Tag Archives: twitter

Shoot the Messenger, the Media or the Originator? Social Media can do Good..

21 Jan

Last weekend saw the tragic death of a fairly high profile socialite/ businesswoman/ minister’s wife in India. Cause of death is still uncertain – but it followed a fairly venomous yet convoluted debacle on twitter, followed by retractments/ clarifications by husband and wife on Facebook.

A long debate followed – on the role of social media, twitter specially, in her death. Leading newspaper Hindustan Times actually carried a poll on whether Twitter was to blame for Ms. Tharoor’s death. (Results: 52% agreed that SM was to blame for her death!)

I say this is BS (pardon the french) – all that Social Media has done is allowed everyone an easily accessible/ easy to use/ free/ and increasingly popular medium for self expression – the presence of this medium in no way controls emotions/ behavior – except ofcourse allowing for an increasing need for sharing these emotions and behavior (and yes, in consequence making these same emotions/ behavior more share-worthy). It cannot be held responsible for what may be infidelity (except maybe give a means for communication of infidelity), and by no means is it a trigger for someone to pull a figurative trigger on oneself!

A now fairly viral article agrees with me – it looks like traditional media (read print and TV journalists) are those making the strongest allegations that Social Media was to blame; while, interestingly, post this article, Social Media is loudly saying that traditional media was to blame! (the lady had reached out to many journalists to “tell her story” – most were too busy to grant her a hearing!)

What Social Media is doing, is putting the onus on most of us to learn some new etiquette, and a newer/ maturer way of handling it. Celebs are most vulnerable (An interesting related article on Social Media savvy politicians mentions an interesting website Politwoops – check it for some fun stuff!). By the way, an Analysis of twitter behaviour for Mr. and Mrs. Tharoor shows that the politician was far more savvy than his wife.

There is a lot of good that Social Media is doing – look at its impact on Healthcare, with advocacy groups on most conditions bringing support and relief to millions of patients to state one. Or, as an example, my ex co founder’s initiative Let’s Do Some Good , and my husband’s proposed body for investing in Uttarakhand (yes yes, shameless plug!) that she is primarily promoting on Facebook. Or, just the pleasure that Facebook gives to the silver surfers – my mom and aunt being two avid proponents! It is really silly to state that the medium or the messenger is responsible for people’s stupidities.

I could go on and on, but just as I was writing this (reasonably impassioned) piece, I came across a new short film made in collaboration with…yes…you guessed it – Dove! It’s the perfect ending methinks to underline this message – the medium is not to blame! It can be used for a lovely reason as well…enjoy….

Facebook Doesn’t get Monday Blues? (Weekly Social Media Behavior)

5 Aug

social web sites

Its true! EVERYONE rests on the sabbath!

I just completed 7 months of blogging – fairly sporadic stuff, i must admit. In these 7 months, I had formulated some theories about days and day parts that are most amenable to posting. These were:

– Mondays are great for posting on Facebook (Contrary to what you would expect, most folks do NOT get to office all waiting to sweat it out! I get loaaads of posts on my timeline, and actually a fair number of hits on my blogs on Mondays)

– Facebook gives me greatest hits – after all, these are friends, and they are fairly varied occupationally (from my mom, to my daughter – see this old post on Facebook’s ubiquitous appeal; to ex colleagues, to batchmates from school and college..)

– Fridays are bad – both these are actually a bit counter intuitive, aren’t they? If you look at lunch places, they are more crowded on Fridays than other places – most “nice to do” stuff is typically kept for fridays – so, one would think that Facebook browsing should be on the rise on Fridays? Not true

– Weekends are worst! On saturdays and sundays, I guess folks don’t use laptops; and, despite mobile increasing as access mode, I get least hits on those days 🙂

– For all social media platforms, the beginning of the day is better than the end – this is true of all, except twitter – where BOTH the beginning and the end is better.

