Human Resources, Marketing, Strategy, Technology

Cheapest form of Marketing

Can you live without breathing in?

I know we can’t, but some companies try to do that.

Every company wants to increase revenue and cut costs, but then going ahead and cutting marketing is like stopping to breath to live longer. So, this post is for all those companies who want to cut costs without stopping to breath.

What is your cheapest source of marketing, you just have to look around. They are your employees, cheapest and best source of marketing. Best because the people they talk to and they will influence will rely on the information much more than any other source of marketing and cheapest because anything you spend to keep your employees happy is generating you multiple benefits i.e. human development, better products, better work efficiency and of-course marketing.

So you would want to know what are the ways in which employees can do marketing

1. The social space of employees is one area through which they reach out to hundreds and thousands of people. This space is their personal, but company can provide enough benefits and encouragement for employees to use their social network for comany’s benefit. Just one share of an employee reaches out to more than 10,000 people on linkedin and 25,000 people on facebook even for the less connected ones. Simple actions like liking company’s updates does greatly boost the reach of each of the company’s message.

2. Providing gift articles like t-shirt and bags do much more than just making the employee happy. They are your visual displays on the run. You can never imagine buying a movable display at such a cheap cost. So, provide the best messages on those gift articles so that whoever comes across those remembers them. When using this medium be careful of providing good quality as otherwise your employee will never use it or even worse, people will identify your brand with bad quality.

3. Providing referral bonuses to employees is another good way, so that, employee indirectly reaches out to his network of school and college alumni to make your brand presence felt everywhere. You can also be assured that he will say good things about the company more as he would want people to join.

Invest in your employees, the cheapest way of marketing.

 

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Public Issues, Web

Controversies and social media – how to react?

The year 2010 will be remembered for its controversies that has put the ruling government in particular and the nation in general under considerable distress. It started with the Commonwealth Games scam, then the Adarsh scam that has forced a Chief Minister of Maharashtra to resign and now has reached newer heights with the 2G spectrum allocation scam. So much so that the INC president had to comment about the same in a function –

We are right to celebrate our high rate of economic growth. We must do all that we can to sustain it. However, let us not forget that growth is not an end in itself. Much more important to my mind is what kind of society we aspire to be, and the values on which it should be built. Our economy may increasingly be dynamic, but our moral universe seems to be shrinking. Prosperity has increased but so has social conflict. Intolerance of various kinds is growing. Graft and greed are on the rise. The principles on which independent India was founded, for which a generation of great leaders fought and sacrificed their all, are in danger of being negated.

Whats been most interesting is the way these scandals have reverberated in the new tool in the hands of (mostly) affluent Indians – social media . A recent Rediff article about 10 ways to fight corruption had a discussion board that has readers commenting about issues right from the Government’s moral right to rule the country to how nothing concrete will happen out of these scandals. On Twitter, #BarkhaGate has been a trending topic for more than 48 hours now. Barkha Dutt is a popular person on twitter and she has been constantly trying to answer(?) pretty acidic tweets directed at her over the weekend.

BarkhaGate on Twitter

Trending topic on Twitter - BarkhaGate

While social media is viral, realtime and often the quickest mode of communication, there are some issues with controversies arising in the social media. What if the anti-social elements of the society try to malign a clean individual using this medium? There is a danger that a reputation built very carefully over the years could be irrevocably damaged due to a social media spat. Besides there is a risk that if the vibes going around social media are rumors, one can lose his/her own reputation in one’s social circle if one has shared something about that issue…

Clearly, while referring and using social media is great, the reputation of the source needs to be taken into consideration as well in this context. Simply retweeting or resharing should be avoided in the context of a controversy, else you run the risk of flowing with the ‘popular’ current which may have a crushing impact on an honest individual/firm in question.

To conclude, social media is revolutionary in some respects, but give some importance to the credibility of the source before sharing something in your social circle.

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Public Issues, Web

Humans, Social media and Schadenfreude

Cross posted on Superchooha blog.

schadenfreude

When it comes to Human behavior enough is never enough.  One of the most  interesting traits of  human behaviour is situations we tend to find comfort and solace in. More then the situation its the conversation that happens that has a pacifying effect -but then conversation do not necessarily have to be relevant.  History has it that nothing is as pleasurable then watching your best friends fail at things – while I tend to disagree with that there have been cases where if not friends, but yes people have derived utmost pleasure from incidents absolutely irrelevant to them.

Welcome to whole a new world of human behavior – “Schadenfreude”

Here is a classic explanation of the german word – (More details here)

Schadenfreude — by Si Frumkin

Germans have a way with words. They created words that other languages simply do not have.

Schadenfreude takes 7 English words to define it: “malicious satisfaction in the misfortunes of others”. The dictionary explains it with a quote from historian Peter Gay — who felt Schadenfreude as a Jewish child in Nazi-era Berlin, watching the Germans lose coveted gold medals in the 1936 Olympics; he said that it “can be one of the great joys of life.”

