Archive for the Internet Category

Community Opportunities

Posted in India, Internet, Social networking with tags , , , , on August 13, 2008 by manuscrypts

While BBS and IRC could technically be called communities, I’d still consider my first major experience with a community to be blogging. It wasn’t the kind of social communities that we see now, this was more a set of people who frequented each others’ blogs, but used names like well, manuscrypts. Yes, it is a remnant of those days. ๐Ÿ™‚ With the advent of the likes of Facebook, communities started getting built basis real world relationships. With a business network like LinkedIn, it became even more focused, in this case, a set of people who you dealt with (or potentially could) in a business scenario. So, why have I been giving you the nostalgia talk?

Well, I still believe that blogging is a good form of communities, though social networks and micro blogging are the rage. While I have a good rapport with my Twitter crowd, I have known several of the people who comment on my blog, for years now. Over these years, they have become good friends. So, the news that Live Journal, a major blogging platform, has made special plans for India,ย  was very heartening. Now I’ve never used LJ, I started with rediff, moved to blogger, and am using WordPress for this blog, but I’ve known several who swear by it. We’ll come back to their offering in a while, but there’s an interesting flash fiction contest they’ve launched in association with Caferati, you might want to check it out. I’d have loved Blogger or WordPress to give India some attention (or have they already?) since they are extremely popular here, but the WP guys, i guess, are busy with Buddypress, a social network based on the multi user version of WP. Its supposed to have all the stuff that a social network should have and is expected to be completely out by December.

Like I said, blogging still has the potential to build communities. In the case of LJ, I have always thought that they were for the constantly updating kind of blogger, not the constantly ‘upgrading’ kind. Let me clarify that, since it might be misconstrued. By ‘upgrading’ I only meant the tendency to tweak around, play with code (even if you don’t know s**t about it, in my case), test out new platforms, and finally get their own domain. So, the name fits, as does the contest idea. In the case of WP, it’s a great place to be once you’re comfortable with blogging, I’ve even seen people start with WP. And that starting up crowd will exist for sometime. As more experienced bloggers move on, there will be guys who discover blogging. A community will actually be a great way to encourage stickiness. Coming back to LJ’s action points, they are aiming at localisation (translation and multilingual interfaces), Socialisation, and Integration (accessible through many platforms). The first one is quite important especially considering that Orkut has made quite some strides in this area. Like I have said before, I can’t understand why Orkut can’t link with Blogger, for blogs + friends communities. Hope LJ’s plans make them think about this.

Okay, now that’ve you digested the LJ news, check this out. LinkedIn has got India specific plans too. They estimate the Indian market potential to be about 20 million users. To give you a perspective, their current global base is 25 million users, and India’s share is 1 million. They’re looking at a few strategic players locally, to help build their brand. If you notice, they already allow you to add contacts from Rediff and Indiatimes. A tie up with a local brand would definitely be a win-win. Imagine seeing a job on Naukri and being able to recommend your friend for it with his LinkedIn profile link. LinkedIn can have contextual listings provided from naukri’s base and share revenues. References are made easier with LinkedIn data. And a job portal/aggregator is not just the only kind of strategic alliance. An entity like Criticat, for instance, which lets you rate companies and share experiences would also be a great fit. There are indeed tremendous possibilities, which could result in increased transparency in at least the HR/Recruitment/Work Culture part of the business.

until next time, jobs ahead ๐Ÿ˜‰

Linkin Parks

Posted in Internet with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2008 by manuscrypts

I’ve been a fan of del.icio.us for a long time, and was extremely happy with the plug-in they’d made for FF3.ย  Although this offers a perspective of people who don’t bookmark, I’ve found the idea of a taggable, online database that can be shared, extremely valuable, which is why the question of what Del.icio.us 2.0 would offer was an intriguing one. But I was quite disappointed with the url change, to delicious.com . There was something cool about the earlier url, but they have their reasons, as has been well documented by another fan here.

