Archive for the ‘India’ Category


Kodak: A Lesson In Mobile Marketing

In India on July 20, 2011 by dariguti

iPhones, Androids and Blackberries have changed the way we live. Every time I have a few minutes, I pull out my phone and scroll my emails, monitor the breaking news, update Twitter, check out my Facebook news feed or even take the opportunity to chat with a friend through text or instant messaging. Without my phone, waiting time just feels like wasted time. Whether for doing research on the go or scrolling websites while waiting for the next train, my phone provides me with a powerful, and sometimes addictive, source of information.

Whenever I am in front of a computer, I am working on a specific task, any communication received during this time will probably be half read or even completely ignored. Considering that, I would say that the best way to engage me would be through my mobile device while I am waiting at the doctor’s office, at the line in Starbucks or on my way to the next event on my schedule.

Like me, there are many others. In fact, with 67% of the world population being mobile users and mobile Internet usage on the rise, I am probably an excellent example of where the world is heading. Mobile Internet use is close to replacing computers in many parts of the world and the way mobile technology is revolutionizing our lives is being noticed by businesses worldwide.

Why Mobile Marketing?

According to Mobile Marketing Watch the potential for this technology is obvious, especially in developing nations such as Africa and India where cellular penetration (CP) has more than doubled since 2005. A study conducted by Nokia in partnership with TNS India shows that mobile web users are using their mobile to access the Internet 2.4 days per week versus using traditional web 2.7 days per week and even more users get new product information via the mobile web (28%) than the traditional web (26%). Additionally, mobile banner ads have high penetration rates with users and are considerable conversation generators. The chart below further explains mobile usage in India.

Mobile Usage in India

Mobile Internet marketing is the way to engage consumers. Not only because of its reach but also its cost efficiency.  In the words of Sanjay Gupta, CMO of Airtel, a global communications company: “The cost of interaction of mobile is low, there is a huge cost efficiency to use mobile for interaction, low cost of transaction and, therefore, there are big opportunities for advertisers to leverage the use of this medium.”

Additionally, as Indus Mobile, a mobile marketing services and technology company headquartered in Mumbai, India, explains, this technology provides a unique communication channel that is direct, personalized, targeted, interactive and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  This powerful marketing tool broadens your reach by effectively targeting audiences who are not as accessible through traditional media channels.

In India, 65% of the population are mobile users and this figure is rapidly increasing at a rate 20 million new subscribers per month. Organizations in the Indian market know all this and are rapidly becoming innovators in this type of marketing.

Let’s look at a great example!


Kodak understood how to use mobile marketing to engage their customers and ensure strong results. This company turned to mobile advertising in order to increase their customer base at Kodak Express photo processing outlets in India.  But, it wasn’t just about increasing foot traffic to their shops, it was also about gathering customer information to create a database with profiles of preferences that could help them understand consumer behavior. Customers were willing to submit this information (through surveys) because, once they completed the process,—and completion included sending 50 prints to your local Kodak Express Photo Outlet—they would have the opportunity to win a 2GB iPod Nano or a 1GB memory card.

But the prize wasn’t the only reason customers engaged… With simple and concise messages such as “Kodak Express Shoot It Win It!” and “Print them now. Win them now!”, Kodak encouraged customers to click through banners and navigate to their site through an efficient and cheap channel.

More than merely seeking to engage mobile users, Kodak customized their approach and related it back to their brand by aiming towards camera-phone users, therefore potential consumers rather than focusing on demographics. “The mobile campaign was a sort of experiment—promoting Kodak to people with camera phones,” said CEO of the Singapore based advertising company. “The goals were to increase footfalls to the Kodak Express outlets in India and to consolidate user profile and behavior understanding from Kodak Express users.”

Additionally, I found this approach especially interesting because now that digital cameras are the preferred modus operandi not many people print their photos.  Personally, I still print a few pictures here and there, I like the feel of having them in my hand but I would never think of printing the pictures from my camera phone… and why not? This approach worked not only because the tactics clearly made sense when related to the product but also because it wasn’t about a developing a mobile campaign it was about reaching key publics to possibly change behaviors and introduce the consumer to new options by correctly choosing the tool to accomplish it.

