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Business India May 2010 - Twitter Cover Story


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Business India recently did a cover story about Twitter & Life in 140 characters.

Data from Iffort Consulting's research was referenced in the report and Daksh Sharma, Co-Founder & Delivery Head was interviewed.

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Business India May 2010 - Twitter Cover Story

  2. 2. B U S I N E S S I N D I A N May 16, 2010 Cover Feature The Twitter Generation Life in 140 characters T he 140 Character Confer- both, but fail to define them. stay abreast of developments, and ence was held in New York Why is everything so 140-centric? communicate one-to-one, one-to- on 20-21 April. It had It’s the number of characters you can many and many-to-many. Today, more than 140 characters, put in a tweet – the text message on it’s driving many vital decisions of of course; participation the Twitter platform that has made individuals and organisations.” has been growing fast. “More than Indian Premier League (IPL) commis- “Counter-intuitively my take is 170 people shared the stage and over sioner Lalit K. Modi and minister of that the digital social media has 1,000 people shared the experience,” state for external affairs Tharoor so improved depth through width – says Jeff Pulver, Internet entrepre- famous. Their exchange of tweets more perspectives exchanged due to neur, technology evangelist and con- ended up in both losing their jobs. more connections,” says S. Sivaku- ference organiser. He was hoping for Twitter is the latest star of the social mar, chief executive of ITC’s agri-busi- an online audience of 140,000. But it media or Web 2.0. Nobody quite com- ness division and the creator of fell a bit short. His other gambit – prehends what that means or what eChoupal. “Also, while Twitter is 140 reducing the participation fee from shape it will finally take. “I think there characters, it helps channel followers $1,000 plus to $140 – worked. is very little real understanding of the to longer blogs. Many friends joined 140CC has also been spreading social media space,” says Sandeep me virtually through Facebook as I faster than a Shashi Tharoor tweet. In Goyal, chairman of Dentsu India. But travelled in rural China; the collective 2009, there were four conferences. no one doubts it is becoming impor- journey added so much value to me. This year, three cities have already tant. “The power of social networking My live tweets from various confer- been covered and five more have been is increasing by the day and various ences bring in comments from follow- slotted for the rest of 2010. There will levels of social interactions are emerg- ers with such diverse perspectives that also be several smaller ‘meetups’. New ing,” says K. Pandia Rajan, managing my learning quotient will never be York was all about the soul and social director of integrated HR services the same again.” media, Pulver told Business India. provider Ma Foi. “It is becoming a Social media and networking can That’s apt. You can write reams on medium for people to keep in touch, today be defined only by example. N 54 N N
  3. 3. B U S I N E S S I N D I A N May 16, 2010 Cover Feature lot of the conversation is like two old But Chirp was still feeling chirpy. crones on the telephone, exchanging The revenue models were being notes on what they had for breakfast explored by others too. Search adver- and bed. tising pioneer Bill Gross has just The entire social networking clan launched TweetUp and declared there has been making headlines in April. is a goldmine waiting to be tapped in 140CC was followed by Chirp, the Twitter. Besides, the company has first-ever Twitter developers’ confer- won the first round in the 140 wars. ence. It gave a peek at the official Facebook has withdrawn Facebook Twitter numbers. The service has 105 Lite, a Twitter challenger it had million registered users and 300,000 launched in September 2009. new users sign up per day. There are Where in all this is the Twitter Gen- 600 million search queries on Twitter eration? Truth to tell, it’s in the middle daily. Incidentally, with an estimated of a heated argument. Blogger and free- 2 million users, Twitter in India now lance writer Dann Zinke has a problem has the third highest number of active with the concept. “We are not the users after the US and Germany. Twitter Generation,” he posted While impressive, there is still recently. “You cannot take a free Inter- some catching up to do. Facebook has net service that came out less than two 400 million users. It would not be fair years ago and use it to label a genera- to compare the global numbers for tion that lived for 28 years before it. We Orkut, owned by Google, as it has a are not the Facebook Generation, the major presence mainly in India and MySpace Generation, or even (heaven Brazil. It leads Facebook in India (see forbid) the Xanga Generation. All of chart: The top sites for Indians). To our formative years came before that counter, Facebook is opening its first time. The Twitter Generation isn’t office in India in Hyderabad. even old enough to read.” Zinke has a point. But if