Blog Shlog

Guest Lecture at IIM Trichy :)

2002: dropped out of college
2018: guest lecturer at IIM
#Gratitude :)

Featured in Forbes – Driving Sales & Leads With Content Marketing

Forbes published an article about Content Marketing tips from world’s top marketers, about proven ways to drive sales & leads. Grateful to be mentioned among BS free, action oriented individuals and how they are making a dent in Content Marketing around the world :) Here’s the excerpt from the article.

Strive to be relevant. Make your content share-worthy.

Aashish Chopra, head of content marketing at ixigo.com, creates viral videos. He has produced branded posts on Facebook garnering 40M views in a week and has won various marketing awards in Asia.

Chopra shares that

“content must be made for low attention spans, responsive to tiny mobile screens, drive conversations, and prioritize storytelling over production value”.

He makes a good point in adding that “when your content is share-worthy, you beat the platforms at their own game, saving on distribution, making the message so powerful that everyone becomes a messenger spreading your content like wildfire”. The longer we stay relevant in their lives, the higher the sales numbers. And with cheaper phone and data, videos are exploding everywhere.

Chopra recommends asking yourself: “Why would anyone share it?”

Over last three years, Chopra has done tireless experiments and created five buckets of share-worthy content, every option backed by millions of organic views:

  1. Inspirational: Inspirational content is a tall order, but one that has got us the biggest success.
  2. Useful: Making an obsessive list about users’ pain points and finding ways to creatively solve those in a video. Audience with similar pain points, tend to share with their peers.
  3. Celebrate their life: All the pain points we can’t solve, we celebrate, creating relatable content.
  4. Topical: Creating content which news-jacks global breaking news and gives the users a vehicle to share their sentiments.
  5. Change the world: When we create content which creates an authentic impact in the world, be it an act of kindness or making a difference with tiny actions, everyone becomes a messenger of that idea and brand becomes a conduit in celebrating that.

“Remember, views can be bought, but shares are earned, and when shares start snowballing, that’s when magic happens,” says Chopra.

— end of excerpt —

If you’d like to read more about my experiments in viral marketing or be the first to know when the books comes out.. signup for the Mailing list, connect on LinkedIn or Tweet me up :)

3 Content Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2018

An amazing year comes to an end, complete with videos going viral, news-feeds getting chaotic and organic reach nosediving. If content marketing is your game, 2018 would be the year videos take centerstage. It’s going to be exciting and super competitive. These are the trends and focus areas for 2018, something I’m pasting on my wall. Happy New Year :)

 1. Videos will continue to dominate

If you’ve been procrastinating about getting on the video bandwagon, it’s time to get started. With low cost smartphones and cheaper data, video is exploding on tiny screens everywhere. You got to experiment with different video formats. Live video is turning out to be huge, we got 65,000 comments on an experiment just last week.

Regional content is fast becoming a big deal in India, an experiment this year hit 20 million views. Even LinkedIn is going gaga on videos, with incredible engagement. It’s time to deep dive and find the format which works for you: short form, long form, web-series, 360 video, live video, interactive video or the enchanting AR/VR.

2. Organic reach will nosedive

With so much competition and chaotic news-feeds, Facebook has made it harder to reach your audience, unless you pay. Your content needs to work harder. If you want to reach millions on low budgets, either have kick-ass share-worthy content or cough up the moolah!

Remember.. views can be bought.. engagement is earned.

Focus on creating content for low attention spans, tiny mobile screens, think conversations not campaigns, obsess about storytelling not high production value and most important: Distribution! We’ll beat platforms at their game, when we make our message so powerful that every messenger becomes an evangelist, spreading our content like wildfire.

3. Brands will be built on content, not advertising

Our generation is trained to ignore Ads. The radars in our heads are so evolved, we can spot BS miles away. Ad blockers are on the rise, TV numbers are down and when was the last time you shared an Ad? Ads will need to evolve, be more authentic and BS free. Engagement is more important than views.

We need to reach their hearts, not bombard their eye-balls.

We’re living in a time where staying relevant is more important than recall. To create kick-ass content, we need multi-skilled storytellers in our teams. Filmmakers who double up as designers, designers who know copywriting and writers who know communication and branding. We need to groom multi-talented rockstars!