How did Kodak do? During the one-month duration of the campaign, Kodak generated 11 million visits to the survey page, with a click through rate of 1.7 percent.  Even more, Kodak now has a database of profiles and preferences that will teach them about consumer behavior and will help them develop more strategies and tactics.

This campaign was not only creative, targeted and well put together, it also showed that the people in charge of strategizing it understood the medium and their audience, a skill that many struggle with in this era characterized by an overwhelming amount of available mediums. Cost effective and efficient marketing tools like mobile marketing are revolutionizing not only India but also the world. Considering all this, I think mobile can only get more relevant going forward. As for Kodak, they have an interesting head start.


Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?

In India on July 17, 2011 by P Grant

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is one of the most popular heads of state in the world. No where is he more celebrated than in the U. S.  The Indian Prime Minister has been the guest of honor at three arrival ceremonies and state dinners in the last decade.  Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all hosted Prime Minister Singh at the United State’s highly coveted Arrival Ceremony and State Dinner. In fact, he was President Obama’s first guest for an arrival ceremony and state dinner on Nov. 25, 2009.

As a member of the George W. Bush Administration, I had the opportunity to be on the White House South Lawn to officially welcome Prime Minister Singh and his wife, Gursharan, six years ago – July 18, 2005

Arrival Ceremony of Prime Minister of India

Despite these warm relationships and culinary extravaganzas, the two countries have not done enough to inform their citizens of the bottom line economic impact of  their collaborations.   One key way of doing this is through social media.  It’s vital to American interests to continue to strengthen our relationship with this emerging democracy – home to more than 1.2 billion people, many of whom speak English, are young and eager to buy American goods.  Once the partying is over, there is no better way to keep the conversation going than through social media.

Here are three areas where these countries are collaborating and social media could be key:

  • Take the Green Partnership, the clean energy and climate change agreement that was signed at Prime Minister Singh’s 2009 state visit.  It’s received almost no publicity even though achieving some successes.   Groups in the U. S. and India have called for the use of social media technology to make the Green Partnership more effective by creating a joint web platform to gather and make accessible information as well as facilitate the participation of more businesses.
  • Centers for Disease Control in the U. S. is working to establish a Regional Global Disease Detection Center in India, also signed at the 2009 visit.  What is the status of this collaboration?  How can American businesses help make this a reality?   A simple solution, The White House Website, should update where we are in implementing these initiatives, linking back to the 2009 Memorandum of Understanding.
  • Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative, to find ways for U. S. and India colleges and universities to work together, was also signed at the 2009 State Visit.   Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is currently traveling in India, said there will be a Higher Education Summit Oct 13 in Washington DC.  Here is a perfect opportunity to engage citizens of all ages on Facebook, twitter, and through online conversations on the goals of this Summit. Reaching India’s 812 million mobile phone through the webless social network could be accomplished by partnering with Just Dial.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in India

One suggestion for improving transparency is to issue a “Report Card on the Obama/Singh State Visit 2009.”   The home page of the White House Website as well as the departments of State and Commerce could issue real-time updates and links for more information.  After all, if the White House can host a twitter town hall, timely information on a Website should be doable.

India is one friend the U. S. does not want to risk losing and documenting successes of past visits through the tools of social media can only enhance future cooperation and make the ties between the two countries even stronger.  And the invitations to dinner between  the U. S. and India should keep coming.


How Social Media Engagement in India Truly Impacts Lives

In India on July 17, 2011 by Amira E. Tagged: , , , , ,

To India, with Love:

Since my childhood, India has occupied an exclusive place in my heart. Spirit. Culture. Passion. Bright bursts of color. As a nation – rich in history and diverse in landscape. As a people – wildly intelligent and exceptionally kind.

Exactly 10 years ago, I traveled to Hyderabad with Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing housing to people in need. For 9 days, my team and I carried hundreds of heavy red bricks up and down hills to help rebuild houses from the ground up with families whose homes had been devastated by recent floods.

