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Are you really doing social media? February 17, 2012

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Marketing, Social Media.
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Blogging. Microblogging. Social Networking. Location-based services. Social Bookmarking. Social Media Optimization. Gamification. Social Media Analytics. Social Communities. Content Strategy. Content Curation. ROI. Social Business. Brand Monitoring. Influencer Outreach. Sentiment Analysis. Buzz Monitoring. Share of Voice. User-Generated Content. Crowdsourcing. Viral Marketing. Engagement. Storytelling. It goes on.

Sometimes, it’s good to take a step back from all that and ask a simple question: why do people use social media?

Social media helps PEOPLE connect and build relationships with other PEOPLE*.

Are your social media efforts doing the same? If not, you are not doing social media.

*Or brands who can be human. 

Pic credit: Flickr

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Will Air India’s flight to social media take off? April 11, 2011

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Branding, Conversations, India, Marketing, Social Media.
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Pic credit: Daniel Villa, Airliners.net

In the high-flying world where aviation meets social media, the impossible turned possible today. India’s government-owned national airline Air India announced it was stepping into social media with a clear mandate to generate at least 30% revenue as an ROI.

In a Financial Express news report by Shaheen Mansuri, Arvind Jadhav, AI’s chairman and managing director said, “Until now, we were unable to provide a flexible pricing and customised products to our customers. While other airlines have their presence on Facebook and Twitter, we were missing from that space.

Once brand AI is exposed to a larger audience, it can translate into more sales. Social networking sites have opened up a new distribution platform for the airline. The traditional travel agents and travel websites will co-exist with the new medium,” said Jadhav.

You can read the entire story here.

I had several interesting responses after I shared the story on Twitter which was first broken by the evergreen diva @TobyDiva.

Air India to join social media w/ an ROI goal of increasing sales by 30%. http://ht.ly/4xpDx via @TobyDiva

Few responses:

Jesus! They’re gonna get butchered! Via @DeveshM

WOW! Xcited Via @vishal1mehra

air india using social media would be a pretty stupid initiative in my way..n 30% sales from there sounds insane! Via @aseemrastogi2

This will probably end up like CCD when they entered the social media scene: a lot of unhappy customers who compained non stop. Via @Thor_

My view on #AirIndia & #socialmedia is that they can go two ways…but the #Airline had better do it right to be effective. #smtravel Via @flyingwithfish

If#AirIndia can’t breaks it’s habit of not effectively addressing passengers & protecting it’s brand, #socialmedia won’t succeed Via @flyingwithfish

AI is certainly a late bird after the social media worm; shud’ve emulated Jet & Kingfisher well ahead. Via @StoryMary

I Would say to everyone: “If you’re not in #SocMed yet you’re too late” Via @eezeer

No use without changing hostesses. Via @Askabuska

Here are a couple of my thoughts:

1.    Today Air India is strategically and operationally at a critical juncture. New aviation minister at the helm, overview of top management after the departure of COO Baldauf and his deputies, debt restructuring in process, the much awaited Dreamliners joining the fleet soon, the forthcoming entry into Star Alliance etc. Social media can now step in as a part of an image makeover – the journey to a new Air India. However, this image makeover will have to reflect in the way airline treats customers & offers them an experience that is no less compared to what the competition is offering them.

2.    Air India can be sure to get a lot of negative PR and feedback on their social media platforms. The airline has unfortunately had a legacy of poor service and this is going to show clearly when consumers engage with the airline on social media. How they manage the negative feedback and win over audiences is going to be very crucial.

3.    The best brands on social media are the best brands in business. There’s only so much social media can do to make you look good. If you do not deliver on your core customer promise or if you don’t do your job right, you should never be on social media. Period.

4.    The danger of using social media as a broadcast medium is that it will bite you in the back. Social cannot be a me-too approach as a response to your competition being on it. However, I appreciate the assertiveness shown by Mr Jadhav on utilizing the medium for generating revenues. Air India’s competitors such as Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines are doing a great job engaging with their customers on social media. Competition on the airline social media airwaves in India will be intense.

5.    Is Air India ready for the big step it is to take? Are they aware of the potential benefits and pitfalls of engaging in the medium? Do they have the resources in place to execute a social media strategy that will work for them? Lots more questions that time will answer.

