Newslaundry gets funded! Big Win for Digital Media and Good Online Journalism!

Newslaundry Logo
Source : Newslaundry.com

The news just keeps getting better! For the uninformed, Newslaundry(NL) came up as a very interesting online news portal couple of years ago, to go behind the regular reporting and talk about what either gets missed by the headlines or make us meet the people who make the headlines.

Newslaundry Free
People pay to keep Newslaundry free.
Source : www.newslaundry.com

They tried a very bold model as they began, one where they asked readers to pay for the content they read. Wikipedia

is one example that comes to mind where people ‘donated’ to keep the portal alive and kicking, but other than that, very few portals have successfully been able to monetise content by making people pay for it. This model allowed

Newslaundry to stay focused on content, and they seamlessly produced some fine content in the form of articles, videos with some of the stalwarts in the industry. That is specially why this news comes as a really pleasant surprise. Their email says –

“We are thrilled to announce Phase 2 of Mission Newslaundry. We have just closed a round of funding and have on board partners (investors for the formal types) in our mission, who have backed us with more than nods of appreciation and pats on our back. They have put money in the bank to help us grow. We are proud to inform you (and thrilled for ourselves) that Omidyar Network, Vikram Lal, Mahesh Murthy, Abhijit Bhandari and Shashank Bhagat (through United India Periodical Pvt Ltd) have invested in Newslaundry (for equity).”

In the world of digital media and marketing, where ads become the main source to make money, it is a refreshing change to

a) See a portal without ad stream as a revenue win the trust of investors.

b) Clutter free, sensible news and good journalism getting the backing of supporters.

c) Solidify one’s faith once again in the fact that Content is King.

Kudos to their team and look forward to more great stuff from the house of Newslaundry. (Who owns Newslaundry?)

Newslaundry Team

TVF Qtiyapa got funded! Here’s why you should be elated as a marketer!

tvf got funded by Tiger Global

They’ve pretty much changed the scene of online entertainment in India (Ok, they, AIB and a host of other groups and channels) TVF, which was born because their TV series got rejected by MTV, has grown from an online parody about a TV show into emerging as a strong competitor for content on TV itself. Think I am stretching it too far, no I am not. Let me explain.

TVF and the many other YouTube channels that the young generation and many others are hooked on to, are simply filling the void created by lack of good content for a modern audience on TV. The fact that there are increasing number of English GEC’s(General Entertainment Channels) coming up is testimony of the fact that youngsters simply can’t take the Hindi channels’ saas bahu saga, and you can’t really watch Cricket all year long. That creates a gap, which is partially filled by downloaded torrents, now by Netflix for some, and then there comes the Indian homegrown YouTube channels.

These channels (Like TVF, AIB, ScreenPatti) have over multi million subscribers on YouTube, and with each video they create, fans get notifications on mail, via facebook, twitter and so on. More importantly, fans love these videos so much so, that most of them will share it with many more people, both online and offline.

Last year alone, hundreds of brands saw the opportunity of tying up with these online channels. These tie ups were not restricted to mere ad placements, but the brands were an integral part of many shows themselves. While Kingfisher subtly placed itself in TVF Pitchers, CommonFloor sponsored a show called Permanent Roommates(which is in Ola’s kitty this year), AIB had tie ups with Truly Madly, Urban Ladder and many other brands, while the popularity of some of these channels lead to Brands signing up lead characters from these channels for ads of their own. (Watch : TVF’s Arunabh Kumar in an ad for Vistaprint)

While brands need to justice by spending across the board, this growing interest by them in ‘online GECs’ clearly shows the growing popularity of the same. And while fads come and die, this online consumption of entertainment only seems to be rising. TV watching is constantly on the decline, while these online YouTube channels on the other hand are accessible at all times, and can in fact easily be screened on the big screen as well. They are in that sense, perhaps our very own Netflix. 

The fact that Tiger Global must have spotted an opportunity in such a medium and invested close to 65 cr(10 mn $) just goes on to show the potential these channels have. And while we are just getting started, there is a long road ahead. Marketers, stay aware, this new age and era of native advertising and content marketing is right here, don’t miss this bus while you stay busy with ‘traditional forms of digital marketing’. Content is King, and beyond regular advertising, you need to be part of the storytelling. 

Check out The TVF Qtiyapa Story!

