Archive for the 'Social Media' Category

What is inside matters

I was reading Shiv Khera‘s book ‘You can Win‘ recently and I read a story in it that kind of stood out, “A man was selling balloons at a fair. He had all the colors – blue, red, green that one could think of. Once in a while when the sales slowed down, he would send one of the helium filled balloons up in the air and as it flew up all the children wanted one and his sales would go up. A little boy came around, tugged at his shirt and asked him whether the black balloon would fly if he let it go. He calmly explained to the child that, “It is not the color of the balloon but what is inside it that makes it fly”. It is so true about people too.

We, at Sparkling Mindz, make the children realize this and guide them towards thinking and exploring rather than just merely looking at what others are saying or doing. They get a chance to be themselves and even surprise themselves by trusting that they can! It helps improve confidence levels, offers great avenues for self-expression and most importantly, helps them develop as unique individuals that they are. That has been our guiding philosophy from Day 1, that children are unique and different and if we treat them that way they will begin to respect that too.

If you are looking for an exciting place to work, if you are passionate about working with children and looking for a place where you can really make a difference in the lives of children, Sparkling Mindz is expanding and we are looking to hire trainers (learning facilitators) in several areas in Bangalore – Whitefield, Jayanagar, HSR Layout, Kalyan Nagar, Yelahanka, Malleshwaram to name a few. More details at our website – http://www.sparklingmindz.in/jobs.html. Again, if you think that you are the right person to create out-of-the-box experiences for children and are interested to do so, please email us your resume and we will revert asap!

LinkedIn Etiquette

I don’t mind people who I don’t know requesting to connect with me on LinkedIn. I do the same several times when I see mutual interests, similar profiles, learning potential and so on. But, I have the courtesy to write them a small note indicating why I would like to connect with them. It is important, else you connect with the person and neither you nor the person benefits from the relationship. You are merely another number in the “links” that they are forming and vice versa. Is that why you send invites to a person? Of course not.

There is a reason you chose to send the invite vs. not send it, so why not just mention it quickly in the box provided below? Also, the fact that we share a group in common is not good enough, since it is still very vague. I’ve written about this one time in the past too – LinkedIn Invite Rules and I’m going on record stating it again.

“Do mention a line or two about the common ground or why we should connect up, I really appreciate the thought!”

And hopefully, we will learn and benefit from knowing each other through LinkedIn or otherwise.

Whacky book launch ideas!!!

I’ve this strange quirky feeling inside me at times that wants to take the way things are done mostly and put them upside down, shake them up a bit and change how they look – while trying to achieve the same goal! It gave birth to my new venture and you will be hearing about it soon on this blog – so keep reading. But now, about book launches.

Why book launches and why this itch to revamp them? Well, I was at a large book store yesterday and frankly, quite overwhelmed by the number of books and new titles out there. More importantly, a question stood out for me – how can someone stand out in this melee? Of course, after the launch you are one amongst the crowd, so the launch is critical – so here goes the list!

5 whacky ways to do book launches:

1. Get everybody to answer a puzzle of some kind through your promotional materials that gets solved only when they get to the venue of the launch (assuming there is one!) – of course, you will need to give away prizes!

2. Get a poll going on various social networks on some relevant topic and create awareness about the book – make it interesting

3. Create a controversy (now, this is controversial, if you ask me – but I’m just throwing ideas around)

4. Do activities to get people to experience the book (don’t read it yourself, it is the tried and tested way, right?)

5. Last but not the least, get the most unconventional location possible for the launch – based on your target segment, it could be anywhere from the pizza place to beauty parlors and honestly, they will appreciate the foot falls more than the book stores!

Consuming Information Digit-ally

RSS

Image via Wikipedia

Lately I’ve realized that I’m consuming almost all my information through my RSS feed reader – news, blogs, articles of any kind. I’ve not yet moved to e-books because, ahem – all e-book readers (when they are available) in India seem to be so bloody costly!

The fact is, I still travel with a book or two. But, reading the latest blog articles on my mobile from a set of people I follow and admire, always seems to win vs. the books from authors I barely have a connect with. This has serious consequences, in my mind, on what kind of information/news/articles are being read by people. Instead of passively consuming some randomly pushed plot as decided by a publisher and a writer, now I decide the twists in the plot.

Jokes aside, the middle man is being cut out by the power of the reader and it is not just the traditional content creators that are in trouble, as is touted by the “big banner demise stories of newspapers”.

The small and convenient size of the blog articles and the easy to read format also make them more appealing to me. Oh, not to mention, most of the people who blog are experts in their fields or are striving to be so and if you pick and choose right, you get loads of good and solid information in their respective fields of expertise that is current, handy and reliable. Also, many of them have managed to create brilliant communities around their blogs, so each and every blog post gets 100+ responses. Another way to get a feel of the various industry opinions and contradictory viewpoints. They, in a way, complete the posts and make the rugged and more comprehensive.

