India users and Social Networks (Observations from the US)

I'm quite a bit active on social networks. It makes sense, given that Social Media Marketing is one of our core services to our clients. What is interesting to me when I network online is how the two cultures that I understand most conduct social networking online.

When I was speaking at a conference in Ahmedabad, India (in January 2011) I briefly eluded to this difference in Social networking styles in the two countries and cultures I'm most familiar with. Given the rise of social media usage and social media users from India, I decided it was time to pen my observations about how Indian users network online and solicit feedback from folks. So  here goes…..

Celebrity Following: This happens in the US and other countries too as celebrities are naturally very popular. I mean what other medium offered such immediate and direct access to the tinsel town Gods until Twitter and Facebook came along? However, I find that celebrity following is a more popular pastime and perhaps a bigger obsession for social media users from India. It is not very surprising given that Bollywood is hugely popular with Indians and Bollywood actor and actress worship is very common to most Indian households. But my observation is that many users tweet and comment exclusively on celebrity tweets and posts and when they don't get the responses they seek, many users become belligerent and rude,  deliberately trying to antagonize celebrities into pointless discussions and unnecessary debate. And in general, most celebrities in both countries tweet and Facebook post mostly one-way messages, with little real interaction with their followers and fans.

Spamming versus Networking: Instead of networking and really forming relationships, many social networkers make job and business requests within minutes of connecting. They get belligerent and rude when they are politely told "sorry, there are no openings". Many have approached me asking me why I wouldn't help out a fellow Indian, a fellow Gujarati (state where my parents are from), etc. Many yet spam their followers, fans, and connections with debates over this topic and the other, making it very difficult to conduct fruitful networking online. LinkedIn is especially drowning in users who post messages and questions and responses on an almost daily basis. Another observation is that many LinkedIn messages are posted in an obvious attempt to gather email addresses for future use.

Content Lacking Engagement/Interaction: A lot of tweets, linkedin status updates, and Facebook posts that I read from social networkers from India lack the true nature of social networking, which is engagement. Either there is a lot of one-way messaging or there are proverbs and words of wisdom shared to which people respond to, but there are few interactions and very little real engagement to make the networking fruitful.

Email Scraping for Spam: I swear that my email is in the hands of EVERY SINGLE "leading" web and "growing" SEO company in India. I say that because I get daily emails from Indian companies wanting to become my "partner" for web and want me to send them my "requirements". I can't say that I get even 1% of similar spam from non-Indian companies who interact with me on social networks.

My observations are not meant as a blanket statement that encompasses every single user of social networks in India. There are many savvy, focused, and interactive social networkers who "GET" social networking. And there are many non-India social networkers who are guilty of what I accuse Indian users to be.

Bottom line reason for this post? The average social networker in India, who is not from the communications or marketing background or doesn't have a specific expertise or celebrity status, has a bit further to go to truly gain benefit from social networking. The learning may also come with better understanding their own goals of being online.

Social networking is a huge opportunity for individuals and companies looking to grow brand reach, engage with prospects, and promote their expertise and company or services. Social networks truly make us a global market place.  Shouldn't we use then use this valuable resource more wisely and with a more strategic focus?


Internet Marketing Blog: Some Social Networking Do’s & Don’ts

I've been watching people tweeting and posting blogs and commenting on Facebook and have some observations. Perhaps you'll take note and implement some changes, perhaps you'll do nothing different but here it is……

Don’t be one of those people who talk to themselves: Have you disabled people’s ability to comment or post on your Facebook wall because you are afraid of negative comments? Do you ask questions or just ramble on about yourself? Do you tell interesting stories or just talk business, business, business?  When was the last time you asked a question? No one likes a person who’s only interested in themselves, and the same goes for a brand. The whole point of social media is to connect, and one can’t do that if one takes the “social” part out of the word. And  remember that while disabling features can prevent negative comments on your brand, it can also hurt it because you aren't listening to what your customers are saying and proactively addressing their concerns.

Ask this question to yourself – Who is your website for anyway? Okay. Sure. Adding neon lights flashing around your logo is cool, but what is its purpose? I noticed that many websites get sucked into –what I like to call— the shiny object syndrome. They have flash and many moving objects and have incorporated this and that into the website which takes away from the actual purpose – converting a visitor to a customer

I’m not saying don’t upgrade your website with important features. But also be focused on the visitor. Will the visitor find information quickly and be able to take a call to action? Is your site slow in loading because of too many heavy flash objects?

