Interesting lesson in copywriting for digital media

July 31, 2016

I am among those people who still like to read the newspaper, I mean the actual newspaper.. ummm.. still haven’t got it? Ok let me put it this way, I prefer the actual paper based edition of the newspaper than reading thru the same newspaper app. I just love the feel of the newspaper. But living out of India doesn’t give me an opportunity to get access to the paper version of the Indian newspapers and I have to do with the apps. On my mobile, I have tons of news and newspaper apps from Singapore, UK, US and Indian publications.

This week as I touched down in India and decided to spend the Sunday at Goa with my family, I was more delighted to put my hands on all the actual newspapers. I read the Times of India, Economic Times and was feeling quite happy. But my habit of looking at other apps led me to still check my mobile. I clicked on the Economic Times app, even though I had read the newspaper. Cursory look at the headlines made me think that there is a difference between app version and the actual newspaper one. So I looked at the paper again, specially the ET Magazine section.

When I looked into details, I realized that the news is same – only the headlines are different. Here are some comparisons. I have captured the mobile version headline and its respective headline in the actual newspaper. You can see the difference. In my view,  this is an interesting lesson in copywriting. ET is always known for writing catchy headlines. ET has given a new dimension to the headlines. This is a lesson for all the copywriters to understand how to treat Digital media differently than paper. I think, this is a good thinking on the part of ET. Headlines in App are simple, straight forward and in just a few words tell you what the news is all about. ET knows that the mobile user is always in a hurry, her/ his span of attention is very very short. The headline needs to tell everything in one go. On the other hand, the newspaper reader gives little more time to read the headlines and blurb together. There is more space available to create attention. Hence actual newspaper headlines are treated differently.

I think this is a good lesson in copywriting, specially in digital and social media age.

Not many companies give this kind of attention to treating the media and channles differently, specially those who are creating content for offline, websites and social media channels. They simply publish same contents (with same headlines) over different channels and hope to get reader’s attention. More often than not they fail. Even within Digital media, you need to treat various channels differently. The reader on website has different attention span than the reader of the Tweet or FB post. ET, has very well shown how to address this aspect.


Example 1)




Example 2)


Example 3)



Example 4)


“How to use social media” For early teenagers

April 9, 2014

In April 2011, I gave this presentation in my son’s school in Singapore for the children of 13 to 15 years old.

When I look back at it, I feel now this presentation or message should be given to 10 to 13 years old children.

In this presentation I spent good amount of time in giving context and making children ready to accept the message about how to use social media. What I have seen is that teenager children don’t accept things just because some one is telling them to do it. They want to know why, they are ready to question everything. But at the same time if we take them into confidence and share our thought process they appreciate it ( may not necessarily agree with it, but at least their readiness to listen is much higher).

There are three steps in this presentation before the actual message :

1. Quiz : This is just to make the learning fun. Make them relax and enjoy

2. “There can be different views about same thing” ( basically telling them that don’t have to look at any message  as ‘one is right and other is wrong’). Hence I have given two examples – count the number of squares. You always get so many different answers. And you achieve your objective of conveying that there are different views about the same thing hence they should listen to parents / elders instead of taking ‘I am right/ you are wrong’ stand.

The second is a picture of old woman / young woman, it is to reinforce the above message.

3. In the third step I have tried to give them the context as to why they are being told or cautioned repeatedly about the use of social media. Whey parents / teachers are constantly reminding them to be careful. Most children tend to discard the message when told many times, they simple ignore you, hence I wanted to share with them concerns of parents and teachers.

For this purpose, I wanted to impress upon them that social media is a very new concept – less than 20 years old and compare that with all other means of communication which have been there for hundreds of year. There are well established norms of the society over these years. But with social media no one knows what are the norms, what is correct or what is acceptable. So obviously everyone in the society is anxious, at times apprehensive about this new form of the social life. So I wanted them to understand this perspective – when parents / teachers are telling you something there is a reason behind it, they are not there to stop you from doing something just for the sake of it.

By this time, I did find that children were ready to listen what I had to say.

At this stage, I did not take “Dos and Don’t” approach.

I wanted to share with them the impact of social media on our lives and how it is shaping our personal, professional and social life. I believe if we tell them more about the possible results, teenage children are able to take appropriate action to large extent.

My key message was to use 3T approach to decide if you are doing right thing or not. You would read about 3T in the slides.

Then I wrapped up the presentation with some good examples of social media where it is useful. Most often children are told about bad things that are happening because of the social media, I wanted to make sure that children understand that it can be used for betterment as well.

Hope you would like it. Would be happy to get your feedback.

My take on Twitter IPO : Keep doing the right thing, you will invariably find the commercial model.

September 25, 2013

Twitter IPOOn 12th September, Twitter twitted “We’ve confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO. This Tweet does not constitute an offer of any securities for sale.” 