Happy Content Marketing in 2018 :)

One more thing..

If you’d like to read more about my experiments in viral marketing or be the first to know when the books comes out.. signup for the Mailing list, connect on LinkedIn or Tweet me up. Oh and here’s the latest viral video :)

Live Webinar – Viral Marketing Secrets – Bloggerati

Hope is not a strategy and ‘viral’ is not a happy accident ;) Hear about the stories behind 120m views, insights from the trenches and method behind the madness.

Here’s the full 60 min webinar with Q&A

Video Marketing Trends To Gear up For – FB Live Show

Excited to be part of the F&M show on Video Marketing Trends, Thanks Dr. Falguni and Malhar for this awesome initiative. 

Facebook Live – Video Marketing Trends

How to make a video viral?

One question many people ask me is how to make a video viral? You don’t make a video viral, audience makes it viral, all you can do is focus on making it share-worthy (we don’t want views, we want shares), focus more on storytelling than production value (it’s a tiny screen you’re making for), keep it fast moving (attention span is super low), think how it can start conversations (stop thinking campaigns all the time), make for mobile experience (keep it clutter free), have an extensive distribution plan (hope is not a strategy) and for **** sake .. don’t make an Ad, keep it authentic, and remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Posted first on LinkedIn

Viral Video is Not a Happy Accident – The Singapore Interview

A Singapore based Digital Marketing blog interviewed me about the method behind the crazy viral videos, this is their article, written by Huong Le

Marketers dream of creating viral video content. However, with shorter human attention span and crowded and chaotic newsfeeds, it’s difficult to score a viral hit. You only have 10 seconds to make an impression before nearly 20 percent of viewers opt out, so what are the tricks to increase your odds of viral success?

In this blog post, we will unpack the magic behind viral videos by talking to award-winning viral video marketer Aashish Chopra of Ixigo, India’s leading travel search marketplace. He has made and marketed many viral videos, one of which reached a staggering 46 million views in two weeks. Aashish will explain what makes a video viral and share his tips and tricks.

Q & A with Viral Video Marketer, Aashish Chopra

Why is video marketing becoming more important? What is your take on the state of video marketing in 2017?

If 2016 was about videos getting attention, 2017 would be about the explosion of videos on tiny mobile screens. Look around, videos are dominating mobile traffic everywhere, to the point that all major social platforms are becoming video-focused.

Facebook added a dedicated video tab, giving tough fight to YouTube for video dominance. Even LinkedIn has joined the race with native videos, which might become mainstream this year. I expect many brands to jump on board the mobile video production bandwagon.

What was your first experiment with viral video content?

Back in 2014, every morning on my way to work, I used to dread passing through the bottleneck at the toll plaza at the Delhi Gurgaon Expressway. Long lineups, chaos, and frustration—they were all part of my everyday routine. Coming back in the evening was worse.

So I did an experiment. For many days, when my car reached the toll plaza, I paid the toll, and also paid for the car behind me. It was a random act of kindness. One day, I found out that the toll plaza was shutting down. On its last day, I thought it would be cool to remember this experience with a happy memory. I took two days to shoot and edit the video. I was in the news in a few hours.

At which point did you realise that viral video was not just a matter of chance? 

I decided to study what made viral videos so successful. As I kept going, I recorded the learnings and applied them to my videos. After conducting some experiments, another one went viral. It blew my mind. A video made in August 2014 about the coolest travel hacks clocked seven million views in a few months, was shared by 350,000 people, and reached 25 percent of Facebook users in India.

I knew at the back of my mind that the day I stop making viral videos is the day I head back to the rat race. The learnings and experimenting grew into an obsession. I learnt that the secret for viral video success was to focus on the fundamentals of why we share, and adapt the content to make sharing easier.

I realised that changing the focus from ‘viral’ to ‘shareworthy’ could make all the difference.”

What are the rules that marketers can adopt to increase their odds of viral success?

We have to remember that our target audience is very different from the audience watching films in dark movie halls. Our goal is also different. We don’t just want people to watch. We want them to share our videos authentically. I’ve come up with this set of basic rules for viral video marketing success.