you look at A perilous move the Twitter users profile, you will find At Chirp, Twitter announced plans to that growth is coming from unex- monetise advertising, its first attempt pected places. Modi and Tharoor may at creating a revenue model. It proba- be squabbling like school kids, but bly won’t work; on the Net, the transi- they are both on the wrong side of 45. tion from free to paid is always very “When the site became popular in And while Twitter is making waves, perilous. Twitter’s ‘promoted tweets’ early 2007, the majority of its visitors others like Facebook, LinkedIn and will find it difficult to gain acceptabil- were 18-to-24-year-olds,” says Time Orkut are also claiming their place in ity. Goyal of Dentsu says that if Twitter magazine. “Today the site’s largest age the sun. These are basically sharing were to charge companies for the demographic is 35-to-44-year-olds.” platforms where you get together logos that accompany their tweets, Adds a study by Morgan Stanley, with your friends – virtual or real-life. 90 per cent would run away. “Teens don’t tweet.” You share and often share too much – inappropriate pictures or a rant against your boss, for instance. Twitter is more a sophisticated Corporate leaders messaging service – a microblog – Unique users/ where you have ‘followers’, who are The top sites for indians Company month (million) automatically sent all your tweets. US Microsoft 8.58 President Barack Obama has 3.77 mil- Rank Domain name Unique users/ month (million) IRCTC (railway ticketing) 4.90 lion followers, Oprah Winfrey 3.44 million and The New York Times 2.41 1 32.20 HDFC Bank 4.00 million. Twitter is for the unknown 2 29.40 ICICI Bank ( 3.85 world. With every tweet, you shoot an 3 26.10 ICICI Bank ( 3.00 arrow into the air. It falls to earth you 4 14.90 Citibank ( 2.12 know not where. Facebook and its ilk are for the known world. Your follow- 5 12.60 State Bank 2.07 ers are friends and family, people you 6 11.60 Airtel 1.85 have probably physically met. Twitter 7 10.80 LIC 1.46 is interactive too. You can have real- time ‘conversations’. But these days, a 8 10.70 Tata Indicom 1.31 N 55 N N
  4. 4. B U S I N E S S I N D I A N May 16, 2010 Cover Feature How they compare Short cuts Sex Age of users 80 Male 78 Female 79 (%) 1 Below 15 36-44 15- 24 45-60 1 25-35 Above 60 1 (%) N orthcote C. Parkinson first pro- pounded his eponymous law – “Work expands so as to fill the time 54 9 6 6 available for its completion” – in an 22 8 12 20 21 essay in The Economist in 1955. If Parkin- 13 13 41 28 54 44 son had been alive today, he would 27 27 probably have updated his law – “Time contracts so as to fill the attention span Orkut Facebook Twitter Orkut Facebook Twitter available.” According to Ted Selker at Carnegie Figures are for February 2010. Note: and have almost identical user profiles. Source: Vizisense Mellon University, “The addictive nature of Web browsing can leave you with the “The Twitter Generation is a state of counter that one man’s news is attention span of a goldfish.” That’s all mind,” blogger Zinke told Business another man’s babble. It depends on of nine seconds. Incidentally, according India. “I have yet to nail down just who is doing the judging. Goyal of to Urban Dictionary, a twit is a pregnant what kind of mindset it is. Twitter is Dentsu adds another point, “To me, goldfish. The folks at Twitter must have still in flux, moving from what was Twitter is like a poor man’s blog. How been deep thinkers to come up with the originally glorified navel-gazing into many of us have the time to sit down name. The reality, of course, is that what we might be able to call the great- and write a blog?” Twitter was named after the twittering est mobile mass organisation tool on D. Shivakumar, Nokia India’s vice of birds. the planet. It is in organising groups of president and country manager, sees There are a whole host of products people in a very short time that I think it as a far richer experience. “Twitter and services today that are catering to Twitter is most useful, not in telling the has become a phenomenon in reach- the goldfish generation. Among them: world what you had for lunch.” ing out to one’s community, peers T20: The most obvious is the Indian Yet, inane messages seem to be the and friends in an instant and real Premier League’s Twenty20. There was rule, rather than the exception (see time,” he says. “Some consider it for a time when cricket was a gentleman’s box: Cat got their tongue). According to snacking content, while some treat it game and played over five days. Now it a survey by Pear Analytics, 41 per cent as a tool to create news moments.” lasts just a few hours. The less said about of all tweets are pointless babble, 38 the gentlemen the better. per cent are conversational, 9 per cent Twitter Generation Five-second spots: Ads on television are passing along value and 6 per cent The problem of understanding the used to be 30 seconds or even longer. are self-promotion. Spam and news concept of the Twitter Generation is To counter the zap-the-ad generation, are 4 per cent apiece. (The numbers that it is not just Twitter. Other social have been rounded off and thus don’t media have to be included, of