Monday, December 19, 2011

Social Media Viral Marketing Success – Not as Easy as Catching Virus

The recent song “Kolavari Di” is a great example of how something can be a hit through viral effect through social media. 1.4M YouTube views in 3 days - definitely a huge success which has made lot of people to take notice of this. While I was reading the numerous articles written on this song (with various perspective), I was thinking about what can make a campaign to go viral. With social media, it has become relatively easy to create a viral campaign because of the mere fact that people are already on Internet, ready to consume information and very eager to share it too.

Of course there is no thumb rule for this or there is nothing which can ‘guarantee’ a viral impact on social media. Yes, there are some basic factors which are ‘required’ for a viral campaign. Viral campaigns, on social media or otherwise, need a great detail of planning and flawless execution. While the platforms are free, lot of creativity and imagination is required.

When we talk about the basic factors, some things which come to my mind are:

#1 Emotional Connect: I have observed that many of such campaigns have a very strong emotional connect. Consider Airtel’s campaign of ‘Har Ek Friend Jaroori Hota Hai'. It has a very strong emotional connect for the youth (friends and friendship). Vodafone Zoo Zoo ads made a wonderful watch during Cricket season with everyday situations being shown very cutely.

#2 Incentivized Share or Pass Along: All the viral campaigns make it extremely easy to share or pass along and are incentivized for sharing. Sometimes the incentives are in the form of rewords, free gifts and many a times, the incentives are in the form of ‘style statements’, ‘I know this’, ‘I am the first one telling you about this’, ‘I started this’.

#3 Well-spread Awareness: The campaign can go viral only when at least the initial group of people hear about it and decide to spread it. So it is extremely important to spread the awareness of the campaign.  These could be through paid, planned or sometimes unpaid/ unplanned medias. Anythingforjetta was a very successful Twitter campaign run by Volkswagen which was beautifully spread with the use of traditional newspaper media (very much planned). ‘Kolavari di’ was talked about by celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan on Twitter (apparently not necessarily planned!). Hotmail is a another example where the information was passed on beautifully through a message ‘Get your free email at Hotmail’ at the end of every email message.

#4 Extremely Easy to Understand and More Importantly, Easier to Transmit: A message cannot be passed along unless it is easy to consume and even easier to transmit. It has to be super light. Remember the Macintosh campaign - “The computer for rest of us”? Very easy to understand, causally speak about and pass along without sounding unknowledgeable about it.

Again, there is never a guarantee that a campaign WILL go viral. So do cautiously evaluate someone who claims to offer you guaranteed result with viral campaigns. And definitely do not think of viral campaigns using the same old marketing rules. These are not about “How much you spend on marketing” and “to how many people you beg to for covering your news”. These are about telling stories and forming a connection with the audience. – and then letting them spread your story.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Yes! The Dots Do Get Connected

It wasn’t an easy decision to leave the company where I started my career, worked for more than 10 years, climbed the ladder from Trainee to Vice President and most importantly, where I learnt lots and lots of things.

But there was something from within which was calling and I needed to be outside of what I was doing to understand that calling. So finally after a long vacation to Europe where I got to spend some quality time with myself, Midas Touch was born in August 2010. Why the name Midas Touch? Well I wanted the name to specify the benefit our customers are going to get and ‘Midas Touch’ says it all :- )

I personally enjoyed every single day of the last year, thoroughly enjoyed the thrill and learning experience. Got a chance to work closely with various business owners and to be part of their journey - start-ups as well as established enterprises. Every aspect, right from convincing stake holders about starting with social media, defining the complete internet marketing strategies and getting on to the ground level of actually ‘doing’ things (rather than giving directions on how to do those) – all the aspects were equally fascinating.

My priority has always been providing quality output. To achieve this, I decided to partner with experienced and established firms and people for specific things which require expertise such as graphic design. While I enjoy training and mentoring people, I realized that at least in the first year, I can’t afford investing much time in that. This strategy paid off really well. Customers got the quality output while I could focus on things which required attention.