Good luck, Air India and welcome aboard the social media bandwagon!

So is Air India going to make it or break it in social media? Would love to hear your thoughts.

The King of Good Times: A social media surprise from Kingfisher Airlines February 25, 2011

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Branding, Conversations, India, Social Media, Travel.
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As an aviation geek & a social media marketing professional, I keep a close eye out on airlines that are blitzing the social media trail.

On last count, there are over 180 airlines on Twitter. Every airline worth their salt is on Facebook building communities and rewarding loyalty via contests.


What I love most about airlines that are doing social media right is: those who are using social media to listen to their customers and offer them delightful surprises. Such a rare experience happened to me last month, via Kingfisher Airlines.

Kingfisher Airlines, based out of India is one of the world’s seven airlines to be ranked as a 5-star airline by Skytrax. They fly to 63 domestic destinations and 8 international destinations with an Airbus & ATR fleet. Headed by one of India’s most flamboyant tycoons Dr Vijay Mallya, Kingfisher has built a strong brand for itself in service and quality over the years. It wouldn’t be unfair to call Kingfisher the Virgin America of Indian skies.

I have watched Kingfisher’s meteoric rise and often lamented the fact that I have never flown them, primarily because they don’t fly out of Muscat. Anyhow, a great opportunity to try Kingfisher for the first time came up last month and I decided to fly them outbound on Dubai-Bengaluru-Cochin and Chennai-Bengaluru-Dubai on my inbound leg.

Kingfisher is active on Twitter and as always, I tweeted before my departure that I was flying them. I received a reply from them asking me to enjoy their service. Quite the appropriate thing to do on social media, yes?

I arrive at Dubai Airport on the date of my departure, stood in a snaking queue of flustered passengers waiting to check-in. When my turn came, I noticed the check-in agent spend a few extra seconds looking at her screen and then proceeded to consult with her supervisor before handing me a complimentary Lounge Access card. Now, how great is that?

Unfortunately, I couldn’t check out the Lounge as I was running late for my flight, so I boarded the all economy A321 and we were soon wheels up to Bengaluru. After reaching cruising altitude, the cabin crew started meal service. I noticed that they rolled up the cart straight to where I was sitting (somewhere in the middle of the plane) and asked me “Mr Rajagopal, what would you like to have for dinner?”

That was an absolute stunner for me. I know in premium classes it is a practice for crew to know beforehand who they are serving, but moi flying in Y class (or cattle class as one prominent Indian politician once described the back of the bus)? The crew knew my name and that was an absolutely delightful surprise for me. They served me well & I sure got a few envious looks from around the cabin.

The 2 cabin crew members who worked my section would come up to me once in a while and ensure that I was all comfy. Nothing artificial, but a genuine and warm desire to serve well, which is sadly missing from a lot of airlines this day. Believe you me, these are the little, personal touches that make flying such a lovely experience for me.

When I inquired how the crew knew me by name, I was told that they were informed beforehand that I would be flying with them and was asked to take special care of me. Social media at work, yes? 🙂

I felt like the ‘king of good times’ as I thoroughly enjoyed my flight and didn’t forget to compliment Kingfisher in my feedback form (I believe they should look at the paper quality of the form as ball point pens don’t write well on them – minor detail, I know).

I landed early morning at Bengaluru and almost missed my connecting flight to Cochin due to a security snafu. I literally missed my bus to the plane. However, the kind people at Kingfisher got me ferried to the waiting ATR in their car just in time. I hopped on the plane and we were off. Trust me on this; they could have left without me. Will never forget the sight of an ATR waiting on the ground on a misty morning, the crew peeping out of the door and me diving into it with my rucksack pulling me back. Reminded me of how we jump into moving trains. Another big star from me.

Landed in Cochin and I was happy to let Kingfisher know that my flights went well and they DMed back wishing me a great time in India. (Almost sounds like a love affair, hmmm?)

So I spent the next couple of days train hopping across India (I think I spent 7 out of my 9 days sleeping on overnight trains). A week later, I was ready to make the hop back to Dubai. I was flying from Chennai and on my local train ride to the airport, I was wondering if I would have any similar surprises in store.

