Friday, 11 December 2015

Perfect image sizes for your social media posts

You must have come across this. You are doing a social media post and when you upload an accompanying image, sometimes it bleeds off and sometimes looks like a tiny button on a handkerchief. Then you keep on with trial and error till the Eureka moment.

That's frustrating. Isn't it?

Thanks to Jamie for the below cheat sheet explaining the social media image sizes. He has re-created and updated the 2015 cheat sheet. It keeps you updated on the forever changing image sizes and formats for different social media platforms.

2016 Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet

2016 Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Don’t risk your reputation on rude front desk staff

Teach your staff to be polite. Flickr image by user KoiQuestion. CC BY-SA 2.0

Recently I was at one of the famous guest houses in Thamel of Kathmandu to meet one of my friends from India.

He had called me from the guest house landline and I could not grasp the room number correctly. When I asked the front desk staff, he fumbled through few pages, could not find the name and threw the ledger to me. I scanned through the pages but could not find the name.

The staff showed no interest at all to help. Instead, he claimed my friend might have lodged with some other hotel.

I took out my cellphone and showed him the number. Luckily, it was dialed from the guest house. Then the next person at the front desk came forward and checked in the computer’s log. And there he was – in the room no 308.

He dialed the room and handed me the phone. I thanked the man for his kindness. However, from now onwards I would never recommend any of my friends to stay there.
                  ****                ****                ****                ****

A reputed bank in the heart of Kathmandu, known for its customer base and profitability, has no dearth of customers. However, one thing that it lacks and which makes its service sucks – is again, the front desk staff manners.

Recently, I was at the bank and was a victim of snobbish behaviour of a front desk officer at one of its branches in Maharajgunj. As I was in a hurry to collect the statement, I rushed to the twenty-something guy and asked him where I can get the statement. To my astonishment, he behaved with me as if I was a schoolboy asking him irrelevant questions. Not even looking at me, he pointed me to a teller and said, “Can’t you see, it’s written over there – in BIG letters?” And literally, he was pouring his frustration on me.

When I enquired at the counter, the officer once again politely pointed me to the same guy. I was miffed to be directed to the same rude officer. However, this time, he yelled the guy’s name and asked him to hand me the envelope.

As I got to the front desk, he asked, “NAME?” When I told him my name, within a minute, he took out the envelope, handed it to me and said, “Why didn’t you ask me to search the envelope?” And again he was rude as earlier, as if I had asked him to fetch the three golden apples.  

Dumbfounded, I returned from the bank and decided not to continue banking with them.

                          ****                ****                ****                ****

Incidents like above happen all the time – even at so-called reputed organisations. And they only bring bad names to those organisations. In the past, nothing much happened to such rude front desk staff and the organisations. However, things have changed and with the return of word-of- mouth era along with the advent of social media, the customer base can deplete in the blink of an eye.

Few months back, one of my seniors bought a pair of shoes on sale from a reputed store in Durbar Marg. As he reached home and found some defects, he went back and asked for a replacement. However, the shop owner didn’t listen to him. Vexed by the irresponsible behaviour, he clicked a picture of the shoes and posted it on Facebook detailing how he got cheated. Within minutes, everybody was cursing the storekeeper. The post went viral. You can imagine how many customers the store lost to that silly mistake.     

                            ****                ****                ****                ****

Now let’s again talk about the two incidents of irresponsible behaviour of the front desk staff. Replace myself with an angry customer. Then add the power of word-of-mouth and social media. With every tweet and every comment, the customers would have cursed them and asked their friends not to deal with them again.

With the popularity of social media, the power to promote and of course, to demote is controlled by the mere fingertips of customers. And believe me, most of the times, there is no involvement of the brain! It can either enthrone or dethrone you within seconds. 

Remember, customer relationship starts at your organisation’s gate itself. If you want to keep yourself ahead of the competition, make sure to train your guards and front desk staff to treat every customer with politeness. 

