Category Archives: Social Media

Goa Institute of Management offers Certificate Workshop on Integrated Digital Marketing

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Workshop Highlights:

– Interact with leading industry experts and academicians in interactive sessions with Live case studies.
– Understand the digital channels landscape and strategise online marketing, branding and PR.
– Obtain a practical toolkit on digital marketing to help you plan, roll out and measure digital campaigns.
– Get exposure to latest and most relevant digital marketing trends that leading corporates adopt today
– Accelerate your career with industry-led, Digital marketing workshop
– Work on a live digital marketing project

Duration: 25-27 April, 2014

Venue: Pune

For more details and enrolment see this.

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Honey – she sold on Facebook

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I am rather fond of my cook. She is poor, illiterate, feisty and cooks exceedingly well. And she has not heard of Facebook. So when I helped her sell her honey using this most pervasive and inexpensive medium I know, we had together ‘discovered’ a new side of social. A social medium which is largely the prerogative of the English speaking population and therefore very little to do with most of the Indian community had been used as a tool to help an illiterate rural woman make money. This was not social media marketing. This was social bridging. A micro form of social business conducted through the most democratic, accessible and social of all media- a community-stic product coming from the outrightly capitalist America. Or is it?

Pardoxically social media leaves out the largest section of the communities in developing countries: the non-elistist and non-urbanised. The web 2.0 and its many spin-offs is yet to get its head around the large mass concentrated at the bottom of the pyramid. People who can use it the most. People who need it the most. It looses the opportunity of doing what it can do best – become a connector between the subterranean Morlocks and the ‘Eloistic’ upper classes and maximize the flow of what I will call the social value. And in doing so it risks becoming yet another advertisement-sponsored, moderated voice of the relatively elite. Not truly social. Definitely not inclusive.

Yet social media has an immense transformational potential as far as the wider community is concerned. Think of the many avatars of the platform as a broadcaster, a listener, a connector as a marketer. It can potentially address a myriad set of socio-economic issues- lack of platform for the poor to air their grievance, lack of direct market channels to indigenous producers, the lack of awareness or information – a neo digital-untouchability. Social media can become a tenuous connector between the two strata of society. The next question would then be How? How can a medium that pre-selects the socially savvy class be leveraged by a community which let alone English skills are mostly challenged in the nuances of communication/ social skills. Well it is a many-step process. Awareness, knowledge, training can to an extent equip these communities with the expertise to maneuver the social web. However I do not think the skills required to leverage the web as a transactional, promotional medium or even a provider of complex information can be acquired through a handful of training classes. It is a long drawn-out process. This is where not for profit organizations working in social business consulting can step in as facilitators of ‘intermediaries’ helping the uninitiated cross the digital divide. They can help create for example strong web communities of handcraft workers, build innovative promotions that help them connect potential buyers across the globe and the capability to conduct business on the web. The social media platforms such as Facebook, Google, Twitter themselves need to step in to facilitate the use of their platforms as essentially social platforms helping communities flourish. Google’s internet bus which toured rural India with the aim of spreading the awareness about internet was an example of a small step in the direction. In return the platforms benefit from heightened social interaction, an expansion of their network and the creation of new community markets existing outside urban boundaries. For a business preceded by the word social- an inclusive community is not just a survival strategy but a raison d’être.

Insecure web – the new Page 3

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As someone who leads an active social life both in the virtual and real world I have friends spanning a range of age-groups. One such friend, let’s call him Z, who at 10 years my junior, had me rather worried recently. His posts on a social networking site had become more and more fantastic and so had been the photographs he uploaded there. Since I also knew him personally as I knew his parents, I ofcourse found hard to believe the timeline which spoke of an adrenalin-charged life. His images showing a well-toned body or a bevy of girls hanging on to him were clearly photoshopped. Though it felt awkward, I decided to talk to him. And he confessed. He had been chatting up women online and he wanted to project a larger-than-life image. Z being a generally intelligent person ofcourse knew the futility but went on with the charade none the same. I told him he is a great guy and he does not need to manipulate his life or his image to suit the FB world. Z’s photoshopped images are still there but his posts have started toning down. I hope he will soon be taking down the images as well.

