Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B2B Social Media - Doing it the Right Way

A lot is being written about social media and its applicability in B2B context. There are contrasting views about how B2B social media should be done, what is the ROI, do the rules change and so on.

In this article which I recently wrote for afaqs!, the number one website in Asia-Pac for Advertising, Media & Marketing professionals, I have described how B2B social media can be more effective, what are the things to look out for and how a strong content strategy and integrated approach can go a long way.



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Exciting Times for Midas Touch - Award and Rapid Expansion Plans

The Year 2014 has started great for Midas Touch. Last year kept us super busy – of course for good reasons. Let me share the exciting news which made the last few months so thrilling.

On 13th Feb this year, Midas Touch won the award for “Best B2B Social Media Agency”. The award is conferred by ABP News and The Global Youth Marketing Forum. Midas Touch is the only agency to win the award in B2B Social Media category and we are the only agency to have won it for the second consecutive year. Yay - celebration time!! A BIG Thank You to all our customers, partners and employees for their faith and support.





Last year, Sanjeev Nambudiri came on board of Midas Touch as Co-Founder. Sanjeev comes with 22+ years of vast experience in sales and business development. As Sanjeev refers to himself, he is a recent but committed convert to the role that marketing & social media can play in growing sales and differentiation and sees a bright future for organizations willing to apply these methods. 

And finally, I am super pleased to announce the launch of our new website. Check out www.i-midastouch.com. The new website boasts swanky design, cool UI and more clearly depicts our positioning. Do share your feedback on how you like the new site.

Once again thank everyone – my Twitter friends, LinkedIn connections and you - the super cool blog readers :) 

Monday, January 13, 2014

3 Ways to Increase your Facebook Organic Page Reach

Towards the end of the year 2013, Facebook gave millions of brands a “not so good” New Year gift. Facebook changed its algorithm in such a way that brands observed a severe drop in the organic reach for their Facebook pages.  

Facebook bluntly ‘advised’ the brands to pay for ads if they want to reach out to ‘their own’ fans. Social media marketers and page admins were obviously very unhappy about this. To start with, brands already spent a lot of money in acquiring the fans through ads in a hope to reach out to and engage with a wide array of audience only to realize now that even to reach out to that audience, one would need to pay extra.

Although promoting individual posts seem like an obvious option, we were trying to find out ways of increasing the organic reach of the page updates – without having to pay ANY additional money to Facebook.

So here I share 3 awesome tips which will help you increase the organic reach of your Facebook page updates - absolutely FREE, without having to pay Facebook for that.

#1: Publish Text Updates

I know, I know – the good thing about Facebook is the visual impact and it offers you opportunity to attract attention of your fans through stunning visuals. But do you know that a text update has more reach than an update with a picture? Engagement might be low but the reach will surely be more.

I have noticed that for some pages, the reach of a text status update is almost 1000% more than a picture update! Can you beat that? Yes, it does sound very irrational and illogical, but it is true. Try it!



#2: Publish Albums

Another thing which has worked awesomely well for us is Facebook albums. Next time you post a status update, include more than 1 image. Even if you include 2 or 3 images, you will see significant increase in the organic reach of your post.

You can think of lot of creative ways of creating albums and reach out to more fans on your page.

#3: Post frequently when the fans are online

Facebook Insights is a real great thing which Facebook has introduced – provided you know how to use it well.  The Insights shows you the time when your page fans are online. You can keep a note of that and post your updates at that time.


  
You can plan to post multiple updates in a day – at the time when your fans are online – and start seeing more organic reach. The concept is simple, if you post your updates when the fans are online, it is more likely to appear on their timeline and the fans are more likely to interact with your updates (of course, your updates need to be engaging)

Are there any more tips which have worked well for you? Share the learnings – after all, social media is all about sharing knowledge and learning from each other :-)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Crisis Management using Social Media – Buffer Case Study

On Saturday, I received an email with subject “Buffer has been hacked – here is what’s going on”. As an ardent Buffer fan and user, my first reaction was “Oh my god. What must have happened to my tweets/ Facebook posts?”. But when I opened the email, I was up for a pleasant surprise. Yes, I am saying a “pleasant surprise”. Here is why:

#1: The email did not beat around the bush but clearly stated the fact that buffer has been hacked and it’s a problem which needs to be handled. At the same time, the language and tone clearly showed that the Buffer team was concerned and apologetic about what happened. While things can go wrong with anyone, finally taking the ownership makes or breaks the deal.