So what did they say the improvements were? You can hear it right from the horse’s mouth here. To summarise, they have promised speed, a faster and more social search and a new design. Hmm, good, but I think they could have done better, because to me, this is a maintenance job, albeit a good one. As a die-hard fan, I wanted something radical, like Facebook (another favourite) taking the pedal off social networking and putting it on conversation sparking off comparisons to Twitter and Friendfeed. Yes, it has its detractors, and they’d say not many conversations seem to be happening there, but hey, only a small % of my fb friends are on twitter, its early days, and I, for one, am getting responses to my status messages, video uploads etc.

But meanwhile, more than an FB progression path, this user generated discontent has been sparked off by a couple of entities I happened to come across, each of which could have been the lateral step that Delicious could’ve taken. I’ll start with Social Median. Its an online community where you can share links. So?ย  Well, if you use twitter, you’d realise the number of link sharing that happens there. Well, you can submit news to SM through Twitter. So, in this age of ‘noise’ you get like minded users to do “collaborative filtering to help people with similar interests identify/discover what to read/view.” And it’s not just people you can follow, its topics too. It is packed with features, perhaps thanks to an extremely user feedback based alpha mode. You can vote on the ranking of the keywords, sources that are used to seed the networks and can rank topics based on how important they are to you. In essence, it allows you to customise how frequently you want to read about ‘x’ topic and from ‘y’ media source. You can share the news you add, find through mail, and even twitter. You can also add a bookmarklet to your toolbar and add news to SN as you browse. A short term problem I see is the noise level, since many people would want to be community makers first. But the system will filter it in due course. They’re also planning to use the Google Social Graph API in some pretty advanced ways. While it seems closer to Digg, or Mixx, as a user, to me its fundamentally a collection of links, and shared interests,ย  and that’s Delicious’ premise. Meanwhile, there’s another one with the same idea, though not as feature packed.

The other site I came across is httpfuse (via pluggd.in). The idea here is to allow the community to build a set of ‘fuses’ (bookmarks/links) around a topic of interest. Their differentiation wrt Digg, Delicious etc is clearly explained here. While I agree with the explanation on Digg, I am not quite convinced on the Delicious part. Maybe I need to explore more. But one thing I’ll grant, and I’ll use an example for this. If I search for ‘India’ in Delicious, I’ll get links bookmarked by other people with all the tags they have used. But when I do the same in httpfuse, it shows me the subtopics under India. And that’s definitely better.ย  I’d like a browser plug-in though, or did I miss it? Again, a focus that Delicious could’ve tried out.

The last entity, is Browzmi, a browser within a browser. It not only allows real time collaborative browsing and bookmarking, with comments, but also has a chat functionality built in. You can also clip photos from a site you’re visiting, and share only that. All your actions are stored and can be viewed like any lifestreaming service. Unlike say, Yoono, its not an extension, and is actually quite a cute social browser which can be just another tab in your FF/IE browser. This is way lateral, but no harm in imagining. ๐Ÿ™‚

That said, you are still my first bookmarking love, Delicious. But the competition is getting hotter, andย  you seem very absorbed in a linear way, so please buck up.ย  I really wouldn’t want to see you in this list. You could at least have added image bookmarking, you know.

Meanwhile,a couple of other things you should check out, Feedly, an FF extension, which brings Google Reader closer to home, er homepage ๐Ÿ˜‰ and this one – iglue, which reminded me of Snap (only reminded, its not the same) and left me very impressed, with its potential.

until next time, spread some link love

Copy Paste

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India, Internet with tags , , , , , on August 6, 2008 by manuscrypts

There was an interesting piece I read about the way Cuil, the new search engine I’d written about earlier. In that post, the author compared Cuil to toilet paper, no offence meant because it has nothing to do with the engine’s features. It has more to do with how Google as a search engine is so ingrained in your head that there is no thought process involved when you have to choose a search service, much like the toilet paper decision. So the lesson was that if you’re challenging the market leader, you need to have some really strong firepower.

And while that insight involved an online entity, which provided a free service, it also got me thinking on purchase decisions regarding low cost ‘real’ items, like say, matchboxes or sometimes, even toothpaste. To justify the latter, I don’t make a decision before I go shopping, we check out the stuff available at the retail outlet, but within a set of brands we normally use.