I decided to focus in Indian market to start with and I think that turned out to be a very wise decision. The market has changed a lot, businesses have now started appreciating the power of internet marketing, ready to adapt social media in their marketing strategies and are willing to explore this new world of digital marketing. I myself witnessed a tremendous change happening over the last one year. Personally I enjoy being part of something which is just starting off and is growing :-) So it is fun to be part of this change.

Being on my own also made me do lot of things which I always wanted to do but did not for one reason or the other. I always wanted to author a book and last year it finally materialized with consistent persistence by a good friend, Vishal Mehta (CEO of IDYeah Creations) . I co-authored ‘Are you Socially Shy?’ with him. This book describes how business owners can start using six popular social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YourTube, Blog and SlideShare) for their businesses.

Last year I was also invited to write for Technorati. Technorati is an online publication that boasts a community of over 1000 handful writers who share news, trends, opinions and reviews on various topics. It was a high motivation point when one of my articles on Technorati was tweeted about more than 300 times on a single day! Comments like “When is the next article coming?” from my blog readers make me write more regularly on the blog as well :-)

Well, does this mean I slog for like 25 hours a day? Not really. In fact, I am getting to spend more time with my family and have learnt to utilize my time more effectively and efficiently.

As Steve Jobs said, "You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever........." and I think I am able to connect the dots :-)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Wordpress Vs Blogger - What to Choose When?

Well, the hardest part of blogging is deciding that you want to start it. Once that is decided, all other things fall in place :-)

The next obvious question which comes is, which platform to choose: Wordpress or Blogger? Both these platforms have their own advantages and challenges.

This infographic, by IDYeah Creations, summarizes the features and benefits of these two platforms wonderfully. Have a look!

No wonder this infographic is being immensely appreciated on Twitter, Facebook and also by viewers on, the world's largest community for sharing infographics and data visualizations.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Indian Brands on Facebook - Facts and Analysis

With the growing popularity of social media, it is no wonder that various Indian brands from different industry verticals have joined the bandwagon and have started leveraging (at least) the well known platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

In this post, we will look at 5 Indian brand Facebook pages which, I thought have used the platform quite well and have built a good engaged fan following. These are not necessarily the top 5 brands about which you probably read in every other article. But these are the pages which I have found worthy of note.

#1 Surf Excel Matic
Product/ Service: Washing Powder
Fan Base*: Around 80,000
This page has got a nice mix of posts and status updates such as “Guess the Star” wherein the users are asked to guess the celebrity looking at the distorted picture or by looking at the childhood picture of the celebrity, some nice quotes, interesting questions, useful kitchen tips. Sometimes there are updates on what is good about the product etc. Mostly the updates are not related to ‘Surf Excel Matic’ as a product but are more for engagement and involvement. Because once you get audience involvement on the page, even the promotional updates get better response as those are viewed as ‘knowledge sharing’ updates.

#2 Tata Docomo
Product/ Service: Telecommunication
Fan Base*: Around 4 Million
This is the topmost brand on Facebook in terms of fan following, daily additions and ranking. This page has got a nice mix of some well known quotations, latest news about sports, politics, current affairs, funny videos and sometimes, videos of TV commercials of the brand. For some duration, the brand heavily promoted the tagline “Keep it Simple Silly” by using it in almost all the updates – without making it too obvious but at the same time keeping it interesting.

#3 Goli Vada Pav
Product/ Service: Food/ Beverages
Fan Base*: Around 35,000
The brand sells ‘Vada Pav’ which can be termed as burger of India and is very popular in Maharashtra state, especially in Mumbai city. It therefore appears that the brand wants to connect with fan base which is very region specific. What I liked about the page is the name (Vada Pav +Amchi Mumbai + Cutting Chai = Awesomeness) and the fact that not even once the page promotes the products of the brand. The updates have a nice combination of humor (through jokes, one-liners), philosophical quotations, poetry (with due credit given to the composer) and funny videos.

