Sunday, December 18, 2011

The New Twitter Brand Pages

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Twitter recently rolled out changes to the UI and many of you will agree that the new look is quite suave & gives the user a great perspective on the investments folks at Twitter are making to become user friendly. In this race of social media platforms to out do each other, the users are at a great advantage to experience some great innovations.

But the one feature that Twitter rolled out & what could be potentially a BIG competition to the world of Facebook & Google+ is the launch of its brand pages. The folks at Twitter have been rather kind enough to not name the feature as "Brand Page" but as "Enhanced Profile Page". The new feature though is available to select users at the moment & I had a chance to have look at the page of @McDonalds

Brand Page Features:
1. Pin a Tweet/Feature your content

And as I hear from the street, one of the best ability of this new feature is to pin a tweet or again in Twitter's parlance is "Feature your content", which effectively allows the brands to highlight one of its most engaging content helping them to drive much more inbound traffic. This tweet remains at top of the timeline and has the ability to hold non-textual content which would be most useful when brands would like to share an image or video. (Look how enticing the Big Mac looks :-) )

2. Banner/Header
 
The other big change was to have your brand logo, image, tagline or other content at the top which could be a major differentiator for visitors to classify from normal user page to a brand page.

There are 20 more Twitter Brand pages other than @McDonalds and the list can be found here.

What's your view?? IMHO, I am looking forward to the day when Google+ or Facebook launches the "pin" feature, but until that time, Twitter shall be the most chosen medium to share brand information.

Do drop in your comments/feedback below or at my Facebook Page or Google+ Page or tweet @MalharBarai




Sunday, November 27, 2011

5 Effective Social Media Strategies

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Now that you have put across your first tweet, blog post or created your Facebook Page or Google+ Page, you need a sound plan to succeed. Scout the net & you should find tons of links to help you succeed & I promise the following post might not be too different, but then its just some of the strategies that have help me while starting for zero. You'll need these strategies, as there are competitors who are ready to out-do you & by the time you master it, a success story would have already been born.
(Image Courtesy: Creative Commons)
Do read this before you dish out the next piece of information for your followers:

1. Identify your target customers

Before you begin your next update, gauge your target audience - area of interest, age, geographical area. Gather an idea of what they would like to hear or see.  Ensure that your blog has appropriate visual appeal and aesthetics to keep the reader interested or have interesting Twitter headline to make it clickable.

2. Scout appropriate content

To ensure that you share content, that would make your customer "share", research on the subject. List out the sites, blogs, news within the domain & subscribe to feeds. Staying updated with the trends will help you to share latest contents which is what your customers are looking for

3. Update regularly

The only reason will have followers is they expect information from you. Keep updating, and once you share regularly, they will know where to look out for any new happenings or get information on the subject. Set aside atleast 15-20 minutes in a day to update. And with the host of tools available now - Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, its easy to schedule your updates.


4. Interact

The best way to master your social media skill is to interact with other users or you audience. Be prompt to respond to comments - positive or negative. Start making connections with the folks from your industry, start participating in discussions, share your thoughts. The law of attraction works very well in this medium.

5. Promote

Now that your content is focused & an audience set up, start promoting self or business. This will ensure that your stories are heard instead of it being picked up from all of the noise generated on social media channels.

And these were some of my strategies to succeed over social media. Few of them are easy while other might take a while but remember, social media does take time and money.

Well yes on Thanksgiving & otherwise too, a big thanks to all the readers of this post and my blog. Love to hear your comments or success stories as usual.

Good Day!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

How to create Google+ Business Page

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One of the biggest news of this week was the launch of Google+ Business Page. It was the news that we had been waiting for since the launch of Google+. True to industry grapewine, it has indeed placed itself directly against Facebook. Also, the creation of Google+ Business Page was like a walk in the park, I had no rumblings at all.

Presenting here, some easy steps to create the Google+ Business Page, which has also been explained at the Google+ Blog.

Step 1

Go to http://plus.google.com/ and login with your Google+ credentials. On the right hand bottom, you should find a link "Create a Google+ Page" or you can directly go to http://plus.google.com/pages/create and login and proceed to step 2.

Step 2

On the create page, select appropriate category for your business. Enter the name of your business, website and sub-category. Based on the content of your page, select the viewer type.

Step 3

Next step is to customize your page. Make sure you have a catchy tag line, something that would entice the viewer to visit or like it. You can even upload a photo of your business.

