Open letter to all channels

Dear Channel providers,

I am sure that all of you are complaining about piracy of your shows and content over the internet. In fact I won’t be surprised if you think the bit torrent technology is the scourge of all paid content models. Here is a suggestions –

If you can’t beat them, join them

Why don’t you start providing your premium content for download over the internet? Go ahead put your advertisements in them as well. Not only are you increasing your advertisement exposure, but also you are making money off the very thing which was a threat to you earlier.

The cool part is that even if your content then gets pirated, you are still getting the advertisement exposure. Isn’t that what you wanted?

Customer Engagement

My job at Illumine is to make a career enablement platform for individuals. A part of this platform management includes (but is certainly not limited to) –

  • To ensure that users once they come on the website wont get overwhelmed by the enormity and complexity of the task at hand.
  • To make sure that the users keep on coming back to the site, in order to enable their careers. No, not like a Naukri.com or a Monster.com. They have their place in their own regards, but that place is in matching the job seekers to companies, and that’s it.

This is why it has to be different. The way the user will engage with the site will be different. In order to understand this “Customer Engagement” thing better, I decided to investigate this further.

It is how the user engages with the idea of the portal, and all the ambience surrounding it. Yes we know that, and we also know how to measure it. Often at times great businesses use Customer Engagement either as a marketing tool or as a metric to measure the success of an initiative.

All this gyaan was great, but it did not get me anywhere. I still had a design for the site to be made, and none of the literature around is talking about Customer Engagement as a Design driver , all of them are using it post execution to see the effects of an action/treatment. People talk about user centric design, is this similar to online CE? I am finding out!!

Today after a long discussion with our modelling team, I realized that to use CE as a design driver would mean to completely re-structure the portal that we are developing; and keeping the customer engagement at the center. I am sure that this concept is already there in all design paradigms, but then why do not I see this being practiced in real life?

Great products have this built-in them – iPod, WordPress, TCP/IP, GMail, Books, I could go on. That’s why their fundamental design has not changed much. The way the user engages with the product remains constant, what changes is the technology, the look and the price :-).

What do you think?

Indian definition of P0rn

This is how Indian law defines Pornographic Content –

“Any content that is lascivious and that will appeal to prurient interest or the effect of which is to tend to deprave or corrupt the minds of those who are likely to see, read or hear the same.”

Who are they kidding? The lascivious and prurient I can still buy, corrupting minds?? Really?? So if it does not corrupt my mind (as if you can tell!!) then it is not porn?? Do we need to re-look at our IT Act and policies?

I say yes.

Social Search: The new frontier

One of my colleagues in a presentation remarked – that the problem these days is not about lack of information, it is about visibility of that information! These days the sheer volumes of information has reached such an extent that one cannot make out the differences between relevant and irrelevant. How many times have you clicked “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on Google in the past month? The answer is zero for me.

The way Google has chosen to solve that problem is idiotic at best – they let you indicate the relevance of the search result for that particular term (you have to be logged in to your Google Account and search for checking this feature out). The problem with this solution is that I still have to search for the solution which is most relevant to me. Visibility of the most relevant solution is an issue. What would have been great, if Google could have taken the relevance out of my social circle (read Google Contacts) and shown my contact’s relevance to me as well!! So my social circle is defining the context of the search and they are doing the search for me; not Google.

Social search, is what I am talking about. The new paradigm now is not to show all the possible searches – nobody has time to go through 567,198 results, show me what is relevant to me. Know thy customer. Take an application like Twitter and Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck lets me set search through the Twitter community, that way, the relevance and context comes out through the users. That is the way of the future – we used to talk about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but now it should be Social Media Visibility (SMV).

Shaadi 2.0

No, its not about collaborative marriage over the web :-). Amol gave me this crazy idea. We were discussing the Indian SMS site, Vakow which enables us to push normal SMS into a web-based RSS/Atom feed. There are about a gazillion applications for an RSS feed. Well, this is just one such mashup between a practical application of Vakow and Google Reader.

Well to be honest, the title of the blog should not be Shaadi 2.0, but rather Event 2.0, but since we are using the my marriage as the event to cover, I decided to name the title so, well ..  and this one is more exciting na? So here is what we did.

  1. Register on Vakow, get a username and have your phone number associated with that username, so that you can SMS messages to your Vakow id.
  2. You are on track now, and you should be able to post a feed … now that your feed is set, we just need to integrate that feed with my marriage feed
  3. Send me the RSS link, I will add it in my Google Reader public folder, and voila!! You can view the sample page here.

People who cannot attend the wedding in person can keep on hitting the RSS page for an up-to-date status.

Twitter uses

I have posted earlier on Twitter as well, but this time, its for a more practical purpose. It is on how to use this web tool to market your site online, to get those readers/customers to your portal. Social media is a powerful thing, and using it to promote your product/service online at minimal cost is even better :-)

So here are a few ways you can use twitter to tweet your way to more hits.

  1. Have an RSS Feed on your site, if it is content based, eg. Crazy Engineers, put that RSS in Twitterfeed, and push out regular updates through twitter! Similar updates can then be sent to your twitter of your blog/corporate blog as well.
  2. Once you have your twitter account setup and your tweets are flowing a-go-go, then you can have your social networking accounts like Facebook, to display the same tweet.
  3. Take care not to over do the feeds, since your followers can get bugged with you. I know a few friends who have complained of me tweeting of what songs I am listening to and all that jazz, so keep a filter on those feeds.
  4. It also helps if you are tweeting every once in a while by yourself, so you get a more human face. For eg. Zappos’ CEO, Tony Hsieh is there on twitter, and he actively tweets about his daily routine. How cool is that, direct access to a firms CEO, can you be more customer-centric?
  5. Use twitter for simple market surveys, qualitative and quantitative as well. For eg. You can tweet, “What do you think is going to happen to the Indian economy?”, the answers would be more than enough to put forth a blog post. Later, you can tweet that post url, and there is a likely chance that people who participated in your twitisurvey would also read your post
  6. This latest in: Use twitter to resign!!

Try it out, give twitter a twhirl!!