Yesterday, Ahmed Jamal
and his friend Fahad Siraj
– two very able Social Media Strategists called on me and we got a chance to know each other a little closely. In addition to so much we talked about and some jingle, a question that came under discussion was can social media ROI be measured? This is one of the most common discussions among marketing folks and the other side - the one who pays for marketing efforts. Everyone wants number for any marketing campaigns. Let me say that there are no numbers in social media game. And let me confess that social media is hard to be measured in plain number. The fact that social media marketing ROI is hard to measure is part of what has prevented many businesses (call the seths
) to jump on social media board. There are some gurus out there who argue that it is possible to measure social media marketing ROI, but what they are measuring isn’t really ROI, per se. ROI is a monetary measurement. Counting how many new fans, followers, connections, replies, views, and retweets a business gets on social media is possible but that is not really measuring ROI since none of those things specifically correlate with the amount of business a business gets.
That doesn’t mean that social media does not contribute to the bottom line. It certainly does. Social media is a great way to attract attention and build relationships with potential customers, clients, prospects, and other stakeholders. A lead may generate from corporate blog, via facebook, twitter, youtube or LinkedIn or vice versa. Anything may clcik. I suggest you utilize as many social tools that are available to you because you never know what will prompt consumer to make a decision.
Labels: Social Media
posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, June 30, 2011,
We are living in the age when we can see mass media turning into media of masses. Printing press, back in fifteenth century, started a publishing boom and an information revolution. Along the way, market forces established the rights and rules of the game for the privileged few who could afford to buy printing presses and grind forests into paper. Result: handful few own the industry and control information - they decide what the masses will learn. These few disseminate information on a need-to-know basis mostly. You know them. That's the world of mass media.
Blogs are turning the world of mass media into media of masses and divide between the publishers and the public is already collapsing. In this attention age, any yakkers, hacker, geek or an anti establishment political devotee or a dolt with a connected computer can open a free account at Wordpress, Blogger, Squidoo or other blog services (there are so many out there), and start a blog. It is really as simple as that.
Blogging is no more a new trend in Pakistan. Many Pakistani online users are writing their own blogs and rest are reading others' blogs and interacting in meaningful ways. Their voice is being heard in the online world. This very forum, Network! - Pakistan's First International Social Media Summit, is testimony to that. I am sure this event will go a long way in promoting blogging and use of social media to bring positive changes at gross roots levels in local context. Many thanks to the organizers (US Consulate, CIO (Rabia Gharib), Intel, PC World, Express Tribune, ARY, Newsweek Pakistan and more), for making it possible to connect and network. Also, I take this opportunity to suggest that such meet ups should be more frequent and in Lahore too.
Monetizing, getting paid for blogging and making money is still a new idea in Pakistan. There are reasons for this. Sadly, corporate Pakistan is yet not aware of blogs as communication channel and an economical, effective and interactive marketing tool. Most bloggers still are shy to making money through their bloggy efforts and there are some other inherent disadvantages. Let us have a look at these factors.
Let me say on the outset that businesses cannot afford to ignore blogs because blogs are simply the most explosive outbreak in the information era since the Internet itself. In more connected and more developed world blogs are already shaking up just about every business. It does not matter whether you are making Cholistani handicrafts in Rajanpur or FIFA footballs in Sambriyal, blogs are a phenomenon that no futuristic business can postpone any further (they should not). Given the changes barreling down upon us (you call it globalization), blogs are not a business elective. They are a prerequisite. Like anywhere else, blogs can be a welcome mat for local businesses to reach out across the world but this has not started happening yet. And if it is happening, it is on a very small scale.
I know (you also know) most of the bloggers are hesitant to talk about making money from blogs what to talk of making some. They do not even want to hear about those alpha bloggers making millions. It is time that we should talk about it and talk frankly. Every blog with a decent amount of readers have an economic potential. But not every bloggers is trying to tape this potential. There are three categories of local bloggers; first, those who are still shy to make money from their blogs or announce their desire to monetize. Those who seethe with envy but still don’t go ahead to monetize. And another category is of bloggers who are trying to chase their own fortune on the Web; with varying degrees of success.
