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)


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 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.

Social media shaping our lives?

May 25, 2012

For most people including the marketeers, social media is a form of technology which maps our behaviour into digital world. Actually this is how the entire automation or for that matter the computerization has started. We first tried to automate the routine work with the help of machines then we made them little intelligent by adding ‘CPU’ or brainpower. Think of machines – typewriters then word-processors on the computers or calculators and then spreadsheets. Think of the early use of computers for payroll etc. Essentially we were asking the machines to do our work. Most people ( who are 35 and above today) have to come to think of computers, internet as a way to map our tasks – personal work and office work in the internet world.

But social media such as Facebook or Twitter or Google hangout or Linkedin are proving to be much more than manifestation of our lives in the digital world. Though the founder’s of these companies might not have started with the grand vision and great psychological studies or with the intentions of changing the people behaviour, but these tools are precisely doing that – they are taking us into an era where our social behaviour is being shaped by them. Here are sample examples why I think it is happening :

Definition of friends : We all value number of likes and comments to our posts by our friends. We engage and connect with the people with whom we did not have in-depth relationships in real life. But we value their comments, we establish some bonds with them. With more and more people being on-line, the way new generation would think of ‘friends’ is entirely going to change. There are going to be more online friends than real life ones and they are the ones who are going to be more influential.  These influences would not have cultural boundaries. This wold lead to the behaviour patterns that have no historical pattern that can be studied. It is all going to be very new.

‘Hanging out’ : With the video chats and ‘hangout’ types tools becoming common coupled with online games becoming more interactive where do you think people are going to spend time on? What is going to shape their minds?

Learning process : We used to think sending to school was enough for the children to get knowledge and information. To give them something extra there were libraries. In a way, it was a linear process, there were defined ways of acquiring the knowledge. Now we want children to be all rounded at an early age and are exposing them, at times pushing them, to many sources of information – schools, tuition, classes, workshops, camps and online assignments. If that is not enough they are expected to understand the latest developments in each fields while learning the basics. For example we teach them ( in the schools) sound waves, light waves, fundamentals of electromagnetic theory, atomic structure etc and then we want them to know about the latest developments in satellite communication, nano technology, super computers etc.Essentially we want to shorten the learning cycle by pointing to the resources available online. Obviously they get pushed to spend more time going through internet and all these social resources.

The entire social media is going to acquire its own form, without we noticing it. The minds, culture, behaviour, societies and nations are  going to be shaped by what people get exposed on the social networks. Are we ready to embrace it?

Note : I have made the image by combining three different pictures available on various sites.

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