The Big Social B

Blogosphere- A place for people to express their own feelings without recourse to their being edited by another person. A self-publishing medium. Where through the click of the mouse and a few minutes of hyperlinking, uploading and quoting, a writer can present as lucid a case as he wants on any subject that takes up his fancy.

Blogosphere- a deeply personal space, something held sacred by the people who write it as their place in the yard. They refuse to let other dictate what happens on it, well, sometimes they do. Mostly, there are minor changes to the kind of content being shared.

Blogging in India is still a very nascent trend. With a country where internet connectivity is dismally low, and a population that does not use the internet much except for functional uses (read email, social networking, search on random things- the most searched item in India was Katrina Kaif), blogging is taking on very slowly.

But as with every fledgling trend, there are a few high points. There are few journalists sharing their thoughts in an unedited manner, looking for things they are personally interested in, writing about things that the newspaper wouldn't let them write, and sharing stories about the industry in general. And lately, a few celebrities have also caught on to the medium. Aamir Khan was perhaps the first to get on the bandwagon, but his posts normally trend upwards when its time for a movie, so he is what we would call a marketing-gimmick-hungry-actor-who-became-a-blogger. There's Shobhaa De, who mostly reprints articles that she's written for newspapers across the country, amongst other things.

One of the most popular blogs however, belongs to the Superstar Amitabh Bachchan. He writes almost every day, without fail, and aims to create a real bond with his Extended Family (EF) as he calls them. He does this by responding to their comments (interactivity), providing them with details of where he's travelling, what he's up to, what things/people he saw/met (exclusivity), and by sharing his thoughts on various subjects in a very detailed manner (intimacy and bonding). Needless to say, his blog registers a very healthy no. of hits each day, and many of those who come spend a lot of time (stickiness).

The blog has off late received a lot of press due to the Slumdog Millionaire stand-off between Mr. Bachchan and the media. They twisted his statements around and Mr. Bachchan had to ensure that he replied to them through his blog. While the public opinion is still divided (due to the collective strength of the media, and their far wider reach), the blog as an entity, has managed to reach a even higher no. of hits. For an Indian blog, things have never been better before.

And here's where things went a little awry. The setting of the blog or the nature of the entries are not for self-promotion or promoting films featuring Mr. Bachchan or his equally illustrious family. He writes with rare candor and thoughtfulness, on an everyday basis. When a legend of Indian Cinema takes out time to talk to people (regardless of medium), people would like to listen. The setting is for these people to get together and talk to each other.

Would they really want to see Reid & Taylor there? A suiting company whose products he endorses, Reid & Taylor wanted to get presence on the blog. Fittingly, the blog's readers have protested about the presence of Reid and Taylor on the blog's masthead, and as per Mr. Bachchan, changes are being made. The suits are thinking.

Visibility for a brand is of paramount importance. It increases awareness, drives sales, brings long term loyalty amongst other things. But would you really want to see it everywhere? Where does the buck stop?

Here are a few things wrong with this entire 'want' of being present everywhere your ambassador is-

For Reid & Taylor-

1. The blog is an intimate space where the readers/audience are interacting with the Legend they only see at the Cinema(Films), TV(Film Reruns/Advertisements), Print (Interviews/Features), Radio (Soundbites/Interviews)- in short, all moderated mediums with no feedback possible. Viewers passively take all that comes at them. The Blog is where Amitabh Bachchan grants them a private audience. You have no place here. You belong to the other mediums but not here. This is like getting access to the private diary of Neil Armstrong and finding NASA recruitment ads all over it.

2. You've paid for being associated with the Brand Ambassador. It also means that you are associated for all good and bad things. While the TV and press may say something, they are momentary links to the personality. When Mr. Bachchan is writing something to refute allegations made by the press, there might be audiences who are trying to judge and maybe form negative opinion to what he says. After all, each statement is not being typed out by a PR-hack (We hope so), to ensure its political correctness and ability to convince. So do you really want to be present in this confused atmosphere?

3. How many of your TG actually visit a blog? How many of them visit Amitabh Bachchan's blog? Is there any research going into this? Or just the way most things go? By gut feeling?

For Mr. Bachchan-
1. Endorsements are good- for you and the brands, financially and image wise. We could write a tome here about it, but that for some other day. This is one place where you can put your foot down. For reasons mentioned above.

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Social media is the next thing. Everyone wants to be on this interactive medium. There are ways to do it, and be successful about it. But can you please wait for 10 years before all relevant TA get a computer, learn how to use it, get reasonable internet connectivity and go beyond the social networking space.

And don't try to monetize blogs. You don't belong here. Not today. Not ever.

Comments

  1. I fel cheated, I never expected to be abused of my trust in some one like AB. He should do the honourable thing and remove the ADs

    ReplyDelete

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