Sameer Agarwal

His views, thoughts, introspection and rants

Archive for the ‘web2.0’ tag

Free Tips on how to use Social Media to sell your products!

with 9 comments

A dear friend recently setup a shop on eBay to sell brass statues/idols – here. So that was a good trigger to think of some free ways to promote products using Social Media. Here goes – will love to get more thoughts:

  1. Setup a shop on eBay. Of course!
  2. Make sure the tagging for your products is appropriate. Think like a buyer. If you were to go on eBay looking for similar products what will be the search terms that you’ll type. What category will you look under?
  3. Setup a blog, preferably on your own domain. Keep posting information about your products there. It will serve as a catalog, and another channel for your shop. You could download the WordPress API and deploy it on your domain in <20mins.
  4. Submit your blog (as created in Step 3) on blogging aggregation sites – like IndiBlogger.in.
  5. Setup communities for your shop on Facebook and Orkut. Send invitations to your communities to your friends on the respective sites. Don’t just setup the communities and sit idle. Keep posting offers. Make sure you post at regular frequency so that people can notice your offers on their walls.
  6. Create a twitter account. Make sure you tweet often. The tweets will be about your products, special offers etc.
  7. Syndicate your blog feed, communities feeds, twitter feed on your personal Facebook and Orkut profiles. Also make sure that the various social media assets you create are inter-linked. E.g., your blog should syndicate your Twitter, Facebook and Orkut feeds
  8. Add your blog address with a catchy tagline on your mail signatures – Gmail, and whatever other mail services you use
  9. Keep posting offers on your status messages – Facebook, Orkut, IMs (GTalk/Yahoo etc)
  10. Create a promotional electronic direct mailer (EDM) with links to your blog, facebook community, orkut community, twitter account (with options for people to ‘follow’ you or become ‘fans’) and send it to your friends. Request them to forward it to their friends.
  11. Try SMS campaign. Sites like Way2SMS.com and 160by2.com may come handy. Send the text messages to your friends/contacts initially. Remember, charity begins at home! There are agencies providing databases for SMS marketing – but remember this is an intrusive medium. So exercise caution.
  12. Create a video of your products with information on how to buy them. If appropriate, post videos on how to use the products. Post the video(s) on YouTube. Embed the video on your blog

Well these are some. I’m sure there are a zillion others. Will love to hear!

Written by sameer

August 27th, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Posted in Entrepreneurship,Ideas

Tagged with

What’s the buzz about Digital Marketing?

with 5 comments

Seriously. Everyone seems to be talking about it. Suddenly. Maybe it’s just the world around me. Maybe it’s just the world in me. But it seems that everyone has recently discovered Digital Marketing as a strategic area for focus. And yes, I’m using the word ‘everyone’ in the corporate sense here.

What’s so new about it I ask? Is the term ‘Digital Marketing’ being used because of the trigger provided by ‘Social Media’? Why, the internet has been around for what seems like forever now. Isn’t that digital? Weren’t companies marketing on the internet? Was that not digital marketing? What is so different now?

Maybe Social Media is what is different… Maybe it’s about mobile marketing. Well, what maybe! I think that’s what IT IS. Analyst after analyst is talking about this huge opportunity. In the B2C (no surprises here) and in the B2B space (whoa!). Sure why not. After all it’s all about user generated content. Your users are your customers. And they are building content now. And they are listening to their fellow customers and not You or the Press necessarily. So you go where your customers are. Because customer is king.

So fundamentally the marketer is doing what she ought to do. Good for them (marketer). Good for us (consumer). Just that the marketer is closer to the customer now. Not a bad thing for sure! And that I guess is the buzz about digital marketing…

But what’s so fundamentally different about Digital Marketing I ask. Nothing really. Just that the technology is different. Or is there anything more? Has the ‘different’ technology impacted the behavior, or sensitivities of the customer?