#4 Tech, Style and Gizmos
Product/ Service: Technology
Fan Base*: Around 61,000
This page promises to offer latest updates about new technology, gadgets and gizmos. The page is fairly live with regular, cutting-edge and latest updates. It talks about new tabs, appealing gadgets, mobile games etc. What I liked about this page is that the language of the updates is very simple and easy to understand even for someone who is non-technical. Probably that’s the reason that the fan base of this page is growing steadily. Along with this, I also see some interesting quizzes, questions, puzzles and sometimes there are also some humorous cartoons. Overall an appealing page.

#5 Jiyo Life
Product/ Service: Travel and Tourism
Fan Base*: Around 350,000
This page is by Club Mahindra, which is one of the well known Holidays & Leisure Services companies with a very wide network of Holiday Resorts in India. This page aims at creating a community of travel enthusiasts and holiday seekers. It nicely integrates some informative articles related to travel, health, food from its blog into the status updates. Along with some useful information about exquisite travel places, the page also shares information about various upcoming festivals worldwide so that people can plan their vacations and visits.

Have you come across any such interesting and nice Facebook pages which you would like to share with fellow readers?

*The numbers mentioned in Fan Base are as of August 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Don’t Believe if You Hear This About Social Media

Social media marketing is definitely catching the attention of all businesses but there is still some hesitation, some misconceptions, some fear and some non-clarity in terms of how to go about with social media, what to expect and when to expect.

This post tries to demystify top five myths about social media:

Myth #1: Social Media is Easy
I often hear this: “I have hired interns for managing our social media. They are very tech-savvy so I am sure they will do a good job at that.” Yes, using the social media tools is very easy, but it requires business understanding, product knowledge, customer orientation and service attitude to be able to effectively manage the social media strategy of any business. It’s not about posting “updates” or “tweets”. It’s about communication and engagement.

Myth #2: Social Media Gives Immediate Results 
Sure, social media definitely has tremendous power in terms of giving viral effect and it can definitely happen for some campaigns. But you cannot expect great immediate response every time. Social media is about building a loyal following and providing them relevant information. This cannot happen overnight. It requires steady and consistent efforts. So don’t quit your efforts if you “have not seen results in a month”.

Myth #3: Social Media ROI Can Not be Measured
If you have set right expectations and have an accurate strategy in place, social media ROI can certainly be measured. The ROI will be in terms of qualitative and quantitative benefits – which can be measured through many methods such as comments, fan following, revenue, leads, visits etc.

Myth #4: Social Media Opens Can of Worms with Negative Comments 
Businesses are often worried about negative comments on social media. Social media believes in openness and transparency. This could work in favor of the brand and sometimes it can against with negative comments. However, with tactful and strategic handling of negative comments, the brand can on the contrary create a positive image in the minds of the users. Think about it: at least on social media, you are getting an opportunity to address the issue, which you would have otherwise never got had the user been complaining offline J

Myth #5: Social Media is Marketing Job
Social media is about communication, engagement, conversation, relationship building and listening. Your users are using social media to share their sentiments about the product, report issues about your product/ service, share their experience and offer suggestions to your brand. Responding to this cannot be done by marketing alone. Each department in the company is representing the brand and got to be equally involved in social media strategy of the company.  

Article first published as Don't Believe if You Hear This About Social Media on Technorati.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Simple Tips For Improving Your Facebook Ads

It feels as if everyone is on Facebook and so all brands start their social media strategy with creation of business page/ fan page on Facebook. Simply creating a Facebook fan page will not get you the desired output unless you have a good, engaged fan base to the page. To increase the fans, businesses are adopting Facebook ads to a great extent.

I often hear about people not getting good results from the ads or the click through rate being very high. Managing successful Facebook ads, according to me, is a science. It goes beyond the technicalities mentioned in the ‘how to guides’. In this post, I am putting together a quick list of some of my learning which can help you get maximum results from your Facebook ads. These are basic things which are there in those ‘How to guides’ but aren’t always paid attention to.