Since that day, my affinity to all-things-Indian has multiplied, but now is not the time to discuss my obsession with:

  • Bollywood movies (now thankfully available on YouTube!)
  • Delicious chaat and chutney, and…
  • Two of my very best friends Aarti Jaan and Akanksha Jaan.
    [Jaan is a term of endearment in Hindi]

10 years ago, the world hadn’t yet been introduced to Facebook and Twitter. In times of need, non-profit organizations partnered with schools, governments and on-the-ground volunteers to garner support and create impact. But today, in a world tightly packed with dozens of digital platforms, global netizens have quickly penetrated these social networks and begun engaging for social causes.

In India alone, nearly 30 million people are members of social networking sites, with an estimated 45,000 joining these sites per day over the next four months, according to a recent Nielsen study.

Social media is now ingrained in the way tech savvy Indians live their lives. With its ability to play multiple roles in an individual’s life by enabling shared experiences, creating linkages between communities and satisfying the need to be networked, its role in creating a deeper engagement is a boon to marketing. – Adrian Terron, Vice President, The Nielsen Company

Even more notable is that Indians are increasingly engaging in more meaningful ways on social networks. Here are three concrete examples of social media being used effectively to create social impact:

1. User-Driven Crisis Communications | Mumbai Blasts

The most recent, albeit disheartening, example of this took place just last week after the Mumbai bombings. However, what was beautiful to witness was the quick mobilization of support that flooded through Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other online platforms. As phone lines jammed, people tweeted their willingness to donate blood, give car rides and offer a place of refuge through dedicated hashtags #heretohelp, #mumbaiblasts and #needhelp. Soon enough, an editable Google Docs spreadsheet was created and circulated on Twitter, containing people’s mobile phone numbers, blood types and help required/offered. 30 minutes after the bombings, an Ushahidi disaster-tracking map was created north of Mumbai, showing where people needed help and where they could seek shelter.

#heretohelp Twitter Feed on July 13, 2011

IMPACT: The incident proved that, when put to the test, Indian netizens largely use social platforms for positive impact, rather than to gossip or spread rumors.

2. Corporate-Driven Cause Marketing | Tata Tea & Janaagraha: Jaago Re Campaign

Tata Tea, the leading tea company in India, partnered with Janaagraha, a nonprofit working to improve the quality of life in urban India, in 2008 to encourage youth voter registration through interactive applications online. The campaign has an active social media presence with a YouTube channel, Facebook (over 35,000 fans), Twitter (~3,000 followers), Orkut (~13,000 members) and a dedicated website. The website has a clear call to action, asking youth to “wake up and make the change with Jaago Re!” Supporters are given specific and easy steps to follow to help, whether it be networking with like-minded people, volunteering or sharing inspirational stories.

Impact: As I have been studying cause marketing campaigns in depth for the past few months, I am particularly inspired and impressed by this campaign’s ability to motivate 625,000 people to register as voters. By communicating loud and clear and actively engaging on the platforms where their target audience spend the most time, Jaago Re has proven itself as a model for similar cause marketing campaigns. As the Georgetown professor and marketing expert Gaurav Mishra said on his insightful blog, “…voter registration campaigns like Tata Tea’s Jaago Re have caught the imagination of urban India’s web-savvy youngsters, with their effective use of social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube.”

3. NonProfit-Driven Marketing & Communications | Pratham Books ‘Read India’

This campaign particularly has touched me because I was such a bookworm as a child. I would spend hours on end in the public library reading my way through the children’s library. Pratham Books, the winner of IndiaSocial Case Challenge 2010, is a nonprofit trust that aims to make children’s literature accessible, with the goal of placing a book in the hands of every child. Pratham actively engages its stakeholders through its blog and its various accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube. The coolest thing they do (in my humble opinion) is uploading books on Scribd for people to read and share with others through a Creative Commons license.

Impact: Through their active presence online, they have received offers of support from authors and translators, recruited social volunteers (see photo below) and launched a listening/engaging program with their followers and fans. Although this is a relatively young initiative, they have done a fantastic job of engaging online and I look forward to see what they do next.

