Sunday, October 24, 2010

How to Trick Your Dogs to Like Your Guests

I caught up with my friends Sanjay, and Kanika, and met a new friend, Rohit, yesterday. I hadn't seen Sanjay in years. I wasn't sure how the dogs were going to react. We have an American Greyhound, Grace, and two pure 'desi' Indian street dogs that we adopted almost a year ago. They're black and white (they look like they're wearing tuxedos) and they behave like Terriers. They actually look like Rat Terriers minus the bob tail and behave like Jack Terriers, very alert, very guard dog like in their senses and reactions. And they have scorpion tails black with white tips, and they wag in unison. It's the cutest thing in the world. I'm suspecting that they have a bit of Jonangi blood in them, but it's hard to tell, except when there's fish around. That's when they go crazy.

I say pure desi because, they're not like some other street dogs that look like mixed breeds of popular breeds like Labradors, and German shepards. It's a shame that people just throw their dogs away and face no consequences. Certain folks in India discriminate against street dogs, even if they're dog owners themselves. They also tend to treat bitches horribly compared to dogs.
Last night, my dogs were in their best behavior... no barking, no growling (well, except for psychotic Ethel for a short time because of food). And Grace whined a bit because she wasn't getting chicken. Now that they've grown a bit and both are healthy, it's hard to tell the two sisters apart. You have to look at the ears, Ehel has funny asymetric ears, while Eunice's look like a German Shephard's -- always erect.

My friends were really really impressed that "street dogs" can behave so well. HA! They were just keeping up appearances. Rohit at one point put something on the table for Grace and she wouldn't touch it. They were impressed about that, too.(And so was I!)

Best trick, if you have dogs that don't like strangers, give your guest(s) doggie treats and have them give it to the dogs. Works like a charm. It's like, "Oh, you give me treats, you must be a friend, I won't bark and growl at you, we're cool. Now, can you give me more treats?"

Posted via email from Yu Yu Din's posterous

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rebranding Burma

If you're aware of the situation, you know that Burma is no longer Burma. It's called Myanmar now.

Yangon (formerly Rangoon) is no longer the capital. Nayphyidaw is.

And this morning I learned that we have a new ugly flag:

No longer the red, white, and blue flag that I grew up with and am proud of:

All the old flags will be burnt. My guess is, the government is so anti-American that even having the same colors, albeit having socialist ideals, isn't going to work.

And in a couple of weeks, we will be voting. Some of us, for the first time in our lives. I voted two years ago at the consulate in Kolkata for the new constitution, in my late 20s, after growing up mostly in democratic countries.

Who will win? The government of course. Now that they're all civilians -- emperors in new clothes, with their new flag. They're going to have the country, too, one way or another. No matter what the people say, do, or think let alone the rest of the world. It doesn't matter what I write here or what you comment, tweet, or who you share this with.

Today, we enter into a new era with big brother China watching us and holding our hand. Today I feel that we've lost our sense of our true identity. I don't feel the same way I feel about US or UK elections -- hopeful for new leadership, excited for a better world. As a third culture kid, I've faced many identity crises, but this one, I believe will stay on.

We can only pray now, for a peaceful "transition", albeit eerie, and quiet. Pray for the people that they have the strength to continue on living in the conditions that they do. That their resillience will continue, that their country's re-branding will not effect their culture, rob their souls, or their sweet laughter, and sense of humor.

Posted via email from Yu Yu Din's posterous

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Walking Talking Positive Brand Image

How do you know if your team members or employees are walking and talking your brand image? In this highly networked, fast pace online world, the conduct of your employees can either help or destroy your company's brand image. It is assumed that we are all professionals, adults, and that our conduct does not need to be checked by HR or our superiors all the time, but what if things get out of hand?

I recently experienced such stark difference of two groups of employees and their conduct on a trip to Yangon. My favorite form of travel is with airplanes. On this trip, my friend happened to book me on my favorite airline -- Thai Airways. It's my favorite airline because my first childhood memory happened to be on a Thai Airways flight. I always thought of air travel as the best, most stylish way to get somewhere. It's like being in a posh moving restaurant with fancy waiters. On the way back to India to join my new marketing job, I thought of how being part of an airline is like being part of a big global brand. A brand image is upheld by people working across the world, people who are on the ground, in the kitchens, and are flying the airplanes.

This year, Thai Airways is celebrating their 50th year in service. As a result, they've been re-branding everything from uniforms, colorways, to their logo. I as a passenger felt the new vigor passed on by their air hosts and hostesses. They still have that royal "silk as smooth" touch that the old Thai Airways had but the people are still young, young-at-heart, and enthusiastic. I saw senior members of teams leading and showing the way for the newer members. I saw impeccable service that upheld that great brand image.