And coincidentally, I saw the latest online effort from Colgate, via their Facebook app. The Facebook app is based on a game they have on the site – Kayak. You can read a review of the effort here. I will not get intoย  checkbox marketing, I’ve been doing that for over a year now, the earliest rant being this. The site is connected via a contest with the TVC that’s being aired currently (which also advertises the site) and stars Bruna Abdullah. As for the contest, if you win, you have a chance to get fresh with Bruna. Woo!! (okay, i made that up because i couldn’t resist the maxfresh name connection, but yes, you do get a date with Bruna) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Someone’s got the right intentions, because this is not Colgate’s only attempt to rally the internet. I chanced to see this sometime back. (via Medianama). I liked the dental expert touch, and am happy for the efforts, though I have a different perspective. For example, though MaxFresh is a youth brand, the primary benefit is dental care and a cool Facebook App could very well be built on that parameter. But yes, while the net is definitely useful, very few brands have learnt to use it to their advantage.

So, what’s the way forward for ‘commodity’ brands? One is to pretend that the internet doesn’t exist and continue trying to shout the loudest and get the customer’s attention. Two is to include digital in the marketing effort, but as an adaptation of the Print creative. Three is to devise a digital strategy, that’s in line with the overall brand strategy but not an adaptation. I would love to see brands that take the last route, because I see a great sync with the way social media is working.

What if brands go back to Step 1 and start looking at the product? Isn’t that where the differentiation can be brought in, rather than from a communication that will stay in the consumer mind only till a louder one from the competitor or anyone else looking for the same consumer’s mindshare, comes along? Use the internet to gather insights from people who are interested in your brand, create stories around the brand, utilise those insights to make the product better, to make variations and satisfy the niches that lie hidden in the long tail, to make your communication more appealing. That’s what the internet allows you to do. Obviously, each brand would have its own criteria of critical mass that even a niche should have for it to operate in that space, but the good news is that we operate in India, and sometimes 1% of this market would be the population of a country. And while on India and retail, would love some info on what exactly these guys are doing – Blinkmagic. Everyone who i chatted with, among those who attended the recent edition of Proto only had good things to say about them.

Meanwhile, what happens when the ‘commodity’ brand’s variations start hitting the market? Obviously, existing retail space cannot handle all of this. And if the tail wags the dog, it could have really bad results as Al Ries has observed here. But where I disagree with the article is that the rampant flavour proliferation is a bad thing, or is a reason to junk the ‘long tail’ way of thinking. I see it as a challenge that retail and brands need to address. I’m sure someone will find a way to tweak the traditional distributor-dealer network to address the needs of the tail. After all, technology is definitely making its way into retail, in a big way, in India. ๐Ÿ™‚

I wonder how internet brands will handle ‘commoditisation’ when it happens to them, I can already see it happening in a few areas. Will they need another media to help them out?

We started with a search engine, so we’ll end with one. Check out a new search engine I came across – Viewzi

until next time, be refreshingly original

Microlives

Posted in India, Internet, Social networking with tags , , , , , , , on August 4, 2008 by manuscrypts

I read a few interesting news clips about AOL today. While one was about Time Warner thinking of splitting up and selling AOL, the other two were more interesting to me – AOL’s acquisition of Social Thing, a lifestreaming site, and their introduction of Buddy Updates, whichย  lets you share and view your online activities with your buddies. They have a fairly good list of services supported – Twitter, YouTube, Blogger, RSS Feeds….

