Author Archives: Malhar Barai

About Malhar Barai

An author, speaker, blogger and digital media strategist, at my day job I work on devising and executing various digital media campaigns. I usually blog about content strategy, social media platforms, product reviews and tricks to ace Social Media. Let's collaborate over @MalharBarai (Twitter) and other platforms.

5 Things We Learnt From Hosting a Twitter Chat

5-things-twitter-chatThis post comes with an experience of hosting and participating in Twitter Chats for more than 4 years. #SEOTalk Twitter Chat was born 4 years back and I have been participating in various Twitter chats even before that.

Over the years that we have been hosting the Twitter Chat, we have had some fabulous engagement within the community and that has helped us notch some awesome stats.

We have organically trended in India multiple time including the first time #SEOTalk was conducted and have been able to reach wider audience over a period of time.

So here are few things that we learnt in course of time and that might help you if you intend to start a Twitter Chat of your own or join as participants.

5 Things to Learn from a Twitter Chat

Timing is important

Before starting a new Twitter Chat, check if there are similar chats already. There are multiple source to find Twitter Chats. Tip: Make sure they are active, these directories have few inactive Twitter Chats too

Once you have identified the gap, then launch your own chat keeping in mind the targeted audience. After our initial research, we found that most of the participants prefer to have these conversations in evening so as not to disturb their routine tasks during the day. Also, Fridays were supposed to be avoided as most of the folks would either be devoted for friends or family.

We specifically wanted to appeal to the Indian audience and knowing their preferences, kept the timing for Mondays, 8:30PM Local Time.

There can be no participants

If you are a host, this is one of the worst situation you can be in. But yes, there are times when everyone is busy and you might hardly see yourself or one more participant. This happens especially when you’re starting a new chat and not many are aware about it. Action Tip – Promote well enough, to start with, tag and engage few friends/acquaintances in similar industry

There can be parallel conversations

This does happen when you have more participants in the chat and few of them could start internal conversation while the chat is on. At times, this conversation might not even be relevant to the subject being discussed in the chat. Don’t lose heart, it happens to many of us. Action Tip – As a moderator of the chat, it would be your responsibility to bring the conversations back to the topic at hand. You will have to politely ask them to drop off the hashtag if relevant conversation is not happening

There can be trolls

Sad reality of Twitter is there are enough trolls out there to hijack any conversations. Their intention may be to sell services, product or anything under the sun by leveraging your reach. On the flip side, there could be some honest mistakes as well, where automation could have gone wrong eg. Retweeting of any tweets with the hashtag, adding to list, etc Action Tip – We have immediately marked account as spam and notified Twitter, which would mean that few of those accounts are banned. We also notify other participants of such spam so that they can even take similar actions.

Use Tools

Most of the times, the Twitter Chats could clock anywhere between 200+ tweets in an hour. Which means that the hash tag becomes very busy and it is humanly impossible to track all the tweets using the native Twitter Tool. So we prefer to use tools like –

Action Tip: Use combination of tools and devices. One device can have a stream running on Tweetdeck where the mentions are being tracked while the other device can use other tools to engage in the chat.

We hope these recommendations and action tips will be useful as you host or participate in Twitter Chat. We have indeed learnt few things from our mistakes too, so happy learning!!

list of things twitter chat

Your turn

What has worked for you as a host and participant of Twitter Chats? Do you participate regularly? What makes you participate in Twitter Chats?

Let us know!

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Better Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) – #SEOTalk Recap

conversion rate optimizationThis week on #SEOTalk Twitter Chat, we had some interesting discussion around Conversion Rate Optimization. For starters, Conversion Rate Optimization or CRO as it’s known in the industry is –

a system for increasing the percentage of visitors to a website that convert into customers, or more generally, take any desired action on a webpage

To achieve better conversion, brands have to constantly look at customer journey towards the conversion. The conversion could be happening through click(s) from PPC, social updates, SEO campaigns. So studying each steps within these campaigns is important.

Like few folks have tweeted in the chat, analytics and A/B testing is a very essential element to achieve better CRO.

Other key element that needs to be optimized for better conversion rate is landing pages.

