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A section of the participants

InstaMeets are a way for Instagram users to meet the fellow Instagrammers in real life; discuss their favorite filters, exchange tips, or just take photos together. As part of the InstaMeetSL, the first edition of InstaMeetCMB was held on the 16th December 2013 (Monday). If you had read our earlier article, the plan was to meet at the Maradana Railway Station and to explore the areas surrounding the station including the Railway Yard. As planned, most of the Instagrammers turned up at the location before 4.15 PM and got their platform tickets and ventured into the station. The Maradana Railway Station is one of the busiest in Sri Lanka, and on a usual day it would have been really hard for us to get around at that time of the day. But thankfully, 16th was a public holiday and it was the perfect day to explore the station and the surroundings.

Mission Maradana

Maradana Railway Station

Maradana Railway Station

The first phase of the meetup went smoothly. All the participants were busy doing what they loved to do – Instagramming. It was also great to meet so many interesting people in real life and have a chat. Sri Lankan Instagram community is quite small for the moment and such a meetup was an ideal event to meet like minded individuals from various walks of life. Discussions were also related to photography, using different filters in Instagram etc. After moving around the station premises, the team decided to venture further towards the Railway Yard. The day being a public holiday didn’t mean it was a holiday for trains. They were busy keeping to their schedule as usual. And the participants made sure they were cautious enough to keep away from the tracks.

A section of the participants inside the station.

A section of the participants inside the station. (picture courtesy: Dulith Kasun)

Meanwhile, exploring the Yard that housed many used engines did not turn out well though. Since only Railway officials were usually allowed to enter those premises, participants were required to get prior permissions to explore the place. I guess this also involves paying fees (not small amounts), if anyone wanted to have a “photo shoot”. (I’m not sure whether Instagramming is counted as a photo shoot, though. Well, obviously, you can’t debate that with the Railway official, who has so many other things to worry about). The person at the yard informed he can’t allow us in since we did not have the required permission. Well, we were expecting this sooner or later. So the team decided switch to plan B: to leave Maradana and to explore the streets of Pettah!

The Pettah Mission

It did not take much time on the traffic-free streets to reach Pettah. The meeting point was Khan Clock Tower, that marks the entrance to the famous Pettah Market. The clock tower has a history of it’s own. According to sources it was built in 1923. It was built by the family of Framjee Bhikhajee Khan. This Parsi family of Mumbai had business ventures in Ceylon back in the days and the “clock tower and fountain was erected in memory of Framjee Bhikhajee Khan by his sons Bhikhajee and Munchershaw Framjee Khan as a token of affectionate gratitude and dedicated through the Municipal Council to the citizens of Colombo”. (The fountain does not function anymore).

A roadside vendor in Pettah.

A roadside vendor in Pettah. (Picture courtesy: Halik Azeez)

From there teams split into groups and set out to have the photo walk on the not so crowded but still busy streets of the shopping capital. Few walked towards the Leyden Bastian Road (that leads to the entrances of Port, Grand Oriental Hotel and the Police Headquarters) and York Street areas to capture the beauty of old colonial buildings while others set out along the Main Street and the cross streets. The streets were crowded but not to the extend of what you see on regular days. But since it was the festive season, we could see many colourful shops selling decorative items etc. Participants had so much to see and explore From old buildings, resting “Nattamis”, busy vendors, to stray cats. And this involved so much of photographing and Instagramming.

Time to rest.

Time to rest. (picture courtesy: Ashen Monnankulama)

And after a while we decided it was time to finish the event when it started to fall dark. We all met at Prince Street and had few group photographs taken.  Later, the members exchanged ideas on pictures taken. It was unanimously decided that we should have this kind of meetups very often. With that note we all set out to our homes.

For those who missed the event, and those who want to explore the beautiful instagraphs captured that day, you can search the #InstaMeetSL and #InstaMeetCMB hashtags on the Instagram app and enjoy. If you want to see them on the web, check out the following links: http://web.stagram.com/tag/instameetsl/?vm=grid and http://web.stagram.com/tag/instameetcmb/?vm=grid

The event attracted more than 20 participants who actively use Instagram. It was fun to have chats and take pictures while walking around and exploring places; something participants had never done before, even though everyone had visited Maradana and Pettah, quite often.