India occupied an exclusive place in my heart many years ago. And it just keeps growing. I look forward to seeing what great things the Indian people, companies and nonprofits do next to create social impact through social media.

For more information on social media in India, here is a great visual overview.


Students Gone Social: India’s Hope for Advancement

In India on July 17, 2011 by victorialh Tagged: , , ,

An excellent education is a universal goal that every parent dreams of for their child; this is especially true in India, a country optimistic about improving its education system. The harsh realization is that parents can’t always provide opportunities for those dreams to come true. Nearly 25 percent of India’s population (the second most populous country in the world) is illiterate and many are depending on its young population to change that reality.

Approximately 50 percent of the population is under the age of 25 years old and those college-aged are expected to carry India with their socially aware and entrepreneurial spirits.

20th century poet and playwright William Butler Yeats once said that “education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire.” We saw Mark Zuckerberg light a fire and educate us all with his exclusive site for Americans with an .edu email address, but the flame was seen across the world. Particularly in India, social media usage took off and has become an activity of nearly 30 million online users.

So it should be no surprise that the third largest social networking site, behind Facebook and Orkut, in India is a platform for young Indians (current students, recent graduates and entrepreneurs). was launched in 2007 and is goaled with joining young Indians at home and studying abroad seeking help with personal and professional matters.

The social network serves as a one-stop shop for those seeking advice on issues such as professional opportunities, and study abroad programs, to ratings on schools and work places. Campus SearchWhat they are doing right

Although the site’s premise seems to be primarily informational and started as just a means to help those wanting studying abroad, almost five years later – the possibilities led the site to become a completely interactive and multi-faceted portal. Subscribers can now blog, share photos and video, join groups and make friends. Sound familiar?

Smartly so, differentiated itself by keeping its focus on students. The online utility offers a Study Zone that guides on selection and application processes for institutions. When Bharat students aren’t in the zone, they can hang out in Café Bharat, which brings more opportunity user-generated video content on campus life, current events and popular culture.

Why they still needed Facebook

Reinventing the wheel is an often avoided tactic in business relations.  So in March announced it would integrate with Facebook in hopes of doubling its user base. Rather than trying to compete with the global leader, something no social site has been able to do thus far, executives made a wise strategic decision to leverage the capabilities Facebook already mastered and incorporate them for the benefit of their users.  Integration allows for to keep its user base at home while providing them with the perks of an even vaster global connection.

Where do they go from here?

It’s evident that the minds behind know the importance of niche markets and timeliness and with the next generation of innovators as their user base – the addition of a “Now Hiring” page should keep them in the game.




Mera pyaara beta / My lovely child

In India on July 17, 2011 by georgetown2012

If there is one emotion that can travel the world, travel time, cross generations, and cross cultures, it is a mother’s love for her children. Proctor and Gamble is gambling on that emotion and a mother’s desire to provide the best care for her babies, in India. Here, there are more babies than anyplace else, 45 million. That is a lot of babies. A lot of Ammas. And A LOT of diapers.

With increase in GDP and purchasing power, the Indian market for diapers is expected to increase significantly.The world market of baby diaper is expected to touch US $27 billion by 2012. The current demand for baby diapers in India is approximately 100 million pieces / annually and is growing at a brisk 8-10% every year.

With large & growing population of India, rise in income levels, stress on convenience, working couples, and higher mobility & competitive price offerings, growth rate is further anticipated to continue in coming years. Changing preference from traditional cloth diapers (made from cast off clothes and saris) to disposable diapers, increasing income level, and product innovation are the prime reasons for the prospective growth.

Proctor and Gamble has a web presence in India. The website looks similar to sites in other countries, and offers the same repository and resources that mother’s everywhere are wondering about: sleeping patterns, breastfeeding, health questions, developmental milestones. Here on the site, mothers can find child experts, medical doctors, Ammas like themselves. And of course, they can find the stage appropriate pampers for their baby.