Landing pages are gateway to conversion process and personally, I advise brands to have minimum number of fields on the landing page for better conversion. If they can do with just 2 fields, name and email id, other details should not be sought. Additional fields can only hamper your conversion rates.

Apart from that, the landing page should have a clear call-to-action (CTA) to help in conversion.

We also covered myths around conversion rate optimization (CRO) and one clear myth was, CRO will solve all the problems of conversion or one landing page is all I need (which still many brands practice). These are clear conversion dampeners.

Here are the questions we covered during the chat –

Q1. What is CRO and why is it important?
Q2. Which metric(s) would to track for CRO?
Q3. How can SEM, SEO play an important role in achieving better CRO?
Q4. Why is landing page the most important aspect of CRO?
Q5. What are the myths around CRO?
Q6. What hacks/tips would you suggest for better CRO?

Conversion Rate Optimization Transcripts

Your thoughts

  1. What are your thoughts on improving conversion through landing pages
  2. How can brands be better at conversion rate optimization?

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What is happening in Live Streaming Universe?

live streaming universeOver last one week we have seen couple of key announcements related to live streaming. First was shutting down of Blab.im and that was followed by changes to Google Hangout On Air. Both these announcements are being debated about widely in various live streaming communities.

Most of us are talking on what went wrong with those two platforms and what can we see going further. But before we go there, let’s  see what has been happening so far.

Glance at Live Streaming Universe

Some stats –

  • Periscope has over 10mn users
  • Periscope has over 200 million broadcasts so far
  • Everyday, over 110 years worth of videos are watched on Periscope
  • Blab had over 3.9mn users
  • Average daily user viewed blab for 65 minutes

While live streaming was already popular with Crowdcast and Google Hangouts, it came to prominence with the launch of mobile platforms like Meerkat and then Periscope. The ease of doing live video by tapping on your devices and reaching out to wider audience was a power brands could hardly fathom.

Then came Blab.im, a platform that could live stream with 1-4 participants along with it’s iOS app and desktop interface. It was also tech light, which made many Google Hangout users to switch loyalties.

But now, by this time of the year, live streaming universe is dotted with multiple players – Periscope, Facebook Live, Firetalk, Huzza, Crowdcast to name a few and each of them offer more or less the same kind of functionality and few extensions too.

So we believe that the combination of mobile app + social + tech light has done wonders to the live streaming universe and is giving rise to many live streaming stars, each good in their own niche.

Then where is the challenge?

The first and foremost challenge is – ‘listening to community‘. For someone like me who were doing an occasional Periscopes but more Blab based shows, the announcement of shutting down Blab was quite sudden. Though it was not surprising given the way folks at Blab had stopped listening to the community since early 2016.

We often heard people having trouble signing in or unable to download or even asking for updates on certain features. Most of the time, they hit the wall with their queries, so many of us could see it coming. The only question was when.

The second challenge is ease of use. Many folks had migrated to Blab or similar providers from Google Hangout to host multi-participant shows because of the ease at which they could do those shows. These platforms were tech light and as easy as login & start show or login & join or just view the stream. And with mobile apps, most of them were able to go live tapping few buttons on the device.

Third and BIGGEST challenge – ‘Quality of content‘. While folks using Google Hangouts or paid platforms like Crowdcast gave out best content, free platforms like Blab or Periscope were often serving out crappy content. And that is exactly what Shaan Puri spoke about on the last post about Blab. According to him and which is true, many people were just ‘hanging around’ and broadcasting. That really doesn’t add any value to either the platforms or the followers.

What next for live streaming?

The churn is for real and I wish the best platform wins. And the platform that will be able to provide ease of use, quality content, easy integration with tools, mobility will be the winner.

And indeed, live streaming is not going away, so if you’re still sitting on the fence, it’s a good time to pick up platforms like Facebook Live, Periscope or Google Hangout and start engaging with your audience.

For starters, Google Hangout is not going away but just the integration with Google+ is moving to Youtube. Which means, few functionalities like Q&A might not work on the new integration. Youtube Live should be the next platform to watch out for. Though my hopes are not very high given Google’s history of bungling on anything ‘social’.

