Gone in 60 Seconds!

How much work can you get done online in 60 seconds? Couple of emails? 5 Tweets? Download 3 songs?
It seems we humans are doing a lots online every minute, according to Intel’s latest infographic.

Internet Minute
(Credit Intel)

Every minute:

639,800GB of global IP data is transferred.  What!

204 million e-mails are sent.

20 million photos viewed on Flickr.

100,000 new tweets and 320 new Twitter accounts.

30 hours of videos uploaded and 1.3 million video views. Harlem Shake?

6 million Facebook views and 277,000 logins every minute.

6 new Wiki articles published each minute.

Digital Nirvana anyone?

Facebook Vs Circle, Twitter and 4Sq


My Script for facebook, if I were a Voice Over Artist for Hollywood Movies.

In the Land of Search and Portals
When earthlings were struggling with Orkut, Yahoo and the likes
Came a Great Social Network called.. ‘Facebook
A site that got you close to those that matter
Let you share photos and stories.
And gave you uncluttered and consistent feel.

It soon had 1 of every 15 earthlings hooked on
Some were Farming, Some Fighting, Some Poking
Everyone was sharing and Liking
And every thing looked perfect

1 in every 15!!
That day Facebook decided to welcome Businesses
And everyone flocked to create Pages Groups, Polls and creative juice flowed.
Facebook was happy with Billions pouring in.
and soon they had 1 of every 10 earthling hooked on exchanging bullets, eggs and lambs

Then came a Little bird that started Tweeting..
Beak’ing’ like a wood pecker-into Facebooks users
and a Service that was inspired by Geometry..
Four Square
And Facebook went on overdrive adding features that no one cared about..

The Search Giant went back to the primary school for Geometry and Arithmetic
And came back with a Circle and +
and that…………….. made facebook Menopausal.

It is said, never instigate a company preparing for it’s IPO...

Facebook copied the Bird’s code, Square’s essence and
Stretched the Circle to make it Oval.

The Farmers and the Fighters were inundated with Links on left that led nowhere,
Strange looking faces on the right Grinning “Subscribe
and wierd scripts everywhere.

The purpose was lost..
The once mighty Facebook was feeling defeated..

This Fall.. From the makers of Wall, Poke and Like.. Watch the #Epic unfold on your Wall, in Circles, across Timelines and Checkins, Across screens of all sizes

2010 holidays shopping- Global Warming & Online Retail

US consumer’s spent 12{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} more than last year online; an aggregate of $32.6 billion over the holidays, reported comScore on Wednesday as it released the final numbers for this 2010 Holiday season.
It seems Global Warming is good for retailers as comScore credited blizzard for the boost in sales. Other contributors to the growth included earlier than usual promotions and aggressive free shipping offers, which were used in more than 50{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} transactions.

2010- Holiday Shopping- 12{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} over 2009
2010- Holiday Shopping- 12{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} over 2009

Cyber Monday, the monday after Thanksgiving (and the so-called start of the online shopping season) recorded the heaviest spending of the 2010 season and crossed the $1 billion threshold at $1.028 billion. Free Shipping Day (December 17, 2010) recorded the maximum jump (61{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c}) in sales over 2009

Cyber Monday and Free Shipping Day- Recorded Maximum Sales
Cyber Monday and Free Shipping Day- Recorded Maximum Sales

What’s the mantra for 2011?

1. Start the advertisements around your promotion early.

2. Get aggressive with shipping

3. Go Social, go Viral

4. Pray for bad weather? 🙂

Crowd Source or Crowd Critique – The GAP story

Last  week GAP unveiled its new logo (created by NY agency Laird & Partners) to it’s online community and the overwhelming response was negative. The online community jeered the new Logo and within no time websites were set up to ridicule the new GAP logo.

GAP heeded to the response and was quick to flip back to the 40 year old logo.

Ok. We’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t like the new logo. We’ve learned a lot from the feedback. We only want what’s best for the brand and our customers. So instead of crowd sourcing, we’re bringing back the Blue Box tonight??? was the update on GAP’s Facebook page.

Read the full press release here.

Is this a failure of Brand Management or success of Social Media?

Let’s look at the brighter side of the story:

  1. GAP saved Millions of Dollars it would have otherwise spent in Re-branding Deployment
  2. GAP could truly democratize change   and that will help re-enforce relationship with the patrons and community.
  3. Created the Buzz before the holiday season and I’m sure they will soon come out with a campaign/ promotion to leverage the incident.