So it was with this image in mind that I boarded TG 315 to New Delhi. Little did I know that the positive marketing thoughts I was having was about to be destroyed as soon as the plane took off. Stay tuned for that story in my next post.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Measuring Results in Social Media

Online marketing is a bit different from other forms of traditional marketing because of analytics. The fun part is launching your campaign and watching what happens instantly. Within online marketing, email marketing is probably one of the most matured fields where parameters defined already. Deliverables are well defined, industry standards are pretty clear. And if you don't follow the rules, consequences are pretty clear, too.

Social media marketing on the other hand is still a new field. People are still trying to figure out what works and what really doesn't. Social media analytics not very clear yet but numbers matter a great deal. There are the easy ones that you can measure like retweets, forwards, mentions etc. Social rules which are generally "nice things to do" for someone which are easy to figure out but the technology still has to be perfected for tracking.

Just because social media is the new kid on the block doesn't mean old school ways of online marketing doesn't matter anymore either. SEO is still important, you should still take a look at unique visitors and click through rates, time spent on site etc. You need to get these things right because they are the foundation of your whole online marketing strategy. The tools for measuring your SMM campaign are out there but some things are still experimental, not defined like email marketing. Personally, I like a lot -- it also integrates nicely with Wordpress. Trendrr is pretty cool and is worth a look. And I really like the stats that SocialMention gives out -- it's fantastic for monitoring reputation in the social media sphere.

I've been disappointed a bit with Google though. They just launched analytics for email marketing, which is integrated, but I have a sneaky feeling that it's still a bit experimental. I'm sure they're still developing social media analytics but who knows when they'd launch it. Analytics need to be in one complete package instead of having people run around looking at three or four different sites, tools and software. It's too time consuming, the main job for a social media strategist is to be able to analyse the numbers.

And of course, if you have funds, you should check out Omniture and Web Trends -- the two grand daddies of web analytics. Both of them have integrated their analytics software with real time social media tracking. But it will cost you a pretty penny. What are your favorite social monitoring tools? Which ones would you recommend?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

comScore Arrives in India (Finally!)

I woke up this morning and the first thing I read was about comScore opening their offices in India (press release here). Well, it's about time! As an Internet marketer, research is a huge part of figuring out demographics, especially in India. First off, there are very few reliable sources that you can get information. Then, the various tools that we have in our marketing arsenal makes us run around into different directions. Plus, most folks don't really understand or know how to read the stats. Each tool gives out readings that don't really agree with the other because they measure things with a different set of rules and parameters. International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates that as of November 2008 there are 81 million Internet users in India. That number has grown exponentially and it's going to grow more because it makes up only 7% of the population. India has one of the world's fastest growing telecom markets. Growth doesn't mean a mere jump in India, it leaps out. Things catch on so fast and so viral that it can change the game for any dot com that catches the attention.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recorded in March that there are 8.75 million broadband subscribers (keep in mind, "broadband" in India means anything above 256 Kpbs -- not the luxury "broadband" speed of the west). On TV, commercials are filled with ads that offer the latest and cheapest mobile service plans to the most portable Internet connections. This subcontinent is on the move and telecom companies are there to accommodate it. There are so many companies to choose from if you're in a metro area that you can see it's really a cut-throat industry. Even Airtel, one of the largest service providers are handling their customers better than before. I'm an Airtel customer, and I used to really dread calling their customer care, but lately, it's been ok. 

comScore being in India means better stats, better research, and a clearer picture of this very chaotic world of the Indian social media and Internet landscape. A lot of young people, especially young working, educated professionals -- who happens to have loads of money to spend because they still live with their parents and earn are pretty much addicted to the latest gadgets, online activities like Facebook, and Tweeting, are still shy about opening up. Most folks tweet under lock and key or maintain online alter egos. There's not a lot of "openness" in what appears as an 'open society' either because of job security or because they don't want folks outside the inner circle to get into their business. And folks here are very curious about other people's business. I've been living here over eight years and I'm still shocked when a someone asks me how much I make or why I'm not married.

Marketers who use both mobile and social media marketing will be able to have better tools in their belt. Since there are more mobile penetration in India, it cannot be ignored. By September 2010, there will be 760 Indian cities that have 3G networks. People are already recharge (read pay) their satellite TV services, and conduct banking processes on their phones, the next step will be to order and buy products. This would require concrete stats and analysis for both sales and marketing teams. Having comScore there to navigate these waters will be a bonus and a much needed helping hand.

Graphic: / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

First Rain

Thunder threatens high above the skies...
Nothing but heat, grim,and dust surrounds us,
For months and endless weeks.
The heavens darken,
With the promise of rain --
Birds chirp,
And squirrels warn each other.

The dogs wait in anticipation.
The end to dog day afternoons.
They wait, listening to the skies
To and fro their ears scan the parameter.

A cool breeze enters,
Teasing us as it circles around.
Then, everything comes to a stand still.

A quiet stillness...

Slowly, the heavens open,
And the skies let go.

First drops of the season,
The sweetest of them all.
The earth mingles with the cold water.
Engulfing our senses.
Brightening all things green,
Along with our spirits.
First rain.

Photo: / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How do you spark real conversations?

