Tag Archives: twitter

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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IndiaSocial™Case Challenge is now live – time to see the depth of social media work in India.

It’s amazing how much time working out details of ‘seemingly’ easy things can take. Finally, after a couple of weeks of ‘in-the-making’ the IndiaSocial™Case Challenge that we’ve been busy coordinating is now ‘live’. My sincere thanks to exchange4media and impact Weekly for partnering with the initiative.
Open from 3 February 2010, through 28 February 2010 (IST), the IndiaSocial™ Case Challenge invites submissions of their social media work in India, from brands, private and government organisations, not-for-profits, media bodies, celebrity brands…

  1. Top 3 cases, as selected by the judging panel, will get featured in impact Weekly and also get an opportunity to present their case at a future event hosted by IndiaSocial
  2. Top 10 case-studies will be featured on IndiaSocial.in under a special Gold Class section
  3. Both short-term projects and longer term strategic work can be submitted to win under respective categories

On the judging panel are some of the most credible names in social media and journalism:
1. Dina Mehta, Co-Founder & Head of Research, Mosoci
2. George Skaria, Founder, ThoughtSpring and Former Editor, Indian Management
3. Kiruba Shankar, CEO, Business Blogging
4. Peter Griffin, Editor, Caferati; co-founder SEA-EAT and the World Wide Help Group
5. Pradyuman Maheshwari, Group Editor, exchange4media Group
6. Yours truly.
To ensure complete transparency and freedom from bias, any judge/judges will not rate an entry basis there/ their organisations involvement in a submitted case-study.
While we will share judging criteria along with declaration of winners, some of the factors that judges would be looking for consist:

  1. Clarity of objectives
  2. Alignment of results with goals
  3. Rigour in measurement
  4. RoI
  5. Stakeholder engagement
  6. Innovation & differentiation
  7. Delight factors

More about the initiative here.
I am hoping to see some great case-studies in the @IndiaSocial Case Challenge that will convince me that there is more to all the social media talk than mere hype.

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Toby Bloomberg's social media book, using Twitter

socialmediamarketinggsp - toby bloomberg.jpg

I don’t understand how I didn’t update my readers about it earlier – a slip.
My friend Toby Bloomberg recently wrote Social Media Marketing GSP – a tweet book: the first book written using Twitter as a platform for creation and distribution.
It’s NOT a book about Twitter, but, a social media book, using Twitter.
Toby reached out to practitioners across the world and gave them a subject/ question to focus upon.
I participated too: My question was “What happens when you start without strategy?”

This is what I thought.

However, you should begin, from the beginning. In true Twitter style, the book tells you all the key points, without demanding too much time.

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Cleartrip resolution of a neo-influencer complaint is a case-study

I cringe every time I read the words #FAIL , #boo or thus like on Twitter, from users who might just have given a cursory glance to a tool or barely used a service.
This is someone’s brand we are referring to, a brand that’s dear to someone; a service in whose creation someone has put a lot of time, effort and money. How easy it is for us, to sit at a distance and boo, setting someone up for failure, without sometimes giving the other party time/ opportunity to make amends on genuine gaps.
I find that on one side social media gives opportunity consumers to transparently share feedback, on the other, our usage of it is often knee-jerk and may I dare say, even juvenile.
Here, however, is a case of genuine customer agony upon discovering at the airport that your ticket for overseas travel; for which you paid in advance; is void. You end up buying another ticket to make it to your destination. This is what happened to my friend, and power blogger, Kiruba. The culprit – Cleartrip.com
I have often said to marketers attending my talks, workshops that how a marketer responds to negative feedback is the key to success with social media. Going on the defensive is not going to help. A mistake has been made – own up; mistakes do happen, and the moment you acknowledge and convey that to the customer, half the battle is already won.
‘Resolution’ is the only apology acceptable, not a verbal apology that everyone seems to offer. Now go on, top it with something that says ‘We care’ and you can expect forgiveness, even make friends.
Cleartrip shares how they resolved the complaint in this transparent post – transparency has become their hallmark, besides a clear, purposeful interface on the site.
Cleatrip, is rightly disappointed that not as many people shared the positive resolution, as the ones who contributed to the initial negative burst. Well, you have earned some more trust and customers in the process is all I could say to them. I have been buying regularly from Cleartrip and would not just continue but likely recommend them to more people after this episode.
Thanks Manpreet for sharing the case-study post with me.
UPDATE – 16 June, 2009 at 3.42 pm – Kiruba gives his side of the story on this blog update (2nd part of the story still pending)
UPDATE – 26 June, 2009 at 4.25 pm – Kiruba put up part 2 of his story a couple of days ago. Here it is now.

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Twitter Talk: Where one to one, goes one to many

Last night, I and a friend and peer of mine, a very senior & respected public relations professional, were chatting over the phone about personal stuff and the talk swerved towards Twitter for a few minutes.
He, a Twitter newbie, probed on why are people motivated to broadcast essentially one-to-one messages over a public stream on Twitter?
Intuitively I replied:

  1. In an increasingly exhibitionist world people increasingly want to ‘flaunt their conversations/ thoughts’ to a larger audience – ever so often the person with whom they/ we may be conversing with, over Twitter, may in fact be live with us on GTalk too
  2. This flaunting is also sometimes about ‘who’ you are having this conversation with – the equivalent of a ‘names dropping’ – for fans there is a certain kick in being able to have one-on-one conversations with @gulpanag, on Twitter

Both harmless…

  1. In a more productive way, a purposeful conversation that first started one-on-one, might be joined into by our respective friends and peers, adding perspective and thought – not possible in a private one-on-one tool
  2. More people in the public stream who found the conversation interesting might join in to add value, and also become friends
  3. We/ others could easily share links/ sources/ resources adding further value and knowledge

Collective knowledge creation and sharing…
For marketers and communication professionals like us, Twitter, and other social networking sites, are subject matter about people behaviour and how content and knowledge is being, or will be, created and shared besides trend-spotting.
It’s been over a year since I wrote this piece about Twitter uses for HT. What are the new ways in which you are using Twitter?

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