Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’


Reaching the Masses via Social Media: What the Royals Got Right

In United Kingdom on August 13, 2011 by sdaniellebenjamin Tagged: , , , , , , ,

When you think of those people and groups that use social media well, there are a few types that easily come to mind: people in their late teens to mid thirties, the super internet savvy and… the royals?

Believe it or not, the Queen and her posse of royalty are fairly active via the social media networks. Granted, perhaps it shouldn’t have come at such a surprise considering more than 80 percent of the UK population is online. I just arrived in London this morning and started checking out various tourist sites and attractions. Of course, Buckingham Palace (and the dress) was top on my list. Low and behold, when I went to view the official website for The Royal Collection, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were effectively using a couple of social platforms to reach the masses.

What the Royals Got Right

Twitter: With over 225,000 followers, @TheBritishMonarchy is leading the way as it engages its audience of both the English and “fans” from across the world who love to follow the celebutante royals. By regularly tweeting information on events and activities taking place at the Palace, one can easily plan a visit around the daily schedules that most interest them. While this is a significant first step, the Monarchy may also consider more two-way conversation with their audience. When appropriate, answering questions or sharing thoughts based on Twitter comments they receive can be a way to show that they are in touch with those who follow them.

Flicker: No, we’re not suggesting that anyone do that to the Queen. BUT the Royal Collection website connects visitors to its flicker page where they regularly post photos of weddings, marches and other exciting happenings of the Palace. The visuals provide an easy storytelling opportunity that can be easily incorporated into the existing site as a way of moving the visitor through a historical narrative of a day in the life of a royal. In this way, the visitor isn’t just looking at pictures, but they can begin to imagine themselves living the “privileged” life.

How Can the Queen Take it Up a Notch?

  • Despite concerns that Facebook is declining in the UK, the immense popularity of this social media site makes it almost impossible to ignore this platform. Establishing a Royal Collection facebook page where people can “friend” the royals and have easy access to photos, page links and other interesting tidbits would be another way to invite the commoner into their world.
  • Just this July, YouTube had its biggest month of traffic ever in the UK. As video watching on mobile devices continues to grow, this opens up another avenue that the royals can employ to share footage with the people. Who wouldn’t love to see the changing of the guards or a celebratory event at the Palace… and then easily share it with friends and family across the country and the world via their smartphone or other mobile device?

I am so excited about my first time in London and my plan is to see as many sights and experience the city for all that it has to offer! The Buckingham Palace is definitely staying on my list and the social tools the royals use just make it easier for me to stay up-to-date and get the fullest out of my visit.


I Definitely Wish I Was At Topshop

In United Kingdom on August 13, 2011 by KHughes Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

London…mecca for many fashionista’s and home to the illusive Topshop. I’m sure that to most, Topshop is just another store, but for me, the thought that I will soon be stepping into one is like Christmas morning; the excitement is palpable. Recently, Topshop launched a digital marketing campaign, which makes me wish I was there even more.

For eight days only, in the select markets of London, Dublin and Liverpool from June 1st to 4th, and Manchester and New York from June 8th to 11th, Topshop launched a campaign entitled, “Wish You Were At Topshop.”  The premise was simple: provide in-store iPad 2’s to take pictures of shoppers wearing Topshop clothing and turn it into a digital postcard that stated “Wish You Were At Topshop.”  To make it an event, shoppers were also treated to complimentary makeovers, styling and refreshments.  After having their picture taken, they were able to choose from a range of backgrounds and then the image was uploaded directly to Topshop’s Facebook gallery.

This campaign was aimed at utilizing their current digital audience on Facebook, working to motivate fans to come into the stores and partake in the campaign. Topshop’s thought was that they wanted to engage their current Facebook fan base, and promote something that would stimulate them to come into the store, not just shop online.  As additional incentive, Topshop encouraged those who had their pictures taken, to edit and upload their personalized version to the Topshop fan page, in turn entering them to win a $1000 in-store credit.

