Rajesh is the Founder and Principal of Blogworks, a consulting firm, which provides strategic social media solutions to global brands and corporates. He is also the Principal Coordinator of IndiaSocial, a knowledge focused community around social media which hosts initiatives like the IndiaSocial Summit – India’s largest social media conference.
He has served on committees for trade associations and as a jury member for prestigious marketing awards.
A marketing and communication professional, with 18 years of relevant experience, he has crafted marketing, public relations and digital media strategies for prominent global brands.
A global citizen, Rajesh is presently located in New Delhi, India, but works with clients from across the world.
Writing and Insights
Besides writing a popular marketing blog focused on bringing out insights, Rajesh’s regularly writes for prestigious publications.
His views on the future of marketing, innovation and media are regularly featured in the media and often sought by organisations like Nokia and Microsoft, among others, for their global insights programmes.
Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on +919810640163
Talks and Workshops
Rajesh is often invited to speak at prominent national and international marketing and communication conferences.
He conducts engaging workshops for professionals on subjects of social media concepts and impact, communication and branding.
He has lectured at top institutions including IIM, Ahmedabad, Goa Institute of Management, Amity and others and enjoys these interactions the most.
I was recently interviewed by Governance Now, a fortnightly magazine focusing on governance and processes in the public life in India. My interview about the need for politicians to be present to the impact of digital and social media, was published in a recent issue of the magazine, but as I looked through my notes, I thought there was value in putting down my thoughts as a blog post.
As Amita mentioned in the previous post, we were invited by IIM-Ahmedabad to curate the Colloquium segment of their quarterly journal Vikalpa. Here is my introduction to the wonderful pieces written by some of the thought leaders in the social media space. Do tell me what you think.
Also, download your copy of the edition here.
———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-As I write this note, Google has just launched a new initiative egging people on to ‘take action’ and ‘join together to keep the internet free and open’, even as ‘some governments try to increase censorship and regulate the internet’.
A headline in a marketing newsletter I receive every morning, announces, ‘Social media is revitalising the future of TV’. Indeed it is, as the world gets divided between leaners and potatoes, both live-casting their commentary and opinion on TV programming, albeit one watching programmes on call, the other still following a more analog approach to TV viewing (even as the content itself could be in a digital format).
Social media has, on one hand, energised some equations, but on the other, has also reversed many. As a case of the former, consider research and insights. Where months were required to draw inferences from gathered data, today we can achieve the same in real-time, through the river of data, content, and news available to analysts.
To understand the reversal of equations, let’s look at how the powerful today, are the most vulnerable, in terms of impact on reputation. When you don’t have a reputation, all you want is attention, I often say.
Politicians, journalists, cinema stars and large business groups are all under the scanner, and are at the mercy of individual, and, group attacks from stakeholders and pressure groups, but also from trolls. Motivations may vary from bonafide to absolutely malicious.
It is a new world – a world where everyone has the ability to influence opinion; a world where everyone has the ability to influence purchase; a world where distances are down to zero; a world where voice has speed greater than light; a world that pushes away any attempt to regulate it, except through mechanisms of self-regulation; the world that is today is a world shaped by social media and the free-flow of conversations that the phenomenon enables and endorses.
Juxtaposing this fast-paced change on business, marketing, communication, research and content, however, is not seamless. There are no clean-cut transitions in the real world. No start points, no finish lines.
Technology changes far more rapidly than human behaviour, so adoption takes longer; now add to that the complexities of organisations, their businesses, processes, people, cultures, relationships and multiple stakeholders, and it’s not difficult to imagine the complexities of adapting to this change in context of business.
The good news is things are beginning to settle a little – the revolution is well set, it’s time for evolution. This Colloquium is an attempt to gather distilled learning from industry leaders on several aspects of social media in context of business.
“This curious meeting of personalised timelines with a capacity to share, and the intermingling of institutional news with direct tweets and updates from public figures as well as common citizens, is where news begins to resemble the abstract dimensions of quantum physics.” One of the most prolific minds known to me is Narayanan Madhavan, who forever bathes in the river of news and information as part of his vocation as a career journalist. His rich understanding on the subject of ‘Digital Media and the Future of News’ makes it really easy for the reader to understand the context, impact and the direction of what’s ahead.