With these small but important things, you can expect encouraging results are in terms of better CTR (Click-Through Rate), low Cost Per Click (CPC) and more Connections i.e. number of Fans.

#1: Picture it Well
A picture is worth thousand words. With Facebook ads, you have only 135 characters to create your ad copy. You can only write limited stuff in 135 characters. But, you can make the ad more powerful with relevant and nice picture/ image in the ad. Go beyond logo of your brand. At the same time, refrain yourself from using irrelevant pictures just because those are attention grabbing.

#2: Target it Well
Facebook offers a nice option to target the ads not only to specific geography but also according to interests. My experience has been that targeted ads give you better results in terms of click-through than untargeted ads – simply because the targeted ads are viewed more by relevant people and that increases the chances of those grabbing their attention.

#3: Populate it Well
The work does not stop at creating a compelling ad copy. Once visitors come to the page, they need to find enough excitement in the page content so that they feel like being part of it. Nobody likes their wall being cluttered with promotional updates. So when you are starting your ads (and otherwise also), ensure that you make your Fan page content rich in terms of relevant, non-sales oriented content which is also educative in nature. This will help in convincing users to not only come to the page but also choose to hit the Like button on top!

Don’t forget to closely monitor the performance of the ads daily. Watch the ad performance and tweak the copy if required.

Although a science, Facebook ads management is certainly not a rocket science which cannot be mastered. Spend time on it, do permutations and combinations and the results are guaranteed.

Need some more food for thought on making your Facebook fan page a success; have a look at this article

Monday, August 8, 2011

7 Internet Marketing Strategies which Work

Once you are convinced about online marketing and are ready to start your efforts in that direction, below are some of the online marketing strategies which have worked for many brands. Of course, you will need to tweak your strategy based on your offering, target audience and target geography. But these can help you get started and establish a strong base.

#1 Website Design, Development and Analysis
The first and most important item in your online marketing efforts is a ‘good’ website. By ‘good’ website I mean a website which boasts of quality content, has clear navigation, is easy to follow and gives relevant information – quickly. Implement tracking mechanism in your website so that you know details like who is visiting your site, which all pages are being viewed the most, how much time users are spending on your site and so on. These details will help you enhance the website and offer better experience to the visitors.

#2 Search Engine
Get your website ranked in major search engines through search engine optimization (SEO). For SEO to be effective, you need great website content. So invest time and efforts in creating good content.

#3 Social Media Marketing
You cannot shy away from social media. Get yourself on relevant social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, Communities), build a steady fan following, educate and engage the audience. This can take you a very long way in terms of both qualitative as well as quantitative ROI.

#4 Email Marketing
Learn to use email marketing effectively. Define your email marketing objective, design a good email campaign, build an opt-in list to which you can send the campaign, track the campaign and analyze the results for better targeting next time.

#5 Online Press Releases
Write and publish online press releases. These press releases help you promote your brand, establish a strong online presence for your brand and also help in your search engine optimization efforts.

#6 Article Marketing
Invest serious time, efforts and talent in writing great articles. Make these articles educative, thought provoking and interesting. Publish these articles on article websites which will help you establish your thought leadership in your area of business.

#7 Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
Once you are conformable with your online presence, you can invest in PPC campaigns (like Google AdWords, Facebook Ads or LinkedIn ads) to bring in quality visitors/ leads to your website. Remember though that running PPC campaigns is a specialized skill, so do get some expert help for this.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Handling Negative Comments on Social Media

Conversations among the members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations.”  Seth Godin, Seth’s Blog

Realizing and adapting this is of paramount importance in case of social media.

With social media taking the center stage in today’s internet marketing, it is no more about ‘what stories you tell your customers’ but it is more about ‘What stories your customers tell each other’. Now obviously, the stories will be positive as well as negative. 

While you benefit from social media with honest feedback, user engagement and user community building, there are also times when you will hear things which you don’t necessarily like to hear – those are negative comments about your product, brand, service or the experience you deliver to the customer.

