SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS HAVE POLARISED/ UNITED OUR WORLD

While in the midst of a worsening pandemic in India I am seeing the worst side and the best side of social media.

In our school alumni group I found there is very strong polarisation for and against political points of views.

This is true globally we saw the same recently in the US . We see different flavours of the same across the world.

The problem gets bad when positions are so strongly held that each is not able to see the other side of the story that the situation reaches a breaking point in long relationships.

And it gets worse with manufactured truth to fit ones world view . The fallout is violence as we saw at the Capitol Hill , it could sow distrust in communities and groups with opposing view points.

Every hour the trends on Twitter change based on the two view points , further adding to bitterness and division.

The hate created is so deep that it has forced platforms to ban certain handles from using their platforms for good.

Is social media responsible for dividing our world?

I remember a time in our early childhood when there was no social media there was lesser polarisation , friendships were not so bitter.

Then again I have not seen any better example of how social media is being used in the worst time during the current pandemic where ordinary people are seeking help and are getting helped by strangers .

Twitter , WhatsApp, Facebook have become a way to reach out and ask for help real time , people who need oxygen or a bed in a hospital or medicines turn to social media.

And they get helped by complete strangers !

Few celebrities have leveraged their social presence to amplify the message of those in need.

Many are using social media to raise funds for oxygen cylinders and concentrator. So many lives have been saved because of social media.

Social media is a double edged sword on the one hand it can divide us as a society on the other hand it can unite the world for good.

Unfortunately politics plays a role , fake news can be easily spread to divide for motives. Those on the edge can be converted with constant visual content.

Interestingly platform algorithms show you more of what you want to see . That is how AI and ML gets smarter. The ultimate objective is to hook you to the platform , to get you spend more time on the platform.

How can we stop hate being spread through social media platforms ? Is there a way out ?

Has social media become a Frankenstein monster that is now difficult to control?

There are no easy answers , there are powerful vested interests.

I would yet say there is enough good about social media which is why it needs to exist . It brings people together, it connects people and hearts .

It is the one thing that has kept us sane in prolonged periods of lockdown.

It is for us the users of social media to keep the balance on the side of good , on the side of humanity and guard against hate and spread love and compassion.

WHEN EVERYONE IS SELLING , TELL A STORY

We get on any social media platform and we find it filled with Advertising.

Everyone seems to be selling something.

We are identified by various data points stored on us by the platform, maybe thousands , some even we may not be aware of.

The trail we leave behind on the digital world is monitored.

Algorithms try figure out what we are most likely to buy.

And the advertisements show up on our feeds.

This is interruption . We switch off.

We don’t come to social media to buy. We come because of our reasons.

It gets irritating, annoying at times .

Like a street Bazar with many stalls each of them tries to grab our attention.

Except we did not plan to come to a Bazar.

Grabbing Attention is critical , there are so many advertisements that throw up .

The algorithms and machine learning are always learning to read our minds.

“What are we most likely to buy” is the key question being asked by the platform.

This is their monetisation model . Nothing comes for free .

The term digital marketeers use is performance marketing. Digital Marketing that drives business and can be measured.

Interruption marketing has now moved from physical to digital world.

The conflict is consumers have a different reason to visit social media platforms .

They visit social media platforms to learn , to get entertained , to get information , to participate in connected communities , to build and be part of tribes.

With the smartphone in hand consumers set the agenda .

The control has moved from the advertisers and sellers to consumers.

Stories are consumed because they are entertaining, they inspire .

Humans are naturally wired to listen to stories, share stories.

Good stories are shared.

Video content is 80% of the traffic on digital.

Visual stories stand out .

Brands need to learn , stop selling and tell stories. Stop interrupting and focus on entertaining .

Because the control has shifted and consumers switch off from interruption.

Real stories well told , inspire, build trust, touch the heart.

Most important, when data is forgotten in minutes, stories are remembered over the years.

Future of marketing is Storytelling in the Digital world.

Every Brand has a story,

Every Organisation has a story ,

Every Cause has a story,

Every Startup has a story,

Every Leader has a story,

Every Employee has a story ,

Every Client has a story ,

Every Beneficiary has a story,

Every Tribe has a story,

Every culture has a story.

Dig deep an you will find each one of us has a story and our stories are common.

As humans our desires and fears are similar.

From ‘Here’ to ‘There’ is the most powerful story ever told.

Stories well told can inspire action , build tribes.

Stop selling, start storytelling.

In the Digital world we are the stories we tell.

Sanjay Mudnaney

Founder at http://www.CrowTales.in

Brand Storytellers

BE YOU , BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE IS TAKEN

Be you,everyone else is taken. This one step can be liberating.

We are obsessed with what others think of us. We want to be liked, famous and approved. We seek attention because that makes us feel important.