I was met by this very helpful Kingfisher ground staff who helped me with my bags. And I did make a note of how Kingfisher staff are generally polite, professional and courteous. You begin to feel that these people, whether they are at the low end or the high end of the line, are carefully cherry-picked to live a certain brand vision that leads to delighting customers.

Proceeded to check-in and gladly got my fav seat on an A321 which gives you humongous amounts of legroom. There were no surprises waiting for me at the check-in desk. Must say, I was slightly disappointed after all the pampering a week ago. I traipsed across the terminal towards a Maggi noodle stall and went on to ravenously chomp down a noodle bowl.

As I gulp through my noodles, I spot 2 Kingfisher staff make a beeline for me and I’m like – Uh Oh! Crew: Mr. Rajagopal, we were looking for you… So again, Kingfisher decided to make my day. Minutes later, I was escorted into a lounge at Chennai Airport (at this point was beginning to feel like royalty) and the staff promised to fetch me before boarding. Spent a good 30 minutes in the lounge and then she was back.  Trust me, nothing beats the experience of being chaperoned by a Kingfisher crew on the ground. I did manage to count a few envious looks and did I say I didn’t have to stand in a line for my security check? The lovely crew member hopped with me on the bus and literally dropped me at the door of the plane. My mind was flying at 35k feet by then.

The flight to Bengaluru went without incident. Must say, I liked my seat on the ATR in front of the plane which is the only row facing the rest of the seats. They are comfortable and you get a feeling of flying in a biz jet. Landed at Bengaluru and was at met at the door of the plane by another Kingfisher staffer. I know that at this point this is all sounding like a giant ego-fueled fairy tale. But then this gorgeous staffer walks me from the plane, takes me through immigration and security, mind you, no standing in queues again, you are introduced everywhere as a ‘guest’ and then proceeds to comfortably ensconce me in a premium lounge at the International Terminal.

I tuck into some fine Sauvignon Blanc, Paneer rolls and rum cake as I wait for my ‘Bus to Dubai. My ‘handler’ appeared again before boarding and walked me on the airbridge till my jet, bidding bye and safe travels.

Wheels up to Dubai, great food, much better than on the inbound leg, caught some shuteye and a perfect landing – didn’t even know if we touched ground, just floated in and came to a stop at the airbridge. As we deplaned, the Captain came out to say hello. A great ending to an awesome Kingfisher tale.

So what’s the summary of this whole experience? Just a fluffy piece singing a lot of praise in favor of Kingfisher for making the day of a planegeek? Well, they earned it and yes, a big thank you to them for giving me one of the best flights in my life.

Will Kingfisher roll out the same red carpet treatment to everyone who tweets to them about their journeys? Perhaps not. But have they won a loyal customer and strong brand evangelist in me. Definitely, yes.

To sign off, brands engaging in social media take off to a new level when they are able to consistently and creatively offer value, engagement and delightful surprises to their audience.  It all starts from caring to listen and daring to surprise. Amen!

Blog Action Day & Age of Conversation 3 – Two great online causes for the win! October 15, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Books, Branding, Conversations, Digital, Marketing, Social Media.
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Today is Blog Action Day, an annual event where thousands of bloggers around the world unite to talk about a common issue that impacts the lives of people around the world. This collective buzz sparks online discussion, awareness and action. This year, Blog Action Day is all about WATER.

Why Water?

“Almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. That’s one in eight of us.

Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of diseases and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren’t strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses. The UN predicts that one tenth of the global disease burden can be prevented simply by improving water supply and sanitation.

But, water moves beyond just a human rights issue. It’s an environmental issue, an animal welfare issue, a sustainability issue. Water is a global issue, deserving a global conversation.”

