2017 – the year that once again reminded me…

None of these are new, we all know but somewhere these get buried down in our daily humdrum of life. 2017 was a year that once again reminded me…

  • To LIVE, before the moment is gone. Life changes in a blink, LIVE today as we may not get that chance tomorrow.
  • To be able to breathe, stand on your own feet and eat without any support system are all that we need to be alive. Rest whatever we have is luxury.
  • That time is indeed the best healer. When the going is tough and you can’t figure out any solution, it’s best to leave everything on time. Even the roughest patches of life lead to some direction with time.
  • To prioritize what matters the most. When you’re near death, you actually get flashbacks and wish you had done “this” or “that” more. These “this” or “that” are only & only about relationships and nothing else. From – ‘wish I could see my child once again’ to ‘wish I had spent some more happier times with my partner’, in that trance state of mind, you think of only people and relationships. 
  • That, things could be worse any time, any day! Be thankful for whatever you have, there is always someone who is fighting a battle tougher than yours. Every time I remember the night when the person next to my bed in ICU died despite lesser injuries whereas I survived, I just say thank you – to God, to my fate and to the prayers and blessings of all the well-wishers in my life.
  • To smile! When you’re happy, smile but even when you’re sad, try to smile. Smiling through tough times gives you strength and courage of a different kind. Hey wait, smile in life has a technical requirement too – when I had maxillofacial fractures and lost all my front teeth in this accident, I had to go for many teeth reconstruction and dental implant surgeries. My dental surgeon was trying hard to understand how my teeth looked pre-accident. We scouted through many old photos and her feedback to me was – “Kanupriya, in none of your photos you’re smiling openly or laughing out loud. You should smile more.” Oh yeah, as if I knew one fine day I will have to refer to my old pics to see how my teeth used to look when I smiled!!

But technically my doctor was correct – one should smile more often and smile while you still have your teeth intact 🙂

On that note, wish you a 2018 full of love, laughter, and fun! Cheers to new beginnings and new dreams. Have a fabulous year ahead!

7 ways brands can use Instagram Stories

Instagram – 800 million monthly, 500 million daily active users and 300 million daily active users for stories! With more than half of their daily users posting stories, there is no doubt that stories are the craze these days. And where there are users, there have to be brands – trying to target, engage and connect with their users through stories.

I have been using stories for some time now and there is something about it that makes it fun. To add to that, it’s placed very prominently and hence every time you go to Instagram, you can’t miss those tiny circles on top. Many brands are experimenting with stories for different marketing objectives, while some have been able to do wonders, some still are trying to figure out the power of this tool.

Here’re some of the ways in which brands can use Instagram stories , I have personally implemented these in my marketing initiatives and I think these are worth giving a try:

  • Announcements: Stories work good for announcing new updates, be it a new blog post on your site or a to-be-launched collection. The placement of the stories icon ensures visibility and higher reach. There are many brands and users who are already using stories very effectively.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/zara/
  • Contests: If you’re hosting contests, Instagram stories are absolute fun – right from announcements prior to the contests going live to the countdown before announcing the winners, stories can add a lot of value in getting your audience hooked on to your contests plan.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/chumbak/
  • Enhanced Storytelling: While whole Instagram is anyways all about gorgeous photos and beautiful visual storytelling, but if you have some aesthetically shot products with details to be shown, stories will be helpful. The large size picture format adds to the charm of your visual storytelling and makes it more appealing to users.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/natgeo/
  • Events: Stories by virtue of being “photo stories” are great for events or documentaries, be it for communicating the sequence or some of the behind-the-scenes fun. The slideshow format of stories helps in presenting different aspects of any event as a series.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/weddingsutra/
  • Feedback: Instagram stories polls are great to gather some quick opinions and feedback from your users. While audience-reach wise, it can never match up to Facebook but these polls are easy to use, fun and visually noticeable.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/snowberrydesignco/
  • Topical Communication: If you’re a brand that communicates about kinds of stuff like daily outfit suggestion through #ootd or some contests & offers that are valid only for 24 hours, stories might be the platform worth giving a try. Considering stories last only for 24 hours, there is this urgency to view it and it’s good for topical communication or promotion
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/harpercollinsin/
  • Shoutouts: It’s a great tool to tag your partners or give shoutouts to your fans. Tagging in stories ensures additional reach apart from your feed by sending your stories to the tagged account via DM.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/amul_India/

So, what are the other methods in which you’re using Instagram stories? Would love to know how it’s been working for you so far? Do let me know in the comment section below.