However, there are few questions for Social Media Strategists and GAP think tank:

  1. Should GAP have considered crowd sourcing logo design rather than crowd sourcing criticism?
  2. What is the right time to involve customers in the decision making process?
  3. Are the public social communities the best platforms to discuss critical ideas and innovation? Should ideas be initially discussed within closed customer groups/ closed communities?
  4. Will this fiasco impact GAP’s branding?

Buzz Quotient: Measuring The Social Media ROI

Organizations are experimenting with Social Media Platforms and plans. However, after the initial experimentation, one has to quickly evaluate Social Media’s contribution to business, performance vis-a-vis other channels and establish best practices guidelines.

Social Media is not a sales channel and that makes measuring the impact on bottom line challenging. Social Media presence helps improve the traffic, conversions and revenue on other sales channels and also supports marketing, branding and CRM initiatives. The tangible and intangible contribution of Social Media to Marketing goals has to quantified and factored ito measure the true ROI on Social Media investments.

Here is the 5 step process I suggest to measure the Impact of Social Media and ROI on the Social Media Spend.

Set Social Media Expectations and Goals

Can social media drive sales? Is there a correlation between followers on Facebook and traffic to the website? Can Twitter help sell overstocked items? These are few burning questions for the top management and the marketing teams. The first step in the process of measuring the ROI is setting the Social Media Expectations and Goals. Define your objective and expectation from the Social Media. It is also important to define program Success Matrix at this stage. Starting with a clear mandate is a good idea.

For example, if you want to build  brand awareness, use Social media as a CRM tool and boost online sales you could start with goals statement that reads ” The Social Media campaign will help build a community of customers and potential customers; help understand customer’s need and pain areas better, endorse Brand Positioning, enable crowd-source innovation and augment online online sales. In the first 6 months we will build critical membership/ readership across Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YourTube, Forums, Question and Answer websites. In 6th thru 9th month we will evaluate these platforms on the following parameters: Reach, Engagement, Revenue, Sentiments, Branding and investment

Create the Social and Business data correlation framework


To record measure and improve the Social Media campaign you would need to mash Social data with data from other channels. Mashing Social Web and business data requires a robust analytics and reporting system. You may need to tweak your present analytics tool to accommodate Social data.  For example, your existing analytics may not support mentions on a platform and the associate sentiments.

Data co-relation will help justify the investment on Social media. For example, if you want to measure the impact of social media on online sales you would need to

  • Track Traffic from social platforms through the buying process. Sale may not happen in the first visit. (Cookie?)
  • Import this data into your analytics and reporting tool.
  • Calculate the lifetime value of a customer
  • Compare it others channels: search, affiliate etc.

If you want to measure the impact on Brand awareness, you would need to track

  • Brand Mentions in discussions across all platforms ( social and otherwise)
  • Sentiments of the conversation (Positive, Neutral, Negative)
  • Contribution of Social traffic to total Traffic
  • Impact on Direct Traffic

It’s important to map each goal with relevant matrices.
Identify Social Media Data points and Sentiment Analysis Framework

The next step is identifying data points and data sources for the Social Media campaign. You need to measure and record social media information like # followers,  # mentions ( with links and without links), # comments, competition’s data and your share of conversation.

Manual monitoring and recording  of this data is tedious and impractical. However, a number of  tools are now available to monitor, measure and record this information. However, you could  start with the free ones like:

  • Google Alerts
  • Twitter Search
  • TweetDeck
  • Seesmic
  • Technorati

Once you have the data you need to analyze the sentiments associated with the comments and mentions. Sentiment analysis involves filtering the positive ( Good service, Helpful Representative etc.) and negative mentions ( Service Sucks, Non Responsive etc) and assigning a weightage that reflects the communication intensity.

Adding weightage helps rationalize Social Media and Business data to a common scale. Adding weightage could be a bit tricky and the process evolves over a period of time.

Account for Branding, PR and Opportunity.

Social Platforms help Brands and Business get closer to the consumers and  create recall, loyalty and community. Hence it id important to factor in the intangible impact of the social media campaign.

If you are running a print/ online campaign say on Time Magazine, Wall Street Journal or The Economic Times what is your cost per reader? And how does it compare if you reach out to their communities on Facebook  Time Magazine, Wall Street Journal, The Economic times? Account for free visibility and reach.

How does the cost of running a PPC campaign on Google compare with the cost of running targeted paid ads on Facebook?

Over a period of time you would need to develop a formula that quantifies each interaction/ mention and follower on Social Media Platforms and merge this information with business analytics.

Merging Social data with Web and Business data will give you an insight into the opportunity.

Analyze and Report

The last step in the process is collating the data and putting it in a format that gives perspective and helps make decisions. Compare Quality of visibility/ leads, volume of visibility/ leads across campaigns in a report that’s easy to put together and simple to understand.

