So what is the most important change that digital has bought about in the lives of brands. If you think, it is the ability to create one more channel of communication with the consumer, you are wrong.

Let me tell you a story, actually a few small stories:

A few years back (about 25 or so), I was the reception of a hotel with a printed letter on the letterhead of my travel agent asking the hotel to provide with me a room. This is, what in those days, was called a ‘travel voucher’. The guy at the reception, looked at the voucher, then looked up his reservation register and calmly told me that they were holding no such reservation for me. However if I was willing to pay a higher amount, he could provide me a superior room which was the only available room. It was clear that he was taking me for a ride. But those were the days when there were no cell phones (so I could not call my agent) and no Internet and no nothing. I was the mercy of the hotelier so I had to give into the black mail.

10 years back a similar situation arose. Quickly I pulled out my cell-phone, got my travel agent to speak to the hotel reception guy. There was some argument between the two people, but the matter was finally settled.

Now comes the third and the most interesting part of the story. Just last week I was checking into a hotel.  We were a party of 3 and the guy at the reception says that as a hotel policy they don’t accommodate more than 2 people in a room. I thrust a printed copy of my reservation voucher in front of the reception clerk. The clerk stared at the paper, quickly went inside for a chat with his boss. Even while he was chatting, I thought to myself: If he does not honor the voucher document, well I am going to telling the whole world on Facebook and Twitter and TripAdvisor…what a shitty hotel this was. Before my thoughts could take shape, the clerk re-appeared and told me that his manager had decided to make an exception. And 3 of us would be accommodated in a room.

Now this story is not about the changing behavior of the hotel industry or about competition benefitting a consumer. This story is about the shift of power from the brand to the consumer. 25 years consumers were suckers, whom brands could take for a ride and get away with it. Now the power has shifted completely from brands to the consumer.  A ‘common man’ holding a Rs 5000 cell phone in his hand, with a single Tweet which can snowball into a crises, can rip apart billions of dollars of brand value in the blink of an eye. That really is the power of Digital.

Digital has empowered the consumer as never before. If consumers have got thus empowered, then how does a brand:

  • Create a superlative brand experience. (This has nothing to do necessarily with ‘digital’ but more with being true to the brand promise)
  • Address negative consumer experience and communication, promptly
  • Use digital touch points to create superlative brand experiences
  • Build brand advocacy which makes existing satisfied consumers advocate the brand, which creates more customers for the brand

The “Digital Conundrum” is not about what mobile app should one be investing in or about how many Facebook updates need to be put out every day.  It is about re-engineering the organization, which is able to respond to the needs and expectations of an empowered consumer.


Twitter Mute Button

by Hareesh Tibrewala on June 20, 2014

Twitter is real time and continuous. It is very easy for users to get irritated by overly active users flooding their timelines. To counter this problem, Twitter has yet again added another feature to amplify its user’s experience and to make it more customized. They recently rolled out the new ‘Mute’ button.

Just a few months back, Twitter had introduced a feature where a blocked user could still read and retweet your tweets. This was opposed by the users and Twitter had to go back to its original policy. Twitter reverted its stance saying, “we never want to introduce features at the cost of users feeling less safe.”

Various third party apps, like Tweetbot, did provide this feature in the past, but the concept of muting on Twitter is completely new. The Mute button allows users to hide the tweets of a certain user from their timeline without having to block or unfollow them. When you mute a user on Twitter, their content will no longer be visible to you, and you will no longer receive push or SMS notifications from that user. Although, when you mute a user, their previous Tweets will still be displayed on your timeline; only Tweets from the point you muted them will be hidden.

Some things that you might want to know about muting are:

  • Muted users can follow you and interact with your content.
  • You can follow a user you’ve muted. Muting a user will not cause you to unfollow them.
  • @ replies and @ mentions from muted users you follow will still appear in your Notifications tab.
  • Muted users you follow can still send you a direct message.
  • When you mute a user, their previous Tweets will still be displayed; only Tweets from the point you muted them will be hidden.


Understanding and Leveraging Vine

June 20, 2014

Ask someone about Vine, and the chance is that he will talk to you about red wine or white wine.  However, social media has invented a new wine for itself, and this is one demands ultimate creativity. Vine was started in June2012 and was acquired by Twitter in October 2012. The app was made available [...]

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Advertising on Foursquare

April 7, 2014

It’s been 5 years since its inception, and 45 million users and 60 million registered venues later, FourSquare is now not just another social app. It has become one of the platforms that marketers of local businesses can’t avoid from their social media portfolio.  In India too we are seeing rapid growth in the number [...]

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The DNA of Social Media?

March 20, 2014

Few days back, there was an interesting conversation at a panel discussion that I was a part of. The question being debated was about e-commerce companies getting social media better than brick and mortar ones, because “digital was in their DNA”. And yes, the general consensus was that e-commerce brands do get digital media and [...]

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Twitter Launches Custom Audience

March 12, 2014

Till now, Twitter has allowed brands do to keyword targeting for their ad messages. This meant that a brand could run ads on Twitter by targeting keywords that were being used by a Twitter user in his Tweets. Alternatively one could target followers of another brand who could be potential followers for the advertiser’s brand.  [...]

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What are Facebook Trending Topics? And how is it different from Twitter Trends?

March 12, 2014

Facebook has recently launched a new feature “Facebook Trends”. Facebook trends, like Twitter trends, shows all those popular topics that people are  sharing publicly on their timelines. These can be hashtags, links or just topics that are being spoken about. Facebook trending is still in a test phase and is not universally available. According to [...]

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Why should your agency adopt an ‘Open Door’ policy?

March 5, 2014

You work in a very fast paced agency environment. Your digitally savvy clients are constantly on fire and want solutions to everything immediately. Real-time is the need of the hour. Multiple things are happening at the same time and suddenly, someone has sent out a nasty tweet to your brand. You need a solution to [...]

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Page to Page Tagging on Facebook: Open to Misuse??

February 27, 2014

Facebook has recently come up with a new feature where pages can tag each other on posts and updates, but this new development is mired with difficulties as it might pave a way for possible abuse and exploitation. Marketers (spammers?) will find a way to exploit (abuse?) any opportunity given half a chance. Let’s take [...]

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Why did Facebook acquire WhatsApp for $19 billion? And what happens now??

February 19, 2014

This has happened before. You wake up in India, and you discover that the world changed, while you slept. The Berlin wall going down, Osama Bin Laden taken out, Instagram acquired by Facebook for a staggering $1 bn….and today, a much bigger $19 bn acquisition of red-hot Smartphone messaging service provider WhatsApp by Facebook!   [...]

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