Well I think it has. The customer today is much more informed and empowered than ever. To my mind, marketers have but no choice to be completely naked before their customer today. No more fancy designer clothes to enhance your endowments…! (pun certainly intended). You are what you are – and there’s no escaping it – just do your best job to be seen everywhere. That’s quite an irony though! By that logic a “less endowed but easily available” ‘thing’ will attract more customers!

Some things never change I guess….Digital Marketing being no exception.

Written by sameer

August 10th, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Social Investing – Try MoneyVidya.com

with 23 comments

Imagine you’re a 30 something who has some money to dabble with and are NOT an i-banker (or the likes). Actually take out the 30 something bit; you could be whatever age but meet the following criteria:

  • Have some money AND want to invest in stocks
  • Internet Savvy

If you meet the above criteria, how do you pick which stock is right for you? Do fundamental analysis? Yeah right! Do you have the skills, the time and/or the patience to do it? Well of course you could access some syndicated research, or read opinions from ‘experts’. But then, so many people are saying so many different things. What else could you do? Umm..

Well, you’ll ask your dad, or your friend who always seems to be making money in stocks, or a random colleague… a someone you trust. Now don’t lie. MOST of us pick stocks like these – do what our ‘circle’ is doing. Right?!

How about this? How about getting opinions from your dad, your mom, your pan-wallah, your friend, an analyst and another analyst, and your friend’s dad and your friend’s dad’s friends and their friends and their sons and their pan-wallahs and their sahabs and their friends? Whoa! More complex than fundamental analysis? Well not really. How about having a community of random stock buyers who share their picks and then leverage that collective opinion? After all, the stock markets (Indian stock markets being no exception) seem to react more on perceptions and emotions than anything else.

Buy that point? Go to moneyvidya.com and check it out for yourself. There are reasons I am advertising/reviewing them:

  • This concept is close to my heart. Read my previous entry in this regard – Honey I’m late again
  • I think the MoneyVidya guys have done it as good as/better than I visualized it
  • This is a useful concept and perhaps readers of this blog could get some leverage for their stock-picking from MoneyVidya

Ok so I said I’m advertising and reviewing MoneyVidya. Let me do the latter now:

Pros:

  • Great UI – easy to use, intuitive
  • The copy on the site is great! Very easy to understand, concise; very professional
  • Registration process is simple; the data-capture forms are pretty neat
  • Navigating the site is pretty simple. I did not have to struggle moving from one section to another

Improvement Areas:

  • Registration/all forms on site.Clicking on Submit gets a “Web page can’t be displayed”. Refreshing/reloading the page solves the issue. But many people may give up there. Don’t know if it was just me? I was using Chrome browser.
  • “My dashboard” could have “what’s this/help” links. For example, I was clueless about how I acquired the “Improver” and “Helper” friends. Same goes for all pages – for example when you’re posting a tip it won’t hurt to explain what “Stop Loss Limit” is.
  • In the search results, it will be great to have ‘mouse-overs’ on the Buy/Sell sentiment percentages. For example, if it is a Reliance Ind 100% sell sentiment then it won’t hurt to know if 100 people think so, or just one. Also, for stocks that don’t have any ‘sentiments’ could perhaps be indicated as such. Overall, I think the search results UI could improve. 
  • It may be technically complex, but it will be great to have search crawl over all ‘searchable areas’. For example, if I searched for ‘Reliance Industries’ I expect to see buy/sell sentiments, discussions, polls; everything about this stock. Again, I think the overall Search/Advanced Search module needs improvement

However having mentioned all the improvement areas that I did, I still think MoneyVidya is your best bet. Kudos to Gautam and team (people behind MoneyVidya).