Walk around the Pakistani blogosphere and you will see enterprising bloggers showing Google-generated ads, or ads by other pay per click programs like AdBrite or Chitika, and earning some pocket change from their blogs. There is so much more that can be done. Blog entrepreneurs can sell ads space on their pages. Popular blogs can also land sponsorship deals for good amounts. I know of a few examples of bloggers flipping blogs in Pakistan. I myself sold one of my project blog titled Fine Art of Blogging only recently. By the way, the man who bought from me is bringing out a book out of that blog; same name. Soon you will find book titled Fine Art of Blogging in the market.
I have tried with merchandising through my blogs. Attempt to sell my own books (and the one I have translated) was an experience. While I did not have a lot of success with merchandising (my books are in Urdu and I blame lack of Urdu culture online), I am sure other able bloggers can see this as an opportunity to make some money from blogs by selling products. That is not all. Bloggers can sell any product whatever way their entrepreneurial heart desires using CafePress type platform or by creating or adding online store's link to blogs. Bloggers can experiment with different sale programs that suit them and can create diverse streams of earnings. The choice is endless. If nothing else, selling Amazon books and other stuff is as popular with bloggers as Google AdSense. You simply put the Affiliate link and get the commission when someone buys from Amazon going from your site.
Anyone who blogs can make decent money. The essence of this sweeping statement is that that you should be able to connect the disconnected to each other. Connect advertisers to people who want to be advertised. Connect job hunters with jobs. Connect information seekers with information. Connect teams to each other. Connect those seeking similar. Connect to partners and those that can leverage your work. Connect people who are proximate geographically. Connect like-minded people into a movement. Connect people buying with people who are selling.
It is this connection for which businesses and individuals from all over the world offer to pay bloggers for mentioning them, their products and or services in blogs. Bloggers create an online buzz and businesses get connected with their desired and focused segments. Many online platforms like PayPerPost, Social Spark, InPostLinks, Sponzia, Sponsored Review, Loud Launch, Reviewsme Linkworth, to name just a few, have come up. These services manage growing demands by advertisers and arrange supply through interested bloggers. Few years ago, I had signed up for some of the services that pay through check. They offer products and services for writing reviews. I write about whatever I like and they pay me fifty percent of what they charge the advertisers.
Most of my blogging money comes from products reviews. That is why you see review of the best plumbing service in New York on my personal blog right next to the post about my favorite folk singer Pathane Khan.
Overall, blog power simply has not translated into big bucks here in the local market. Exceptions notwithstanding, for now, Pakistan blogosphere is running mostly on people's passion to communicate and no money.
It is in this milieu that I call corporate Pakistan to come forward, understand blogging phenomenon and take advantages. This is the call of this presentation.
A strong online presence is important for businesses in today's high-speed and competitive world. Blogs have already become a new buzz marketing online. The big question is who should blog for the businesses? Ideally, front line people who know the business in and out should blog about it. Marketing professionals can also use this powerful tool. Organization can hire professional writers to blog for them under company's name or blog under their own. Depending upon the feedback and information provided by audience, an inside blogger can develop the ability to write in his or her own voice and create content for business blog.
When the businesses do not have right bloggers within their own ranks or don’t have time to pursue this rather erudite effort, they may hire external bloggers.
External bloggers (call them blog consultants, social media strategists or whatever) can view business with an objective eye and offer fresh marketing ideas and strategies. External blogger can study company's marketing materials, reports, other collateral information, and meet key people in organization to learn about what organization does and how best to market the product through blogging and can post material written in editorial style and voice. The content may also include company news, events, and information about new products and services relevant to your business and a whole lot more. I myself am running one German and another Cameroonian blogs as an external blogger.
One wonder why local businesses have failed to notice the growing readership and influence of these Internet postings and the buzz corporate blogging can create particularly as a process of Search Engine Marketing or targeting online segment of consumers. In this case again, the responsibility to educate corporate Pakistan again lies with bloggers. Please let them know what you can do for them and how.
Let me add here, Pakistan bloggers are exceptionally good (and I am not being ethnocentric here). They have expertise for corporate writing. Their language and blogging skills and networking capabilities can be compared with any bloggers' community in the world. Internet coverage and users ' base is constantly growing. Even trend to shop online is taking off. Given chance, all this can indirectly help in efforts to make making through blogging.
Fine art of blogging is a creative activity and fun. Most bloggers enjoy blogging. That is why they are blogging in the first place. I suggest everyone who can must either buy a printing press or have a blog. And those who have a blog must think about getting paid for blogging.
