Friday, August 7, 2015

Social Journalism - An Informal Way to Communicate?


July 27th 2015 was indeed a sad day for India! The day which started with terrorist attacks
in Punjab early morning followed by the demise of Former president and Bharat Ratna, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, left most of us in pain and shock!

With the advent of social media, the way we consume news has evolved over time. While I was constantly checking my Twitter feed around both these events, I stumbled upon a Tweet by ‘PressTrust of India’ (PTI), India’s premier news agency which has been functioning since 1949 and it currently commands 90% of new agency market share in India.

To my surprise, the tone of the Tweet by PTI was really disrespectful. The use of words by one of the biggest news agencies in India definitely made me think if social media is taken seriously by the new/media agencies in the country. Instead of a blunt statement, PTI could have utilized 140 characters to share the message in a proper tone giving some respect to the former president of the country.



Within minutes, there were 695 RT’s, 167 Favorites and over 100 conversations around the tone of the Tweet. It was disheartening to see PTI not responding to any of the Tweets proactively. Although, the following Tweets did address him properly.


Here’s a snapshot of the same news posted on their Facebook page. While one can’t edit a Tweet on Twitter...however, the same could have been edited by PTI on Facebook. But the news agency did not bother to do so.


With social media:
     News channels/publications/wires are running the rat race to deliver the news “First”
     Not sure if there is a designated Editor or a process designed through which the news is uploaded on the social platforms of the publication/channel/wire. At least in this case, it doesn’t seem that PTI has an Editor to look at the content going on Twitter on a regular basis

With print media:
     No matter how big the news is, it gets published the following morning in the papers
     There is a designated editor for every publication
     Editorial consent is a must before stories are published in the papers which leaves hardly an room for factual errors or tone of the message

While it is important to be factually correct, it is absolutely necessary to keep in mind how the message has been delivered to the audience.

News is consumed at a lighting speed on social networks and given that every media outlet wants to share the news first, doesn’t qualify for compromising on the tone of the message.

Interestingly, when I observed the Twitter profile of @PTI_news , I also noticed that while they have over 500 K followers, they haven’t taken the time out to follow anyone! According to their website, PTI employs more than 400 journalists and 500 stringers to cover almost every district and small town in India. In my opinion, if a company understands social media and takes it as one of an important means of communication, it would at least follow it’s own employees who are key to their success and growth. This also shows they understand the medium well and are not sharing news on Twitter just because the competitors will!

What do you think? Should sharing news on social networks by the media outlets be given equal importance as much as it is give to the print stories?

In the time of social journalism, is it enough to be factually correct for the media/ news agencies on social networks and compromise on the way information is shared? Or is it necessary for media/ news agencies to keep in mind the tone of the message on social networks while of course running the race to Tweet/Post “First?” 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Crisis Communication in the Digital Age

We live in an age where the most insignificant events can go viral within minutes and can put the brand reputation at brink. Today, if a crisis breaks, we turn to Google or social networks including Twitter and Facebook. Gone are the days when we would wait for the news on TV or the next morning’s papers.

Blame the internet or the audience’s habits for the new age of crisis!
Brands no more have the luxury of time to consider a response to a crisis situation. Social media/networks work as a platform where netizens add fuel to the fire and amplify the situation further.
That said, it is imperative for brands to have a social media crisis strategy in place to be able to react quickly and minimise the damage.
In Chinese, the word “crisis” is made up of two words - “Danger” and “Opportunity.” For every danger that a crisis presents, there is an opportunity for the brand to show who they really are. It is an opportunity for the brands to #ShowUCare.
Here’s an interesting example of a brand that handled a crisis situation well on social media in my opinion.
A woman accused ‘Taxi For Sure’ driver of Sexual harassment on July 02nd, 2015. She put her complaint out through Facebook & Twitter.

It gathered momentum online over the course of the day. Taxi For Sure responded to her tweet on the same day and contacted her offline as well. They also addressed posts by other supporters on the matter as well.




She continued to post her discussions with Taxi For Sure on social media and drive support.
The crisis situation was handled well in time by Taxi For Sure. The company responded immediately to the accused on Twitter and also reached out to her offline to settle the situation.
Interestingly, while the crisis broke on July 02nd, it was carried by the print media only on the July 07th. Of course Taxi For Sure was prepared and responded adequately – condoning the act, stating action taken and reemphasizing their focus/initiatives around passenger safety.
The news cycle died down both in print and social post July 08th.  