We can easily be put down with unkind words and picked up if appreciated.

In organisations there is a game , it is called “What will the boss think” and yes it’s important because the boss decides the future growth within the organisation or so we think.

We seek approval of our peers because it makes us feel important and we want to belong.

Social media feeds on the inherent human desire to be liked so we post and then look back to check likes and comments.

This wanting to be liked , approved , appreciated, creates a unseen pressure and ties down our freedom , freedom to be who we are .

Freedom comes from being authentic, confident in our own skin , not wanting to be like anyone , not being a copy.

And then we have the rebels, who also are trying to project an identity of being different, rebels . Yet there is the pressure of hold an identity that is not authentic.

What if you could just drop your wanting to be like someone else , anyone else or seeking approval.

There is a famous Hindi film song in India ‘Kuch to log kahenge , logon ka kam hai kehena‘ ( people will always say something, that is their job). And you can never please everyone.

What if you can ignore what others think , and you truly can , just try it now , drop the baggage of wanting approval , and see how it feels.

Do your stuff , rock your boat , be different, be you because you are made different.

Each one of us is unique, and there is no one else like us anywhere in the world. We have our own unique gifts .

What applies to individuals applies to organisations . There is a unique story of each organisation. ‘Why’ it exists. Find that why and live that why.

Carrying an image that is not you is stressful, being authentic is liberating. And when you are genuinely authentic it reflects and you stand out. Not because you want to be liked but because you are who you are , different.

I found being authentic truly liberating experience, I blog because I want to , I express what I want to , I cycle, I sing , I create because that is who I am , I love to create , build on new ideas , grow business, mentor individuals and business to play to potential . This makes me happy.

What will others think stops people from taking the first step , from living their dreams . And it is not worth it , no point with dying with your dream in your heart.

Be YOU because everyone else is taken.

Sanjay Mudnaney

#passionproject

BUILD YOUR TRIBE

One man or a woman can change the world , begin a movement , build a tribe . Begin Now !

You have an ‘idea’ , ‘product’ or a ’cause’ you are passionate about , ask the next question who is your tribe ? In the 1980’s Beatles created a different kind of counterculture music rooted in skiffle , beat and 1950’s rock and roll , their sound incorporated elements of classical music and traditional pop. The group revolutionised many aspects of music industry and were often publicised leaders of the era’s youth and sociocultural movement .

They changed the game and built their tribe , rather the tribe already existed , the youth who believed in counterculture , they provided the leadership to connect the tribe with different kind of music.

Facebook recently launched its Facebook shop to help small businesses to set up their digital stores and get found on social media . I had an idea on similar lines a few years back ,as a Co-Founder of a digital payments startup I built a social commerce platform on top of the digital payments solution , it was an end-to end solution from setting up a digital store to checkouts and digital payments . The idea was as simple as click-share-sell .

One of the first customers to the platform was Nainital Bikers , who as the name suggests was into bike rental business in Nainital a scenic tourist location . He had a big challenge of getting travellers to book his bikes and make the payment before they travelled , many times they would call and book the bike but then if they did not travel , he would end up making a loss of day in and rental revenue . He came to know of our service through a story we had shared on Facebook. Nainital Bikers was the representative of our tribe , small business owners across small towns of India who wanted to expand beyond their geography and were looking for an end to end solution to quickly put up their online store and get bookings and payments online . The tribe for the solution we were building was out there we had to reach them .

Know the persona of your tribe

One of my clients is in healthcare , I spent a lot of time initially meeting the existing customers , listening to their stories , understanding their pain point and more importantly observing things they said and also did not say . This is one of the qualities I learnt early in my career as a marketeer and it ‘Empathy’ , I would get into the shoes of my clients and feel their pain .I have been told I am highly anecdotal , I gather stories . I feel this is an important trait for anyone in marketing or for that matter in business , one needs to have the ability of keen observation and story listening.

Even if you are leading a cause you have your tribe , those that believe in your cause . PAWS is a small charity organisation run by Nilesh Bange, he runs his NGO with volunteers from campuses , he does this by reaching out to those who have soft corner for animals , similarly he has managed to get celebrities who care for animals associate with his cause . He does not have big budgets but he is very smart with identifying his tribe and connecting them with his cause.

Know who is not your tribe

One of the biggest mistakes businesses do is include everyone into their definition of tribe . Coming back to the example of the healthcare client it was clear that our tribe needed to be well educated as some of the concepts covered in the program that needed to be followed required deeper understanding of the principles, so we dropped those who did not meet the qualifier as our tribe. We would have wasted marketing effort on someone who would finally not pick up the service and if they did , would not be a satisfied clients.

For Nilesh who runs PAWS it would be wasted effort to try and enrol those who are passionate about the cause of environment or children education , he would rather focus on engaging his crowd of animal lovers.