And that made me wonder on where exactly two other lifestreaming services i took for a spin around the weekend would fit in. One is Lifeblob and the other is LifeinLines. I have to admit that i spent more time on the latter since I found the interface a bit more ‘warm’ and easier to relate to. I guess I was also influenced by Ankur’s blog where he explained the reason for starting LiL, and his taking time out to explain things to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

The best part about LiL is its almost exhaustive means of updating – email, Gtalk, SMS, Voice, or directly from the webpage. Very cool. The user interface is also extremely friendly, and it has layered privacy settings, which helps you to define different settings for different friends, thus retaining gradients of privacy within a social environment. It also allows you to choose your moods and do a bit of location tagging. In that sense, a few years from now, this is perhaps a great way to visualise what you were doing at 9pm on Aug 4th 2008. It could be text with mood, location or your own voice. ๐Ÿ™‚ What I’d love to see is more connection with my existing favourites – twitter (which they’re working on), an FB app (yes, again), and a browser plugin (that’ll be later). I asked about the last one because my twitaholism started after I discovered Tweetr, and soon after, Twitterfox.

LifeBlob is more visual, connects ‘lifelines’ of people, and allows tagging other people, hmm, like Notes or Tagging in Photos in Facebook, as a rough comparison. It also allows you to import photos from other photo sharing sites and allows imports from blogs too. I quite liked the ‘Places’ and ‘Tags’ clouds on the homepage.

While both are lifestreaming services, the approach is quite different, and thanks to UI and features, they are differentiated. But I was looking at it from a user point of view, okay, my point of view, since I believe in the Long Tail. ๐Ÿ™‚ While Twitter is always referred to as a microblogging service, its fundamental question ‘What are you doing’ makes it a lifestreaming service to me, which people have used to communicate just about everything, including @having !! I also have a few blogs, where my rants are in say, large formats. I have pretty active Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. In addition, there is Friendfeed, which I have promised myself to explore, the virtual worlds, so how many microlives am I expected to have??!!!

So you’ll say, “oh, you’re back to saying consolidate“, but no, that’d be so predictable, and boring. Remember the long tail I mentioned? Well, so, I forced myself to be a lil more objective before I made such sweeping rants. And I realised that this is only the beginning of the social universe, a big social bang if you will, there are so many ‘shiny objects’ out there, and more are being made as we speak. Nothing is defined yet, so spaces and uses and therefore users, are still debatable. In a country like Japan, Facebook and MySpace are yet to make a mark. Back home, in India, I have so many friends who just refuse to let go of Orkut. Most people I come across have not experienced the magic of Twitter. Perhaps, I will even discover a long tail of my internet mediaย  usage – a large amount of time for some services, and smaller amounts for other services. ๐Ÿ˜‰

What I’m trying to say is a very simple thing – in between the blogs, the social networking of Facebook, and the updates on Twitter, there are many worlds, and many parallel worlds. Also, the large players may not be able to provide great levels of service as they scale up (a good note here albeit on real world entities), and the ‘my’ kind of service that many users want. Perhaps that’s where the opportunity is, for Lifeblob and LifeInLines, and others like them. The threat, of course, is not being able to find that critical mass of users ASAP, for they will ultimately hold the key to revenues.

until next time, one life, many moments ๐Ÿ™‚

PS. My dear 2.0 readers, do not be alarmed if you don’t find a post tomorrow. I’ve reviewed my strategicย  long term intent for the site, and the scalability that I can offer. (I’ve always wanted to use those words, basically means that while I won’t lack the material to rant about, I may not get the time to do it) Keeping that in mind, I have decided to make it 3 posts a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Update 05/08/08: Just read a very good case for Lifestreaming

Lose-Lose Situation

Posted in India, Internet, Social networking with tags , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2008 by manuscrypts

That, I believe is what Hasbro and Scrabulous have gotten each other into. In case you guys have been tardy and not playing Scrabulous on Facebook, Scrabulous, a popular app on Facebook, modeled on Scrabble – the board game, has had to remove its application from the US and Canada, (for IP – the intellectual property kind, infringement) and Hasbro, who hold th rights for North Americsa,ย  has done enough successful PR to be seen as the evil corporate monster. I hope Mattel is listening, as its case is awaiting resolution, and will affect the rest of the world. This is a worthwhile read on the finer legal points in this case, in terms of the American Copyright law.