I recommend a report that answers business critical questions like:

    1. Is there a difference between a lead from Social Platform and from other channels on parameters like:
      • Time spent on website
      • Lifetime value of customer
      • Revenue per customer
      • Brand Awareness
      • Brand Loyalty
    2. How does the cost to reach/ acquire customers compare across channels?
    3. Is there  a difference in Brand Experience between a lead from Social Platform and from other channels?
    4. Which Social Media Platform works best for your brand?
    5. Is there a seasonality/ Day part across platforms?

Social Buzz is a function of visibility (size of the community) and associated sentiments across platforms. The 5 steps mentioned in this post would help you track and continually improve  your Social Media program.

10 Commandments for Social Media Success

At the conclusion of Social Media Workshop for small enterprise and start-ups the  most common question among excited and energized participants was ‘How do I take this to my organization?’. How do I champion Social Media for my product?

Social Media campaigns are great tools for Marketing, PR, CRM, communication and community building. However, social media success is a function of intent, listening, participating and intelligence.


I have worked on building social media campaigns for brands of all sizes and this post I share my learning.

1. Success starts at the Top

Getting the top management involved is critical to success of Social Media Program. As the program champion you would require to pull in the best resources for the social media campaign ( from other functions) and you will need Top Management buy-in to get the resources. Top management involvement also ensures keeping the Social Media initiative in sync with company’s vision and goals.

2. Analyze and Select the Platform

It is advisable to spread you resources and time across platforms to start. Adopt a equal mix of content (i.e. a blog or micro-blog), social networking (maybe Twitter or LinkedIn) , and community building (Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter or YouTube). Over a period of time you could tweak the mix based on the experience and ROI on each platform.

3. Train to Listen, Comment and Create Content

Social Media participation includes 3 activities: listening, commenting and creating content. Monitoring and reading your industry’s Blogs, FB posts, Tweets is a good launch pad. Google Alerts are efficient tools to listen to the ecosystem.  The next step is to start commenting on social networks and blogs and creating your own content. Commit equal time to these activities.

4. Set Content Approach and Frequency

On Social platforms it is important to be consistent in frequency and communication. Brainstorm and decide the pitch of your blog, Facebook/ Linked In Page and Tweets. To achieve maximum branding mileage the communication across the platforms should be integrated and synchronized.

Plan the number of blogs you will publish every week,  number of interaction on networking websites and tweets every day.

5. Content strategy

Identify the best talents for the 3 platforms ( Blogs, Social Networking and Community Building). Writing content for these platforms requires varied skills and 1 person may not bring the necessary skills to the table. Also, develop a strategy to crowd source content. Encourage your customers, followers  and other members of the audience to contribute.

6. Blogging / Micro Blogging Best Practices

Develop an identity for your Blog. Identity comes with consistency, tone, and character of content. Blog posts should engage your audience. Substantiate you assumptions with data, analysis and point of view. Encourage audience response with questions and other tools. Schedule your blog calendar and write down 1-2 blog ideas daily. Quote industry authority and experts in your blog.

Follow the trending topics for your tweets. Here’s a detailed post on Tweeting.

7. Social Networking Best Practices

Depending on your target audience you could select a platform like Facebook or LinkedIn or both to network. LinkedIn usually is recommended for B2B businesses and Facebook for B2C. It helps to have members senior members of staff active on the networking platform. Build out the company profile and encourage employees join the platform. Follow the Industry leaders and experts.

8. Community Building Best Practices

Social Platforms like FaceBook are great community building tools. You can use these platforms as formal/ informal channel to connect with your customers and audience.  Start by creating a custom branded page on Facebook and employees to join the conversation. Post regularly and be keep the audience engaged with information, polls, questions, applications and other tactics.

9. Optimize and Promote your presence

You would need to Optimize your social media presence and tune it to create visibility on the social media. Optimization techniques vary by the platform and I will discuss that in seperate blog posts. Here’s a detailed post on Optimizing Tweets. However, you could start with

Including  keywords in your Blog posts, Tweets and Facebook comments.
Placing social media buttons on your website, Blog helping the audience connect with you
Use tools to synchronize social media feeds across multiple platforms (e.g., tweetdeck).
Reward your audience with simple give-aways for answering, participating, commenting, retweeting, social bookmarking, etc.
Reply to the comments and suggestions.

10. Learn and Tune your Program

Dig into social media analytics to evaluate performance of of various platforms and decipher visitor behavior. Evaluate the ROI for each platform and the program to optimize social media spend. Evaluate skills and performance of the employees and deploy their time on the platforms they are best suited for. Learn from the Social engagement models  of your competitors and other organizations.