Why I loved This:

If I had seen this campaign and was anywhere near a Topshop, I would have been there in a flash, showered and completely primped, of course. Topshop did a great job knowing their fan base and how to entice them to come into the stores.  I don’t know what it is about us fashion-goers, but we love a good photo op and the chance for “free” in-store credit at a favorite store.

They also did a great job utilizing popular digital trends that so many people are interested in, by creating an in-store digital experience, encompassing multiple digital trends that would attract their clientele.  The iPad 2, as well as the Instagram application used to snap the photos, are still fairly new digital trends and people very much enjoy playing around and experiencing what they have to offer.  Also, utilizing Facebook was key, as a large amount of their fan base is very active on this social media site.

Another important aspect of this campaign was the buzz beforehand. Topshop did a great job creating buzz for the campaign on both Facebook and Twitter, informing their fan base and stirring up excitement for “Wish You Were At Topshop.”

The premise for the campaign was innovative and simple; it allowed Topshop to increase traffic to their Facebook page and created a way to generate more “likes.”  In-store shoppers participating in the campaign would have to either be a fan or become a fan of Topshop’s Facebook page to be able to download, upload and see the photos online.

In effect, this campaign really killed two birds with one stone; they utilized their fan base on Facebook to bring shoppers into the stores and then utilized the campaign in the stores to generate a larger fan base on Facebook.  Genius, pure genius!

Why I Hope Topshop Implements This Campaign Again:

I would love to see Topshop continue this campaign.  It’s not the type of campaign that can be done endlessly however, because it would lose the fun, excitement and originality. Rather, I would love to see Topshop incorporate this in-store digital experience for each seasonal trend launch: winter, spring, summer and fall.

Not only did this campaign increase digital traffic to their Facebook page and increase store traffic, this campaign created a buzz, putting Topshop at the forefront of digital in-store trends.

Personally, I feel this campaign was a huge success, with over 3,300 pictures taken and uploaded to Facebook in just an eight day span. Topshop found a great way to reach their customer base, created a fun in-store digital experience and promoted their product by increasing their fan and customer base. This campaign really gives their clientele a moment to shine, while also letting them feel as if they are part of Topshop, not just a paying customer.  As a future Topshop patron, I would love to be part of the Topshop Facebook page and participate in a Topshop campaign.  That’s exactly what this campaign offers; it gives customers an opportunity to get involved with the brand.

Overall, I only have positive things to say about this campaign.  I hope that they continue utilizing this trend, so that maybe, someday, I will be able to partake!


#LondonRiots: Stop the Blame… Play the Game

In United Kingdom on August 9, 2011 by Amira E. Tagged: , , , , ,

Another crisis. More deaths. More fear. 2011 is the year for revolutions and riots around the globe. And more prominently, 2011 is the year social media became the scapegoat for revolutions and riots around the globe. First, Tunisia. Then, Egypt. Now, London?


Buildings burn on Tottenham High Road on August 6, 2011

I can’t deny (sorry, Malcom Gladwell) the significant role social media tools have played in organising people (for good or bad), but that’s exactly what they are – tools. They are not the reason why people revolt and riot. They are, however, revolutionising the way people live, communicate and mobilise.

The Numbers

  • Almost half of teenagers (47 per cent) and over a quarter of adults in the UK use smartphones (Ofcom Study – 2011)
  • 50% of the population (30 million people) use Facebook
  • 7.2% of the population uses Twitter and UK MPs spend 1,000 hours on Twitter per year.

So What?

More than ever before, people in the UK are connected to each other through their mobile phones and digitally through social networks. Today, as the riots and violence spread even further, there are two important ways the London authorities and media should leverage the very same tools they are blaming for fueling the riots… to save people from the riots and do good (i.e. fight social media with social media): 


What does this mean? Listening in social media involves reading, monitoring and understanding the conversations taking place online. Online communication is quick and offers a human lens to every situation. Every tweeter is a citizen journalist in times like these. Listening also offers authorities and media the opportunity to understand what people need in times of crisis — whether it be emergency police support or advice on places to avoid.