So how do you handle negative comments on social media? Well, here is a small checklist for the same:

1.   Be Alert and Acknowledge: Just as you acknowledge compliments with a prompt ‘thank you’, the first thing you got to do with negative comment is acknowledge it. Remember, you have to demonstrate that you are LISTENING. Don’t think that if you ignore it, it’s going to die anyway after a few days. 
2.   Be Honest and Accept: This is true for any kind of conversation on social media. In case of negative comment, be honest and accept if you believe it truly is a mistake on your end. This will hugely benefit you in terms of earning the trust of the user. Never get aggressive or challenge the people. Acceptance is the key.
3.    Provide Solution: Just acknowledging the comment and being honest about accepting it is not going to help. You need to provide a solution. The solution could be in terms of solution to the problem, a workaround or if that’s not possible, then it could be an update on what you have done or will do at your end to ensure that the issue does not repeat.

Some obvious questions which could come to mind are:

What if there is a situation where another user has pitched in and provided the solution? What should be your action as a brand? I would say you still follow the same above mentioned steps.

What if you need additional data points to resolve the problem? In that case, ask for the data points in public forum (wherever possible) and discuss the issue openly. That will have multiple advantages: a) Other users could come forward and assist you in solving the problem and b) it will convey a positive image as a brand which is open to discuss issues, is transparent and genuinely wants to solve the problem of its users.

What if you know that the comments have been purposely planted because of some vested interests? Even if this is the case, you need to remember that others are watching your reaction and they do not necessarily know about the vested interests. The way you handle the situation will create your image. So handle it just the same way as you would handle a genuine comment. 

Don’t be afraid of negative comments on social media. Rather than any harm, those could benefit your brand – provided you handle them properly!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Salute to Mumbai – Sustained the Blasts with True Spirit and Judicious Use of Technology, Social Media

Mumbai is back in action today despite yesterday’s serial bomb blasts. Schools are open, shops are functional, locals are running and people are already in offices. Mumbai and its people have shown that nothing can stop them - again this time.

Yesterday after the blasts, I preferred being on Twitter and Facebook rather than watching the senseless coverage on various TV channels. I am amazed and proud to see the way people used social media and technology yesterday. Rather than spreading ridiculous rumors and discussing who was behind the attacks and why the attacks could have happened, the netizens chose to use social media for a better cause. 

Twitter was flooded with messages about the blasts. The latest news were posted through #mumbaiblasts hashtag whereas the tweets about help were tagged with #here2help and #heretohelp. Those who needed help tagged their message with #needhelp. Twitter was also used to share hospital numbers, blood requirements or cab availabilities.

Hat’s off to the person who thought of creating a Google Spreadsheet of all the help numbers and details regarding help in terms of stay, food, ride or even help in passing on the messages. Who says there is no discipline in India? The open-to-all document was full of relevant information without a single incorrect detail.  

Facebook status updates passed on similar information about latest news and help numbers/ details. Many Facebook pages which have a large fan following decided to use that fan following to spread relevant information and help details.

Radio Jockey offered to air live messages for those who could not be contacted.

I received messages to just update the Blackberry messenger status to notify where I am and if I am safe or not. Amazing! So much thought in using the technology to ensure that the mobile network is not blocked with unnecessary calls.

I think I am too small to praise those who have shown the courage and strength to sustain such attacks. I can just salute the Mumbaikars and the netizens! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Social Media for Product Companies

Let’s accept it – social media is changing the way we live today. So if you believe that your products are going to change people’s life for good, you need to be closer to your audience through social media.

Let us take up three popular social media platforms and see how those can be used for your products business. 

