Friday, 27 March 2009

Twitter Monetization

Twitter has come a long way in the last three years it has been in existence which is a relatively short span of time. The leading internet traffic analysis site compete has estimated that twitter’s popularity has grown by 964% compared to the same month last year (Myspace is going down). The number of unique visitors are close to 8 million. This is huge given the basic functionality twitter offers (140 characters on ‘what are you doing now?’).  What is very interesting is the fact how it is going to survive further as the VC’s would be mounting pressure on twitter team before web obsessed crowd turns their attention to something else..

Web is full of social networking sites that serve as an alternate to the decreasing interpersonal relations in a fast paced world. For millions of years ,if you are looking at a coverage for billions of years, read ‘Ancestors Tale’ by Richard Dawkins, we have been operating as groups and this desire to operate as a group has taken the shape of social networking in the web world. If we were to consider orkut,myspace, facebook etc as 3 course meals, twitter is ‘the’ fast food. Grab something real quick , have it and move on. But mind the fact that like triple whopper with loads of cheese, it is really addictive as well ( i have an urge to sign on to twitter early morning after checking mails in my blackberry, as soon as i wake up)

The factors that make twitter click are

> It is quick and easy, the 140 character limit makes is mass SMS media of the web

> It interests high profile techies and celebrities, so high chance of developing valuable networks

> Great platform to market your product and yourself (sparing those I-AM-IN-BATHTUB-NOW type updates)

> The facts are more authentic as the false information gets corrected by the ungoverned watchful eyes (same phenomenon like Wikipedia)

But How will twitter make money?

Twitter as a concept has web, mobile and 3rd party apps as its channels and hence any monetization strategy has to be different according to the nature of the channel. While web is a great medium to put adverts, mobile is not. And since twitter allows api level access, governing 3rd party apps would be too difficult. So it is going to be interesting to see how twitter folks monetize their fame , real quick.

Following are my predictions about the ‘cashing in’ of twitter

> Online contests/prizes that could earn you twitter points (nice business opportunity those chinese entrepreneurs who could employs 1000+ chinese youths to earn and sell these points)

> Opinion polls by product vendors with guaranteed freebies

> A small fee for premium twitters with more options which are not normally available to the common folks ( Linkedin irritates you with this strategy already)

> Sponsored Ads in between the twitter streams (this would annoy really)

My thoughts are based on the fact that twitter would remain textual and wouldn’t want to become another jazzy confused social networking site. In this web 2.0 era where people have multiple options to voice their opinions , companies are getting increasingly conscious of guarding their brand (bad mouthing by a lead twitter could do a considerable damage) and market their brands to the masses who crowd these sites. Anyways as long as i am not restricted in what i could do now and if i had to do a courtesy-click of some weird ads to support twitter engine going, I am perfectly fine. Go Twitter Go……

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Saturday, 21 March 2009

Chinese Aggression

China as a country has always been good Greenfield for strategic thinkers and has produced great thinkers like Confucius, Sun Tzu etc. Chinese society has survived several odds in its long history and has contributed immensely to the world (paper, gunpowder, silk , sil road etc). The leaders of china never react in haste and when they react it carries lot of hidden meanings. There are three incidents which happened in the last few weeks which are worth a close look.

The first being harassment of the USNS impeccable ship near Hainan Island ,which is supposed to be a Survey ship collective marine data(?). The ship was surrounded by Chinese fish-vessels and a PLA navy vessel(People Liberation Army) there were some bold/aggressive manoeuvres like throwing wooden logs in front of the US ship, bringing the Chinese vessels too closely etc. USNS impeccable is not the only ship which suffered this fate but there were other survey ships like USNS victorious which was a victim of Chinese aggression.

The second incident is the warning from Chinese Premier Wen Jiobao expressing concerns over the credit worthiness of US government as Chinese have invested heftily on the US Treasury bonds. Traditionally Governments all over the world have a habit of buying Tbonds as a safety net to preserve their foreign exchange reserves. China has accumulated over a Trillion dollars of US Bonds which accounts for more than 70% of its foreign reserve and more than 50% of US Debt in bonds.

The third incident is the blocking of an 2.5 Billion acquisition of leading juice maker Huiyuan by coca cola. Though this would have recurpussions in Chinese acquisition in US and all over the world , the closely guarded Govt of China (Republic or whatever) seems not to be bothered, in spite of china’s reliance on US for its exports.

If we connect the dots, Chinese are clearly questioning the authority of American Might on the lines of Military , Economy and Fundamentals upon which american society is built.