I thought I would undertake some analysis and see if my hypotheses were true. Just so you know, I typically publish my blog at night, and then post it on twitter. In the morning, I repost it to twitter and then also post it on Facebook and Linkedin (Ofcourse, after judging appropriateness! There are posts that don’t make it to LinkedIn and Twitter; just as some that don’t make it to Facebook. See another old post with my opinions on segmenting content according to the character of the social media channel)

So, here’s what the trend of visits looked like:

Blog Visit Analysis

This validated my hypotheses about weekends being days of rest, but threw out a few surprising winners!
Interestingly, on a cumulative basis, all weekdays had more or less the same no. of visits per day (average).

However, if you break it up into days when there were posts published and those when there weren’t, Mondays and Thursdays were best for posting blogs. (I did a further drill down where I removed the outlier posts – those that were wildly successful, and found that Mondays were certainly the stars by far)

But, for “regular” behavior, ie, that not triggered by posts – which further translates to organic / search type visits – Mondays were actually the worst (and Wednesdays the best!). My theory for this is as follows:

After a lazy weekend, folks get back to work but also to their social networks – this points more and more to social networks, even the “non professional” ones like facebook, being almost an adjunct to your productive work day! This explains the high visits on Mondays when new triggers (new posts) are seen. But, during the middle of the week, folks start actual “work” – I am talking presentations/ inspiration/ research 🙂 – and hence organic visits peak then! Makes sense?

Look at the sources analysis:

Blog Source Analysis

Again, much to my surprise, “search” almost equals “Facebook” – this is partially testimony to the (slow) speed of blogging, but does atleast endorse the cleverness of my tags 🙂

A look at a few other similar subject analyses can be had here and here

So, if you want to start blogging, you know what time of the day/ day of the week and which channel to do it on! Happy blogging!

Is Facebook Killing Other Digital Assets?

15 Mar


A few days ago I got into a conversation with the sales head of an entity – this is a platform that operates in what i would say is still a niche. It started as a blog, but now has contributory content from many authors – some paid for, mostly free. Fairly wide coverage across segments, nice viewership numbers – which the team actively tracks as metrics.

Now they have the next step in front of them monetization – They are chasing the obvious like sponsorship and advertising by brands, apart from other more interesting ideas.

But, the question that this guy asked me is:

If you are a brand, why would you not buy facebook advertising – where you can get access to an immensely wider reach, a much wider demographic, arguably higher engagement…Don’t forget, even for this entity, 75% of their discovery comes via facebook – which is probably true nowadays of most newer digital assets.

Ofcourse, much has been written about why companies should keep their blogs rather than just go for facebook pages alone – here’s a neat infographic on this. Prime reasons are – control of content, better engagement of a type, higher relevance, better chances at showing thought leadership rather than mere snippets (so different content types as well). All these make sense.

Ofcourse, as a counter, there are apps – that pretty much work as content platforms now (the mother of all content platforms being arguably wikipedia), including those on Facebook. Actually, honestly twitter more than facebook works better as a local – intact hyperlocal – content platform, though with the changes to the newsfeed, facebook will come closer. But see, publishing houses such as the Guardian are choosing to evict those – read why here

And then there’s the argument against websites of how video is the big gorilla in the room now – look at these amazing stats, and facebook aids the video wave.

But this sales guy’s point was not so much from the brand/ company’s point of view, but the advertiser/ spender’s – who is viewing website vs facebook as media channels not necessarily content ones.

I do think if the advertising/ sponsoring brand is serious enough to want to own proprietary content – remember in the digital world content is king – it shouldn’t rely on Facebook – for the same reasons as owners of the content shouldn’t rely on FB alone! There is something to be said for acquisition of eyeballs in an uncluttered/ controlled environment after all. Ofcourse they will also get the concomitant facebook page – so you do end up “going where your targets are” – the classic win for facebook, apart from “taking targets to where you want them to go”.

What’s your take?

Read also related earlier post here

Social Media in Politics – Necessary Evil, Proxy Democracy or Change Agent?

30 Jan


In the recently concluded, highly theatrical and much talked about Chintan Shivir – the strategy session for India’s ruling Congress Party, a big “action area” outlined was better use of Social Media. The party’s Young Turks said this was basically to reconnect with the currently alienated Urban Youth voters, acknowledging that Facebook and Twitter were now almost officially the “language of the urban youth” even in India.