Step 4

Finally, spread the information about creation of your page. You can share it with your colleagues or a small group initially. But before that, do load the page with some content. That will help viewers to understand your focus areas & want them to visit back.

Step 5

There you have, your own personal Google+ Page. Get going, invest sometime to post content regularly to have more visitor on the page.


Few of the best pages I have come across till now and more recently Toyota too.

Thanks for reading through & here's my page.


Sunday, November 06, 2011

To Klout or not!!!

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"Klout just did a Netflix"

Read one of the tweet on my timeline & that prompted me to go & look back at my score. Aghast!!! Mine had dropped drastically.


One of the most buzz all over the social network in last couple of week has been about Klout scores either dropping significantly or in some case improving. The buzz was good enough to have an hashtag #OccupyKlout at one point of time. That picked up my interest & have a closer look at the issue. And I found the Klout announcement saying it had changed its algorithms measuring your social engagement & influence. Which truly meant that it was trying to have a close look at the traversal of your content across the network.

According to this post at Klout site, the changes shall cover:

True Reach - How many people you influence
Amplification - How much you influence them
Network Impact - The influence of your network

While they promised accuracy, transparency and scores either remaining same or going up, but from the reactions that I see, the number of people disgruntled with the lower scores is far more than the ones having an improved score. But then the real question was:

Should I really care about my Klout Score??

Yes, I have to say a big emphatic yes to it. Regardless of how you view it, the score helps you to understand if the group of people you have been interacting or have as your followers are truly influential. Having a network of influence does matter as at end of the day you are marketing your brand or services. The score also gives you an enormous recognition + reputation as "influencer" or otherwise. 

But then, what went wrong??

As I gather the dust around it, I read that Klout applied the algorithms on historic data too, and the re-calculated the old scores too. This was probably the biggest mistake it did. Having wiped out the previous scores certainly hit users in the wrong place.

The other place where it wronged seems to be the lack of transparency. It is highly impossible to tell why you score is falling down as the company has kept its algorithms secret.

And neither did the following tweet help:



While the jury on whether the change in algorithm effects the clout of Klout is still not ascertained, but the fact remains that there are now fewer individuals who really trust Klout and it might have to lost the ground a bit to PeerIndex and Kred.

Thanks for reading through. Appreciate your comments.
 

Monday, October 17, 2011

How to increase your Twitter Followers - Top 10 ways

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Twitter has been a terrific place to share information and links to information. But to have your content read, you need to have a large pool of followers.The greater the number of followers, the more influential your content is.

Today I shall list down few steps that have helped me to increase the number of followers:

#0. No one likes an egg- head (yes, I have deliberately number it 0 as this is the most important step)

Egg-head is the default image that Twitter give. Maybe you have liked it & would not want to change, but we would like to know the person sharing content. No pets, no monuments and no scenic locales. We would like to know YOU.

#1. Get a short bio
Give a brief description of yourself, your interest/passion. Potential followers do read the bio besides reading your content.


#2. Share your internet footprint

Provide like of your blog or company URL or Facebook Page. They should know what else to follow. Also, these turns out to be a good SEO exercise. Ensure that you put up the "tweet" button or "Follow me on Twitter" button on those sites

#3. Follow the leaders and build connections

Whatever your choice of subject, follow the leaders & get an understanding of what they share. This will give you a fair idea of what the acceptable norms of content sharing is within that domain. But do not stop yourself at just following the leaders, build connections with other users whose content you find interesting

#4. Start sharing content

In a given day, you would be reading a lot and gathering information on your choice of subject. Share all these meaningful content. Preferably, it should be links, because given the 140 char limit of Twitter, you might not be able to convey the entire message. So, lead your followers to information. Use the URL shortening services like bit.ly, ow.ly or goo.gl and many others. Twitter has recently started shortening the URLs using its own t.co service too

#5. Tweet Regularly

This step should in fact be high up the order. Remember, your followers are expecting information from you. Keep sharing, and once you share regularly, they will know where to look out for any new happenings or get information on the subject. You can use services of Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to schedule your tweets

#6. Repeat your Tweets

Something that I learnt very late, and this was while listening to Guy Kawasaki. Do repeat you tweet, as you would never know which part of the world is following you. A tweet in the US day time would hardly be seen in the timeline of someone in India, unless it is repeated in their day time.