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Photos Credit: Links to the awesome Instagram accounts of the brands whose work I like mentioned below each photo.

Books that leave you thinking

So, I am one of those weird creatures who doesn’t like self help books. Not that I have hated all but I can safely say I have hated most that I have read, especially the ones with a very prescriptive approach. But I am all for good memoirs and autobiographies where you get to know more about someone’s real life, their experiences, struggle, pain, joy and much more. It’s quite interesting to find some stories that you can totally relate to or some journeys that inspire you like nothing else. Last eight months were been extremely tough for me in multiple ways but one of the best things about this phase of life has been the time that I got to spend with myself – something that was a rarity in my otherwise super hectic life. Apart from spending time with my family, I have started back painting more regularly and got to read many good books – some that have been on my wishlist for long and some gifted to me by those awesome friends who wanted to ease out my on-bed phase of life. A big thanks to all of them who were thoughtful enough to send me such literary gems.

Out of all the books that I read recently, I quite liked two fiction and three non-fiction books. Sharing the names of those non fiction books here that left an impact on me – all these three books are about amazing journeys of some amazing people that make you believe in the power of hope and inspire you to appreciate this thing called life. In case you are going through some trying times and would like to find solace in words, you may give these books a try:

  1. Man’s Search For Meaning: Viktor E. Frankl

One of the best books that I would have read in recent times by the holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. It’s a book that makes your realize that there are many others whose life is much more painful than yours and yet they have found a purpose in that pain. The description of those concentration camps and condition of people living in that era … I can’t even begin to imagine the plight of children who were gassed! Whatever struggle you are going through today, this is one of those books that will make you count your blessings and be thankful for all that you have. While the book is filled with many profound observations but if I have to highlight only one, it will be the following:

“Those who have a “why” to live, can bear with almost any “how” ”- Viktor E. Frankl

Read More

Children Books to read this Diwali

Holiday time means story time, isn’t it? While any book that your little one enjoys reading is good for holidays but it’s occasion like Diwali or Dusshera that add a special charm towards reading mythology and folklore. It’s always good to let our children know the ‘whys’ & ‘hows’ of our festivals and thankfully we have many good books now that focus on festivals centric theme and content. 

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Competition or Customers

Competition or Customers — Where do you spend your time more?

How I wish that organizations especially the ones starting up, spend at least half their time and resources in understanding their customers as much they spend in tracking their competitors. It’s amazing to see presentations after presentations detailing out the competition strategy but a very fuzzy or macro view of — who are we trying to sell to?

There is nothing wrong with being competition focussed, in fact it’s good to keep a close watch on competition but when you have limited resources and you’re trying to launch something new, it’s very important to understand where and how to spend your resources judiciously.

My recent interaction with two different businesses left me thinking more on this. One is a mid size company, been into business for few years, now venturing into a new category and the second one is a new entity altogether. Both have lean marketing teams to work on the launch and the maximum effort that both have spent as part of their market study is tracking the competition strategy. Details of their campaigns, social media initiatives, promotions — everything has been tracked and well documented. And both these companies are aiming at one objective while drafting their launch offer — how to be better than the competition? Yes, the prime objective is to come out with offers more lucrative than their competitors. We don’t even know if customers are actually happy with those offers or for that matter if customers are looking for offers only or something else? For company one, the competition strategy actually maps almost every player even remotely associated with the category and the product is as such that it can be of use to consumers as well as SMBs. A detailed competition analysis like this would have been actually a good thing if the team wouldn’t have been trying to focus on coming out with an offer that can be attractive to all segments. One can not have a paint-everyone-with-the- same-brush approach especially when launching a new category.

