Tag Archives: social media

10 ways to hire great guns for your start-up

Just like “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department”, for start-ups

Hiring is too important to be left to the HR department.

In the previous post I talked about ‘Who to hire for your start-up‘. Many of you agreed to most of what I shared so the next question that comes out is how to hire these guys. As @mohak put it brilliantly

Recruitment is marketing. If you can’t hire well, you can’t market well 

If like most others you are finding it incredibly hard to recruit your A team here are some obvious and not so obvious tips

HowSuccessfulStartupsHire-poster

      1. Be Involved: Unless you have someone really well in the team who can handle this for you, be involved in hiring. Another pro tip is not to hire a standard HR professional to do the hiring for your start-up. I’m yet to see a regular HR person turn into a great start-up HR pro. Most of them just don’t have it in their DNA. To avoid bad hires, stupid hiring processes and missing out on some exceptional talent its best suggested to be on TOP yourself for as long as you can afford to be. Founders set the culture of the company and the people they hire initially defines it.
      2. Brand: Be it your founding team, your VCs, the cool tool/service that you are developing or the world changing impact you are going to have. The easiest and surest way to get talent is to be remarkable. Unless your company’s mention people go WOW, you’ll always have a tough time getting smart people to work for you. PR/Social Media/Customer Care or what ever it takes, make sure you have a plan to create a brand around your start-up
      3. Recruitment begins at home:  This bit is so obvious that most start-ups tend to forget it. Every start-up should try to leverage their existing employees to hire more people. This is applicable as much to a 10 member start-up as to a 100 member. No one is better suited to spread the word about you than your existing workforce and you never know which one of your employees gets you whom.  What’s needed for this to worka) Happy & Empowered Employees – Unless one likes their job/company they won’t spread the word and as a founder you need to make sure that your employees aren’t just having a great time working for you they are actually so proud that they’d shout out to all their great friends as invite them. However you at your end need to ensure that they are empowered enough to do this and don’t have any bad experience about the whole thing/process.
        b) Incentives (Icing on the cake) – $$ or mobile phones, might just do wonders.Keep asking them for feedback about hiring/referral process and keep getting it implemented
      4. Customers/Partners/Investors/Vendors: The second best source to get smart folks to work is to leverage the people who do business with you. Keep them in loop about your openings and you never know who they help you hire. They might not even need any incentives and would be just happy to do some matchmaking for you (Assuming you have a healthy relationship with them and serve or pay them well). A power user/customer is a great hire(obviously they need to be talented and not just power users), they’d be obsessive about the product and would already have some ideas on how to make things better. I’d given an arm to have a passionate customer join my start-up
      5. Promotion on Your Website: Sounds too obvious again? Trust me it’s not. Far from what some of you think. Only a handful of hundreds of start-ups use their website to promote their job openings. How many of you(founder) have an updated jobs page on your website? Here are some of them that “Get This”slideshare_hiring
        Visual Website Optimizer
        Heroku
      6. Social Media:
        a) Sponsored ads on Facebook
        Sponsored Updates
        b) Company Page on LinkedIn
        linkedin_twitter
        c) Email Lists
        google_groups
      7. Content Marketing: Content is King” so to speak, for it has a life of it’s own. You can leverage content  to market yourself and attract relevant employees. Interest content will find its way around layers of social media and reach places you can’t. Here are some examples
        Brandologistakosha
      8. Start-up Events/Meet-ups: I know by experience that most start-up events are as (or even less) than the websites/blogs that organize them but even those events attract some bright people who are just out to explore interesting opportunities. You should be checking these events every once in a while. Also, you can consider organizing some meet-ups/hackathons to attract enthusiastic folks.
        has
      9. Internship portals/Start-up Websites: Some of these portals provide access to ambitious and talented people. Also,the sheer fact that some is following them means they are already a bit ahead of the curve
      10. Random Pick-up: This one is as nasty as it sounds. Like somebody’s blog post on tech architecture? Find someone’s slideshow amazing? Follow this amazing sales person on twitter? Stumbled upon a script on github that you found useful?
        GO ahead and make contact. Start interacting with these folks and see if they’d like to join you in your journey.
        The entire kwippy team was hired for Mpower Mobile(in 2008) like that

These 10 ways should help you with your hiring. Do share what you think about them and if you have any experiences around start-up hiring that others can benefit from

Update:  Here’s another super geeky way to pick up nerds

BUEDhMsCcAEHmEA

 

 

Dial-a-Book gets covered in Todays Mint Lounge

My new startup ‘Dial-a-Book’ has got its first mention in print media today. It’s been almost a year since I started working on Dial-a-Book along with my younger brother and it’s been an absolute fun ride.

