A Star is Born: Social Media drives Reality TV

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Unscripted TV shows or what we know as reality TV came into prominence about two decades ago. Think American Idol and Survivor. Closer home, we have our own Roadies and Bigg Boss which have taken Indian television by storm.

Truth be told, social media is a lot like reality television.

Thanks to video-centric and live streaming apps such as Facebook Live, Periscope, and Vine videos, there are zillions of people in the social media universe both creating and consuming content that is very similar to what one gets to see on reality TV. The audience have turned into producers and now get to decide on: what will we watch, how will we watch and on what device will we watch.

Take the case of YouTube stardom, a new phenomenon in India.

According to Convergence Catalyst, a tech research firm, the active internet user base in India nearly trebled from 120 million in 2012 to 343 million in 2015. Meanwhile, the number of smartphones rose from 42 million to 240 million even as prices of the cheapest smartphones dipped from Rs 4,950 to Rs 2,970.

In India, every month some 20,000 active YouTube channels upload 3.8 lakh videos, get 9.48 billion views and attract 1.1 crore new subscribers. The average Indian viewer spent 475 minutes watching 79 videos a month in 2015. This surge is reshaping content and viewership and creating an alternate universe of stars and fans.

With the rise in this kind of unscripted entertainment being available on various social platforms, the line between reality TV and social media is getting hazier. Little wonder that reality TV stars and home-grown social media celebs have an impressive fan following that can topple established movie stars or musicians.

Remember Gautam Gulati, the much hated contestant on Season 8 of Bigg Boss? Even after being ostracized within the house by all the contestants, he was one of the most fascinating characters in the world of social media. He was was trending on Twitter and Facebook every day when the series was on. He set many records on Twitter and one of the popular hashtags,  #GautamGulatiFever trended for more than 20 hours breaking all the previous records of past season contestants, #GautamGulatiRules and #WeAreWithGautam became the no. 1 trending topic in India and also trended worldwide. Overnight he had turned into a brand thanks to his loyal following on social media. The audience was connecting strongly with him and that connect changed his fortunes. He won the show!

Another contestant, Prince Narula became a youth icon and won the show in the next year. Again, social media with its love for unscripted entertainment had come to his rescue.
As we continue to produce and share, the difference between traditional entertainment and personal social networking will become less pronounced. There will be less focus on form and audiences will be geared towards whether the content is authentic and entertaining.

With social media driving reality TV, we will see newer talent using social media to connect with fans and build a fan following. In future, anyone with an internet connection will have the power to create and become a star. These virtual world stars will cut across class and geographies to create their own fan base and rewrite the rules of entertainment.

Our blog at Digiqom closely tracks news and developments in the world of social media. Keep reading and write in to us with your comments!

Picture Courtesy: youtootech

 

Network Your Way Through Blogs

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The world is becoming smaller with each new day.

Six degrees of separation is not just a theory any more, it is the reality we are living in. People are reaching out to one another through newer social networking platforms and apps being developed regularly. Thoughts and ideas are being shared while communities of like-minded people are forming by the minute.

Be it social networking or the world of business. Ultimately, it’s all about people and reaching out to them. It’s not just about selling our goods and services. We are also selling our ideas, our thoughts and our views.

The best way to promote your thoughts, ideas and your business is through a blog. One can create one’s own network of like-minded people and communities through a blog. It can also help promote your business. If used well, you can increase your influence in the social domain just by blogging.

However, as with all things, blogging is a discipline and there are certain dos and don’ts one must follow to make a success of it. So before you dive in, read our tips:

The Essentials

  • There are many platforms that you can get started on. WordPress, Blogger among others. Make sure you select one that you are comfortable with and spend some time to get acquainted with the way the platform works.
  • Make sure you write regularly, on topics of your interest and relevant to your business. Promote your posts through social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Join blogger groups and communities with similar interests such as your own and share content with them. You may also consider having guest bloggers on your own blog and cross promote their content.
  • Make sure you keep reading other blogs and leaving insightful comments on the site to encourage others to do the same with yours. Didn’t we say it was all about networking?

At Digiqom, we regularly blog about interesting trends in the world of social media and digital marketing. From analyzing apps such as Tinder to gaming and must-have gizmos at work, our blogs are a window to the world of social media in India and the rest of the world. Real time updates that are informative, relevant and timely. Do keep reading and write in to tell us what you think!

A Digital India – What Would It Take?

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Can India take advantage of 4G data, ubiquitous mobile presence and rapidly declining smartphone costs, to truly become “Digital India”?