I believe, this is a great example of how crisis communication has evolved over time. When social media wasn’t in play, there used to be one way communication with the audience by the brand. Perhaps issuing a quote to the media and speaking to reporters to settle the situation was the only way to manage crisis.
However, with social media, brands can immediately have a dialogue with their audience and minimise the damage by reacting quickly.
What do you think are the best practices for dealing with crisis in the digital age? I’d love to know your thoughts!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

6 Rules of Thumb for Successful Brand Publishing

The Internet has made brand publishing ubiquitous. Gone are the days when brands required an intermediary to reach their target audience. Now, they have the luxury of reaching out to their audiences directly… through content storytelling

But how do they do this effectively?

In order to be effective, brand content must be mapped to business objectives and be appealing. Content storytelling is all about creating attractive, valuable and interesting information your customers are passionate about, so they actually pay attention and engage with the brand.

In the words of Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications, “If we tell our stories the right way, we have the ability to become legitimate publishers in our own right.”
People respond to content that is:

  • Sharable
  • Visually appealing
  • Engaging, and
  • Of good quality
Building a visually appealing and engaging website, writing regular blogs, e-mail marketing, use of multi-media (videos/photos/ Info graphics) and using social networks to target the audience are various ways to share a brand story. We know this. And in today’s hyper connected world, everyone’s a publisher.

So what could possibly go wrong with brand publishing?

In my opinion, quite a few things. And if your brand wants to publish successfully, it needs to keep these in mind.

1. Know your audience: Who is your target audience? Are you regularly listening to your buyers and potential buyers? Identifying your target audience and listening to their needs and wants can help a brand tailor its content across various platforms to maximize its reach.

Check out Dell’s Idea Storm website. Through this website, the company doesn’t just listen to its audience to address complaints, but also gives them a chance to solve the problems the company faces. They also post StormSessions, where they pose questions and challenges to customers and partners who then offer ideas/solutions on the issue at hand. This is a company which listens, and is actively interested in improving and investing in what their customers want. As of this writing, Dell has implemented over 549 ideas provided by its fans!

2. Content smarts: Do not focus on volume, but on consistency and quality of content. It is imperative to have a content plan in place in order to have meaningful, personalized interactions across platforms.

Example: Zomato helps discover great places to eat around you, and currently serves 22 countries worldwide. It believes in quality over quantity. And thus, it uses multiple channels for content marketing efficiently and effectively by following this principle.
Instead of overloading your blogs/Facebook/Twitter, quality and consistent content makes for a more meaningful and personalized audience experience.

3. Searchable: Search engines reward sites that deliver good quality content. So as you’re working on your content, keep in mind that it should be fresh, and of high quality, for it to be searchable. Nothing beats WUL when it comes to SEO! Agree?

4. Use of multi-media platforms (videos/photos/ infographics): Often, images and videos are easier for consumers to absorb than just text. In fact videos/photos help engage a wider audience. According to Facebook, users view more than 4 billion videos a day!

Amul, one of India’s oldest and most well-known food brands, itself a product of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (and the largest milk producer in the world), uses images in a very effective way.

Be it a cause or social issue, Amul is quick to jump into the story, often introducing the Amul girl into the landscape. This has made the brand iconic. Check out a few examples here; I’ll include a screen grab of one of their latest “Amul Topical” posts from Twitter to get you started.



5. Build a community: An audience might read your blog, consume and share your information, easily recognize your brand from rest of the crowd. However, a community is a set of people who are passionate about the brand, actively seeking out the content, and willing to share the content further.

I believe Buffer does an excellent job of community building, and I’m glad to be a part of its community. As someone passionate about “all things digital,” I always look forward to its content whether it is via e-mail or a tweet, and I invariably share the content with my network.

6. Be human: The once-regarded best practices for telling a brand’s story are now relatively ineffective in generating consumer trust. Thanks to social networks, today the audience’s trust is built via continuous brand engagement and direct conversations.

It is important for brands to build an emotional connection with their community and audience over time.

Especially if you have any connection to South Asia or the sub-continent, you will remember this beautiful video by Google, which made a huge emotional connection with that audience. It’s a story about two friends who were separated during the partition of India, and how they are reunited after decades.

If you haven’t watched it yet, please do, and then come back here. I’ll wait.

Did the video leave you in tears, or at least with a lump in your throat? That is exactly what I mean by being human and building an emotional connection.

Follow these six principles and, over time, you might have an Amul girl of your own.

What do you think are the golden rules of successful brand publishing? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.


Image: <DigitalRalph> via Flickr, CC 4.0

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Keep Your Marketing Efforts Afloat With Demand Marketing

Today, everyone is a publisher in the sea of content and it is imperative that the marketeers move towards better strategies with modern day storytelling. This is where demand marketing comes to play.