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Wouldn’t you prefer a celebrity posting a selfie with your sweet and polite janitor?

The names have not been mentioned to protect the identities.        

Further reading
Protecting Your Company’s Reputation From Employee Risk

Here’s a paragraph from the above piece.

In Deloitte’s 2014 global survey on reputation risk, it was revealed that over half of the high-level executives surveyed believed that their biggest risk to company reputation came from its internal staff.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Office jargons you need to get rid of

‘Think outside the box’.

It was the most used office jargon when I was working in an advertising agency. Every time the visualiser would come and say, “Hey guys, the clients want something new, think outside the box.” “Use your brains and get me something new!”

And we would re-start the discussion, go through the old issues of creative magazines and run through the database of creative advertisements – to create something outside the box.

Then while working with a non-governmental organisation, my supervisor’s most preferred word was “synergy”. He would barge into our chamber and start advising, “Team, I want you guys to collaborate and work together.” “Synergise and deliver 2+2=5!”

Well, these are only few of the office jargons that we come across in our offices every day. Want to know more?

Here’s a list of corporate jargons that we should get rid of, compiled by

The Landscape of Office Jargon - Infographic

Friday, 4 December 2015

7 essential sourcebooks for development communications professionals

Are you into communications? To be specific, if you are into development communications and need to develop a communications strategy for your organisation or a campaign, what steps do you follow?

If you haven’t gone through my earlier post on developing a communications strategy, here’s a quick recap.

  • Analyse the background
  • Formulate goals and objectives
  • Analyse the target audience
  • Develop the key messages
  • Craft the call-to-action
  • Design the tools and activities
  • Set a budget and timeline
  • Monitor the actions and measure the impacts

For a bird’s-eye view, develop a communication matrix so that you find everything on a single page starting from the communication goals and objectives to the communication channels you will be using to meet the objectives. A communications calendar will be an added advantage.

If you want to go through the process once more, here’s a link to make your job easier.

To analyse the situation, here’s how you carry out the PEST (Political, economic, social and technological), SWOT (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and competitor analyses

Now, if you want to delve much deeper into developing communication strategies, here are seven essential sourcebooks that will help you hone your skills.

Development Communication Sourcebook: Broadening the Boundaries of Communication
By Paolo Mefalopulos
The World Bank

Communication for Rural Development: Sourcebook

Writing a communication strategy for development programmes: A guideline for programme managers and communication officers

Strategic Communication for Sustainable Development: A conceptual overview

Communication for Development: Strengthening the effectiveness of the United Nations

How to use communication to make aid effective: Strategies and principles for programme-based approaches
BBC World Service Trust

At the heart of change: The role of communication in sustainable development
Panos London

Visit this page to download related documents.

And here's a case for communication in sustainable development.

The case for communication in sustainable development
Panos London

If you are interested in research communication, this guidebook can be of much help.

Guidance note on research communication 

Also have a look at the below:

Toolkit on Communication for Development (C4D)
Six useful guides on communication strategy

Life-changing corporate lessons from animals - 2

Do you remember the corporate lessons from animals in my earlier post? If not here’s a recap.

Corporate lesson 1
To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

Corporate lesson 2
Bullshit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.

Corporate lesson 3
Not everyone who drops shit on you is your enemy.
Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.
And when you are in deep shit, keep your mouth shut.

And now here’s a new one that I recently found posted in a Facebook status of one of my friends. 

Corporate lesson 4

Horse with goats. Image by Marcia O'Connor. CC BY-NC 2.0.

 Copied from Facebook

There was a farmer who had a horse and a goat.

One day, the horse became ill. So he called the veterinarian, who said, “Well, your horse has a virus. He must take this medicine for three days.” “I'll come back on the 3rd day and if he's not better, we're going to have to put him down.”

Nearby, the goat listened closely to their conversation.

The next day, they gave the horse the medicine and left.

