Social Media Posts, Writing skills

Beat Your Own Drum – Simple Steps to Promote Your Blog

You’ve written awesome content. You ponder over it, plan it, research it, write it down, hit Publish! Now what? When you start out with blogging, you wonder how do you get people to read your blog? #BlogchatterHalfMarathon

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Social Media Posts

On Being Authentic in The Time of Covid-19

The Blogchatter Half-Marathon has ten commandments, of which the first is

Thou Shall Be Authentic

Since I’m going to try to keep to the prompts, (I’m not particularly imaginative, so thank you Blogchatter :P) let’s talk about being authentic during Covid 19.

I just returned from an authentic wedding. The word authentic is revered by many but to me it now equals selfishness. Here’s why:

Wedding Plans Made

A close family member’s wedding was fixed for mid-June. This happened in March much before the nightmare of April-May. It was fixed when India was back-slapping itself over the success of our Covid story, how we were in the “end-game,” how we were done and life is back to normal, economy was picking up… We were on our way!

Meanwhile, my family happily shopped, gave orders at tailors and picked up stuff for the wedding. Invitations were being discussed, should we have 1000 people was discussed at one point. Finally, they started to realize that maybe we should restrict it to 500? This was at the end of April when we had already started to see 400,000 cases a day.

Second Wave Starts

May came and the election results announced, lockdowns were slowly announced as the second wave overwhelmed state by state, urban to rural. May 10 was the start of a lockdown where we live. By May 1, in Delhi, Maharashtra and Punjab the graphs were showing an extreme rise in Covid 19 cases. Hospitals could not cope with the influx of patients. We read about a shortage of vital medicines, oxygen and beds. Dread is setting in. What are we doing? Is this right? Should we invite so many people? Can we put the lives of our family, of us at risk?

Small Wedding?

Lockdown left no choice but to have 50 people for the wedding. Sounds do-able! And then something dreadful happened. A very, very dear cousin’s wife dies, she was only 44. You age a little hearing this. For the first time Covid-19 is at our doorstep. Another cousin called to say their whole family got Covid-19. Luckily for the adults, they ended up with moderate cases while their daughter at 32 battled for her life in an ICU. We were even more shaken.

On Being Authentic

And yet, our dear family is gung-ho about the celebrations. They want an authentic wedding. Which means all the traditional ceremonies with umpteen meetings of people from different households. We are still inviting 50 people. We are not ready for a simple one-function wedding. Nope, not all. We are authentic. After all, the children will forget our traditions otherwise.

Why are we so selfish? What about the people with comorbidities? We have diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases. There could be a pregnant woman amongst your guests, a cancer survivor or even someone with an autoimmune disease. Should a young couple get married with so many ceremonies during covid times? Is authenticity to tradition so important that you will put someone’s life at stake for it?

Family from everywhere start to call us to ask,

“In times like this, why have elaborate ceremonies?”

Questions to which you have no answers. You stammer your way through this barrage of questions. Fear for your own life becomes stronger. If you become a break-through case, which is a case where despite being fully vaccinated the person still gets severe Covid 19, what will happen to you?

Someone helpfully tells you that the flowers can carry the virus if it has been handled by a Covid-19 positive person (perhaps asymptomatic) Imagine the number of garlands and flowers you must handle during a wedding.

Covid Protocols

You cannot stay away from the wedding. As elders in the family, you have to go. After all, an authentic wedding needs the elders, especially since the father of the groom is no longer living. He died two years ago, before the pandemic. So, with no other go, cautiously you stick your necks out and tell the wedding party that all the covid protocols must be followed.

Least number of people.

Full mask or double mask for everyone

No air conditioning, plenty of ventilation

Social Distancing

Mask for the make-up artist and other people who go near the bride

Mask for the people who solemnize the wedding

Masks for the musicians – what to do with the clarinet? Keep them far from the stage.

Masks for the waiters and other people going in and out of the wedding venue.

They nodded their heads solemnly. “Yes, good idea.” they say.

