Friday, 6 September 2013

Is Social Media making us Less Social?

More than a decade now, Google came and it changed the way we access any sort of information. It made life a lot easier. Then came the platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Blogs and many others) we know them as Social Media. Why Social Media? Simply because they aim to connect people with each other – far or near, family or friends or colleagues. It came up as a relief for people to stay in touch. Apart from that it had lot of other features which awed the public as well as brands. But how this all is actually affecting ‘social-connect’ – Let us look at the advantages and the disadvantages of the same:-


  1. People connect with old friends from School, colleagues from current organizations or previous organization and are able to get regular information about them
  2. Brands are able to lay their messaging easily to masses and even get their feedback -positive or negative, that depends on how the customer looks at it
  3. Brands are able to advertise with relatively low budgets
  4. People are able to wish birthdays and anniversaries of friends or acquaintances (even to those they may never have thought to remember)
  5. People are able to engage with brands, play contests win exciting prizes and even interact directly with the brand which was not possible with a TV /Newspaper /Outdoor ad
  6. News circulation has become easy and spreads faster , and even has potential to draw customers feedback then & there
  7. It has opened up lot of new opportunities in job market and thus employment as a whole. It is also a revenue stream for many agencies. Work from home options and flexible working for women has also risen from Social media
  8. People connect from far places and not even knowing each other apart from the interests which is common between them


  1. There is a drop in people calling up to talk, wish birthdays and even simply converse. The conversations have become FB messages, wishing is also on FB and sometimes is considered more than sufficient.
  2. Kids are becoming addicted to the playing virtually than playing with friends. Japan schools have started to adopt ‘Social Media Fasting’ for kids who are obsessive with FB.
  3. Teenagers have shown a different behavior altogether. In a birthday party, the birthday girl is more conscious about getting the right picture clicked for her profile than to attend and enjoy. While studying they have taken up hobbies like blogging and they do not just keep it as hobby but let that occupy a lot of their time.
  4. Oh Mom, stop asking me to attend this function or that party or this wedding, I have thousands of fans, followers and my blog is being read another thousands of people. Well the first dialogue from 3 Idiots by Boman Irani was ‘Life is a race..’ If you actually come to see of it Kids, teens and even adults are in a race of how can I get more likes, more views and more followers than meeting people and converting them to be one of your followers
  5. Updating everything on web from eating, visiting a place, meeting or reading is killing privacy. The person may just say that I am becoming more social but at the end it is the others with the person who end up paying the time
  6. News from the journalists is on twitter before the actual news link is given by the same people to support the facts. It seems like ‘insights’ for the world while people wait for more to appear. The newspaper seems old since most of the news is already read and that one has to hunt something to read. And while web is not something monitored too closely, many journos & bloggers gamble on the inappropriate headlines for SEO and more visits.

Everything has its own pros and cons. However to summarize it is the kids and teens who have been swayed away by these platforms since they are not able to handle it maturely unlike the more experienced or adults. Demographic (Read here) shows that age 18-29 is the most present across all social mediums.  Facebook has maximum active users between 14-25 years. Is this stat not a disturbing? Shouldn't this age be more in playground, college and even hanging out with friends than here? Even more disturbing fact is that across all ages people who consume more than seven hours of Social media are more likely to get under depression because of the ‘likes’, ‘fan’, ‘follow’, ‘views’ world. (Read here)

To end it with the pro side of it people who are handling it more maturely, prioritize their real v/s virtual world are playing smart and enjoying their both the sides attention, sharing knowledge and are engaging confidently.

Happy Socializing!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

10 Social Media Strategies used to Promote Movies

Movie promotions in 1990’s were limited to TV promo, very few newspaper ads and posters outside the movie halls. Gone are those days and then came promotions of songs on Radio, associating with various chat shows, TV shows, pre-launch PR, post launch PR and associating with brands which endorses the movie during the TVC.

Since two years even these strategies have seen a shift with a high percentage of marketing budgets being accommodated with Social Media. It all started with a Wiki page followed by Facebook page, YouTube brand channels, Twitter handles and even hash-tag promotions. Apps (Applications) are built considering the possible engagements with the consumer.

Let us take a look at the Social Media Strategies that are used for Movie Promotions:
  1. Facebook page – All most all the Bollywood or Hollywood movies have their independent FB page. As per the trends in Indian Bollywood industry, movies which are already high budgeted are doing lot of activities- both online & offline, but low budget movies are also investing on Social Media.

  2. Facebook app with an engagement – My personal view to some of the apps on Social Media related to movie promotion has been very good. While some of them are extremely bad when it comes to engaging the consumer from the movie point of view. Some of the examples are from blockbuster movies Kahaani and Once Upon a Time in Mumbai. While the former movie app was built to ‘find the lost husband of a pregnant lady’, the latter was more fun by getting app users appear as characters in the movie – the hairstyle, clothes, shoes, accessories and name.