TEDx was held in Gurgaon last weekend, which was an interesting event considering it was community organized. I went to hear Kishore Bhargava and Atul Chitnis speak. (Those were the only two speakers visible online when I checked the site way back when.) I also dragged Jeanne with me. Read her reaction here. The event was more well organized than I had expected -- starting on time and speakers pretty much spoke at the right relatively intended time. (I stopped having expectations for conferences in India a long time ago.) Unfortunately, I had to run in and out of the conference because I had appointments scheduled. I caught the tail end of Osama Manzar's talk on Digital Empowerment. That really inspired me. It's great to meet folks that share the same vision as you. It's also uplifting to know that there are others out there trying to change thw world from a grassroots level.

What I found weird was the videos in between of TED speakers. While they were thought provoking, I couldn't understand why they were shown. We just assumed it was to make up for the lack of live speakers. I mean, couldn't we just sat at home and watch the videos? Plus the audio wasn't calibrated properly (my biggest pet peeve) and the visual wasn't at the right resolution.

I enjoyed Atul's talk on the BBS systems, and the old ways of communicating online. A lot of people disagreed on his statement about folks not having meaningful conversations anymore. He asked the question on how we can teach the next generation to have conversations. Of course there was a strong reaction from the audience (which was great since that was the only time people became alive). I wished there was an interactive session that followed the talk but it didn't. Plus Jeanne and I had to run to a different meeting after tea time.

While Atul was speaking, I started thinking about the next generation of social media consumers. About how I started using the Internet. I was part of the first generation of social media consumers. I still remembered when was marketing to "the youth" at a youth conference in Washington, D.C. This was when TakingITGlobal went online and folks were talking about connecting to those who are separated for three degrees -- this was before the dotcom bust back in 1999. Did we use social media back then to have real conversations? We certainly did.

Student activists used platforms like Friendster to connect with activists across the nation. Fast forward to the Facebook era, there is a lot more noise but I follow young people like Will and Shonali. Yes, there's a lot of teenage banter but there's also a lot of meaningful conversation. We've talked about renewable energy, religion, culture and dealing with being outsiders more so on these young people's walls than other adults.

Will is 16, a fantastic writer (his blog here) and an excellent conversationalist. He comes up with topics that some adults can't even fathom. He knows more of literature, culture, and subculture more so than a lot of people in their twenties. He has no problems hanging out with us at "adult functions", which I wouldn't even invite some folks I know. Shonali is just a remarkable young woman who is not afraid to make her point and engages people. Her wall comments go on and on with real, meaningful conversation.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, one of Atul's questions at TEDx was on how to get young people to have real conversations. The answer is simple -- engage with them. Engage in real conversations with young people. Give them books and other materials to read. Ask them questions. Listen to what they have to say. Listening to young people and validating them as young adults not just empowers them but gives them reasons to go out and engage in more real conversations. They question their friends, and influence other young thought leaders.

I was lucky enough to have parents who gave me protocols to read. Knowing what ICJ is and how it functions in my pre-teen years was awesome. Experiencing first hand, the notes from the Earth Summit in Rio influenced me a great deal, too. You don't need to have diplomats for parents to have these conversations. We can always talk about the price of oil, society's dependency on it, war and terrorism that happens in our own back yards, racism etc. These are things that will effect future generations, too, not just us.

Another big factor to all this is travel. Both Will and Shonali are third culture kids. They've traveled enough to know that this world is not homogeneous. That it is not one dimensional, that our generation is leaving them a lot of problems and challenges for them to solve and deal with. We need to engage and talk about these problems so that they can be better leaders and citizens of the world when they grow up. Already I hear things like, "You guys are leaving us a shitty planet and we're going to have to solve this stuff," they're right in a sense but they don't have to grow up totally unprepared.

How do you have real conversations with young people?

Monday, February 8, 2010

How to Kill Your Career on LinkedIn

I've been quiet on this blog because I've been writing stuff on other blogs. Plus I've been pretty busy the past couple of months. But don't worry I'm trying get back into my writing groove. If you haven't read my post on the 7 Deadly Sins of a LinkedIn Profile you should check it out.

I asked my network on LinkedIn about what they find the most annoying about LinkedIn; everyone said spam. Spam in the form of groups, spam in the form of people who are adding you without knowing you. The worst kind of spam? Asking for recommendations without knowing the person. This was so basic that my network didn't bring it up in the Q&A. There's nothing much to explain here. If person A hasn't worked with person B or even know that person, how will he or she give a recommendation?

Well, one person just did that, and asked the wrong person. He received quite the recommendation -- but poor fellow probably couldn't read properly or thought that he has to post every recommendation that came his way. So, he posted that recommendation even when it said that he was an asshole. This is just stupidity in the highest possible degree. I was an eye witness from the start to finish. We thought he'd just send an apology or ignore the fake recommendation but he didn't, he went ahead and posted it! I've seen mistakes by companies, people, and even I've made bad decisions on social networks but this is by far the most surprisingly dumb thing I have seen. Click here to read about the whole story.

Photo: / CC BY 2.0