To Mask or Not to Mask

The ceremonies include mehndi, a sangeet, a turban ceremony for the groom and haldi for the bride and prayers. There is also the Nalangu or blessings where the guests shower the young ones with rice before the Muhurta the next day. So now we have six occasions for people from different households to gather together. Absolute fun during normal times of course. But being authentic during the time of covid-19 sounds foolhardy and inconsiderate, don’t you think?

Wedding Day: We get there and we realize they have not called ‘a few people.’ You are in the midst of an authentic Indian wedding. The musicians are close to the stage where the mask less bride and groom are seated. The ceremony is being conducted by a person without a mask.

The air conditioning is on. The doors closed. Sixty people occupy the chairs. Half the crowd is mask less. No surprises, it is the family on the other side who don’t wear the masks. They apparently don’t believe. You even had a box of masks for everyone who came without a mask,

But when offered a mask, they said, “No thanks, I don’t want one!”

Why are we so selfish? If you just wear a mask you can cut your chance of infection by 65% With Social Distancing you can cut chances of infection by 90% (UC Davis)  If all of us wear a mask, we can cut the chances of spreading the disease even more..

Can’t you take a bit of discomfort in order to save lives? Are you so sure you will survive if you do get sick? Don’t you care that one selfish act could kill someone else? As a society, you feel as if we fail to protect each other with basic courtesies.

Yes, we Indian pride ourselves on taking care of our family members.

Sorry I can’t have a simple wedding: I dreamt of an elaborate one my whole life.  

Well, if you did then why not wait for a more appropriate time?

Don’t worry its nothing bad, covid goes away, it’s like the flu.

Hello! Its like flu for you but not for me. How would you know how it affects someone else? Why are there so many people in hospitals?

Conclusion

You are not saying don’t get married. By all means do get married. Have a simple wedding with the least exposure for the people you claim as family. Make life easier during these hard times. Being authentic during the time of Covid-19 seems a little foolish don’t you think?

Authentic wedding? Bah! Let’s survive this pandemic so we have a culture to save.

This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.

four people in masks on being authentic in time of covid 19
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Book Reviews

Review of “Being in Love… Half Fiction Series” by Jyotirmoy Sarkar #BlogchatterEbook 2019

cover of book "being In Love" - A half fiction series by Jyotyirmoy Sarkar

Being in Love” is a collection of 26 short stories. The stories run into one another and should be read sequentially advises author Jyotirmoy Sarkar. The haunting commonality between all the stories is a once in a life-time love and devastating break up. It is set in India, though the author does not say where; it could be in any part of the country, representing the usual story of a young love affair and parental interference that leads to the break-up of young love. Most of our young lovers find another life, away from each other. But our hero Rahul Sinha, is deeply in love with Tina for decades. They knew each other in college days and due to circumstances, had to separate. Tina is married and with a family, while Rahul pines away for his one true love. The stories revolve around three young men, Sourav, Arpan and Rahul. We learn the story of Rahul’s tragic romance through their shenanigans and conversations.

Rahul cannot understand how Tina’s love could die. He refuses to let go of it, though he goes through life bravely. Friends, relatives, passers-by and other characters help us to understand Rahul and Tina. The smells, little words and incidents in his life, remind Rahul constantly of Tina. The book opens with a trip to a Fair between two guy friends. At the Fair, one of the boys breaks off in the direction of the missing-persons announcer, who reunites people lost at the crowded Fair. Here the guy gives the name of a girl and the announcer dutifully announces it. When asked since when she was missing, our guy says for twelve years! It is none other than Rahul who makes the announcer mad. It is from here we learn the fact that Rahul had a girl friend who he has never forgotten. He wonders whether Tina ever feels the same way.

We learn other bits and details about Rahul and his steadfast love. He holds no grudges, only regrets. He is unable to concentrate on going on with his life as well as Tina has. The reminders of Tina that Rahul faces everyday are unique ideas of the author. He manages to build up the melancholy in the book. Towards the end of the 26 short stories we learn about Tina’s feelings and what happens to Rahul as the years go by. Read the book to know more about these star-crossed lovers.