  3. Twitter handle – Initially it started as a handle from the makers of the movies, so that each time they make a different movie, the handle remains same. But now trends show that there is Twitter handle of the maker and one for individual movie. The shelf life of both – the Facebook page and the Twitter handle remains very small i.e. pre-launch and launch phase. Examples are listed with pictures below.

  4. Twitter contests with hashtags – Most of time the hype is created by the hashtags used by the marketers of the movie. These hashtags are promoted across Twitter for a contest where in the players are given an opportunity to win the tickets or meet the star cast. This involves an engagement from masses and thus has been success on twitter

  5. Twitter handles of the star cast – Actors have huge fan following and this has been taken as an advantage to promote their movies. They tweet about teaser posters, songs and behind the scenes which excites people to interact and even go to watch the movie

  6. YouTube branded Channels – YouTube page looks like a website which is a collection of songs. It can have multiple Tabs to differentiate one movie from another.

  7. YouTube channel with engagements – It has been a recent trend on Twitter to work with interactive videos series during movie releases.  This includes consumer engaging with the brands and series of videos are playing as result. Movies like Barfi and had seen such a phenomenon success on their YouTube campaign much before the release of the movie. Now one can imagine that keeping  Rs 15cr on online promotions of out of Rs. 40cr total marketing budget made it as a pre-launch success with 2.5 lac YouTube views on the channel and more than 1.5 Lac likes on the Facebook page

  8. Standalone Websites– It is a method in which brands are building their own properties. Everything from videos promotions to a pre-launch game for engagement is hosted on this platform. Movies yet to be released like Krrish3 are already diverting the consumers with new initiatives.

  9. Integration with offline activities – Play a contest on Facebook and get an invite for the movie launch press conference. Also win merchandise of the movie signed by the actor. Or get the movie tickets with an avatar of the movie theme. These type of strategies are evolving and have seen a success on Social Media

  10. Associating with brands for co-branding – Many brands have brand Ambassadors who are famous personalities. If they are actors of the movie which is yet to be launched, the brands also indulge in co-branding activities.

Since the whole concept of Marketing is evolving and thus is Social Media, there are many innovations possible in making a brand out of anything. However, these activities are restricted to create hype before the launch and do not ensure good reviews of the movie.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Exploitation of Hashtags by Brands

Have you noticed many changes in the hash-tags off lately on Twitter? Over the time these hash-tags by the brands are misused for promotions or contests. As far as I can connect, they are used so that people or target audience can be associated with particular topic of discussion.

Brands started promoting the tweets with relevant hash tags which were mainly keywords with which people with common interest as that of that company can be identified. But yesterday I came across a weird trending hash-tag on twitter which was as long as a tweet. And this one is not the only one, brands are allowing the agencies or the in-house Social Media resource to play with the image by coming up with funny & irritating hash-tags.

It is extremely difficult to understand that renowned brands which have strict discipline on their offline communication can be so casual on their online part. Or is it that they feel that online audience is non-serious audience and they can be flexible in their approach?

Let us understand 5 Hash-tag etiquette from Marketing point of view:
  1. Is your hash-tag a keyword or a phrase which anyone will ever search for? Looking at the above images, no one would ever search for them. They are extremely inefficient hash-tags.

  2. Is the length of your hash-tag too long?  It takes too much effort to read words without any space in them. Many people get annoyed trying to read something like #happybirthdayselenagomezweloveyou. If something like this is done by a brand, like many examples shown above, someone or the other will just go ahead and make fun or tweet about how this hash-tag is a disaster or bad use of Social Media. 

  3. Does your hash-tag or your tweets look like spams? Twitter recommends using no more than two in your tweets. You only have 140 characters to work with in the first place. Making it look like #Follow #us #to #get #attractive #prizes would never work in your favor.

  4. Is your hash-tag too difficult to understand? If yes, then it will never interest the audience, forget the responses. How many of us can understand #UOATIMD, yes it is difficult and seems to fit a sentence but it is a movie – Once upon a Time in Mumbai Doobara. Make the hash-tags relevant for people to engage with your brand.

  5. Is your hash-tag very common? Next time your agency brings a contest with a hash-tag you have already used in past or #ReplaceMovieNameWith, time to bring in a new agency or new SM managers. Be innovative in your approach.
If you are a Brand Manager, Social Media Manager or an Account Manager, keep in mind how people would think about your brand when they see such bad hash-tags  Over exploiting them could be bad for the brand image!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

7 Management Lessons from MasterChef Series

Many of us watch MasterChef and for various reasons we love the show. Perhaps this is one such series that even the vegetarians across India watch. Ever wondered why? It is because more than the recipe, the contestants share the innovations possible, the new ingredients, the excitement of the time and many Management lessons.

No, we do not watch it for learning Management. Of course not, but the show comes with handful of them (in the order of how the show runs)-

1.      Be prepared for new challenges – The contestants are taken to different restaurants, different cities where the culture, people and even food habits are new to them. They themselves belong to different places and are surprised every day with a new goal to achieve. It depicts a skill - accept whatever comes your way, go conquer the world.