Written by sameer

March 23rd, 2009 at 1:24 pm

The Startup Event – Proto.In, Bangalore – Jan 23, 24 2009

with one comment

‘The Startup Event’ is scheduled for Jan 23, 24 at Bangalore. So all ya budding enterpreneurs, click on the graphic above and perhaps make the first step to follow your dream (heck I should be paid for advertising this so well ;)

Written by sameer

January 9th, 2009 at 10:19 am

Posted in Entrepreneurship

Tagged with , ,

Marketing Gimmick…. perhaps for a noble cause?

with one comment

Khojguru seems to be yet another classifieds/city listing/yellow pages site. I say “seems to be” since my five odd minutes of surfing on this site could not tell me much. Anyway, not so much a review on the site, but a thought on how Anurag Agarwal, perhaps the founder of the site, is trying to promote it.

What do you do when you’ve hardly any differentiation in your product and when you haven’t been able to position it right. “Isko sab pata hai” (meaning this knows everything; that’s the tag line on the site), par isse mujhe kuch nahin pata chalta hai! (but this hardly tells me anything!).

Take a guess. Do you give freebies to everyone who joins? Do you do an ad blitzkrieg? Do you sponsor events? Huh. All that’s old!

Khojguru promises to donate Re 1 for every registration on their site to the National Defence Fund. Given the high voltage patriotism after the recent Mumbai attacks, this sure is going to  persuade a user to spare a minute for registration. Think about it – Re 1 for every registration – I’m sure if they reach a critical mass, they’ll get back at least 10 times for every user. Neat, hmmm!

PS: Don’t ask me if this persuaded me to register ;)

Written by sameer

January 6th, 2009 at 10:33 am

Posted in Thoughts,web

Tagged with , ,

How to get yourself noticed in the blogosphere?

with 3 comments

I was chatting with an acquaintance who wanted some advice on how to establish their startup (actually the idea) with a target segment of internet users. Not that I’m an expert in this area, but I did give him my two cents, and I thought I’ll put them up here as well.

The assumption is that the company/personal blog will be the primary vehicle to ‘establish’ that connect. So here are some tips on successful blogging:

  1. Write regularly and briefly (heard of Flash Fiction?!). Most blog readers, read regularly but have a very short attention span
  2. Monitor your traffic (including your RSS feed). Analyze what kind of topics are working (getting more traffic, comments) and which are not.
  3. Subscribe to RSS feeds of active bloggers. Keep commenting on their blogs actively – it’s easier to get noticed like that
  4. SEO is not dead. Optimize your blog and try to own some keywords – show up on the first page for keywords that matter. Be diligent about tagging each of your posts
  5. Create groups on Facebook, Orkut and similar community sites. People notice groups because of friend feeds and typically subscribe themselves as well (me too) – so you can get some eyeballs by leveraging the chain effect
  6. Get your blog listed on as many blog aggregator sites as you can

Of course these are basics. More professional help is available at Blogworks run by a person called Rajesh Lalwani. And no, I’m not getting paid to write about them. Just that I discovered them lately and found them interesting!

Written by sameer

August 18th, 2008 at 4:55 pm

Factors corelated with blogging

without comments

My blogging patterns are very random (see below). I’ve been blogging since Dec-04 and there have been months when I have posted 20+ entries and there have been several months when I’ve not posted any article at all! I’m not a professional blogger, and I know that a lot of people are not waiting for my update anyway – so probably that is one reason for my random blogging motivation (or lack of it)!

But that’s no big deal. Personal blogging patterns are of no major importance – why the hell analyze it?! But maybe they mean something. Is there any correlation between how much one blogs and their happiness levels? Between blogging and time availability. Between blogging and number of blog views/comments/unique visitors.

Or perhaps, blogging and how much one is spending – too much spending means you’re having lots of fun (mostly) and hence have no time for blogging?! Of course it could be the other way round as well – when you spend more, you are ‘doing’ more things, and hence have more to talk.

Let’s see. Below is a 2-series graph that illustrates my blogging and spend trend over the last 14 months.

See a correlation? Maybe not…

How about now? See the trend lines? While the expense is coming down, the blog entries are increasing.