There is a large and growing network of Indian Mommy Bloggers who are interested in products and services that make life more enjoyable and convenient for their families. These are some of the most trusted sites that mother’s visit. Many moms rely on the honest opinions on products and services of other mothers. The new school WOM marketing has hit a whole new medium. A mother’s passion is like no other. These moms fit into the following statistic: 90% of users of social media are in the 18-45 year old demographic, a demographic that child bearing fall into. Facebook and Orkut are the top social media sites, and where P&G can expect to find their clients.

Proctor and Gamble has shown interest in the social problems in India, with outreach such as: SHIKSHA’07 BUY P&G brands to help support underprivileged children access their right to education. The fact that India has the world’s largest number of uneducated children is an undeniable challenge, and one that Proctor and Gamble has aligned with. Every time a consumer buys a large pack of  Pampers during the months April, May and June, she will have made a definitive contribution towards enabling a child’s right to education.

India is a great producer of babies, and if P&G can find a way into the market (produce quality, economically viable, and environmentally friendly product), than they will have access to great demand, and lots and lots of babies.



SoSasta: The Next Groupon Success?

In India on July 17, 2011 by S.Albright Tagged: , ,

Daily deals have created a prominent space on the Web in India. So much so, that there are currently 28 and counting “Groupon clone” sites. In a country where eCommerce is expected to reach a value of US $10 billion by the end of 2011, as well as a population that continues to rapidly embrace the social media and mobile culture, it should come as no surprise that daily deals and group couponing are just as popular with the Indian online community as they have become with numerous other countries globally. Yet for consumers in India, given the choice of 25+ different sites, how does one choose where to go for deals? Does this number of sites drive the desire to utilize them, or overwhelm consumers by continuing to crowd the market and ultimately lose their business altogether?

Launched in late 2010, SoSasta (which translates to ‘So Cheap’ or ‘So Affordable’ in Hindi) offers users discounts on services such as restaurants, spas and dance clubs in 11 cities in India daily. Acquired by Groupon in early 2011, the daily deals powerhouse made its entry into the Indian market as it continued to take the now-valued $25 billion company worldwide. Under Groupon, SoSasta has started to move from the rookie player amongst the more established Indian deal sites Snapdeal, Taggle and Mydala to one garnering increased visibility. However, all too recently SoSasta underwent an accidental leak of email addresses and passwords of thousands of SoSasta users.

In the wake of this security leak, SoSasta needs to leverage a bit of current negative media attention to champion on why this site has the potential to become the leading daily deals site for Indian consumers. Here’s how:

1. Groupon’s International Insights

As the leading website of its kind, Groupon’s fast-growing success has the ability to take SoSasta to the next level above smaller, local start-ups. By utilizing what has worked in other countries, Groupon needs to keep a close eye on security and privacy issues to ensure another accidental leak of private user information does not occur. Unlike other countries, deals in India tend to offer a wide variety of deals and don’t focus on a particular niche. By tapping into the particular wants and needs of Indian consumers – perhaps segmented to the extent of city or region – SoSasta can display its understanding of the country’s culture in conjunction with the larger corporate backing to offer the best products and services for its users.

2. Facebook Integration

India happens to be the fastest growing country on Facebook. SoSasta has a strong following on its main Facebook page, as well as smaller followings on additional SoSasta pages organized by city. The company could do even more, however, by enabling consumers to login to SoSasta through their Facebook account to purchase deals. By offering consumers a prompt after purchasing to share via Facebook, SoSasta can garner increased consumer attention and utilize social networking to its benefit. If it truly is a great deal, consumers want to share itwith their friends, so why not make it easy and prompt them to do so right away?

3. Mobile Penetration

More Internet users in India access the Web via mobile than actual PCs. As mobile devices continue to become more affordable, they will increase Internet traffic to those who might not be able to afford PCs – in India, this could mean increased reach to rural populations outside of major cosmopolitan areas. As SoSasta offers products as well as services, the ability to make purchases via mobile is becoming increasingly important for consumers, and is a third way the site can distinguish itself from the cluster of other competition that isn’t currently engaging users through mobile in a distinct way.