Other platforms that I am betting on, apart from Facebook Live and Periscope are Crowdcast and Firetalk. Both are pretty similar to Blab and I see many of the regular Blab users already on those platforms.

Your thoughts?

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Instagram Stories – Should Snapchat be worried?

instagram stories

We had pretty interesting couple of weeks in the digital marketing world. Earlier, most of the platform announced their quarterly results which was followed by launch of some new features. And Instagram Stories definitely caught everyone’s fancy. Not because of the new feature but more so as it resembled closely to Snapchat Stories.

The new feature, just like Snapchat Stories, allows users to share a photo or 10 second video on Stories with a life of 24 hours.

Now what does that mean to marketer and brands? And more importantly, should Snapchat be worried?

Instagram Stories – Who will win the game?

Here is my take on the topic and it is based on 3 key factors –

  1. User Experience
  2. User Growth
  3. Building a Tribe

User Experience

Instagram’s claim to fame was filters that people could apply on their photos and share within the community. Features gave power to people to make their photos look better without using tough-to-learn photo-editing softwares and it was quicker too.

Snapchat took that experience a little further. You had filters on ‘snaps’ which could be either photos or 10-sec videos. Apart from that, you could add location filters or like they call it – geo filters too. Giving more power to people, you could create your own geo-filter and submit too.

Add to that, the power of emojis, which were recently introduced. And there you have a fun platform that entertainers, personal marketers loved it. Just think, Snapchat reaches 41% of all 18 to 34 year-olds in the United States every day and they owe it to user experience.

So, Instagram 0, Snapchat 1

User growth

Many of us know that Instagram had been for long facing a growth fatigue. The MAU or the monthly active users were not improving much over last few quarters. Compared to it, Snapchat was getting much popular and more users were moving from Instagram to Snapchat, thus lowering the engagement on Instagram.

Though, over last few quarters, Instagram came up with Sponsored updates and algorithm based feed and arrested the sharp decline as well as monetized the platform better.

Now with addition of Stories feature, I have seen more engagement on Instagram which could mean that they are on a path to recovery.

So, Instagram 1, Snapchat 1

Building Tribes

Now this aspect I believe is a deal clincher. We have always known that it’s not easy to ‘Discover’ someone on Snapchat. You have either seen a Snapcode on some other platform or were recommended by someone.

Compared to that, it is much easier to find people on Instagram. You could use either a hashtag and follow people using that hashtag or find via the visual search tool. Also, given the fact that the platform has been around longer than Snapchat, many users already have a strong follower base in place.

So, Instagram 2, Snapchat 1

In a nutshell, I believe that this is Instagram’s battle to lose. And if Snapchat still wants it’s share of dollars, they will have to build strong discovery features as well as come up with other really innovative features to take the wind out of Instagram Stories.

Watch the video sharing my thoughts on this battle and do subscribe to the channel

Your thoughts?

Twitter Announces Verified Accounts For All

Twitter Verified AccountsThis morning I woke up to the pleasant news of Twitter opening up the Verified Accounts system for all users.

For starters, verified accounts are the one with a small blue mark beside the account name. The blue mark signifies that this accounts belongs to few privileged lot – brands, celebrities, key industry experts.

While they always had an online process for account verification, it was still not open to everyone. More often, it was only the business accounts that had access or at the most a Twitter representative could help you get one.

In a nutshell, there was no definite process for normal users to get a verified account which has changed now.

On the announcement, Twitter said –

Our goal with this update is to help more people find great, high-quality accounts to follow, and for creators and influencers – no matter where they are in the world – to easily connect with a broader audience

It has to be noted though, the acceptance of an application is still at Twitter’s discretion. There is no guarantee that everyone who applies shall get their accounts verified.

Verified Accounts Guide

It’s not only personal account that can get verified but you can have your brand/company accounts also verified in the same process.

