“it is the people who figure out how to work simply in the present, rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past, who get to say what happens in the future.”

we are a boutique digital media agency focusing on companies who want to be digital challengers or are at the cusp of being disrupted by digital challengers 

We give our take on Snapchat's new changes to Campaign Aisa

""Any social media digital challenger, and that includes Snapchat, by nature has to break the Facebook hegemony to create shareholder value," expressed Habibullah Khan, the director of content at penumbra. "All Snapchat updates need to be seen in this context. While links is an important update to keep pace with Facebook and Instagram by evolving Snapchat from a walled garden to something more hybrid so advertisers feel baseline parity, we feel Snap Maps is a big deal. The visceral fun nature of Snapchat combining with Snapchat's network effects if enough users opt in, hold fascinating and immediate impact for advertisers esp around location-based marketing. We feel Facebook will not copy this feature as it is above their risk threshold."

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B2B digital marketing done right.... Or I told you so.

With all our B2B clients we have always been consistent on our approach. Be a thought leader we said. A thought leader is someone who uses consistent fresh original content on their digital properties like websites to comment with deep insight on trends and solutions their customers are interested in. 

This content is not oriented around selling. It defeats its purpose if it has a "buy me for this or this reason" message. The content instead focuses on important issues that their customer ecosystem faces and your solutions address. But it does this in a neutral manner focusing on insights that potential and existing customers actually value. Every website we manage for a B2B client we modify to add thought leadership portions. This means a section for whitepapers and ebooks on critical topics as well as a blog where leadership insights can be shared. 

Why is this necessary? Because B2B does not follow the rules of the B2C consumer. The B2C consumer starts off with an idea of a few brands and goes online and further narrows or widens that pool. Then if product design is not much of a criteria they will decide on feature set within their price range. If it is a criteria they'll narrow down to a few and visit the retail site and make their call. Digital in B2C is thus about ensuring that when a customer evaluates you, your digital properties are there on those touch points he uses. Or you guide him to those areas on the internet where he eventually exits with a favourable impression of you. But he gains most of his trust from peer reviews and expert views.

B2B is a different beast. The digital communities where technical or industry solutions are debated are often not frequented by business decision makers. This is especially true in the technology and telecom space. Furthermore customers of multi million dollar solutions often do not reach critical mass in pure numbers or level of interaction to even be classified as a community. A significant portion of B2B trust is thus gained from the quality of content on a customer's digital properties. While evaluating a solution if a customer empathises with, associates with and comes away impressed with your content; your solutions will be short listed. In fact if he has made his mind up of the vendors he will purchase a solution from and he comes across your content and is impressed, you will force your solution into reckoning with the sheer quality of thought leadership and insights you display about your understanding of the customer problem and the field it related to. Time and time again we have seen this happen. Which is why the crux of our B2B digital marketing offering is around original relevant content.

Why the "I told you so?" Because a new study from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council just validated the criticality of online content for B2B buying. 

"Nearly two out of three B2B buyers (62%) seek out content to learn about new market developments and industry practices, while nearly the same number of people (60%) seek out content to discover new solutions that could address specific needs. Just over one in two B2B buyers (52%) seek out content to address a project that is already in progress (or about to commence) for their companies"

These are stunning figures. So even before the evaluate phase, in the research phase B2B companies can start getting included into potential list of solutions by clients. A majority of B2B customers go online looking for clarity about the products they need and the latest trends and inisghts to better understand what to buy and why. 

Companies that display thought leadership on their digital properties via original constantly updated content will be the winners in the new era where customers for B2B solutions go online to make up their minds. 

My feedback on Quora

Quora one of my favourite social networks reached out to me to get my opinion on being a writer and how to improve Quora. Here is my verbatim response - I am posting it here because it shows my thoughts on user stickiness:

"Hey I love Quora. Haven't spent a lot of time on it lately. Been busy. Since I run my own digital media business I spend time on networks that go towards bringing up my KLOUT score. An occupational bias. Would be great if you could work with KLOUT so that Quora activity counts towards the KLOUT score. That's my primary suggestion.

As a writer Quora is still fine. It is closing the gap between real life and internet. In the real internet you now have to be creative to find the quality information. While in Google's first year you just typed two words and it was magic. Now I type seven to narrow down and hope to find it in the first two pages. Quora seems to be going through this data overload curve. It is what it is. 

The process to user schizophrenia has started. One one hand users put their stuff out there to be found but the side of the writer that puts in a lot of effort for appreciation will increasingly rely on a network that shares his interest to get that appreciation; while in the early days of Quora it was easier by simply writing and letting it be.