I quickly checked accounts and found:

Facebook Likes – 71,933
Twitter Followers – Could not find official page
Facebook Likes – 811,063
Twitter Followers – 4,919

So, it was true – the congress party was woefully behind in adoption of Social Media.

Contrast with – yes ofcourse, Mr. Obama.
Barack and Michelle Obama hug photo

When he won his second year in office, he made history of sorts with Social Media – his tweet got retweeted & favorited the most times (RT – 7,03,650 times in 24 hrs and Favorites – 2,42,240), and the pic got 3.5 mil likes! His site my.barackobama.com was a key instrument in his campaign, as his Reddit Ask me Anything (AMA) site, and his youtube videos. Infact, as someone said, Social Media was to Obama what Radio was to Franklin D. Roosevelt and T.V. was to J.F.K!

Yes, I realise that the first (Congress) is a party while the second (Obama) is a politician, and many of our politicians in India have fairly active accounts even though the party doesn’t, (including Dr. Manmute Singh – how ironical is it – that he gets a voice on SM!). But the principles of usage are largely still the same for both. They do change when we look at another angle for usage of SoMe in politics – and that is when it is used as a megaphone for public opinion. Lets take a look at how SoMe is/ can be used:

By a Political Party:

a) Build awareness – Oh ofcourse – SoMe 101, isn’t it? This is one of the primary uses of SoMe (see the ABC of Social Media). But really, an easy way to spread the real message / releases / communication is open your facebook account and twitter handle. Closely linked with this, is:

b) Transparency – There is a lot of misinformation on the web, including many fake accounts. (The Indian Prime Minister was hit by one recently, causing the govt. to block a few accounts till verified for authenticity). Hence, an official Social Media presence allows you to be transparent, and released verified information

c) Increasing voter engagement – Apparently, the 2012 election night in the U.S. saw 300,000 tweets per minute. And election day/ the topic saw a total of 3.5 mil tweets! In our own India, organisations like Janagraha have been very active in voter enrollment.

d) Campaigning – These lessons we should learn from the U.S. – specially the 2012 election was the best case study in using SoMe to campaign – for BOTH parties!

The downside to this is that ruling parties can use SoMe for suppression – after all, SoMe makes the state far more porous – which can be seen as loss of control by authoritarian governments (more on this in a bit)

By Politicans:

a) The first is clearly to establish a connection/ empathy with the masses – Barack Obama did this so well. But, smaller countries have been doing this too – The Turkish President being a great example – not only does he use the channels well, he holds brainstorming meetings with Social Media experts!

b) Similar to parties, campaigning is the other use – depending on who is more powerful – the party or the politician, the relative weightages will get decided during campaigning.

c) An interesting use is because of its cost effectiveness. As this Kenyan Politician said – Social media campaigning allows them to reach out to the masses just as easily as parties/ people with richer coffers can – thus establishing equality in the hugely capital intensive political race!

By the People:

Social Media has proven to be the most effective way of bringing democracy to people’s homes.


After all, who can forget Arab Spring – its probably been the most powerful example of people’s activism dethroning governments, with a strong use of Social Media.

The earliest examples of digital media usage in transferring information quickly, virally to assemble people against a cause was probably Philipines in 2001 for Joseph Estrada’s impeachment – 7 mil text messages mobilised 1 mil people. Moldova in 2009 – 30,000 protestors assembled using Facebook, Livejournal, Twitter; Iran when Agha Soltan dies in 2009, The Jasmine revolution in Tunisia, and Tahrir in Egypt in 2011 – when Google executive Wael Ghonim put up a video of Khaled Said dying on youtube and sparked off the revolution that led to Hosni Mubarak’s downfall. The rate of tweets in Egypt, thanks to this subject went from 2300/day to 2,30,000/day! And then in true dominoes effect Lebanon/ Syria/ Libya started seeing signs of collapse of governments.

It’s interesting – as a Media Monitoring/ Listening company, we actually benefitted from Arab Spring – we got new business from Governments in countries like Senegal and Morocco since they decided to be more pro-active in “listening” to their people!