Focus

Your business cannot be everything to everybody , it is highly inefficient , yet initially it seems difficult to say no and this can be one big mistake that gets you off track in building your tribe . Yet this is the most important thing to do , stay focused. The healthcare client I worked with did this thing brilliant right, they focused on the diabetes segment and worked on constant innovation and improvements in supporting lifestyle changes and medical support to patients , though the end result was also weight loss for many and that too is a big segment , the focus was never lost , it stayed sharply focused on diabetes. This allowed the team to master a narrow niche and carve out brand reputation as being experts .

Also the client had multiple programs aimed for the same segment this too was streamlined . What do you stand for and what you offer has to be a narrow focus. This also allows for sharper communication and targeting on social media.

There is a temptation to keep adding the list of services , this defuses the idea of a tribe. Also it does not help build sharp mastery of the subject.

Add value

In the passion economy your passion is the value you add and you need to be good at your game . If you are not adding value , you are not valuable. Your passion must add value to your tribe for you to build your tribe. The Doctor I work with in healthcare is passionate for getting patients off medicines by following a healthy lifestyle and he puts out a lot of valuable educational content free on his YouTube channel. Few of my friends are passionate life coaches who freely share knowledge that would help their tribe and they have been doing this for years . One of them has built a strong following on Linkedin, one of them who is in fitness has built good number of fans on Instagram.

From a sales perspective this could be seen as a funnel , starting with free offer , leading to small paid trial and then subscription or purchase .

How would this work for a cause ? There seems an imbalance between the giver an receiver as if the giver is on a higher pedestal , but if you connect with those who identify with your cause the engagement adds value to their soul. they want to be associated with the cause as it nurtures them . I have also found that volunteering for a cause develops leadership skills in people . If you ever face depression or anxiety one of the best ways to find perspective is to engage with those that are going through challenge , the experience can change you.

1000 Raving fans

There is another model one can work on and that is of 1000 raving fans. If you have been regularly adding value you could build 1000 raving fans , this is not an exact number but it gives you a order of magnitude . You don’t need millions of followers to succeed at what you do, it is fine to build a tribe of 1000 raving fans . This is a different way to build business , you need to work more deeply and add value to 1000 individuals. It is these 1000 fans who could subscribe to your service paying a substantial fees worth your time or become your core volunteers to spread your idea . But be sure these are fans who you engage and add deeper value.

Spiritual tribes understand this well , there is an inner circle , those that are close to the Guru , the students who believe it is their duty to spread the word .I had seen some employees in organisations I worked in give up their comfortable jobs and careers to support such spiritual tribes , they were completely convinced about the work and became champions for the teachings and adding tribe members.

Be Authentic

Your differentiator is you , if you are in a crowded market place where there are hundreds who offer the service you offer , you need to be authentic and find your niche . Don’t try to copy , build your style , do something that is different , that is you , that comes from your passion , find your unique niche . Don’t chase money , chase your passion , add value , be authentic , build your niche, money will follow.

One Man can change the world

So can a woman , a tribe is a movement , the movement could be getting people live a healthier lifestyle , listen to a different kind of music , run marathons after 60 , live an abundant life , drop materialism and simplify life with minimalism, become financially free with value investing , make everyday giving an habit , volunteer to teach , live their passion .

Don’t chase money add value to your tribe every day. You need to be persistent, tribes are not built overnight , you need to be out there consistently adding value , learning , improving , making a difference to your tribe.

Yes , one man or a woman can change the world , begin a movement , build a tribe . Begin Now !

#passionproject

Sanjay Mudnaney

#passionproject is an idea to share my over three decades of marketing experience and work with some of the most passionate business and social sector leaders to help ignite and passion in individuals , businesses , and causes. I believe in the idea that “you are the creator and creation is within you”.

DON’T SURVIVE , ROCK THE BOAT !

Anyone can build a Tribe , you need to have an attitude of rocking the boat , challenging the status quo , connecting the tribe with your idea. Remember you have only one life , make it meaningful.

My very first job out of campus was in a leading computer education company , I was promoted as a branch manager at the prime location, Nariman Point centre which had been a laggard and loss making business, we had experienced stalwarts who had managed the branch but it continued to be loss making . Though I was a fresher , had no managerial experience , as a product executive I had launched a highly successful course for chartered accountants as my first assignment for the company. I was given the charge.

I gathered the team , freshers and a few experienced hands and I enrolled them on an idea ,’we are in the business of making a difference’ , I made them see that every student who did our course was either getting placed or was getting promoted. I asked the team to forget all about ‘target’s and just connect with customers as people and bring one quality to the table ‘Empathy’ and I said “Make friends , make a difference ,have fun , enjoy the journey” . Some thought I was crazy, this was a loss making centre , perhaps they thought I would fail . I took a risk , this had never been done before , I was rocking the boat .