 

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The Sri Lanka Press Institute in collaboration with WAN-IFRA will be
conducting a workshop on “Writing for Digital Media” at its premises on the
29th and 30th of October 2013.

This course explains how writing for the web is different from print medium
and the factors which need to be considered when writing for the web. This
workshop focuses on hypermedia methods of information design for the
digital medium.
Internet users perceive information in a different, nonlinear way. Web
users skim content, they ignore details to read content faster, they even
modify left-right viewing habits in order to drill down more quickly.

The participants will become familiar with the most important steps in
constructing a web story and the style of writing that is required for
writing for new media. The training will also explain how to tap the social
media for new ideas, for obtaining information and promoting their content.

This program is designed for Reporters or journalists, Sub Editor, Editors
and Online Editors,  New Media Editors,  Social Media Editors,  Digital
media managers and Online content creators.

 

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For more info about this event, click here.

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Google for Entrepreneurs Week is an annual week celebrating entrepreneurs and the anniversary of the Google for Entrepreneurs team.

This is scheduled to begin on 30th September 2013 and will be going on till 4th of October 2013 at Park Street Mews and Sri Lanka Foundation Institute.

Day 1 Live Blog - http://digit.lk/live-blog-google-for-entrepreneur-week-sri-lanka-day-1/

Day 2 Live Blog - http://digit.lk/live-blog-google-for-entrepreneur-week-sri-lanka-day-2-2/

Day 3 Live Blog - http://digit.lk/live-blog-google-for-entrepreneur-week-sri-lanka-day-3/

Day 4 Live Blog – http://digit.lk/live-blog-google-for-entrepreneur-week-sri-lanka-day-4/

Event Info : https://www.facebook.com/events/231686746987428/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

In a quest to scale and better tap into real-time sentiment and mobile targeting, Twitter has gone on an acquisition spree with the purchase of Trendrr, a social-TV analytics company, as well as MoPub, the world’s largest mobile ad exchange. Both moves solidify Twitter’s desire to bring together and own, particularly vis-à-vis Facebook, three key spaces: TV and online multi-screening, mobile, and programmatic buying.

Today, many advertisers use Twitter to support their TV ads and as a consequence the social network has been developing its analytics platform to help. Twitter also added a TV slant on its targeting when earlier this summer it rolled out a TV Ad Targeting in the US. This product allows advertisers to target their ads towards users who are likely to have seen the shows where their ads ran based on what individuals have tweeted or the hashtags they have used.

The acquisition of Trendrr adds two key products to Twitter’s stable: Trendrr.TV and Curatorr. Trendrr.TV provides TV networks, publishers and media agencies with tools to track TV engagement across social networks, including Twitter. Curatorr allows those same parties to sort through social streams to visualize data and to help them identify high-quality tweets. These tweets can then be re-tweeted by a TV show’s Twitter account or show up on air during a live show that includes Twitter conversations as part of their show format.

With these two key products, the ability to now insert MoPubs technology into the equation becomes even more powerful; according to Twitter “they plan to use MoPub’s technology to build real-time bidding into the Twitter ads platform so our advertisers can more easily automate and scale their buys.”
As Twitter points out in the release “The two major trends in the ad world right now are the rapid consumer shift toward mobile usage, and the industry shift to programmatic buying. Twitter sits at the intersection of these, and we think by bringing MoPub’s technology and team to Twitter, we can further drive these trends for the benefit of consumers, advertisers, and agencies.”

These recent acquisitions actually compliment a third major trend occurring with TV and mobile which is two screen viewing and conversations, especially around live events. The ability to track and target real-time messages to relevant users more accurately is being reinforced with these acquisitions.
Finally, there is widespread speculation of a forthcoming Twitter IPO next year; these acquisitions should further improve its attractiveness to advertisers, and therefore Twitter’s financial performance and profitability.