Ofcourse, there is a downside to this – it doesn’t always go well – the use of Social Media for activism. Specially when governments are able to apply censors – infact, in Iran, during the Agha Soltan movement, the government actually used Social Media to spread wrong information for protest gatherings, and many people died as a result! Other failures were – Belarus in Mar 2006, where post the revolution dying down, the govt. cracked down ever more on censorship; the Green movement in 2009 and the Red Shirt Movement in Thailand in 2010.

But activism is not the only benefit to people that Social Media gives – a Pew Study shows fairly high usage of Social Media, specially amongst the youth, to share political content/ views with their peers.

And finally ofcourse, people should use it for feedback to their political parties and governments – a bit like the use of twitter in business as the “modern help desk/ customer service center”. Thats why our friends in the African governments commissioned us for listening – and thats a really good use of Social Media – to be the instrument that carries people’s voices to their elected (or otherwise) representatives!

The final really interesting/ innovative use of Social Media, more in governance than in politics, seems to be in “crowd sourcing”. The 2 colest case studies for this were:

a) Iceland: In 2011, Iceland allowed its people to “create”/ “vote for” its own constitution via a Social Media referendum! This came in the wake of the “Pots and Pans” revolution, where the people of Iceland refused to pay back to Britain a debt of 2.3 billion that their erstwhile private banks borrowed; and then brought down their government! Impressive, huh? (even though they only have a population of some 800 odd thousand)

b) Sweden: Again late in 2011, the Swedish government, in a bid to promote tourism, gave over its @Sweden twitter account to its citizen journalists. Via a campaign called Curators of Sweden, it allowed different people to tweet about Sweden every week – for almost 7 months – till it all blew up in their faces when their tweeter started posting arguably offensive/ controversial content.

But think about the power of this idea – almost a wiki – constitution, or a wiki – law journal can be created – true democracy, huh?

OK, this is going on and on, but I do want to wind up by saying that ofcourse all Social Media is NOT always good for all politics – even Malcolm Gladwell contends that Social Platforms use very weak ties to form movements, and hence the motivation to keep on at any movement in a sustained fashion is lacking. If you look at how older/ longer lasting movements have formed and then taken place – they took years of fairly deep structural changes in social/ civil religious or moral fibres – and then erupted in the form of sustained movements.

Also, use of Social Media by governments has had its own gaffes – the EU’s commercial “Growing Together” drew a lot of flak as it was called racist. Our own politicians have seen downfall as a result of bad tweets.

But, net net, what one hopes that Social Media does, is initiate the people of any country atleast into “slacktivism” as a first step – and hope they climb the ladder of engagement with politics to ultimately really participate in making their own governments work better!

This is true of me, as it is I think of many of my friends – evidenced in a recent upsurge of mass/ public opinion against the government in a barbaric case of Sexual harassment leading to death of a young girl in Delhi.

Come on, all, lets raise our voices – Social media as a starter, and more active ways of change later…..what say you?

Social Media Rank of India’s Most Desirable Brands

29 Jan

Today’s is a lazy blog. a) It’s a follow up to another that I’d posted a few days ago – where I’d said I’d run some analysis on this subject. Lazy therefore because I didn’t have to think of a new topic. b) Its lazy because it’s more information – that I just needed to collate from various sites – and not so much opinions – for which I have to think a bit, organise my thoughts, maybe run some parallel research, and then write. Interesting paradox – in sheer physical effort of the research, these kinds of blogs actually require more hard labour – so, let me say this is a mentally lazy blog – though its a physically active one.

The above also upfronts a rather interesting debate (actually nowadays not so much debate as positioning/ messaging) on “data” vs. “information”..”knowledge” vs. “intelligence”. At one time, we contemplated using a tagline for our company that said – “data tells a story” (then junked it on grounds that it was too commonplace). So, in this post, I’ve collated some figures and will comment on it – rather than the other way around – have an opinion and then build a story around it.