How can we do this?

  • Set up accounts on Monitter or HootSuite – platforms that allow you to monitor tweets in real-time, up to three hashtags at a time.
  • Search for Facebook groups and pages about the riots and understand what the majority of people are talking about. Are they in favor of the riots or mobilising to clean up the streets?
  • Look for maps created by people online that intelligently gather important data about the crisis. A good example of this is this visual map created based on the #londonriots hashtag and UK postcodes. Another great data source is crowdsourced maps, like this special edition Google Map that was created and updated live by @jamescridland, mapping reports of looting, rioting, arrests and citizen rowdiness. | Trending Topics on August 8, 2011


What does this mean? Every conversation is an opportunity to engage. Rather than act as higher level watchdogs and security agents on the crisis, social media allows for greater communication and engagement with the community. By using social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, and mobile platforms, like SMS and Blackberry Messenger (BBM), there is a much higher chance of impactful and immediate mobilisation of positive efforts. Especially in the case of the authorities, there is an opportunity to create rapport with the people and develop a united front to do good together, similar to the recent situation in Vancouver.

How can we do this?

  • Live Blogging: Create a one-stop-shop source of information for people who can be accessed on smart phones and update it in real time. Include photographs, locations affected and video to communicate and tell the story effectively. The Guardian, a major UK-based newspaper, is doing an amazing job of communicating with its readers through its live blog.

  • Blackberry Messenger (BBM) and SMS: This is by far the most significant amount of blame I have ever seen attributed to BBM. As an extremely secure and rapid way of communicating with groups, this is an amazing tool to use in times like this. The Guardian is the first news outlet, and brand even, I have ever seen using BBM to gather on-the-ground information, as well as to broadcast important messages. Also, the authorities should partner with UK’s telecom corporations to send real time SMS alerts to citizens, warning of dangerous areas.
  • Twitter and Facebook: This is the most straightforward way to communicate for the media and authorities, many of whom are already on these platforms. Join the conversations that are already happening. Respond to important questions. Offer advice on how to act and where to go in dangerous situations. Find the people who are seeking to do good in times of crisis and offer real support. Be the authority, and be reachable.
  • Crowdsourced Maps: If they haven’t been created already, develop a map like the one above that details the locations affected and places at risk. The ultimate aim is to protect the people and this is a remarkably easy way to do it.

In a Google search for “London Riots + Blame,” over 10 million hits were found. Blame is being placed on everything from Twitter to Blackberry, even on the popular Grand Theft Auto video game. Instead of wasting time on blame, let’s play the same game and use these amazing tools for the good of the community.


Turkey’s Changemakers vs. Fark Yaratanlar: Let’s Integrate, Engage & Collaborate.

In Turkey on August 7, 2011 by Amira E. Tagged: , , , , , ,

Turkey's Changemakers


WHO: Some call it Turkey’s Changemakers. (Most) others call it Fark Yaratanlar.

WHAT: An initiative launched by Turkey’s Sabanci Foundation, Fark Yaratanlar is a weekly TV program aired on CNN Turk that shares the inspiring stories of 32 individual “changemakers” who promote and positively impact the country’s social and economic development. Over the course of two seasons, 800 applications have been submitted, 64 causes featured and almost 1 million viewers.

WHEN: The program launched Season 1 in October 2009. Season 2 just ended last month.

WHY: To increase visibility of individuals who make a significant impact on other people’s lives, raise awareness of social issues and inspire others to act for social change. Güler Sabancı, Chair of Sabancı Holding and third among the Financial Times “Top 50 Women in World Business” in 2010, said: “I think its extremely important to promote role models and good examples to mobilize more people to get involved.