I’ve been an avid user of Scrabulous and even joined the petition to ‘help save scrabulous’, which has about 50,000 members. I did that, then, on an emotional appeal level, without getting it into the right and wrong. The Agarwala brothers, who own the application had maintained that their intention was not to make money. Maybe it wasn’t initially. But, later too? Funny, considering that Scrabulous, at its peak had about half a million users and was generating $25000 per week from advertising. Funny also, that they didn’t just take the first payment agreement option that Hasbro had proposed. (rumoured to be around $10 million)

All this triggered a few thoughts. The makers of Scrabulous would definitely have known that they were on slippery territory as far as IPR goes, why did they have to do it. Yes, they did the world a favour by recreating a favourite game, and if, having realised their error, they accepted the Hasbro offer, all would have ended well. But perhaps, our democracy has also left us with a legacy of disregard for the law, of forcing grays between right and wrong, and turning a blind eye.

For me, it also brought to light a not-so-great facet of the crowd driven, transparency seeking, web 2.0.ย  The founder of the group I’d mentioned earlier, a 15 year old, has collected a list of 1000 people who have promised never to buy a Scrabble board if Hasbro forced Scrabulous to close down. A guy who tried to start a discussion within the group on how Hasbro was right, got booed out of the place, with an allegation that he worked for Hasbro in some capacity. There was a scare that Hasbro’s official app on Facebook had been hacked. Hasbro might have acted in the most stupid manner possible on this issue, but they were in the right. So, the question is, in the ‘crowd controlled world’ we keep forecasting, if there’s enough of a crowd that believes in a certain thing, irrespective of whether its wrong, unethical, does it still get done?ย  Mob Justice, isn’t that the term? It reminds me of India’s democracy, where technically the people rule, but we all know how that’s working. So, if the crowd controls the world, who controls the crowd?

As for me, I’m out of the group help ‘save scrabulous’, and have already started a game with a friend on this new application, Wordscraper, from the makers of Scrabulous. It looks considerably different from Scrabble, but is as enjoyable as the original.

until next time,”with great power comes great responsibility”

PS: Pacman has been there before ๐Ÿ™‚

Comic Trip

Posted in Brand, India, Internet with tags , , , on July 29, 2008 by manuscrypts

Towards the end of last year, there was some frenetic activity in the Indian comic space. Since Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle are among the wonderful things that are an intrinsic part of my childhood memories, I thought a post on the same has been due for a long time now. And the news that Chandamama has launched language versions was a good trigger. Chandamama had done a relaunch of the site sometime in December last year. I remember this interview from around that time, when the CEO spoke about the different platforms they were targeting – print, radio, mobiles, movies, television and online.

I think it was around the same time that ACK media picked up the controlling stake in Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle. I thought Tinkle’s site was a fine effort, where kids can create avatars, play games, solve puzzles and crosswords, exchange cards. They even have a reward scheme for these activities which can be redeemed at the Tinkle Bazaar. While on that, i’d rate Chandamama’s website efforts fairly lower than that of Tinkle, but I’m sure they will improve. ACK Media has also acquired Karadi tales, which has some very good audio-video content.

I believe that both have a very strong future. (where exactly does Virgin Comics fit into all this?) Meanwhile, these brands are a part of every (current) late 20- late 30 year old’s childhood. They have a massive equity and trust factor among this generation. What I am intrigued by, however is how the communication for such brands will work. Who are the real target audience here? Mummy and Papa, who still remember Suppandi, Shikari Shambhu & co or the kids who, in the long term will be the final consumers. (after people like me finish a few rounds of nostalgia ๐Ÿ™‚ ).Will my generation be used as a bridge to connect with the future generations? A sort of ‘mere zamaane main baap ke zamaane ke comics’. And that’s where my query lies.

While, during my childhood, these brands were built quite easily, thanks to lesser clutter and because the respect for the printed word was unchallenged, times have changed. Attention spans have now diminished to 140 characters ;). Competition is no longer just the printed word, but niche television channels and perhaps in a generic space, even something as out-of-the-radar as say, a McDonalds? After all, we are talking about the mindshare of the kid and the wallet share of the parents. So who will these entities speak to – ask parents to connect their kids to their favourite childhood characters, or directly to the kids?ย  Are these communication lines mutually exclusive, would kids not want to be interested in their parents’ childhood friends? Also, will the characters that we enjoyed satisfy the needs of today’s generation or will they be buried by an XBox or a Playstation. The answer, I guess, is in making these relevant to today’s kids. I also think, that, rather than try to build from print up, it might be worthwhile to try building the characters on say, television, and animated movies, a sort of re-creating the brand for a new generation on platforms that they are comfortable with, and then loop it back to the basic print medium.