This post is a framework for Social Media success for enterprise and will help you champion Social Media initiative in your organization.  Each of these 10 Commandments needs to be adapted and fine tuned for an organization.

Online Retail- The 2010 Paradigm

So who spends maximum online? Men, Women, Teens?

Where should the big brands and online retailers put their advertising $ in 2010 ? Search, Portals, Social Media?

Online shopping experience is changing in more ways than one. It is no secret that peer review and recommendation is the single biggest influence in the purchase decision. “I want that red stilettos that Jane has??? syndrome..

A recent study by comScore reveals a direct correlation between Online spend and time spent on Social Web. Visitors to Social Media websites ( read: Facebook and Twitter) spend more money online than other Internet users. Average

Per the comScore study, In the US in Q1 2010, visitors that spent the most time on Facebook also spent the most dollars on online shopping. The top 20% Visitors to Facebook (by time spent) spent average of $67 online.

Facebook Time Spent and Online Shopping
Facebook Time Spent and Online Shopping

Facebook Non Visitors spent $ 27 online shopping; much less than the average $50.

On Twitter users spend more than average Internet user, and more than most Facebook Visitors

Twitter Time Spent and Online Spend
Twitter Time Spent and Online Spend

The key takeaway from this study is that Twitter and Facebook are no longer teenage hangouts. Older audience (heavy spenders with higher disposable incomes) are propelling these platforms.
Online Retailers and Brands  better hone your 2010 plans to  include Facebook and  Twitter.

‘Re’- Maximizing Life Time Value of Website Visitor

For most online retail models ‘Re-’ is the key to profitability: Re-Visits, Re-Orders and minimal Rejections and Returns. If your customers consume the product you sell daily or regularly ,‘Re-’ is the key.

Food, Pharmaceuticals, Nutraceuticals, Subscriptions are some businesses that depend on Revisits and Reorders for profitability. More often than not the Cost to Acquire a new customer is more than the profit from first sale/ subscription in such businesses.

In this post I have discussed strategies to Maximize the Life Time Value of a customer. The strategy would work across industries however, would need customization and tuning.

Plan and Budget the campaign:

It all starts with the Plan and Budget. If you are targeting repeat orders from your customers plan a year round campaign and not a one time offer. For example, if you are selling Health Supplements you have to acquire new customers and get repeat orders from the existing everyday; unlike Television Retailers who run promotions and clearances around the shopping and the holiday seasons.

Welcome New Visitors and Reward  Returning Visitors:

This a critical and tricky element of the campaign and has long term impact. Typically, marketers want to ‘deep discount’ first orders to ‘kill competition’ and hope to make profits on repeat orders. However, this strategy may irritate you existing customers brand loyalists. Design a promotion plan that entices new visitors and makes your existing customers feel special.

Having separate landing page for new and returning visitors works. You may also want separate toll free numbers. If you are running a PPC campaign  you should run separate campaigns for new visitors and existing customers. Add negative keywords to segregate visitors.

On the website it helps to have separate entry and exit points designed for New visitors and existing customers. Clever navigation and content architecture helps achieve the objective.

Benchmark the Cost of Acquiring New Customers:

The key to success is acquiring new customers at cost that justifies the revenue  you expect from the customer. If your cost to acquire a new customer is high you will get revenue but profit will elude your business. If you target conservative cost of acquisition you will be profitable per sale but would find difficult to scale up. Here are the factors that helps decide the benchmark Cost of Customer Acquisition:

  1. Purchase/ Manufacturing cost of the product.
  2. Gross Profit on Sale.
  3. Average and Median orders ( no. of times/ year).
  4. Average and Median order value.
  5. Demand Elasticity
  6. Competitor’s Pricing Strategy

Design Promotions to Acquire New Customers:

The promotion strategy you use to acquire new customer is critical to retaining loyalty and building brand. The expectations of the customer that responds to “Free First Month Trial

Optimize Your Adwords Campaign for Holiday Season 2009

Holiday season is round the corner. Most online retailers do more than 50{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} of the annual turnover in the last quarter ( most of it in the last 6 weeks of the year). Do you have a strategy is place?

Strategy would vary by the industry however here’s a simple 3 step Adword Holiday Tactic that I have seen working for online retailers ( clothes, gifts, lifestyle etc.) :

1. Optimize the ad-text for ‘deals’ 2 weeks before Thanksgiving thru Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

2. Optimize the ad-text for ‘deals’ and ‘ free shipping’ Thanksgiving thru December 15th.

3. Optimize the ad-text for ‘shipping’ December 15 thru the New Year.

Here’s the search trends data from 2007 and 2008 that I base my tactic on.