Logical… Maybe yes, maybe no! More research required :)

Written by sameer

August 12th, 2008 at 6:28 pm

Posted in Thoughts

Tagged with ,

Never listen to a phone menu again!!

without comments

Stumbled upon this preview of fonolo at RWW. It’s a cool service (still in private beta) that promises to take the frustration out of dialing any service provider (bank, travel agent, anyone who has an IVR) and waiting endlessly to talk to a real person. This service promises to do the dialing (and waiting) for you, and call you back once you’ve reached your menu option (or real person as applicable). Cool, huh?

I just hope this service or something similar is launched for India. Any takers?

Written by sameer

August 7th, 2008 at 10:22 am

Posted in stumbles

Tagged with , , ,

Do you really need Knowledge Managers anymore?

with 2 comments

The trigger for this post is an interesting article from Atul Rai here. Atul articulates that from a ‘tacit knowledge sharing’ perspective (call it Web 2.0 or social networking if you have to) communication is probably not that relevant. He cites the SMS and twitter phenomenon has changed the way we communicate as people. Fair point – SMS hs chnged rules qt a bit & its nrml fr cnvrstns 2b lk ths.

But is communication all about the way we write, or speak. Isn’t their more to it? Bloody well yes, communication is about effectively transmitting a message from a sender to a receiver. While articulation (for traditional, ‘explict’ kind of KM) requires good writing skills, and for Web 2.0 kind of KM it does not, the realm of communication is much beyond articulation alone!

‘Communication skills’ is about an understanding of what mediums work best to be able to most effectively ‘transmit’ information. As Knowledge Management, or Knowledge Sharing professionals isn’t our job to create an environment conducive for effective collaboration? How people collaborate, what appeals to them and what doesn’t – including the medium (say Web 2.0) and language (say twitter/SMS kind) – is something that will fall in the communication realm for sure.

Of course you can argue that it really is about understanding human behavior, but ‘communicating’ with humans effectively to get the desired behavior is key, and ‘that’ definitely is the task of a master communicator.

In a corporate setup you’re trying to reach out to employees for a whole lot of reasons. Employee engagement,  knowledge management, information dissemination and a whole lot of other things. Poor employee! There are too many voices, too much clutter, too much confusion. Why can’t we have one voice, why can’t we align the communicators and the knowledge managers?  Is it because the knowledge managers think more in terms of processes and systems while communicators more in terms of info bytes? But isn’t knowledge management just a name now – is it not about knowledge sharing – sharing of knowledge bytes. Isn’t Web 2.0 breaking the structures and the processes out of KM? If yes, then aren’t communicators and knowledge managers inadvertently converging at “employee engagement”? Both trying to make sure employees know what they need to, and tell what they ought to…

Think about it. And if you agree, then well do you really need knowledge managers anymore? Isn’t it better to have a bunch of people who understand human behavior and the mechanics of bringing people together (broadly in the realm of employee engagement) run the show? Isn’t that very close to what communicators typically are anyway expected to do?

Footnote 1: Of course some technology may be involved in setting the mechanics up – but that can always be outsourced.

Footnote 2: I do a dedicated “KM” job as well, and am at an equal risk of losing my job if people buy in to what I said!

Written by sameer

July 15th, 2008 at 4:10 pm

How wise are crowds really?

without comments

A lot has been said about the wisdom of crowds, and how the ‘crowds’ built Wikipedia. In fact, to a large extent this assumed ‘wisdom’ is the premise of everything that’s happening in the Web 2.0 space.

Josh Catone of ReadWriteWeb makes a good point of having some rules to get the best out of crowds in his recent post (as a follow-up to a similar post last year).

  • Crowds should operate within constraints
  • Not everything can be democratic
  • Crowds must retain their individuality
  • Crowds are better at vetting content than creating it

These rules may make a lot of sense because we all know the “herd behavior” and how “dumb” it can get at times. But like most other things in life, there is no best way of doing ‘it’, and surely “one size doesn’t fit all”. Now ‘that’ is an art more than a science, so know the rules, but don’t always play by them I guess…

Written by sameer

May 27th, 2008 at 11:11 am