 

  
#2: The email clearly stated what needs to be done next – which is most important.


#3: While the Buffer team was working round the clock for solving the problem, it made sure that team members were posting constant updates on their live blog, Facebook and Twitter. Having worked on software products for a considerable period in my career, I can fully understand how difficult it must be for the team to handle the issues and solve the technical problems. But at the same time, they made sure that they don’t keep the users in dark. I was amazed to see updates almost after every couple of hours.  The frequency of the updates clearly showed that the team was working round the clock over the weekend to take care of this crisis.



#4: Here is what completely amazed and blew me away. I posted a tweet congratulating the buffer team for their excellent crisis management and I got a personalized response. Note that buffer has 145K followers and I can only imagine the flood of mentions it must have got after the hacking incident. Responding to each tweet – that too in a so much personalized manner in incredible!

The personalized signature at the end of the tweet from Buffer team made me look at their “About Us” section to know really who the members are. What increased my respect for the team is the fact that the buffer team is only 13 people and the people who responded to my tweet did not necessarily belong to “marketing” or “social media” department. Belle is the Content Crafter there and Brian is the Designer!  Yet again, a fine example to emphasize the fact that marketing is no more confined to marketing department.




Key takeaways from this:
-          In case of crisis like this, be honest and transparent. Show the concern and at the same time, accept and take complete responsibility
-          Communicate the updates and tell the affected community that you are working on it
-          Social Media is a powerful channel – while you enjoy publishing news and achievements there, it can very well be used in such situations as well  
-          Social media is not ONLY marketing department job. The whole buffer team, right from the CEO to the Designer, all of them were on social channel, responding to queries, feedback and appreciations.
-          Give a personal touch to your social media presence– to be honest, the personalized response to my tweet made me write this blog post!


Have you witnessed any other fine example of crisis management using social media? Share your comments!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Brands Paying Heavy Price for Social Media Insensitivity

Yes, social media undoubtedly offers a great way to brands to connect with the consumers, build emotional rapport and have a more personalized connection with them. And when we talk about emotional connection, it is important that the brands remain sensitive about what they publish on social media.

Here are examples of some social media disasters where brands had to pay a heavy price for being insensitive on social media.

#1: Chipotle Mexican Grill

Recently Chipotle faked its Twitter hack. 


Undoubtedly, it got the attention from public. The number of followers increased – but are they really the people who want to engage with the brand? I doubt. The supposedly hacked tweets got thousands of RTs. But are these creating any value for the brand or for the audience? Not at all!

I firmly believe and continue to reiterate that brands need to look at quality of conversations and engagement through social media – rather than the numbers like followers and RTs only.

I am sure ardent fans of Chipotle certainly did not appreciate this stunt and somewhere the trust was shaken.  

#2:  Volkswagen India

Volkswagen India did a “vibrating newspaper” ad in leading newspapers across India. Indeed an innovation – it became the talk of the Twitter town and blogosphere. Positive and negative comments started pouring in. Volkswagen unfortunately was not prepared to handle the attention.

There were many tweets about the vibrating newspaper not being appreciated. In response to that (probably as a defense), Volkswagen India tweeted “Women would be dumb to call it a vibrator. Or maybe they do not understand real driving experience. #PunIntended #Volkswagen #Creative”.

Obviously such sexist tweet was retweeted many times and received lot of backlashing. Volkswagen deleted the tweet and all the ReTweets. But the following screenshot, taken by Nandita remained and that will continue to remind people about the insensitivity shown by Volkswagen. Yes, Volkswagen responded after more than 3 days that its Twitter handle was compromised and they are looking into it – but is anybody in the mood to listen?

(Via Social Samosa)
Mistakes happen but brands really need to learn handling negative comments on social media. Deleting the tweet or post is NOT an option.

#3: Hyundai

In April 2013, Hyundai released an ad for British market depicting a man attempting suicide by suffocating himself with exhaust fumes inside his Hyundai car. But he fails because the Hyundai ix35 fuel cell car emits only water vapor. 


While the ad makers were patting their backs when The Drum magazine named it as Ad of the Week, something happened - A few days after the ad was released, an advertising copywriter in London posted a blog post in which she posted the suicide note of her father who had committed suicide in exactly the same manner.