Here’s an excerpt from the article

Past life

Dial-a-Book is a Delhi-based start-up founded by brothers Mayank and Tarang Dhingra. Tarang, 25, is a final-year student at the University of Delhi. Mayank, 27, is a software engineer who left a corporate job at Fidelity International in 2005 to work for a string of tech start-ups—from SlideShare, an online presentation hosting service, to MPower Mobile, which works with mobile payments. In 2008, before the Twitter bandwagon bulldozed its way across the country’s Internet landscape, he experimented with creating a Twitter-like service for India called Kwippy—which Mayank called a “conversational platform”. The site folded in mid-2009, and subsequent dabbling in ideas on what to do next led to Dial-a-Book

and you can read the complete article here

I know some of you *might* find this surprising and *might* have some questions for me, so feel free to ping me anytime :)

India: IPL, TV Industrial Complex and Social Media

That new technology, trends etc take their own sweet(not so) time to reach and permeate the Indian market is a well known and accepted fact, and Social Media is no different. While marketing and advertising companies/teams from other countries(especially from the west) might have already dipped deep in the Social Media waters, their counterparts in India are no where close.

When Pepsi ditched Superbowl and chose to spend their budget ($20 million) on a Social Media campaign there were celebrations amongst the Social Media folks world over and everyone(Including we in India) felt that Social Media has finally arrived and the game has changed from being Traditional Media centric to Social Media being equally if not more important. If you think that’s the same with India (transition from Tradition Media to Social  Media at a considerable level), think again.

In the course of last year or so I’ve met numerous Social Media enthusiasts/marketers/analysts and quite a few advertising/media agencies and some guys who are in-charge of marketing campaigns for the brands they represent. Little has changed since last year if we talk about how people who offer Social Media solutions feel and how those who should be using those Social Media solutions feel. Despite all the jazz around Social Media, in India particularly brands are spending a bare minimum percentage of their marketing/advertising budget on Social Media. Not just this, what’s particularly interesting is the fact that in India some brands have started spending more(and not less) on Traditional Media. If these figures are anything to go by

AD Rates for IPL3 and T20 World Cup 2010
you can get an idea of how things seem to be moving in the Indian market. We are increasingly spending more money on Traditional Media and it’s not just TV ads, the print media is also on a roll with Realtors and FMCG companies booking full page ads like anything.  It’s not just a co-incidence that there aren’t any remarkable Social Media campaigns around IPL despite all the hype and hoopla.

Keeping in mind all this and the response that these Traditional Media campaigns manage to get I would like to believe
that the days of TV-Industrial Complex are not yet over in India and it will be another few years before significant changes start to happen.

You Social, We Social

With more and more people from India jumping the Social Media bandwagon, local brands are not standing on the edges anymore and have slowly started to test the Social Media waters. Reliance  Mutual Fund seems to be a new kid on the block. I happened to get the following mail from them yesterday

“Accept Button”?
Curious, I tried to check out what they had to offer and here’s what how things stand. The link takes you to their MF site that has the same icons in the tiniest size possible in the most invisible place possible


And here’s what you get when you click the icons

Facebook:

Twitter:

Orkut:

These screenshots pretty much tell the Social Media story for Reliance MF, which is so typical for most companies that are trying to be there but are no where near the optimum experience. It will take them some time and effort to understand there’s more to Social Media than reposting links and hopefully they’ll get hang of things before they run into a Nestle Like crisis

Practical tips for handling a Facebook Fan Page Crisis

A couple days back the food giant Nestle(after being targeted by Greenpeace) stepped on the wrong side of Social Media by posting rude and insensitive status updates and comments on their Facebook page. As expected, updates like this

and comments like this

did not go down well with their existing fans and those who checked the page because of the brouhaha. Therefore, Nestle suddenly found itself in middle of another debacle courtesy inappropriate management of their Facebook page. The person handling their Facebook page obviously had no idea (nor does he/she have any now) of the blunder he/she committed.