Keynote address delivered at Network!: Pakistan’s First International Social Media Summit on June 11, 2011
Related: On the sidelines of Social Media Summit
Labels: Bloggers Meet, Fine Art of Blogging, Making Money Online, Pakistan Bloggers Summit
posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, June 24, 2011,
I believe in “mothers” as an instruction. They are always there for granted. I had to say fare well
to another great mother on Saturday, June 18, 2011. I feel the pain, sadness and void within on two accounts; one she was my mother in law and second she was a great person – an anjuman
I will always remember her for many things. Best one that I liked is that she would say Bismillah with almost each sentence in her conversation. Starting everything with the name of Allah had visible effect on her persona and I could see blessing of Allah almighty in her worldly affairs. Anyone could see that. Due to this I very fondly used to call her Mai Bismillah.
Another of her distinct trait was her generous hospitality. She was very hospitable. Anyone going to her house (and many people used to go to her house) would have food or whatever was suitable and possible at the time. She would go a long way to make sure that any guest has food before leaving. And this act too brought in more blessing in her life.
Looking back, I can say that what she did for her off springs and what she accomplished would not have been possible without uncounted blessings of Allah almighty.
You were a great mother and great person Mai Bismillah. I will miss you for ever. May your soul rest in eternal peace.
posted by S A J Shirazi @ Tuesday, June 21, 2011,
Summery of issues discussed on one of the Monetize Social Media Space workshops during Network!: Pakistan’s First International Social Media Summit on June 10-11, 2011.
Social space has combined some major human activities - communicating, sharing, social networking and ecommerce. Use of newly found social media space where as anyone can shoot out, is a creative activity and fun. Most online users enjoy their online presence. That is why people blog tweet or network in the first place. Along the way, a time comes when online users start thinking to monetize their social space. And then everything starts changing.
For this discussion, social media space means blogging. What are the challenges in monetizing social spaces in our local context? I asked this question to friends and friends of my friends online. First, I posted the question on facebook and also tweeted and then emailed the question to bloggers soliciting their comments on the subject. I have also been scouting Pakistan blogosphere in an effort to find out answers to this question.
There are three main problems: First and foremost challenge is the lack of local advertisers. Local businesses have yet not realized the strength of powerful presence online. They don’t know about the influence of those Internet postings and how easily they can reach their customers direct. Result is dearth of local advertisements and sponsorships. Situation in other parts of the world is much different. As per consumer survey carried out online in USA, “83% of consumers say that product reviews influence their online purchasing decisions, 70% of online shoppers actively seek out product reviews before they buy, more than half of US online shoppers surveyed, read user reviews as part of their product research and nearly 9 of 10 US online buyers read reviews at least “some of the time” before making a purchase. There is no reason Pakistani businesses should not get their own products and service reviews (and advertised) online.
Bloggers can’t keep blaming lack of online culture. The responsibility to educate advertisers and marketers in Pakistan rests with local bloggers. We have to let them know what we can do for them and how.
One single thing that can attract local population to your blogs is quality local content. That is what may attract the attention of advertisers and marketers. Though users’ base in Pakistan has grown exponentially but there has always been dearth of local content in all formats and mediums. Who is better than the army of local bloggers to add information on what is really happening in Pakistan and how they feel about it. That will not only bring about the real image of the country but also will attract advertisers and sponsored.
And then there is lack of will to monetize social media space. I found that most bloggers think monetization probably will corrupt their work. They think commercial ads on blogs or selling twitter background for money will take out the magic from what they do for joy. May be Google Ads are OK for some but reaching out and getting sponsorships are displaying local ads and promotional writing is out for them. I think it makes sense.
I say those who are having powerful presence online should be able to strike balance between what they do for joy and getting compensation from some of that. I bet if they choose wisely, they can figure out how to use their social space for both.
On the other hand, some social media users are obsessed with the idea of making money form monetizing their social space. Blogging is part of media study courses in a university where I work and I happen to take some of blogging class there. Second most frequently asked question there is how to make money. BTW, first question still is what is a blog? Perhaps one of the saddest examples that comes to mind is of a journalist friend who had been running a really interesting and reasonably successful blog (I wouldn’t call him an A-lister but he had a small loyal following) who got bitten by the ‘money from blogging’ bug so badly that it ended up killing his blog. He deleted a lot of his archives (the ones that he thought had no income earning potential) and slapped so many ads onto his blog that it was hard to find any content. He started writing on topics that he thought were ‘earners’. In doing so he lost the vast majority of his readership and ended up with a pretty poor blog. Greed took over.
