Social Media and Digital Marketing events are F@#$%^& up in India!

I attended the Social Media Week Mumbai last month. It was a five-day event where people who were interested in #Socialmedia gathered to learn and share knowledge. The expectations in general were to learn how to leverage social channels to achieve various business goals whether they are engagement related goals or someone’s ego related goals. Many people were hoping to see that the experts will help in explaining how #SocialMedia can be helpful to grow businesses and build personal brands.

My hope with the event was to gain some consumer insights. Also, I was looking forward to learning about how companies have effectively used social media to connect with their audiences. I was hoping that some *big brands* will showcase how they have been able to use such channels in an effective way that it ties with their business goals. Unfortunately, many sessions were disappointing, to say the least, many of the sessions were like “Woo-Woo”.

The so-called ‘social media influencers’, which in my opinion are “population gatherers” as India has abundance of people, came on stage and grossly mis-guided the ‘social media enthusiasts’ or someone who mockingly said during conversations: ‘social media evangelists’.

Many of the panelists and other attendees that I met were grossly ignorant of any scientific methodologies of experimentation in digital media. And maybe I am making a wrong assumption here as they might be aware of it and might be practicing the same, however, they chose to stay silent on the same and not disclose it with the audiences. They aptly mis-“guided” the naive audience with more “Woo-Woo”. The audiences clapped for this “woo-woo” and took away “great learning” back with them and then vomited it out on social media with #Tags and blog entries and likes.

I rarely attend Indian digital marketing events. As most of these events are like mass scale “pitch” sessions by digital agencies, social media agencies, SEO agencies or companies offering solutions for small, medium and large enterprises. While, it is okay for companies to make pitches, however, the funnel is broken here, and they do not practice what they preach themselves.

Let me explain briefly:

1) Hypocrisy – While you will read and learn from many content marketing experts that ‘Content is King’ and ‘Structure your Content for the channel’ and ‘customize content to your audiences’. These agencies conveniently borrow these statements for their tweets and blogs and presentations. However, they forget to implement these in their ‘mass pitches’. Without providing valuable case studies or data on why something works or why it doesn’t, such pitches are meaningless.

2) Borken Funnel – The mass pitch funnel is broken. The target audience is so diverse that the mass pitch is not catering to any of the target audience. There are no polls done to understand who are the attendees? There is no pre-qualification done on the same. All attendees irrespective of their interest in the event is clubbed together in the same room.

  • Decision maker is bored with the pitch as it’s not talking about numbers.
  • The influencer is not interested as it’s not talking about what’s in it for them to influence the decision
  • The execution person is not interested as it’s not helping them to understand how it will make their job better, easier.

And all we hear is “we are the best agency” stories. Where are the case-studies of your clients? Where are the objective statements and measurable results?

Some of the points I wanted to write about from the sessions I attended.

Mis-leading Sessions – Winners have product strategy and losers a marketing strategy. This session talked about how companies should have a Product Strategy and Marketing strategy is such a losing proposition. While, I agree that Product strategy is paramount, however, a communication strategy that works in tandem with product strategy is equally important. The speakers conveniently chose to hide marketing and communications inside the product strategy and mis-lead the audiences.

Let me explain, if I build a product strategy that has awesome experiences and has hooks built into it that prompts user to act and share of certain achievements or good experiences with product on social media channels, is a great example of Product strategy plugged with Communication strategy. Just by encompassing the communication strategy as part of product strategy is a mis-leading proposition.

What about Experimentation Strategy? – If such re-structuring of terms is being done, then why not also separate the experimentation strategy? Testing which message gives a higher referral, what points of product journey to prompt users is again an example of bringing product and marketing together. Unfortunately, the session didn’t talk about that, why?

The marketing strategy works (it does, happy to explain a model to anyone who wants to learn), a combination of SEO, Social Sharing, Friend Referrals, Search Ads, Display Ads, Video ads and so one. Building a measurable structure and determining Acquisition costs with attributions, Retention Rates and Life-time value. Why is there no mention of that in the entire discussion?

Unprepared Panel Discussions – While the topics used for many other sessions were very catchy, however, the content just didn’t live up to its expectations. Why? I can only speculate that very few panelists seem to have prepared for the presentations. It was like a 15-minute call done by the panelists a day before, and they all landed on the stage. Nothing of value came out of so many panels. Very few panels had something of value to add, and I tweeted about some of the learning that I got out of these sessions.

Poor Quality Workshops – Example of Misleading poor quality workshop – Advanced DoubleClick Marketing Session – I am a user of Google DFA in India. I attended this session in the hope that I will learn some insights on optimization of DFA campaigns. Unfortunately, this session was a disaster. It was more like a quiz where they were trying to figure out how many clients can we get at the end of the session. Pathetic and poor. No content hand-out and nothing of value shared or discussed.