It’s usually quite easy to do an overall assessment of an organization’s social media/digital footprint, right? That’s what I thought, too. My best friend introduced this initiative to me as Turkey’s Changemakers. We hit it off instantly. Loved the concept. Loved the implementation. (Filiz Bekman, much respect.) Here’s what I found as I tried to understand where this program lived among Turkey’s 35 million Internet users:


Internet Penetration in Turkey (in terms of # of users)

Turkey’s Changemakers



397 Fans




The numbers don’t make sense, right? With Turkey’s Facebook population of 29,643,160, how could this amazing program only have 396 fans?

The quick answer: They don’t. They have 9,084 fans. Still not putting a dent in the 29 million, but a big difference nonetheless. How did the number jump? The program has two pages on Facebook and Twitter, one under the program’s English name (Turkey’s Changemakers) and one under the program’s original Turkish name (Fark Yaratanlar). Here’s a clearer picture:


Internet Penetration in Turkey (in terms of # of users)

Turkey’s Changemakers

Fark Yaratanlar



397 Fans

8,687 Fans





In addition to their Facebook and Twitter presence(s), Turkey’s Changemakers has a dedicated YouTube channel with 96 videos, 46 subscribers and over 100,000 views. The website — — is difficult to find if you know the program as Turkey’s Changemakers (especially since the links on both of its Facebook and Twitter pages don’t work).


  • Fark Yaratanlar clearly has two “faces” for a good reason: to reach their domestic audience and the international English-speaking audience.
  • Wide reach through a variety of platforms and good integration between networks (i.e. linking to YouTube from Facebook, linking to Facebook from Twitter, etc.)
  • Great use of video storytelling to reach non-TV audience online


As the program enters its third season, I recommend that Fark Yaratanlar do three things to leverage their current momentum for future success:

1. INTEGRATE: Develop a brand with one face and name, even if it’s reaching out to two audiences. Add the English version of the name after the Turkish one for clarification (Fark Yaratanlar: Turkey’s Changemakers). Create an English version of the website (just like Sabanci Foundation). If there must be two Facebook and Twitter accounts, make sure they’re fully integrated and that it’s clear to users where to find the other version, as well as always linking back to the program’s official website. Contact Facebook and have them remove unauthorized pages and groups under the same name to ensure all supporters are supporting the official page.

2. ENGAGE: Have two-way conversations with online audiences — they are the lifeline of the initiative. Ask questions. Answer questions. Invite ideas and recommendations for new program developments. Enlist supporters to evangelize the program. Use Facebook and Google ads to spread more awareness and drive traffic back to the program’s sites. Develop a short-term campaign prior to the launch of the third season where every new Facebook “like” triggers a donation to one of the changemaker causes. Invite supporters to post their personal social impact stories on a dedicated “Sharing/Storytelling” tab on the revamped Facebook page.

3. COLLABORATE: The program currently is aired on CNN Turk, produced by Dipnot TV and hosted by TV personality Cüneyt Özdemir. By collaborating with these three entities on social media communications, Fark Yaratanlar can reach thousands more people. Özdemir alone has over 200,000 followers on Twitter and is on over 2,000 lists. ( has almost 190,000 followers and Dipnot TV has almost 30,000.) That kind of exposure would be priceless for Fark Yaratanlar. The key is using the @mention so followers can then engage directly with the program. On top of that, the program can develop offline engagement opportunities with Sabinci University students and professors to garner even more interest and online participation.

Before you sign off, watch one of their weekly programs. This one is about “Child Brides,” a project to raise awareness about early marriages in Turkey

(Click on CC for English subtitles)


Strap Up Turkey: When Condom Use Depends on Social Media

In Turkey on August 7, 2011 by victorialh Tagged: , , ,

Historically, people have been scared into using condoms.  Health organizations, government officials and even private corporations paint grim pictures of what life could be like if sexually active people don’t use condoms 100% of the time.

