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The term ‘Real-time’ is the flavour of the year. Twitter was recently valued at $1 Billion and the reasons for this large valuation are known to those familiar with the Web for a while – companies like Twitter are at the forefront of the Real-time Web.

Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to plug into this ‘river of information’. In the slide presentation below, Mahesh Murthy of Pinstorm shares his views on Marketing in Real-Time on Twitter, which he presented at the 140Conf in Los Angeles on the 28th of October 2009:

Here are some reactions to his presentation from those at the 140Conf on Twitter:

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This one tweet by @gbolles sums up Mahesh’s presentation rather well:

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The 140 Characters Conference (140conf) is perhaps THE leading conference in the world on how Twitter is changing life and business. The second edition is in Los Angeles on October 27 – 28 2009. Our very own Mahesh Murthy has been invited to speak there on the 28th of October at 10am.

Mahesh will be talking on marketing in real-time, using Twitter and other tools. At Pinstorm, we believe marketers today have no option but to use advanced technology and old-fashioned creative thinking to manage brand perceptions on a minute-to-minute basis.

Catch up with Mahesh, if you’re going to be in LA at the conference (you can follow us at @pinstorm and him at @maheshmurthy) – or follow us here, we’ll keep you posted with the video and / or transcripts as and when they’re available.

Pinstorm also was invited to speak at the first 140Conf in New York, in May 2009.

Here’s a video of Mahesh’s talk at that event – and his slide presentation:

Mahesh at the 140Conf in NY

Mahesh’s pic, courtesy @lauriemeisel

business-standard.com Business Standard, one of India’s leading business papers asked us what we thought of the Twitter revolution in India. Read on:

[Link to original story]

[Transcript of story by Leslie D'Monte]

Banks and corporations see value in 140 characters.

Of what use can 140 characters be to a very large private bank in India? If those characters make a “tweet”, you will be surprised with the results. With the help of Mahesh Murthy, founder and CEO of search engine marketing firm Pinstorm, and his team, this private bank monitors around 1,600 tweets or conversations a day.

Murthy and his team respond to 200 to 300 tweets daily to either thank the twitter for a complimentary remark concerning the bank or “correct a perception” as Murthy puts it.

“Even simple things like not having enough cash in an ATM get reported in tweets. It is extremely important to react at the earliest to such problems and the tweets give the bank ample opportunity to take quick action, remedy the situation, and preserve their brand image in the bargain,” explains Murthy. The other tweets are ignored but nevertheless stored for future reference by the bank.

The bank is just a case in point. Since its creation in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Twitter has gained extensive popularity. India, in fact, has an estimated 1.4 million twitters (Facebook would have around 8 million users while Orkut around 16 million users) and is the third-largest “tweeting” country after Germany and the US. It first came into the limelight during the 2008 Mumbai attacks, when eyewitnesses sent an estimated 80 tweets every five seconds. Twitter users on the ground helped compile a list of the dead and injured.

But globally too, Twitter is gaining from strength to strength. In just under three years the “tweet”, or humble SMS of the internet as it’s known, has crossed the five-billion mark globally. It’s a free social networking and micro-blogging service that asks a simple question “What are you doing?” The answers (or tweets) are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users (via mobiles too) who have subscribed to them (known as followers).

Over the last three years, tweets have been helping users in unimaginable ways. Twitter was famously used by candidates in the 2008 US presidential campaign. In Britain, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills released a Twitter strategy written for the use of other departments.

This April, public health departments used Twitter to provide updates on H1N1 (swine flu) cases. And in May 2009, astronaut Mike Massimino used Twitter to send updates of the Hubble Space Telescope repair mission, the first time Twitter was used in space.

Even Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to India was covered on sites such as Twitter, Flickr and Facebook. The Americagov Twitter feed ( http://twitter.com/americagov ) was following the secretary every step of the way during her visits to Mumbai and New Delhi.

Tweets have been helping businesses too. IT majors like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys Technologies are on twitter. And so are politicians like the Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor who courted controversy over his “cattle class” remarks on Twitter but still has nearly 3,50,000 followers (the highest in India). Movie stars like Priyanka Chopra and authors like Chetan Bhagat are also on twitter.

Twitter does not release the number of active users but it’s estimated that there are over 50 million global twitters currently. In comparison, Facebook has over 300 million users but has been around for over six years.

Twitter’s success, according to Avignyata social media catalyst Moksh Juneja, lies in the fact that “it can be accessed via the internet (GPRS connectivity), on mobiles and through applications (like tweetdeck) on the iPhone and Blackberry”.