course. add up to 100.) Another survey by But contributing significantly are in 140 characters. “I feel that perspec- Sysomos, a company that provides YouTube, iPod, Kindle and other e- tive in general has shortened in human business information for the social readers, blogs, SMS and other parapher- life,” says Milind Sarwate, chief media, has found that 24 per cent of nalia of the Internet and technology. (finance, HR & strategy) at fast-moving tweets are created by bots (Web It is easier to approach it from the consumer goods (FMCG) company robots). This could be automated other side. What are the hallmarks of Marico Ltd. “Such perspective could be newsfeeds too. Fans of Twitter the Twitter Generation? It’s about life with reference to the length of rela- tionships, or commitment to an organ- isation or political party or a brand. Short-termism is now the key philoso- “The Twitter Generation is a state of mind... phy. Perhaps this has been brought about by the sudden and numerous what kind of mindset it is. Twitter is still in flux, changes around us, driven by huge moving from what was originally glorified strides in technology – both comput- navel-gazing into what we might be able to call ing and telecommunication – further accelerated by the convergence of sev- the greatest mobile mass organisation eral technologies. It is almost as if peo- tool on the planet.” ple are being bombarded by new DANN ZINKE things just as they are about to settle in Blogger and freelance writer with the existing things.” It all starts with information overload, a cliché but true. The N 56 N N
  5. 5. B U S I N E S S I N D I A N May 16, 2010 Cover Feature many advertisers have taken to shorten- contact information to.” followed by one hour of credits, listing ing them to five seconds; it’s over before Two minute Times: The Times of India everyone who participates. you can press the remote button. This is can be a quickie. Says the Website of this Filminute: An international one- also true of the Internet, where you can online edition: “(It) is your quick meal of minute film festival dedicated to pre- get rid of the ad with a quick mouse click. news, if you are hungry for news but senting, promoting and awarding the Ten Word Wiki: It calls itself the ency- pressed for time. On a single page, it gives world’s best one-minute films. It started clopaedia for the ADD (attention deficit you a snapshot of important events in in September 2006 and is still going disorder) generation. Where Wikipedia India and the world. Research shows that strong. Don’t think its trivia. The BBC has needs hundreds of words, Ten Word Wiki in two minutes, an average person can regularly organised contests for the 60- does it in 10. Example: comfortably read 400 to 500 words. second Shakespeare, an educational India: People. Colors. Fun. Religion. Hence, this attempt to condense 12 sto- project. It’s been suspended since 2006. Discover true self in Crowd. ries in less than 500 words and present That, as it happens, is the year Twitter Julius Caesar: Roman emperor. Hangs them to you on one page.” was created. about with the wrong crowd. Dislikes The Five Minute Wrapup: A free daily Incidentally, Shakespeare has been March. e-letter from Equitymaster to introduce adapted for Twitter too. You can sign up Microgames: “Sometimes playing you to the “the world of intelligent invest- and experience it. Tetris feels like reading War and Peace,” ing”. It provides a quick buffet for The Taming of the Shrew: Who woo’d says Wired magazine. Many HOGs, RPGs wannabe Buffets. in haste and means to wed at leisure. and FPSs (don’t bother about the expan- The One Second Film: This has to be a The Twitter of the Shrew: Who woo’d in sion; they are all categories of games) joke. But it isn’t. It’s a non-profit collabo- haste + means 2 wed @ leisure today come with minigames inside them. rative art project. The film is built around Even in Shakespeare’s day, they Check out WarioWare. It has microgames one second of animation (made of 12 sometimes woo’d in haste, perhaps even that are less than five seconds long. large collaborative paintings), and is in a jiffy. Speed dating: Says Wikipedia, “Men and women are rotated to meet each other over a series of short ‘dates’, usually lasting from three to eight minutes depending on the organisation running the event. At the end of each interval, the organiser rings a bell or clinks a glass to signal the participants to move on to the next date. At the end of the event, partici- pants submit to the organisers a list of who they would like to provide their hyperlinked World Wide Web (WWW) did most of the damage. Search engines and directories – with their cached content and links – added to it. In a seminal article titled ‘Is Google making us stupid?’ in the differently. You start, perhaps, with ‘recently visited’ draws you back to Atlantic Magazine, Nicholas Carr the recent Peter Robinson’s Friend of Peter Robinson. But a stray memory of wrote in 2008, “Immersing myself in a the Devil, which your book club (a still college-days favourite Mrs Robinson book or a lengthy article used to be surviving dinosaur) has recom- sends you hunting for Simon and Gar- easy. My mind would get caught up in mended. A stray reference (and a link) funkel: The Definitive Biography. (“And the narrative or the turns of the argu- to the Yorkshire Ripper sends you to here’s to you, Mrs Robinson, Jesus ment, and I’d spend hours strolling Wicked Beyond Belief: The Hunt for the loves you more than you will know”.) through long stretches of prose. Yorkshire Ripper. A passage there con- Jesus! Jesus? And you are off on your That’s rarely the case anymore. Now trasting the scenic charms of Yorkshire travels again, perhaps to Dan Brown’s my concentration often starts to drift to the horrors of the Ripper gets you The Da Vinci Code and the trail of Jesus’ after two or three pages.” The Net has thinking of your next holiday. A link descendants. You have content changed the way we read – and think. in the book takes you to The Hidden snacked a very diverse library in a few Content snacking has come to stay. Places of Yorkshire: Including The Dales, hours. In the future, no one can be Amazon’s Kindle will further Moors and Coast. (On List It – an Inter- sure if the reader will start a book from change the way we read. When down- net application for the Twitter Genera- chapter one or chapter six or, indeed, loading books or parts of them reaches tion – you make a note of three the last page. affordable levels, people will read suggested holiday spots.) A look at the All this is possible (assuming N 57 N N
  6. 6. B U S I N E S S I N D I A N May 16, 2010 Cover Feature digital versions of the books are avail- able) today. But e-readers give you ease of use. Try it out with your net- Cat got their tongue book or laptop. If you take them to bed with you, things get too hot – lit- erally. It is like having too much vari- W hen the Net was young, perhaps the only form of simultaneous multi-user social communication was the someone had jumped her claim with an account styled realprietyzinta. Zinta started realpreityzinta (note the correct ety at the harem; in chatroom. Folks who participated in spelling of her name). The original window-shopping, we lay waste our these interactions will remember the site was not even a fake because of hours – and our powers. gaudy avatars, the ‘handles’ (nicknames) the spelling, though you could call it Goyal of Dentsu says you can’t like ManitobaMadonna and the passing off. blame the WWW or Google for this. “If anonymity. It was a many-to-many It can cause a lot of confusion. Imag- I draw a parallel, this is like saying no medium. Of course, you could get away ine a fake Shashi Tharoor, former minister one fully reads what is on a Website to a private room if somebody sent you a of state for external affairs, hurling broad- because it is full of hyperlinks,” he says. PM (private message) and invited you sides at Indian Premium League (IPL) “It is purely dependent on what the there. But most of the time there were commissioner Lalit Modi. While the real consumer at that particular point dozens of people talking to each other, Shashi Tharoor (ShashiTharoor) is going wants to do; it is giving you the choices breaking into conversations, going in and strong, Twitter already has a ShahsiTha- that didn’t exist earlier.” But choices in out of the room with an apologetic roor (recent tweet: “Now at lively meet- a Twitter age lead more to distraction GTG2TBR (Got To Go to The Bathroom). ing in Kochi of UDF allies. Talk is of BPL than desired discovery. Goyal adds In the middle of the nineties, they fell not IPL); a ShashTharoor; a that SMS will probably have a more victim to new technologies. Yahoo! and Tharoor_Shashi (“I’m Becca the Cat”); lasting effect on reading habits. MSN closed down a large number of their and even a No Tharoor. S. Sadagopan, director of the Ban- chatrooms amid fears that anonymous The brass at Twitter has realised that galore-based Indian Institute of Infor- lurkers were using them to target chil- fakes could take the entire edifice down. mation Technology (IIIT), also says dren: Madonna from Manitoba could They have recently come up with a ‘Veri- that how you read and communicate well be Murugan from Machilipatnam fied Account’ feature. This will tell you is not Google’s problem. “Google in cyberspace drag. Plus, the bots whether the tweets are from the real democratises information,” he says. (Web robots) had taken over; by one esti- McCoy or not. “You read in small chunks, but mate, 60-70 per cent of the chatroom For the CEOs and the high-profile, you read more. What participants were bots. Twitter may not be important today. But is important to note The similarity between the chatroom some may be losing out on valuable is whether we are and Twitter lies in ease of entry and Internet real estate. Besides, if you think browsing more or anonymous participation. On social net- social media is the coming thing, you reading more.” working sites such as Facebook and Orkut need to register a presence. “Currently, – and professional versions such as presence is more important than LinkedIn – the key is in building networks relevance,” says Sandeep Goyal, of meatspace people (real human chairman of Dentsu India. “Just being “I feel that perspective beings). In Twitter, a large number of the present on