Images of death, stories of large poverty stricken families may work sometimes but are scare tactics the right approach? Not according to DKT International, a Washington, DC based NGO, which has used social tactics since 1989 to encourage condom usage over the ‘withdrawal method’ as a leading way to promote family planning.

From Brazil, the number one importer of condoms yet amongst the fewest users, to Turkey where empowering couples to use protection has been a continuous struggle; DKT has executed campaigns using traditional and new mediums of communication.

Two years ago, they launched a campaign for Fiesta Condoms, whose slogan (“Fiesta believes that safe and fun sex is your right) highlighted their acceptance of sexual behavior. The brand use bright, colorful and fun themes to educate and motivate consumers.

Naturally, the campaign included a Facebook page since the social media site is the third most popular web portal in Turkey with nearly 16 million users. It encouraged interaction through polls on sexually related issues, sultry music videos and instructions on how to use condoms.

Fiesta Condom Facebook Welcome Page

Currently, the Facebook page has just over 9,000 fans – nothing significant for a country populated with nearly 75 million people and 45% of them are Internet users.

While the numbers aren’t significant, they also aren’t surprising. Many risky brands have succeeded in the social media space, but getting people to openly discuss their sexual behaviors and preferences is no small challenge. I actually don’t know which of the fun-loving or deathly images work better, but I do applaud DKT and Fiesta for attempting to brighten up the conversation. Sex, condom usage and the consequences surrounding it all are all taboo topics that will require extremely innovative solutions to making consumers feel comfortable about discussing sex in the most social of settings.


How Turkey Can Fight Crime Using Social Media

In Turkey on August 5, 2011 by sdaniellebenjamin Tagged: , , , , , , ,

According to the International Organization of Migration, 250,000 people have been trafficked through Turkey since 1999.

If the facts didn’t support this claim, I might be tempted to dispute it. Yet despite the many social advances and humanitarian efforts that have been elevated over the last several decades, the illegal trade of humans is still a prevalent practice in many parts of the world today.

Because of its location as a bridge between Europe and Asia, and because of the socio-economic attractions that it offers in contrast to neighboring countries in the region, Turkey accounts for one of the largest destination spots for the countless victims of this imaginable crime.

In 2000, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols was adopted and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children was created to address this growing problem. In 2002, Turkey took definitive steps to combat this issue, beginning first by ratifying the UN measure and then setting up a National Task Force to enforce it. Yet while media and traditional advertising mechanisms have been put in place to help identify and find victims, a comprehensive digital strategy campaign has yet to be implemented by some of the leading voices in this issue.

High Internet Use in Turkey

I was actually quite surprised to learn that the Turkish government had yet to use social media in their efforts considering Turkey is one of the 15 largest internet populations in the world.  In fact, the Internet World Stats reported that there were 35,000 internet users in Turkey (representing 45% of the population) in June 2010. Those same reports also indicate that Turks spend a lot of their online time searching and using social media outlets (Turkey enjoys the third highest Facebook population in the world) – a fact that would seem to lend itself to a ready campaign around this issue.

While they do provide important information about human trafficking on their website, the governmental site for the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs that specifically deals with human trafficking could benefit from a social media overhaul.

A Digital Strategy Campaign

Facebook: With so many Turks using social media platforms each and every day, these sites are an easy way to set up missing person profiles, give descriptions and share other relevant information that can lead officials to these women and children. The Turkish government can create page specifically designed to disseminate information on persons , both victims and perpetrators, in real-time. As users visit the page, they can provide tips and clues on the whereabouts of these victims – perhaps providing just the right information to lead officials to victims.

Windows Live Profile: As the second most popular social media platform, this instant messenger platform can be easily incorporated on the homepage of the existing Turkish government website and monitored 24 hours a day as people submit tips and information on missing persons. Success of this type of feature will depend on the rapid-verification and follow up on information that is shared via this platform.

