2 Sep 2014

5 Free Twitter Tools Which will Make You A Pro

Most celebrities are on Twitter. Some like Amitabh Bachchan, Riteish Deshmukh and SRK are avid users, while others like Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Amir Khan use it sparingly. But they are all present there.

Then why is only about 15% of India’s remaining internet population present on it? And why do brands (read their agencies) fail to capitalize on this awesome tool to establish their online reputation?

Well, for one, many brand managers don’t understand how Twitter functions. They simply bombard the platform with self promotional tweets and expect a hoard of followers. Even now, most people consider their Twitter success to be directly related to the number of followers. Secondly, because of the vast amount of content being shared on Twitter, users can feel all at sea. Making sense of things on Twitter can be quite a task.

Twitter is not a self promotion platform. If you’re self promoting without adding value, you’re doing Twitter all wrong. Twitter is about being there, listening to conversations, making sense of them, providing your inputs and using posts which you read to come up with content marketing ideas. And fear not, it is really easy to do once you get the hang of it.
Free Twitter Tools as good as Paid Ones

Here are 5 free tools which enable you to become an effective Twitter user:

Bufferapp: This is one of the most popular free tools for posting on social media (especially Twitter). Renowned as a post and tweet scheduling tool, Bufferapp also lets you tweet instantly in case you are unable to access Twitter. Links tweeted are converted to bitly links by default, though you can choose to revert to the original URL. The analytics tool is handy for tracking the performance of each tweet sent from Buffer. So if you see that a post has done well in the past and are short of ideas, you can re-share it after a month or 2. Alternately, you can make use of Bufferapp’s suggestions if you’re looking for content to tweet. Plus you can tweet an article via Buffer right from your browser. Simply install the extension and click on the icon if you want to share an article. Also, if you select a specific quote from the article and click on the Bufferapp icon, the app intelligently tweets your link with the selected text as the headline. Cool huh? People also use this tool for scheduling posts on Facebook, but the Facebook’s inbuilt scheduler feature is more useful and effective for their platform. You also cannot view real time Twitter updates. For that, you have the option below.
Hootsuite: I can’t stop raving about this tool. Apart from scheduling tweets, Hootsuite also makes it convenient for you to track feeds related to your subject on Twitter and Facebook. Simply enter the keyword(s) in Hootsuite’s search box and click ‘Add Stream’ on the tab where the results show up. These streams can also be of lists formulated by you (more on lists in point 5). Your feed is updated real time, ensuring you stay well informed on everything happening in your field. Respond to questions of people, which establishes you as an expert in your field. You can also generate ideas for content marketing material by reading people’s conversations. Plus, you can not only RT a tweet, but also manually RT after adding your comments in it, just like the mobile Twitter app.
Pullquote: Ever read a quote online and liked it so much that you want to tweet it? Well, Pullquote lets you do it beautifully. Simply install the extension in your browser and use it when you want to tweet a quote from a page. The tool converts the quote into a picture and share it. You also can crop a photo and share it, adding your comments in the tweet. Pullquote is a great tool to awesome content on Twitter pictorially. The only drawback, however, is that you cannot tweet a link. For sharing a link along with the image/quote, you can take help of the tool mentioned below.
Bitly sidebar: bit.ly links, when shared, look way cooler than the conventional abc.com/xyz…. But you already know that, right? Additionally, bit.ly links can be used to track how many times your link has been clicked on. Once you’ve tweeted a link, simply compare the number of times people have clicked on the link versus the number of impressions. While it may not be an accurate figure, it may give you a rough idea of how effective what you typed while sharing the link was. More clicks (even if it hasn’t got RTs) means your ‘copywriting’ idea worked, and you can try replicating that for other tweets too. Bitly links are not accepted on some popular social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon, Blogadda, etc. For those, you can use the article’s original URL.
Twitter: What good would a social platform do if it cannot have some inbuilt features which make it awesome? 2 features which we must make use of in Twitter are Search and Lists. The Twitter Search is as good as Hootsuite in providing you with tweets which are related to your subject of interest. Also, if you want to know how a specific article is being discussed on Twitter, merely paste the article’s URL in the Search box. For instance, if you want to know what people on Twitter think about this article, simply copy the link and paste it in Twitter’s search box. Also, Lists is a kickass feature to get feeds from people from a specific field. So if you want to stalk the competition, you can create a list of them, keep it private and keep a tab of their tweets. On the other hand, if you want to share insightful tweets of influencers in a field related to yours, create a public list and add them to it. Let others also refer to your list and know how awesome you are.