This is exemplified by Barack Obama’s simple confirmation of his win in the recent US presidential elections, “Four more years.”, which has so far received 817,151 ‘retweets’ and has been ‘favourited’ 299,273 times.
In his piece titled ‘The Economics of Attention: Social Media and Businesses’, Sitaram Asur of HP Labs takes a deep dive into brand influence on Twitter through a case-study.
Social commerce, crowd-funding, socially relevant ads are some of the concepts being discussed by Arun Nair in his piece on ‘Contemporary Trends on Social Media’.
Given that Facebook is ubiquitous in every marketer’s social armoury, a piece by Sachin Rao of Facebook, shares a simple four-step process to effectively use the channel successfully.
One of the questions practitioners and buyers (marketers, reputation managers, brand owners) are today confronted with, is how to best measure this medium. While traditional measures may not apply, the obsession with ‘vanity metrics’ such as Likes, Number of Fans etc., leans towards the absurd.
How can we instead measure impact on brand health, marketing success, revenues, and customer service? Avinash Kaushik proposes that we measure these via four distinct metrics: Conversation Rate, Amplification Rate, Applause Rate, and Economic Value.
Once upon a time, data was difficult to get, now data is everywhere, available in real-time. And, even as there are technology tools to help, “real insight will stand up and be counted when we are able to put the human back into the data.” Dina Mehta and Shubhangi Athalye of Convo share ‘The Future of Insights’.
Even if meaningless had less meaning, I could consider it, I sometimes jokingly comment.
You too will resonate with the piece ‘Defining Purpose and Meaning in Social Media’ by Amita Malhotra, which argues against vanity metrics, engagement for the sake of engagement and establishes the case for why we should all be looking at the social medium, and the value that the stakeholders might find in such an engagement with your brand/ business. “It is only when you know where you want to go, that you can figure out how to get there. And once the destination is in place, getting there is not difficult.”
In August 2011, Mahindra Rise launched the ‘Spark the Rise’ programme to enable positive change in the community at the grassroots level. The goal is to create a participative movement, which relies on the stakeholders to create sustainable initiatives, and properties of significant scale and impact.
The digital medium is playing an important role in helping make Spark the Rise an ‘outside-in’ movement. Akhil Almeida from Mahindra shares a case-study on use of social media. Step-by-step you create a movement.
I would like to sincerely thank my colleague, Kanksha Barman, who has helped immensely in the curation and coordination of this Colloquium.
Have gotten together our story, we’ve been working on our first brand video. Here is the final version.
Tell me what you think about this.
We have the 7 year itch! I think that captures the mood at Blogworks today as we complete 6 years. We’ve moved to a brand new office today, in New Delhi, and are ready to spread our wings to Mumbai, early 2013.
2012 really kept us on our toes, as we attempted to do bigger things. If I look back at the 3 things that kept us busy this year:
- The IndiaSocial Summit 2012 – the 2nd edition of our flagship activity under the IndiaSocial banner in April 2012 was much bigger, featuring 56 speakers from across India and many corners of the world, in an event spread over 3 days. The property has made a strong niche for itself, thanks to its well curated content.
- Our brand story – we continued the brand identity journey we started last year and put together our new marketing collateral; the new website, which endeavours to showcase the depth, and the width, of our work – from strategy and engagement to design and development; the richness of our processes, our team, and our work. Of these, the last piece planned for this year, our first brand video, is under works and I should be able to share that with you before the year is over. It has been worth the effort as I see a strong, unified brand story emerge.
- Having participated and contributed to the ‘social media revolution’ in the earlier years, we have viewed the last couple of years commoditize social and take us back to interruptive ways of marketing, in their use of social media, over meaningful conversations. So rampant is the abuse that I have lately been saying Social Media is dead. This paragraph from an article I wrote recently explains.