Blogs: Contributors to the non-profit organization’s blog site, The Human Trafficking Project, utilize art and technology to raise awareness of human trafficking and connect those working to combat this issue while also supporting the many nameless victims. The Turkish government could implement a similar type of blog on their website to connect family and friends, desperately searching for information on how to find their lost loved ones, to useful information and other anti-human trafficking sites around the world.

Sadly, human trafficking won’t go away overnight. Every day, thousands of women and children are being victimized by this senseless crime. And while they have made great strides to address this problem, by incorporating a digital strategy campaign into the mix, the Turkish government is sure to see considerable improvements – and just maybe, justice can finally be served.


Talking Tourism in Turkey

In Turkey on August 4, 2011 by P Grant Tagged: , , , ,

One of my most difficult assignments as an Account Executive for a major Midwest PR firm was to sell a tourism destination in the middle of the USA.  The objective was to fly travel writers to the city, sightsee, explore,  wine and dine them for several days in hopes our tourism destination would be written about, talked about and featured in the New York Times, Travel and Leisure Magazine or other major print outlets.

What made the job so difficult was the energy and enthusiasm required by me as the perfect tour guide/chauffeur for three jammed-packed days.  I once had a New York travel writer insist he leave in the middle of a Repertory Theater performance because he was bored.

Social media to the rescue at least, in Turkey. Travel writers still visit Turkey to write their stories, but the tourism market in Turkey has become a conversation on the internet. The real buzz right now are the conversations taking place through social media on the Website, Wizard Istanbul, operated by the Culture and Tourism Ministry of Turkey.

Get involved to share Istanbul Love

A traveler can post a question on Twitter, Facebook or the Website with an answer returned in minutes or several hours. Constant updates are also posted on the Website as well as Facebook and Twitter with the most recent being, “what can someone do in Istanbul during Ramadan?” What a great question and one that some people might not even know to ask.

Using social media to guide tourists in real-time around your city is a great idea that will be followed by others.  No more waiting around for an article to come out months later in the print media.

Here are three reasons why Wizard Istanbul is such a good idea:

1.Wizard Istanbul is a proactive way of reaching out to your market.  What separates it from other location guides is that it’s crowdsourced with real-time answers 24/7.

2.Wizard Istanbul works through social media outlets, Twitter, Facebook and via the Web.

3.Responses to questions are written by citizens of Istanbul who are passionate about their city and willing to volunteer their time to engage tourists online. Their enthusiasm for Istanbul is catching as you can see by the answer I received about souvenir shopping in Istanbul :

Hi Pamela,

Thanks for your question, and sorry for late reply, for faster replies you can ask your questions via or   (I emailed my question and the response took about four hours)

There are lots of gift opportunities, depends on what your family members like, you can buy “dried fruits” to “Turkish delight”, “quality clothes with Turkish motives” to “hand-made carpets”. Also we suggest up to hobbies; Waterpipe(nargile), porcelain tea & coffee sets, Turkish coffee, unique accesorizes(which you can find in Istiklal avenue -in aznavur pasaj-)

Even you can buy anything in huge shopping malls(Kanyon, Istinyepark, Cevahir) and shopping districts(Kadikoy, Nisantasi, Besiktas, Beyoglu), if you want to have more cultural or unique things grand bazaar, spice bazaar and the streets between these bazaars are great. Also Tunnel to Taksim(istiklal street) is also another district to shop with its backstreets.

Enjoy Istanbul and feel free to ask anything.

Wizard Istanbul Team

Istanbul attractions are open during Ramadan

The Wizard Istanbul Team is engaged and inviting.  Since 70 percent of the population in Turkey is under 35, in a culture that is traditionally shy, you can see why social media is so popular.

Wizard Istanbul is an innovative new way to target your market and boost your tourism. It’s not just postings and announcements on a Website, a YouTube documentary, shared stories/ photos on a blog,  or digital maps.  It’s all about conversations – real people talking to real people in real-time.

Talking tourism in Turkey is a good idea for anyone in the tourism industry.


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.




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.