Facebook or Twitter carries persons you follow could be fakes. badge value.” in general has Actor Preity Zinta had a surprise The Tatas, in particular, should know shortened in human recently when she discovered that about the dangers of not being proactive. life. Such perspective could be with reference The flitting from hyperlink to networks. The entire world has to the length of hyperlink means that the Twitter become virtual and they (the children relationships, or Generation inevitably suffers from and even adults) don’t want to make reduced attention spans, technically an effort to socialise.” commitment to an attention deficit disorder (ADD). “This E.M. Forster had predicted this in organisation or is on the rise,” says Mumbai-based the dystopian The Machine Stops a cen- political party or a psychotherapist and psychiatrist tury ago. (“Beneath those corridors of Zirak Marker. There is a physical shining tiles were rooms, tier below brand. Short-termism dimension too. “We are seeing several tier, reaching far into the earth, and in is now the key changes in the mainstream popula- each room there sat a human being, tion in terms of deficiencies in Vita- eating, or sleeping, or producing philosophy.” min B, lack of physical activities, ideas… The room, though it con- MILIND SARWATE social introversions, etc,” says Marker. tained nothing, was in touch with all Chief (finance, HR & strategy) “There are huge setbacks that our that she cared for in the world… Marico mainstream population, especially There was the button that produced children, are facing as a result of social literature, and there were of course N 58 N N
  7. 7. B U S I N E S S I N D I A N May 16, 2010 Cover Feature The group has been fighting court battles some of these sites. Twitter account But what about his large battery of for a long time with squatters who had tatamotors, in the name of Ratan Tata, communications people? usurped their domain names such as tata- has only one rather objectionable tweet. Is Twitter – and all this bed, breakfast and The cyber- Ratan Tata himself may not have taken to and airport gossip – for real? As a CEO, squatters had put up pornography on tweets and hasn’t come across it. would you join this crowd? It is difficult to find too many Indian CEO types on SHAH RUKH KHAN (Tharoor no longer follows Twitter. Even with other high-profile people, you Actor Lalit Modi.) don’t always know where you stand. Of the list Followers: below, Twitter has verified only Anand Mahindra, 295,581 LALIT MODI Shah Rukh Khan, Shashi Tharoor, Lalit Modi and Following: 39 IPL commissioner the real Zinta: Recent tweet: Followers: normally dont 85,094 ANAND MAHINDRA kingfisher ! Love it. Thanks ! do did in Following: 25 Mahindra & kolkata with kids. fried chips & Recent tweet: Mahindra Group ANIL AMBANI much for the welcome all Followers Reliance ADAG healthy resolution last nite. investigation (people who Followers: 525 (Lalit Modi follows Tharoor automatically Following: 19 MEERA SANYAL and, among others, receive your No tweets as yet. Royal Bank of Scotland Vijay Mallya, Sushmita tweets): 45,542 Followers: 430 Sen, Celina Jaitley, Sameera Following (people whose SANTANU GHOSH Following: 19 Reddy, Shilpa Shetty and tweets you automatically Symantec Group Recent tweet: Make an Preity Zinta.) receive): 31 Followers: 199 informed decision when you Recent tweet: I’ve been Following: 22 vote on Thursday. Now you PREITY ZINTA appointed on the AI board, as Recent tweet: Flight delay = can question Meera Sanyal. Actor some of u r aware... Traveled Passengers with anger mgmt SMS MS <space><your Followers: back from Delhi on kingfisher problems... VIP in the city = question> e.g. MS Why Vote? 152,648 since AI didn’t hv a flt at tht flight delays. Mumbai flight (Sanyal has no posts after 28 Following: 44 time. Felt will get here 45 mins late April, two days before the Recent Tweet: strange,guilty&treasonous for elections in her Maharashtra For the record! I am SINGLE & not being on AI! KRIS GOPALAKRISHNAN constituency got over.) not dating any one from my Infosys team VIJAY MALLYA Followers: 434 SHASHI THAROOR UB Group Following: 0 Politician PRIETY ZINTA Followers: Recent tweet: Schools closing Followers: Fraud 20,309 for summer holidays. And IPL 737,696 Followers: 3,471 Following: 29 competition heating up. Following: 32 Following: 19 Recent tweet: IPL Annual results by companies Recent tweet: I’ve Recent tweet: Do you think I divided by politics-united by next 4 weeks had enough. am real. the buttons by which she communi- characterised by short attention long-lasting change. Leading the list cated with her friends.) spans, sensationalism, inability to is media. “Twitter has evolved as a “I am also seeing a lot of sexual empathise and a shaky sense of iden- real-time news platform and at deviance in children,” continues tity. “iPod health warning,” screams times, has even broken news before Marker. “They are exposed at a very The Sun of London. mainstream media outlets,” says young age to porn and drugs. In Shivakumar of Nokia. adults, social media has resulted in Pass with time The print media is anyway on the increased discordance in family life. Every new technology or