Tag Archives: India

Willful participants in a ‘social media revolution’ – learnings series 1

We’ve all experienced the frenzy surrounding ‘India Against Corruption’ episode led by Anna Hazare.  Among other things, it has also been termed as the coming of age for social media in India. I think if anything at all, then, more than ever, it highlights my fears of possible misuse of the medium.

The possible misuse, as I put it, is not merely the ability to manipulate public sentiment (as against influence) but also willful participation by a large mass of (well meaning) people, carried away, possibly without understanding the depth, consequences of an issue they appear to be supporting.

Here are a few symptoms that I notice from this particular episode.

Jingoism rules

We have found someone who is going to get rid of corruption. Anna Hazare is the new Mahatma – it doesn’t matter that Mahatma’s principles are forgotten in practice by all of us, but it feels so good that we have found a new hero.

While we are at it, let’s also see how this compares with recent revolution in Egypt – it makes me appear like a global citizen in front of my friends and peers overseas who read my feeds.  It doesn’t matter that India is already the largest democracy in the world.

Tweet before you read

I wrote about dumbing down of social media sometime ago:

Not so long ago comments were the benchmark of participation on social media channels – first on blogs, then on social networks. Comments, however, take thought, intelligence and, of course, time – you’ve got to read the post, fill in your personal details etc.  Therefore, while a comments  help build conversations, perspective, and, depth, they are not ‘scalable’.

It’s far easier to simply click a button to participate – it doesn’t matter whether you read the content or not . It helps further that the said unit of engagement helps share the content with his/ her universe of readers/ followers/ friends.

Enter the now ubiquitous  ‘Like’ button, or, even the ‘Retweet’ button on Twitter (my belief is, it will also eventually be called the ‘Like’ or ‘Share’, for that’s what it does anyway).

Research shows that penetrating the organic time-line of a user has the most influence on his/ her universe of followers,  and ‘Likes’ let you do that painlessly.

In this whole cut-and-paste, twitter happy economy, who has the time to read, understand the issue? Few, very few of us, bothered to read the proposed ‘Lokpal bill’.  Of course corruption has to end, the bill is being touted as the solution, hence it must be ok to support the bill.

Easy as 1,2,3

Anna Hazare’s fast enters another day.To express solidarity with him, can we all change our status message to support a MAN who is fighting for us, to bring a stronger Anti Corruption Law in the country?If “YES” please make this your status.If “No” God Bless us!!

The digital equivalent of giving alms, a status update on Facebook or Twitter acts as a balm for the aggrieved conscience. We must do the right thing and what a painless way to do it – virtual actions make participating in protests so easy.

Am a celebrity, the new change agent

These self-proclaimed change agents feed collective frenzy through their Twitter feeds; in this episode some even claiming to the custodians of the very issue of corruption itself. One went to the extent of the suggesting that he can finally stop writing about corruption, heaving a sigh of relief. Corruption is over, tackled successfully.

Err, I have a little errand to run overseas. Keep the next issue ready, I will be back.

Herd mentality

That social media is an extremely viral medium is well understood – word travels really fast and the collective frenzy thus achieved is infectious. Before we know, we are a herd – the few speaking contrary to popular voices are treated as black sheep.

Like I said at the beginning, this post is not about Anna Hazare, or the current episode, but an attempt to understand collective behaviour in times of social media.

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Sprituality in abuse.

I was watching the India-Australia quarter-finals of the ICC World Cup 2011 at a lounge bar with a group of friends. Seated not very far was a group of four – 2 young couples who had also come to enjoy the match on the big screen, as everyone else in the bar that evening.

Both the boys seated together on a sofa, across the girls, however, were engrossed with their mobile phones.  The girls kept watching the match, chatted intermittently. Finally however, one of the girls, asked the boys “Why come here if you wanted to be the phone?”.

The boys ignored the question, prompting the girl to share a meaningful smile with the other, accompanied by “#@#*#&e (hindi expletive) hain”. How it was said was priceless.

The other girl laughed. Boys continued…on their phones.

The words seemed mildly inappropriate, coming from a beautiful girl, but brought a brief smile on my face even at that time.The meaning however is deeper.

Things that we were meant to enjoy go wasted, as we busy ourselves with nonsense.

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Launching the new look Blogworks site and blog

Welcome to the new look, new everything, Blogworks business site and blog.

From the very start, of this redesign project, we were clear that we needed someone with the sensitivity to see this as a strategic investment into our future, and not a mere design and development project. We are delighted with the results that the collaborative effort between us and my friend Sameer, who runs Brand New, have achieved.

My friend Guru, who designed the original Blogworks site, has been advising us too, regarding some back-end issues. It’s all done now and here we are – please tell us if you like what you see.

The key changes you might notice:

  1. First of all, we are now on WordPress, which gives us far more flexibility and control on our content – the result is sharper messaging focus, with fewer sections and crisper content, clearly articulating our offerings and differentiation
  2. The home page is now driven by calls for action, whether it a prompt to engage with us in a business discussion or a link sharing valuable content
  3. In a big change, the blog now aggregates writings by ALL of us, and not by me alone. We have a talented and growing team – people with great ideas and insights. So it makes perfect sense to aggregate everyone’s content on the main blog, and create a unique blog page for all contributors, including me. Our signature caricatures showcase our ability to take things, and ourselves lightly besides giving the blog a unique, personal touch. Check them out. As always, Amita has got her hand up in question; Rajika has chosen colour; Swetha has colourful bricks? See them all 🙂 .
  4. Most importantly, we have been able to ensure that the site retains  OUR unique character

We are very comfortable with the space and its energy. What do you think? We would appreciate your feedback about  the site design and its structure, and would work upon items that add value.

Thank you once again Sameer and Guru for your work on this project.  Thank you all friends who gave us inputs on  early cuts of the site – they were extremely valuable – we are grateful

Please continue sending your good wishes our way 🙂


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Choosing social media basis business context and relevance

A gym buddy of mine who heads marketing for a TV news channel mentioned in passing the other day that they were considering placing interns in the news room to populate news content on their social media touch points. My intuitive advice was, what works for a youth brand with an irreverent attitude of ‘everything goes’ may not work for a news channel where accuracy of reportage, seriousness of tone and language might be crucial to achieve business objectives of the exercise.

The solution may lie in coaching their journalists about social media impact, tools and enable them a technology layer allowing them to share news on the go, and more importantly leverage social media for research, building relationships and more…

He got the point fairly quickly.

Similarly a large telecom operator concerned about their reputation online and desirous of setting up a new social media team to address each customer query may find it trapped in a situation where it is required to duplicate the entire customer service infrastructure all over again – it would be ok to do so, where social media is the ‘primary layer’ for customer concern resolution.

Instead the opportunity may actually be in again, enabling the existing customer service team with coaching and technology to track, resolve and communicate resolution and the core team’s job could really be diagnose key issues, work internally with multiple departments to ensure that identified issue patters are addressed, and track future trends to notice shifts.

Use social media instead to create virtuous cycles for customer engagement, co-creation and so on…

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