The name of the game for daily deal sites in India has ultimately become a fierce competition for the top spot, with companies vying to establish relationships with retailers and consumers to bring them back again and again to their sites. SoSasta has the resources to ultimately overtake – or at least become a major competitor – to the current #1 Snapdeal. It will be up to consumer participation and interest, however, to see how this will unfold.


The Importance of Cultural Considerations

In India on July 16, 2011 by vmcfarre Tagged: , , ,

While visiting one of my favorite museums today, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, I stumbled upon an exhibit titled Paris-Delhi-Bombay. This exhibit brings together artists of all fields into a space to dialogue about the differences and similarities between Indian and French cultures, touching upon violence, sexuality, unemployment and cultural values. It complemented what I had started drafting for this blog, discussing the importance of being culturally sensitive when launching campaigns, especially in this day when social media helps spread information at a faster rate. This is especially important in India who has the 4th largest population of internet users in the world and the 7th largest global marketfor social media consumption. Campaigns are picked up faster and they can either fail or succeed at a much quicker rate than before.

For example, when Haagen-Dazs entered the Indian market in 2009, it did so with one of its worldwide campaign slogans that had been working well elsewhere.  The slogan said “entry restricted only to holders of international passports,” intended to attract customers to their international quality ice-cream.  This slogan quickly made news and created a stir in India as a passerby took a picture, posted it online, and the conversations and comments started to flow. Many were insulted because they felt this campaign targeted foreigners who would be the only ones allowed to preview the ice-cream.  What Haagen-Dazs wanted to relay was that they can now experience a taste of abroad without having to leave India. Many online commentators said that this brought memories from the times of the British Raaj where there were signs in locations that said, “Dogs and Indians not allowed.” This campaign hit a nerve that did not help Haagen-Dazs with their introduction into the Indian market.  If this were to happen today, with the increased number of Internet users since 2009, it could mean  Haagen-Dazs’ end in India.  

On the other hand, a campaign launched by Coca Cola in October 2010 took advantage of the festivity and mood during Deepawali to launch their campaign Come Home on Deepawali.” I am a bit biased by this campaign because I lived with the Warlis for a couple of weeks during a program on comparative indigenous perspectives, which took me to India, New Zealand and Mexico. Before going to India I didn’t know much about an indigenous population existing and learned that 7% of India’s population is Indigenous and that the Warlis who live around Mumbai and Dahanu, remain quite unassimilated from the rest of the India; they maintain their own dress style, customs, religion, and ceremonies. The Warlis have gained recognition only recently for their unique artwork that has been incorporated into mainstream folk-art and this campaign, targeted more towards a general Indian public, helps inform and educate about the diversity that lies within the country. I thought this was particularly smart for their particular target audience (not Warli) since Coca Cola highlighted an important Indian festivity that can be well received, and also used Warli art as a way to educate people about indigenous groups in India.

In summary, it is important to take in cultural considerations for all campaigns since information can be interpreted very differently depending on the context and audience. In this increasingly globalized world, it may seem like this is a step that can be skipped because a “global culture” seems to be emerging due to the increased levels of communications across countries.  As the exhibit at the Pompidou showed, parallels and intersections can be made between all cultures, and in this case, between French and Indians.  It is important to remember that despite all the similarities that can be made between cultures, every individual and culture interprets things differently. As Haagen-Dazs experienced, they used an existing campaign that worked in other countries. By not using a focus group to see how Indians would interpret the information, it led to a failed campaign. In this case, only the campaign failed but  in other cases this might lead to a company being asked to leave a country or shut down due to a culturally disrespectful and insensitive campaign.


