Tuesday, November 3, 2015

#SocialPowWow: Share, NOT Save Knowledge

I have always believed in the power of community and over time have formed a community of like minded people who share similar interests.
“Power is gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it”
That said, I recently started a Twitter ch #SocialPowWow. The idea behind the chat was to build a community:
  • For Indian Entrepreneurs, Marketing, PR, Advertising and Digital professionals
  • To exchange ideas and start discussions around topics to explore endless possibilities that are transforming the world of business
Till now, five chats have been successfully hosted on Twitter and the response has been superb! Here’s a list of topics we have covered so far and in case you haven’t check out the chat as yet, please do give a read to the re-cap:
  • Social Media for Public Relations & Strategic Communications
With our special guest Vikram Kharvi, Senior Group Head, lead B2B & Tech Practice @AdfactorsPR, the chat received a great response from the PR & digital marketing professionals in India and globally. The chat focused on the role social media plays in strategic communication, especially for those in PR, how social media can be beneficial in PR crisis management and best practices for PR teams in managing brand position on social media. Here’s the full transcript of the chat: https://goo.gl/E8x7WH  
  • Content Marketing for Businesses
Olga Andrienko, Head of Social Media at @semrush spoke about content marketing. We all say content is the king and rightly so! How do you create scintillating content for the readers, align content marketing with your business objectives and tools you can use for content creation is what was discussed during this chat. Here’s a quick re-cap: https://goo.gl/Jeppsc
  • Digital Marketing for Startups
The chat with Sorav Jain, Thinker in Chief @echovme was focused around digital marketing for startups, how much should one invest in digital marketing, tools which can be helpful for marketing for startups and much more! Catch the full transcript of the chat here: http://sfy.co/c0nCK  
  • Social Media Analytics
Social media analytics with Shonali Burke, CEO, Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. was a fun and engaging chat. The chat covered how social media analytics could benefit businesses and clients, how to develop strategies and measure KPIs, challenges faced to get buy-ins from the upper management and the tools that can help in social media measurement. Check out the chat transcript here: https://t.co/jHtasg6zjW
  • Storytelling & Social Media
After an engaging chat with Shonali on social media analytics, we had another insightful chat with her on storytelling & social media. The topic covered the importance of storytelling in social media, focus of brands on storytelling in their campaigns, best practices in storytelling and how customers’ perception play into effective storytelling. To read the full chat transcript, click here: https://goo.gl/gTsZAn
I’m thrilled to have such wonderful and powerful #SocialPowWow community! Always around to exchange knowledge, share ideas, examples and enticing case-studies. Let’s strengthen the community and learn from each other’s experiences. Join us for #SocialPowWow, every Thursday 9PM IST; 11:30AM ET. Look forward to your participation.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Continuing Evolution of the Indian PR Landscape

As the Indian PR landscape continues to evolve, it is fascinating to see clients adapt to the integration
of digital efforts.

For example, a press event is not restricted to just calling reporters on the ground. It also means creating content for a tweet stream per the flow of the event, and continuously engaging with the reporters online and offline.

Just this past month, #GoogleHouse was a fascinating press event where updates about Google’s new product/features were unveiled. Not only did Google India have a house full of reporters, the hash tag also trended in Mumbai (where the event was held) at #1, and which also saw engagement by the reporters. 

It is equally fascinating that while clients are jumping on board, Indian PR and communications professionals still remain reticent.

According to this IAMAI-KPMG report, India has over 350 million Internet users as of June 2015; this number is expected to increase over 500 million by 2017. With such a huge chunk of the audience online, it becomes increasingly important to reach them outside of the traditional ways of communicating (newspapers/magazines/TV/radio).

Though the “what” to communicate remains constant, the “how” to communicate is constantly changing.

Here are some compelling PR trends executives need to adapt to if they want to stay relevant in the industry in the long run:

1. Building the social profiles of C-suite executives.

C-suite executives have started understanding that their social presence matters. Their customers are online and, in order to connect with them, it is essential that they have a social presence to connect and engage with their target community.

PR executives can play a vital role in positioning and building such social profiles, keeping in mind the customer and media perspective.

2. Multimedia & crisp communication.

A quick crisp e-mail with images or infographic has a better chance of catching the media’s fancy than long pitch notes or press releases. An innovative way of sharing information is what the media looks for.

If you can communicate the message in 140 characters, you’ve nailed it!

3. Online & blogger engagement.

Given the increasing Internet connectivity in India, PR executives need to start interacting with the online and blogger community from various industries to keep themselves and their clients relevant and up-to-date.

While print media still has a wide reach in India, the audience is glued online, and frequently seek feedback about product and services from the online/blogger community.

4. Twitter chats.

The trend of Twitter chats is catching on in India. While these digital events are still primarily held on a one-off basis, many brands have started interacting with their audience through such chats, helping them form a community of evangelists over time.

An interesting example: a Google Twitter chat that invited entries to share an app idea for the Prime Minister’s office. This initiative was undertaken by Google India in collaboration with MyGov.in (compare this to the White House’s We the People effort).

Influencers in the tech blogger space were roped in, along with spokespeople from Google and MyGov.in. The 30 minute tweet chat reached 2.7 million unique users and garnered over 6.3 million impressions on Twitter. Needless to say, #PMOIndiaApp trended in India.

Similar Twitter chat models are being adapted by various companies in India to discuss topical trends in the industry. Usually, they rope in company’s spokesperson and an influencer/celebrity to maximize reach.

In closing

To understand their clients’ industries better, PR executives should start listening to the brands’ communications online. This understanding will go a long way in developing a more effective strategy.

Have you observed any more interesting trends in the communications Industry in India? I would love to know your thoughts!

Image: yourmarketingdepartmentct.com via Google, CC 4.0

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