Now that the mistakes have been made and realized, what next? I’ve read as much as ten posts by Indian and International bloggers/social media whatevers essentially either link blogging what others are saying or making the most obvious and superficial suggestions how the tone of the messages should not have been rude etc. Interestingly none of them offered a direction if not a solution of what can a brand do if it happens to run into a situation like this.
Possibly, it’s because none of those who wrote about the Nestle Crisis have ever managed a single Fan page by themselves.

Keeping that aside here’s a quick list of things that I would have done had I been in charge of the Fan page
( I have intentionally limited the scope of discussion to Facebook Fan Page and Off course I don’t expect everyone to agree with my method)

1) Admit you have made mistake(s):
One of the best ways to start your firefighting plan is by acknowledging your mistake and maybe promising that it won’t happen in future. A big brand admitting they did something wrong and apologizing gives everyone the signal that the brand is conscious of what it is doing and sets the expectation right. Also, most aggressive critics and fans turned critics an ego boost from this.

2) Remove offensive content:
Yes, remove the content that offended people. Irrespective of what others feel I am a strongly believer that you should remove offensive content to avoid it offending even more people. An offensive status message will keep getting more eyeballs with time and it’s best to take it out of the loop.

3) Change the Landing Tab:

This is what one gets if they go to the Nestle Facebook page

The deal here is that it shows you the same things irrespective of the fact whether you are a fan or not. This landing page could temporarily be changed to some other tab, say info.

Facebook Default Landing Tab settings.

4)Turn of “Auto expand” comments:

Slightly below the default landing tab drop down is another option that let’s you configure if the comments

on a status will be expanded by default(with top few comments listed) or will they just show up as *x comments*, only on clicking which one can see the comments. The idea here is to reduce the visibility of negative content so as to reduce others doing the same thing.

These are just a few things that can possibly be done to control the situation from flaring further and in case things go really out of hand temporarily stop fans from posting comments to your page all-together.

All the points mentioned above are just for firefighting a Nestle like crisis on Facebook and are obviously not the perfect solution. Some people for example might have issues with removing the offensive content or making it less/easily visible but then a temporary fix needs to be done to avoid things from spilling over. Also, once the basic firefighting is taken care of the brand must get back to doing the right things and work its way out of the Crisis.

Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching Bloggers

If you are a blogger from a metro Indian city with decent online presence chances are you might have been contacted for some brand sponsored blogger meet or the other. While I am not sure about how things stand in other parts of the country, Delhi is definitely seeing a lot of activity on this front. The PR firms and Social Media agencies are increasingly going all out to woo the bloggers to help them spread the word about their clients new product, service etc. Given the fact that me and my fellow blogger friends get invited to an event/meetup every ten days you can imagine how things stand today and where they can go from here.

While being a Blogger and Social Media guy I am quite happy to be a part of the new scheme of things but I am not exactly happy with the way ‘Bloggers are being pitched’ by PR, Blogger relation firms and Social Media agencies and I am not alone in feeling this way about the way we are approached and followed up.

While a lot has been said about this already. I’d like to share a quick list of Do’s and Don’t s for approaching us (Bloggers) and hope the local agencies/individuals will learn a thing or two from it and in turn make things better for everyone involved.

The below mentioned list is for people who want to do their jobs better and are willing to make an effort for the same. So if you are one of those lazy guys who don’t want to make an effort, skip the post.

Don’ts:

1) Don’t Send Bulk Emails/SMSes: While it might be the easiest way or the only way you know of to send email to a dozen folks, it is counter effective. Such bulk emails trigger the spam alert which I am sure would be the last thing you want. Also, being personal in your emails shows that you have spent some time on those emails and most bloggers would appreciate that. If you are new to the job or need to further fine tune the sending email bit, you can checkout ‘5 Tips for Writing Better Emails‘. The same applies to SMSes also.

