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.

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)


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

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?

Subscribe to the videos today!

Whoops! Influencer Marketing Gone Wrong

influencer marketing gone wrong

Influencer Marketing is slowly becoming an integral part of any brand’s marketing campaign these days. Though, the problem is, very few brands are able to get it right. This Indian brand is facing a lot of fury now.

Imagine this, brand is launching a product, the product could create disruption in the market, announces big celebrity as a brand ambassador, announces launch in a close group, has a big event lined up AND post event, influencers will tweet congratulatory messages!

Sounds like a perfect plan!

The CMO has approved it, the agency has finalized the list of influencers – they are biggest names in the country, each having a reach probably over 100k.

Yay! This could be the best launch ever. Looks fabulous ‘on paper’.

And the morning after the launch!

Twitteratis wake up to tweets from their favorite accounts congratulating the brand on successful launch, all is well!

Wait, what is this!?

Twitteratis are puzzled, tweets from the influencer accounts look all the same! The messages read the same, all of them.

influencer marketing fail


Yes, that has just happened to the Influencer Marketing campaign of Reliance Jio. And as I talk, there’s one more hash tag that is trending and the same tactics are being deployed.

Dear Brand & Agencies – This is the perfect example on how NOT to do Influencer Marketing. The collective intelligence of Twitterverse is much more than what you imagine it to be.

What you just did is called spamming of the worse kind!

Influencer Marketing the Right Way

While each agency will have a list of ‘influencers’, they will also have their own way of doing it. But in a nutshell, the way it would work is:

  1. Identify the target audience
  2. Create a list of influencers
  3. Create a message and personalize for each influencers – It’s important to tailor your strategies to have optimum reach & impact
  4. Monitor and measure
  5. Take action – stop immediately if you’re getting negative press

I believe that for this campaign, steps 3, 4 & 5 have been given a complete miss. Even while there is an outcry against the previous hashtag, we find the brand & agency doing a hara-kiri with yet another campaign.

Your thought??

Where do you think they have erred?

#Blab2Learn Recap – Branded Content w/Rashii Prabhakar

branded content

Branded Content – That’s the new wave in content marketing.

You may have already seen many brands resorting to this technique now but how can it be done best?

We had none other than Rashii Prabhakar explaining that on the Blab2Learn show and sharing some interesting thoughts on doing it well.

Most of the brands that we know of find it tough to have a strategy around branded content. Many of them end up just talking about themselves and come out at ‘me-me-me’ message which the consumers hate to see.

Is there a way it can be done in a subtle way?

What is the difference between editorial content and branded content?

Should brands leverage it?

Rashii explains them perfectly on the show.

Branded Content with Rashii Prabhakar

Your Turn

  1. Do you think brands should invest in this new content strategy?
  2. Will we see more brands adopting it?

Let us know your thoughts on the topic.

Meanwhile stay tuned to Blab2Learn show. Subscribe to the channel today!

Twitter Count Is Gone! What do we do now?

twitter count

If you haven’t heard it yet, as of 20th November 2015, Twitter has deprecated the Twitter Count API.

What that really means is, you will no long be able to see the number of shares a particular URL gets as the Twitter Count API cannot be called.

Needless to say, the online marketing world is  aghast at this decision and are raising questions if Twitter really knows what they are doing?

Twitter Count was an important metric. Many of us have been leveraging it as a social proof, telling the world how popular our page has been. And all that is going to change now.

Most of us are trying to find a reason why Twitter decided to deprecate Twitter Count and how it affects us.

Why Twitter Count is deprecated?

At a time, when most of the social media platforms are keen to show case some kind of social proof in order to tell the world that their platform has the best reach, why would Twitter Count be deprecated?

While Twitter has given the official reason as –

The “count API” has never existed as part of our public, supported and documented API endpoints; it was only intended for use by our own web widgets. We’ve often cautioned in our developer forums that use of such undocumented endpoints shouldn’t be relied upon, as we cannot commit to supporting them.

But most of us do not believe it and we think that there are 2 primary reasons –

  1. Counts of competitor platforms are higher – Twitter has been competing with Facebook for a while now and somewhere we see that count and engagement was getting higher on Facebook. Also, sharing on Pinterest was also picking up. Maybe, Twitter didn’t want us to see that the shares on Twitter is going down compared to other platforms. Maybe, just maybe!
  2. Pay for it! – Most of us think this to be primary reason. We know Twitter is struggling to generate revenues and given the popularity of Twitter Count, they want to tap it and create a new revenue stream. Not a bad idea, but while other platforms are still providing it for free, will the early move help?

Potential Impact of Twitter Count Deprecation

I believe the impact is at multiple levels. It could impact a blogger, an agency, a reader and a tool developer in multiple ways.

  1. As a Blogger – Most of the blogs or even a normal HTML page has a share button these days with a count displayed on it. The count serves as a social proof to tell the readers that the particular page is popular with the readers. The inability to show that kind of a proof could impact the way popularity of the page is gauged leading to less people sharing it. Ah! Too bad!
  2. As an Agency – Digital Marketing agencies across the world thrive on numbers. Twitter Count gave them the ability to tell their clients that their money is being well spent and they could show some quick RoI. Now, they will have to find some other vanity metric to be able to showcase RoI.
  3. As A Reader – We did rely on number of shares to know how popular the article/page has been. Many of us shared further based on shares we see on the page. So, absence of Twitter count could impact resharing on Twitter
  4. As a Tool Developer – And I believe, this could be the widely affected community. Social platforms are popular because of the many tools that leverage its various APIs. Many tools leveraged the Twitter Count API and loss of connectivity could hamper the adoption of their tools.

In all the confusion, I too believe Twitter is indeed making a huge mistake in deprecating the Twitter count API. This could be a gain for other platforms and they could see an increase in number of shares on their platform thereby increasing adoption too.

Your Turn

  1. How do you see losing Twitter count affecting you?
  2. Why do you think Twitter is doing it?

#Blab2Learn Recap – Real Marketers Build Communities w/Jessie Paul

blab2learn real marketers

What do real marketers do?

No they don’t spam, they don’t go around with salesy messages, they build communities.

On Blab2Learn we were excited to have Jessie Paul talk about this topic and why she thought it’s important for real marketers to build communities.

Right into the show, Jessie exclaimed that social media is so 2010 and today’s customer have moved on from doing social to really finding answers. Customers today know how to use the social medium  pretty well – they use Twitter as a complaint medium, Facebook as a medium to announce their buying decisions driving commercial engagements but many brands have still not woken up and use these mediums as outbound communication only.

According to Jessie, very few have matured and are using as inbound communication medium.

But apart from that, after accumulating followers, what are brands doing to engage with them, how are they enhancing loyalty. Very few have answers to this.

Jessie believes, that where the real marketers come into focus. They look at opportunities to increase engagement, improve loyalty and provide answers to real questions.

The other important point Jessie states is about building community on your OWN platform rather than depending upon platforms like Facebook, Linkedin, Google etc. I agree with her reasons – on other platforms, you’re dictated by their TOS. So if someone decides to change the way how a group is list, either public or private, what members can see, etc, you as a group owner have no control over it.

During the show, my co-host Falguni also asked Jessie about her journey from IIM Calcutta to Agency to IT company.

No, I am not going to reveal what Jessie spoke about her journey, catch on the recording at the Blab2Learn replay.

Real Marketers Build Communities

Next Steps

  1. Subscribe to the Blab2Learn playlist
  2. Subscribe to Blab2Learn reminder
  3. Share your thoughts about what real marketers should do beyond social