In Pakistan, one of the major problems in monetizing social space is non availability of PayPal. Payments by most online advertising programs and affiliates are made through PayPal - widely used online money transfer service. This alone puts Pakistan bloggers at a great disadvantage because without PayPal account they cannot join most of the programs.
Many bloggers who are into monetizing are using different tricks. And I know some who are using PayPal accounts of other people who are living in countries where PayPal is available. By doing this you can’t have the joy of counting pennies but it works. Efforts are in hand for making PayPal available in Pakistan. But so far the reply I get is that we are working to open up in Pakistan. May be recommendations at a forum like this can make a case and we come at power with bloggers from other countries. This alone will bring so many bloggers in lop I am sure you will see more money growing on blogs.
Let me end this with a world of caution; earning through blogging does require persistent postings of quality contents and blog promotion. It is long haul and bloggers need to work very hard to be able to earn a handsome amount from blogs. Best is to keep blogging for joy and monetize blogs on the side; keeping money making expectations realistic. It is a long and slow process. Only "17 percent of most popular bloggers in NYC earn more than thousand dollars a month. That leaves a whooping 83 percent earning less," revealed a NYC Blogger Summit Survey earlier this year. But again these figures are relative.
With this, I hand it over to you to please tell us about what are your experiences and how you are monetizing social space or whey not.
Answers to the challenges in regarding making Money through Blogging is in my article Calling Corporate Pakistan
that appeared in Profit, Pakistan Today on the same day (June 11, 2011). Read the article here
Labels: Fine Art of Blogging, Making Money Online, Pakistan Bloggers Summit
posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, June 13, 2011,
Social media tools like blogs, twitter and facebook are being widely praised for helping to bring change. The best thing about social media is the way it brings openness and shared environment. It is unlike mass media where only a few have a control over information industry and they are the ones who decide what to tell the world and when and they do it on need to know bases. We can see some powerful examples of social campaigns in the recent past.
Network!: Pakistan’s First International Social Media Summit
is being held in Karachi (June 10-11, 2011) to accelerate this change by everything and anything that can create a social positive change through an integrated open approach using the social media. It feels good be a part of this change; sounds good. Lahore bloggers (Mubeshir Ali
, Raza Rumi
, Yasser Latif Hamdani
, Shiraz Hassan
, Nabiha Meher
, Amara Javed
, Shemrez Nauman Afzal, Ale Muhammad and your truly
) are eagerly gearing up to join their colleges and some like-minded friends from all over Pakistan and abroad.
What am I expecting from galaxy of bloggers (social media starts) meeting in Karachi? In addition to learning about Education and Good Governance: Going Digital, Women and Social Activism in the New Media Era and Monetizing Social Media Spaces, I am looking forward to connect and network with those seeking similar. Connect with people who are proximate geographically. Connect with like-minded people who are thinking to be together into a movement. It is only this connection that can start a change. No?
Labels: Bloggers, Bloggers Meet, Lahore Bloggers, Pakistan Bloggers Summit, Social Media
posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, June 09, 2011,
Network!: Pakistan’s First International Social Media Summit is being held in Karachi on June 10-11, 2011. Three exciting sessions on Education and Good Governance: Going Digital, Women and Social Activism in the New Media Era and Monetizing Social Media Spaces will be followed by several breakout workshops. The summit will bring together a group of distinguished bloggers, social media activists and media people from across Pakistan and internationally. Ong Hock Chaun from Malaysia, Hanny K. and Anandita P from Indonesia, Rebecca Chiao and Mohamed El Dahshan from Egypt are also coming to attend the summit. The underlying objective of the conference is to promote discussion on key issues like use of social media for bringing the positive change.
The conference will span two days and consist of main session, several breakout sessions and much more on the sidelines. It is hoped that the discussions at the summit and the discussions will help shed light on the practical measures that will enable the bloggers to develop a new approach to blogging and use of other social media spaces (like facebook and twitter) for bringing a positive change. Also, the meet up will go a long way in changing mass media into media of masses. Stay tuned for more.
Labels: Bloggers, Bloggers Meet, Social Media
posted by S A J Shirazi @ Tuesday, June 07, 2011,