What NOT to do with Bloggers!

Having worked closely with brands, agencies and bloggers in the past 3 years, I can say that each day comes packed with as much fun as it has challenges to take up. With Bloggers (esp. tech/ mobile bloggers) now being on the center stage, along with the journalists – the power of web publishers can not be ignored. I like calling it community journalism!

Brands have started to understand it. Thanks to agencies and their compelling pitches for blogger related campaigns!

The idea is to throw up the product/ service to bloggers, allow them to soak their hands in it and come up with an *honest* review. Bloggers aren’t paid for this. There are exceptions though! (It reminds me of an excellent story on ‘Bribing Bloggers‘ at JoelonSoftware, published 5 years ago. )

That isn’t as simple as it looks to be in 4 lines of text! Why? Each one has his own agenda to propagate, and I guess fairly so. Brands needs reach, engagement, sales & support. Agencies need money, clientele, experience. Bloggers need content exclusive content, first hand information, opportunity to interact with the product team, traffic on the blog, etc.

Did I miss something? – Credibility & Authority. Everyone needs it – Brands, Agencies and Individuals.

In the whole process of coming up with an interesting, engaging concept around bloggers and cool products/ services, we as human beings (read – Brands, Agencies and Individuals) tend to overkill or over-tune some dynamics. The dynamics of creating an ROI on the Internet. I guess we as human beings should identify the bars and encourage healthy reach/ engagement programs, much before brands and more importantly consumers begin to consider this exercise a fake practice.

This post is *inspired* by a discussion started on facebook by a known tech blogger in the Indian blogosphere. It’s against some Blogger Campaign and involves bloggers who participated & those who chose not to. Interesting conversations are what I will leave you with. While I wrote this post, I see it has attracted more than 34 comments and 21 Likes, within an hour.

Some screenshots (includes a comment from, yours truly);

 

You may view the entire discussion thread.

Disclaimer: I am the cofounder at Media Redefined, a social media and web technology agency and have been a blogger. For those asking me of our involvement with the brand or this campaign, I would like to clarify that we are NOT associated with it. Moreover, this case isn’t just about a particular brand, agency or individual – instead it’s a story on how we need to fine tune our initiatives to ensure a healthy communication and know our responsibilities as whosoever we are.

Feel free to share your thought as comments/ tweets! Cheers. 🙂

UPDATE: Within 24 hours, this post has got more than 500 views from twitter & facebook alone. Today I noticed, there is a huge rage amongst the Indian blogger community as well with the twitter #hashtag #IndiSammyScam. Here are some screenshots of the conversations;

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

There is another post by a blogger highlighting some details. I am not sure about the authenticity of the story but here it is.

Personally, I use an iPad2, but have used Galaxy TAB 10.1. I liked the product and I feel the bloggers could have been reached and communicated in a better way to avoid this crisis. From what was positioned to ensure reach, this is a classic example of how the bloggers can get offended in absence of proper communication & lack of clarity in expectations.

 

The Windows Phone 7 – How good?

I’ve always been inclined towards gadgets. That includes mobile phones. More importantly, I am keen on observing what does a mobile phone OS offer and how are hardware manufacturers riding on it.

Not to my surprise, there are only few good examples of a perfect marriage between hardware and software when it comes to smart phones. The problem can be battery life, support and OS upgrades across manufacturers, price point, … you get the idea.

I have had a chance to play with *most* of the android phones available in India. Also, the iPhones, iPod touch and now the iPad 2 running iOS. Did I forget Symbian? 😉 I have had a HTC Touch phone running Windows Mobile 6, a few years ago. I remember that was my first smartphone. At that age and time, it was really a different feeling to own a *smartphone*. I still have memories of using the stylus (and losing one only to find that the product was shipped with a spare stylus in the box. wow!)

Do you love your windows phone 7 device?

Do you love Windows Phone 7?

However, I never really got a chance to play with a Windows Phone 7 device ever since its launch. The whole idea of Microsoft considering consumers ahead of enterprises makes a good sense to me. Building devices for people and not walls. I have heard about it from a few friends and read a lot of good online. However, I am still unsure of how is Windows Phone 7 creating an ecosystem of developers that put some hard work and build kick ass apps, on the lines of iOS and Android (though android is far from good when it comes to my experience with apps). In a smart move by Windows Phone 7, where it partnered with AppMakr to increase apps in the marketplace, I am keen to discover the resulting apps. In case there are a handful of good ones, I might have to arrange a device to test them! But that’s for the novice. How about serious developers plug-in on to the Windows Phone 7 SDK? In case you’re interested, you may head to the APP HUB, now!