>When the enemy is too strong to be attacked directly, then attack something he holds dear

>Encourage your enemy to expend his energy in futile quests while you conserve your strength. When he is exhausted and confused, you attack with energy and purpose.

>Loot a burning house

>Make a sound in the east, then strike in the west

>Startle the snake by hitting the grass around it

The above are the selected few from the 36 stratagems, an age old wisdom practised in China and probably Obama should have a look at these instead of his usual rhetoric about how great mankind is , why should we all love each other etc. Anyhow apart from the usual news of failing banks, falling interest rates, vanished property markets etc, china is determined to add some spice to the ongoing drama. Time has to tell how much more spice china would be willing to add and how much obama would be willing to take. May be he should pickup some lessons from Dalai lama…..

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Hyundai Assurance Plus - Recession time innovation

This is clearly a time for the "Survival of the fittest" (contrary to popular belief , the quote was made by Herbert Spencer and not by darwin). If fittest stands for strongest or most intellect only elephants and foxes would be surviving among the rest(discounting homo sapiens sapiens). The fittest in my opinion means the most adaptable animal or species which could adjust itself to the hardships of changing environments and acquire newer skills. This applies to businesses as well.
It has been very boring to be saying that we are going through historically transformations times and this is the most difficult era of the current generation/living memory etc. HenceI was trying to see how businesses are shaping their strategies to survive in this environment and one that really caught my eyes is the "Hyundai Assurance Plus" program.
The main reason why majority of the population are not willing to spend (i spent quite a lot over this weekend promotional sales due to domestic compulsions :-( ) is because of the fear of job loss. This is a vicious cycle as the lesser spending break even more business and hence more job loss (Prisoners dilemma). Interestingly Hyundai has taken advantage of this tricky situation and guarantees that one need not pay for the first three months after losing the job and if the job loss continues beyond three months , they can simply return the car. This is a very clever more where in Hyundai has just wrapped an additonal job loss insurance cover and has marketed it very effectively. The clever strategy has paid well and while Toyota car sales has slumped by 36% , hyundai's sale has gone up by 4-5% in US.
Hyundai is definetely not the strongest car company of the world, they are not the company with the best R&D team in the world(Is it Merc/BMW?), but they are adaptable evidently. Please check out Hyndai commercials/website alternatively you could wait for 1 more month to read the "Successful Recession Business Strategies" by some of the management gurus for 30$.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Live Writer – A great blog writer

Just testing the Windows Live Writer which is promising to be cool……..

Yeah it definitely is , looks like Microsoft is into mainstream league at last. One real cool feature that i love about Live writer is that it can detect the annoying spelling mistakes, which I don't tend to correct while typing into the rich text box  of the blogger (because it doesn't show ;-)

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Self Help Industry - Master Con against the human mind

Generally i am not a great fan of Self Improvement books but based on recommendation from a collegue i bought a book called "PersonalImpact", though i wouldnt say it was a bad book, it was not very impressive either. But this gave rise to very interesting questions about the selfhelp books.
There are multitudes of selfhelp books. There are the kind of books that take (auto)biography format and tell you how successful a particular individual was and how you can emulate the same and other popular kind is those which directly tell you what to do, Like 'How to do negotiations effectively', 'how to successfully run your business', 'how to influence everybody' etc.
While there is a certain amount of authenticity in the former category the latter is a complete joke especially those written by obsure 'thought leaders' and other intellects.

The common theme among all of these books is to have a catchy title which exploits our want and current state of affairs, for e.g how to influence your boss?, how to close every deal; If you closely observe the titles are generic enough to catch your attention span very very fast. Once you fall prey to this then you develop an urge to buy (especially when you are buying books from railway stations W.H Smiths like me) in a hurry.

The main problem with the Self Help books/authors is the fact that they all think that the rest of the world is completely dumb and need their help to have basic sanity. This is very close to the moral high ground that religious leaders take by proclaiming that the world is full of sinners and they have the message of the God to relive us from the clutches of sin. Like the preachers exploiting those poor mortals by promising a berth in the heaven, these neo conmen(some times women too) promise higher salary, likeable personality, faster career growth, becoming thin, quitting smoking etc.

The Self Help industry thrives in the chaotic times and now is their best time to make most out of the current confusions in the world(rumours say, 10 downing street has placed huge orders for 'economy for dummies). Though i dont argue that all selfhelp is rotten, i feel the basket is more full of rotten eggs than good ones. If in doubt, please check out 'I moved your cheese' by Darrel Baristow Bovey. Awesome read and hilarious.