The timing is a bit late, since characters from CN and Pogo have already made their presence felt in the Indian kid’s psyche (judging from the merchandise i see, and the kids’ craze for them), butย  still salvageable. From a business sense (in addition to subscription), these entities, once successful will easily find their way into the budgets of all kid brands, which makes it all the more important to build strong brand equity among the current generation. This is a good read on the subject. Speaking of comics, check out this viral from makaan, it’s in context.

It is often said that the brands which tell the best stories win, there’s definitely no derath of stories, far as these brands are concerned. ๐Ÿ˜‰

until next time, stop kidding around ๐Ÿ™‚

Update 06/08/08 – ACK planning a website.

Welcome to the Dark Site

Posted in Internet with tags , , , , on July 28, 2008 by manuscrypts

The story of the day has been Cuil (pronounced Cool), a new search engine. So, what was so special about this that everyone sat up and took notice? Well, for starters, it has to do with the starters. (okay, bad one) – ex-google personnel. In addition, it boasts of indexing 120 billion pages, a semi-semantic approach to search (understands connection between words and will help throw up better results thanks to better page ranking) and it does not store IP addresses. While I’m not averse to doing a complete review, I think there are those who are better qualified for that, this one is quite a sharp and comprehensive piece, and has amazing links too. And this, is a riot!! ๐Ÿ™‚

All I’ll say is that the number of indexed pages is not exactly the benefit I’m looking for as a user, the relevance of the results is. And when a search engine learns to beat Google on that, and consistently, we’ll talk. I tried various searches on Cuil, and while the display is arguably better (since it shows more details and lets me know if thats the page I was looking for), the results, unfortunately are no match for Google. I liked the energy saving (?) black touch though, visually, puts it bang opposite Google’s white. ๐Ÿ™‚

On a sidenote, if you’re interested in looking at cluster based search engines, give Clusty a spin, and do me a favour, check out the others in this list too, and we can compare notes ๐Ÿ™‚

Also, I’d like to think that a one-up on search is also not enough to be a google killer. Google is so entrenched in the way we operate these days, that even starting a mindshare battle would be an uphill climb.

Meanwhile, Google has also been poking its nose in Wikipedia territory, with the launch of Knol. Though its been said that its more similar to Squidoo, the broad territory remains the same. But unlike wikipedia, where there is one entry per subject and users add/delete/edit, there can be several ‘Knol’ s on each subject, and creators can earn revenue, courtesy Ad Sense. The final authority for accepting changes on his Knol rests with the creator.

I, for one, shall stay with wikipedia, because Google these days is overwhelming me, and making me quite afraid of its monopolistic potential on the web. Imagine the kind of grip they would have over users, when say, it decides to throw Knol results above wikipedia results. Decides to put knol widgets inside orkut, blogger, youtube, lively and so on? All of them with relevant Ad Sense banners, which help users to make money. Yes, there might be better products out there in each of those verticals I’ve mentioned, but who can challenge them on an integrated bouquet?

In such a scenario, Google may not be able to resist the temptations of the Dark Side.

until next time, don’t be evil ๐Ÿ˜‰

Brand Manager 2.0

Posted in Brand, Internet with tags , , on July 24, 2008 by manuscrypts

Disclaimer: I promise to work on the 2.0 fetish -#7 here

I’ve always been a fan of this thought – ‘the tyranny of the big idea‘. This is also a great read on the same subject. The one line take-out would be that in the presence of the big idea, smaller ideas which might have had the potential to make the brand more interesting would get lost. I can safely say that I’ve seen this happen, with smaller, but good ideas being thrown into the bin because of the lack of sync with the prevalent communication theme. While these posts are around a couple of years old, in a world where conversations are becoming more important, the relevance of the thought remains as much as before, in fact more important.