Appreciation of their answers is directly related to a user's stickiness. I describe stickiness as measured by number of unique visits toQuora, time spent on Quora and content creation on Quora. Since this appreciation now relies on semi silos of people with similar interests, Quora needs to focus on remarkably accelerating the rate at which new users follow each other. This means every time you follow someone on QuoraQuora needs to give suggestions on who to follow based on your interests and who you have just followed. This is a simple technique. I'm sure you guys can figure out more. But it serves to illustrate what I am trying to say. The more a user follows people with similar tastes and is followed by them, the more they become sticky and the more Quora benefits. You need to put this process on steroids and then inject it with a light speed serum.

A short cut to accelerating content input and interaction on Quora is to have a measure whereby which you have a top commentator label. Based on not how much you contribute, but a pre-decided ratio of posts to comments achieved or some other similar measure. The thrill of posting a comment and seeing a start next to it with the phrase "Top commentator" is visceral. It is a shallow but effective short term move.

You may also want to look at investing a significant amount of budget in SEO on the blog portion if they remain a part of your strategy. If the content is good it should find its way on search engines. As on Squarespace which I use this can be automated by entering a few keywords. Your technology team probably has some good ideas on managing this innovatively.

Good luck. You're one of the good guys on the internet."

About the photographs on this site....

The magnificent Usman Hayat has provided almost all the images we have used on this site. At penumbra we believe in localizing global best practices of inbound marketing to make your brand relevant to a complex and singular audience. So we thought it fitting that that the pictures on the website reflect the uniqueness and breadth of the culture that surrounds us.

You can find Usman at - Please follow him on his journey of mapping the country's soul.


Why social community moderation is actually very hard to do.

One of the most under appreciated and hard things to do in digital media is social media community moderation. Any digital media strategy worth its weight in salt will focus on creation of a community that drives your brand and serves as an early warning system for customer service issues and trends.  

But community moderation is damn hard. Because authority is not with the moderator but with the community members itself. So here is our list of rules on how to get it right.

Foreword: As Moderators the way we interact with members defines the community. A good community is a group prosperous in ideas, which values its members, makes perspectives more meaningful and leaves their lives enriched. Here is how we see the ideal way of managing such a group as a moderator.

1. Every post is equal. Any idea or thought can gain a following, and no one should have the power to decide otherwise. A post gains traction based on its reception by members of the group, not on what the moderator thinks is appropriate. Encourage and support the interaction; you have no right to kill it. We just used a semi colon correctly in that last sentence so heed our wisdom. We’re obviously uber.

2. Contribution counts for more than being a moderator. Being a moderator DOES NOT MATTER. Being a contributor does. It is the life breath of a group. If someone is contributing for the first time nurture them so they contribute more. If your interaction results in less contribution you have failed.  If your interaction results in them becoming regular contributors you are an excellent moderator. Nurture not puncture.

3. Authority trickles up. The person who resonates with the group commands more respect and attention than others—and theirs is the real influence. These are the guys posting every day and getting responses, starting debate. It can be anything really but they are the ones with the authority. The moderator is subservient to them, not greater, not even their equal. As a moderator if you have served them you have done your job.

 4. Leaders serve rather than preside. Speaking of serving, in the community every leader is a servant leader; no one has the power to command or sanction. Credible arguments, demonstrated expertise and selfless behavior are the only way for getting things done through other people. Forget this online, and your followers will soon abandon you…. And turn into an e-mob from hell. Oh yeah it happens!

 5. Topics are chosen, not influenced by the nature of the group. Look, people choose to talk about things that interest them. Let it be. If it’s not 100% in line with your community don’t throw a fit. If it is never about the community interests then have a chat with the person privately to at least have them shift their focus. Let the people talk about whatever interests them. Tattoo on your behind that “debate is the currency.”

6. Power comes from sharing information.  To gain influence and status, you have to give away your expertise and time, and do it consistently and quickly. If you do so you are moderator material. Because you have earned your influence.

7. Community members have a veto. This community is not ours, it is not the moderators’ or even the founder's. It belongs to the members. If they feel something should be done otherwise than it should be. Moderators need to be active listeners so that they crowd source how a group should be run and what it should focus on.

8. Recognition is the greatest of moderation gifts. There is nothing greater then recognition to enable a feeling of community and foster great dialogues. As a Moderator if you are not encouraging and recognizing people, sometimes even for just simply speaking out, than you are missing the greatest part of your duty.

9. Trouble makers are heroes. You will always get trouble makers with strong anti authoritarian views. These are your greatest challenge. Integrating them is the greatest skill of a moderator. Giving up on them by banning them is your failure. They have something to say which often encourages debate. And debate is our currency. Escalate if you cannot manage them. Do not ban them.

10. Celebrate disabilities. If someone has poor English, or poor knowledge of your topic, or posts old news, or reposts something posted often, this is a great opportunity. Reward such people with informed dialogue and turn them into contributors and as a moderator you have excelled. Do anything otherwise and you have failed. Calling someone a noob should result in immediate removal of admin status and immediate banning from group. Nothing personal.

(Inspired by Gary Hamel)