Well, to finally get down to the actual post – just as I had promised, I attempted to rank India’s most Desirable Brands on their Social Media Presence. Here’s how they stack up:

Indian Ranking For Desired Brands

Findings therefore:

a) Both Desirable and Trusted Brands don’t really care about Social Media presence – obviously, their status on trust and desirability has far preceded the social media phenomenon – so, yes maybe it’s arrogance.

b) There isn’t really a pattern in these findings – some have made fair amounts of effort to create social media presence, and some haven’t (again shows the lack of correlation between status and marketing atleast in new media for these brands)

c) The car brands, being in the consumer space, are obviously the most active – with adoption of even Pinterest – the most visual/ sensory channel – this is logic, and contrary to my findings in the Trusted list – where even the food brands didn’t have a Pinterest presence (maybe this underlines the difference between Trust (read higher arrogance) and Desire – far more sensory, and therefore also maybe ephemeral.

d) EVERYONE, but everyone has youtube channels – not a surprise again, but clearly shows the importance of the audio-visual/ animated rather than static medium

e) At first I was surprised when I didn’t see facebook page for Google – realised later they wouldn’t promote competition 🙂 – they do have G+ account linked from their page. The same is kind of true for Apple/ iPad.

f) Many brands use sub properties/ brands that are more powerful – again, makes sense from overall marketing strategy perspective – Adidas is one such – has Social Media sites devoted to various sports – adidascricket for example. Interestingly, clearly has a country specific strategy for this as well – so while the cricket site is India specific, the golf one is not (shows status of cricket in India – where it’s not a sport but a religion)

g) Most brands use common global Linkedin sites – again, given this is a recruiting medium primarily, it kind of makes sense. Interestingly here however, was the fact that IBM’s status in the “most desirable” list was really only as a recruiter (India is a large base for IBM) – and YET they don’t have an India specific site. A little contrary to my expectation, Microsoft’s status was NOT only as a recruiter – it got there because of products as well – and YET they DO have a Linkedin page dedicated to India – with the largest no. of subscribers in this list, and a link on their home page (Microsoft also has a large base in India)

What this really tells me is that
a) There is no accounting for people’s perceptions (hence we should all abandon marketing – just kidding)
b) Looks like the ivy league companies in India are resting on their laurels – Doomsday warning – This will come back to bite you – stay ahead of the curve! (more on that another time)
and finally,
c) Trust and Desire are probably opposite ends of the spectrum.

For a detailed look at what went in to the renaming, here you are:

Most Desired Brands

Erma Bombeck & Social Media: 20 Erma-isms From “Aunt Joshi’s Copebook”

23 Jan


Clicked on an old blog from Pam Moore that compared Dr. Suess and Social Media. I shamelessly borrowed the idea, but applied to my all time favorite author, Erma Bombeck.

EB1: When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.

SJ1: When I sit before my Social Media feed at the end of everyday, I would hope that I would not have a single unanswered post/ tweet left, and I could say – I engaged with everyone who mentioned me

EB2: Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes.

SJ2: A Reputation takes many years to build, and only one “United broke my guitar” to destroy it.

EB3: My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?

SJ3: Your theory on social media should be – you never know when a “lets go to Tahrir” can multiply, catch fire, and bring a country down – so care about each and every post that hits your page

EB4: When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.

SJ4:Whether its your mother, a fan or someone you don’t know – treat social media advice with responsibility – a) you’re going to get it anyway, but also b) you never know when it may multiply/ smell/ catch fire… (read earlier point)

EB5: Never have more children than you have car windows.

SJ5: Never open more Social Media channels than you (or your agency) can handle

EB6: People shop for a bathing suit with more care than they do a husband or wife. The rules are the same. Look for something you’ll feel comfortable wearing. Allow for room to grow.

SJ6: People should start with social media with more care than they start a marriage. The rules are the same. Look for something you are comfortable beginning. Allow room to grow. Have fun. Experiment, grow some more..

EB7: One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child’s name and how old he or she is.

SJ7: One thing they never tell you about Social Media is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to acknowledge your fan or follower or just commenter, and care about what happened to her torn diaper, or bad tasting soft drink! Your life’s an open book, and you have little control over it!

EB8: Marriage has no guarantees. If that’s what you’re looking for, go live with a car battery.

SJ8: Starting a social media presence has no guarantees – Are you giving away too much info? Will it become like a tiger which you caught by the tail and now cant let go? Will you get caught by Regulation FD? If guarantees are what you’re looking for, go sell car batteries

EB9: Do you know what you call those who use towels and never wash them, eat meals and never do the dishes, sit in rooms they never clean, and are entertained till they drop? If you have just answered, “A house guest,” you’re wrong because I have just described my kids.

