How Social Content is Different and What This Means

Social Media signals a brave, new world of communication and interaction. Correspondingly the content on it pushes the boundaries of power, of ownership, of usage and of consumption. In my latest Social Samosa article, I take a look at what this means.

“Think of content on traditional media as a stone that you’re about to throw. Science allows us to determine its speed, direction, trajectory and eventually its destination. In contrast, Social Content is like a drop of water in the sky. It might fall as rain or collect on a leaf as a dewdrop. Or along the way, it might transform into a hailstone or even a snowflake. Each of these possibilities lead to numerous others. A snowflake might get trampled upon, slapped onto a snowman or shaped into a snowball. From here, it might get smashed on a surface or roll on the ground, pick up more material and momentum and building speed, go hurtling on to an unknown destination. The last is the phenomenon of going viral, that wet dream of every social media agencyperson.”

Read ‘How Social Content is Different and What This Means‘ on Social Samosa.

* Image via Master isolated images on FreeDigitalPhotos.

Woman, are you safe on Social Media?

I combine two of my interests in this next Social Samosa post – womanhood’s challenges & social media. Facebook’s claim to fame were its privacy settings. Last month’s big news in this space was that a staggering majority of Pinterest users were women. Among the theories being bandied about was the belief that women felt safer (for some undisclosed reason) on Pinterest. I don’t believe any place online or offline is truly safe for a woman. This post looks at some basic safety tips that a lot of women don’t seem to realize

Head of Women

Head of Women (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

. Stay on the social space ladies, but stay safe!

The flipside of the Information Age is how it has made the broadcasting of personal information a casual thing. A decade ago, it would have been unthinkable to share a person’s phone number without their consent. But today, since every call center and social network has access to a person’s contact details, the sanctity of this information has been lost. As a result, the average social media user may pass on the contact details of someone he knows, without a thought given to how that information could be misused, validating the recipient or how the owner of that information feels.

Read ‘Woman are you safe on Social Media‘ on Social Samosa.

The Instagram Story

The social media was all abuzz last month with Facebook taking over Instagram. I took a hard look at this uber-popular image sharing app. I’m still wondering why it got so popular. Here’s my Instagram story on Social Samosa.

“The word on the street associates Facebook’s interest in Instagram with wanting to acquire a competitor. Before the takeover, Instagram’s features do seem attractive for a standalone app. Especially if you’ve tired of the complexity of Facebook and the noise on Twitter, Instagram would seem like a neat, exclusive circle to share your life via pictures. With this takeover though, the dynamics just changed and it remains to be seen how this affects the Instagram loyalists and what powers it adds to the online superpower that is Facebook.”

Read the full Instagram story on Social Samosa.

Shit brands say about Social Media

If you don’t recognize the reference to the ‘Shit XYZ say about ABC’, you’ve probably not been online this year. I loved the concept of this viral because it picked out those silly things that people say & think but don’t actually realize that they believe.

I’m using that reference to bring out some of the common misconceptions that brands (and the people who represent them) carry about social media. In my first article of the month for Social Samosa titled ‘Shit brands say about Social Media’, I address myths (and corresponding truths) about social media platforms, SM users, key influencers and social content.

Here’s the first:

Myth: Social Media is an advertising platform

Truth: Social Media is a collective of conversations.

Social MediaAn advertising medium allows single direction transmission of a message. The message does not get added to or edited along the way. It is created, directed and owned by the sender. The sender also controls the medium because they pay for it.

Social media does not allow unidirectional transmissions. Every user in the medium, is an active participant in the creation and transmission of the message. Hence a message can and will get changed, diluted, contorted and transformed as it passes on.

The smart way to be on this medium is to treat it like an open forum rather than an advertising platform. A brand cannot force a message across on social media by implanting it in content that users are consuming, the way it is done in print or television. The best bet is to get involved in conversations where the message is a natural fit.

Bottomline: Learn to converse, and not just talk.

Read the full article on Social Samosa.

Interview with parody blogger, Fake Rakesh Jhunjhunwala

Those of you who’ve been around with me and my blogs for awhile will understand my allegiance to, even fascination with anonymous bloggers, having been one myself. One of my delightful online associations is the irrepressible Fake Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. I, like all his other readers don’t know his real identity. And yet, we’ve had some funny conversations, over the social media.

I was really curious to know what it was like for an anonymous blogger in these times of IP address tracking and celebrity bloggers. FRJ has managed to build a sizable readership and even landed a few prestigious writing assignments, while never compromising his identity.