[fb_embed_post href=”https://www.facebook.com/sabqtiyapahai/videos/vb.230013210408109/946403038769119/?type=2&theater/” width=”550″/]

There is growing intolerance in the world of social media

intolerance is increasing online

It was an angry duel between two friends on facebook that made me write this and the more I think about it, the more it seems true. We are increasingly becoming an intolerant lot, and this behaviour is being best exhibited online.

Don’t know about the world, but there is definitely growing intolerance in the online world. Disliking one’s thoughts is one thing, debating another but people have stooped down to slandering and expressing hatred in extremely derogatory ways. People are ‘fighting’ over status messages, some are hurling abuses at each other, while trolling for a variety of reasons is widely popular.

This is a dangerous precedent we are all setting, and if we don’t keep this in check, then it will eventually simply spill over to the offline world. Here are some instances of what is fanning all this intolerant behaviour and what we can perhaps do to put an end to it.

 

1. Let us stop fighting over status messages

Ever heard of the right of speech and expression? I mean there is a line and its tough to say when one crosses it, but can we not be a little respectful towards other people’s thoughts? So they said something against your favourite political leader, about your community or religion, but how about engaging in a discussion over simply starting a war like debate that the world watches? What we don’t realise is that it’s not just the two people who engage in such a debate, but everybody else on the friend list and also the other public network that is watching this conversation.

While defending intolerance, or your community or religion, make sure you are not creating further negativity around it yourself.

A perfect case in point –

[fb_embed_post href=”https://www.facebook.com/prateekshah/posts/10156170346920471/” width=”550″/]

2. Don’t go crazy over rumours

The one big problem with online media is gossips and rumours. If the media could not be trusted in entirety, the online media is even harder to trust. The problem lies with everybody wanting to be the first and fastest. In trying to spread news quickly, many news agencies don’t even do one reference check before publishing something. Sometimes the facts they publish are not entirely true, at other times outdated, or sometimes just plain rumours, which they happily publish, because who cares about the veracity of something as long as it gets some views on the portal.

A brilliant case in point is Shahrukh Khan’s statement about rising intolerance in India. Watch the following video and see the reality behind what actually transpired.

 

 

3. Please read before sharing

We are a headline reading generation. Nobody has the time to read stuff. At best, most people read headlines. The headline of this article will in itself change opinions than the content inside. Websites make the best use of this. Click Bait is happening in full swing. Let’s get people to click and share, why bother about what they read. News is twisted and twisted further till it gets a website the right amount of clicks. Now they will not all always resort to twisting a headline for personal gain, but what about the ones that do. The common man out there doesn’t know the difference between a hundred websites, to him/her, they all look the same.

The more we rely on headlines, the more we are misleading ourselves. Please read beyond the headlines, and please read before you share.

 

In the time to come, what happens in this world will be less dependent by what happens on the streets and more by what happens online. We have a very important responsibility in our hands, and we must not let our actions further fuel intolerance. Social media is purely people centric, people driven and consumed by people; we are all like journalists and our friends like viewers, let us not let ourselves down by spreading hatred. This message is as much to myself as it is to you. We all need to learn, be a little calm and work towards establishing peace in the online world.

Stop creating Facebook pages, Start building websites instead

 

Stop creating facebook pages start building websites Digital Marketing Digital Defynd

What a dumb thing to say, you might say. How can you compare a website with a facebook page, that’s like Apples and Oranges. But this is such an interesting and deep topic, that we need to begin from the beginning.

Around 6-7 years ago, the facebook bug bit everybody. It was this new cool looking platform that was much fancier than the likes of MySpace or Orkut. More importantly, its time had come. The internet was growing at a good pace, people were looking to ‘connect’ and facebook happened. We logged on and no one ever looked back.

Then brands got pages, Fans converted into Likes. Advertising opened up. Companies acquired thousands, millions of likes, whom they thought were subscribers, just like you have them in email. They were right then, they are wrong now. Facebook reach over time has decreased. It has decreased so badly that it is derogatory to use the term decrease to signify what has happened. There are brands with lakhs of fans, and the average reach for something they post is around a few thousand. That’s not even the 10% reach that a lot of people assume the reach to be. Organic reach is down, it’s practically dead. Brands get to make their content reach out to only 1-5% of their fans. That’s like saying, that if you spent Rs 5 at acquiring every fan and you now have 1,00,000 fans, then you have effectively spent around Rs 5,00,000 to reach out to around 5,000 people(considering reach to be 5%) with every post. That hurts.