Poor methodology – I used to work for a company called Naseba. Where I used to help in organizing focused events for CXO audiences in Europe, Middle East, APAC. These events were structured in a way that there was pre-qualification done based on the requirements of the people attending the events. Very structured personalized agendas were served to people attending. The sponsors used to generate high ROI while at the event as they used to close deals. However, digital events here in India are so poorly structured that the decision makers, the influences, the execution people and strategists all are sitting together getting completely confused and gaining no valuable insights. Events should be tailored in a way that it adds value from the perspective of the audience, and there should be segmentation. Unfortunately, nothing of that sorts happen and we see utter chaos.

The Good things: While I shared some of the points of extreme discontent, there were some good sessions too. In these sessions, people genuinely shared some consumer insight. Some people shared methodologies of how to approach consumer communication, experiments and deriving insights. Some of the good sessions were: Stand-up comedy in india: online viral, offline houseful!, Product MVP DesignEarned traffic and authority by Jeff BullasBuzzfeed Session, Dharavi goes social, Bollywood trolling was good entertainment.

I have attended few events outside of India, for example, I attended an A/B testing event in London by a seemingly less known site Whichtestwon.com. These guys talked about 100s of case-studies from multiple companies from many parts of the world. Such an event added a ton of information and insights about consumer behavior and the scientific method of conducting tests and learning instead of just harping about how great their agency was. They gave booklets with 100s of case-studies as the accompanying conference material instead of “sales brochures” from the sponsors. Every single time, I train my brain to overlook the past (pathetic events in India) and go for such events, all I get is disappointment.

Digital marketing is a new and upcoming field in India. It’s been around for less than 15 years in India. While people are getting excited and their career choices are getting influenced based on what they see and hear in such events, the speakers, organizers, panels and attendees have a responsibility to improve the overall outcome of such events. I hope the agencies that are going to host digital marketing events in the future, read this and spend some time in thinking before producing the digital marketing events.

Thank you for reading (if you did). I am always open to criticism and critique. Leave a comment or tweet if you disagree or have a point to add / subtract.

Indians comfort and loss of time is of no value to British Airways

sachinuppal:

Businesses forget Humans are Humans and not a Passport of a Country. #ShameBritishAirways

Originally posted on getsetandgo:

Update as on June 2, 2014 – IST 5.30pm – Thanks everyone for helping me spread the word on this. I have just received a standard email from British Airways Customer Care apologising for the inconvenience and confirming that they will look into this matter. I will keep you all updated on the progress.

This post is my letter to the CEO of British Airways recounting my recent experiences while flying British Airways from New York to Mumbai. Thanks to many of you who found the concerned email id for me and I have now sent this as an email out to him. I am also posting this as a blog post and hope that this makes a difference in the way British Airways treats its Indian customers.

May 31, 2014

 Mr. Keith Williams

CEO – British Airways PLC

 Dear Sir,

I had recently read a blog-post (which went viral on the internet) about an Indian national…

View original 1,627 more words

How Technology Helped Me To Exercise And Get Healthy @Fitbit @Runtastic #Gamification

Gamification is the use of game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts. I attended a course on gamification which was hosted by Kevin Werbach, professor at The Wharton School, and Co-author of the recently released book, For the Win.

During the past few months I have been looking at a series of online and offline products and services that are adopting Gamification. One of the key things that Gamification helps in achieving is “Intrinsic Motivation”. Health and Fitness industry has leveraged Gamification as the key challenge that they face is motivating people to spend time on their health and fitness. The Nike+ fuel band is a fantastic example. Similarly, I am aware of around multiple such apps that have hardware and software combination where they track health and activity data and sync it to online portals and present that data in a structured way through the use of gamification elements to motivate people to get into a habit of regular focus on fitness.

2 such products that I use are: Runtastic.com and Fitbit.com. I use the blackberry app from the runtastic as well as I use the Fitbit One tracker + Windows 7 sync software + iPad App. Below are some results that I saw in my behaviour after using Fitbit for the past 2 months. I know the data is too small and not statistically significant. I will keep updating the blog post to share updated data on how my performance improved or deteriorated. But at a broad level, I can see a 44% improvement in my daily Kms walked metric (see image below).

Technology Driving Health Benefits #Gamification

IMAGE 1: Technology Driving Health Benefits #Gamification

These products have leveraged Gamification very well and the continuous motivations, notifications, alerts, badges and the friend leader-boards with quick tease messaging to friends works very well in tandem to keep people motivated.

Activity Graph FitBit-Online-dashboard TopBadges

 

If you notice Image 1: clearly, there was a long period when I wanted to be regular about my fitness, however, I didn’t. But since the time I got Fitbit One tracker, I am motivated to walk, climb stairs instead of taking elevator and walk that extra mile whenever I see a chance.

All this is happening because we all like to have fun and games are fun. Gamification of real life activities makes mundane activities as fun and keeps us motivated to keep participating and playing.