Implications

These acquisitions will not only allow Twitter to offer deeper audience insights and functionality to marketers, networks, publishers and other organizations, it will also bring in-house a competing service. Trendrr was the last independent player in the social TV chatter space; Twitter bought Bluefin Labs in February and Nielsen bought SocialGuide in November. This is all notable as Facebook has been evolving its platform to become more of a contender in the real-time conversation market with the development of new tools like Trending Topics and hashtags. Facebook has also indicated that it’s looking at its association with TV much more closely. Facebook announced in July (coincidentally from the results of a Trendrr research piece) that it has more TV chatter than Twitter just behind “closed doors” due to its users’ ability to restrict access to their content. By absorbing Trendrr, Twitter has not only bolstered their appeal to advertisers, but they have also ensured Facebook have limited options for future acquisitions.

Summary

For many users Twitter is the place where real-time conversation happens. This engaged audience and stream of real-time data has attracted advertisers and has started to turn into much needed advertising revenue.
The additional functionality and expertise Twitter gains as result of this acquisition will add to its second screen credentials and give advertisers more tools to better target their consumers across whatever screen they are engaging. No doubt we will see much more development in this TV, social, and mobile intersection.

Source: http://www.dailymirror.lk/tech/digital-media/35252–twitter-goes-on-the-offensive.html

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Leading mobile telecommunications innovator Etisalat Lanka recently launched ‘Epic Rewards,’ a loyalty program open to all its post-pay and prepaid voice and data customers. Epic Rewards is an ‘opt-in’ program which gives the customer the choice of joining and selecting their preferred reward category.
Commenting at the Epic Rewards media conference, Etisalat Director/ CEO Dumindra Ratnayaka said: “As we embark on another milestone, we are privileged to introduced ‘Epic Rewards’ one of the most innovative loyalty programmes to be launched in the Sri Lankan mobile market. For the first time, customers are given the option of joining a loyalty program and the opportunity for them to select their reward. This is our way of saying ‘Thank You” to our base of over four million customers. In addition, Epic Rewards will be different because we will not only provide special offers at merchant outlets, we will also offer events and experiences to our customers.”
Once the customers choose to join Epic Rewards, they are presented with five personal preferences from which they can choose three. These preferences are: fashion and entertainment, travel and leisure, sports and health, dining and household and business and learning. Several options are available for customers to join this program; that is by dialling 7272, or #7272# from their Etisalat mobile, contacting the Etisalat call centre or by visiting any one of Etisalat Flagship stores located islandwide.
Epic Rewards will communicate its offers to the members via SMS, e-mail, voice and social media. Wherever possible, the merchants will be in the same area as the Epic rewards member. The points Epic Rewards members earn will be called ‘Rings,’ which the customers will start to earn by continuing their commitment to Etisalat, for post-pay bill payments, for prepaid reloads, subscribing to VAS, purchase of devices and more. ‘Rings’ can be redeemed through offers at participating partner merchants and at selected events offered exclusively for Epic Rewards members.
Further elaborating on the loyalty program Etisalat’s Senior Manager – Prepaid Marketing and Customer Loyalty, Shameel Bishri said: “We always want to give the best to our customers. So we have chosen these preferences according to the interests of our customers based on customer lifestyle management through research conducted to develop this program. Within these preferences, Epic Rewards will select both events and merchants that most closely match the preferences of each individual within the program. This ensures that our corporate proposition of ‘It’s about you’ is followed.”
Etisalat has chosen the merchant base together with its Strategic Partner – Direct Solutions for the program. They bring forth a wealth of expertise and experience in customer centric marketing through direct, digital and loyalty marketing concepts to design and develop the Epic program. Direct Solutions have created and delivered numerous customer loyalty and CRM programmes, both locally and internationally.
Commenting on the Epic Rewards merchant network, CEO of Direct Solutions, Priyanga Hapugalle said: “A number of benefits that would benefit Epic Rewards members were kept in mind when selecting merchant partners. These included the islandwide branch networks so that the members have easy access, special services and products that are relevant to member preferences and special offers during seasonal times throughout the year. In addition merchants will be approached on a regular basis and encouraged to create offers that would be highly attractive to Epic Reward members.”
Epic Rewards members will also have the opportunity to participate in a number of island wide events as well as those held exclusively for the members. These events will also closely match member preferences and can take many forms. These include; special seats at key sports matches, fashion shows or music shows, reduced price entry to business conferences and events, special travel tickets to religious events and weekend breaks at beach festivals.
The other features that sets apart Epic Rewards from other loyalty programs include; the change of merchants, non-expiration of Epic Rings, and the ability of members to move up the value table to increase the value of their rings and a greater variety of offers.

