All posts by Nipa Shah

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="http://www.workbootsnerd.com/"><font color="#555555">workbootsnerd.com</font></a>.

Online Marketing Blog: Engage, Connect and See a Tangible ROI

Disney is a social media giant. With over 200 millions “likes” across its Facebook pages, it is one of the most powerful brands on the web. So, I’ve decided to explore how Disney accomplishes such a feat. In order to do so, we must examine how they engage with their fans and the impact that interaction has on consumers.

Disney builds a community, not just a pitch
If you look closely at Disney’s tweets or Facebook posts, you’ll notice that most of the communications are centered on interacting with fans. Their goal for social media is not to be commercial but, rather, informational. And, you can see this easily. Take their recent Youtube video about creating life-size LEGO models of Toy Story characters. The content of the video wasn’t made to promote that LEGO has a Toy Story line of toys. Instead, it tries to give something back to the fans.
  
  
Disney invests in digital publishing
Disney moves with the times. In just 18 months, it has launched more than a dozen children’s book apps. In fact, Disney Publishing has seven out of the top 10 apps in the Paid Books category. And now that Disney owns Marvel (Yes, you heard me right— Marvel comics.), they are expanding to put comics online.
 
  
Disney sees social media as a powerhouse to use

In today’s age, it still amazes me that people question the benefit of social media. Disney decided to communicate with fans and develop emotional connections with them through their social media strategy. Naturally, what’s bringing people together is a shared love for the brand. But, it’s also deeper then that. Not only are people connecting with Disney; they are connecting with each other, and that goes back to creating a community.
  
Your business can grow through the strategic use of social media. When you integrate social media with other marketing strategies, you can see the ROI clearly in the form of visitors converting into customers. Social media marketing is less about "being there" and more about "what you do when you are there".

"It's not for me", "my business is different and all referral based", or "we're too small" are not reasons not to engage in online marketing. Social and search marketing are imperative to small business growth. It is the most cost-effective form of marketing you can and should leverage. All you need is a strategy, a plan, and a company who knows how to execute the marketing plan.

Contact us today to learn how we can be your  designer radiators marketing partner, regardless of  your budget.

Online Marketing Blog: Cyber-Crime May be an Act of War Says the Pentagon!

Hollywood has long speculated and shown us how cyber crime could be serious. In our movies, we have become accustom to seeing the ultimate super villain not armed with guns, but with a laptop.

Well, it seems that Hollywood is meeting reality as the Pentagon has announced that hacking into the government is not only a crime, but can be considered an act of war.

Yep, a new way of looking things for sure eh?

For the first time, a hack can result in the U.S. dispatching military forces. Although the Pentagon said this is just to deter someone or something from attacking, it sure puts a whole new light on cyber crime and may even prevent the most experienced to think twice before hitting “enter.”

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon is thinking of taking an “equivalence” approach when judging how to punish such an attack. Personally, it’s like the old “eye for an eye” philosophy to me, but you will have to decide for yourself.

Basically, they are saying if a cyber attack’s by-products equal the same amount of destruction that a military attack could, then the Pentagon would be allowed to respond with military.

I know I have said it once already, but I suppose I’ll have to say it again. Cyber crime is serious. And, as our technology evolves, so will the rules and laws that bind them.

If even the Pentagon is taking action, that should tell us something. So, be careful. Think before you Tweet or Facebook.  Realize that a simple prank may not look so simple to Uncle Sam.
 

Online Marketing Blog: Online Marketing Spend to Grow in 2012

In 2010, purse strings were cut, and everyone who owned a small business was preparing for the worst. The result was grim for most companies’ marketing departments as they were the first to go.

But, now, only one year later, AMI’s 2010 – 2011 U.S. Small Business Marketing Activity& Spending study is predicting that companies are going to spend, and in a big way!

And what are they putting their $36 billion into? Believe it or not— marketing activities.

Confused? Well, let me help you understand.

You see, most business owners have a tendency not to be –what I like to call—marketing focused. While it is simple to see how a business can profit from sales or production, the same cannot be said for marketing.

The value that marketing provides can usually only be determined over a period of time. And this is where the problem comes in. This often makes it harder to see improvement where improvement was made. As a result, most owners target marketing first and foremost in difficult times.

My thoughts on this? While sometimes budgeting is absolutely necessary, it is important not to make any decisions without analyzing what the repercussions will be. If you, as a business owner, stop marketing for your company, you have to realize that the same cannot be said for your competition, which is what most of the businesses who will be investing in marketing for 2012 have found out.

