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We are 9 today and it’s time to b:refreshed.

It’s Christmas, 2006. I have spent the night sitting up on my bed, working alongside my developer (he’s located in Goa), finalising the www.blogworks.in website. We need to go live tomorrow as our ‘Blog the Talk’ collaborative series of chats with experts goes live on the site and hits the stand simultaneously in Impact magazine – a first (blogs weren’t considered credible by mainstream media back then).

Today as I punch this post, news breaks on Twitter first; storytelling, big data, UX/ UI, native apps, mCommerce are common marketing parlance. Digital is mainstream; social media is new oxygen; real-realtime is no longer just a grand statement but an everyday reality; but also from an engagement medium digital is fast becoming reach led; one-to-one conversations have already given way to conversations driven by share-worthy content/ initiatives.

2014 was a year of dramatic change, again. We reconfigured ourselves from a strategy and insights led firm to becoming an integrated offering with design, content creatively packaging our business impact led foundation.

The Blogworks Most Mentioned Political Leaders Report that we brought out for an astounding ‘13 months’, in the run-up to #Election2014, became THE most followed report-card around social conversations on the subject – 187 political leaders; over 31 million conversations tracked; segmented by themes; 13 months, featuring 18 months of political conversations; nearly 45 days of near real-time daily dashboards. Back-breaking, but worth every moment.

The Blogworks IndiaAuto Social Index became the currency leaderboard for the auto industry in the four-wheeler segment we tracked.

We are nine today and it’s time to b:refreshed.

Today, brands are looking at digital to drive marketing innovation and that’s what we are going to deliver. As conversation specialists we’re engaging consumers through brilliant stories powered by digital technologies. Our rich insights and effective strategies have helped our global clients keep their digital, social and mobile programmes and campaigns sharply focused on business outcomes. It’s all going to be about digital innovation.

With digital innovation in our heart, we are creating brands of the future.

The making of brilliant brand campaigns, and we say ‘Amen’ to that.

Let’s kickstart 2015 by taking a peek into 11 tips that will help you win digital in 2015.

  1. b shareworthy
  2. b real
  3. b iterative
  4. b the futurist
  5. b in control
  6. b one
  7. b simple
  8. b mobile
  9. b personal
  10. b social
  11. b on guard

Tell us what you think. Stay in touch.

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We are 9 today and it’s time to b:refreshed.

It’s Christmas, 2006. I have spent the night sitting up on my bed, working alongside my developer (he’s located in Goa), finalising the www.blogworks.in website. We need to go live tomorrow as our ‘Blog the Talk’ collaborative series of chats with experts goes live on the site and hits the stand simultaneously in Impact magazine – a first (blogs weren’t considered credible by mainstream media back then).

Today as I punch this post, news breaks on Twitter first; storytelling, big data, UX/ UI, native apps, mCommerce are common marketing parlance. Digital is mainstream; social media is new oxygen; real-realtime is no longer just a grand statement but an everyday reality; but also from an engagement medium digital is fast becoming reach led; one-to-one conversations have already given way to conversations driven by share-worthy content/ initiatives.

2014 was a year of dramatic change, again. We reconfigured ourselves from a strategy and insights led firm to becoming an integrated offering with design, content creatively packaging our business impact led foundation.

The Blogworks Most Mentioned Political Leaders Report that we brought out for an astounding ‘13 months’, in the run-up to #Election2014, became THE most followed report-card around social conversations on the subject – 187 political leaders; over 31 million conversations tracked; segmented by themes; 13 months, featuring 18 months of political conversations; nearly 45 days of near real-time daily dashboards. Back-breaking, but worth every moment.

The Blogworks IndiaAuto Social Index became the currency leaderboard for the auto industry in the four-wheeler segment we tracked.

We are nine today and it’s time to b:refreshed.

Today, brands are looking at digital to drive marketing innovation and that’s what we are going to deliver. As conversation specialists we’re engaging consumers through brilliant stories powered by digital technologies. Our rich insights and effective strategies have helped our global clients keep their digital, social and mobile programmes and campaigns sharply focused on business outcomes. It’s all going to be about digital innovation.

With digital innovation in our heart, we are creating brands of the future.

The making of brilliant brand campaigns, and we say ‘Amen’ to that.

Let’s kickstart 2015 by taking a peek into 11 tips that will help you win digital in 2015.

  1. b shareworthy
  2. b real
  3. b iterative
  4. b the futurist
  5. b in control
  6. b one
  7. b simple
  8. b mobile
  9. b personal
  10. b social
  11. b on guard

Tell us what you think. Stay in touch.

Twitter Facebook Email

An open letter to Mark Zuckerberg

Dear Mark,

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.

Rajesh Lalwani

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Facebook and India growth

Jeremy Wagstaff, Chief Technology Correspondent, Asia for Reuters, spoke with me briefly about Facebook’s India prospects (opportunities, obstacles and what they are doing in this market).