Source: DailyFT

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Social media has without a doubt revolutionised today’s interactive and communication methods, allowing individuals, companies and other institutions to transfer information rapidly and more effectively. In this way, websites such as Facebook and Twitter have become highly interactive platforms for the majority of the urban and suburban population around the world. However, social media is not without its adverse effects as no website in the world is free of security loopholes. Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites are no exception.
Social media has already entered the IT security landscape, causing concerns not only among individual users, but also among the corporate community where cyber security in the interaction and exchange of data is absolutely vital. But social media networks being inherently public spaces render more than 1.7 billion social media users vulnerable to malicious content, malware and viruses.
Once information is posted or shared on a social networking site, the data is no longer private. In this way, individuals, as well as the companies/institutions they work for, are exposed to cyber predators who may exploit data to different and adverse ends.
Prohibiting the access of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is no longer realistic. Blocking suspicious content and application control is now becoming inefficient in the face of modern advancements. If one channel is blocked, users may find many other channels through which they can access social media. Hence, one feels the need for a more robust and effective security mechanism to ward off potential harmful content in cyberspace.
Websites such as Facebook offer private security options to protect one’s pictures, posts, information, manage tagging etc. Many who use social media exercise a great deal of caution when it comes to private security. This is reflected in posts they share, sometimes cautioning others of security threats that could emerge from the social media space such as theft of pictures and other personal information.
But what about external threats, i.e. malicious content? Social media has little or no in-built security systems to protect one’s profile from malicious content. This is where ESET’s Social Media Scanner comes into play. It is an application that is designed to protect one’s profile and its contents from malware distributed through social networking sites. The social media scanner monitors new social media content (for example, wall postings containing links or unknown ‘friend requests’ on Facebook) and looks for malicious codes.
ESET’s social media scanner works primarily by monitoring personal social media accounts. At the same time, it can also be used to test the safety of content posted to accounts of a user’s ‘friends’. When a malicious code is discovered by the ESET social media scanner, the user will be alerted by a message from the scanner or by email. Additionally, the ESET Social Media Scanner can be configured to block malicious content by automatically posting a comment that warns to avoid media that has been found to contain a malicious code.
Another important feature of the application is that it covers all components of a social networking site i.e., timeline, newsfeed and even private messages against cyber threats. It also scans the account for threats even when the user is not logged into Facebook.
The social media scanner is a timely need, said Shihan Annon, Director of DCS International Ltd., the parent company of ESET in Sri Lanka. “As cautious as social media users are of violations of ‘privacy’ on social media, they also have to be aware of the threat posed by malicious content. The ESET Social Media Scanner is something that can allay their fears. Whether you are ‘online’ or ‘offline’, it will always protect your profile,” he says.
Social networking has become an important aspect of cyberspace over the past few years and it certainly plays an important role in the day-to-day lives of people. With this growing trend, social media users also have to realise the importance of adopting robust measures that secure IT systems and data from malicious content roaming the cyber space. The ESET Social Media Scanner is a product that takes the concept of ‘social media security’ to the next level.