Who “Run the World?” : G___le

In India,USA on July 16, 2011 by jmpea Tagged: , ,

With Beyonce’s latest single “Run the World” topping the charts across the world and even being a part of the Atlantis trip to outerspace,  it is only fitting to talk about who really runs this world. Yes, I love Beyonce and she is always relevant in my world, but this particular song title also rings true to the latest social network takeover. For those of you that have been living under a rock, Google has created quite the internet buzz over the last couple of weeks with the launch of its social network, Google+. Though still in field trial mode,  Google+ has been getting reviews from around the web, and is expected to hit 20 million members by the end of the weekend.  This is not just in the U.S. either. Google is also testing its newest product in India. Why would Google test its product in India? Well, of course, this is another strategy for them to take over the world. 1 + 1 = 2 and Google knows that people + social media = massive exposure. Let me explain.

1.  India has the second most populous country in the world with over one billion people!  If that’s not mind blowing enough, every year India adds more people than any other nation in the world. As Vice President Joe Biden would say, that’s a big effing deal (#BFD).  The statistic that is most compelling for companies interested in Google+ is that 65% of India’s population is below the age of 35 with 42 million people being internet users.  This is the perfect market for Google to test its new product and given the amount of people they can reach via Google+ an ideal market for companies in India to incorporate Google+ into their social media outreach.

2.  We know that Google+ is here to stay. It is just in the beginner stages of perfection.  One tool they have already incorporated into their product is the ability to update via text message and get updates on cell phones.  To have this tool implemented so early into the cycle is a crucial advantage for the company. According to one article, offering SMS capabilities is an added plus because many users still rely on SMS to converse since the smartphone penetration is still pretty low. A Blackberry in India would cost someone around $600 which is unrealistic for many residents in India. However, because of SMS capabilities, people can still be connected with the rest of the country through a basic prepaid phone.

This component is beneficial for users and companies because convenience is a must in this day.  For the user, being able to check and update social media outlets via a cell phone make things so much easier. Although there is no app to download or way to log in and check Google+ via cell just yet, the text component is still an added bonus especially this early in the trial period stage. For companies, the benefits are just as compelling although having the text message option will be a little more challenging. Instead of having your information pop up in someone’s news feed, the company will have to promote the product in a way that encourages users to set up text message notifications about that particular company. This gives companies more   control over their message outreach and allows them to get more creative with their tactics. Instead of basic, boring status updates, food companies like McDonalds can create a contest via text for consumers. Example: Dine in and show the Google+ text from McDonalds and you receive a discounted price. Or they could even incorporate a LivingSocial aspect and encourage people to share “text deals” with 3 or more friends and receive a free deal.

3.  Getting an early start on Google+ gives those who missed the Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn trains an opportunity to become social media saavy. Users and companies in India can jump start their outreach by creating a profile now, during the trial period. This will be the perfect opportunity for companies to brand themselves as relevant whether they have other social media outlets or not. As one of my colleagues for Google pointed out, Google+ will be incorporating advertising in the near future, and it will be cleaner and more direct than current advertising on other social media outlets.  Companies will now be able to market to people based on what circles they are in making this more of direct marketing. If Dove wants to target African American females between the ages of 25-32, they can do that with the Google+ circles which narrows the scope tremendously. This is a major advantage for the new product, and as my blogger buddy B.L. pointed out in her latest post, unlike Facebook, Google+ will become the dominant social media tool for businesses. The beauty of already having the trial period in India is that while there will be problems and glitches in the program, Google is already listening, changing and adapting to the needs and wants of the people. “They’re thinking way beyond today, into a future where all online content will be integrated, and the semantic web will be in full effect”, B.L. said. I couldn’t agree more.

Google has shown the world once again why it remains to be a top competitor in many markets. To add to Google, Gmail, Gchat, Google Docs, Google Maps, iGoogle, Google Reader, Google TV and the Google phone, Google Wallet and many more, we can now add Google+ to that list. If this isn’t running the world then what is?


Crowdsourcing Bollywood

In India on July 16, 2011 by Katherine Hutton Tagged: , ,

Hindustani. Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Salaam-E-Ishq. The aforementioned are all titles of well-known Indian films. Unfortunately, due to the unreliable practices of funding Bollywood films, 50 percent of films produced are never released and more than 95 percent result in losses. However, with the growing populations of young middle class Indians who are internet-savvy, Bollywood’s luck could change.