The goat approached the horse and said, “Be strong, my friend.” “Get up or else they're going to put you to sleep!”

On the second day, they again gave the horse the medicine and left.

The goat came back and said, “Come on buddy, get up or else you're going to die!” “Come on, I'll help you get up. Let's go! One, two, three...”

On the third day, they came to give the horse the medicine and the vet said, “Unfortunately, we're going to have to put him down tomorrow.” “Otherwise, the virus might spread and infect the other horses.”

After they left, the goat approached the horse and said, “Listen pal, it's now or never!” “Get up, come on! Have courage! Come on! Get up! Get up! That's it, slowly! Great!
Come on, one, two, three... Good, good. Now faster, come on...... Fantastic! Run, run more!
Yes! Yay! Yes! You did it, you're a champion!”

All of a sudden, the owner came back, saw the horse running in the field and began shouting, “It's a miracle!” “My horse is cured. We must have a grand party. Let's kill the goat!”

The moral of the story:
Nobody truly knows which employee actually deserves the merit of success, or who's actually contributing the necessary.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

7 blogging myths and ways to deal with each of them

The stats are mind-boggling – over 409 million people read more than 17.6 billion blog pages every month as reported by the site WhoIsHostingThis?

And as the saying goes – break the rules but know the rules first – it is up to you to stick to a certain blog regime. The one that is more favourable and suitable to you.

The rules of social media are ever changing and nothing is carved in stone forever. When someone says, you should blog daily – listen to him/her. But take your time to do proper research before posting. You don’t need to post a blog every day to get more traffic. It’s the content that you are serving matters the most to the readers. However, be consistent and post at least once a week.

Likewise, it’s not true that readers like only short posts or long posts. You should post both in short and long forms.

Here’s more if you want to avoid the 7 common mistakes bloggers make.

7 Common Blogging Mistakes to Avoid - Via Who Is Hosting This: The Blog

Blogging stats you must know to be a successful blogger

Are you a frequent blogger? Are you not getting the expected traffic to your blog?

It’s a common problem for most bloggers. But if you are aware of the 13 blogging statistics curated by Social Marketing Writing, you will be on a safer side.

As per the report, 80% of daily blog visits are new. So, you must optimise your blog for the new visitors.

Likewise, the post says that once you cross 51 posts, your blog traffic increases by 53%, goes up by 3 times after 100 posts and by 4.5 times after 200 posts. So, the more the number of posts, the more the traffic. 

And above all, the images matter. Post more images and infographics to your blog.

Want to know more? Here’s an interesting and useful infographic on the 13 blogging statistics that you should keep track of. 

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

How to make your video meetings effective

Murmurs, chatters, smiling faces, people sneaking in and leaving the room – that’s how the video meetings are. Participants showing up and doing the vanishing act, ear-piercing sound and sometimes no sound at all, technical glitches, bandwidth problem and not enough sound clarity are the common problems that we face during a long-distance video meeting.

However, looking at the positive side, we save the travel time and of course a lot of money that would otherwise be spent on air tickets, accommodation and food. In the video meetings you can accommodate a large number of participants since you don’t need to pay the per-diems. Additionally, the participants can be vocal – they can ask questions that come to their mind – the hesitation that persists during the face-to-face meetings vanishes.  

So how do you plan a video meeting and engage your staff?

Make sure the connections are checked at least 15 – 30 minutes before the actual meeting. Do a dry run with the ICT people to ensure there are no technical problems.

As the video meetings are not coercive enough to make each participant speak, ask the teams to present on a topic beforehand. The participants will take time to prepare the presentations and be engaged throughout the meeting – anticipating probable questions from other attendees.

Circulate the presentations few days before the meeting and ask them to think of the related questions. This will, at least, give time to the participants to run through the presentations and ask questions, if any.