[VIMEO 15336764]

Here are some WATER facts that I picked up from the Blog Action Day website:

  • 40 Billion Hours: African women walk over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 18 kilograms to gather water, which is usually still not safe to drink. More Info »
  • 38,000 Children a Week: Every week, nearly 38,000 children under the age of 5 die from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions. More Info »
  • Wars Over Water: Many scholars attribute the conflict in Darfur at least in part to lack of access to water. A report commissioned by the UN found that in the 21st century, water scarcity will become one of the leading causes of conflict in Africa. More Info »
  • Cell Phones vs. Toilets: Today, 2.5 billion people lack access to toilets, but many more have access to a cell phone. More Info »
  • Food Footprint: It takes 24 liters of water to produce one hamburger. That means it would take over 19.9 billion liters of water to make just one hamburger for every person in Europe. More Info »
  • Technology Footprint: The shiny new iPhone in your pocket requires half a liter of water to charge. That may not seem like much, but with over 80 million active iPhones in the world, that’s 40 million liters to charge those alone. More Info »
  • Fashion Footprint: That cotton t-shirt you’re wearing right now took 1,514 liters of water to produce, and your jeans required an extra 6,813 liters. More Info »
  • Bottled Water Footprint: The US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled. More Info »
  • Polluted Oceans: Death and disease caused by polluted coastal waters costs the global economy $12.8 billion a year. More Info »
  • Building Wells: Organizations like Water.org and charity: water are leading the charge in bringing fresh water to communities in the developing world. More Info »
  • Conservation Starts at Home: The average person uses 465 liters of water per day. Find out how much you use and challenge your readers to do that same. More Info »

Living in Oman for a better part of my life and now based in the UAE, I have been lucky to enjoy access to clean, safe water. However, I am also aware that water is a scarce commodity in many parts of the world. Hence, it is my personal commitment to reduce as much wastage of water as possible.

That personal commitment apart, one of the ways I’m contributing this year is by joining the Age of Conversation Bum Rush.

THE AGE OF CONVERSATION 3 for the WIN!


Considering the fact that social media has gone all mainstream now, Age of Conversation is a global initiative started by Drew McLellan in Iowa and Gavin Heaton in Australia, two marketing whizzes who were savvy enough to see the emerging possibilities of social media-driven online collaboration, crowdsourcing, creativity and online publishing to create the world’s first marketing ‘blook’ ‘The Age of Conversation’, 3 years ago!

Every year, AOC brings together the world’s sharpest marketing and creative minds who publish a chapter each, promote the book and the co-authors in their online community and use proceeds of book sales to benefit a charity. This is my 3rd year in the AOC adventure and being a part of this rockstar community has only benefited me, personally and professionally.

This year, Age of Conversation 3:  It’s Time To Get Busy! brings about 171 leading marketing bloggers from around the world who capture the distinct shift from social media as a hypothetical consumer loyalty tool, as it was considered only a little more than a year ago, to its current state as a staple in the modern marketing toolbox.

Although the book covers more than just social media, the topic is ubiquitous among the book’s 10 sections: At the Coalface; Identities, Friends and Trusted Strangers; Conversational Branding; Measurement; Corporate Conversations; In the Boardroom; Innovation and Execution; Influence; Getting to Work; and Pitching Social Media.

THE AGE OF CONVERSATION 3 – Official Charity – charity: water

The first Age of Conversation raised nearly $15,000 for Variety, the international children’s charity, and the Age of Conversation 2 raised a further $10,000 for Variety.

This year, all benefits from AOC 3 sales will go to charity: water. charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. 100% of public donations directly fund water projects.

Age of Conversation 3:  It’s Time To Get Busy! is available on Amazon in Kindle, Paperback and Hardcover versions. So don’t forget to get your copy today. The book is great mind fodder if you are passionate about communications, marketing, digital strategy, branding, PR and social media, plus they make great gifts for your agency, partners and clients, and you also do your bit for charity!

And do remember to read my chapter: Who is the real social media influencer – my take on identifying the real stars in the social media space.

Amazingly, just $20 can give one person clean water for 20 years. An average water project costs $5,000 and can serve 250 people with clean, safe water – so purchasing a copy of the Age of Conversation 3 really can make a difference to someone’s life!

Happy reading AOC3 & happy Blog Action Day!