India currently has 31.4 million middle class households, which translates into 160 million individuals and this number is anticipated to grow exponentially in the years to come. In 2010, 100 million people used the internet, whether through internet cafes or being lucky enough to have internet in one’s home. Like most of the world, Indians favor social networking sites, with the total amount of Facebook users landing at 30.4 million. Here is an entire demographic that Bollywood can use to its advantage to produce a higher number and higher quality of films.

Even though filmmakers have been producing films since 1899, Bollywood was only recognized as an industry by the government in 1998, making it difficult to receive official funding. Recently, directors have been reaching out to their fan bases to help support the industry.

For his upcoming film, Aarakshan, director Prakash Jha had a disagreement with his co-director, Mohit Suri, about the main poster that they should use. They decided to take the issue to the people to let them choose, since the posters are for the people anyway.

Another director, Onir, went even further when it came to ensuring his film was made and seen by interested audiences. He is best known for his film My Brother… Nikhil, which depicts AIDS and same-sex relationships, topics that would not have been approved by previous generations. But this new generation is more open to such previously taboo topics, which is why Onir went to them when he needed assistance in producing his latest film: I Am. Onir reached out to Facebook and Twitter users to request funding for the project. With topics such as homosexuality and child abuse, it would be very difficult for Onir to receive any funding for the film through more official channels. Fans reacted to his call and supplied one-third of the money needed to make the film. It is the first mainstream Hindi film to crowdsource through social networking sites with over 400 people volunteering their time and/or money.

Since traditional funding can be difficult for independent projects such as I Am, going to the online Indian population was a great decision for Onir. Since they funded the film, audiences have more incentive to see the film and encourage others to see it. Onir cleverly brought together the tradition of Bollywood with new technology in order to create a dynamic film about relevant social issues in India.

With the number of Bollywood artists and the tech-savvy younger generation on social networking sites, those sites are great tools for these two populations to connect with one another to ensure that great films come to fruition.


Using the Web to Save Tigers in the Wild

In India on July 16, 2011 by Abby Tagged: , , ,

When you think of India, several things might come to mind. And likely in that list is the Bengal tiger, which has been the symbol of India since 2500 BC.  Despite its status India, the tiger population is in swift decline.

Save Our Tigers homepage

To solve this problem, companies, nonprofits, and individuals in India are working to save their national symbol.  One such campaign is “Save Our Tigers,” an effort supported by telecommunications giant Aircel in partnership with WWF-India.

The site reaches their audience through their website and Facebook page, with Stripey the Cub acting as the face of the campaign.  Indians can “roar” (pledge) their support for the campaign within their own social networks, on the “Join the Roar” webpage, or offline through volunteer events.  In December 2010, the campaign held a 12-hour telethon on major television channels in India that garnered a lot of interest and support.  Since then, they have branched out and moved to social media channels to engage and promote activism.

The campaign has a lot going for it.  The mission is important, Indians feel connected to the cause, the content is powerful and moving, they are making progress and they have access to valuable resources through well-known partners.

On the other hand, the campaign could do more to actively engage its audience using social media.

A few suggestions:

  • To better engage online, the campaign should do more than post news on its Facebook page.  By promoting two-way communication, the community might feel more connected and inspired to get involved and take action.

Stripey's Facebook Page - all "push" no "pull" communications

  • Aircel is a huge company with many resources.  The campaign could leverage these to develop content for additional channels, including mobile apps. Aircel’s mobile presence is huge, but Save Our Tigers is missing out on this space.  Aircel’s Blyk service sends updates and promotions to mobile users based on their interests – this could be a great way to reach and engage the younger Indian population.
  • It sounds simple enough, but the campaign should keep content fresh.  The campaign blog is advertised and linked to from other areas of the site, but it has not been updated for well over a year.  If there simply aren’t resources to continue blogging, Save Our Tigers might consider removing the blog and repurposing the content rather than seeming inactive.

Save Our Tigers clearly makes the point that saving the tiger is necessary to uphold the heritage of India, but more could be done to make that point in a quicker and more engaging way online, and translate their success into social media success.