By the way, there is some action happening at the APP HUB forum. From what I assume, they’re the developers who have already rolled up their sleeves. Before starting to write this, I was going through an interesting trajectory of Windows Phone 7 OS – from naming to the handset tie-ups.

While I begin to look out for a solution to quench my thirst of getting a Windows Phone 7 review device, I shall leave you with an interesting resource for Windows Phone 7 development. Pretty much to get you started, in case you’re a developer (or a budding one!)

This one is by @MarkKirby.

Not just that, there are a couple of interesting blogs dedicated to Windows Phone 7. One such is being run by Abhishek Baxi. It’s called I Love Windows Phone!

Today, I use a Blackberry and have previously used an iPhone 3GS amongst a dozen other mobile phones. I would love to try a Windows Phone 7. Have you tried using a Windows Phone 7 device? How has been your experience? How do you compare it with other smartphone OS in the market? If there’s a good note/ review/ video you have, please feel free to share that in the comments.

Ciao!

Image credits: yum9me

 

Dropping out?

Deciding to drop out? Wait!

Deciding to drop out? Wait!

Being one of the first entrepreneurs from a lesser known engineering college, I am often looked up and approached by batchmates and students of subsequent batches for suggestions on whether to join a job (or look for one), start a small web development studio out of home or a shack with a friend, freelance, pursue a post-graduate course, etc.

It’s interesting to know that a lot of folks *wish* to start their own *business*. That does sound great. Especially, if you’re skillful and can write code, there is no dearth of opportunities on the web to make money. More often than not, you’ll end up making anything over an above 500$ which may be higher than your first salary, in most cases. The pleasures that come associated with it include – working from home/ cafe, deciding on your own timings, no one to boss you around, et al. Not long before all this may appear to be a bubble if you’re good *only* at writing code and not essentially great at doing a *business*. I have examples with me. That is *just* one reason for boredom or moving on from doing freelance work or putting up a startup. There may be many more. Having said that, the journey is no doubt challenging and at the same time, interesting for those who wish to take a plunge.

We can talk endlessly about it. However, I came across a case when a student from my alma mater (someone who would be a couple of years junior to me) got in touch and asked, “I have been picking up web projects online and doing well. I now have 2 of my friends working with me. Should I drop out to continue my business? Does this degree make sense?”.

At the offset, I was surprised by the passion he had. I could understand the fun he had making couple of hundred dollars every month, being an under graduate. The curse he had for the institute that would not allow him to ignore classes and ensure the bare minimum attendance. He had his head held high for he had won several hearts within and outside the college.

Coming back to his question. It took me back in time when I had a fairly similar landscape. Just that I was not trying to build a career into programming the web, but documenting/ publishing about it. I had secured a job out of campus placements into one of the great IT companies. I had no plans to be an entrepreneur for the first 2 years of my engineering course. Even after I was doing fairly good at freelancing while being a sophomore, I *never* thought of dropping out. Ever. Despite of running for life and air when it came to attending classes and touching the mandatory attendance benchmarks, I was keen at making sure that I see through the 4 years of an engineering course. Not that I complain, even today.

I may not be using most of what I was taught/ delivered at the engineering college. But it does give me a lot of confidence to do something on my own. It gives a good feeling when you shape your thoughts into ideas that work. A professional course teaches you how to give that shape. It trains you well enough to address people and more importantly, understand them. It helps you speak in public, if and when needed. More than anything else, it does make sense when you meet someone and he/ she happens to ask you about your academic background. You may not be a graduate from a tier 1 institute, but having pursued a course is no less. In most ways, better than NOT completing it.

In one of the most saddening incidents of my life, I had to drop out of a premier institute, on the grounds of low attendance. It was then, that I could have dropped out and started to do something else. However, I realized early (with the help of some close friends, family and the internet) that there is no shortcut and it makes no sense. No wonder that the entire decision of graduating as an engineer from a different college was kindled by a character in my ex-college. I *did* drop out but then decided to complete the degree. Today, when I look back, I feel glad for what I did.

A lot of people suggest that one should chance upon entrepreneurship after having worked for a few years in an organization. Yeah, that does make sense. But to me, that’s not necessary. A lot of things can be learnt online or otherwise in books. Self confidence is built and basics are often taught at under-graduate levels, across the world. Which to me, are mandatory. Anything beyond, you may choose to learn on your own, at a large organization or at a startup. Vivek Wadhwa, a Visiting Scholar at School of Information, UC-Berkeley wrote a couple of interesting posts last year on the idea of dropping out. I feel you *must* read them, if you’re a student. One of them was – You’re probably not Mark Zukerberg, so stay in school!