2.      Teamwork – Many fight, many throw different ideas but it is their teamwork which results in sweet fruit in the end. Most of the times, we have come across that if there is even slightest of politics or ambiguity or even disagreement, your recipe is affected. I have this amazing quote from my mother – Your mood at the time you are cooking, is directly proportional to the taste and appearance of the meal.

3.      Strategizing – The contestants are told the goal of the day and then they have to think through each and every small activity from the dish they would cook, to ingredients they would require, to budgets they are allocated and how would they present. Small time is given but it has to be goal driven. Planning & then executing is the key.

4.      Eye for detail & Creativity – The dishes they churn out is presented with details and an art. The way the contestants pronounce the item is as close to what is visible on the plate. It is neat. They take care of even the smallest of flavors which may cause a taste change in the dish. From hygiene to quantity to the final product, everything is a piece of their beautiful imagination. Very famous quote from Steve Jobs comes to my mind ‘Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things’.

5.      Crisis Management – What happens when the dish turns out not the way he or she wanted? They have a backup plan. Or they fail and present what is on the table. Again two important things to note down here is always have a Plan B to fall upon. And if time is a constrain and you cannot execute the Plan B, present what is completed with conviction. You never know the task which you are not satisfied with, might interest somebody else. Even if failure is on the back of your mind, go with what you have.

6.      Performance under pressure – Time has always been a constraint and not only for these contestants but even in our daily tasks. Pressure of successful completion, wining in your duties, peer pressure and tough competition will always be there in your job or business. But the way these chefs perform under all these limitations is a big learning for all of us.

7.      Accepting criticism in positive manner – You thought it was your best shot but something happened and hell broke loose on it? These contestants go though it almost every time and one is eliminated on every show. Yet they face it with patience. They take the feedback in positive manner. If it was bad they take the judge’s fury and if it was good (at-least to them) but was not up to the mark, they still listen. Resilience is the key.

There are many other small day to day incidences which life teaches us from these shows such as budgeting, timing, prioritizing, presentation, servicing the end consumer and customer satisfaction. It depends on us how we tune ourselves after watching them.

Summary from the above Management Lessons in a Quote - ‘Life does throw lemon on all of us; we have to be opportunistic to ask for tequila and salt!’

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Common Man - Sandwiched, Grilled and Consumed

The common man is getting grilled. Sandwiched between the two political parties, one dived deep into corruption and irresponsibility towards the citizen while the other is drawing attention towards one religion, not being secular and showing dreamy development claims. 

And then we have one economist proudly coming on TV saying ‘I don’t want Narendra Modi as PM of India’. Is this not just a statement? Has he given any kind of solution to this issue? When asked that does he favour UPA, he said my statement does not mean endorsing UPA.

Hearing him yesterday on NDTV (clipping here) was actually funny. All of us are aware of problems but what is the solution. Why is media over hyping the Rahul-Modi issue?

Being an Economist of India, he is not expected to just become the limelight with one statement. If he has been a learned entity in the past, he must either come up with an answer to the problem that what should citizens of India do or should keep himself restricted from the media.

He should have researched well before to speak that Rahul Gandhi can be alternate PM, I mean as an Indian citizen we just do not want him to lead the country for we do not feel he is responsible for such a big task. In his speech he says - “He might be an excellent alternative, but I haven't decided yet." "Do I like Rahul Gandhi? Yes...He is from my college. When I talk to him, I enjoy it.” Though he also mentioned that this is not how the people of India should vote.

Can he be targeted as pro-UPA? Or anti BJP? I being a simple Indian national would just ask one simple question ‘how does that matter whether he is favoring UPA or anti BJP. He is just one common man who is trying to influence the countrymen. That’s it!’

The summary of this blog is as diluted as his statement and higher possibility is that maximum of us would not vote this year. All of us who feel that nation is deprived of a candidate that these goon filled parties are offering would not vote. All those who are hypnotized by the work of congress would vote on their behalf. Many who believe that Modi would be able to make a good PM considering various developments and his understanding despite his wrongly targeting a particular community would go on his behalf.  And as I wrote in my first line majority would as usual be ‘sandwiched and grilled’.

And the last line of this article from Business Standard is aptly written, people are getting submerged by the headlines given by the media rather than reading details about the facts.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Should Social Media or Traditional Media be regulated by Brands?

While it has been long that I last wrote my blog and I was waiting for real incident on the web to actually write something meaningful. There were many topics but one which affected me is actually problematic for the booming digital industry.

Ok, let me start with a question: 

Click Image to enlarge
What would you do if you see this tweet on a Friday when a new Bollywood move (in this case D-Day) is released? Obviously your plan would be to read the tweet reviews, go on to other sites and then plan to watch it if they are good. Right?