2) Don’t Spam: Contrary to what you might think, sending multiple emails or smses about your client’s product or the agenda/reminder for your meet don’t guarantee any results. If I am interested in learning more about your product I’ll ask for it and the same goes for attending the meet or reviewing the product. If I am keen to attend the meet I’ll attend it, sending me reminders every 2-3 days. Bombarding me with information about your product/meet might make me lose all interest.

3) Don’t Instruct: I am not sure how it works with journalists but telling bloggers what they should and shouldn’t write isn’t the best thing. Giving them pointers or sharing key points is good but telling them you should write ‘this’ or you can write ‘that’ isn’t.

4) Don’t Act Desperate: Yes, it’s plain stupid when PR/Agency folks start acting desperately to ensure a bloggers attendance or getting them to write about something. If a blogger finds your event interesting and they can fit it nicely in their schedule they will attend  it, asking them to send a cab or pay for conveyance generally doesn’t help. Similarly asking them to test a product or share it with their friends multiple times ends up doing more bad(though not easily visible) than good.

Do’s:

1) Know the Blogger: It might sound obvious but I am sure most people who approach bloggers have almost no clue about them. You need to spend some time researching about the person behind the blog. The least you can do is to find out some background of the person and what he/she likes to write about.
It helps you to verify if the blogger in question would be interested in learning/reviewing your client’s product.

2) Plan Reasonably: This is another aspect that needs some fine tuning. Bloggers are people too and majority of them(at least the one’s I know) are not full time bloggers and don’t make their living out of just blogging. Some have 9-5 jobs, some have businesses to run and thus a bloggers meet scheduled in the middle of a work week and that too in afternoon is unlikely to find any takers and pestering ‘em won’t help much. So it’s a good idea to take these things into consideration before planning a meet.

3) Build Relationships: If you are serious about your job and are thinking of long term associations you should definitely spend some time and effort in building relationships with bloggers that you’d like to involved with. Assigning blogger(s) to an individual is a good way to approach this unlike anyone from the PR firm emailing or calling any blogger at random. My response would definitely be better if I know the person approaching me beforehand and have had interactions with them before.

Here are some of the links you might want to read

1) http://www.globalprblogweek.com/archives/the_pr_lessons_of_a_.php
2) http://pulverblog.pulver.com/archives/008349.html
3) http://www.toprankblog.com/2007/08/how-not-to-pitch-a-blog/
4) http://www.ogilvypr.com/en/expert-view/7-tips-pitching-bloggers

How has been your experience as a blogger or PR/Agency person pitching bloggers like?

Update: The findings of a Global Blogger Survey done by Text 100 a few months back should make things even more clear for PR folks


Social Media Case Study – Charity: Water

Charity: water is a charity started by Scott Harrison that provides clean water to save lives in poor countries. Charity: water has successfully raised $10 million (most of that last year alone) from 50,000 individual donors, thereby providing clean water to nearly one million people in Africa and Asia.

charitywater_1

Here’s how Charity: water is using Social Media to be more effective

  1. Creating Relationships: Charity: water (CW) is using social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to connect with people who share the same concerns as them. CW also adds value by sharing relevant information and content with their friends/followers in these social platforms. Relationships are the key currency for nonprofits and social media is a great way to build and maintain good relationships.
  2. charitywater on facebook (Charity: water on Facebook)

    With social media it’s also relatively easy to ask people for small contributions or motivate them to volunteer for a task or just spread the word by say putting a badge on their blog.

    charitywater on twitter (Charity: water on Twitter)

    2.  Maintaining Transparency: For nonprofits to scale beyond a level, transparency is very important and to some extent the rate of their growth also depends on how transparent they are. In this sense too, social media and nonprofits are made for each other. Charity: water shows donors the specific impact of their  contributions. They post photos and G.P.S. coordinates so that donors can look up their (Charity: water grants naming rights to wells) wells on Google Earth. Come September and they will have a new web site that will match even the smallest donation to a particular project that can be tracked online.

    charitywater transparency
    3.  Experimenting with new things:

    During Twestival (meetup for twitter users in twitter lingo), charity: water raised $250,000 this spring.

    charitywater_6
    Viral video campaigns by charity: water are also a hit among its supporters and play a significant role in motivating people to contribute.