Basic Rules of Viral Video Marketing Success

#1: Is It Shareworthy?

The key metric for viral video marketing is shares—authentic, organic shares. The more people share on their own, the greater your organic reach. Select shareworthy topics, and make the video useful so people will share within their peer groups.

Use your video as a vehicle to share a sentiment about a breaking news, to inspire your audience, to celebrate their life.

Video views can be bought, but shares are earned. When shares start snowballing, that’s when the magic happens.

Case in Point: What Indian Students Pack When They Go Abroad (7.7 million views on Facebook)

#2: Move Fast and Engage.

Our videos have to compete for user attention in social media newsfeeds. We live in a constantly distracted world, and with so many apps and pings screaming for our attention all day long, the video must get straight to the point and keep the user hooked till the end.

As marketers, our dream is for users to stop scrolling through their newsfeeds, start watching our video, watch it till the end, then share it. For me, you only have three to six seconds to make an impact.

Case In Point: Unusual Beaches Around The World (40 million views in a week on Facebook)

#3: Storytelling Beats Production Value.

For viewing on a tiny screen, you don’t need the production quality of a TV show or a movie. Keep the production simple, but the storytelling in top gear. All the videos that hit millions for us were made with near zero budgets but high on ideas.

Keep the video fast-moving and make creativity the differentiator between your videos and your competitors’. It’s not about “how” you will make a video anymore, it’s about “what” you will make. The tools—HD camera, editing apps—are all in your pocket.

Case In Point: Coolest Hotel Room Secrets – Tricks For A Smart Traveller (465,000 views on YouTube)

#4: Make For Mobile.

Vine and Instagram introduced square videos, but Facebook made them huge. Square videos give you more real estate on the screen, and you don’t have to tilt them. Making videos native to mobile screens is, by far, the biggest learning we’ve applied to all videos.

Facebook’s algorithm is favouring more video content on the newsfeed. What’s more, Facebook has sharing in its DNA, unlike YouTube. The number of shares is an integral metric that can make or break a video.

That said, you have to:

  • Make the videos square in format (no tilting required, more real estate on screen).
  • Make them sound-proof, so that you can engage the audience even without sound (Facebook auto-plays them with sound off).

Case In Point: How To Speak Hyderabadi In A Minute (2.8 million views on Facebook)

#5: Have a Great Distribution Strategy.

Without planning the distribution, great videos ideas can die in a vault. Apart from sharing the content on all available channels, we need to build loyalty with the seeding core group. This is the group that shares the video in the first 10 minutes.

For video numbers to go snowballing, we need to kick it as hard as we can into the universe and hope it turns into a snowball. What we do in Ixigo is set a benchmark of getting 100 shares in the first 10 minutes. I go ringing bells in the office announcing the new video, and get creative to get those initial shares from within the office.

The launch time is also decided based on when this core group is best available to share. Apart from this, reach out to bloggers and journalists. They may not pick your video up, but they’re always hunting for good stories to write about. After this, distribute to all channels available to you, from mailing lists, mobile notifications, to different native versions for WhatsApp, Twitter, and Instagram.

#6: Please Don’t Make An Ad.

Content marketing is the exact opposite of advertising. Nobody cares about us, our brand, services, or products. It’s about your target audience, their pain points, and challenges. If, through our content, we can make an impact in their lives, then we have evangelists on our side.

When we have a million people sharing our video, we have a million messengers. Ads target eyeballs. Content marketing, in my opinion, should target hearts and minds— that way, people would be more compelled to share.”

#7: Think Conversations, Not Campaigns.

Thinking of marketing in terms of campaigns is the traditional marketing approach. What we should focus on is driving conversations. Social is built on conversations, and that’s where our videos swim. If our brand can facilitate conversations and people start tagging their friends, that’s the sweetest spot to be in.

Good News: Users Still Want More Video Content

According to a HubSpot survey in 2016, 43 percent of people want to see more video content from marketers.

To recap, here are Aashish’s actionable rules for video marketing: choose a shareworthy topic, prioritise storytelling, make it mobile-friendly, engage right away, distribute effectively, avoid making an ad, and think conversations.

Apply them all, and you’ll never know—maybe you’re just one video away from your first million views!