I’ve never been able to watch news without losing interest in the first 2 minutes, read a newspaper without falling asleep (except for some interesting articles, here and there) but leave me with my RSS feedreader and I’m glued forever.

What role does a marketeer play in this world where content producers directly communicate with the readers? What do you think?

Let the conversations begin…@coupl.in

A friend of mine from ISB, Vivek Krishna told me about this time last year that he was mulling on a startup. Our discussion veered towards his passion and it turned out to be about “passions” :). He was looking at making a platform for people to find soul mates based on their interests. And launch, he did. The site is up and running and is called coupl.in.

You might ask, what is new, there are so many matrimonial and dating sites around. Right? Wrong.

Most matrimonial website profiles are maintained and updated by parents in India and do not really give you a chance to meet the person unless it gets to a certain level and dating sites in India have not had too much success so far. At coupl.in, of course, the individual registers and it goes beyond the basics of “what you are” to “who you are” and gives you very interesting vectors to define yourself. For example, some of the things that people use is “aspirations” – “like become a millionaire” or “write blog more often” – I kinda like it, because at a large level aspirations define a person as much as what they are today or what their qualifications are, in fact, even more!

Vivek has a simple philosophy where he doesn’t charge users for login or registration etc. He lets people find and meet other interesting people and if you find a match, you pay. Many of his users are not really teenage kids looking to have fun, they are mature adults, who are lost in the stream of work and don’t have time to go out and explore the dating scene (and even if you do, seriously, what are the odds!). So, if you are single and ready to mingle or your parents are getting ready to post you on the matrimonial boards, I would suggest take coupl.in for a spin. You never know what you might find!

Farmville goes to school

I was sitting at a bench near a principal’s office in a school. 4 young boys about 10 years of age were sitting next to me, preparing for their exams.

One turns to the other and asks, “what happened to your plants?”, the other retorts, “5 or 6 of them withered and the rest I harvested” and I’m left dumb struck that the children of this age could be so “into” plants and stuff! Another boy joins the group and continues the conversation, “I’d a golden box ask for some code to enter, what should I do?”, one of the previous guys go, “go to farmville.com, sign in and say connect to Facebook, simple” and I sigh!!!

For these kids, this is not “alternate reality” or “online stuff”, it is their mainstay, it is their reality, it’s what they talk about everyday and do everyday for hours.

I ventured into a discussion with them, I asked them what they do on Facebook, so they go, “chat”, “post messages”, “play games” etc. (the usual stuff), then I asked them if they use the Facebook groups a lot, “it exists, but we don’t use it much”. I asked them if their teachers are on Facebook, “some of them are, but we don’t friend them, that is dangerous!” and the discussion turned to me, “are you on Facebook?” so I said, “I’m into a lot of social networking, blogging and tweeting etc.”, they said, “really?” (all smiles!) and we were all friends instantly.

I think its time for teachers in India to start using these forums to engage the students instead of just keeping at the traditional books, copy, assignments, tests and projects mode. As I go through more of the teacher training sessions I’ll discuss about these concepts more and see how we can incorporate these into our education system.

LinkedIn Invite Rules

I get LinkedIn invites from several people who might be making contact with me for the first time, who send an invite without a word on why we should connect! Not that they must have an earth shattering or life changing reason for it, but a word on how we hold common ground will help me connect with them better. Now, it is up to me to go look at their profile and figure out if they are interesting for me to connect with. Mostly, they are and I accept the invite but it would be great if the person who initiated the contact did the talking.

The reason why I bring this up is because if we were to meet a person for the first time, I’m sure we would not just say a hello and then start calling them an acquaintance, will we? We will introduce ourselves, we will get to know them a little, find common ground and once that is set, we establish the connection. In LinkedIn, since the bio is already there, groups are listed on the profile, blog, twitter you name it – stuff about the person is already there, we feel that the rules of introductions don’t apply! More so than ever, it applies in the digital world, because I don’t have anything but your invite to go by to make a decision to connect with you. That little box that LinkedIn so kindly offers to you to personalize your message is there to help you establish a connection over and above the “vanilla” I’d like to connect message!

Apart from the rules and etiquette point of view, if you stated clearly why you want to connect in that message or as a follow-up message after the invite has been accepted, it helps a lot. I’ve had instances where people have sent in very specific requests to me and we have established a very good rapport over time. It also helps to state the interest so I can mentally make a note and access/help you if something in your sphere of interest passes by me. I’ve noticed that very few people in India will send you a personal note whereas it is common practice if I get it from outside India. I’ve also noticed that very few people in India respond to a personal note in LinkedIn (they accept the invite but ignore the note mostly!).

So, long story short, do mention a line or two about the common ground or why we should connect up, I really appreciate the thought!

I’ve attempted to write this post several times and always shelved it in better judgement. In hindsight, I should have published it long ago! I’m looking forward to connecting with many more of you and knowing you better.