societal threatened list. Many publishers don’t So much access is bound to impact change will have its quota of sceptics. realise that it is the content they are family life.” It is true that some will suffer, but you selling, not the format. The dead-tree Others have documented these cannot extrapolate that to the entire edition is anyway dead for other rea- effects too. Lady Greenfield, professor population. This too will pass. sons. In a couple of decades, newsprint of synaptic pharmacology at Oxford’s Sadagopan of IIIT expects social made by cutting trees will be treated Lincoln College, told the UK House of networks to stabilise in 5-10 years. the same way as animal skins. The tree Lords last year that social networks But there are some places where huggers may be laughed at today, but were infantilising the mind, leaving it the Twitter Generation will introduce they will eventually win. N 59 N N
  8. 8. B U S I N E S S I N D I A N May 16, 2010 Cover Feature Revolution won’t come overnight. In the interim, print will carry on – In good company Indian business owners are not exposed particularly in countries like India to successful case studies of the benefits and in regional languages. And the media needs to take interim steps to the final transition. To put all print I f a company is known by the men it keeps on projects such as social media, India Inc rates very poorly. According to of Twitter and social media,” says Sharma. “They have started Twitter and Facebook accounts just because their publications in the digital basket Daksh Sharma, co-founder and delivery competitors have done so.” today is like buying baby clothes even head of Iffort Consulting, a start-up in the “Indian companies are yet to wake up before you have conceived. Web strategy and social media consulting to the revolution happening in e-space,” “Organisations that are comfort- space, very few Indian companies are on says K. Pandia Rajan, managing direc- able with fast adaptation and innova- Twitter or Facebook. Many of the tor of integrated HR services tion will succeed,” says Girish ones that are have simply auto- provider Ma Foi. Adds Harish Agarwal, director of the Dainik mated the process Bijoor, brand strategy specialist Bhaskar group, which has several lead- and outsourced the and CEO of Harish ing language publications and the maintenance. “The Bijoor Consults Inc, English morninger DNA (Daily News & problem is that “Marketers in India Analysis). But adaptation is not the The best only way; the Bhaskar group intends companies to become far more proactive. “Information consumption pat- Most active account: MSN India (38,857 tweets) terns are changing,” says the group’s vice president – marketing, Sanjeev Most followed brand: MTV India (56,560 followers) Kotnala. “Bold changes are visible in Most conversational brand: ICICI Bank (98.32% tweets) personal and community information Most Re-tweeted brand: Tatadocomo (31% tweets) sharing. This accentuates the need to know early.” He says the group has Oldest brand: (active since October 2007) been going in for localisation to match Note: A conversation is one in which the tweets are participating in two-way traffic as different from one-way the needs for different niches. But for a promotional messages. Re-tweets are those forwarded to others. Source: Indian companies on Twitter, Iffort mass-market product like a newspa- per, there is a limit to how far you can go down that route. Twitter (like sev- specific languages. Shivakumar of exploring the possibilities of getting eral publishing portals on Nokia says that Twitter is now avail- into the print media business in the Net) can be individu- able in languages like French, Spanish India.” As journalists scurried and edi- alised and per- and Italian. “We might be tweeting in tors worried, it turned out that it was a sonalised; you Hindi, Bengali or Kannada in the fake; Shankar didn’t have a Facebook get tweets only future,” he says. Incidentally, moneti- account at all. Experts say that credi- from specific sation – which might bring in bility will decide the future of publish- people or in unwanted tweets – could well harm ing. You expect unsubstantiated Twitter without delivering much rev- gossip from Twitter; it is the digital enue. What would you do with a tweet equivalent of the water cooler. You are in Traditional Chinese? prepared to put up with some of it “Social networks are from TV. However, as the current Trust in tweets debate shows, the shrill voices on the infantilising the mind, The danger with unknown tweets is different news channels are destroying leaving it that you don’t know how much to the very edifice of their medium. But characterised by short trust them, assuming you can read for long shelf-life products like maga- them in the first place. If Reuters says zines, you just cannot get your facts attention spans, the IPL boss is sacked, you’ll probably wrong. Credibility is proportional to sensationalism, believe that. But if the tweet comes shelf-life, both in terms of the nature inability to empathise from a Routers in Ranchi, you would of the product and the future of the be mad if you accepted that at organisation. The other conclusion: and a shaky sense of face value. media houses need to be across the identity.” Because Twitter is immediate, it spectrum. They need to tweet too. LADY GREENFIELD needs greater circumspection. But Media is a segment. What cuts Professor of synaptic Facebook and family can have credi- across is the brand. “In many ways, pharmacology at Oxford’s Lincoln bility problems too. Recently, Star what has happened to cricket and College India CEO Uday Shankar posted on what cricket has been able to cascade Facebook, “Star India, a wholly owned as a mindset amongst some 780 subsidiary of STAR Hong Kong, is million cricket viewers in this country N 60 N N