Here are some points that I shared with him:

People usage

  1. Facebook has seen aggressive growth and now stands at around 51 million users from India making it an important market from that perspective
  2. How Facebook moves forward to keep the users glued to the channel in terms of usage would be important. It will go on to become a utility as initial euphoria has/ will give way to day-to-day usage from connecting > sharing also giving way to buying (holidays, virtual goods and real goods) to paying taxes? and more
  3. I do not see Facebook go the Orkut way, for the simple reason that I have always maintained
    • Facebook is Facebook’s primary business, Orkut was not Google’s primary business
  4. How Facebook replicates the rich PC/ Tablet experience for the mobile user (without fancy handsets) would be important as mobile internet is seeing faster growth

Marketer and advertising

  1. Marketers who are spending more money on the channel are now also looking for ways to measure, and also what more can be done on Facebook
  2. Facebook’s own marketing team and efforts are fairly nascent in the India market, though they are reaching out their conferences and direct outreach to marketers
  3. Facebook might need to co-opt a larger network of partners, such as Blogworks and others, that have been working in the market to sell the medium, to expand it’s reach and value into the India market
  4. I believe that post IPO, the focus will shift to monetization and offerings like ‘Reach Generator’ will focus on large advertisers and organic reach for brand pages might come down. Hence a scenario might emerge where marketers at opposite ends of the spectrum might only be able to harvest the channel well – the very small businesses/ brands (lots of time, personal involvement, reach through engaging the personal networks); the large brands/ organisations (monetary spends on ads, apps, content and engagement). Medium sized businesses may not have the time, or the money, to really achieve massive success
  5. It would be interesting to see if this is the direction that Facebook eventually takes where organic reach will become more difficult and reliance on money spent will increase.

Here is  Reuter’s piece that has appeared in several publications today: Facebook can’t take Asia growth for granted

 

 

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The Screenage – genesis; and, Twitter behaviour.

Sometime earlier this year when a large publishing company and I got speaking about a book, I was clear about what I didn’t want to write – a user’s guide to social media. I had received, and rejected, such an offer earlier. I came up with a concept note on a book, which I gave a working title – The Screenage (though that’s what I would finally want to call it too).

A contract arrived, and I panicked at the sight of it. Time-lines were tight and this was the year for Blogworks to become a business and and organisation (more on that in days to come). The contract was pushed deep inside the drawer.

However, the thought around the book was built has never appealed to me more - how consumers and brands speak (and behave) in times of the social web; or; interpreting people and brand behaviour, as seen through the prism of social media.

While the term Screenagers is typically used for the ‘digitally connected youth’, I use it for ‘digitally connected everyone’. As digital usage proliferates, the impact at a surface, and, at deeper concept level, is clearly visible. Do we understand all of it, or where all this is going to take us? Far from it, but it makes for an interesting topic  to observe, note and share.

I attempt to do that through my talks and workshops, and have been doing loads of those lately, but I haven’t been writing much on the blog and I think this series is going to help me discipline myself into writing regularly.

To begin, Twitter has been on my mind, as only a couple of days ago a journalist from Hindustan Times called regarding this story and asked me to comment on whether people vent out more on Twitter.

Naturally – it is a broadcast network. People are there to share opinions (unlike Facebook, where they go to enjoy and manage their relationships) and usually it means either they will have something positive or negative to say.  Even a mild negative would usually find vocal expression, whereas only an overwhelmingly positive one does. The scale is already tilted.

A large mass of people ‘broadcasting’ means, we are now in the domain of numbers, not quality- the words, the expressions are ‘mass’. A large majority have never really spoken with a mike in hand; they haven’t been heard before.

The ability to freely speak, and be heard by ‘anyone’ can be extremely heady and intoxicating. It becomes headier when you combine Twitter’s unique mix of identity, and, anonymity. It gives you the choice to retain your ‘real’ social graph (you-as-you engaging  people you know in real life, or are connected with through your real friends, or strangers who are real as you); or, start a parallel social graph connected with real people, but anonymously. On Facebook such anonymity would be useless, but on Twitter it makes the equation more empowering, IF your real world stature is not already high – you are anyway not well known; now you know who the other (real) people are; but they don’t know who you are.  You can now seemingly get away with a lot more without the answerability of identity.

Another irony that plays out nicely on Twitter is the powerful are the most vulnerable. Twitter brings people otherwise far from reach, within your reach – a national political leader; a senior journalist;  a best-selling author; a movie superstar.  They have the stature, the image, the reputation.

When you don’t have a reputation, you have nothing to lose. What you want is attention. Throw a stone at someone who has a reputation, you get the attention. Often enough others join in the fun; nobody verifies facts; soon enough even the context is lost. Why did this start? Few seems to know, but everyone has a comment. It’s live entertainment a la Death Race; The Running Man. The powerful are the most vulnerable.

Fairly normal people (read, all of us) seem to behave differently on Twitter.  It seems to bring out, in a highly  exaggerated way, ‘a’ dimension of our personality. Humour and wit; philosophy; creativity; activism; gyaan. Could be anything, but it’s heightened.  We are out to impress.

What do you think?

 

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