In Press, Writing

Nandini Nair of Indian Express newspaper recently sent me a questionnaire for an article on blogs that she was working on.   The article got published today.  The article also features 5 other bloggers and their views.   A small section of my answers were published in the article.  Now that the article is published, I’m taking the liberty to publish the entire questionnaire and my answers I sent to her.

As the CEO of a social media consultancy can you tell me bit about the need for a social media consultancy. What exactly does it do? Why do we need it in today’s world?
As a social media consultancy, we aid companies with their digital strategies in tandem with their overall communication and marketing strategies. We understand that the company knows their business well and we understand the digital space well. We collaborate together to bring the best out of the two.

Without doubt, Internet is increasingly growing, both in numbers as well as in influence.

Most businesses and organizations are used to traditional advertising and broadcasting. Its something they have done for a long time and comfortable with it. It’s usually a one way communication. They broadcast their message. They get your attention and sell. Conversation is minimal.

With the advent of social media, its time for change. It’s become the first choice for researching before making a purchasing decision. It’s become easy to write down one’s opinion about a product, positive or negative. As people begin share their own similar experiences – the impact on a company’s reputation and sales can be dramatic. We help companies manage and grow their online presence.

Your book “Crowdsourcing Tweets”, is written in the form of tweets…is the 140 character message the future? Why and how did you decide to write a book in tweets? What were some of the challenges of writing such a book?
I decided to write the book ‘Crowdsourcing Tweets’ for three reasons. 1) I love the concept of crowdsourcing. 2) I love reading smaller books. 3) I love tweeting my thoughts.

Ask any author and he or she will tell you that it’s a painfully long process. It’s an arduous, lonesome journey. Honestly, I don’t have that kind of patience or the time. I wanted to eat the elephant in smaller bites and jotted down important points as tweets.

As someone who used to blog – today you feel that Twitter and Facebook have cannabalised blogging. Can you please elaborate on that? In what ways have social media changed blogging?
Blogs, Twitter or Facebook are all tools to share your experiences and thoughts with your friends and readers. Earlier, before the advent of Twitter and Facebook, blog was the only option available and hence we put in all our energies there. Once Twitter and Facebook gave us an opportunity to do the same task but quicker, it was easy migrating. Add to this is the social aspect where your updates automatically reflects in your friends’ page.

Has the Facebook update and the tweet taken over the space of the blog? Are these newer forms the new space for the confession and the voyeur?
I’d say yes. Facebook and Twitter makes use of brevity and that’s something that we appreciate. On the contrary, blogging requires significantly more effort in thinking and writing those couple of paras.

Twitter and Facebook also adapt well for mobile phones. Its easy to quickly take a picture and add in a few lines of comment. Besides, most of us are on the move and it greatly helps that the mobile phone is always with us.

Would you say that blogging has peaked and is now on the descent?
I won’t say that blogging is on its descent. It’s stagnating. There’s no denying the merits of blogging and honestly, it still holds a lot of importance. Search Engines give more important to any site with fresh content and this is where blogs add value. Blogs also have high archival value. Compare that with Facebook or Twitter where old updates seem to fall off the face of Earth!

Do you see blogs changing from single-person entities to platforms for multiple contributors? What has brought about this change?
Blogs work better as a group blog only because its easier to generate content regularly. When the frequency of updates increase, there’s more reasons for readers to come back. It also reduces the load work load of one single blogger.

Looking back at your own blog entries over the years, what are some of the changes you notice in your own entries? What are some of the changes in tone/content?
Oh, the changes are drastic. Five years back, I was averaging two posts a day. In 2010, which was my worst year in blogging, I did one post every two months! Its not that I stopped writing. I just moved my updates to Twitter and Facebook.

Quitting or slowing down on blogging is not a good thing. Each medium has its own advantages. Blogs are a great tool to write longer, well thought out pieces. In 2011, I intend to put in more time and effort on my blog.

Most bloggers in India tend to be in their 30’s or 40’s today…can you think of why younger people haven’t taken to blogs as much as they have to other online forums?
Oh, the answer is simple. The current generation has extremely small attention span. They are very vocal but they want to say it quicker. They are mobile. Facebook and Twitter fit in like a ‘T’.

Has the subversive potential of blogs been fully realised in India? Or have blogs remained largely private journals for public consumption?
Corporates have realized the important of blogging and are waking up to the fact that its an important tool. It complements their website well. It is an important platform to air their points of view. Blogs in India will never have the hockey stick growth but I see more and more corporate companies use it to their advantage.

Bloggers in the US have given mainstream journalists a run for their money. Why do you think that hasn’t really happened in India?
I think it could be because of two reasons. The first is the number of readers. Because t he US has great broadband connectivity, there are many more people online and subsequently greater chances for good blogs to have readers in hundreds of thousands. When blogs have large readership base, some greater than traditional newspapers, it commands respect. In India, broadband connectivity is not only stagnating but declining.

Second, the number of blogs in India that is insightful, critical and original aren’t many. The medium requires more people who can write with teeth to be taken seriously.

And finally, who are some of the Indian bloggers you read frequently? Any specific reasons why you like them?
Some of the blogs that I read are , , Basab Pradhan’s, Rajesh Jain’s .