Being an endless sea of information, the internet constantly provides ample opportunities for advertising and marketing. The latest trend in online promotions is social media campaigning; using online tools of social interactions to reach out to a brand’s target audience. Here is a look at some facets of social media campaigns and how they can benefit you as a consumer.
1. Ads on profile pages: Many companies advertise their products and services on the web pages of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Every time you log in to your profile, you are greeted with personalised ads, keeping in mind your occupation, age etc. This way, you are mostly viewing ads of things that may interest you/be useful to you.
2. Groups, forums and blogs: A lot of social media campaigning is dependent on word of mouth publicity. NGOs, companies and interest groups all make their own communities and profiles on social networking platforms and encourage discussions and debates on their beliefs, values, social awareness, services, new products etc.
3. Updates by users: People tend to advertise their own good and bad experiences to their network of contacts. By doing so, they indirectly publicise a new product, a social service or even a public message from the Government. Sharing an experience in an update is almost like holding a conversation about it!
4. Online discounts: When you set up your profile on a social site, you also set up a basis on which ads will be broadcasted to you i.e. your age, occupation etc. Keep a look out for online discounts that accompany these ads, sometimes you get really good deals on them! Of course, exercise caution while making online purchases with credit cards.
5. Feedback and awareness: If you have had an experience, good or bad, you can give customer feedback for a product or a service on the brand’s webpage or discussion group. A good marketing team will keep up to date with online feedback and incorporate it in their product development, especially since the feedback is viewed by one and all.
Social media campaigning is the next big thing in advertising, with FMCG companies, NGOs and increasingly even Governments zeroing in on their target audience online. As a consumer, you are exposed to a wide range of products and services at very competitive rates. Social media also lends you a strong platform to support a cause, spread awareness, issue a warning etc. Go ahead and choose wisely!
FIVE MOST POPULAR ONLINE GAMES
by Anjum Dhir Kulkarni
Playing games is a great way to unwind, stimulate the grey cells and spend time with family and friends. Now, thanks to the internet, we can enjoy playing online games with people sitting anywhere in the world. Here are some of the most popular online games you can enjoy:
1. Farmville: Currently the most played game on Facebook, Farmville offers a break from city life and takes you into the countryside. Players own farms, grow crops and tend to their animals. The aim is to expand one’s farm and maximize profit through farming. Playing requires strategy involving planting seeds that give maximum returns, working out costs of plowing etc. A real test of business acumen!
2. Mafia Wars: The goal here is to become the most powerful don in NYC by figuring out how to gain control over other mobsters. You start by becoming a Don of your own family and need to eliminate a rival family’s Don to make yours one of the nation’s most powerful crime families. Another favourite on Facebook, this is a great one for anyone who ever wanted to play out the Godfather!
3. Texas Hold ‘em Poker: This is a good old poker game, just online! A treat for anyone with a love for card games, this is a fun game to play with like minded players and meet new ones, sitting at your PC. Good sites offering Hold ‘em are pokerroom.com and msngames.com. In your own living room, you feel like you are playing in a casino!
4. Batman Arkham Asylum: Played on the Xbox 360, this new batman game is experienced in an over the shoulder, third person perspective. Players get the feeling of being one with the Batman. There are lots of codes and maps to unlock, not to mention tons of action. A spine chiller, it captures the dark world of DC comics and the cryptic style of Batman perfectly. A real fantasy adventure!
5. Mindjolt Games: As the name suggests, this is a collection of brain teasers which you can enjoy alone or while competing with friends. You can add these games’ applications on your social networking account or you can play them directly on mindjolt.com. Games range from puzzles to crazy taxi rides. With so many options, you will never tire of this collection!
For most people, playing casual games online is a stress buster and forms an important part of “me time”. Action games help vent out our aggression while games of strategy keep our minds agile. Lighter games make gaming with our family and friends’ fun and help us bond over an interesting online game. Go on, play a game!
A COMPLETE GUIDE TO VOICE CHATTING
by Anjum Dhir Kulkarni
There is now an inexpensive and easy way to talk to your family and friends located anywhere in the world! PC to PC calls, net to phone calls and even phone to phone calls made using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allow you to chat for hours on end without worrying about costs. Here is all about what you need to voice chat and the options available to you.
1. Get the right accessories: All you need on your computer is a good mike, headphones and a broadband internet connection. A webcam will enable you to hold a video chat as well! Logitech cameras are some of the best in the market. Certain messaging services like GTalk require you to download a voice chat plug in as well.
2. Install a messaging service: The latest versions of Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger all have the option of voice chatting. The person with whom you want to chat has to have the same messaging service as you and you need to be on each other’s contact lists. To voice chat, fix a time when both of you can be online. Once there, just click on the call icon next to your contact and connect.
3. Sign up on Skype: Skype is a company that allows you to make free video and voice calls, send instant messages and share files with other Skype users. Through Skype, you can also call some one abroad who has a Skype phone. This way, only you need to be online, while the other person can take your calls anytime, anywhere.
4. Make calls via VoIP: You can register with VoIP service providers like actionvoip and smartvoip. You can then use your cell phone or landline to call any number abroad. Your call will be routed through the internet and charged at very nominal rates. To dial into the VoIP network will be of a nominal charge to you as well.
5. Use caution: Since you will be using your computer to make calls, taking precaution is of utmost importance. Keep your anti-virus, anti-spy ware and firewall software updated. Choose a VoIP provider who offers secure encryption on the service. Use a strong password to log in to a VoIP network.
In using your computer for a task like this, it is advisable to allow connections only from people you know. This way, you will not be hounded by strangers. Also, on a public profile on a VoIP service, do not put any sensitive, private or confidential information. Once secure, get chatting without any worries!
A To Z about Online Gaming
by Anjum Dhir Kulkarni
Online games are a great way to unwind and to keep your mind alert. You can play your favourite games online with anyone, at any time, in any corner of the world by choosing from a variety of games available for free on the internet. You can sharpen your skills by playing the same games and try out new ones as well. Here are a few pointers to familiarise you to the world of online gaming:
1. Choose a Game There are countless types of online games to choose from. The genres range from action, strategy and card games to word games and puzzles. Popular games include PacMan, Poker, Scrabble, Chess, Black Jack and Memory. Depending on what excites you, you can choose a genre and explore the games within it.
2. Pick a Gaming Portal Once you know what kind of gamer you are, find games of your interest on a gaming portal. Some well known gaming portals are AOL Games, MSN Games, Pogo.com, and Yahoo! Games. Here, games are organised according to genres and difficulty levels. You can keep your score and even write your reviews about a game.
3. Try out Social Networking Sites Social networks are a popular destination for online gaming. They provide an easy way to catch up with your friends while you play games. Facebook, Myspace and Friendster offer a variety of games that you can play with your friends. You need to sign up with them to enjoy the games they offer.
4. Play and Keep Score Most games come with easy-to-follow instructions. If a game is new, you can practice a few times on your own. Once confident, you can join an online game room and play against other players. It is very easy to get gaming partners online. Many gaming platforms let players chat and talk to each other while playing.
5. Take Precautions Playing games online increases the amount of time you spend interacting with other people's computers and, consequently, the risk to your computer increases. While gaming, take precautions to protect your computer from virus attacks, spyware and malware. Only play on trusted sites, keep your anti-virus updated and do not open mails from strangers.
Online games are technically brilliant and provide good entertainment. While acting as food for the brain, they also provide a great platform to make new friends. Some portals hold gaming competitions as well and offer great prizes to the winners. So, go on... explore the playful world of online gaming!