The blog post immediately went viral – and the ad became viral for all the wrong reasons. Hyundai did tweet an apology and withdrew the ad. But the copies of the ad were already out on YouTube and other channels. How to handle the crisis is a different story, but I think suicide should not be promoted in advertising in any way. Period.

#4: KFC, Thailand

In April 2012, after an earthquake of 8.5 Richter at the coast of Indonesia, the whole Thailand was watching tsunami warnings and was fearing the worst. At such time, KFC Thailand thought of ‘cashing’ on it and posted on its Facebook wall:

“Let’s hurry home and follow the earthquake news. And don’t forget to order your favorite KFC menu.

Such insensitive post, on the company Facebook wall, was obviously not appreciated by the people who were associated with the brand on Facebook. When thousands of people lost their lives in Tsunami, all this food chain could think of was its Chicken. Although the post was taken down later on, it had done the damage.

#
5: American Apparel

In October 2012, when Sandy Hurricane hit the East Coast of United States and was creating havoc in that part of the country, the leading retailer American Apparel thought that it could cash on this by offering ‘discounts’ to people!

(Via Forbes)

Along with a very ‘helpful map’, American Apparel sent out an email announcing 20% discount for 36 hours for the customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Unsurprisingly, the Twitterati backlashed it in a big way – to the extent where people announced on Twitter about them boycotting the American Apparel stores. The damage was irreversible. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Power of Social Collaboration to Create Your Personal Brand

I am super excited to be part of this event happening in Pune on September 7th. Apart from sharing my own learning on using social media tools for building a powerful personal brand, I am more excited to listen to the panelists and learn through the interactions.



When: September 7, 2013 11:00 am to 1:00pm
Where: Persistent Bhageerath, S.B. Road, Pune

Come and join us for an exciting Saturday morning!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

10 Tips for Writing a Great Press Release


The first question which could come to the mind of business owners is: what should I write about in the Press Release? Well, there are many scenarios when one can send out a press release. You could do a PR on winning an award, for announcing a new product, new office opening, new customer acquisition or announcing your grand expansion plans. Press Release is one of the most important forms of formal communications.


Here is a handy checklist of 10 things to keep in mind while writing your next press release.



#1: Keep it grammatically correct

Grammatically incorrect sentences, spelling mistakes is a strict NO in a press release. Proof read the PR (many times, if required) to ensure that there are no language errors in your PR.


#2: Keep it short and newsworthy

It is not enough that you are excited about the news. The press release needs to catch the attention of the reader too. Make it newsworthy by mentioning clearly as to what is so great about the news. Don’t make it too long – I would highly recommend keeping it one page or maximum two pages.


#3: Headline Makes it or Break it

The headline of the press release will make the reader decide whether she wants to read further or not. Make sure that the headline no longer than 8 words. I usually recommend including company name in the headline. If required, include a sub-heading giving more information about the news – but do know that the headline should not be incomplete without the sub-heading.


#4: Spend 80% time in writing the first paragraph

Well, don’t take it literally! What I mean to say here is you need to pay very careful attention in writing the first paragraph of your press release. Include the crux of the news in the first paragraph – the reader needs to understand what you wish to convey. Include your company name, the news, why the news is so great and what is your company’s take on the news.  But – this certainly does not mean that your first paragraph is ten lines long. The first paragraph should not be more than 4-5 lines with very short sentences.


#5: Include quotes

Include quotes from the management/ customers/ partners to bring in some personal touch and authenticity to the press release. Don’t forget to include the complete and accurate title of the person whom you are quoting.  


#6: Bring in hard facts, accurate numbers

Bring in solid numbers, hard facts and statistics, as appropriate, to your press release. These add lot of influence to the release and make it newsworthy.   


#7: Allow people to know more

Considering that you have written a press release which can intrigue the reader enough, ensure that you provide a website URL or some other information for getting more information. Typically reporters, journalists or bloggers do like to know the more stories about the news which are not written in the release.


#8: Include Boilerplate

Boilerplate is the standard description about your company which is used consistently without change. Readers like journalists, bloggers, potential investors, customers or job seekers usually read the boilerplate to know about the company. It is important that the boilerplate is small, concise and clearly states what your company is, what it offers and whom does it provide products/ services.


#9: Optimize the keywords and language

Many press releases go online today and you need to ensure that the press release uses the right set of keywords so that it also helps in your Search Engine Optimization efforts. But do take care that you do not load the press release with unnecessary keywords.