In any case, this report suggests that marketing is on the mend. Hopefully, the next time the economy takes a turn for the worst, owners will think twice before cutting what pushes their brand to the front in their customers’ minds.

Online Marketing Blog: Facebook’s been Twitterized!!!

They are calling Facebook’s new feature “Happening Now,” but it looks, acts and functions exactly like Twitter. The only difference I can see is that it’s on Facebook.

Experts say it’s an attempt to launch Facebook into real-time. And, although the Facebook community remains on the fence about this change, business owners are starting to see the advantage.

This is because Happening Now is geared towards “in the moment” things. It’s taking the appeal of Twitter and putting it on Facebook. The result is that businesses can now base the construction their response by a customer’s location.

Not following? Completely understandable as this is not Facebook’s normal thing. Let me break it down for you.

Say Bill is a friend of a restaurant’s Facebook. He eats a meal at the restaurant and likes it so much that he posts a good review to Happening Now. Because the new tool is in real time, the restaurant can automatically see Bill’s praise. The restaurant can choose to take further marketing action now. For example, they can send Bill a coupon via Happening Now for 20 percent off his desert.

Are we starting to see the appeal?

The only argument against Happening Now is that Facebook is not Twitter. And, if Facebook users wanted real-time, they would be tweeting instead of posting. Regardless of this response, it seems Happening Now is here to stay.

And if Facebook can convince its users that <a style="text-decoration: none" href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=personals.single.dating.free"><font color="#555555">tinder app</font></a> Happening Now is really the place to be, results could be dire for Twitter.

Online Marketing Blog: Show me the Money with Social Media Marketing

Whenever I talk to people about online marketing, “show me the money” is the phrase I often hear. People want proof it works.

Well, I have some— Movies, Egypt, Japan, Anthony Weiner, and so on. Enough said? Let me explain with the Movie example.

Moviefone.com’s list is out, and it includes seven movies that used viral marketing campaigns to promote their premieres. The list includes box offices hits like “The Dark Knight” to promising flops like “Snakes on a Plane.” The thing that remains constant about the films is that all of them have the money to show exactly how much digital marketing works.

So, how did they do it?

According their campaigns, the cause of success was intrigue and mystery. And, to me, that makes perfect sense. Those are the two big factors in a successful promotion. If you look at it from a business perspective, it’s always important to make whatever your selling something people can be curious about.

After all, you don’t just want to promote;; you want to generate a buzz.
 
Take the makers of “Paranormal Activity.” They attributed the success of their $15,000 film to social networks and rightly so. One of the things they did was simply encourage people to review their film in 140 character tweets. By leveraging applications like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube and dozens of others, “Paranormal Activity” was able to gross over $193 million.

Proving once again that there is literally no limit of what one can do with an online marketing campaign… whether it be for a small business or a low budget film. You just need to be able to invest in it to make it work for you. The old adage of "gotta give some to get some" works best here.

Online Marketing Blog: Facebook’s Facial Recognition Software Breeches Privacy

You just got caught uncompromising picture on Facebook. Although you’re a bit irritated, you think to yourself, “It’s not a big deal.” After all, all you have to do is use the magical button called untag. Sure, the picture is still out there but, unless someone deliberately goes searching for it, it’s not connected to you.

Unfortunately, people are finding out the hard way that Facebook’s new gadget may surface embarrassing photos unintentionally. The program, called facial recognition technology, is supposed to help users tag their friends in photos. What it does is it constantly analyzes your friends’ Facebook albums and determines if any of the pictures look like you.

This is pretty impressive when you think about it… and also pretty creepy. While your friends will still be the ones doing the tagging, Facebook is pointing, specifically, you out. The problem with this is that some people are saying this makes Facebook the one sharing personal information by default.

Naturally, not everyone is ecstatic— especially the people who still don’t know how to manage their Facebook privacy settings properly. And, it certainly doesn’t help that Facebook didn’t extend any prior notice about the matter.

My suggestion? If you are feeling a bit weary about the consequences of this new program, it might be a good idea to disable it. Disabling on Facebook is rather easy, once you know what you are looking for. For this particular program all you have to do is follow these steps:

1. Go to your Facebook’s privacy settings.
2. Click on “Customize settings.”
3. Look for “Things to Share.” Under which, you will see “Suggest photos of me to friends. When photos look like me, suggest my name.”
4. Click on “Edit settings.”
5. Changed the “Enabled” to “Disable” and press “OK”

And, volia! You have successfully blocked it. Just keep in mind that technology is always changing, and it might be a good idea to check out your Facebook privacy settings more then every once and awhile.

You know, just for old pictures’ sake.