Demand marketing is an integrated mix of traditional and digital marketing methods which includes content marketing, PR and influencer relations. (Content marketing + PR + Social media = Demand marketing).

Here's an interesting info graphic by Onboardly explaining the concept of Demand Marketing.

Keep Your Marketing Efforts Afloat With Demand Marketing

Friday, April 3, 2015

Twitter Tips to Turn into a Twitter Pro

It is interesting to note that while for some individuals, social media platforms remain to be a mere tool or a means to connect with friends, for many it is an extension of their personality. Parallels can also be drawn on how enterprises/brands use these social media tools – they imbibe the ethos of customer driven marketing. 

In today's digital age, customers are increasingly interacting with the brands on social media and it is imperative to have a strong social media marketing strategy in place.   

While there are various tools which individuals and brands use to promote their products, I came across a very helpful 
info graphic bySalesforce on 'Twitter' which highlights the key ways to optimize the Twitter profile (both for individuals and for brands), best practices for tweet structure, and how to increase engagement. 

I'm sure most of you will agree that Twitter is a great tool for marketing and by adopting the tips shared in the below info graphic, it definitely will boost your Twitter presence and perhaps increase your Twitter followers. 

Read on to make a difference in your Twitter marketing strategy.


Twitter Tips to Turn into a Twitter ProClick To Enlarge

Via Salesforce

Friday, March 20, 2015

Do you want to #SizzletoBarcelona?

This blog is perhaps my first ever post on "FOOD!!" I'm sure people who know me well will be
surprised to read this post, since I'm not much of a foodie. However, I love to TRAVEL!

Are you guys confused if I'm writing about food or travel? Well, Hard Rock Cafe (HRC; @HRCIndia) gave me some food for thought...err..travel!

In an interestingly executed social media contest, HRC invited people to try out their 'Sizzlers', a new addition to their food menu and asked people to spread the word on social media. All they wanted was to widen their reach and drive engagement on social platforms about their 'Sizzlers.'

What better than running a cool contest and giving a chance to people to #SizzletoBarcelona for the Hard Rock music festival 2015!!

The contest caught my eye when THIS happened - a Rolling Stone T-shirt by @Edelman_India to which HRC struck a conversation with me and I knew that I just couldn't miss the chance to check out their new menu.

It's interesting how various brands are trying to make 'that' connect with their consumers and the way HRC responded to my Tweet, is a great example of building a long lasting relationship with the end consumer.


Finally I visited HRC and tried out their delicious chicken Sizzler...an ice cold cocktail and some Nachos! Great value for money, nice ambiance, the crowd was amazing, the service was superb and it was indeed a perfect way to welcome the weekend.


So, sizzle this weekend with the amazing Sizzlers at HRC and perhaps get a chance to #SizzletoBarcelona!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Journey from being Innocent to carrying a Baggage

Recently I attended my niece’s birthday party. She turned 2 this year and I was super excited to be a part of the celebration! Well, it was after many many years I got to attend a kids party and hence the excitement.


Most of you might be thinking if she celebrated her 1st birthday or if I forgot to attend the party? Err, she wasn't in the country then so technically her 1st birthday in India.

It was during the party I realized how innocent kids are...how happy they are around people...there is no tension of the world in their mind...they don’t carry ANY BAGGAGE.

As we grow old, we start losing that innocence we had when we were kids. We think we know it all and do things as per our whims and fancies. There is no one to stop us. In our head, we are our own boss and we do things OUR way.

However, this cute lil birthday celebration made me go back the memory lane and helped me realize how far we have come - from being a kid to an adult, it sure has been a roller-coaster ride!

It was fascinating to compare the feelings and emotions of a kid to that of an adult in the party. For kids, a birthday celebration is a “big” thing. Gifts, cakes, flowers, people...everything gets them excited and happy. While the role of an adult is to ensure to make it a  memorable day for the kid to cherish all his/her life!

As an adult, we carry our own baggage. Always surrounded with tension about work, family, friends,
people etc. etc. But after watching these kids with innocence, smile and happiness, it just felt that life isn't “that” bad. While getting rid of the baggage is not an option, being happy while carrying it can make life painless and joyous.

Now that this year is coming to an end, let’s get back our innocence, gear up for the new year and spread happiness around.

It's time to cherish those memorable moments, the journey we call life and the people around us who made this journey even more beautiful.   

So, here’s wishing all my readers, well-wishers and of course my family, a very happy and blessed 2015!