The author also delves into the psychology of Love and the reasoning behind the fact that while some people can overcome heartbreak, others cannot. The author also writes Shayaris, a few of which he has added to the stories. While reading the book, we constantly sense that these feelings that the author writes about, could be his own. The one story ‘Tina, Transistor and Rahul’ where he compares electronics to star-crossed love is a bit dry, though the analogy is interesting. and amusing (even in pathos we can find something to smile about). It could have been put in simpler terms for the layman to understand. Where the author could have improved is in the editing and grammar of the stories. When he corrects these aspects, he just may have a classical book on his hands.

If you would like to know more about Rahul’s world, read “Being In Love” which is part of the #BlogchatterEbook Carnival Season 4. This is a unique opportunity for new authors to test the waters of the publishing world for free! Please click here to follow the link to #BlogchatterEbook Carnival Season 4 Library; look under Genre: Fiction for Jyotirmoy Sarkar‘s book.

This review was written as a part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program

Another short story about a strong woman and a wavering man Apology Not Accepted is an entertaining read.

a young couple dance under the setting sun with a colorful orange-grey sky in the background
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BlogChatterA2Z Challenge, Social Media Posts

The Future of AI In Digital Marketing #BlogchatterA2Z Challenge 2019

blurred image of Paris at night with words The Future of AI in Digital Marketing

F

Artificial Intelligence or AI is all the rage. You may have seen chat bots in Facebook Messenger. You subscribe to someone’s business and it pounds you with information and queries you often whether you want to go on or to choose something. You have experienced it in smart devices that seemingly talk to you or in self-driven cars. They are programmed to understand needs, your preferences and give you a customized result.

What is AI?

It is the ‘intelligence’ that machines show. AI allows machines to think, respond and perform a task like a human would. The machine actually learns to improve response from the experience that it gets from the input we give.  Because of this improvement in the way machines respond, AI has become very popular.

What It Can Do For You:

Because of the way the algorithms function, it can be very useful with devices in home automation, GPS tracking and in voice assisted gadgets like cell phones.

  • It is a lot more accurate with minimum errors so efficiency increases with every task.
  • It can give you thorough insights as it can do in-depth data analysis.
  • The progressive-learning algorithms allows it to continue to adapt.
  • It is because of this ability to learn from and adapt to new inputs that AI is increasingly popular.

How Can AI Aid Digital Marketing?

You can find AI in every aspect of your digital life from Google’s Voice search whose efficiency is courtesy RankBrain to Amazon’s ability to suggest items that you may be interested in. Marketing Trends are being predicted by AI with remarkable accuracy and have taken over human tracking of marketing data.

  • AI’s data driven analysis allows you to plan your marketing strategy with increasing accuracy. Indeed, it has taken the guess work out.
  • It can analyse the buyer-behavior and decision-making of your target audience with accuracy.
  • Repetitive tasks can be taken over by AI leaving you free from the mundane and therefore, increase productivity. You save time and money this way.
  • AI helps you to decide what exactly your audience wants, so that you can give them what they need. Here again it ties back to providing solutions for customers and potential customers (in a previous article)
  • Since you now can make better decisions and create better content, naturally you are building trust, that leads to conversions and sales. AI help you get a better ROI.

What Are The Ways a Digital Marketing Person Can Use AI?

Customize your customer experience with better engagement that can help you attract new customers and retain previous ones to increase your sales. You can use AI in the following ways:

Chatbots:

Remember Alexa that can play songs that you like and prefer? What about SIRI or Hey Google which seem to know exactly where you want to eat dinner – at home or go out?

Are they listening in?

No, they are actually interpreting your requests and using AI to decide what exactly you want or desire.

“Hm, this person is at a hospital, let me tell him about the take out place 5 min from here.”