While part of the blame lies with facebook, brands are to be blamed as well. Facebook kept asking brands to focus on engagement, discussion, community, but brands kept focusing on branding, sales and more sales. What most brands don’t understand is that facebook’s algorithm has over time penalized them heavily and made their reach become lower. But most brands haven’t paid heed to that and have found an easy alternative to keep themselves happy, Boost post(using which in itself is flawed, considering most people do it from the page itself, but more about that later).

So this is where we stand. You have either spent the money and don’t organically get to reach out to fans. Or you haven’t spent any money, don’t have any fans, and naturally don’t reach out to anybody. Either way, you are stuck. Facebook pages are still extremely helpful, relevant and perhaps the backbone of most organisations’ social media strategy, but if you put all your virtual eggs in the e-basket of facebook, then sooner or later, you are surely going to suffer. Move out, get out, and think afresh. Start from scratch in terms of understanding what can you do better, how can you engage fans, what do people like. Now while a lot of answers will come to your mind right from LinkedIn to twitter to Instagram(Do read 10 Instagram tips to make your campaign rock), one suggestion I’d personally like to make is building a website and making it grow. Might sound like the most boring idea in town, but there’s a logic behind it, so let me explain.

Social Media is easy.

You see what has happened over the past few years is that we have all got comfortable with easy. Social Media, primarily is easy, and that’s why everybody does it. Now the more people got used to easy, the more they forgot the basics. For instance, building a website. So let’s say, you did a wonderful campaign on facebook 2 years ago, and a fan of yours wants to access it. Can s/he do it easily? No, because social media doesn’t work that way. It’s more like Snapchat, things vanish after a point(They don’t really, but you get the point). A website on the other hand stores all information at one place and also allows Google to keep crawling and tracking it slowly. What you get after many months and years is a content repository that is not just relevant today, but will be useful tomorrow as well. You get a collection of posts and blogs that can be re-purposed, reused, re-promoted and more. The thing is, that if you slowly  build a website, then it can eventually do wonders for you. Your website is in your hands, you control it, you define the content, you find numerous ways to reach out to your fans. No third party controlling what happens to it, nobody determining where your subscribers go. If you carefully nurture it over time, then it grows in SEO, if you write great articles on it, then you get multiple people to share it too.

Despite those reasons why most people shy away from making one grow, is because a) They either don’t know how to build one b) A wordpress or any other blogging platform doesn’t look as easy to master. Only if we move over our inhibitions and work hard towards going back to making beautiful websites for brands, can we succeed in owning and becoming better at our online campaigns. What is more important is that a website enables us to track a lot of behavioral traits of a user, right from visiting patterns to using cookie tracking for retargeting or capturing email ids for custom targeting on facebook(soon enough on google) or the plain old email marketing, which if done well can work wonders for you.

So you do need a facebook page, you do need to build it too, the same way you need all other social media profiles too, but more importantly, you need a good strong website at the back end. Facebook pages will grow, virality will happen, reach will dwindle but over time facebook might as well give up on you. Your website, on the other hand, it stays with you; you can change it the way you want and get users to engage the way you like. Use facebook to reach out to people, invest in it to promote your brand, but don’t let facebook become the backbone of your entire online marketing campaign.

If you enjoyed reading this, you might also like reading Its time to migrate from the city of Facebook.

Digital Marketing Industry – Everybody knows something, nobody knows everything

Nobody knows everything Prateek Shah Digital Defynd Digital Marketing Industry

I say this with a fair amount of confidence after having interacted with possibly more than a thousand Digital Marketing professionals from India and some other countries. The truth about the digital marketing industry is that everybody knows something, nobody knows everything.

To understand why we are where we are, it is important to understand how this industry came into being. Let us see who constitutes the industry.

– The web development industry of the 90s – The early risers, these guys set the base for the internet revolution in the region. Google was new, and they latched on. They were the early adopters of SEO and SEM. While many also happened to do some bit of SEO and SEM along with web development, there were some who made the switch full time – The first set of Digital Marketing Professionals.

– The ad and PR agencies of the 2000s – PR and Advertising industry don’t exactly go hand in hand, but there is one thing that binds them both – High Paying Clients. Some of these clients suddenly started demanding ‘Social Media Services’, which naturally lead to the creation of multiple social media wings within Ad and PR agencies, with many of these wings now having flown away to service clients on their own.

– The startups and the college kids – Now what is a good startup idea? One that makes you money and is easy to do! That’s social media right there for you. Brands had only started understanding the potential of this whole social media business, and many jumped on the bandwagon.