So, that’s my story of intrinsic motivation driven by gamification and technology that is helping me out, Your turn now!

TOP 3 Extremely Innovative Indian Banking Ads – Worth 6.5 Lakh Crore

Financial Year 2013 started with a Big Bang Advertising by BFSI segment. Dena Bank, Bank of India and Federal bank running the most creative, innovative ads one after the other from 1st April – 3rd April. Insurance sector was also not behind with New India Insurance joining the innovative ad bandwagon.

Not just the copy and design of the ads was super innovative, the media buying strategy was also very innovative . All of them decided to buy the ads in Times Of India mast head.

The best part is that the copy of all ads was most innovative and unique that I almost couldn’t differentiate one from another (apart from their logos)! I guess ad-agencies have a Template which looks like below:

“Thank you xxxxxxxxxxx, for your patronage and making us BIG”

Rs. xx000,00,00,000… money being managed and growing                               <Add Logo Here>

Big Thanks to our yy Million customers!”

Indian Bank Ads DSC_1019 (1)

 

Good job Banks and Ad-Agencies, now we trust you more and we will bank with only your bank! Your customer no. 999,99,99,999.

A Lady Called “YOU” is hogging all the limelight – Happy Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women’s Day, is marked on March 8 every year. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women’s economic, political and social achievements.

While, the idea behind it has varied from country to country and year to year, it gained prominence in 1977 when the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights.

The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2013 is “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women.” Though, to end violence against women, a recent survey done by Times of India in Delhi suggested 96% of women feel unsafe after sunset.

Meanwhile, completely unaware of the context and the spirit, there are a series of brands and advertisers in India that took to “leverage” the “Women’s Day” theme by celebrating the womanhood for a woman called “You” while celebrating the “Spirit of Womanhood”, they have various offerings for “YOU”. See a series of “Exciting” offerings:

Some are offering Health Packages to “You”

https://www.box.com/s/nu59zrlc0rwghwpwmhnf

Some are offering “Pleasure” so that Women can be “You” as if they were a Dino earlier :-)

https://www.box.com/s/mv81c8j7y7ve0dgbsvlp

Some are telling you: Don’t stay FAT, lose 15kgs

https://www.box.com/s/hzzve8k0rkrsmu9mf082

Someone is offering Banking products

https://www.box.com/s/3kd7imr6w26l2squv2yi

Some of them are ROI focused and they are DIRECT in giving Discounts and Offers to YOU

https://www.box.com/s/ejjrxolccfi78np6r6eq

Some are telling YOU to be FEARLESS.

https://www.box.com/s/yiic492lwty6xagn07dg

And Hindustan Times is celebrating the Girl in YOU. This one is particularly interesting as I do not understand this at all. Please enlighten!

So here is to a great day ahead, Happy International Women’s Day!

Facebook’s New Feed – “Consumers” Back in Focus – Investors Happy – Brands Spend More

Zuckcolor

Image and Live Feed Courtsey – Mashable

An early look at the new Facebook feeds seems to put focus back on consumers and what they want. A lot more focus on what matters to people who use Facebook and come back every day. Facebook has 60% retention rates (that’s amazingly high for such a giant product). Which means the only way they can survive is to answer a simple question:

Why will our users keep coming back?

The product manager and Tech lead working on this revamp of feeds clearly suggested that consumers wanted to get back in control of their feeds and what they want to see and there is no other way but to give consumers what they want. BIGGER> BOLDER> BETTER seemed to be the mantra in re-design along with building consistent experiences in multiple devices. Also, some knobs have been given to FB users to pick and chose their own feeds!

This means FB users will now have full control over what they see in their feeds and they can segregate Friend Feeds from Brand feeds. Which basically means that companies that have heavily invested in Brand pages will have no option left but to invest more in Advertising (promoting) their page feeds, otherwise, the engagement levels will drop drastically and the brand page investments will go to sh!#.

So, from the point of view of Consumers, Investors it’s a #Win, while the Brands will have to spend much more now in advertising and creating new content! The engagement levels are bound to go down without promotions. Also, there was no clear mention on edge rank’s relevance anymore as the users will have control on what they want to see (more like chronologically?).

So in simple words, brands will have to spend much more on page promotions, while they have to continue to spend on direct advertising. I am sure some brands who have made heavy investments in building fan page audiences and engagement platforms are surely going to get pissed.

Though, I would spend more time interacting with the FB team to understand this better and get more information about how this will impact the brands. Till then, happy spending, this hits PC/Laptops starting today!

71% of Millenials Believe Office Romances Boost Performance and Morale

Some time back I had shared a Infographic that talked about the chances for your Office Romance to Succeed (this was provided by Careerbuilder). Here is an updated Infographic created by Onlinebusinessdegree.org about the same topic with more data visualized.
Working For Love

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