. A wife. A mother. An editor. A columnist. A writer. An author. An achiever. A motivator. And a friend.

Here, the redefinition possibilities for her are present in the area of leadership, EQ and SQ based knowledge sharing and social change where she might take part more actively.

What Sonal offers

Out-of-the-box calmness tips to bust stress and strain occurred to us on a daily basis or occasionally in personal life, as well as professional. Plus, the Bollywood dose and dopes, involving high-voltage celebrities, in a refreshing way.

As an extension or redefinition, she might start to offer more on career-guidelines and guidance to students who are interested in media or media related profession. Running a different cell under HT City for celebrity communications, especially for their media relations and PR could also be a good option.

Sonal is for whom

For everyone, who reads HT City or is on the page of Fans of Sonal Kalra (FOSK) on facebook or does follow her on twitter. Plus, for a number of celebrities from Bollywood. Also, for the buyers who have already bought her book and recommended it to others.

But, she can actually extend her readers and followers’ base worldwide. Corporate people can also be benefited by her and her calmness tips more and more as aam janta (common people). Plus, the who’s who from other walks but Bollywood i.e. people who remain under more stress than an average person can also find succor from Sonal in her redefined role.

Why Sonal

That’s the most crucial value proposition. In fact this proposition defines what is Sonal’s uniqueness or edge over her peers and contemporaries or seniors.

Sonal has that pristine elegance, which immediately gives an impression that she’s not a showpiece beauty. Her sharp features provide a clear indication that this lady has a thinking head on her shoulders. If you look at her eyes closely and mark her words and reactions a little attentively, you will get that feeling promptly she’s quite naughty, mischievous to the core, enjoys good fun, very liberal, freedom lover, a very difficult person to those who are difficult to her, not overtly emotional i.e. balanced, loves her work, and easy-to-approach, amicable and, last but not least, will give you that comfort for sure, as if she knows you for years, so do you.

In addition, her timing of humour is very good, that’s a rare quality in today’s time among the zombies around in the media industry. Her repartee is outstanding. And her selection of words while she writes and talks is so comprehensible that you need not to be a dictionary or thesaurus lover, to fall in love with Sonal’s writing.

However, in this space she certainly needs to redefine herself by believing more in the fact that SHE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A WELL DESERVING CANDIDATE TO RECEIVE the love, respect, admiration, awards and accolades that she’s already achieved, still achieves and will achieve in the future.

How Sonal reaches

Through her column, book, tweets, facebook posts and emails, Sonal reaches her audience. And the process is so far so good.

Nevertheless, Sonal can still redefine her reach on twitter, and facebook – to be precise. Especially, in keeping with the new APIs available on FB. Also, a personal interactive website is a must thing for her. Besides, she should increase her public appearance a bit more, especially on channels and at relevant events.

Finally, Sonal Kalra sincerely and seriously needs to believe that she’s THE BRAND to change, lead and redefine India and the world of Indians, if not the world, with the YOUTH of Hindustan, successfully, in time!