4. High Stakeholder Involvement:

    When was the last time you were asked to by a charity to engage in conversation?
    Hmm…Never?

    But that’s not the case with Charity: water, during Twestival CW invied donors to get involved by

  • Watching four daily short videos of the drilling as charity: water goes from village to village drilling wells.
  • Following the drilling updates via twitter.
  • Asking questions of the local drilling team via email or twitter. Also, The local charity: water drill team answers the top five questions on video

I’d like to end this case study by quoting  “communityorganizer20.com”

Charity: water is giving its donors exactly what they want: success stories, videos of the impact of donations, and  information about financial accountability.

If you know of something else  that Charity: water or some other nonprofit is doing to leverage social media, share with us

Crowdsourced Social Gaming Summit 2009 Summary

Got to know about Social Gaming Summit 2009 from Twitter and was hooked on it immediately. The tweets didn’t come often but were pretty interesting none the less. Here’s a summary ala Twitter Style for those who missed the action in real and on Twitter.

You can also download the presentation here. Let me know how you found it

Social Media Marketing Case Study: The President is Coming

Social media marketing suits the needs for film makers pretty well, especially for low budget films. Social media marketing works for numerous reasons including wide reach(sans borders) and better ROI, owing to lower costs. While Ghajini saw a slew of online marketing activities, bollywood is yet to see an extensive online marketing campaign. Lets see how the guys behind “The President is Coming” have used social media tools for marketing.

Facebook
It was an ad on Facebook that caught my attention. On being clicked the ad leads to the group “The President is Coming- The Movie

Given the fact that this group is advertised(someone is paying for it) its safe to assume that its an official one. It has about 850 members, one discussion and 45 wall posts. There are a few pictures from the film and some videos(trailers, interviews etc) added by the group owners.

Facebook is slowly picking up as a platform for marketing Indian films but there seems to be a lack of clear strategy(or focus) on how to leverage the platform better. The film’s facebook campaign is top down, like in most cases and has been used just to push content, not to interact or anything else.

The least that could have been done was talking to interested people instead of just broadcasting the content. The content and the information that’s shared could have been a bit more interesting and a fan page would have been nice too.

Website: Apparently there isn’t a website built for the film, or if there is one, its not at all discoverable, which is equivalent to it not being there.

A website though simple, is a must have to share content, build a community and involve/engage the audience.

Blog: No blog either.

MySpace: Myspace has also been used to spread  the word. In place of a website, the main placeholder is the films myspace page

Few things worth noticing about the myspace part of the campaign.
1) “Friend us and write a comment about why you should be a part of the film. If we like it, we’ll contact you directly. Good Luck” reads the profile. This means for one that they started this profile a decent while before the film was expected to hit the screens and secondly it shows an attempt to involve audience.
2) Since the profile’s main page still shows November 28th as the release date, its easy to make out that nobody is really looking after the profile.
3) Content wise the profile is decent, it has a few stills, an audio clip and a video trailer of the film.
4) The profile has been befriended by 175 people so far(though there’s nothing more to it) and the public wall has managed some 14 comments. Once again no involvement from any team member or cast.

Just like it was with Facebook, the attempts at Myspace are either half-baked or poorly executed.

The least that could have been done was to keep the profile regularly updated, interact with audience and share some more information about the film. If this page is used as the main web property for the site, it should have links to other web properties like facebook etc

YouTube:
There are around a dozen different videos on YouTube for the film, ranging from “film trailers” to “behind the scenes” to “press launch” to even “post production problems”. Once again some work has been done in creating and uploading these videos but not much thinking seems to have been done to get the most out of it. Chances of you bumping into these videos are as rare as chances of you bumping into their myspace page, which are to be honest, quite bleak.

The least that could have been done was to make a channel,upload all videos from that account and cross link the channels URL to other web properties.

Imdb: Un-official page without much information and the default poster picture.

The least that could have been done was to create an official page,upload the movie poster and fill in more details.

All in all it seems like a volunteer(and informal) effort by the team members involved with the project, especially the more net savvy ones and thus you can find their imprints across various platforms discussed.

Only if there was a sound strategy in place, things could have been better and effective.

Here’s a nice trailer, apparently made by a fan(as claimed)

You can also download the case study here