Welcome to the darker alleys of social media inhabited by insecure men and women counting their worth in number of friends, posts, followers and so on. Who have somehow surrendered their life to the web in a way that the real and the virtual have increasingly become blurred in their minds. Are we surprised? Ofcourse not. Websites such as Facebook by their very design encourage you to preen in public, to show off your brightest plumes in short indulge your vanity. Which is not a problem as long as you are mature enough to handle it. If you are not the vanity feeds insecurity. The similar type of insecurity which haunts celebrities fighting to stay visible and relevant on Page 3. Which now haunts a wider set of people who want to remain relevant on Facebook and Twitter and so on. The fact that Facebook is so hugely accessible compounds the issue. 16 year olds and even some 12 year olds masquerading 16 year olds use Facebook as a means to live their fantasy, to brag about a lifestyle far behind their reach, to boast several hundred connections on their friend list. The desire to stay on top of the News feed. The desire to be popular- in terms of numbers of connections, comments received, status update density and so on. A competition to have a higher social media quotient than peers – competition with deeper ramifications in the real world. Continuing this debate further, social media also exposes gullible young people to a host of online dangers – pedophiles, sex offenders, fraudsters and so on. I will however like to limit my discussion to individual psychological impacts of exposure to web 2.0. Infact the impacts are not limited to impressionable adolescents alone. Adults are also susceptible to what I call as Facebook vanity. Bored housewives look upon the web as a means of escape. Straitjacketed office-goers use the web to create more colourful second lives.. The innocuous web transforms into a matrix where the virtual world truly takes over and man becomes the slave of his own fantasy. Posts and images take on a super-man/ rocking girl touch. And your real lives run, a desperate mad dash of a run to keep pace with your super-paced rockstar Avtar. I would be surprised if a considerable number of people are not already being treated for Facebook depression. Falling into the void between their first and second lives.

Ofcourse as any rational individual would point out, every invention carries a disclaimer with it, a warning that it be used with prudence. It tries to build in safeguards which minimizes its abuse. So does the social web. However the onus to use it judiciously and with maturity lies with us. Let the web remain a tool we can use not a matrix of deceit and insecurity which takes charge of our life. Happy Facebooking!

Community censorship – The web has a guard

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The 18th and 19th century revolts were trigerred by pens.. The 21st century revolutions are triggered by tweets and posts. The Arab Spring was almost totally mobilized over the internet. So has been ‘Occupy Wall Street’. So has been the jasmine movement running largely underground in China. Well so was the London riot. You do not have to think hard to figure out why governments dislike the internet. You can buy off media houses. You can censor the press. Internet which represents the voice of billion plus people is hard to regulate or control. I will rephrase the statement. It is impossible to regulate or control. That does not keep the government from trying though. Governments around the world have given themselves enormous power to monitor emails. To censor websites. To regulate access. There are internet Nazis all around the world scouring the web for ‘objectionable’ content. The Arab Spring happens nonetheless.

The reasons are simple. Every individual with access to the web is a virtual publisher. That makes a billion plus channels to filter and screen. The internet is a highly fluid medium where identies, national boundaries, jurisdictions of the state get blurred As governments tighten their snooping on the net, netizens respond with vengeance masking IP’s, altering egos, inventing virtually unhackable websites, dummy emails. Technology keeps a step ahead of government. As do the people. The more you control, the more ballistic the virtual world gets. The internet which connects billion plus people on the globe into one big, chaotic family is the ultimate celebration of free speech. Incidents such as the state army shooting at an unarmed youth are captured and reported as they occur without the intervention of the editing scissors. Secrets are exposed, opinions are aired, images are ruined, governments are toppled, virtually at the speed of thought. The internet vests the ordinary citizen with an extraordinary power.

However the power by no means can be construed as absolute. Because there have been umpteen abuses of the people power. The net, like the real world, is also full of all sorts of people from pedophiles to religious bigots to terrorists. Who use the internet to distribute disturbing images of persecution. To incite people. To spread terror. To rally mobs who threaten the very things the net stands for – personal freedom and dignity. To undermine the vibrant, diverse and powerful internet community. Which all triggers the uncomfortable debate – Does this power need to be regulated. Yes it does. A very different form of regulation though – community censorship.

Since the community bears the brunt of the actions of the web-maniacs, the censorship or regulation has to come within it. What would you do if a neighbor is abusing his 5 year old. Or if you know certain people are inciting communal tension. You would obviously take some form of action to stop the crimes. Well, do the same on the net. Your net footprint should mirror your good citizen values. The community has to react sharply to instances of abuse on the internet. The regulatory mechanism will come from within us. We need to see more instances of netizens reacting swiftly to abuses and slanders, instigation and defamation to keep the internet a generally nice place. Report content that so grossly undermines the pillars civic society is based on. Canvas against sites that for example spread communal tension. React to bad behavior as you would react to it in real life. And stick to your personal code of ethics despite the anonymity net offers. At the heart of the internet is the community. And it is the community which can rally to keep it a good place. Not necessarily agreeable to the state. But not detrimental to the fundamental tenets of the human society either.