69 things I will miss about Oman September 15, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Oman.
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In no particular order of importance…

  1. My den.
  2. Calm, quiet and almost soporific pace of life.
  3. Star Cinema and their very friendly staff.
  4. And the box seats in Orchestra, Star Cinema, usually Seat #23 or #25. Seat #4, Row 1 at any of the Mini Cinemas.
  5. The madness at Wadi Adai Roundabout: Thank God a signal junction is replacing the roundabout.
  6. Parking woes at City Cinema Shatti.
  7. City Cinema Sohar.
  8. The drive from Muscat to Dubai and back.
  9. The official superhero of my building: TopCat Ramos.
  10. Moviestudio and his amazing collection of movies.
  11. Mom.
  12. The crazy airport flyover.
  13. Muscat International Airport. Small but convenient. Friendly immigration, e-gate, reasonable duty free selection and helpful staff. And the free WiFi at the airport that made this post possible.
  14. Annapoorna restaurant in CBD.
  15. Lunch Thaali at Saravana Bhavan.
  16. The service station at Wadi Kabir omanoil filling station. For giving my rides ‘Cleopatra Shower’.
  17. Green Clean at Qurum City Centre. For giving my rides such amazing shine.
  18. Early morning drives.
  19. The luxury coaches of Muscat. The Beasts of Al Khanjry, Comfortline, GTC, CTC, Salalah Line, ONTC, Happyline, Al Turki etc.
  20. My ride.
  21. Friendly locals everywhere. Oman is really one of the friendliest nations on Earth.
  22. Times of Oman.
  23. @4jijesh.
  24. My Laundrywallahs from Unnau, Uttar Pradesh and their chaste Hindi.
  25. Rajan’s Barber Shop at CBD for close shaves.
  26. Brands Elite and their casks of Stanley’s White and Red Lambrusco.
  27. The superb view of the hills from my den.
  28. The flowers at Al Fair Sarooj. They have made many a diva happy.
  29. Shell Filling Stations.
  30. National Bank of Oman Cash Deposit Machines.
  31. The Dodge Chargers that make my head turn.
  32. The crazy shop names.
  33. Beef Ularthiyathu at Divine. Also the lunch thaali at Divine.
  34. Salalah.
  35. Chilis at Muscat City Centre.
  36. Aldo at Muscat City Centre.
  37. When it rains.
  38. Uptown. The entire gang with a special mention to Nash.
  39. Split Chili at Uptown.
  40. Murgh Malai Tikka Masala and Garlic Rice at Uptown.
  41. The uber cool Oman tweeps.
  42. Marina Bander Al Rowdha.
  43. Dolphin Watching.
  44. Wahiba Sands.
  45. Bus stop at Thumrait.
  46. Counting the million stars at Haima desert.
  47. Landing and take off at Muscat International Airport.
  48. Amazing Shawarma at Muscat Bakery in Wadi Adai.
  49. Swami’s Hotel at Ruwi High Street.
  50. Happyline Transport.
  51. Woodland’s for the occasional takeaway.
  52. Nirvana. Because I love red and the ambience and the Corona is just spiffy.
  53. Khyber. For their excellent service and garlic pickle.
  54. UMS. For the memories.
  55. Wunderman Oman. For broadening my horizons.
  56. Bus Street at Ruwi, next to Sultan Qaboos mosque.
  57. The Grand Mosque at Bausher. For its grace and elegance.
  58. The Royal Oman Police. For being such stars in uniform.
  59. Ghazal at Grand Hyatt. For the great band.
  60. White Tiger Restaurant at Barka, next to omanoil. For the superb Beef masala.
  61. Al Bahja cinema.
  62. Plane spotting at Muscat International Airport. The Oman Air A330s make me beam.
  63. All the friends out here who are like family.
  64. How the roads go quiet during Ramadan. Lame.
  65. Shopping for Jeema water and 6-packs of Coke.
  66. Ranjan, Man Friday who cleans my den every Friday.
  67. White Chocolate at Starbucks.
  68. Nuts & Bolts. The newest pub in town. And themed on automobiles.
  69. Driving Chargelina around Muscat.

What can Steven Slater learn from a pillow fight onboard Lufthansa August 14, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Airlines, Aviation, Conversations, Marketing, Travel.
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Flight attendants are very much in the news these days.

This year belongs to Steven Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant who after an altercation with a passenger on an aircraft that had just landed at New York’s JFK International Airport, announced via the in-flight intercom that he was quitting his job and hurled profanities at the passenger who provoked him. He then grabbed a beer, activated the aircraft’s emergency chute and bolted off the plane.