Facebook: More than 700 million people are on Facebook and that’s a very significant number itself. You can use Facebook as a very powerful platform for:

  • Educating People: This is especially very useful if your product is innovative, based on some ground-breaking idea, involves concept selling and requires explaining some new concepts.
  • Generating Feedback: Got a new version of the product? Ask the users about their views. You can also gather feedback about specific features, customer support, an advertising campaign or even your ads. Since the feedback comes right from the existing or potential users of your product, it is a very valid which can immensely help you in your product development, technical support as well as marketing and sales.
  • Knowledge Sharing: Share useful tips, knowledge-base articles, cool short-cuts and tricks for effective use of your product. This will not only keep the fans engaged but also provide great value to the users.  
  • Customer Support: Want to be closer to your product users? Allow them to post their questions and queries on Facebook. If possible, provide immediate answers or route the query to customer support team/ support forum.
Twitter: Twitter is a perfect broadcasting medium to convey your message to a large user-base.  Use Twitter for:
  • Announcement: Announce new release, new product, deals, special offers, webinars and collateral release like white paper or ebook. Twitter has tremendous potential of reaching out to a large audience in a very short period. Remember to use appropriate hashtags to get maximum reach.
  • Knowledge Sharing: Share interesting news, articles, your own blog posts, news items and establish your thought leadership.
  • Customer Support: Many companies like ComcastHomeDepot are effectively using Twitter for providing customer support. But make sure that your support staff is extremely well trained to provide real-time, online support on social media.

YouTube: Online video marketing is growing, and it’s growing very fast. If you have not yet included it in your marketing strategy, it’s high time that you take it seriously. YouTube, with more than 2 billion views per day, undoubtedly holds a prime spot in your social media tools list. 
Here are the types of videos you can upload on YouTube:
  • Product Videos: Upload your product demos, how to videos and videos explaining critical features. This is sure to get appreciation from your product users. For new users, it’s so much easier to look at the audio-visual format than read plain text to understand the product.
  • Technical Support Videos: Provide videos for most frequently asked technical questions like installation/ un-installation of the product, activation or even using a popular feature. This will surely reduce the load on the technical support team.
  • Conference Speeches: Is someone from your company speaking at some conference? Record the speech and upload it for those who missed it. This will be great in establishing your thought leadership.
  • Customer Testimonials: Go beyond textual testimonials. Have videos of customer testimonials. If one picture is worth 1000 words, one video could be worth a million words :-)
So get ready with your social media strategy and get maximum from it. Remember, don’t start with “how to increase sales through social media” but see “how to engage and converse with your audience through social media”. After all, conversation comes before conversion. Sales will be an obvious byproduct if you have engaged audience.

Monday, June 27, 2011

10-Point Checklist for Successful Webinars

Webinar has evolved as very powerful marketing and sales tool. It is one of the best ways to establish your thought leadership, create your brand, generate highly qualified sales leads and up-sell to existing customers. All this is possible provided the webinar is promoted, marketed and conducted well.

Some reasons why webinars are more popular:

  • Wider reach – More people can attend because it can be attended from anywhere
  • Convenience – People can attend it without disturbing their schedule
  • Affordability - Drastically reduce the travel cost and time
  • Post Event availability – Since webinar can be recorded, it can be used later on for personal review or rerun for the people who missed it during real-time 