Just like the face-to-face meetings, make some ground rules – no one should leave the meeting in between, no one joins the meeting in between, put the mobile phones in silent mode and the list goes on.

All the video meeting softwares have the provision to mute the microphone. And when the team mutes the microphone, they tend to talk with each other while the other team is presenting. Discourage this habit. It distracts the participants in other teams.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Do spoofs and propaganda help brand building?

Marketers love propaganda and they think it helps promote a brand. However, sometimes you play with the sentiments of a community if you vilify their beliefs and denigrate their legends. Eventually, you end up losing a band of loyal customers. 

Recently, I was in Cebu and came across a marketing blunder of a company producing EQ brand diapers.

In early 2013 a television commercial of EQ diapers took resort to the history recalling the famous battle of Mactan. In the commercial, the Spanish conquistador Ferdinand Magellan arrives in Mactan and gifts the king of Mactan Lapu-Lapu a box of diapers. However, his wife Reyna Bulakna finds out that the diapers are of inferior quality. This enrages Lapu-Lapu and thus, begins the battle of Mactan.    

Many people found the advertisement funny and found nothing wrong about it. However, Balbino “Ka Bino” Guerrero, a tour guide and a tourism consultant of Lapu-Lapu City and Lapu-Lapu Mayor Paz Radaza, along with many others, found the advertisement insulting.

Ka Bino launched an online petition to pull out the commercial and the mayor demanded a public apology from the company and stoppage of advert airing.

Later, the Advertising Board of the Philippines recalled the clearance to air the EQ diapers commercial.

In another instance of marketing blunder, New England Brewing Company of Connecticut, USA, had been marketing its India pale ale under the name "Gandhi-Bot". On the label was a robot version of Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi, the father of nation, led India to freedom from the British rule and is revered by Indians throughout the world. The brewery drew the ire of Indian community for insulting the great soul.

The company had to apologise and stop using the name and image of Gandhi on the beer cans. It later decided to rebrand the beer. 

The company, however, claimed that they hoped the product would inspire people to learn about Mahatma Gandhi and his non-violent methods of civil obedience.

Likewise, the EQ diapers wanted the people to recall the famous battle of Mactan and remember their hero Lapu-Lapu.

However, in both the cases, playing with the sentiments of people backfired. Both the cases, along with many other similar cases, convey a simple message – though spoofs and propaganda bring a brand into limelight, it is short-lived and in the long term deter the brand building process.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Oxford comma: When to use it

The Oxford comma, also known as serial comma, becomes too much sometimes when you have a list of things to separate from. Generally, avoiding it is the best way to make your writing look clutter-free. However, in some cases if you don’t use it, the meaning turns out to be something else. 

Here’s a case where the use of serial comma becomes necessary.
The Oxford Comma
Below are two more examples.




Sunday, 8 February 2015

Smart ways to ask customer feedback and referrals

Recently while I was in Cebu, Philippines, I noticed some smart and honest ways of asking customer feedback and asking for referrals.

Being a public transport user, I have never been asked by any of the drivers how their driving is. However, while riding a jeepney, a long form of tuk-tuk or tempo in Nepal, I was happy to see a message asking about the drive. At least they considered about the passengers!

On the side of the jeepney was the message - “How’s my driving? Tel. No. …..”.

What a smart way of caring customers and asking for feedback? Because of the message I was tempted to ride a jeepney again and again instead of taking taxis.

In another incident, along with my friends, I was dining at a local restaurant. The restaurant was neither fancy nor a laid back sort of. The food was okay and the service was alright. However, the most fascinating thing about the restaurant for me was a message on its wall.

“If you like our food, tell someone. If you don’t, tell us.”

They had also provided numbers for texting comments to.

That’s what I liked about the restaurant most and when I returned to the hotel, I recommended my friends to go to the restaurant and taste the food.

So, if you are doing a business, never ever shy away from asking customer feedback and referrals. It helps you rope in more customers and develop a loyal customer base.