While many are hailing Mr. Slater as a ‘working-class hero’ for standing up against an unruly customer & walking away from an ‘unpleasant’ situation, his otherwise social media-open and transparent former employer is forced to remain silent as this matter is under investigation. Mr. Slater looks certain to benefit from his newfound fame as an ‘air rager’ and there are calls for JetBlue to take him back to the skies. Personally, I believe he shouldn’t be allowed to do so.

Being a flight attendant is a tough and demanding job that requires immaculate stress management and people handling skills beyond the veneer of a smiling and glamorous exterior. Needless to say, cabin crew are the human face of the airline to the flying public. How they conduct themselves plus how they treat passengers in the skies and on the ground reflects the general service attitude of the airline to the world. 20 odd years into the job, it doesn’t bode well for me to have Mr. Slater on my flight losing his top and bolting off the aircraft like a renegade general.

Cut to the story of this inspiring Lufthansa flight attendant who is now the star of an emerging YouTube viral video titled ‘LH 687 – The endless dispute between the French and the Germans’.

A hilarious pillow flight broke out recently on a Lufthansa flight bound to Frankfurt from Tel Aviv. A German cabin crew was handing out complimentary pillows to Economy Class passengers when pillows were thrown back at her. Not one to be cowed down, she joined in the fun and threw back pillows at the passengers (a group of French tourists). In the 42-second clip, the stewardess can be seen dashing for the safety of her curtain as the hail of pillows intensifies. A passenger recorded a video of this funny pillow fight that ended with rounds of applause for the flight attendant for being a sport. The video is becoming a hit and there is overall appreciation for the flight attendant and the fliers for bringing some light-heartedness into flying.

A Lufthansa spokeswoman later said that the airline is laughing along with everyone else. “It’s an example of passengers enjoying themselves in economy class. And it shows we still offer pillows to our passengers in economy class,” she said.

The lesson to be learnt from this experience is simple. Mass brands such as airlines that come in close contact with human situations that are odd, impromptu, unpredictable or challenging need to be spontaneous, creative, positive, calm and responsive in a professional manner, on the go.

In today’s age of social media, judgments and opinions are formed and shared before corporations or brands can react. Hence, forget about controlling the message. Note the positive spin Lufthansa is giving to the whole incident. Kudos to them for this smart marketing plug in and not going for the staid and natural corporate measure of punishing the flight attendant. Today’s ‘age of social’ demands that we remain constantly on our guard displaying our best social behavior, no matter what the situation. Mr. Steven Slater and his kind can certainly learn a lot from this pillow fight onboard Lufthansa 687.

Happy 27 to me! July 8, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations.
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I have an annual tradition of writing a blog post on my birthday (June 22). Usually, it is a recap of the best of the year that went by. This year, I wanted to go off the beaten path. Year #26 was one of the most transformational years ever in my life. A year that caught me by the ears and gave me a thorough shakedown. A year that revealed a lot of me to me. And many other things. However, I am very thankful for the year and everything that came with it. The focus of this year’s post is on the future. Rather, a couple of lessons/observations from last year that I hope will be a part of my journey in the years to come.

  1. Everything that happens is for the best.
  2. Rule #1 works only if you believe in it.
  3. It is important to keep moving ahead.
  4. Whatever has happened has happened. The future is always promising if I believe in it.
  5. Higher, faster and stronger but without losing my essence and being.
  6. The world may be unfair, but life is always fair.
  7. I believe that I am watched over and taken care of.
  8. The universe always conspires to help the dreamer. I will dream on.
  9. I am ready to move away from wine and white rum.
  10. I am the difference.

Book Review: Ignore Everybody And 39 Other Keys to Creativity May 4, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Books, Conversations, Marketing, Social Media.
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3 comments

When you hold a book titled ‘Ignore Everybody And 39 Other Keys to Creativity’, you know you are in for something special.

And if the author happens to be Hugh MacLeod, it’s time to dive straight in.

But then there are always chances that you will ask ‘Hugh Who?’.