And what if you click on the link to understand that there is NO review.  The link content is:

Click Image to enlarge

Is this not cheating for personal benefit? Let me explain – the site sensationalized the headlines and prompted the user to click the link thus making sure to take the page views number high. These page view numbers are then taken to various brands and asking them to advertise on their portal.

What the brand was trying to do is ‘crowd-sourcing the tweets’ which is innovative but was it actually a review as mentioned in the tweet?

Click Image to enlarge

A very big question which arises here is – Should social media be regulated or regular media be checked?

Sad & bitter truth – The goal of the brand is not the quality of content but the views on the content. It is how the success metrics are defined in the campaign.

Writing very specifically of the above case, there are ‘n’ numbers of news channels with ‘n’ number of movie reviewers. The brand would want many views and interactions and Social Media agency is under tremendous pressure to bring an idea which is a Kolavari Di or viral (this is another problem). This propels the social media handlers to sometimes go overboard to spread the brand name.

Coming on to a conclusion for this problem is difficult because wrong practices are leading to success for the brands. The content if ethically monitored may undergo changes and in-turn would not ensure the so-called clicks and then result in the failure of the campaign.

But the bottom line is ‘creating thin content is bad SEO’ and it would not be able to take you too far. For individuals, it is a matter of personal freedom to write and express their feelings whether right or wrong. They may write it for themselves, for a company, incident, or even on any individual which makes a separate issue to regulate the personal space but for brands it is very important to realize the long term goals rather than bring the success in short term goals without planning & strategy. Making  a viral is in the hand of customer and not in the brains of agency but creating unique, innovative and authentic content is definitely their responsibility which should be regulated as a practice. 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

TV Ads during IPL6 - Their Economics and Analysis

We watch - we criticize; we enjoy – we thrash… We continue to talk about the matches, the players, the team owners, the opening & closing ceremony every year and that is nothing but IPL fever. It is the dough mix of glamour & sports, style & spirit and money & unity.

IPL from season 1 to season 6 has enthralled the masses not only in India but also abroad. From corruption to cheerleaders, from teams to brawls, from ads to after parties almost everything is in the Newspapers, TV news and not to forget Social Networking.

Ever wondered how much does the production of a TV ad costs? And once it is created, how much does it cost to promote it? No idea, well one can make an ad anywhere from few lakhs to crores (depends on creative & technology required) and promotions on TV can be unlimited. It actually depends on brand’s spending capacity. However minimum requirement for a brand to spread its message amongst masses is in between Rs. 5cr to Rs. 10cr.

*And how much are these advertisers spending to be a part of this IPL season? It is between Rs. 4.5 lakh to Rs. 5.5 lakh for ten seconds slot. And in-case the brand is one of the main sponsors (Like Pepsi & Vodafone) then the brand is shelling out nothing less than Rs. 60cr on ads. For other sponsors like Micromax, Godrej Eon, Usha, Parle, Samsung the cost is between Rs 25cr to Rs. 30cr.

An interesting data comes from CRIC study for developing strategies for advertising during IPL:

Basis the above points, let us analyse:
  • For how many brands was it absolutely necessary to advertise during this season
  • Were they successful in creating the presence in consumer’s mind
  • Was the messaging right
  • What was required and what was not required

To build a complete case study, let us first find out the brands advertising in IPL6 – Total of 25 Brands (what I can recall and are prominent)– Pepsi, Samsung, Vodafone, Coke, Voltas, Panasonic, Rasna, Parle, Bisleri, Micromax, Godrej, Airtel, Videocon, Limca, Hero, Sony, Cleartrip, Hitachi, Usha, Cadbury, Docomo, Karbonn, Arise, Havells and Berger Paints - Now that seems BIG show & whooping money.

For a minute, can you visualize the ad for each brand? If yes, then that brand is successful in creating a space for itself in the consumer’s mind. If no, then despite spending so much money it is not helping the brand.

Now let us connect the pieces by taking individual brands with scores of GOOD, BAD & OK:

  • Pepsi – Established the message in the TVC of ‘Oh Yes Abhi’ with Bollywood actors and cricketers. The message was taken on Billboards, on-ground branding, Facebook & Twitter
  • Vodafone – Bringing back the ZooZoo’s in their mini avatars along with clearly defining various services of the brand. The ads were cute and liked by many.
  • Samsung – Ad is on launch of S4, launch of Galaxy Grand also Note 2 with a message of interest free EMI. The brand was quite successful in their advertising.
  • Micromax – Canvas Ad was a spoof of Can Own Now from Samsung. It was direct attack to the brand and at the same time it created a stir in consumer’s mind about the launch
  • Airtel – The one rupee video ad is different approach and has appealed to the masses since messaging is very appropriate and at the same time promotes the airtel’s service.
  • Cadbury – Amazing advertising. They are not sponsors and yet they are doing subtle advertising through ‘T20 ka Shubh Aarambh’, ‘jeet ke baat kuch meetha ho jaye’. They were the first brand to start with ads (newspaper jacket on TOI) on the opening day of IPL.
  • Havells Fan – Taaza hava chali – Very different ads to show ‘break the customs and unnecessary society protocols’ and a brand tag line goes along with requirement ‘Hava badlegi’.