To make your webinars successful, here is a 10-point checklist:
  1. Webinar Topic and Objectives: Refrain yourself from choosing a dull and common topic. Choose a catchy and latest topic which can make people feel like attending the webinar. Clearly define the objectives and details on what the webinar going to cover.
  2. Webinar invitation: Draft the invitation carefully and provide accurate information about the webinar. This can include: bio of the presenter, time, duration of the webinar, what the webinar is going to cover (preferably described in bulleted list) and who can benefit from the webinar.
  3. Pre-Webinar Promotion: Choose the right time to start the webinar promotion and advertising. Starting the promotion too early may make people forget why they signed up for the webinar and promoting it too late might not give them enough time to sign up since they already might have things planned in their schedule. Generally 2 weeks before the webinar is a good time to start the promotion. Use various methods like emails, social media to promote the webinar. Rather than doing all the promotion on a particular day, plan the activity over a period.  
  4. Reminders: Send out at least 2 reminders to the registrants before the webinar. Do mention the webinar details briefly in the reminder.
  5. Dry RunsEnsure that you conduct at least 2 dry runs (the more the better) before the webinar. Check the presentation loading, speaker’s timing, co-ordination, graphics loading time etc to make sure that everything is working fine. If required, tweak the graphics, presentation.
  6. Keep Presentations Short: People invest less time in webinar than a  physical event so the attention span tends to be shorter. It is better to keep the presentation short and crisp to reduce the attendee drop out during the webinar.
  7. Webinar Delivery: Practice, practice and practice the webinar. Never ever read the webinar speech. You lose out on the connection with the audience.
  8. Interactivity: You CANNOT keep the webinars one-way. You have to make them interactive. Use the tools like chat, polls (mostly available with the webinar platforms) effectively to engage the audience and communicate with them.
  9. Webinar Recording:  If you are conducting an exclusive webinar, it is a good practice to record it. Typically 50% of those who register attend the actual webinar. It is a good to record the session and send a link of the recording to those who missed it. This ensures that you reach out to the audience who could not attend your webinar.
  10. Multi-Channel Follow up: Don’t just hand over the webinar lead to the sales person. Your post-webinar follow up needs to be a well planned strategy through multi-channel communication such as emails, snail mail, phone calls, social media etc. These ensure that the leads are engaged, interest is increased and you are in front of them for a longer duration.
So be well prepared and well planned for your next webinar to make it a great success!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Are you Socially Shy?

Over past many years, I am involved in social media marketing for quite a few well known brands. It started with some exploration, then learning while trying out new things and then getting phenomenal success through innovative campaigns.

Through my recent interactions with various organizations, especially small and medium size ones, I saw that business owners are convinced about the effect and use of social media but the problem starts when they start with the implementation. “Are you Socially Shy?” is a book for such business owners.

Of course the social media platforms are extremely easy to use and can get you started in no time. But to use them effectively, you really need to use these for few days, explore and understand – says the experience of Vishal Mehta, co-author of this eBook. Vishal, CEO of IDYeah Creations, has extensively used social media for his business.

That’s when we thought that we should create a consolidated resource which offers not only the basics of these platforms but also offers some practical tips on its usag. And the result is the eBoook “Are you Socially Shy?”

This book is for those who are looking to start with their social media efforts, who are looking for some proven tips of getting success with social media, want to know how others have used it successfully and learn from that.

Hope you enjoy the eBook. Your  feedback and comments are welcome at !

The book is available online at a humble price on LULU and IDYeah Store.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Making Your Facebook Fan Page a Success

Facebook marketing

Whenever organizations think of joining the bandwagon of Facebook marketing, the first thing they come up with is "we want to create a Facebook page and have lots of fans for that page". 

But, the more crucial points are how to attract fans to the page or how to engage them and how to measure the success or failure of the page.

Let us touch base on both these points in this post.
Attracting fans to the page:
Following are some of the ways to attract more users to your fan page:
1. Make the page attractive and informative: Create an appealing page with good display picture, complete and authentic information about your business, product and services. Include photos, videos and events on the page. Provide something which is exclusive for Facebook users (such as free trial of your product or a free consultation). A well completed page attracts more users because that allows the users to make a more informed decision about 'liking' your page.
2. Cross promotion: Promote the fan page extensively wherever possible – on your website, Twitter, YouTube account, LinkedIn, email signatures, company newsletters etc. With such cross promotion, more and more people will know about the page and there are more chances that people will 'Like' it.
3. Campaigns: Promotion of the page through emails or mobile campaigns. You can always club these campaigns with some contests or promotions on your page to get better results.
4. Facebook Ads: Facebook ads give you very good results for attracting fans to your page. Make sure that you monitor the ads very closely and tweak them often based on the kind of results you get. Include nice pictures in your ad and provide compelling reason to people for liking your page.
5. Contests and Promotions: Contests, sweepstakes and promotions (with some good prizes) help you go viral in terms of your Facebook marketing efforts. Make the contests easy to participate, give nice prizes and give users reasons to spread the word about the contest on your page.
Of course all these ways can fail if you do not have good content on your page to engage the users.
Only promotion about your product or services is a strict NO. Share interesting content, news and educate the audience – in short, offer value. Facebook can act as a very strong platform for you to establish yourself as an expert in your area of business. You can also ask questions and get valuable feedback from the users – they will offer very honest opinion.