In that case, I recommend that you browse the Contents page and read gems like:

  1. Ignore everybody.
  2. Good ideas have lonely childhoods.
  3. You are responsible for your own experience.
  4. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.
  5. Merit can be bought. Passion can’t.

And more.

And then it hits you that this is a unique book. Especially if creativity matters to you, irrespective of your profession. If making a difference is important to you. If you feel you are yet to fulfill your true potential, but want to get there. If you are waiting for that AHA moment in your life when you realize your true calling. ‘Ignore Everybody’ is for you.

This book is based on Hugh’s life experiences in his inspiring journey from a struggling copywriter at Madison Avenue to a successful entrepreneur straddling the worlds of art and new media.

Those in the creative arts will easily identify with Hugh’s thoughts and ideas; many of our pains, pangs, joys and jubilation are echoed in his words, which is why I would recommend this book to the creative tribe.

I wish colleges gifted ‘Ignore Everybody’ to students because they can learn so much from this book and be better prepared for the curve ball that is life.

I love the bit-sized chapters of the book. And most importantly, the amusing yet thought provoking biz card size cartoons that introduce and conclude each chapter of wisdom.

There are cartoons on relationships that appear in between chapters that I found a bit jarring and out of place. But then I think Hugh is trying to make an important point – As we go about the business of changing the world, it is our relationship dynamics with ourselves, our good soul, our inner demons and those who matter to us that hold the key to how we get to bring about the change.

There will be several points during the book when you will feel both Hugh and you talking in the same voice. That I think is the greatest compliment the author can get.

Dear Hugh: Thank you for sharing ‘Ignore Everybody’ with the world.

As he says:

“Work hard.

Keep at it.

Live simply and quietly.

Remain humble.

Stay positive.

Create your own luck.

Be nice.

Be polite.”


What can an 8-year old & social media teach Boeing about customer service? April 28, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Airlines, Branding, Conversations, Digital, Marketing, Social Media.
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4 comments

Image source: Harry Winsor’s Boeing Drawing

It never ceases to amaze me how small things lead to big actions. Especially in the world of social media.

Last evening, about 17 hours ago, I spotted this tweet by Paul McEnany. He was tweeting about Porter Airlines and then he tweeted

Speaking of airplanes – here’s a Boeing fail: http://bit.ly/aWpekl

I’m passionate about airlines and so I clicked on the URL and what I read made my jaw drop.

And then I tweeted about it. And also marked it to the attention of @simpliflying @RunwayGirl @AvWeekBenet, leading global aviation experts with an active social media presence.

Meanwhile, let me give you a quick background on this ‘Unbelievable customer service story from Boeing’. http://bit.ly/bJrABe

This story is about John Winsor’s @jtwinsor 8-year old son Harry who is a passionate aviation enthusiast. Harry sends a drawing of his airplane design to Boeing and the plane maker gets back to him with a ‘staid corporate response’. I recommend that you take a few minutes to read this blog post – Is Your Customer Service Ready for the New World of Openness? http://bit.ly/bJrABe

Here’s Boeing’s official response to Harry Winsor’s drawing.


(It seems @jtwinsor shared this experience to @edwardboches over dinner and he recommended that John blog about it).

Jon Ostrower, who is Flight International Magazine’s Aerospace Blogger @flightblogger was quick to take this up with Boeing in a tweet.

@boeingairplanes it might be time to rethink your standard form letter. http://bit.ly/aWpekl (via @arun4)

After which, I tweeted twice to @boeingairplanes

@flightblogger Absolutely. @boeingairplanes You are writing to a kid with passion. Where is your YOURS? You can get this right, still!

Dear @boeingairplanes If I were you, I’d fly this kid to your Museum of Flight. @flightblogger @simpliflying @jtwinsor http://bit.ly/bJrABe

@flightblogger ‘s tweet was then RTed a couple of times.

Couple of hours later, Boeing @Boeingairplanes responded directly to John Winsor’s blog post. Todd Blecher, who is Director of Communications at Boeing said in a comment:

Mr. Winsor,
I’m a Boeing communications director. I think I can address your comments. As you state, we have to respond to the thousands of unsolicited ideas we receive in a way that protects us against possible infringement claims. Having said that, we can do better when the idea clearly comes from a child as enthusiastic as your son. We will work on this. I hope Harry remains fascinated by airplanes and grows up to be an airplane designer. To help him and others like him we maintain the following website. http://www.boeing.com/companyoffices/aboutus/wond…
I hope he enjoys it.