Shopping Trend 2007
Shopping Trend 2007
Shopping Trend 2008
Shopping Trend 2008

I believe there is a simple explanation for this annual trend. There are 3 kinds of shoppers Obsessed, Confused and Disordered (My Retail OCDs 😉

Obsessed Shoppers: Obsessed buyers plan, hunt for deal, look out for coupons. This group shops in advance and hunts for deals. This group reads reviews before buying and posts reviews and comments after using the product. Lure them with Deals in December.

Confused Shoppers: Confused buyers are deal hunters but not committed to Shopping. These shoppers often look at the ROI of gifting (Some confused shoppers like receiving gifts before spending on gifts). Help them decide with deals and Free Shipping after Thanksgiving.

Disordered Shoppers: Disordered shoppers are lazy or busy shoppers. This group usually shops for gifts few days before Christmas and are worried concerned if they would make it in time. Offer them Express shipping.

Here’s wishing you a Busy Holiday Season!

P.S. Needless to say.. Optimize the landing page for the offers!!

10 Commandments for Success at Outsourcing

Across the world organizations have taken to outsourcing for competitive advantage. Are there still organizations out there that question outsourcing? Here’ why you should consider outsourcing:

My main focus is on my game- Tiger Woods

One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.- Tony Robbins

I have spent more than 12 years managing the complexities of outsourcing. I have seen successes and failures. Here are my 10 Commandments for Success at Outsourcing for the business leaders exploring the strategic relationships.

Commandment 1: Get you Reasons Right

One needs to be slow to form convictions, but once formed they must be defended against the heaviest odds.- Mahatma Gandhi

Answer to the question “why outsource???? is the first and the most critical element of the game. Do not outsource because everyone does. Outsource for your reasons; cost control, quality control, risk mitigation, geographic expansion, Human resources etc. Take your time to figure out the reasons.

Commandment 2: Plan the Route, Be Detailed

Failing to plan is planning to fail. – Alan Lakein

Plan the route, set the milestones and define the responsibilities. It is important to set the goals and expectations before you start to minimize surprises.

Commandment 3: Lead the change

Leadership involves finding a parade and getting in front of it.- John Naisbitt

Outsourcing is too important to implement Bottom Up in and organization. Outsourcing is a strategic move and is successful only when the Leader is convinced and committed to the cause.

Commandment 4: Build your Team, Get Process Champions

I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people. – Mahatma Gandhi

A leader is as effective as his trusted lieutenants.  Identify and nurture process champions in your organization and encourage them to spread the knowledge and build grow and motivate their teams.

Commandment 5: It’s all about people

You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Outsourcing will impact the lives of your employees and they will certainly be apprehensive about Job Loss. Address your people concerns. Involve your people in the process.

Commandment 6: Date, Court, get Married

Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without. – James C. Dobson

Outsourcing relationships are like marriages built on trust, compatibility empathy and flexibility. Spend time analyzing your partner organization’s culture, their vision and plan. Ask the right questions to find your match. Remember that the cheapest is not necessarily the best.

Commandment 7: Practice what you Preach

I try to keep in touch with the details… I also look at the product daily. That doesn’t mean you interfere, but it’s important occasionally to show the ability to be involved. It shows you understand what’s happening. – Rupert Murdoch

Your outsourcing plan will be put to test only when implemented. Lead the implementation process; get involved in the details initially. Empower the process champions with tools to take the vision forward.

Commandment 8: Process, Process, Process

We do not learn; and what we call learning is only a process of recollection. – Plato

Document your successes and failures. This documentation will be the reference points for the future. Organizations can benefit the economies of scale and outsourcing only by setting up the process and following in every time.

Commandment 9: Measure and Analyze

Round Numbers are always false. – Samuel Johnson

Measure the impact at every milestone, compare with organizational and industry benchmarks. Analyze the performance and tweak the process as needed. At times there may be no prior references, the Vision and strength of leadership is tested in such situations.

Commandment 10: Be prudent- Get the prenup in order.

Divorce is probably of nearly the same date as marriage. I believe, however, that marriage is some weeks the more ancient. – Voltaire

Relationships do go wrong. Give the Outsourcing relationship a chance however; you should have a Tactical Plan B ready if things do not produce desired results initially. On the strategy front, be wise to safe guard your interest and include an opt-out and other safeguard clauses in the contract. Change outsourcing partner, in case of cultural differences and insurmountable integration challenges.