Conclusion

A common mistake which many of us make is not tracking our Twitter platform’s performance (read effectiveness). We pepper the platform with promotional tweets and Twitter contests for our clients, most of which result in negligible conversions. Twitter is a far more effective digital message spreading platform than any other - Facebook, LinkedIn or Google Plus. It can help portray our brand as a thought leader in its field and convert viewers to followers, then buyers, and ultimately into loyalists. Using the tools above, you can listen to conversations on Twitter, create and promote terrific content and track your engagement levels. Effective use of Twitter will also give a content writer a whole bunch of ideas for the next corporate blog post.


I haven’t added many tools like Seesmic, TweetDeck, etc. to the list. I’ve found the above mentioned 5 to be most effective. Do you know of any other tools which have been missed? Do leave a note about them in the comments section. Also do share this article with others so that awareness about how Twitter works continues to spread.

21 Aug 2014

5 #AccheDin News Which Narendra Modi has Brought in 90 Days


Narendra Modi working for a brighter India
It’s almost 100 days since Narendra Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister. This was a historic defining moment in India’s history; democracy in the true meaning. The Congress and AAP were mauled by the BJP because all of India believes in one man – Narendra Modi.

Modi’s time spent at the Centre has not been devoid of controversy and protests. The appointment of Nirpendra Misra, rising inflation, increase (and subsequent rollback) in railway fares... what irks a lot of people is his silence on all this.

It’s not that nothing good has come out in these 100 days. His Independence Day speech took the country and the world by storm. He spoke on topics which are otherwise considered taboo by politicians. Plus his words have galvanized many people, including the corporate, to work towards the upliftment of India.

Here are 5 good things which have occurred since Narendra Modi has taken the oath as PM:

1.      Ministers have become efficient: Reports say that productivity of ministers has increased 130% over the UPA’s time since the BJP has taken centre stage. Saturday holidays have been cancelled. Gyms are empty by 9 and work output has substantially. However, Modi says this is nothing to be proud of. This is hygiene and should be the norm. India’s PM has egged his ministers and government workers to work harder. He says “If you work 12 hours a day, I will work 13. If you work 14 hours a day, I’ll work 15.” What a motivator!

2.      GST talks are moving forward: In the UPA’s regime, talks about implementing GST were stalled since the government could not convince the state governments. Talks are now underway and many obstacles have been overcome. State governments have been promised compensation for revenue which will be lost and the policy may go through soon. This will bring down prices of goods since excise duty, custom duty, service tax, VAT, octroi, etc. will be replaced by a singular GST. It will also increase speed of delivery since many bottlenecks will be eliminated.

3.      Basic sanitation is being addressed: “Build more toilets than temples”, says Modi. And he’s right! Girls in rural areas stop attending school since they don’t have toilets, which is a huge inconvenience. Women have to wait till dark to step out to defecate, which lead to health issues. Following Modi’s Independence Day speech, 2 corporate giants TCS and Aditya Birla group have come forward to build 10,000+ toilets for girls and rural areas. Basic sanitation and hygiene will improve, which will have a positive cascading effect on many other things like health, education and mortality rate.

4.      Infrastructure development is proposed: Nitin Gadkari has claimed that once the project is implemented, the government will build 30 kilometers of road everyday across India. That’s quite an audacious ask, but if anyone can, it is the Modi government. The man is driven by common sense and an urge to implement things quickly, something which was visible in Sardar Patel. Infrastructure development will improve logistics which will speed up transportation, improve warehousing and bring down prices due to less delay in transit.

5.      The world has faith in India’s economy: Donald Trump has publically stated that India’s outlook is positive since Narendra Modi has become Prime Minister. The world sees India as a country which will be able to tap into its potential and become a force to reckon with. IIP has improved and the stock exchange is in a good mood. Major leaders of foreign countries are extending the olive branch to India and queuing up to meet Modi. He, instead, is spending time ensuring that corporate India and its neighbours are made happy first.

Someone who knows Narendra Modi has said that he is a shrewd man; that he is keeping quiet for some time now and will open up to the media once some substantial result-oriented work is visible. If Modi decides to stay mum over media and the Congress party’s (I refuse to call them ‘Leader of Opposition’) allegations, we BJP supporters should do so too. I am a firm believer in #acchedin because I voted Modi into power. I will keep desist from commenting on anti-Modi posts on social media and will pray to God that He gives our PM strength to achieve his novel goals. What will you do? Shout? Or support?