Source: DailyFT

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DATE: Wednesday, 03rd July, 2013

TIME: 02:30pm

VENUE: Meeting Room, 01st Floor, Colombo Municipal Council, Town Hall,Colombo 07

The event was graced by:

  • A. J. M. Muzammil, Mayor of Colombo
  • U. L. Titus Perera, Deputy Mayor of Colombo
  • Ms. Bhadrani Jayawardhane, Municipal Commissioner, Colombo
  • Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam, Chief Medical Officer, CMC
  • Mr. M. Arshad, Chairman, Standing Committee on Health and Sanitation
  • Mr. Kapila Chandrasena, Acting CEO, Mobitel
  • A/Prof. May O. Lwin, Associate Professor & Principal Investigator, NTU
  • Dr. Newton Fernando, Senior Researcher & Principal Investigator, NTU
  • Prof. G. N. Wickramanayake, Director, University of Colombo School of Computing
  • Dr Firdosi Rustom Mehta, WHO Representative to Sri Lanka

Covered Video of Mobuzz event.

Live updates from the launch:

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Mashable’s fourth annual Social Media Day is being celebrated in Colombo today (30th June 2013) at Park Street Mews in partnership with Etisalat Sri Lanka. Social Media Day was launched in 2010 as a way to recognize the digital revolution happening right before our eyes.

250 socially active folks were invited for the event which is happening for the 3rd time in Colombo. Stay tuned to this page for live updates in case you are not able to attend in person. An interesting agenda has been set up:

Agenda

  • Networking session and refreshments
  • Mashable CEO welcome video
  • “If only your Press Release could talk!” by Angelo Fernando
  • Social Media for Social Good by Manjula Dissanayake Founder Educate Lanka
  • Panel Discussion – Social Media in Sri Lanka Moderated by Isura Silva
  • Ukku Banda VS Hichchi Malli – Video Blogging Session by Kushan and Srimal

Pictures from the event are on our facebook page here

Event covered video is attached below.

Live updates from the event:

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Before proceeding with reading this post, just take a look at your email inbox. How many emails can you find there, promoting some product or a service? How many of them are actually relevant for you?

I’m sure if you are an average Sri Lankan who uses emails regularly, you will find a couple of dozens of Viagra promotions, another dozen of emails promoting Replica watches and quite a few from local email marketing agencies promoting one or more of their clients.

However, how many emails are there actually you opted in to receive? For sure, that is the least number of promotional emails you will see in your inbox.

I’m trying to get at the problem we are facing in using email as an effective marketing tool. Just as in any other form of media, there are “spoilers” who ruin the effectiveness of email marketing with their shortsighted activities on the cyberspace. Just having a technical understanding of ‘how to send a bulk email to 100,000 email addresses’ will not make you an eMail marketer, or give you the due qualification to start an email marketing agency. Sending out the email is just a one component of email marketing, but before getting there, you have to consider a lot more things to make your email marketing efforts effectiveness.

Email Marketing Defined

I define email marketing as “using email as a medium of communication to convey interactive messages to a highly relevant target audience who are willing to receive such messages from us”. Once I put forward this definition, I categorically label anything else as “Spam”.

My definition of eMail marketing contains three important basics you have to follow when carrying out email marketing.

  1. Relevant target audience
  2. Permission
  3. Interactive content

Relevant Audience

First you have to pick your target audience right. This is called prospect targeting. There are many strategies and tactics you can use when finding the right prospects to receive your email marketing. One commonly used tactic is to make your website visitors to sign-up for your mailing list. Someone visits your website, because they are interested in the content you publish on your website. That is an indication of relevancy of what you sell (product, service or idea) to the person who is about to sign up for your email list. You can directly promote your mailing list and give a voluntary sign up option on the website. Or else, you can give some ‘relevant bait’ like a free ebook, to encourage visitor to sign up for your mailing list. We use direct sign up method on www.petadivisor.org for signing up people for our ‘Pet Advisor Monthly – Pet Care Newsletter”. With this signup option, we make sure that people who receive our emails are actually pet owners and animal lovers.

Another method for making the audience relevant is by sponsoring related concepts. For example, a company in the travel industry can sponsor a “Travel Quiz” on a third party website, to collect prospects. There are prospect-targeting specialists who are specialized in conducting such contests, to collect prospective customers to your mailing list.