  9. 9. B U S I N E S S I N D I A N May 16, 2010 Cover Feature are still reading the tea leaves. Not many Twitter to showcase their latest offerings, responsive,” says D. Shivakumar, Nokia have reacted as yet.” promote product launches, offer dis- India VP and country manager. “That’s a Iffort Consulting has just completed a counts and announce contests. There are great way of telling your customer that study titled Indian Companies on Twitter: A specific campaigns around Twitter. you care. Twitter has worked for brands Usage Study. It looked at companies in Some in the IT industry like Microsoft such as Comcast, Dell, Starbucks and nine verticals – information technology India (it has a team of 5-6 people), Nokia because it is real time, transparent, (IT)/IT-enabled services, telecom, fast- Hewlett-Packard India and Capgemini are honest and open minded.” moving consumer goods, healthcare, Twitter-friendly. Their accounts are active On a global level, companies are allo- Internet, finance, logistics, media and and managed by real people. Most Indian cating approximately 3-4 per cent of their automobiles. The cut-off was brands with IT companies, however, have taken the marketing budgets to social media. “In a minimum 100 followers and 50 tweets. easy way out by automating the process. India, no such figures are available,” (To put that in perspective, globally Nokia The result: No ‘conversation’. says Sharma of Iffort. But it would be has 20,735 followers and 230 tweets; But the bottomline is that “Twitter’s significantly less. Ford Motor has 29,572 and 4,555.) penetration in organisations will continue Figures of a different sort are available, The key findings of the Iffort study are: to increase on both sides of the spectrum. however. And they explain what corpo- Many of the active brands are using Conversations between users and brands rate India is more concerned about. Twitter as a broadcasting platform. But which are managed by humans with an According to a study by the Associated several are focussed on the ‘conversa- emotional quotient will continue to Chambers of Commerce and Industry tional’ aspects with emphasis on thrive. The focus will lessen on one-way (ASSOCHAM), close to 12.5 per cent of the customer service. broadcasts where Twitter accounts simply productivity of human resources in the News brands make the most tweets. translate into monotonous RSS (Really corporate sector is “misappropriated That’s expected; they have something Simple Syndication) feeds. More compa- each day”... the average employee new to say. nies will start using Twitter for market spends an hour, “gluing to various social Twitter can be a wonderful tool for res- research, listening to users and keeping networking sites such as Orkut, Facebook, olution of customer problems. Happy cus- track of competition.” MySpace, LinkedIn, etc for romancing or tomers communicate to other Tweeters. “What consumers appreciate the most otherwise... (sic)”. Organisations have started adapting is ‘being heard’ and brands that are Romancing? That’s strictly for the birds. (the mindset of impatience), typifies to develop multiple brands and multi- Sarwate. “Even in our products where current consumer sentiment,” says ple positioning platforms for them. we have had sustained high market Harish Bijoor, brand strategy special- This is somewhat like the traditional share, such sustenance has been ist and CEO of Harish Bijoor Consults flanking strategy. If a consumer has to achieved through constant new Inc. “The idea is a simple one. We switch, let him do so to a same-house offerings to the consumer.” have very little time. Let’s get a lot brand. But that has implications for A similar churn in thinking is going done in it. We don’t have time to daw- umbrella branding and corporate on in another across-the-spectrum dle. The thought pattern in the minds reputation building. area – the workplace. Some changes of consumers is simple as well: When The Twitter Generation will not are already visible. Recruitment meth- you can be impatient, why be patient? stand still. It expects that others will ods and channels no longer rely on “When consumers have shorter not do so too. “Brand loyalty can now snail mail. The appointment ad has lifecycles of interest and shorter be maintained only through constant disappeared from print media, except patience platforms, brands are them- change and innovation,” says in places where it is used to bolster selves threatened. Do remember that a brand in the old days meant loyalty. This very brand loyalty morphs into brand promiscuity in the new mind- set. This means that brand users will want to move from brand to brand faster. Brand switchers and brand fence sitters will form a large portion of the market, much larger than brand loyalists. Marketers need to prepare for this. Be prepared for the death of absolute brand loyalty, and be pre- pared to harvest profits from temporal brand loyalty that might last with your brand for less than 18 months.” As a corollary, companies will have N 61 N N