Or

“Hey, this woman is on vacation, I got to tell her about this really cool dining place in town”

You can use chatbots for nearly every aspect of business. Use it on your website, emails, or text messages.

If you are a retail or e-commerce shop you could get AI to suggest clothes or other items to a shopper taking into account their preferences, buying behavior and usual habits. With all these details AI will show your shopper items that they may be interested in. This data is also useful for you to create strategies for more efficient marketing.

Amazon is the most well-known e-commerce giant to use AI. It makes your buying experience better by suggesting what you may want to buy. Never mind that sometimes, it keeps sending suggestions after you buy that vacuum cleaner (after all you may buy one separately for bedroom 2!!)

Conclusion:

There is no doubt that AI is a wonderful way to increase your brand’s efficiency. You can provide better customer-experience and solve problems for your customers. For you, as a business, AI provides you with a more efficient marketing solution and as a result your ROI improves.

And at the end of the day the bottom line does matter.

coins on ground and inside a box with a lock, box lid open
can you afford not to blog for your business?
BlogChatterA2Z Challenge, Social Media Posts

Can You Afford to Have a Business Without a Blog Today? #BlogchatterA2Z Challenge 2019

can you afford not to blog for your business?
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C

There are millions, yes millions of blogs and websites vying for your attention on the World Wide Web. So, you may be thinking: “Ha! Why on earth does my small business need a blog?” You may be thinking, its one more piece of the Internet people will not be seeing or reading. Well bro (or sister), you are wrong! As a small business you need to, no, must be online. Can you afford not to have a business blog today? Let me tell you the ways this will help your small business:

Get Traffic to Your Website:

Your well-written blog can attract visitors to your website. Add some in-page links to your products or catalogue and you attract visitors to the main selling pages of your website. Hear that tinkle? That’s the money you’ve started making from the sales your blog is making, sister!

Build Authority:

How do you put yourself out there as the best of the best? Write your blog with your products in mind and subtly let customers know how they can use some of your products. Your blog showcases that you know your stuff and can be trusted. Once you build trust with a thoughtful business blog, your customers keep coming back to you to find answers to all their doubts and questions. Over a period of time, your customers will ONLY trust You and look to your website or blog for references and insights. Mission accomplished?

Bro, you get customers to your products page, because of course your content links to the useful stuff you have in stock for them to buy to complete the project they consulted your blog for in the first place! Got it now?

Build SEO

With great copy and original thinking comes SEO. This is the one thing a lot of people keep getting wrong. How do you get SEO right? New and unique content is what Search Engines like Google are looking for among other things. Along with a smart funnel, your well-written copy is going to get you more traffic and customers and grow your bank balance! What are you waiting for dear business owner?

Building Community:

Your business blog can start a conversation with your readers, who become community when you strike up a conversation and interact with them. Feel strongly about something? Get it out there and watch the conversation ball roll in your community.

The blog is the one way you can connect directly with people in these Internet days. Half the battle of sales can be won when you show your reader the solutions your product can give them. Which means that if you are selling paint, then show them how to paint, how to paint fancy designs, how to clean and paint furniture, and so on.

Get Industry Experts on Your Side:

When you have a well-written blog, you get industry experts on your side. The authority you show in the blog attracts Influencers, experts in the field and other business owners. Connect with them through Social media or through invitations to write on your blog.

Build a Mailing List:

Many people do not realize the importance of the mailing list even today. It’s a way to get news about your product or your potential out there. When you give valuable information through your blog, you can expect that your audience will want to come back for more. They will be most willing to get on to that mailing list to keep up with all your updates on sales, new blog posts and other events you want your audience to know.

Conclusion:

So, lets dive in bro and get that blog started. Marketing needs a blog to fight the digital marketing battle for attention on the Net. As you work on your business blog expect to get even more and better ideas of how to use your blog for marketing strategies. It’s a process that will keep on growing into the rest of this decade and beyond.

desk with coffee mug, chocolates and a person holding a tablet
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