Tribes connect with an Idea

The idea rocks the boat , I was also busting the myth that 9 to 5 = Job , Job = Targets , Targets = Stress , that employees need to be micromanaged . The definition of job was shifted from ‘work’ to ‘contribution’ .This was an idea that the tribe enrolled to.Techies were used to being told what to to do , that was their experience , this was getting challenged with ‘taking ownership’.

The idea challenges the status Quo

A tribe challenges the status quo . If what is going on is normal there is no reason for a tribe , a tribe comes alive when the existing norm is challenged , there is an alternative story . I attracted team members who believed in the idea of making a difference . I remember the shift in sales team , they even refused registrations of students where they felt the course would not help them and this even when the students were ready to pay. This was different and the team genuinely felt good about contribution as an idea.

Yes we were young maybe naive but this centre turned around , it became a profit centre , we grew year on year and recorded a 300% growth. I had rocked the boat and challenged the status quo.

Tribes need a Leader

Every Tribe needed a leader , the leader is the connector of the idea and the tribe. This was a young team of techies and teachers , all I did was connect them with an idea of authentic ‘contribution’ and ‘we are in the job of making a difference’ and that we must have ‘fun’ on the way . I was not managing the team but leading the team with an idea.

I have seen similarly a strong tribe at Mastek , this flowed from the founders , the very nature of business focus on building products and solutions in software industry when no one was doing that was different , every other IT company was running a body shopping and later offshoring business . First generation entrepreneurs , living by values all this was different , not many know Mastek was the first IT company to list on stock exchanges in india and also the first to give ESSOPs . Mastek was rocking the boat ,Ashank Desai amongst the founders was leading the tribe with the idea of Mastek.

You can build a Tribe within your Organisation

As head of Marketing and Communications at Mastek I experienced building a tribes within an organisation with a unique project .The challenge was to build Mastek employer brand presence in campuses , we had no visibility on the ground . Going by the traditional route of sponsorships would not help , it was too crowded a space . I came up with an idea of a campus IT solutions contest (As that was the core strength of Mastek) with a social connect that evolved as one of the most successful employer brand initiatives ‘Project Deep Blue’ . PDB is run in campuses with over 800 teams participating every year in a four month long project and contest to build real life IT solution for the social sector . When I got this idea six years back we only had a core team of three , I first enrolled Sundar , Co-Founder of Mastek who has been a mentor to the project and then we got volunteers to join as mentors from the wider organisation.

The mentors joined because of the sense of ‘contribution’ to the student community , first a few joined , then a few more , now the word has spread , everyone wants to be part of this annual initiative . The mentors do this beyond their day jobs in the evening and on weekends, there is no direct benefit for those that join other than being part of the Tribe of ‘Project Deep Blue’ that makes a difference to the lives of students.

There is another attribute of a tribe , it is not just the leader but the tribe members enrol other tribe members.

Leaders who rock the boat build tribes

When I worked with Madan Bahal of Adfactors to build Mnet , the first pan India integrated marketing company , we were rocking the boat , no one had done this before. Madan has constantly rocked the boat to build the largest PR agency in India . I have seen Madan at work ,from day one he has taken risks to bet on contrarian ideas, rocked the boat doing the unconventional.

I have worked with social sector leaders Dr Abhay Bang , Dr Prakash Ambedkar, Dr Ashish Satav, Girish Kulkarni, Vinayak Lohani , Adhik Kadam , Mamoon Akhtar each one has rocked the boat and built solid volunteer driven non-profits. Money and resources did not stop them , they just believed in an idea led from the front and connected believers. If they could do it without any resources no one can have an excuse. As Girish Kulkarni of Snehalaya says “You just begin the work , people will join you on the way” , this is the secret of tribes ,a leader leads the way and other believers join in . Tribe is a movement that is waiting to happen.

Dr Pramaod Tripathi the founder of Freedom From Diabetes who I help with strategic marketing and sales is rocking the boat with diabetics . In a world where diabetics have been told ‘once a diabetic , always a diabetic” he is getting them free from medicines and insulin with diet , exercise , inner transformation and 24x 7 telemedicine medical through app.

Sudhakar Ram , Co-Founder at Mastek , who I consider as a friend , philosopher and guide would tell me that I had the knack of enrolling people to ideas . My experience across organisations, non profits and leaders tells me they are all enrollers of ideas and that anyone can be an enroller of ideas, anyone can build a Tribe , in the digital world it is even more possible , you need to have an attitude of rocking the boat , challenging the status quo , connecting the tribe with your idea. Remember you have only one life , make it meaningful. Don’t survive , Thrive ! If you play to survive you will become a commodity and commodities are replaceable !

Start a movement , build your Tribe.

Sanjay Mudnaney