So, continuing from yesterday’s post, ideas being non-commodities, it’d actually make more sense for brands to have the idea-buckets that the posts speak of. Which leads me to this post, which mentions that “a brand can, and should have more than one one proposition for itself.” For those who believe in the inflexibility of positioning, this would be difficult to swallow. But look at it this way, on any given day a technological or even an environmental change could deem your entire communication premise infeasible. Theory, huh? Okay, another perspective, what’s google to you? Search engine? Mail? IM? Office Tool? Communities? …. You get the picture? Meanwhile, the thing I’ve been wondering is, in this new way of brand diversification, how different should the different propositions of a brand be? Do they have to be related to each other so that the strengths of one can be used to help the other? Or can they be like Big Adda and Big FM and Big Flix, seemingly unrelated? And the last question, as audiences become more fragmented and individual niches become too small to monetise each separately, would it force brands to become aggregates of several similar niches along the long tail?

Which brings me to the point of my post. What does all this do to my role – that of a brand manager. The very fact that I’ve got my brand being different things to different people means that my audiences are differentiated and there’s probably no single animal out there who I could define as the brand’s audience. Its more a zoo. It also means that I’ve keep myself abreast of the conversations and the needs of different sets of people. That makes me more of a communities manager. Is this the natural evolution of the brand manager. Wait, that’s not all, I also have a human angle to this. When you’re dealing with communities, it works best if you are part of the audience itself in terms of interests. Itย  lends credence, and thus, in a way, the line between professional and personal interests start blurring. Which perhaps is a great thing, as more and more people get to do what they’d like to do. But given the fact that we’re still dealing with businesses and individuals here, how exactly can processes be evolved in this scenario, where there is so much of the individual in the brands he deals with? Bluntly, what happens when the person leaves, or something like this happens?

until next time, people management 2.0 ๐Ÿ˜‰

PS. All ye bloggers, check this out, blogger accommodation (via Indianweb2)

Marching to different beats

Posted in India, Internet, Social networking with tags , , , , , , , on July 22, 2008 by manuscrypts

I read an article today on LiveMint, which deals with creating UGC for TV and Radio. Well, for starters, I think its already being done. The polls, the debates etc on news channels, and more importantly, the reality shows, are all user generated content. Of course, the packaging differs because unlike the net, time is also a factor on these platforms. 24 hours vs what content to put there.

It also took me back this post, where I’d talked about the relevance of mass media to pure play internet entities. In a warped sense, I’d agree with the article that in a true convergence era, a medium like the internet, which has already absorbed user participation as one of its tenets, would play a larger role in shaping media consumption. So much so, that going forward, I’d bet heavily on an entity like Instablogs, which would find it easier to adopt to platforms like the television or radio. Yes, they got funded too, isn’t that just awesome?

Which also brings me to another layer of thought, something I’ve touched upon earlier, if mass media entities want to test out the wild wild web and the currently hot social media scene, and what it could do for them, what is the better way of doing it – creating their own scene or leveraging existing popular platforms. I came across examples of both kinds today.

While NYT is perhaps the best newspaper website in the world, it also plays a bit on social media (check out this facebook app). And today I read about the partnership it had entered into with LinkedIn. LinkedIn users will now get their industry related news from the relevant sections of the NYT site, and these news will have a share option. I think that’s an absolutely great way for LinkedIn to give a good value add to its users, and also stimulate conversations and for NYT, it creates a lot of relevance to the user, and will increase the website’s pull. That’s NYT’s way of leveraging a relevant social business network.