The OKs
  • Pepsi atom was launched with a direct attack on Thums-Up and even the last line of the ad says aaj kuch macho karte hai. Isn’t this way too similar to Aaj kuch toofani karte hai?
  • Coke – The CSR route to the message ‘Happiness’ & ‘Haan main crazy hoo’ could have been better because they are the official beverage partner for one of the teams and should have taken the message with more sporty & lively ads.
  • Karbonn Mobiles – Launch of Tablets and advertising as Karbonn Kamaal ka Catch with side-lined advertising was a nice concept. But Ad creative used for the Launch were not that great
  • Hero –Though the song of Hero Splendour is very much in the minds of the audience they should have somehow carried their main song of hammein hain hero in the overall thought.
  • Sony – Though I remember the ad of cybershot but isn’t it too technical. Instead of promoting the camera, emphasising the technology of sensor and lens is way too heavy for consumers.
  • Usha – Just because the brand is the sponsor of one the teams does not mean that you have to advertise even if you do not have proper creative. Still they have managed to get eye balls on some products like Sewing machine and Irons but overall score is below average.
  • Tata Docomo – While one ad on corruption is good that the Docomo music plays when minister is taking money but the Pizza ad is sad. So overall brand connect with the messaging is normal and nothing innovative.

The BADs
  • Voltas – The AC ad with Murthy in the hot weather is too stretched, running since long and is too boring now for the audience and its repetition.
  • Panasonic – Bringing Katrina Kaif will not help if you do not have a strong message which can be taken more broadly on not only TV but to other mediums
  • Parle- Launching Gold Star biscuits and keeping Amitabh Bachchan as the ambassador. Do I remember this ad – yes? For positive or negative reasons – negative. Why? Because creative is bad, very strongly imposing the message to remember the name of biscuit again & again in the ad and not a very innovative way to cast Mr. Bacchan (This brings another debate ‘Are Brand Ambassadors successful for brands in all the scenarios?)
  • Godrej – Got Amir Khan for all the product ads for IPL. They could have done much more by taking the female Amir route but they became flat after two or three ads. Started with a bang and now holds no excitement.
  • Limca – Again the same debatable question - Are Brand Ambassadors successful for brands in all the scenarios? Bringing Kareena Kapoor does not ensure that people will remember the brand even if the ad is not good. And the route is indirect IPL promotion so why not make it more interesting.
  • Fruity - Does anyone understand the language used in the ad. Or what is the message the brand wants to convey? What is Shahrukh doing in this film. Need I say more?
For rest of the brands, I do not remember the content of the ad and for the same I had to Google. Two points to note here – a. They have not registered in the consumer minds and b. It might be just for me but not for everybody. So after checking their content, here is the analysis of more BAD’s:
  • Arise Batteries – You bring in cricketers but do not know what to do with them for your kind of Brand. Even the brand is unknown and advertising for first time, then why on expensive IPL.
  • ClearTrip – It ends before it starts. Actually! Goggles check, suitcase check, Perfume Check – Ad ends with the Logo.
  • Videocon – Launching Mobile Service and DTH, without any kickass ad, very few spots taken to promote. How would you get to consumers Mr. Dhoot?
  • Rasna – TG (Target Group) is not right to advertise. I mean Rasna ishas always positioned themselves for kids then why chose to advertise on IPL. They could have simply done on GECs or Kids channel.
  • Berger Paints - advertisement showing how effect of rain on walls can be reversed (Ulat Palat). If the brand is taking such a clutter breaking positioning, then it should throw more ads so that public can view it, register it. However neither the brand is making any effort in doing so nor does it match with the segment of IPL viewers. So, again BAD move to choose IPL as platform.

Many other brands (Asian Paints, V Guard, Sprite, Kent, Quicker etc.) are taking a step in the end to advertise so that they do not miss the bus and also that the last few days have higher visibility as per the data by TAM (TV Audience Measurement)

Summarizing the above with a very strong view point and facts – If only 7 out of 25 i.e. close to 30% of the brands are GOOD such that they have grown in the consumer minds, interacted not only through TV ads but also taken it online, mall activations and outdoor then why are the other brands splurging their monies. 

Close to 30% of the brands are OK advertisers, then they need some improvement be it the creative or be it a push on media or taking the message beyond TV and for rest 40% BAD advertisers, it is time that you as a marketer sit with creative and digital agency and co-create a content which is worth the consumers.

*Source MSM (Multi Screen Media (MSM), the official broadcaster of the IPL). The image is used from CRIC study by Domor Communication Consulting and Vivaki Exchange on Marketing by brands participating in IPL.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Does Montoo deserve my Blog Post. Is he Right or Wrong?