@BoeingCorporate also responded with a tweet on their Twitter account that said:

“The letter Mr. Winsor posted is, as he said, a required response. For kids, we can do better. We’ll work on it.”

It was a very smart move by Boeing to respond immediately and address the issue with a human touch. Boeing is now making very planned and prudent moves into the social media space. In this post, Ludo Van Vooren explores Boeing’s new communication strategy for new media engagement. (Very topical as it was published just last week!) And it seems that Todd Blecher is at the center of these efforts. Certainly Boeing is walking the talk.

The story doesn’t end there:

Alaska Airlines, whose drawing Harry Winsor created and sent to Boeing, wants to send him a special reward. @AirlineReporter had marked a copy of his tweet to @AlaskaAir asking them to have a look at Harry’s drawing. And they responded back via Twitter.

Sandy Ward at the Future of Flight Museum, Seattle @futureofflight wants to showcase Harry’s airplane drawing at a spot in their museum where they showcase innovative ideas and designs.

The story has been featured on Seattlepi, @piboeing a leading aerospace industry blog. And I’m sure it will be picked by others in the days to come.

And TV stations in Denver and Seattle would like to interview Harry Winsor on this story.

The big picture:

I believe that social media is more about being social, responsive and showing that you care, whatever the size or nature of your business. This goes beyond mere presence on social networks.

Ultimately, this should be the goal of all marketing communications – reaching out to the right target audience, listening to them and telling them what they would like to hear.

Kudos to Boeing for coming out in flying colors in their first test with social media. And kudos to Harry Winsor who will grow up knowing that he made a difference with his passion for airplanes.

Tom Peters has a message for Oman April 19, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Marketing, Oman.
Tags: , , , , ,
2 comments

World-renowned Management Guru Tom Peters will be in Muscat on 4 May 2010 for a one day seminar on ‘Excellence – Continuing The Search’. The seminar is organized by Khimji Training Institute LLC and presented by Nawras Business Solutions.

Tom describes himself as a “gadfly, curmudgeon, champion of bold failures, prince of disorder, maestro of zest, professional loudmouth, corporate cheerleader, lover of markets, capitalist pig.” (An impressive bio by all means).

When he wrote his best-selling book ‘In Search of Excellence’ with Bob Waterman over 25 years ago, Tom was the first to introduce the corporate world to the concept of Excellence which is today a universal idea-ideal that translates and transports across all borders.

In 1999, ‘In Search of Excellence’ was honored by NPR as one of the “Top Three Business Books of the Century”—and ranked as the “greatest business book of all time” in a poll by Britain’s Bloomsbury Publishing.

This morning, I asked him on Twitter about what his 140-character motivational message on the theme of Excellence for Oman was. He was very kind enough to reply and said:


Don’t think of Excellence as a “lifelong aspiration.” Forget that! Instead: HOW CAN I EXPRESS EXCELLENCE IN THE NEXT HOUR??

Reflecting on that, I think we focus so much on the future that we lose sight of the present picture. We think we will strive for excellence in some big action in the future while we can do better by applying excellence to an action right away. Yes, so it’s better to focus on excellence with a sense of immediacy in everything we do, however minute or mundane the task may be.

This is Tom’s second visit to Oman and I wish him & the attendees of his seminar an excellent and productive session. I also hope that the ash cloud over Europe dissipates in time so that he doesn’t have to circumvent the globe to get to Muscat.

More on Tom Peters:
Tom is widely credited with almost single-handedly “inventing” the “management guru industry,” now billions of dollars in size. Since 1978, he’s given well over 2,500 speeches, flown 5,000,000+ miles, spoken before 2-3 million people and presented in 48 states and 63 countries.

Tom was the first guru to stress on the importance of design as an extraordinary competitive advantage. He was also the first to voice the need for employees to re-shape their careers around the idea of “brand you” (every person a “businessperson”) if they were to add useful value to their firms and survive the perils of cutthroat global competition.

You can read more about Tom Peters by clicking here.