Many of us have seen the promise of transparent conversations, enabled by social media, belied by the average marketer. On the other hand though, we have also seen the emergence of a more evolved professional who understands that in the age of purpose and participation, brands and organisations need to have meaning and relevance; that people want to co-create brands and movements. The promise is very much alive.
Long live social media – we spent time thinking through and articulating what we are trying to do at Blogworks; why we exist; and how we bring value.
We were always married to strategic, we are now inseparable from ‘Purpose – why do what we are doing, and helping our clients find it expression; and ‘Meaning – what’s the value that stakeholders see in it?
So we said, we need to stay true to our promise, of helping create brands for the future and that we do this through ‘the art of conversations and the science behind’.
What is the science behind? Messaging is one aspect of the science; insights drawn through listening, asking and profiling is the second; technology that helps us scale conversations and engagement is the third.
Overall, a satisfying year of silently working on putting together great work for some really great clients, a great brand story, a great team of partners and colleagues, great infrastructure including a great new office.
2013 starts with tremendous promise. Our collective destiny will continue to show us the right path. We will continue to enjoy the journey, for every destination is but a new milestone.
Enjoy images from the new office and keep sending us your good wishes, always.
First of all, many congratulations to you and your colleagues at Facebook for touching the milestone of 1 billion + members, which only few will ever get to, and yet is only the start of a new journey for all of you.
I saw the ‘Things that connect us’ video, which starts by comparing inanimate objects with Facebook (chairs, air planes and bridges that allow people to get together) and then proceeds to talk about basketball, a great nation, the universe. Carefully chosen imagery, meant to touch emotional cords. Well researched, I am sure – but it never seemed more legitimate.
Facebook has indeed brought the world together. It’s the only place where my family, friends, colleagues, people from my past, and from the present, all happily co-exist. It lets me touch them and lets them touch me.
I have seen it bridge relationships (I am sure the reverse is also true), helped many of us understand why people are who and what they are – and what makes them unique.
When I read Facebook’s mission ‘to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected’, I think sometimes we tend to misread ‘open’ and ‘sharing’ with ‘sharing everything with everyone’. When I read it, I think of how can Facebook make us (,and is making us) open up to new cultures, make us more tolerant to opinion, and to dissent – when you know people and their motivations better, you might be more tuned to understanding their viewpoint.
I think this is happening because when it comes to people-to-people interactions, Facebook allows for an intimate understanding of each other.
However, as a marketer, and someone who has used Facebook as a channel for brand marketing, I think what Facebook is doing so well for people-to-people – enabling them to gain an intimate understanding of each other; Facebook could do more for enabling a more intimate relationship between brands and their customers and stakeholders.
While Facebook allows for scaling up the engagement, deepening that relationship with one person, or with a smaller group is not that well enabled in the current ‘Page’ structure – of course conversations can be taken into the inbox (or offline) or into a ‘Group’ (which is however not currently linked with the same group of fans, as it is for an individual allowing me to create groups for my ‘friends’, as well as others).
The promise of ‘ intimate conversations’ has somewhere taken a back-seat, with the focus on ‘scale’ by most marketers, and perhaps, by channels like Facebook. While scale is critical for most large brands, the danger is that the social medium, and Facebook, run the risk of becoming like mass-media – overwhelming amount of marketing messages in which some content is sandwiched- that the audience were running away from. ‘Fans’ have ended up being a ‘mass’ rather than an individual or a group of ‘individuals’ that a brand could understand, and connect with deeply.
Many of us marketers, mature brands managers and owners are looking at connecting and engaging with stakeholders in richer interactions. Allow and enable rich conversations – not only paid – that deliver a better understanding of ‘individual’ and ‘groups’ of customers, users. These insights will make us value Facebook differently from other mediums.
I am sure that the danger of marketers seeing Facebook as ‘another place that advertising can be delivered from’ is not lost on you and your colleagues, particularly after the recent news impact of General Motors announcement stopping their use of Facebook ads.
Facebook has to stand for something else.
Have a good year.