First, the anecdotes. Imran Khan, a teacher from Alwar, Rajasthan, has created over 50 free apps on subjects such as general knowledge and English for Android users, with the intent to make free education accessible to all. In another corner of the country, mobile apps are getting integrated with basic healthcare to improve pre and post-natal care for expecting mothers in rural Karnataka.

And then comes the data! With the mobile penetration reaching a billion user mark by 2017, and mobile internet access racing ahead of wired internet access, the present outlook of low penetration of internet and computing is about to see rapid change. Powering this change, will be affordability, usability and accessibility, not necessarily in that order.

Usability is perhaps, the first concern. Given the rapid expansion of mobile data and voice usage basis the apparent benefits, where even a decade back, fishermen would sell their catch from their boats before even bringing it to market, the need then is to build use cases which bring the benefits of connectivity and rich computing within the reach of the next billion. The digital age is upon us, and unless the new necessities of computing and internet access is available for the less privileged and less fortunate, the divide between digital have’s and have-not’s will only increase. “There is a major schism between analog and digital and the cracks are showing”.

As US President Barack Obama, puts it, “the internet today is not a luxury, but a necessity”. The internet provides people with the power to access all available information across the world. The internet eliminates all the boundaries and borders which dissuade people from treading the untrodden. Through social media, people can make themselves heard and their voices can be propagated to lands far away. If these benefits can be extended to the people in the rural areas of India, there would be a richer flow of ideas and thoughts, as a large portion of the budding youth of India reside in rural areas.

Next on the list is accessibility. While the world is focusing on computer literacy, where people are expected to have basic computer skills, and as some believe, people should learn coding, as computers become more powerful, it is more important to bring those learnings to make it accessible to a population which speaks 800 dialects, but uses English for business and computing. Therefore, skilling rural India and the less privileged in this area is of utmost priority in order to avoid their obsolescence. The ability to program computers is soon going to become an expectation from society as is the ability to read and write. A knowledge about computers would directly benefit businesses and thus increase our per capita.

Prime Minister Modi’s Digital India and Skill India programs could provide great impetus. The nine pillars highlighted in the Digital India initiative cover a great area of focus right from improving broadband infrastructure to e-Governance. The Digital India initiative is a one of its kind program by the Government of India and a great step towards bridging the digital divide. Corporates too have joined the bandwagon and are doing their bit towards educating the less privileged. Campaigns like “Dhanchayat”, carried out by HDFC Bank under their Swachch Banking CSR initiative, have proven to be a great tool towards achieving rural literacy in areas of organized finance. The initiative covered 5000 villages in India in one phase of the campaign and generated a lot of awareness about the dangers of borrowing money from the unorganized sector.

However, all of these come with a plethora of challenges. Affordability and physical access to devices and broadband connections for all would require colossal efforts, efficient distribution and effective business cases, not to mention, time. In addition, the cost of devices, software, maintenance and training means that there would be a huge outlay of funds from the government. Business cases for providing services to a large part of India’s rural population who live on less than 2 dollars a day would require investments and innovation. Therefore, it would take some time before we actually see the difference in today and tomorrow. The transformation is going to be gradual, rather than instant. Having said that however, India has leapfrogged the PC/laptop and is actually looking at “ground up” mobile computing.

To conclude, success does not happen overnight, it takes years and “success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts”.

To Afghanistan with Love!

In July 2011, US Marine Sgt. Scotty Moore used a very unorthodox way of getting a date for the Marine Corps ball. Sgt. Moore, posted in Afghanistan at the time, was dressed in his combat gear when he sent out an invitation via YouTube to Hollywood star, Mila Kunis.

In the 19 second video, which got about 400,000 hits in just a few days before it came to the notice of the actress, the soldier was smooth, suave and oozed confidence. Little did he know, that the Black Swan actress would oblige. She graciously accepted the invitation and accompanied the sergeant to the ball in Greenville, North Carolina on November 18.

A dream come true for the soldier indeed.

This just goes to show how social media can go a long way in bringing the desires and stories of a common man to the attention of famous personalities. It is the power of the Netizens which helps in spreading word across the digital space. It is their views, likes, shares and comments which make ordinary stories transcend the Internet and reach their intended recipients. The Internet community becomes one and helps the voice of their fellow netizens echo out. Such is the power and potential of social media that it can help bring together ordinary people and their idols.

In a similar instance showcasing the power of social media, a picture of 5 year old, Murtaza from Ghazni, Afghanistan sporting a blue and white plastic bag with “Messi” and “10” written on the back went viral on the internet in January earlier this year. Apparently, Murtaza was a big fan of the Argentinean football star and wanted his jersey. However, the kid’s family was poor and could not afford one. So his older brother Hamayon took a plastic bag, made an improvised jersey out of it and gave it to his little brother. Pictures of an ecstatic Murtaza brandishing the makeshift jersey were taken and uploaded onto the internet. It didn’t take long for the internet to make its impact. Soon enough people from all across the world started tracking down the kid in hopes of helping him get a genuine jersey and a football to play with.