And the tweets will only increase in India with India’s largest mobile operator, Bharti Airtel, partnering with Twitter and allowing the 100 million-odd Airtel subscribers to tweet without having to pay for an international SMS. Incoming updates are free. All they have to do is text “START” to 53000. Back in 2008, Twitter was available in India through SMS but the service was discontinued due to high costs.

But it has not been a smooth ride for Twitter. For instance, in October 2008, a draft US Army intelligence report identified Twitter as a “potential terrorist tool”. And now movie studios are beginning to put an anti-Twitter clause in stars’ contracts. Disney reportedly has a clause forbidding confidentiality breaches by way of social networks such as Twitter and Facebook or personal blog.

Critics have also called it “pointless babble” but Murthy counters: “It’s as useful or useless as a conversation can get. In fact, it’s the pulse of the people which you can choose to acknowledge or ignore.”

The festival of lights – Diwali was celebrated across our India offices on 16th October, 2009 and in keeping with our yearly tradition, some interesting events were planned.

Pinstormers in the Delhi and Bangalore office ushered in the Hindu New Year with a celebratory lunch. In our Bombay office, everyone was dressed in their traditional best. Desks were cleared and enthusiastically decorated with everything from flower garlands to lanterns.

The main draw of the day however was the Treasure Hunt, which everyone was looking forward to. The office was drawn into teams of 5 with clues at every turn. The team to crack all the clues first stood to win a prize. Food and much laughter was the order of the day.

Like we mentioned in an earlier blog post, this year has been kind to Pinstorm and we are seeing some interesting business opportunities coming our way in the next few weeks. All in all, the Diwali spirit has only sweetened the atmosphere for us all.

In keeping with this state of sweet-induced happiness, here is wishing all of you a very happy Diwali from all of us here at Pinstorm!

Here are some memories from the day:

diwali lunch Geetu_anjali Mayur_anjali pingirls

stage lunchtable smiley smilies

[Link]

by Seema Sindhu

  business-standard.com1Social media sites have enjoyed a steep surge in popularity, but fail to attract advertisers at the same pace. Only 13 per cent of the total Internet ad spends have gone into social media initiatives for the year 2008-09, according to a recent study of the top 500 marketers in India (Digital Media Outlook 2009 report by Webchutney).

However, things are looking up for this sector. In FY 2009-10, the report predicts, ad spend on digital media by the top 500 marketers is likely to grow 44 per cent — from the current Rs 278 crore to around Rs 400 crore.

One sector which will contribute most to the rise in ad spends on social media, is the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector. FMCG brands are increasingly logging on to online advertising since their target audience uses social media, notes the report. Examples of online advertising in the FMCG sector abound. For instance, Coca-Cola India in August 2009 launched its campaign for Sprite first on the Internet. Pepsi, ITC Group, and Colgate Palmolive are some other FMCG brands that have begun using online advertising in a big way.

The Webchutney report pegs current online spend of the FMCG category at around Rs 16 crore, and adds that the spend is expected to increase to almost Rs 72 crore in 2009-10.

In India, Facebook tops social media spends, followed by Orkut and LinkedIn — but all earn revenue less than Rs 10 crore.

Neville Taraporewalla, head — Microsoft Advertising, Microsoft India, admits: “Search is far ahead of social media. Social media is used differently (Brands go on social media for word-of-mouth factor).” Apart from MSN, Microsoft owns Bing, Widows Live Planet and Facebook. He reasons that not many brands are comfortable with social media because of the user generated content (UGC) element. “Brands fear that they will have to put up with uncontrolled and inappropriate content from consumers,” he adds.

Mahesh Murthy, founder and CEO of Pinstorm, points out that regular ads designed for display media don’t work well on social media. The ads that work well on social media are those which engage and involve the users — those that have games, forwarding or other social activities built in. There are very few such agencies which create such ads today.

Google is optimistic though. Parminder Singh, business head, Google India, says: “With the growing popularity of social networks, many advertisers are showing great interest in tapping the audience on these platforms. But the context and objectives of the campaigns on social networks is different from campaigns on other media platforms — so it’s not a fair comparison.” Google owns Gmail, Orkut and YouTube.

Social media is more popular with youth brands like apparel, accessories, electronics and automobiles. Regular advertisers like travel and hospitality and banking/financial services companies are not placing too many bets on social media in India yet. It’s just retail and consumer product firms like gaming companies, dating sites which are beginning to advertise on social media.