The “closet” writers’ choice…

It is funny how sometimes mainstream media people perceive new media. The other day, I was talking to one of the owners of a magazine and I mentioned about my interest to write. I added that I had written in newspapers previously and now I maintain a blog that I update regularly. The other owner walks in and the person who I was talking to introduces me saying…”apparently she is a closet writer”…although I understand the word “closet” and the sarcasm in the sentence, I don’t really care! Here are the reasons:

1. I get bored of formats – I remember writing cover articles for The Metro Plus 5 years ago, I enjoyed it while it lasted. I wrote about 7 or 8 and then I stopped.  I stopped because I got bored of that format of writing – I did a lot of interviews with people around a topic of my choice, created a theme, a body of 400-500 words around the topic and submitted it for review. They selected a nice picture for the theme did some editing and published it. I had to wait for weeks sometimes for it to see the light of the day, there is absolutely no wait time with my blog – I publish when I want! I would love to write something fresh and new in a different style and have the freedom to experiment with it as I go along.

2. The power of pull – I get people on my blog who read the specific kind of content that they are looking for, instead of  a generic newspaper/magazine where a “masala” of stuff gets published so that they cater to the  varied tastes of their “invisible” customer.

3. The power of being ones own editor – Every time you write in mainstream media, no matter how hard you try there is invariably some element of pressure that creeps in (at least for me) that prevents me from being myself. On one end, it helps me be more formal and succinct in my writing and on the other, the pressure does alter the style at some level. I like being my own boss and having the freedom to express views in the style that suits me!

Don’t get me wrong, I love to write for mainstream media, it has a unparalleled push and grants “instant” recognition to the writer, but I would never want to lose my “closet” space for anything. Having discovered this space, it is more of  must have than a “weak alternative” for me! What do other bloggers think, are we really the “closet” writers?

New Categories Seeking Mindspace

What happens when a company from a category does mass advertising (TV, Print, Radio) for the first time (especially on prime time)? It creates space for the category in the consumers minds. We are seeing two such categories going mainstream currently in India and its a big deal for business segments which are so far dominated by brick and mortar business (software services being the exception and they have hardly gone mainstream!).

1. Education Technology – Educomp with their mainstream media (read TV) ads in the past few weeks have suddenly created a category recognition for everybody in the education technology space. Now, every time I talk about education technology people smile back at me knowingly, some ask – “like educomp?” This move by educomp has a potential to create a “generic” brand identification with education technology in India for them and I guess that is what they intend to achieve. However, at the same time it has helped create a business segment for all the other players to identify with in the market.

2. Ibibo – social gaming has come of age with ibibo doing a major splash on TV, Radio and Newspapers inviting one and all to play with each other. Not only are they roping celebrities to invite people, they are also running “on-the-edge” titillating ads on prime time.

So, what do you think? Sign of interesting things to come?

Ariem Technologies – My Journey So Far and Job Openings

People have been asking me how my new job has been, so far? It is about time too. It’s been more than 2 months since I joined Ariem Technologies (thanks to Sateesh Andra, who introduced me to Ariem).

Before I go on and talk about what I do, let me take a moment to talk about what Ariem does.

We believe in simplifying access to information for the masses. Our first product is for the education segment and specifically, targeted at the teachers to help them reach the internet and create audio/visual content in a very simple way and deliver it in the classroom using our gadget. This truly helps bridge the digital divide between the teachers and the students. The simple appreciation, I’ve seen over the past few weeks in the eyes of the students for their teachers when they show them audio/visual content created by themselves, is testimony to the power it delivers to the teachers. And as far as the teachers are concerned, it is so simple to use and intuitive that they don’t feel that they are using something very complex.

Ok, now back to what I’ve been up to. We are trying to enter the school segment with a solution that on one end can be termed as affordable technology and on the other, is simple and extremely effective in delivering what a teacher would want to do in 90% cases – that is use audio/visual content to enhance the learning process in a classroom. We are developing several channels to convey our message and we’ve been approaching the schools directly, attending expos and conferences, maintaining a digital presence to spread the word. I’ve worked on creating the marketing collateral and the digital presence (the website is still work in progress, so if anyone wants to talk to us about it, I’m all ears!!!) and directly approaching the schools with our solution. Will keep posting more…as we go along.

In the meanwhile, we are looking to hire people – telemarketing, sales executives and trainers.

So, if you are a fresher or have some BPO/KPO/Admin role experience and want to work for an exciting startup, please do write to me for the telemarketing role.

For the sales role, we are looking for candidates who are passionate about making their career in the education industry and have had any kind of previous sales experience (FMCG, Insurance etc..). Again, if working for a startup excites you, do write to me.

For the training role, we are looking for current/ex-teachers who are passionate about training as a career. 

These roles will be based out of Bangalore, India. You can reach me here or send an email at jobs@ariemtech.com. Looking forward to hearing from interested folks.


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