6 Aug 2014

Newspapers Are the Cause for Rise in Crime

Gangrapes, child molestations, extortion and blackmail, accidents, deaths, divorces... newspapers are filled with these reports. And they should be. We should be aware of the latest happenings around us. And it’s the duty of newspapers to report these incidents, right?

Well, my theory is that newspapers are the reason these crimes are on the rise. Now that’s a paradox. Aren’t newspapers the reason these crimes are reported and can be controlled? Well, not really.

Man is a product of the 5 people he spends most time with, and what he reads. And today, man barely has time to read anything other than newspapers. Maybe a Chetan Bhagat novel here and there. What does he read in newspapers? Rampant incidents of rapes, child abuse, domestic violence, death, bribery, corruption and more. Since papers barely report the punishment meted out to such criminals, they appear to have gotten away with it. Maybe he can too. If he can’t the newspapers will carry his name, won’t they? They will glorify him. He will be a hero; brag to his friends; his colony will celebrate his name – doesn’t matter why. In short, these bloody newspapers indirectly encourage criminal minds. Why do they continue to report these cases? Because they’re paid by politicians and rich businessmen to keep actual news like ineffective policies, corruption and dying farmers under wraps. Don’t believe me? Look for the e-newspaper article of Ambani’s son crashing his car into 2 others one night. After all, why won’t we vote for politicians just because molestation cases are on the rise? We will protest a little (get our names and faces in the papers), turn apathetic in some time and go back to our depressing lives again.

Gurcharan Das had written in ‘India Grows At Night’ that during the internal war in Egypt, a leading Egyptian newspaper carried the photo and an article on an old man planting a nursery. This was a symbol of hope, of positivity. Numerous websites and posts on social networking sites carry stories of humanity, inspiration and love. Why can’t newspapers do the same? Well, it’s because they’re just trying to sell. And they know that this ‘inspiration, motivation and hope’ shit doesn’t sell for long. We humans crave for tragic stories; we yearn to feel subconsciously satisfied at the fact that other people are worse off than us.

I have stopped reading Times of India and Indian Express since some time now. I just breeze through it because I’m still a sucker for stories which offer hope. Unfortunately, I find none. Time for you to open your eyes and mind. Stop lapping up these crappy stories in newspapers and watch crime rates dwindle. Or maybe newspapers will start reporting the punishment dished out to these criminals too. Change will be slow, it will be gradual, but it will come.

7 Jun 2014

The Worst Kept Secrets about the Art of Writing



I love typing! I just do! The sound of keys being pressed and letters appearing as if by magic on the screen have a soothing effect. Suddenly everything seems okay. The mind is cleared of all clutter and the focus shifts to speed and accuracy.

A couple of typing tools are installed on my computer – Typing Master and Typing Test. They’re useful in improving accuracy and speed. While my accuracy hovers consistently around the 97% mark, my speed has shot up from 35 words per minute (wpm) to 71. This means I can type more than 1 word per second! Isn’t that awesome?

I love writing even more. Scribbling ideas on a notepad, striking out the irrelevant ones, making a final work out of everything compiled; it makes me feel like an artist. If only it wasn’t for the moral guilt of wasting paper.

Writing is one of the most gratifying feelings (I can already see writers nodding fervently) in the world. You create a piece of art and, if you love it, post it online for people to see. Then seeing the number of hits on your website increasing, readers commenting on your post and sharing it, satiate you. The ability to make readers consider your point of view, to make them ponder, get inspired or take action; they make you feel like a demigod! And if you’ve published a book, you’ve gone that 1 step further than most. The sheer sight of your book on stands in bookstores must be an unmatched feeling, probably only eclipsed by seeing someone buy it.

There are 3 secrets to writing well:
1.      Clarity of thought
2.      Lots of reading
3.      The ability to evoke an emotional response.

Clarity of thought comes by constant pondering and keeping an open mind. Reading broadens your perspective and allows you to achieve point number 1. The ability to evoke emotion comes with passion; a genuine liking for readers and wanting them to know something very important.

I lag way behind in each of these aspects. The strife to improve at them will never end. And it shouldn’t! Because the day you’re through with this struggle, you’re through. And the day you’re through writing, you have given up on your voice, on everything you stand for; you will have given up on life itself.

This is my attempt at musing. I had nothing better to do. This post is a result of 20 minutes of time and effort. What are your thoughts, dear reader, about writers and writing? Would love to hear from you in the comments section.