Now picture this – 50 Million tweets per day. 60 Million Status Updates on Facebook  PER DAY.  Clearly we live in a world where reviews are written before a movie release, debates are held on naming of a product, and kids are named before a couple even has sex.

On a serious note, we are surrounded by opinions –  Good,bad,neutral and extreme,soft, hard. Opinions of every kind.  Thanks to the ease that platforms like twitter and facebook have provided to voice one’s opinion. While these tools have enabled companies to interact with their end customers by tracking their views about their brand, there have been cases where these opinions have created lead to PR nightmares. The human tendency of replicating negative emotion more vehemently over the positive one is not unknown any more.

For instance the Cleartrip Kiruba Incident (Cleartrip’s  Stand and Kiruba’s Stand ) was a issue between a company and a normal customer but the fact that Kiruba’s single tweet reached 1000’s of timelines and was further retweeted n number of times required the CEO of the company Hrush to step in and explain every action over a blogpost. Amidst all this close to 40 twitter updates were made that literally crucified Cleartrip for no good reason.  For some reason people RTed Kiruba’s tweet, while some enjoyed the drama – Amidst all this Cleartrip was defamed. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing but what the heck- people RTed whatever little they knew about the acutal story. Damage beyond repair was done to Cleartrip.

Chetanblock -Another classic example where people drew pleasure from a conversation between Chetan Bhagat and Fly youfools. Consequences – #chetanblocks trended for almost a day on twitter. Some body went on the extent of buying a domain chetanblocks.com. What next – they now intend to make tshirts saying #chetanblocks. All this while hundred’s of people used the hashtag #chetanblocks and thousands of tweets were  exchanged with very few people actually understanding what happened.

While there a dozen other stories where brands have been crucified, people have started deriving sadistic pleasure out of this trend of defaming. I still believe that most of the people don’t actually read facts before they actually share a negative opinion, without actually understanding the consequences their actions might have. They just do it. And yes as a friend of mine puts it – Sadistic pleasure is better then the real version of pleasure. Welcome to the world, the world you live in surrounded by Schadenfreude

I am no expert at understanding the human psychology but then yes Humans are Humans and social media platforms are no exceptional places for them to behave differently.

The next time you retweet a negative thought or share one on FB, for a moment put yourself in the shoes of the brand manager of the brand and ask yourself – Is this what I actually signed up for – To give justifications to people who believe that their brand is bad.  Food for thought.

From my personal experiences on twitter and facebook

Vivek Khandelwal

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Business, Technology, Web

What next -Social Search ?

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We live in a world connected better than ever before – An era where   wireless and broadband have enabled seamless connectivity powering creating and sharing of information never experienced before.  Accessing or searching information no more continues to challenge people. It is the filtering mechanism that is drawing more attention. Thanks to the endless information created every second, information consumption and not information seeking is the new question

Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and other tools of mass content creating have been contributing to the web mountains of data at a rate more faster than they can understand / rank/ index them.  Amongst this information explosion what would be interesting to observe is the information seeking behavior and how the end user adapts or adepts to the millions of links thrown after every search made.

The year 2006 saw close to 2.7 billion searches on Google. By 2008 this number grew by over 1000% to cross 30 billion searches on Google.

The post Google era clearly had simplified information accessibility for the end user but the question that pops up is that during this time what were people using to search for information ?. In fact an interesting question to ponder over is how was information sought in B.G (before Google)era. Possible easily accessible resources to everybody were –

  1. Friends
  2. Family
  3. Extended Family and Friends

Referring to one’s network was something that everybody did as they sought answers to their queries – a trend that is starting to revive. People are exchanging information in real time and with tools like Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, Aardvark the idea of seeking knowledge from a person instead of a link in real time is gaining traction. And here is the reason why this this trend is here to stay –

  1. spaceballBetter Connectivity –   We live in an over connected world where people at one point of time are logged onto to multiple platforms- including IM, Twitter, Facebook . In fact as people are spending more and more time online , getting connected to a knowledge expert is simpler using tools like Getafixx, which allows users to interact with experts rather than surfing through static content.
  2. Easier Information Consumption – Since the core motive of social search is to connect people to experts, there is no  bombardment of information, no overflow of millions of links –Meaning lesser spam.  Simplified information seeking path ensures that only relevant and accurate information reaches the user.
  3. Everybody can share – The concept of wisdom of crowds distinctly states that everybody is an expert at something.  The most important part of social search is identification of knowledge experts – and as users identify their expertise,  the system would validate their expertise by taking into account their contribution as experts.

Loaded with most of the features mentioned above- Getafixx is our first attempt to introduce the concept of Social Search over their IM. A gtalk bot that allows you to connect to knowledge experts and share it with others.

While the mechanism of seeking information is changing, the concept of social search and getafixx adds value to the entire process as it keeps interaction as its core objective – a feature that Web Search compensated with spam information. The next version of web search would predominantly be dominated by Social Search, for people are searching for people.

Search – a feature of the web that has evolved on the lines of Darwin’s theory – nearing perfection all the time now needs to be redefined.  Or maybe it’s time again to search for the right people

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