Just to close, life is not as short (as they say), so why rush into things? In case you’re not the next Mark Zukerberg but end up having a good education, you’ll not hurt many people. At least not your family, before anyone else.

Reconsider your decision. Cheers! Tangy Tuesday Post

Image credits: Matt Niemi

 

Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work

One of my all-time favorite talks by Jason Fried – “Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work”

 

The Desperados Experience Video

Over the years, we have seen a lot of Youtube (read video) centric social media campaigns. Some of my favorites include : Will it blend? by Blendtec in 2006 and the Old Spice Guy in 2010. In case you want to check them again;

Will it blend? - BlendtechOldspice

But this one is different by all means. Perfectly blended icing of facebook connect and YouTube features, over a clubbing video to target the youth. I liked it, much! Check out the Desperado Experience;

The Desperado Experience

 

Facetime Conversations

Beyond the window of social networks, there is a mirror which I often see and smile. Not because it has started to show me my grey hairs, but for the reason that it reminds me of the time when meaningful conversations were often in person, or so called, real facetime. 🙂

Today, the Skypes, BBMs and emails of the world have inhibited avenues of meetups to a large extent. No wonder how much a tweetup or a photo-walk tries to dissolve this gap, it is an ever increasing phenomenon in the digital age.

A lot goes to the increase in traffic, the underlying urge to perform better and make money or the very desire of staying busy and looking out for simplicity in a life that’s otherwise chaotic out of no sane reason. Sigh.

With broadband and mobile penetration, things are only going to get worse with time.

However, are there still enough ways where one can have a good conversation without a face-time and yet expect a near similar experience? I immediately ponder about some of the most amazing people I met, conversed and made friends with – all on the web. Not just that, an online connect often works as a catalyst to an offline meeting.

At the same time, the abundance of communities which claim to have ‘like minded’ people lead to a large noise/ signal ratio. Beyond a limit, one needs to prune his ‘available for’ list. For each one, his own.

How do you manage your meaningful conversations? How important are offline meetings for you?

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Idiot boxed?

 

Why has it always been an Idiot box?

I have been a no television guy for almost a decade. Not in terms of owning one, but spending time before it. (When you live with your parents, TV is an integral part of your family! I own a 32″ full HD masterpiece.)

As an extension to that, I am a little impatient too, when it comes to watching movies on TV (often in theaters as well). All the more, when it comes to movies.

However, I love sports, esp. Tennis and Cricket. I often watch them, when I get a chance to (that’s why the LCD TV arrived, last year, just before IPL!). Over the last one month, I did watch India play superbly at the Cricket World Cup’11 (Glad that we won!).

Now, that urged me to clear out my taste/ personality when it comes to  liking television (or the very act of viewing it). I realized that I can not be tagged as a “no TV guy”. Simply because, I own one and I do watch certain things – what if it’s not a daily soap, or a reality show, for that matter?

One thing is apparent. I am boxed. But idiot boxed? – wait!

I consider myself sane enough to stay away from the likes of Splitsvilla, BigBoss, etc. The list, I know is long. No hard feelings for people who have a liking towards them. It’s a matter of personal choice. I do watch a TV show (the only one, I watch regularly), called “Zayka India Ka“, hosted by Vinod Dua (give that to me being a foodie!). I also like some shows that showcase the way people in most parts of the country think, work and sport a lifestyle. Though I seldom get to watch them.

I assume, everything on TV is not bad. Yes, you may waste a lot of time flipping channels – one reason I hated TV, ever since. But isn’t that true with the Internet too? (Let’s keep that discussion for a future post.)

How about the content on Television? I am always a fan of paid/ premium content – read it as, I feel comfortable paying to watch a documentary, game, movie – without ads, unless it’s an exorbitant amount of money. However, I doubt if the providers will be able to take this forward. Yes, some of them did try screening World Cup matches without ads. I wonder how successful that was! Time shall tell.

Alongside, I am in a mood to watch a few good movies which I have never ever. Sholey is one of them, yes. 🙂

Having closed in with my classification of content I am interested in and would want to watch, I am checking out options for the best HD feed by a provider. I have been told that Tata Sky+ HD is THE best option. Not cheap, but worth it. Let’s see. I am still contemplating. The best part is setting it up to record your favorite shows/ series, from a Blackberry/ iPhone app. Wow!

As I clear out the blur, an update to this post may be soon be expected. Cheers!

Chak de India – for winning the World Cup’ 2011!

Image courtesy: Profound Whatever

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