Does Montoo deserve my Blog Post, may be Yes or May be No. Coupled with reasoning and my mind is debating - What he did was right or wrong?

So I thought let me hit the keyboard and get things sorted. To all who don’t know, Montoo was our maid at house. He was 17 when he came from a bureau to my parent’s place and he was 22 when he left back.
Young, naughty, workaholic and sincere to the job were his few qualities and like any other kid he mingled easily with the family. My father was more dependent on him than anyone else among us because Montoo would help him walk and exercise everyday considering his limitations after two surgeries.

My mother would leave the house to him at any hour. He was also a part time at my house. Both me and my husband, Rohan thought that we are comfortable with him and even he would get an extra salary to support his old father back in Assam.

He would live, eat, play with my niece like a family member and to my knowledge has never said no to any work we gave him. He used to watch TV and movies with us and was very happy. One problem, which we had seen in him, was that he used to lie, which was rare but it used to happen. Not because of his intentions but he was scared. So if the glass had broken, he would keep it back as it is and when found, he would say ‘I accidentally broke’. We always told him not to hide but I believe it was in his nature.

We unintentionally had got ourselves addicted to him. And then came the time for his visit to his home town. He was going after two and years and got the tickets (even return) from us. He has gone in past too. And since his family was very needy, he was giving them good money back home.  Every-time he went, it was ensured that all his money was transferred to his father’s account.

Two months passed away, sulking with the temporary maid, may be because of the quality of the work and also because back of our mind we had no issues because it was all the matter of just two months.
In these two months, he gave us calls so many times that he misses us and that we would be facing lot problems because of his absence at work. Even we inquired about his know-how many times. He called two days before boarding the train that he is coming with one of his cousins who was looking for work.

Yesterday was the day of his arrival, and he did not come. Phone switched off, father’s phone says he is not well and is in Assam itself. May be the truth or may be not. His father was old and we understand that he must have faced his pressure of staying back. We do not blame him. All we expected was a phone call – that I would not come or I am not well and would take some time to come.

Trust is something we invested in him, to an extent that he was in our house for three months when my parents were in USA under our presence. And we are left with nothing but an expectation of one phone call that he could have made.  

Ending it with the same line – I don’t know whether I am right with my judgement that maids value only money. Since he was helping his father setting a small business of selling fishes and small raw tea leaves in these two months, my judgement could be right. But if he is truly unwell or is planning to come back then probably I am wrong. But trust is broken; a call was the least he could manage and not take us for granted.  Papa awaits him though we are getting back to our daily chores without him but it was an association of five years and hope of mutual requirement.

Wherever he stays, may he be happy and prospering as he was always!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Why PR Agencies are hiring Digital Marketing Professionals?

Since last two years, there has been a drastic change in the PR Industry. The traditional PR (Give a Press Release and it will appear) is giving a way to the Integrated PR (Reviews, Story research, Social Media Integration).

Story appeared in newspapers / magazine read by ‘X’ people is getting shifted by Story shared by a Blogger or a Journalist on Facebook, Twitter & Blog which is shared by, re-tweeted by, liked by and favorite by ‘X’ users.

PR Agencies are hiring Digital Marketing people.  Reasons
  1. A tweet or a post by a recognized journalist or a blogger is Free PR for the company 
  2. A re-tweet / share done by the PR executive is ensuring that the news is spreading 
  3. The same story shared by the company on the website, blog or social media channel is again building the credibility of the brand
  4. Twitter presence of the PR executives helps them connect better with the Bloggers and Journalist who have their preferences with Social Media because of instant recognition
  5. There is a possibility of creating hype before the launch of product or news. And it is done by giving hints on the digital blocks which is building your way up to the launch day

Gone are the days when Press Conference was the only way to network with the Media. Now there are so many ways. You can tweeteract with them, you can have ‘Bloggers Meet’. Bloggers Meet – Genre based bloggers, Hybrid journalists and the brand connect with each other on informal note where the company shares the information and audience tweets, blogs, publishes pictures.

The answer to why PR agencies are hiring Digital Marketing professionals is – INSTANT PR is generated through this medium whereas a reviews or release in the newspaper may or may not appear, read or unread by the audience.

Also a 'social relationship' is developed between a brand & the journalists; which sometimes with better connect can be a healthy relationship.

