Archive for 2012

Facebook Promotion Guidelines. Should We Take it Serious?

In a way, Facebook’s promotions guidelines are like a “No Trespassing” board in an abandoned old house. The board is there but nobody really cares who cross the fence, whether it during the day or night.

Facebook has published these promotions guidelines obviously for a purpose, and as a legit profit-oriented business entity, Facebook has all their rights to make sure that their platform is not being abused by people who are trying to promote their own businesses on Facebook. Attracting millions of users for free and letting brands to communicate with them seems to be the business model for Facebook, so it makes perfect sense for them to restrict what brands can and can’t do on the free Facebook platform. If you want your brand is visible on Facebook, pay the price and buy it. That appears to be the clear standing of Facebook for at least last few months.

People ask, are there any real cases where Facebook actually banned brand pages for violating these guidelines. According to this report Cadbury India’s Bournville brand and FCUK pages got banned by Facebook for violating these guidelines.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Be Inspired! – My Post-Event Thoughts on Social Media Day Colombo

Inspiration is what keeps human beings engaged on a continuous journey of innovation. If I were asked to sum up the whole Social Media Day Colombo event to just one word, I would happily use the word ‘inspiration’ to describe it.
By organizing the Social Media Day in Colombo, it was our main objective to appreciate the people who used Social Media in different forms than what everybody else would do. Sri Lanka is by far, a ‘content consumer nation’ on Social Media, rather than a ‘content creator’ nation. Just take a look at your Facebook friend’s network. What percentage of them is at least post a single update every month? I would say, the number will easily fall around 90%. But when you meet some of those friends after ages, at a college gathering or at a friend’s wedding, they will tell you exactly the last 10 status updates you posted and the number of likes and comments you received. For most Sri Lankans, Social Media remains the greatest man-made tool ever invented, for the purpose of stalking others and gossip finding.
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Live Webinar (Free) - How To Make Your Online Banner Ads More Effective

Finally, I have found some extra time to do this! For last couple of months, Suranga and I were discussing about this free webinar series, but commitments in my personal life significantly limited me from sitting in front of my laptop once I return home from work. This not only kept me away from doing the webinars but also held me back from posting to my blog. (You can see it! This is the first post in two months…)

Anyway, Suranga has already conducted few successful webinar sessions on over last few weeks, streaming live from Sydney.
This week, I’m going to host the live webinar on from Colombo. The topic for this week, as you may already read in the title of this post, would be “How To Make Your Online Banner Ads More Effective”. You might be wondering why I’ve selected a topic which is not related to ‘Social Media’.

In my honest opinion, Sri Lankan eMarketing community has now exposed to enough materials on Social Media, by way of workshops, public speaking sessions, webinars, blog posts and many more sources. I hear even the old school marketers are now chanting the mantra of social media. In comparison, I notice the huge gap of knowledge in the area of online display advertising. Many people believe it’s not that complicated thing to run a web banner campaign. Yes, it may not be rocket science, but still the way it is currently done in Sri Lanka is very much backward and we need to advance many miles, to keep up with the current standards of display banner advertising in other developed markets.

Interested in joining in for the webinar? It’s completely free, but seats are limited. You can reserve your participation onthis link. Webinar this week is scheduled to start at 9.00PM Sri Lanka time (on Thursday, 21 June 2012).

Sunday, June 17, 2012
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Dawn of the Era of User Generated Entertainment

I still remember the day I went for a movie for the first time, with my parents  as a five year old kid. That day I had a load of questions to ask from my father, about how movies are made, and how they are projected to the giant screen inside the movie theatre. The answers I got, painted a picture in my mind that ‘making movies is a complicated thing, which only a certain kind of people can handle’.
For as long as we can remember, that ‘certain kind of people’ used to be the professional moviemakers from Hollywood, Bollywood, or from our own local cinema industry. In certain countries like India, these elites were treated almost as gods! 

Rise of television as a medium of entertainment affected the cinema industry negatively, but the television entertainment production still remained to be an industry with ‘high entry barriers’, making it the property of more or less the same set of individuals who dominated the cinema industry.

Sunday, April 1, 2012
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

11.8% Internet Penetration? Is This Really Enough?

In my last post, I discussed about Sri Lanka reaching double digit internet penetration for the first time in history. The moment I posted that blog, it occurred to me that, we are boasting about a 12% penetration in Sri Lanka, where as in countries like Pakistan, Indonesia, Uzbekistan and Maldives, they have already surpassed 20% milestone.
In the second decade of 21st century, having an internet penetration of just 12% is not something that we can be proud of as a nation of just 20 million population spread across in a small island. First cellular phone company started operations in Sri Lanka, only in 1990, and first GSM network was launched just a couple of years later. Since then, Sri Lanka is now having over 17 million active mobile subscribers which is nearly a 90% penetration. Similarly, the first ISP operation started in Sri Lanka around 1995, and as of today we have about 4 fixed line ISP operators (1 ADSL, and 3 WIMAX) and 4 mobile broadband operators (HSPA – 3G+) . But, after nearly two decades from the inauguration of first ISP operation; we only managed to reach a mere 12% internet penetration. Why did the growth of internet usage suffered, while the mobile phone penetration thrived?
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Sri Lanka Reaches Double Digits Internet Penetration Rate

Still it may be a minuscule 0.20% of total Asian internet population, but for a country with high impeding forces for innovation adaptation; a 47% year on year growth in total internet penetration is a significant achievement.
According to the latest statistics published by quoting ITU as the source, Sri Lanka stood at 24th rank in Asia’s internet penetration rates, with a 11.8% penetration into total population. This is the first time, the country’s internet penetration rate passed the 10% mark.