While the process is made public, there are still some prerequisites before you can apply for a verified account. They need to have –

  1. Verified phone number
  2. Confirmed email address
  3. Bio with details
  4. Profile photo
  5. Header photo
  6. Birthdate (for accounts that are not company, brand, or organization accounts)
  7. Website linked to the account
  8. Tweets set as public in Tweet privacy settings

Apart from this, Twitter is also asking for a reason on why that particular account should be verified. It provides you space of 500 characters for giving justification.

Twitter will notify you about the application via a linked email address and in case the account is not verified, you can apply again in 30 days.

Check out the entire verification process here.

Good luck with you process!

Better PPC Campaigns – #SEOTalk Recap

ppc campaigns

On the recent SEOTalk Twitter Chat, we discussed about PPC Campaigns and various strategies to make them successful.

PPC Campaigns form an essential element as part of any marketing campaign. They play a key role in targeting appropriate consumers and attracting relevant traffic.

So it is imperative for brands to constantly optimize their campaigns and keep aligning to it’s goals. Hence most of the campaigns are iterative in nature giving benefits of optimization.

The challenge though is, there and multiple misconceptions around PPC and it is more often than no equated with fraudulent practices.

And now the advent of display and mobile ads has added one more dimension to complexity. Brands have to increasingly look at optimizing for devices and display networks.

With all such challenges and questions, we dived into the SEOTalk community seeking answers to questions like –

  1. What is the importance of PPC Campaigns in digital marketing?
  2. What are the common mistakes in PPC Campaigns?
  3. Keyword Strategy is vital for PPC, what are the best practices?
  4. How can one improve the quality score of a PPC Campaigns
  5. When should one use “Search Network Only’ vs ‘Search Network with Display’?
  6. Why are extensions important for better PPC?
  7. What combination of tools would you recommend to track a PPC Campaign?

Check out the transcripts for answers to each of the questions put out here.

Better PPC Campaigns Transcripts

Your Turn

  1. What are you thoughts on PPC Campaigns?
  2. How can brands make the best use of it?

How Social Media Helps in SEO – #SEOTalk Recap

social media seoInteresting conversations ensued during this week’s SEOTalk Twitter Chat where we discussed on how can Social Media help in SEO.

We all have been witness to use of Social Media platforms to share content and get targeted traffic resulting in success of content marketing strategies but very few of us realize the SEO importance of such campaigns.

We started of the chat with questions on the importance of social signals since Google has stated that it’s not important but we still see that social media posts that have gone viral do have better ranking. Hence the debate started with that and then moved to link building.

While we conversed on what helps improve SEO, we also decided to talk about what NOT to do on SoMe that could impact SEO. And soliciting for link building was the most common view.

Finally, we discussed about importance of keywords on Social Media posts and how they impact your search rankings.

Questions on How Social Media Helps in SEO

Q1. Why are social signals important for SEO?
Q2. How can brands build authority using Social Signals?
Q3. Can Social Media help in link building thus improving SEO?
Q4. What should you NOT do on social media, that could affect SEO?
Q5. Which social platform(s) gives you the best results for SEO?
Q6. Would you implement keyword strategy on social platforms to improve SEO?

Your Take

  1. How does SoMe Effect SEO?
  2. What do you think should not be done on SoMe that can affect SEO?
  3. What are our suggestions to improve SEO by leveraging SoMe?

Do join us on #SEOTalk Twitter Chat every Mondays 8:30PM India Time, 3PM GMT, 11AM EST (Without Daylight Saving Time)

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Campaign Review – Fueled By Love

Couple of weeks back my social media TL was filled with an India centric video campaign titled Fueled by Love from British Airways. I did let it pass for a day, but given the number of shares, I did get intrigued and dived right into it.

The next 7 minutes were quite heartwarming and it gave me a sneak peek into a unique story-telling approach to marketing. The ad showcased the Indian culture of loving people, the deep bonding they have in families, mutual respect for cultures, etc.

Campaign Fueled By Love – What is it?

The ad is actually based on a true story and has been directed by Neeraj Ghaywan of the Masaan fame. The story is about an air-hostess Helena, who has been assigned to fly to India and this would be her first time experiencing the country. While she was excited to take up this trip, she way equally nervous given the enormity of the task and difference in culture.