If we will be only competition focussed, we will at best be better than our competition but not necessarily the best choice for our customers. Deciding the focal point of any marketing plan is extremely important and it has to start with — understanding our customers.

The more granular we go into understanding our customer, the better we would be at connecting with her.Read More

When you understand your customers…

…You come out with campaigns like Amazon!

Yesterday I received some 60+ messages on Independence Day promotion! And I am not even counting the emailers and notifications. These were just SMSes that I received despite my number being registered under DND! Yet the only campaign that I remember or that enticed me to browse more was of Amazon India.

A global brand implementing such a fantastic local campaign, isn’t it amazing? No “Patriotic Discount” or “Up to 71% Off”, no “Freedom From Shipping” or “Freedom Of Shopping”, yet a campaign that grabbed many eyeballs and love from all.


So what worked for this campaign? The answer is very simple and something that we all know of but do not necessarily implement:

Context

Connect

Commerce

Customer

The campaign was quite contextual, delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time and had a very local touch to it.Read More

4 quick tips for Influencer-gramming

Image Credit — Pixabay

On an average, 1 out of 3 or 4 posts on my Instagram timeline is an influencer plug these days. I did a quick check on if I am following influencers more? No, these are pretty much my own contacts who are doing brand plugs now. Looks like brands have become quite active with influencer marketing especially on Instagram and there are many brands that are opting for influencers as against ads on Instagram.

Influencer marketing works well for many reasons but if I have to quote one reason, it has to be the following blink from the book — Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini:

Observing people similar to us can greatly influence our choice. We comply with people we like and it is easy for some people to make us like them.

So damn true, it’s just so easy for some people to make us like them and once we like someone, we get influenced by their behavior and choices. While many bloggers and social media personalities are open to do brand collaborations but how many are actually capable of influencing your users with authenticity? And no, it’s not a number game only. Influencer marketing is as much an art as it’s about science and numbers.

There are many resources available for you to check in case you are starting with Influencer Marketing on Instagram but for those who are already doing it, here are 4 quick suggestions from my side that are based on my own experiences of running campaigns and practical observations of some other live campaigns on Instagram these days.Read More

Image from Pinterest

The persuasive power of visual storytelling

Visual storytelling works — from brands to babies. It has always worked for almost any kind of audience since ages but in this age of digital excess, it’s working like never before. Having spent good number of years in photography and digital industry, I can safely say that from communicating to comprehending, visuals have now become the prime language for many.

My personal litmus test for the power of visual storytelling? My 5 year old :-). 3 scenarios that are regular in my household-

I narrate a story to him;

I narrate a story to him and show him the pictures;

I narrate a story to him, show him the pictures and then let him play with his book asking to observe the pictures for few seconds;

Without fail, connect as well as recall of the stories are highest in the third scenario.

Ah that’s why I say, no one can teach you management or consumer behavior lessons better than children, I think most of the parents out here will agree to this 🙂.

Still need some attestations on the power of visuals?Read More

Fiction or Non Fiction? Just be yourself and read!

Fiction vs Non-fiction

Speaking of books or reading, one question that I often get asked is — do you still read fiction? On replying yes, the next question generally would be — how do you find time to read fiction or why do you read fiction? The answer is pretty simple — I read fiction because I like it. I read fiction because there is nothing more enriching than a good story. I read fiction because:

Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures — Ralph Waldo EmersonRead More

If Instagram would have been a place

Image Credit: https://unsplash.com/@aows

Just because it’s easy, let’s do it and just because it’s cheap, let’s plaster all over the media. We have seen this happening earlier with other digital channels and we can see this happening now with Instagram too. It’s quick to start and pause, so why to spend time in planning or thinking? When I see these poorly shot or awfully cropped pictures in a sponsored post, I cringe. When I see the messages so long that you need to zoom or a sponsored posts that only speak of X% discounts, I wonder why? I understand the general impulse of — “Instagram is popular, let’s do a campaign there”, but considering it’s a sponsored post and that too with such high frequency, I am assuming there is money being spent with some business objectives in mind. Then, why not spend some time in understanding the platform and engaging with your audience accordingly?Read More