As of 31st December 2011, there were 2,503,194 total internet users in the island nation. This is a 47% YOY growth compared to previous year’s 1.7 million figure, which stood approximately around 8% of the population. However, a significant majority of around 85% of these internet users represent urban and suburban places, according to a sample survey we did recently for one of our clients.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Social Listening: Your Customers Are Talking. Are You Listening?

With the number of Sri Lankans on Facebook passing one million recently, more and more Sri Lankan brands are now starting to realize that the ‘eyeballs’ of their consumers are no longer lies within the range that they could reach through prime time TV. Historically, the advertising budgets of brands always followed the eyeballs of their consumers; from press to radio, radio to TV, and TV to web. From the obsession of brands going online with web advertising (banner ads), where is the next destination to follow the eyeballs of your consumers?
Today, more than 60% of the world’s internet users have joined at least one social networking site like Facebook. 58% of Sri Lanka’s internet users are already having a Facebook account. 25% of search results on Google for world’s top 10 brands, links to user generated content. 90% of consumers online trust recommendations from people they know; 70% trust opinions of unknown users.
It is estimated, consumers generate over 250 billion ‘influence impressions’ annually on social networks by sharing what they like, read or do. These are ‘social impressions’ which can change the behaviors of those others who exposed to them. When I say “change the behaviors”, it includes your consumers purchase behaviors as well. Wait a minute; isn’t that the job that your marketing department is suppose to do? Influencing the purchase behavior of your consumers? 
Monday, February 20, 2012
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

What Makes a Qualified Social Media Marketer?

During the latter part of 2011, I’ve involved in interviewing few people for our agency and for one of our clients, for vacancies in few social and digital media positions. One hard fact I realized in this exercise was, it’s not really easy to find at least a few ‘employable’ people for social media positions in Sri Lanka. In fact, we realized this gap of knowledge in Sri Lanka about a couple of years ago, and that was the driving factor behind my friend Suranga’s initiative in eBusiness Acadamy (EBA).

When interviewing social media professionals, I came up with two main barriers.

1) Most of the people who applied are having basic qualifications in IT related disciplines, and having no flair at marketing
2) Qualified people in marketing are disinterested in applying for social media positions , and largely were under the impression ‘social media is a job for the techie type’

A noticeable third observation was, the level of overconfidence of the handful few who were more qualified than the rest of the applicants.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Social Media Success Stories from Sri Lanka?

Few weeks back, @Chamara posted a Facebook status asking for ‘Social Media Success Stories’ from Sri Lanka. My instantaneous response (which I posted as a comment) was ‘it depends’.

‘Success’ is a relative word, as it depends on how you define your desired outcomes. What brand ‘A’ expects to see as social media results may totally be different from what the brand ‘B’ defines as success. Without knowing what you want to achieve from your social media campaign, it is impossible to define whether your campaign had been successful or not.

Unfortunately, in Sri Lanka most social media marketing campaigns start off with no proper objective in mind. Let me guess how you started your social media efforts! A top executive in your company read something online about the ‘Facebook phoenomena’ and told his immediate subordinates (the middle managers), “Hey, Facebook is becoming really cool. Let’s do something there”.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Hits, Clicks, Visits, Unique Visits, Pageviews, or What? Understanding the Jargon of Online Advertising

Working in the online ad business and dealing with various clients and web publisher partners for some time now, I think I explain these jargon to someone somewhere, at least three times every week. Every week I meet people from various online publications in Sri Lanka, canvassing for advertising packages on their websites. On the other end, I sit with various clients who then evaluate the value bundle in these packages, and making the decisions whether to buy it or not.

I noticed a problem, which happens repeatedly in most of these discussions. Increasingly, people use “hit rate” as a matrix to justify why someone should place an advertisement on their website. “Our website attracts more than 1 million hits a week”, “We recorded 40 million hits last months”, “Hit rate to our website is increasing significantly”. These are some of the words, I regularly hear from the people I meet.

Most advertisers (clients) don’t fully understand this jargon, so they blindly believe that, a website with a higher ‘hit rate’ is a good place to place their advertisements. Publishers (website owner) on the other hand, are also not fully aware of the difference between “hits” and “visits” or they are trying to exploit the ignorance of the client to exaggerate the popularity of their websites.

Saturday, January 28, 2012
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Safe and Responsible Social Media

 Thank you Nazly Ahmed of Refresh Colombo and Learn TV for producing and uploading this video for Youtube. This was my presentation on the topic "Safe and Responsible Social Media" at Refresh Colombo last December.


Social Media gives everyone a voice to speak in public domain and it serves as a tool to network freely with people all around the world. But how far you should go when expressing yourself on Social Media? What would be the consequences of what you share on social networks? Content you share on social network, can possibly change your life or someone else's. Now it is the ideal time to take a look at the ways we can use Social Media safer, and in a more responsible manner.

Saturday, January 21, 2012
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Back to Blogging - Template Revamp and Other Stuff

Yes, I’m back on blogsphere once more after nearly a two months silence. This time, I’m back with some changes to the layouts of this site and added couple of additional features as well.

I’ve been writing on this blog for nearly about five years now, and what keeps me going is the nice feeling I get, when I look back at some of the posts I’ve written in the past. There are some posts on this blog which are still being found as useful pieces of resources. For example, the posts I did about cheapest Androids in Sri Lanka, how to create newsletters with Feedburner, what motivates people to participate in Social Media, how to conduct online surveys using Google Docs, are still receiving hundreds of visits every day and still remains as some of the most visited pages on this blog. I think, this is a great example for those bloggers who measure the success of a blog purely based on the number of comments they attract, and quit blogging simply because they don’t get enough comments on their posts! In average, I gather only 3 comments per post, but I receive over 800 daily visitors purely through Google, because I’ve created some content which helps them to solve some of their problems.
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

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