For many reasons it was an important announcement. In its 7 years of journey, it has seen huge challenges – technical challenges as well business model challenges. So called pundits have questioned very existence of Twitter on commercial scale. It was dwarfed by the two towering giants – Google and Facebook. Even today it is not very big in terms of revenue it generates – between $500 million to $600 million by some estimates.

Given that Twitter had started off as a side project in early 2006, it could have died easily, specially when it did not have predictable revenue model till very recent times. I remember reading many articles when people wondered whether Twitter would remain relevant to the consumers. There were lot of uncertainties when third party apps like TweetDeck, Tweetie etc had threatened to gain more consumer traction than Twitter itself. After all company revenue ( specially Ad revenue) entirely depends on the extent of consumer interaction you have and insights you gain.

Despite these challenges Twitter has survived, flourished and is reaching an important milestone on the journey of successful companies – through this IPO it is being valued at around $12Billion company.  Today it is one of the most important platforms for the politicians, the civic societies, the celebrities and all the influencers to directly engage with their followers. You can not imagine some of the great events of the century – without Twitter being used as a tool – President Obama’s election and re-election, Arab spring movements etc.

My take on this success is that Twitter kept doing what was right for its users. It started off small, but improvised, improved and delivered what users wanted – great engagement platform, search and ability to influence.  As an outsider I believe Twitter was able to achieve this because it did not succumb to the pressures of to go after commercial model first. It apparently pursued what was right for its users and did not clutter the platform with ads. I believe that if it had only focussed on doing the ad and ad revenue, it might have distorted the user experience and acceptance and might not have got this tremendous user engagement – which is a real reason for its success so far. I believe that Twitter, continued to deliver what users were looking for, it became relevant and sticky and eventually found a way to monetize it. And I think thats the way it should be.

I hope it continues its journey and I wish it all the success.

Why it is so difficult to measure the impact of social media

December 23, 2012

My interest in social media and its impact on business has led me to dabble into social media for a fair amount of time. It is quite a new medium but has made significant impact on businesses, politics, opinion making, brands and what not. I consider the channels like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Pinterest, blogging, Youtube, Slideshare, Instagram as form of social media tools. There are many more being added.

However there is a great deal of debate happening among the marketers about measurement of its impact on business – sales, revenue etc.; for example  this  article in HBR .

“If you think pageviews, unique visitors, registered members, conversion rates, email-newsletter open rates, number of Twitter followers, or Facebook likes are important by themselves, you probably have no idea what you’re doing. Those metrics are the most common false idols of analytics.”….

Likewise there are many views about which metrices are right or wrong.

In my opinion, social media is one of the channels of reaching out to the customers. Depending on what you are offering you can leverage this channel to achieve any or all of the objectives, namely : direct sales, message dissemination, improve speed of communication, brand enhancement, reputation management, create engagement etc. Eg.Personalities, political parties, social activists, news channels are using Twitter for giving out information/ opinion; restaurants, consumer goods are using Facebook to reach out with promotions.

We need to make use of the social media and its impact in the similar way as we use AAA approach – Awareness, Appreciation and Adoption cycle. But social media has added few additional dimensions that makes it interesting to use for direct engagement (not just communication) with the stakeholders at lower cost, provide response and enable experimentation with offerings at more targeted audience in less time. There are many examples of brands, personalities, services that have leveraged the media successfully. Business like  restaurants, shoe brands etc are able to get their audience’s opinion, create offering suited to range of audience or even let their audience create an offering based on their products ( eg. paintings / hand decoration using their material).

Thus every business has to create its own metrics depending on what it expect from social media in the given period of time. We work with our clients by first talking about business objectives and challenges they are facing in growing the business. Then we identify who are potential customers ( are they new ones or we need to tap into new ones). Then map them where these potential customers are spending more time ( which social media). And make a plan to reach out to them.  Based on that we create a metrics for different phases of time.

There are no right or wrong rules. Unless you take a plunge you can not experience it and hence can not correct it. If you are a newcomer at trying out social media do your basic home work and get going.

Why I am happy to see ‘Twitter Drops Linkedin Partnership’

June 30, 2012

When I read above news, first thing that I came to my mind was ‘Ah! I would not be seeing Tweets on Linkedin stream’.

Frankly I really get irritated when people spam Linkedin, Facebook networks through their tweets.

First of all it is due to the fact that ‘tweets’ on Linkedin don’t have a neat look and feel. They look so alien with a short URL, few words and picture of tweet preceding it. It doesn’t look authentic ‘Linkedin’ experience.

Secondly, it also gives me a feeling that person is not genuinely interested in sharing the information with Linkedin users, but is simply interesting in ‘showing’ his so called ‘contribution to sharing’.

My view is that, if you really want to engage with your audience, really want to share the news, you should take some efforts in populating that particular social network in its native form.

In our real social networks we have different ‘networks’ of friends/relatives/colleagues etc. We treat each of them separately. When we share information with each ‘network’ we do it in a distinct way. Same should be applied on Virtual Social Networks (VSN) – Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook etc. If these VSNs are manifestation of our real social life, then we should treat each of them separately.

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