On her first flight to the country, she has a chance meeting with an old lady, who is flying back to India. Throughout the flight, she helped the old lady with various tasks like tying the seat belt, helping her with wearing socks, having small talk with her and making the old lady comfortable. That small talk when the old lady is missing her son during the flight is the cornerstone of the entire ad. It’s with this small talk that the air-hostess makes the old lady comfortable and develops a deep bond between them. campaign fueled by love

That followed by the old lady inviting the air-hostess to her house and giving a glimpse of Indian warmth and hospitality – food and dance recital. The most touching moments were when the old lady packs lunch for Helena and gives a hand-crafted handkerchief as a gift.

I have always been advocating brands to have an emotive connect with the consumers and this ad is a perfect example of how it can be done.

The director does a fine job with the ad by connecting lives of people from two different culture, age and showcases how British Airways training on attention to finer details like mutual respect for traditions, deep understanding of  country like India makes them one of the best airline to fly on.

If you still have not seen the ad, do it now! It’s the best example of ‘Story-telling’ approach to ads.

Your Turn?

What are your thoughts on the campaign and the story telling approach?

20+ Social Media Monitoring Tools [Infographic]

social media monitoring tools

Running a social media campaign and wondering which Social Media Monitoring tools to use?

How can you effectively listen to the chatter about your brand on social media?

Can you get notified for brand mentions?

Free or Paid tools?

Look no further, this infographic by RazorSocial is a perfect answer to your questions. The infographic lists down some of the best known social media monitoring tools that can help to know where the brands are being mentioned, how many times it’s being mentioned, positive or negative mentions, etc.

In order to know the success of any social media campaign, it is very important to get the analytics at each stage of the campaign. These social media monitoring tools helps brands to listen, analyze campaigns and help them gauge the success of any campaigns.

How to benefit from Social Media Monitoring?

The cardinal rule of social media monitoring is that not one tool will do everything. Brands have to adopt the ‘horses for courses’ analogy and use a mix of tools depending on what they want to track.

Social media is full of noise and to catch the right signals from the noise, different set of tools have to be used. Also, many of the tools are available for free or limited use or paid. The best strategy would be to use a mix of free and paid tools.

Some of the tools mentioned here are –

  1. Brand24
  2. Mention
  3. TrackUr
  4. Talkwalker
  5. BuzzSumo
  6. Nod3x
  7. Radian6
  8. Meltwater
  9. Syntehsio
  10. Viralheat

Social Media Monitoring Tool

RazorSocial
Courtesy of: RazorSocial

Your Turn

  1. What are some of the best tools that you have used?
  2. What should be the optimum strategy in choosing the tools?

#Blab2Learn Recap – Blog Monetization in 2016

blog monetization

There are various techniques for blog monetization but every blogger worth their salt are wondering which ones will work in 2016.

Will it be Google Display ads, affiliate ads, ebooks, trainings, sponsored posts or something else?

At Blab2Learn, we asked this question to Harsh Agrawal, India’s leading blogger.

What Blog Monetization Techniques will work in 2016

During the conversation we touched upon various techniques like:

1. Affiliate Marketing
2. Having your own product
3. Brand Ambassadors
4. Selling Merchandise
5. Sponsored Posts
6. Retargeted Pixel using Facebook
7. Workshop/Summit

While the conversation started with challenges in display ads due to ad-blockers, we moved to the topic of ‘Affiliate Marketing’ soon after. Harsh talked about using platforms like Skimlinks, Cuelinks, etc and we also talked about other techniques of creating own products and selling them.

Harsh also mentioned about how brands are now investing in individual bloggers and appointing them as brand ambassadors. Depending on your popularity you can have 6 months or 1 year contract and monetize your presence.

We also went through 2 unique blog monetization techniques – Facebook retargeting using pixels and workshop/summit.

According to Harsh, if you have a niche blog, the workshop/summit technique would do wonders and you being a disruptor would have the first-mover advantage.

Check out the video and hear more…

Your Thoughts?

  1. What blog monetization techniques do you see gaining popularity in 2016?
  2. How will ad blockers affect earnings of bloggers?

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