You're blogging but no one's coming to your site: So you haven’t posted a blog in over a week? It’s okay!!! Really, it is. But when you do post, what next? Are you marketing the blog anywhere? Are you asking people to read it and comment on it? Are you commenting on other people's blogs? Remember, social media is quite a bit about "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours". Unless you are a big brand name, you'll have to do a lot more than just blog. You'll have to tell people that you blog and then DIRECT them to your blog.
And if you decide you need help managing your  social media marketing, click here to ask us for a quote.

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Internet Marketing Blog: A great cook makes it all look and taste good!

Putting together an effective marketing strategy is like putting together a great meal and serving it to your guests at a dinner event that you are hosting.

  • First, just cook it: When it comes to online marketing, that means creating good, quality content on a regular, frequent basis. It is tedious and time consuming but so is cooking an elaborate meal when you are expecting guests, right? So, making your visitors/guests feel welcome means making sure that they have something to feed on (read).
  • Then remember that presentation is everything: Would you eat a meal that was poorly presented to you? Before you ever taste a dish in a restaurant, don’t you look for the presentation that makes it all the more appealing? Well, the same is true for your website and the content that you create for your guests (visitors). So present your content to them in a way that makes visitors WANT to read it.
  • Lastly, note that variety is the spice of life: Guests at a dinner event want variety in their food choices. Some may like vegetarian dishes; others may want their daily protein in the form of chicken. People like choices. Similarly, when reading content or networking with you, people may wish to have options. Give them variety and options through multi-channel marketing by making content available in the form of blogs, videos, tweets, facebook posts, linkedIn group participation, press releases, and whatever will feed their fancy.

Do all this and see them come back for seconds and thirds. They will also stop and ask you questions through an online inquiry or forward your site to others because they want to share their find with others.
In short, a great marketing strategy is very similar to hosting a successful dinner event. To do both, you not need to have all the right ingredients, you also need to have the right cook who can make things look fancy, make people take action, AND bring them back for more.


Internet Marketing Blog: How LinkedIn Helps Businesses Grow!

LinkedIn is my 2nd favorite Social Networking site, for business that is. For fun purposes, I would go to Youtube. LinkedIn is a tremendous resource for small businesses and can be a powerful source for leads and information to help grow your business, without spending a dime. No, it’s not all free because you still have to allocate resources, in-house or outsourced ( a company like ours) to execute a rounded social media campaign.

Here are strategies to use LinkedIn for business growth, brand awareness, and lead generation:

  1. LinkedIn Groups: LinkedIn has dozens and dozens of groups. You will find groups on pretty much any topic under the sun. By joining groups, you can participate and learn more about others and find ways to develop your business. In addition to joining groups that are in your industry, try to join groups that are outside your area of expertise. Or better yet, start a group that may fill a gap or provides a niche focus. By engaging in groups, you will form connections with people you'd never meet otherwise. You can grow  your network, extend your reach, and conduct business development using subtle methods that most networkers are open to.
  2. LinkedIn Answers: Have you even checked this section out? Most people think of "adding connections" and focus on that activity. However, LinkedIn answers is one of the most under-utilized tools that LinkedIn provides business owners. It is great for asking questions, seeking advice, or simply brainstorming. Not only can you ask questions, by responding to questions asked by members, you can establish yourself as an expert in your domain. a regular basis can help you establish yourself as a thought leader. The best part about this is that you can include your signature in all your responses which will result in people clicking through to learn more about you.
  3. LinkedIn Connections: Sales peoples want contacts.LinkedIn has them. LinkedIn has a robust search feature which allows you to search on people based on many criteria including company name, expertise, location, and more. You can also refine your search based on people you are connected to in groups or limiting your search to those who are 2nd connections only.

Then there are some LinkedIn features that can absolutely drive everyone nuts. But practice does make perfect!
Marketing has become complicated and tedious. It used to be that marketing was traveling to trade shows, contacting people by phone and letters, and basically making the rounds to develop the business. Now, we have to do all that and more. A carefully crafted LinkedIn strategy, combined with other strategies that include email marketing, Twitter marketing, content promotion, content creation (blogs, videos, etc.) CAN AND WILL generate Return on Investment (ROI) and Return on Engagement (ROE).

So now that you've got some pointers, go ahead and get started. But if you lack the time or the skilled resources, we'd love to help you with your campaign. Contact us for a quote today! For more info please visit: <a style="text-decoration: none" href=""><font color="#555555"></font></a>.