Off lately, I have come across executives who say forget connecting with journalist through twitter, we ourselves are not present there. I was dumbstruck for a while.  Traditional PR is the only way they work. And I was not amazed with the agency’s growth story!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Charity begins at Home with Education - A Social Cause

Education is one social cause I truly support. With recent increase in Rapes/Harassment/Eve-Teasing/Dowry in the city, it is very important that education of the society is treated as whole and not a girl child or male child.
Resident of both a metro city and a tier II city, I can feel the difference in the mind-sets of people. There are three types of people (especially referring to the topic)
  1. Un-educated
  2. Educated but act like un-educated
  3. Educated and act wisely

Cause of worry is the type 1 and equally type 2. Type 1 is the roots of the bigger problems like Population, Poverty, and Rapes etc. however Type 2 are more vulnerable to the overall society because they give rise Dowry, Society show business and harassment etc.
Incidents like below are on rise: A bank executive staring a women customer
  1.  An educated family keeping too many societal pressures
  2.  An educated daughter in law ill-treating the family
  3.  An educated husband who does not incline with the working wife

And I can write more and more about these sensitive issues which we all are well aware. With the recent case of malfunctioning of a shelter home in Gurgaon, people have started to do charity at home.
A deed of my close relative who has adopted 4 young girls and provided lifetime education is more worthy to me than signing a cheque of lac for a sanstha.

If you can afford then do not look beyond your HOME – Give education to the children of your guard/driver/ office boy. They would always remember it for lifetime and you are contributing to a very large social cause which is affecting the Indian society.

And above all ‘Educate your kids’ – Give them exposure and let them experience the Job or Business. Never ever restrict their education to a level that they may never be able to think beyond what you think.
This blog is about a social cause I strongly support and has been written to dedicate it to ISB iDiya

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Get more Twitter Followers by Conversations

Saw this line on Twitter & thought this could be my next small blog – To get more followers on Twitter, start following relevant people. 

I do not completely agree with this statement. But since it came from well-known social media expert, I thought let me debate with my mind for some time.

By following relevant people, I would just get to know the content they are talking about or topic of their blogs. It will not guarantee me a “follow back”.  

Follow-back will only happen if I produce a content which is actually relevant to them. It will also happen if I converse with them through my tweets. They may or may not follow me back, but their followers might just like my blog or tweets. Even your peers who understand your domain are your direct followers but only if they agree with your content.

So engaging with relevant people is more important than just following them. Yes of-course, I would not suddenly expect celebs to converse with a person who just started but gradually it is your content, knowledge of the domain & your conviction not your age that matters. (By celebs I do not mean Bollywood but people who are pro in their work area and have high followers and decent readership on their blog).

Lastly, a piece of advice: Tweet & Engage wisely not only for the heck of gaining followers but passion for what you know and what you want to reach out to people.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Never ending Fight between Brands & Digital Agencies

Experienced both sides of the coin – Agency & Client, and therefore this blog is for all the Account Managers, Account Directors, Creative Team, Head of Agencies, Marketing Teams and last but not the least Chief Marketing Officer. Some of the key findings are from Adtech 2013, New Delhi!
Questions (Agency) – Why does the client always reject my idea? Why they never like our creative? Why do they prefer offline agency over digital agency? Why so many changes in the creative?
Questions (Client) – Why don’t they understand? Why can’t they get a viral idea? Why they always bring ideas which are expensive? Why can’t they think 360 degrees?

A small background dipstick to understand the agency – An agency hires an account executive or Manager who caters to an average of 3-4 clients. They work from 10 am to 7:30 pm at-least and sometimes on Saturdays. They do brainstorm but that is limited to that account and the brief received. 

Now let us understand the Brands – All the Marketing Heads are offline guys who very well execute ATL and BTL activities, they understand the potential of Digital and thus hire either a Digital Marketing Manager or a team for building Digital Strategies. But offline is priority to them.

One thing and the most important thing which I believe the difference is, that the agency people are 24/7 engaged in doing routine tasks. The priority for Agency Head is BD (Business Development) and not learning & evolving the employees. There is no brainstorming and absolutely no reference to case studies of what is happening beyond the existing clients and outside India. They are extremely irritated of the daily routine & BD and therefore there is no freshness in ideas that they bring to the clients.

One point which I would like to make to the agency people is “Invest in yourself”. One day in at-least two weeks you all should see the case studies and discuss within the team of what can be pitched to the client. Also, agency heads should take their employees for such seminars or bring new ideas to them so that the same ‘Tab’/ ‘Contest’ is not pitched to all the brands.

On the other hand, even the brands are also at fault. If considered that the agency works only on the brief and does not give external references or broad ideas then it is the brand also to be blamed. How?? Let me explain – I recently visited Ad-tech New Delhi 2013 where there was a wonderful session called “Marketing Master”. It was back to back case studies based on what they have done on Digital platform. Learning was many but a point which has stayed in my mind was from Manisha Lath of Axis Bank. She said for the recent brief for Viral Videos of, we called our creative and Digital teams together. This insisted that whatever idea that comes out is executable on both offline & online. It also meant that the entire brief was equally shared between the agencies and they together brainstormed over the idea.

Most of the brands follow the other route – They brief the creative, they wait for the idea and after the idea is perceived, they call the digital guys and tell them the brief. There is no going back for the client even if it is not possible to execute it on Digital medium. And then who is blamed – Digital guy obviously!