The other thing that I came across is Radio City’s new website. (thanks to @thej) I haven’t done a complete tour yet, but it seems like they are primarily aiming at build communities there – a section called ‘Friends of Music’ has blogging, groups, finding colleagues(?!) and catching up with others attending gigs. In fact, the profile is also very orkut/facebook, and shows options for picking friends based on geography/music taste/school/workplace. Yes, i cringed at the last two too! It also has a calendar with some events already updated, and even has a karaoke section.ย  There is also an option to upload videos (upto 20MB) In addition, it attempts a Yahoo Launch by allowing you to create your own station by adding tracks. But I think it is also a way to take ownership of the music space – there is a musicopedia, a lyrics finder, a music news reporter and so on, which aims at making this the one stop resource for music in India. Yes, you can also listen to popular tracks, and stations created by users/ pre packaged ones (eg. KK, Alka Yagnik, though the content in this is limted, as of now). In essence, a decent effort, for trying the music ownership strategy, though from a new media perspective, I’d have liked more focus and efforts on podcasts (like Big FM), a talk show platform, better forums etc, instead of all that work on the orkut style social networking.(classmates and colleagues)

While I’d usually go with leveraging existing social media, i thinkย  a part of Radio City’s route does have its benefits, given the popularity of music and Bollywood in India, and its potential for creating communities especially with the context that Radio City offers. What they do beyond this would be the really interesting part.

until next time, tuned in

One Stop Shops

Posted in India, Internet, Social networking with tags , , , , , on July 21, 2008 by manuscrypts

I’ve always had a soft corner for Rediff, perhaps because, once upon a time, it was the site that led me to new things on the internet. First it was email, and though I had the eudora and usa.net and a few other mailboxes too, this was the one most frequented and used. Then it was blogs. My first blog was thanks to Rediff again, they got me curious with the messages on the homepage, more than 5 years back. And though I did sulk with them later for taking away a favourite id of mine in an upgrade that happened a few years back, and switched to blogger because of the code wrestling matches they made me go through, like I said, Rediff is still special, a brand that I hold in high regard.

So it was wonderful to find that they’d done a :p to the strict media portal outlook and introduced Orkut and Facebook feeds inside their mailbox. Yes, it is a great bit of innovative thinking, but nothing stops it from being copied by others. So they can’t stop there, they have already taken steps to integrate iShare, I wonder if having newsfeeds inside the Inbox area makes sense, like perhaps an iGoogle. Rediff is also active on the mobile scene (they even , so if they can move fast, they can actually do a lot of innovations quickly, thanks to their numerous services, and oodles of content.

And it looks like they are moving fast – they have already invested in Vakow, an sms sharing site, and one that I know a lot of people are using to update on Twitter. Interesting. A mobile based microblogging platform should be fun. But the big news was at proto.in, when they announced their developer platform. What is great is not just the announcement, but the fact that it was announced at proto and not just as some PR release. Rediff is being sensible, and thats good news for the Indian internet scene. Ouch at this allegation though. (via webyantra)

Meanwhile, the guys who had massive success when they opened their API, had a surprise for me when I logged in today morning. And that was the new Facebook design. While the Home page is more a design reorganisation than anything conceptual, the Profile page is a totally different story. Well, its actually profile pages. From home, a click on your name (as opposed to profile earlier) takes you to the first of the four pages – Wall, where you can use filters for others’ posts and yours, and has your basic profile and friends as well. The Info page has all the details that used to be Information, Group and Pages. Photos are the next page and the last is ‘Boxes’, all the apps you’ve been adding, though I did see a few apps (common) on all pages. Are they Facebook’s own? I doubt that though.

The important part is that it looks like a deviation from the earlier social networking promise. Though that remains, this seems increasingly like a Twitter and more possibly Friendfeed like direction. This was something that was visible sometime back when a ‘+’ sign could be seen near all news feeds, encouraging readers to start conversations. That soon became a very conspicuous ‘Comment’ tab.

While I like all this, since it gives me more chances at conversations with ‘real’ friends, (there is only about a 20% overlap with my Twitter friends) I wonder if this is a regression as far as keeping the conversation within Facebook goes. If Facebook provides all the features that say, a Twitter and Friendfeed does, would you be okay with spending the lion’s share of your virtual time within Facebook?

until next time, the rise of socialism ๐Ÿ™‚

PS. This is the 100th post on this blog :D. Thanks, all the commenters and the silent types. ๐Ÿ™‚