But it didn’t stop here. The boy’s father was contacted by UNICEF and was informed that Murtaza would be receiving a package from Messi himself. The viral picture had made its way upto Lionel Messi’s notice. As a gesture which would touch millions of people across the world, Messi signed a genuine national jersey of Argentina and sent it across to the little boy. The boy was also told that he would soon get a chance to meet his idol.

This just goes to show, how social media and the people who occupy this digital space can work together to make miracles happen. So don’t hesitate in leaving a message out there in the digital world for someone you idolize. You never know. You just might get a reply.

Picture1There has been a lot of chirping on media around guaranteeing trending campaigns on twitter to large corporates. Digital agencies approach corporates to run a twitter campaign guaranteeing them X number of tweets and corresponding traction via trending hashtags. The marketing heads in such corporates get lured by the outreach guaranteed by such agencies and splash big bucks to get the digital space flooded with their campaign. But, does a trending hashtag deliver results for the brand?

The effectiveness of such campaigns is a big question! IMHO (In my humble opinion), such usiness models don’t work, either for the brands or the agencies, as they miss the critical social networking part in their hunger for social media attention. Social media enables potential and current users to have a conversation with a brand. If that fact gets overlooked in the rush to get social media influencers to engage and get the campaign trending, then the key element of connecting with the target demographics becomes a missed opportunity. Digital marketing campaigns with rich creative content, aimed at triggering a proclivity to buy the product, service or point of view or at least add on to the brand’s recall, needs to be aimed at the right audience.

The return on investment for the corporates then goes beyond the engagement numbers and over to the demographics and the quality of the engagement, as the story or narrative that got built around the trend.
Agencies that exist solely to create trends are exploiting not just the ill informed corporates but also twitter as a social platform. Though twitter is aware of such exploitation and has the necessary rules in place.
Twitter specifically states that the following behaviour could cause your account to be filtered from search or even suspended:

  • Adding one or more topics/hashtags to an unrelated Tweet in an attempt to gain attention in search
  • Repeatedly tweeting the same topic/hashtag without adding value to the conversation in an attempt to get the topic trending or trending higher.
  • Tweeting about each trend in order to drive traffic to your profile or website, especially when mixed with advertising.
  • Listing trends in combination with a request to be followed.
  • Tweeting about a trend and posting a misleading link to something unrelated.
    The effectiveness of such rules on twitter and the validation of such claims is always a grey area, similar to the trending campaigns orchestrated by such agencies.

I, as an informed trainee learning the business of building brands through conversations on social media, tfeel that just minting money from large corporates for a quantitative result is not a sustainable brand strategy. Rather, the approach for a long term association with brands is to propose campaigns to narrow the gap between the brand and its stakeholders, brand consulting to achieve competitive advantage over other players in the industry and to improve brand perception amongst the target audience specifically on instant engagement platforms, like twitter and beyond.

Nishant Bindraban

Digital Marketing Trends To Watch Out For In 2016

Digital Trends

Till a few years back, digital marketing was considered an idea in its adolescent phase that would never quite make the transition to adulthood. Conventional marketers, investors and consultants were skeptical about it, branding it as a Silicon Valley fad that would soon fade away.  In India, things were not very different either. With audiences hooked on to the medium of television and print, digital marketing took time to make a place for itself. However, with the revolutionary changes in telecommunication and the advent of the mobile Internet, digital was able to claim centre stage. Continue reading

The Full Import of Facebook’s new emoji reactions

emoji-reactionsIf you have always wanted Facebook to let you ‘dislike’ a post, the Social Media giant aggregator has gone a few steps ahead, with the launch of a new set of emoji-oriented reactions.
The new emoji-reactions are ‘love’, ‘haha’, ‘wow’, ‘sad’ and ‘angry’, which were finalized after trials in countries including Ireland, Spain, and Chile. ‘Yay’ as a emoji-reaction was also in contention, but was rejected after the trial discovered that it was not understood equally well in all cultures. Continue reading

Five Ways to Beat Digital Overload!

imageFive years ago, I was complaining about having too much to read. Magazines, newsletters, journals, books for my research and my own pick of fiction for relaxation. My flat was overflowing with books and bookstores had become restricted zones. Then, there was television and my fix of crime serials that I had to watch every day. Continue reading