Marketing teams should also analyse that there is a huge potential in Digital Marketing. And fresh ideas gonna be expensive. If Domino’s Pizza does 10% of delivery sales through mobile app(data from adtech presentation), then it was possible only because they acted timely on building the app and off-course the invested in the app.  However, sometimes agency should also consider the budgets of the companies and accordingly mould the current ideas. Rather than scrapping the idea which client cannot afford, present with a twist which he can afford.

Again sharing an example from Adtech, Citi Bank did a campaign Dil V/s Bill. It was sky-vertising integrated with a Twitter Campaign. Check Google for details of the campaign but it was one the most thoughtful campaign for the TG. And unlike brands which prefer FB over Twitter, this was a different ball game all together.

Ending it with a piece of advice – “Blaming each other will continue and will not benefit either. It is the time for co-creation of content. Integrated campaigns performs best only if all the agencies along with the Brand’s Marketing Team sit together, ideate, debate and conclude together”.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Idea wins my heart with their recent TVCs

Reading the title, I am sure lot of my readers would think I am a user of Idea network, I am Abhishek Bachchan fan or I am paid by Idea Cellular to write this post. But none of these are true. It is just that I am awed by their marketing and to be precise their TVCs off lately.
  1. Their messaging has been so correct.  The latest ad when a child exchanges the mobile handset of his parent is an example how busy we have got in our lives to understand a relationship.

  2. Honey bunny evolved nationally with the tune going viral and people singing or humming. Some were irritated some just loved it but all were hooked to it as it was always on TV. 

  4. Even the Valentine ad was a perfect example. The way the old lady says ‘Ek flower 20Rs ka, isse achcha toh cauliflower le aate” with a message Idea can change your life. Though this ad made me think a lot about the amount of energy, time and money spent to create this TVC for playing it only for one day! However, I am sure that we admire their festive one day ads like Christmas, Diwali and Eid with a social message - Har tyohar manana chahiye!

  5. Some of the Abhishek Bachchan ads with Social causes were also appreciated a lot. It had a humour with a strong message in them. They subtly promoted ‘What an Idea sir jee’. And those ads were Save Paper, Walk when you talk, over population and keep IPL clean.

I am a different network brand user and will remain till I am satisfied with their service. This blog is surely my appreciation of the strategist in their marketing department and off-course the creative agency. 
They have definitely shown how to capture minds of their audience. Now, the whole story is "How is this leading to their market share & business growth". I have my doubts because all the TVCs promote their brand tag line and not the feature, products or benefits, but I will let my doubts free for now..

Thursday, 7 February 2013

How Business Pages on Facebook are getting affected with so many changes

Facebook was initially developed for connecting people on a social platform. Long time ago the CEO had said that they will not make it too commercial for businesses and appear like other portals. But that seems like a history now.  I feel Facebook has started monetizing its every branch. Not that I am anti-Fb (I very much like the way it has evolved over the years and built its own nation), but purely from a digital specialist of a brand point of view I have written my observations. Let us look how:
  1. Earlier fan count meant that your brand is followed by those many people. So brands thought it was sensible to spend on Stamp ads to raise fan count. //Stamp ads was Monetization #1
  2. Now since almost every Tom-Dick-Harry brand has a Facebook page and some good number of followers, Facebook revealed out that your post reaches out to only 16% of your total fans. What should the brands do now? Facebook then came out with three solutions:
    • Target your posts – Organic method to reach out to fans by targeting them either by age or location or hobbies.
    • Continue Stamp ads – More the fans, more the reach #Monetization #2
    • Promote – Have you noticed this word on all the posts these days. It guarantees that your post will reach more people either amongst fans or friends of fans. Monetization #3
  3. Suggested Page – One more feature which has been doing rounds is ‘Suggested Page’.  Suddenly a Brand’s page is thrown to me as a suggestion to like it. There has been targeting done by Facebook and I am the Brand’s TG. Brand is paying them to capture the TG. Monetization #4
  4. Sponsored Story – My friend has liked the page and that is the reason I am given a suggestion thrown by Facebook to like the page.  Monetization #5
  5. App creation will be monetized too. Reason 1 – App developers have taken too many advantages while building brand specific apps which Facebook wants to control now.  Reason 2 – Apps will have to be promoted like posts or page to achieve higher reach. Monetization #6. Reason 3 – Other brands will be free to advertise on Apps on impression basis. And it would be like advertising on Farmville or Criminal Case. Monetization #7.
  6. Page Take Over Ads – Whenever I log-out of Facebook, I come across this huge banner ad. It is by a brand and the ad can either land on FB page or outside FB. But it gives lot of impressions/Likes to the brand #Monetization #8

While all these mechanics are pressurizing brands to do more and more FB advertising – to connect with more & ore people – to be social friendly brand – to engage the audience, in a way it is also beneficial for people. They get to participate in different contests, apps and win loads of goodies and have fun! Happy Facebook-ing.