#10: Include contact information

Provide clear contact information with name, title, email address, physical address and phone number of your media contact. Reporters might want to connect with you for more information and clearly stated contact information makes the job easier.


Good luck with your next PR! With the hard work of creating a newsworthy item done, focus on cashing on it! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

15 Awesome Social Media Quotes

We all have been hearing a lot about social media marketing. It is no more a buzzword and businesses - small or large - have started adopting it in very creative ways to create engagement, connection and communication with their consumers. 


Presenting here are 15 really excellent quotes about social media which we truly swear by. Have a look! 


#1: We don't have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it – Erik Qualman

#2: Focus on how to be social, not on how to do social. ~ Jay Baer

#3: The beauty of social media is that it will point out your company’s flaws; the key questions is how quickly you address these flaws. -Erik Qualmann, Socialnomics

#4: Social networks aren’t about Web sites. They’re about experiences. -Mike DiLorenzo

#5: Quit counting fans, followers and blog subscribers like bottle caps. Think, instead, about what you’re hoping to achieve with and through the community that actually cares about what you’re doing. – Amber Naslund, Social Media Today

#6: The difference between PR and social media is that PR is about positioning, and social media is about becoming, being and improving. – Chris Brogan, author of Trust Agents

#7: Conversations among the members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations. – Seth Godin

#8: The qualities that make Twitter seem insane and half-baked are what makes it so powerful ~ Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard Law Professor

#9: The problem with trying to determine ROI for Social Media is you are trying to put numeric quantities around human interactions and conversations, which are not quantifiable. ~ Jason Falls (Social Media Keynote Speaker)

#10: Social marketing eliminates the middlemen, providing brands the unique opportunity to have a direct relationship with their customers. - Bryan Wiener

#11: Saying Hello doesn’t have an ROI. It’s about building relationships. Gary Vaynerchuk

#12: Social media isn’t inexpensive, it’s different expensive. 

#13: This is the most rapidly changing landscape ever–a year ago we did not talk about Pinterest, today it’s third in popularity after Facebook and Twitter.  - Dave Kerpen, CEO, Likeable Media

#14: Social Media puts the “public” into PR and the “market” into marketing. - Chris Brogan, President of New Marketing Labs

#15: Social media doesn’t create negativity, it uncovers it.


Reading these quotes, I thought you might want to read some social media related articles. Below are some of the most read articles on this blog:

  1. Handling Negative Comments on Social Media. Read here
  2. Social Media ROI – Measuring the Quantitative and Qualitative Results – Read it here
  3. Your 10 Most Common Social Media Questions Answered – Read it here
  4. Mind Your Facebook Page Etiquettes – Dos and Don’ts – Read the article here
  5. Don’t Believe if you Hear This About Social Media – Complete article here

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Don’t Commit These 10 Mistakes on LinkedIn

LinkedIn recently crossed 200M users worldwide. If you have ever done some ego surfing (searching for your own name on search engines), you will notice that your LinkedIn profile is most probably the first link which appears (provided you have created one). Recruiters are increasingly turning to LinkedIn for searching for right candidates to play critical roles in organizations.  

LinkedIn is a very powerful social media platform for establishing individual brand authority and also to generate business leads.

So there is no doubt that every professional must have a thoughtfully created LinkedIn profile. However, simply creating a profile is not the end of the story. You need to be active and participative there to create a strong personal brand. How and what to do – I will cover that in the coming blog posts.

In this particular post, we will look at 10 things which you definitely SHOULD NOT be doing on LinkedIn.

#1: Incomplete Profile
Once you decide to be present on LinkedIn, invest some time in completing your profile. It
does not matter whether you are a fresher or an experienced person, you need to have a properly completed profile. Include details about your education, companies you have worked with and don’t forget to elaborate on the role you played at those companies. Include specialties which differentiate you. If you want people to contact you, don’t forget to include the best way to reach you.

#2: Canned Connection Requests
When you are sending a connection request to someone, don’t be lazy and just send the standard invite. Mention in your invite as to why you think there will be value in connecting. People don’t like connection requests from unknown people but if the request is personalized, there is a great chance that you will end up making a valuable professional connection on LinkedIn.

#3: Getting Everyone on Connection List
I personally do not accept every connection request which comes to me. I would like to get value and at the same time, offer some value to the people I am connected with on LinkedIn. I also refrain myself from sending bulk connection requests to people.