#7. Engage within the domain

Try to get yourself heard. Engage in the various conversations happening over Twitter & share your point of view. Chances are, few of the readers will like it & start following you.


#8. Do not SPAM

Whatever your reason of joining Twitter, make sure you do not SPAM the followers. This is a strict No-no.


#9. Ask questions

Another form of engagement is to ask your followers some questions or set up a poll. You can then share the results over your blog.


#10. Thank followers, re-tweeters

But make sure these are done as direct message. Other followers are not interested in whom you have thanked & once you reach a certain number of users, your timeline shall be filled with these messages instead of the content incase they are public messages.

Thanks for reading through. I can be reached on Twitter @malharbarai

Do leave your comments & I would be happy to engage.


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Sunday, October 09, 2011

How To Get Over The Social Media Noise

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With plethora of Social Media Platforms do you find yourself lost?? It seems so often that with an unprecedented rush by enterprise to implement marketing strategies unheard of till now and grab your share of attention thereby adding to the "noise" in the social space. With millions of users across Facebook, Twitter & add to it the latest entry of Google+, the "noise" created is overwhelming.


Take this, it took Google+ only 16 days to notch up 10 million users since its launch whereas Twitter took almost 780 days and Facebook 852 days to have the same number of users. And, the "noise" created by these platforms with its multiple information feeds, ads is just increasing which might shadow over the real information (a reason you went social)

But as enterprise, with growth in number of social platforms, you ought to master the art of getting the users attention to the platform of choice & span several minutes to get over the other "noise". You need to be able to connect with the audience, talk about the topic they are interested in and be able to share it without inhibition.

Here are few tips to get over the Social Media Noise:

1. Enchant readers with the right titles


How many times have you given a pass to one of you Twitter update or a Facebook update, because you  didn't find the message interesting. The trick is, have a subtle message & do not oversell. No one likes to be told to act in a certain way. One of the great post by Jeff Bullas explains it.

2. Spread message across multiple platforms

I have been following Guy Kawasaki, Pete Cashmore (Mashable) - you name a platform and these guys are already there. They are the best in business and have ensured to ride over the Social Media wave and get their message heard. They were amongst the first few users on Google+, and ensured that their posts continued on the new platform thereby increasing their fan base.
 
3. Post regularly & multiple times in a day

Have a schedule, make sure you post regularly. Coke Studio by MTV India makes sure to post regular music updates on their Facebook page. This ensures that the massive fan base they generated during the first season remains glued and when they go into the second season, they'll have a certain number of fans increasing their TRP ratings.

The other lesson that I learnt from Guy was to post multiple times in a day & the simple reason we tend to overlook is - you never know which part of the world is reading your message. Posting the same message multiple times ensures that fans in any geographical location will have it in their timeline/feed.


4. Reply to comments and engage readers 

Once you have posted, expect people to comment. These comments could be good, bad or ugly at times, but then readers have the right to share their point of view. In the same vein, it would be good that you reply to each of these message & help readers to understand your point of view. The more you engage, readers will tend to love your post. They will also help in having you make an informed decision on certain subjects. Engagement will ensure stickiness to your page as the readers are comfortable that you understand them.

And how to ensure you get comments, read this. One of the best I have come across so far.



5. Be Concise

This is the age of fast-food. With the kind of attention span we have these days, no one will read a 100 line post. I have been a huge fan of Seth Godin's posts. For me, they are the perfect examples of how your posts should be. "precisely concise". It ensures that your posts are read & you invoke the readers to think. If they want to know more, comment are left & then there could be further engagement.

So what do you think - hopefully the above will help you stay above the "noise". Do comment, I do engage with my readers :-) 

You can leave your comment either here on the blog or my Facebook Page or Google+ or just Tweet me.



(Image Courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos.net - Renjith Krishnan, Danilo Rizzuti)

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Sunday, October 02, 2011

Social Media - A Discontinuous Innovation

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At one of the meetings recently, I was suggested to read a book "Inside The Tornado" written by Geoffrey Moore and it did challenge my intellect with all the real-life scenarios. 

While going through the second chapter, I came across a rather interesting term "Discontinuous Innovation" & I could immediately relate it to the present day Social Media.