  10. 10. B U S I N E S S I N D I A N May 16, 2010 Cover Feature corporate image. LinkedIn is a site for professionals, so job-hunting is a pri- ority here. But there are more than 100 Twitter accounts and applications to help you find a job. “The word of mouth or letter of recommendation is now slowly being replaced by online credentials,” says Pandia Rajan of Ma Foi. “Networking sites are fast becoming a medium for headhunting and reference checks. Online social presence and participa- tion is being considered very impor- tant by many professionals for elevating their professional status. Online networking is fast replacing the old-world methods of social clubs, which played a very important role in backpack benefits that they can carry needs personalised attention. It needs professional networking.” with them, rather than benefits linked kid-glove handling. “Business as usual What you gain on the round- to employers, which are not portable. on the people front is not an option abouts, you lose on the swings. The Organisations are getting flatter, but because there is no business as usual speed of locating and hiring talent is the youth expect to move up quickly any more,” says Towers Watson. just as applicable to your competition and this tension will have to be han- “The old saying that nothing is too. “Information about the market dled creatively and carefully. permanent but change has turned out travels faster than expected,” says Employer brands will matter more to be true more than ever before,” says Pandia Rajan. And industry attrition because of snap evaluations; compa- Sarwate of Marico. “But rather than rates are higher than expected. nies will not get a second chance to looking at this as movement towards make an impression on valuable tal- shortening perspective, we can look at Deeper dimension ent. So corporate communication it as an accelerating change process. I These are the nuts and bolts of the skills will increasingly become a differ- think most of the media is still domi- business. There is a deeper dimension. entiator in a world driven by sound- nated by people in the ‘old’ age group “The biggest manifestation of this bites, summaries and messaging.” and they are somewhat uncomfort- change is that the youth no longer A recent survey by global profes- able with this. If you look at the view employment as a contract, but as sional services company Towers Wat- younger generation, they are used to a transaction. Unlike their parents son says that a ‘new deal’ has arrived change much more than they are used who viewed employment as a lifelong in employee-employer relations. Its to stability. One of the measures we relationship, they view it as a taxicab 2010 Global Workforce Study finds have taken to sustain growth is to relationship,” says Manish Sabhar- this more balanced. Because the dice address the younger crowd far more wal, co-founder and chairman of has always been loaded against work- than the older crowd.” Given that staffing services firm TeamLease. ers, the change is in their Twitter is getting older – in more ways A member of the taxicab genera- favour. The than one – marketers have to address tion goes on short trips. If one cab is Twitter Gener- both the boy who is half a man and not available, he will find another. He ation in the the man who is half a boy. has more opportunity. He has less loy- workplace The Twitter Generation is evolv- alty. He becomes easily bored with a ing; shorter attention spans mean particular job. He can easily go walka- that they will flit from Twitter too. bout; he has the confidence (at least Remember Geocities, which was in India) that jobs will be easy to find. “When consumers incredibly popular until Yahoo! Sabharwal sees other changes. “The have shorter lifecycles bought it in 1999 for $3.57 billion and youthification of corporate India – wound up last year. Or Tripod, which also the global workforce, given that of interest and shorter was also partly closed down last year. 25 per cent of the world’s new workers patience platforms, The next big thing is likely to be in the next five years will be Indians – brands are themselves geosocial networking. Waiting in the has interesting implications for organ- wings are the likes of Foursquare and isations and managers,” he says. threatened.” Gowalla, location-based social net- “Younger people increasingly value HARISH BIJOOR working Websites with bells and higher takehome salaries than Brand strategy specialist and CEO whistles thrown in. You will read deferred compensation and benefits. of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. about them soon – on Twitter. If they must have benefits, they prefer N PARTHASARATHI SWAMI and HIRAL SHETH N 62 N N