“Impersonation and parody are different things. I do not claim to be the real Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. My blog makes it clear and my Twitter account carries a disclaimer too. My intention is to parody Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, to entertain people, not cheat them out of their money!”

Catch my conversation with him on Social Samosa here.

Vodafone’s Customer Care On Twitter

A funny thing happened to me after I got back from my Goa trip last week. Vodafone attempted to resolve a complaint that I had tweeted about while there, about poor data services. It was an interesting thing for a service provider to try but their actual delivery fell rather short of expectations, causing an opposite effect. I’ve chronicled this episode on Social Samosa and also detailed the process chain and where the gap lay. Here’s an excerpt:

Vodafone has a definite need to upgrade their complaint handling mechanisms to keep up with new services and evolving usage. Tacking on a Twitter account to their existing call center caused the goof-ups in my case. Vodafone’s call operators definitely need to understand the nuances of data services if they are to handle queries & complaints on them. It’s a serious faux pas if the face (or the voice) of a brand of The Blackberry Boys doesn’t know how the internet works.

Read the full article on Social Samosa: Vodafone’s Customer Care on Twitter.

* Image via David Castillo Dominici on FreeDigitalPhotos

How Social Media Helped ‘The Reluctant Detective’

There’s plenty of talk about marketing various products and services through social media. I thought Kiran Manral did something interesting, generating interest for her debut novel, ‘The Reluctant Detective’. Besides the obvious tweeting about it, she also engaged with readers, other writers and organized a number of different events that a social media professional would recognize as astute blogger outreach programs.

I had a chance to chronicle Kiran’s case in my article for Social Samosa:

“Not content with just social media conversations, Kiran also decided to add an offline aspect to her online efforts too. So she focused on driving conversations and creating experiences to generate further conversations. She says, “I’ve realised that it is not enough to talk about your book via social media or book reviews, people actually enjoy seeing, meeting and interacting with an author and that’s what I’ve tried to do.”

Read the full article on Social Samosa here.

Is Pinterest Pricking The Copyright Balloon?

I’ve been spending nearly an hour of my online time every day on Pinterest. In addition to Pinterest’s own features, this exercise of joining and building a usage profile on a new social network/service is interesting too.

For the unpinned, Pinterest is an image curation service. And unlike older image services like Flickr & Photobucket, Pinterest allows for easier integration with other social networks, sharing of content and connecting to other users.

What I’m finding really interesting is that Pinterest symbolizes an evolutionary step in social media user behaviour. We are moving from content creation to content curation. However, Pinterest has been born into a space and a time where these questions are dividing the space into several factions. What’s the world going to look like when content belongs not just to the creator, but to everybody?

Read my article on Pinterest grappling with the copyright paradigm on Social Samosa: ‘Is Pinterest Pricking The Copyright Balloon?

*Image via Carlos Porto on FreeDigitalPhotos.

Conversation With Gul Panag

I had a chance to meet Gul Panag last month. This former Ms.India-turned-Bollywood actress is also one of the better known faces of Twitter celebritydom in India. In person, she turned out to be a no-nonsense, intelligent and fun person to talk to. Over coffee we discussed her varied career choices, her attitude to life, Twitter and life, in general. Some of the excerpts from my conversation with her, appear in a Social Samosa interview here:

“The power to choose comes from not having any dependency on any one particular aspect. And yet they all tie in together. I wouldn’t be a celebrity writer if I wasn’t a film star. I wouldn’t be given the kind of value I get given on Twitter, if I wasn’t a film star. They’re all interconnected and yet at some level, mutually exclusive.”

Public Shaming As A Social Media Tactic

What do Siddharth Mallya and Arindam Chaudhuri have in common? If Ayesha Takia met Rashmi Bansal, what might they talk about? Let’s add Dhaval Valia to the melee. Any clues?

This month, I take a look at the grittier, seamier side of social conversations – public shaming as a social media tactic. Here’s an excerpt:

While on one hand, the powers-that-be worry about how to manage this public spewing of individual opinion, the system holds its structural integrity on one premise – the fear of public shaming. All the major parties in the above case used public shaming as tactics. The question was simply who the public at large, decided to side with.

Individuals are starting to feel the power of the media. Public shaming has proven mighty effective when it comes to breakdowns with brands and companies. Tweeting about poor service and other complaints, gets much faster response than call center chasing & other complaint registrations. A corporate entity that fails to respond or responds carelessly, can expect the issue to flare up into something much bigger and harder to control.

The article is titled ‘Public Shaming As A Social Media Tactic‘ and is posted at Social Samosa.

Image via Stuart Miles on FreeDigitalPhotos

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