Permission

This is the least respected attribute of good email marketing practices. Getting the permission of the receiver is very important for increasing the effectiveness of your email marketing. Anyone who does not respect ‘permission’ are in reality, spamming the receivers even though they will find hundred and one excuses to justify their rudeness.

Permission consists of three elements.

  1. Opt in
  2. Double opt in
  3. Freedom to opt out

Out of these three elements, ‘double opt in’ is not a must have feature. However, ‘opt in’ and ‘freedom to opt out’ are two most essential elements in getting the receivers permission.

‘Opt in’ refers to making the receiver actively giving their consent to receive emails from us. This can happen with a sign up process as described in the “Pet Advisor Newsletter”, or by asking the customer to tick “I like to receive emails from you” option, at the check out stage of an eCommerce transaction. In whatever the way you are “opting in” the customer; they got to know that they are going to receive promotional emails from you in the future.

Double opt in works for confirming the customers’ decision to receive emails from you. This works in a way as verifying the validity of the email as well. Customer is expected to click on a ‘verification email’ sent to the email address he/she used for opting in. This is a highly effective thing to do, make your mailing list free of hard bouncing emails.

After a customer opts in to your mailing list, they should have the freedom of opting out from the list anytime they want. This is a legal requirement in many countries there are separate laws to govern email and direct marketing. If you don’t give a working opt out link in your emails, there’s a huge possibility that spam detectors will trigger and your mail will be marked as spam.

Can I Spam?

However, most email markets do away with the “opt in” part very easily, and stick only to the “opt out” option, and justify this with the excuse ‘law doesn’t made it mandatory to send emails only to opt in customers, and it specifically mention having an opt-out option is enough’.

If you look at this justification, you should be able to violation of the basic principles of marketing. Marketing keeps customer always in the forefront, and advocates not doing anything, which makes the customers unhappy. However, if someone advocates you to send unsolicited emails, just because the law does not specifically prohibit you doing so; be wary about such advices. Because, even though the law allows you to ‘spam’ people, in the long run that will kill your brand. Sticking to do the right things always will help you achieve success in the long run, rather than hitting short cuts for quick success.

Elements of a Successful Email Campaign

Subject Line

Objective of your subject line is to compel the user to open the mail. The subject line of your email should be short, and contain specific keywords appealing to the customers. Make it longer, you will lose the chance of opening it. Research say, having the reciever’s first name and/or ‘You’ in the subject line improves the open rate of an email. This is psychology, as most of us are quickly responding to anything addressed to our first name, or anything that specifically delivered to ‘me’. (Is this the reason why some Sinhala language radio DJs overusing the word “Oya” in their shows?)

Message Body

Get to the main point quickly. It is not the job of your receivers to read the flowery language in your email. So cut any unnecessary build up stories and get to the main point as soon as possible. Include call to actions in the mail body, to make it interactive. If you refer to any web page or a website, never forget to add the hyperlinks. It is annoying to cut and paste URLs from email.

Reply Path

Avoid do-not-reply@yourdomain.com email address to send emails. Make sure each and every email marketing message you send out carries a working reply path, which will be checked by a human being.

Choosing Your Email Marketing Agency

According to my knowledge, there is no single email marketing agency based in Sri Lanka, who practice the industry best practices. If apply industry standards, all the email marketing agencies in Sri Lanka are spammers. They use unethical tactics to collect emails (like forward chain emails promising free stuff) and their lists contain loads of unsolicited email addresses.

I recommend, you to build your own mailing list and use a web based solution like MailChimp or Awebar. This is bit costly compared to the easier route of going through one of the email marketing agencies, but if you apply the damage you are making to your brand by associating your brand with such spammers; you are much more better off in spending that money.

Summary

This is just a basic introduction for email marketing, which cannot be fully explained in a short article like this. If you are interested in learning more about email marketing best practices, you are always welcome to contact me via Twitter (@Amisampath) or by visiting my website at www.amisampath.com