The term as defined in the book - "Discontinuous Innovations are new products or services that require the end user and the marketplace to dramatically change their past behavior, with the promise of gaining equally dramatic new benefits"

Social Media has indeed provided us an opportunity to challenge the established norms of communication and marketing. It has rewarded innovators - internet companies, mobile devices and similarly marketing companies who could ride the social media wave. And with the advent of newer platforms like Google+ or tablets and other devices, there is a definite opportunity for further new benefits.

Till the end of the 20th century and until email became popular means of communication, we were content with the telephone & snail mails. And by the end of the century we saw a paradigm shift in the means of communication with massive influx of newer  channels like fax machines, cell phones, email. This was until we felt the need staying connected with news or happening over the world or sharing information at lesser clicks.

Photo Courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos
The sequence of the events, saw evolution of Social channels, a medium which allows content or information to be shared over the internet. Starting from a forum to exchange ideas to 140 character limit of Twitter to the recent unveiling of Google+ social media platform.

The new service has indeed required us (the end users) to change our past behavior of exchanging content and has also helped multiple industries to gain dramatic newer benefits.

Thanks for reading through. I would be glad to hear your comments &/or exchange thoughts. We can share them through Twitter (@malharbarai), Facebook or even Google+.

And if you enjoyed reading, do "Tweet" or "Like" or "+1" it.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Google+ Goes Public

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Yes, that's what the morning news are filled up with. Streams proclaiming Google+ going public.


After almost 3 months of being in beta, public logins are being welcomed now.


The latest updates also includes "search" (it had to), where it can search for posts based on the search string


Add to it, more features to "Hangouts" like - on phone, on air, sketchpad, docs, named hangout, 


Catch-up more at Google+ Official Blog


Am also around at Google+ : +Malhar Barai

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Monday, September 19, 2011

What's new in Google+ (Google Plus)

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Seems this has been the most eventful month from the guys at Google+ (Google Plus). They have laid out an awesome list of offerings and challenged competition.

One of the best till date is:

1. Google+ APIs

With the post aptly titled "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step", Chris Chabot shared the news of Google+ (GooglePlus) unveiling the APIs on 16th.

What can you do with the API?? 

If you are thinking that the API shall be incorporated with your favorite Social Media tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, let me tell you, this could take a while as the current API are read-only. Which means, you cannot post externally.

So how will it help??
It will help you to retrieve posts, public profiles and build some analytics around it. 

More details here.

2. Google+ Hangouts

Yes, Google+ (GooglePlus) Hangouts have been there since their launch, but seems the +Team has been trying to improve it ever since. On 10th of this month (9/10) it released the "Take the floor" feature which allows users to (From +Chee Chew):
1) have everyone mute their audio.
2) when you want to sign something, hit Shift+s.
3) when you see yourself as the main video, that's your cue. you've got the floor... everyone's main video has switched to you. sign away.

What does it mean??

If you happen to be in any of the hangout session, very frequently it the person with the maximum amount of noise (background or otherwise) would have got on the screen, irrespective of whether they wanted it or not. The new feature eliminates it by having you do the "Shift+S" to get you on the main video & once you're on, speak up.

3. Photo Locking

On the 8th, +Matt Steiner's team added the ability to lock photos on your Google+ account, thereby limiting the sharing of your photos. The security feature for the photos can be applied from 2 different places - photos page & stream.


A word of caution though, the post containing your photo also gets locked.


Matt Steiner's Post.

4. Mobility Updates

The first week of the month saw a slew of updates for the mobility devices.

a. +1 button on mobile web

1st of September saw the +1 button, which enables users to share content on Google+ (Google Plus) was released for the mobile web. The latest release allowed users ability to share content as they surf, without any inhibitions :-)

b. New iOS app

On 6th, the new release of Google+ for the iOS platform. The latest release gave an ability to the users to reshare posts from the Apple devices. An arrow at the bottom allowed users to reshare content & also the ability to select the users with whom it can be shared.

The same was released for the non-iOS platforms (read Android) on 7th.

Thanks for reading through. Do drop in your comments, feedbacks & will be glad to hear them.

Great Day!!


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Sunday, September 11, 2011

How To Create Facebook Fan Page

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For a long time I had been procrastinating on this, but finally over the last week I created a personal branding page on Facebook. I had been following pages of few of the brands for a long time & this step was long overdue.

Based on my experience, I thought it would be good to share my experience of creating the Facebook page, so that some of you might find it easier to get it done & may not delay like me :-).

First thing first. Why should you create a Facebook Fan Page??