SJ9: Do you know what you call those who read posts and never respond, who retweet content as original, who expect likes and shares but never do the same to what others write? Social Media Sloths

EB10: Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what.

SJ10: Bad news, Social Media has you doing JUST that – worrying about who doesn’t like you, who has more and who’s doing what!

EB 11: The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one.

SJ 11: The odds of responding to a negative post on Social Media, and getting three times as many negative posts as a response to the response, are , if not three billion to one, atleast three to one

EB 12: Everyone is guilty at one time or another of throwing out questions that beg to be ignored, but mothers seem to have a market on the supply. “Do you want a spanking or do you want to go to bed?” Don’t you want to save some of the pizza for your brother?” Wasn’t there any change?”

SJ12: Everyone is …to be ignored, but detractors on Social media seem to have a market on the supply. “Wal-Mart, why are you not fixing my necklace that is broken?” “Oh Ikea, why do you lie!”

EB 13: Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter productivity.

SJ13: SocialMedia is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter productivity – NOT

EB14: He who laughs…..lasts.

SJ14: On Facebook, as on twitter and pinterest and blogs and..He who laughs, lasts, and he who makes others laugh, lasts longer!

EB15: A child needs your love most when he deserves it least

SJ15: A commentor needs your response most when he’s been meanest to you

EB16: Throughout the years I have set up my own rules about eating food: Never eat anything you can’t pronounce.

SJ16: Never write anything on Social Media that you cant back up

EB17: Families aren’t easy to join. They’re like an exclusive country club where membership makes impossible demands and the dues for an outsider are exorbitant.

SJ17: SocialMedia communities are really easy to join – as long as you keep feeding the demands of constant engagement

EB18: It’s frightening to wake up one morning and discover that while you were asleep you went out of style.

SJ18: Ditto, so keep refreshing content on Social Media perpetually

EB19: Friends are “annuals” that need seasonal nurturing to bear blossoms. Family is a “perennial” that comes up year after year, enduring the droughts of absence and neglect. There’s a place in the garden for both of them.”

SJ19: Ditto for friends, fans, followers, subscribers…

And finally, the one I love! (I leave the SJ-ism to your imagination!)

EB20: I question the value of name tags as an aid to future identification. I have approached too many people who have spent the entire evening talking to my left bosom. I always have the insane desire to name the other one.

Trust and Social Media Presence: No Correlation for Indian Brands

22 Jan

In my inbox this morning was a nice infograph of Top U.S. Retail Brands‘ presence on Social Media (Wal-Mart topped the fb list with some 26 mil odd Facebook Likes).

I thought i’d checked what this looked like for top Indian brands. There were a few lists (with , surprisingly, Blackberry having 23 mil odd likes on Facebook), but I thought I’d flip the screen, and see how salient the top Indian brands were on Social Media.

The Brand Equity Top Trusted Brands List struck me as an interesting one to check for — we keep reading about the Trust Barometer, and how it correlates (well actually mostly doesn’t) with what brands have to say for themselves. Looks like Indian brands agree wholeheartedly!

So, here it is – how the top Indian most trusted brands stack up on Social Media presence (I mean marketing, NOT chatter):

Indian Trusted Brands on Social Media

With the stark exception of Nokia India, which, hello, is a “tech” brand almost, atleast deals with tech, and selling mobiles, SHOULD have active social media presence, very few of our trusted brands actually are doing much on these channels – youtube and facebook in some cases being the only exception. Even fewer actually link to their digital pages from their home page. Even the leader Nokia, has some 5 mil plus likes on facebook (as compared to the 23 mil odd for Blackberry)

It’s a surprise, because many of them are food brands, and i would have thought that atleast food would use Pinterest (they do have recipes on their home pages).

What do you think this is – arrogance? Or just legacy (which is one reason why these brands are “trusted”).

What would the picture be however if I were to choose the list of the “most desired”, not the most trusted? Wait till tomorrow to find out!…:)