– The agency owners and the clients – Owing to them having started early and risen up thanks to their hard work; many people in this category happen to know more than many others. But don’t be mistaken, there are many brand managers, who are in positions of authority, handling multiple digital agencies but still just as unaware as some of the agencies themselves.

So that broadly gives you three set of people if we discount the creme de la creme – The SEO/SEM experts who know their tech, their website development and more; the Ad and PR professionals, with their gift of the gab and the art of creativity; and finally the young kids on the block, who are practically your social media champions by default since they live this stuff.

Now this presents an interesting problem when some of the agencies or the clients are looking to hire. They need not 3 people but one person who knows it all. But where is that person? Who are those people? How can there be many such people when most clients and brands themselves are only trying to figure out how all of this digital media works?

There are more jobs than takers. There is an immense need of experienced individuals, but unfortunately not enough experience. There is a lack of enough knowledge and awareness at possibly every node – the client, the agency and the executioners.

It’s the time to give chances, the time to offer people the opportunity to learn as they work for you, the time to make people grow along with you. Looking for the quintessential digital marketing professional right now is much like every guy looking for an Angelina Jolie or every girl wanting a Brad Pitt. It’s time to look for the will in people to learn, the hunger to grow and the passion to perform. You might make a mistake, and so might they, but if you keep waiting for long for the perfect candidate, then you are surely making one big mistake.

Digital Marketing – This industry blew out of proportion before people could catch up to it. Let us share, learn and grow : )

Its time to start migrating from the city of Facebook

Social Media Leave facebook

I like to talk about this analogy in my trainings. Facebook is like a city. Brands are shop owners. Originally there were few, business was booming, then the shopkeepers grew, now the struggle signs are looming. Look around the world, and a common pattern can be observed across metro towns. They slowly become too expensive for the very people who lived, worked and built the city. Facebook is no different. Its becoming an increasingly expensive city.

The people’s social network, the one which gave birth and voice to millions of voices across the world is actually becoming unlivable for smaller brands who don’t have the money to reach out to too many people. Organic reach is at an all time low, and even if some brands manage to come up with exquisite content and creativity to stand out and be noticed, most of them that are small in size are increasingly finding it difficult to find customers in this city. Many, who have spent months and years in building their pages and profiles are wondering what to do next. With more people and more brands joining in, fewer things are happening organically. Spend the money if you want to grow, don’t and then the stagnation shows.

One simple solution is migration. Move to another city, expand to another country, where there are lesser brands, more opportunity, one where you might find the required publicity. You may not leave facebook in entirety, but places like instagram, pinterest, linkedin or other platforms of digital marketing could well be your new digital home. But will the next station be the final bet? Who knows, in the online world, nothing in stone is set. If we can be sure of one thing in the social space, it is to not settle down, keep moving on :)

Social Media has left traditional media behind

social media traditional media

Circa 2009. People started giving up Orkut accounts to switch to facebook. This fancy looking suave place was so full of promise. More privacy, more control, more style, more chutzpah. Oh those were the times, when we were all busy discovering friends on facebook. “Hey, are you on facebook? Yeah! Add me!” Time passed, and the numbers slowly started swelling, literally everybody started trickling, the brands had started shouting, the people had resorted to ranting and the spammers had found newer ways to do seeding. The Singapore skyline had started looking more like the busy streets of Bangalore. While this clutter affects and hurts everybody equally, what hurts the most is what we the people turned social media into.

This new media was supposed to be an alternate to media. Sadly, over time, it has actually turned out to be just the same at many levels. Pages and communities originally built to cater to certain niche segments all seem to be posting the same content. Click bait in all its glory is used everywhere. Anything sensational is spread all across, while the real deal gets missed in the mayhem. There are lots of good pages and channels all around, but most seem to have taken the simpler route to drive more traffic. There are examples of news publications posting provocative content just to get more likes, while there are many niche websites who have had to resort to promote the same content being posted everywhere just because that’s what grabs the eyeballs. Murder mysteries get more coverage here as well, while important events get lost in the process. Journalists are often blamed to not go to the depth of the matter, and people on social media don’t tend to read beyond the headlines before forming their opinions.

What was new, has actually left behind the old in creating an absolutely new kind of sensational media, one that thrives on virality, sensation and negativity.

From NDTV, its become closer to India TV. From The Hindu, its closer to Delhi Times. Not that any of this will change, or that it needs to, but just feels a little sad to see a medium for the people by the people become a victim of the same fate as other media. Social media, over the years has not just caught up with traditional media, but has actually surged ahead in spreading a lot of nonsense. May wisdom prevail.