- It lets you advertise for free
- Unlike your Facebook account, the fan page can be viewed without logging in & so it can be crawled by the various search engines.
- Enables you to create a dedicated fan base, enabling you to control the content

Now that you have enough reasons to create it, dive..choose your subject well and make sure you have a good name to it, because as the followers swell, you'll have to live with that name.

Step #1 - Create Page


At the bottom corner of left pane on your Facebook page, you should be able to find a link with an orange flag saying PAGES (image 1).

The click will lead you "Pages" Screen. The "Create a Page" button is on the right side (image 2). A click on the button shall send you to the "Create a Page" screen.

You can also find the link "Create a Page" (image 3) at the bottom of your home screen. For benefit, I have already put the link here & incase you are already logged in, you should be able to see the "Create a Page" screen. 

Step #2 - Categories

(Image 4)
Once you are at the "Create a Page" screen, choose the appropriate category for your business from the 6 main categories (image 4) & multiple sub-categories. Yes, you can change the category later.

(Image 5)

Now that you have selected a category which is the closest to your page content, go ahead & give a name (image 5), but a word of CAUTION - the name cannot be changed later (can be changed only until 100 fans) & it is the name which the search engines shall pick. 

Step #3 - Logo

(Image 6)
When you have accepted the Facebook T&C, you'll be presented with the screen to upload your logo (image 6). Skip the step, if you wish to upload the logo later or you can upload your business logo. The logo can be either uploaded from the local computer or you can provide the URL of logo image file from the business website. 

Step #4 - Invite Friends

(Image 7)
Popularize your page now. This page (image 7) allows you to invite friends from your existing contacts, import contacts and also share the page on your Facebook wall. Do make sure to "like" your own page. Atleast you should be happy about it :-) 

Step #5 - Fan Page

The fan page information is now shared with the people you know, but you also need to catch attention of other readers. This step helps you in give information about yourself. The content here should be able to catch attention of the visitors, so make sure you sell yourself quite well. Be crisp!!

(Image 8)

Congratulations!! Now you have your own Facebook Fan Page (image 8). It will go ahead & ask you to confirm the category of the page, make the changes if you think you've classified it under a different bucket. 

Step #6 - Promotion
(Image 9)
Since you have created a Fan page now, the next step would be to catch attention of millions of users of Facebook & the best way to do a "promotion" is create an "ad". On the right pane of the page, you will be able see the "Promote with an Ad" & "Promote my Page" button (image 9), which leads to creation of an "ad"

The promotion is based on the pricing limits you set. Facebook optimizes the delivery of ads in order gain maximum clicks. 

Step #7 - Content Sharing

(Image 10)
Finally, the page has been created & promotion campaign has been set up. The next obvious step would be create meat for the page. Start posting & sharing information on your page with the many options. You might want to share content using text, link, photos. Go ahead & do it. It's your page now. 

Step #8 - Analytics


Still at the end of the day, you would definitely be interested in getting information about the number of visitors & content being clicked. "View Insights" link on the right pane of the page helps you view the information. The "Insights" page provides information by week, month, year & also allows to export data in Excel and CSV formats.

While writing of this post, I did come across the Top 100 Popular Facebook Pages.

Though Facebook has already detailed the page creation process here the post above was my 2 cents. I have already created my page on Social Media and sharing some interesting content over it. Don't forget to visit it & "like" the page.

Thanks for reading through & would love to read your feedback on the post.




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Monday, August 22, 2011

History of Social Networking

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Games in Google+

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Google recently announced games as part of Google Plus Service in direct competition to Facebook. What earlier was a battle cry with Facebook is now drawing into a full fledged war between the two companies. Also, with its increased investment in Zynga, this move was expected.
Games option just after "Circles"

We all are aware how games like Farmville had made Facebook popular. Add to that, mini-economies built over social gaming. (Google had to tame the tiger)

From their official blog, it does seem that they already have 16 games to start with. And yes, few of your favorites - Angry Birds, Bejeweled Blitz are part of this launch. "Farmville" though with its exclusive partnership with Facebook might not be around on Google+. 


The team at Google+ claims:

"If you’re not interested in games, it’s easy to ignore them. Your stream will remain focused on conversations with the people you care about."

And this should take care about privacy.

For me, though the Games button is not active yet but am sure I will see it soon. It will be interesting to see how much Gaming will enhance adoption and fortunes of Google+.
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