Measuring Engagement of Fans on Facebook Page:
It is very important to keep the fans engaged with the page. The engagement can be measured very effectively through the 'Insights' provided by Facebook.
1. Fan base growth or decline: Facebook shows you how the fan base of your page is shaping up – check out if and how it is increasing by tracking the 'New Likes'. You can track these weekly or monthly, depending on your needs and goals. Try and co-relate these with other campaigns which you are running.
2. Active fan base: Only numbers don't matter much. You need an engaged and active fan base. You can see how active the fan base is by checking out the kind of interactions you had for each of your post. The 'Interactions' report shows the engagement of your fans (in terms of commenting, liking or sharing) vis-à-vis the number of times each of your post was displayed on the wall of the fans. This is a very valuable insight to check how engaged the fans are with the page and how much value they are finding in the content which you have shared.
3. Likes and Comments: Keep track of the 'Likes' and 'Comments' happening for the wall posts. Monitor the kind of posts for which you receive more interaction. This can help you decide your strategy about the kind of posts you would like to have.
Apart from 'Insights', there are also tools various tools, which allow you to check the grade, engagement and value of your page. But remember that the objectives of your page and your strategy define the matrices of success/ failure of your page and those are way beyond the numbers or grades. These can act just as pointers for you but not the concluding points. So needless to add, measure the results vis-à-vis your goals.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Entrepreneurship and Marketing Lessons Learnt from Goli Vada Pav

Last week I attended a very invigorating session by Venkatesh Iyer (Venky as he is fondly called) of Goli Vada Pav organized by TiE. While the session title was “My Story to Entrepreneurship”, the actual session was much more than that.

The passion with which Venky spoke demonstrated how much can be achieved if you just have true belief in the idea about which you truly passionate. Venky spoke about entrepreneurship, beliefs, passion and marketing.

After thoroughly enjoying the interactive talk, I jotted some key takeaways. 

Thought these would be really valuable for those who are passionate about some idea and want to make it big - because Goli’s story is all about that:

1.     Premium Sells:  Before Goli Vada Pav, people were used to eating vada pav at much lesser cost than what Goli charges it. Goli charges premium for the quality it provides – the quality is in the menu, the ambience, the service and everything. Once the consumers see the quality, they are ready to pay premium for that. Be convinced about the quality you provide and you won’t ever have to ‘justify’ high price.

2.      Don’t give up on the idea: Goli failed twice, with the same idea, for different reasons. But Venky and his team did not give up on the idea thinking that it is not working out. Only when you believe in an idea, you can sustain multiple failures and never blame the idea. You look out for the solutions which will actually solve the problems.

3.    Keep it simple: Complex things might sound good in books but keep things simple when it comes to actual implementation. This applies to everything – right from talent acquisition, training, franchisee setup, branding, promotion – just about everything !

4.   Effective branding and promotion only requires currency of creativity: Venky narrated some incidences about how he used railway announcement system or TiE event for branding and promotion of Goli. None of these were paid. All these just needed the currency of creativity. Venky’s blog also is an excellent piece of writing demonstrating how a very creatively written blog can attract attention of the right crowd.

5.      Piggybacking works: Goli used the technique piggybacking very effectively – Be it the usage of brand (as Venky calls it) of Vada Pav or the famous dialogue of movie Sholay (toh aaj goli kha…) or in the franchisees setup.

6.   Speak consumers' language: I was amazed to see how Goli speaks consumers’ language. The consistency can be seen in: brand name, brand mascot, Facebook page name, blog language, ambience at the Goli center, pictures on the site, cartoons – just about everything!  

I left the room with a mixed feeling of inspiration, awe and respect for passion and with a definite plan to visit Goli Vada Pav center – more for experiencing the passion turned into reality.

Cheers to Goli !!