Your sincere wannabe writer,
Vishal

30 May 2014

A Verdict on the AAP v/s BJP v/s Congress Debate

The AAP v/s BJP v/s Congress debate has taken the country by storm! It's like Sri Lanka v/s India v/s Zimbabwe (where the Congress is Zimbabwe). Well, it doesn't matter. The country has given its verdict. While most are overjoyed with the result, a lot of us are sour. Some call it the 'death of democracy', yet others are claiming that it's a bubble waiting to burst, and then there are those who believe that the most controversial party would've done a much better job at the helm.

This post is not for bragging about the BJP's victory. It offers insights into what transpired. It is an analysis (without statistics) of each party's actions and their repercussions.


A friend said that his relatives in Ahmednagar were happy with the Congress. The Congress had waived off farmers’ loans and electricity bills. These subsidies are what has kept them in power for 55 out of the 67 years, and will continue to do so. You see, the Congress has spoiled people below the middle class so much that they don’t want to work hard anymore. The MGNREGA has given the lower strata the easier choice of being paid without working. As a result, labour for agriculture has become expensive, indirectly impacting the price of food grains. The PDS has, as usual, led to hoarding of food grains by middlemen creating an artificial shortage. Again, prices rise. This time, the middlemen make money. Policy paralysis, countless scams and almost 0% accountability has frustrated almost everyone.

Most of India (including me) was delighted with AAP’s dominating victory in Delhi. I must admit, however, that I was sceptical of AK ever since Anna Hazare claimed that his Jan Lokpal proposition was being diluted by Kejriwal and used for selfish reasons. After forming a government over much brouhaha, the repeated U-turns made by AK and company, mindless dharnas and unfeasible economic decisions left Delhi worse off than it was. Water tankers earlier would charge 800 bucks per round. After Kejriwal’s resignation, ungoverned, they started charging 1,500 bucks per round. Imagine the plight of common man who believed in AK. Plus the number of resignations from party members and mud being slung them, the vehement abuse of all politicians by AAP members; these left a lot of people disillusioned.

It is true that most people support AAP for its cause – wiping out corruption. But in a country like India, where corruption has penetrated every aspect of our lives, it will take a mammoth effort. A mere resignation within 50 days and blaming other parties for it won’t suffice. Hell, office politics is tough because of colleagues. What gave Kejriwal the feeling that running India’s capital would be any easier?

Corruption is a major issue for the middle class and bourgeoisie, not for the lower economic classes. Their concerns are jobs, wages and prices – primarily of food items. While we were crying about Salman Khan mistreating Gauhar in Big Boss, the poor man barely had food to eat because of job losses and food prices shooting through the roof. He was left exasperated. Consequently, he turned to the only man who talked the language he wanted to hear – Narendra Modi. More than the media, immigrant workers in Gujarat carried word of his good work around. Labourers would let their friends and family in Bihar, MP, UP and other places know about how efficient the governance in Gujarat is. Lower strata people (including Delhi’s slum dwellers) then decided to vote for Modi. “Wo tarakki laayega” was their reasoning. They are hoping Modi will bring more jobs and empower them to live a better life. They’re hoping this will make them earn more so that they can live in better houses, eat better and send their children to English medium schools.

The Congress’s definition of inclusive growth is flawed. Imagine an organization paying money to its employees for years regardless of shoddy jobs being done (or none at all). How long will it survive? Apply that concept to a whole country. Now imagine an organization providing its employees a conducive environment, giving them the necessary tools to perform well, bringing in business to ensure they have work, rewarding them accordingly and expanding consistently. Now apply that concept to a whole country. Which model will succeed?

The BJP has its flaws too – lots of them. No government is clean.  Nor will they make all of India’s issues disappear. For all we know, Modi’s model might fail miserably because other states don’t have the same entrepreneurial DNA as Gujarat. But the man deserves a chance. Narendra Modi comes with a proven track record – that of 12 years. He already has made the cabinet leaner, which will hopefully lead to project approvals faster.

Indian citizens are not in favour of the BJP; they’re in favour of growth and development, which currently only 1 man seems capable of delivering. Narendra Modi has sold us Indians the only feeling which is stronger than fear – Hope! It is this emotion that has led to BJP’s landslide victory. This is a humble request to put aside all bad blood and get behind the current Prime Minister of your country. He needs your support to help you live a better life. And I think he deserves it.
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