#4: Mindless Status Updates
Status update is for sharing important information or updates with your connections. One needs to pay a close attention as to what the connections will appreciate and like to hear. Don’t post mindless status updates about how you are feeling or give live commentary of an ongoing game on LinkedIn.

#5: Improper Use of Like Feature
LinkedIn’s Like is a very robust feature. Here is how it works: If person A ‘Likes’ a particular status update from person B, that status update is shown to all the connections of Person A even if none of them are connected with Person B.  I highly recommend people to use the Like feature very judiciously to share interesting articles, updates or job openings. Unfortunately, most of the Likes I have seen are either for motivational quotes or profile photo changes of people!  

#6: Superficial Recommendations  
Before LinkedIn launched the endorse features, ‘Recommendations’ was the way people could praise each other’s capabilities on LinkedIn. I suggest that offer recommendations to only those people about whom you really have something praiseworthy to say. Mention your own personal experience. Don’t just go on mentioning the bio data of the person you are recommending. Superficial recommendations will do more harm to your own profile than to the person whom you are giving and may make you lose your own credibility.

#7: Ignoring Messages in Inbox
Treat your LinkedIn Inbox as important as your official email. Frequently check messages there. You can get an email alert when someone sends you message on LinkedIn. Don’t ignore that. Make sure you respond to all the relevant messages and maintain professionalism.

#8: Spamming the Groups with Senseless Discussions
LinkedIn has very aptly given the name ‘Discussions’ for the discussions which happen in the group. Remember that Groups are not the places for you to do your personal blog promotion. No harm in posting a link to your blog article but not for promotion but to invite views and ideas or if you truly think that you have something very valuable to share with fellow group members. Discussions necessarily mean that it has to be a two-way communication than a one-way bombarding of messages. If at all you want to promote something, there is a separate Promote tab available in Groups and you can use that.


#9: Irrelevant Responses to Group Discussions
Taking ahead the point discussed in point #8 above, don’t join Groups with a sole purpose of promoting yourself or your business. When you see any discussion where you can contribute, share knowledge honestly. No harm in promoting your products and services where the discussion owner is seeking some help and your products/ services offer the solution. But don’t do a mechanical copy /paste job of posting your company blurb in all the discussions. You will not only lose credibility but can also get banned from the groups or from LinkedIn as well.

#10: Spamming
Just because you are connected on LinkedIn, it does not give you right to add email addresses of all your connections to your email database and send marketing communication to them. I personally find it very irritating. If I truly want to hear from a particular company, I will go ahead and subscribe for emails/ newsletters from that company’s website. One does not need LinkedIn for that. Similarly, use the email feature in LinkedIn cautiously and don’t spam people’s inboxes with every little news item at your end.

Well, it does looks like a long list of recommendations. But social world, just like the real life world, requires you to follow some etiquette. Follow some simple rules and maintain the spirit of social media.

Friday, April 26, 2013

What Does YOUR Business Card Say About You?


When I started on my own around 2.5 years ago, a good friend and CEO of IDYeah Creations, Vishal Mehta, helped me with the design of the logo and the business card. At that time, the idea about the business was clear and it was also clear as to what is going to be the business offering.

My first business card looked like this


I started exchanging the card during business interactions or networking events and also started collecting business cards from the people I meet. My personal experience is that when someone hands over the card to me, while I am looking at the card, I am also listening to that person as to what exactly the business is. Many a times, it gets difficult to remember the exact context of conversation and follow up plan after a few days.

Then starts the Internet search based on the name of the person. Slowly the context starts building up as information unfolds on the internet, you start knowing the person more through social media channels and if you find a photo of that person on the internet, it becomes easy to connect a face with the business. 

Taking this thread in mind, Vishal came up with this new design for the card.

Front Side
Back Side


I simply love this ‘personal business card’ because:
  • I think this is an ideal card of a social media enthusiast – with information about all social media channels where I can be connected
  • It has all the details (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, My Blog Address, Website URL, Phone number, email address and also my company name) without too much clutter and too little text
  • Photo on the card helps in remembering
  • Notes section at the back of the card helps in taking points about conversation and note down the follow up plan
Now what’s the reason for me personally boasting about this card on my blog? Simply because I thought this example will help my blog readers in getting some pointers on their business card designs :- )

Thanks once again Vishal for this amazing, innovative and out-of-the box design!
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