Out on a perfect weekend getaway? Uploaded the picture on FaceBook, yet? Experienced the first rains this year? Did you tweet it? In the interaction-made-so-easy times we live, Social Media is a platform for projection of personality types, exhibition of opinions and demonstration of diverse individualities, all just at one-click. But, despite these networking sites being almost an inevitable part of our lives, how many of you have ever analysed the psychological aspect and pondered on the utility of social media beyond just 'casual' usage? In conversation with Abhilasha Dafria for YouStory.in, Vijayendra Haryal and Anandan Pillai elucidate their book “Social Media Simplified” that scrutinizes the details of the social space that continues to cultivate in India. Edited Excerpts:
“Social Media Simplified”- before I come to this very interesting book, tell me a little about your background Vijayendra and Anandan.
Vijayendra: Global Executive Manager with an IT company. Studied engineering & management at IIT Kharagpur & IIM A respectively. Alternative interests are social media, social enterprise.
Anandan: PhD student at Management Development Institute, Gurgaon. Research interests include social media strategy, content strategy, social media RoI, etc.
What ignited this idea and provoked this plot?
Vijayendra: The thought of writing this book on Social Media was germinated in 2008, when I led a team which won the Forum for Industry Interaction best project of the year award at IIM Ahmedabad. The inspiration was to ‘demystify emerging trends, technologies’ in the Indian context. ‘Social Media’ has caught my fancy, ever since I got reconnected to the co-founder of www.volstreet.com via orkut. In a similar fashion, Anandan and I got reconnected through “People you may know” via Facebook. I pitched the idea of the book to Anandan , which he gradually accepted and thus started the journey of this book ! Anandan : Being a PhD student in the social media domain, I have read and still continue reading many social media books, which are mostly written by authors from western countries, but rarely do I find something in Indian context. This resulted in an urge to pen down my thoughts and I started this activity with my blog (www.socialmediaresearcher.blogspot.com) When Vijay, pitched the idea of the book to me, our thoughts resonated and the result is this book
So, what came first? The passion for writing or the curiosity for Social Media?
Vijayendra : Like I just stated, it was passion of writing. I have written on diversified topics, like entrepreneurship, relationships beyond Social Media- fiction and non-fiction both. . For me, whatever ignites my passion, I prefer penning it down at some point in time - especially if I am able to relate to the bigger picture.
Anandan: I have been in management research domain in the past and published various academic publications. So it was passion for writing in my case too. In the context of this book, its my passion and keen interest in Social Media.I understand it is easier to write a fictional book out of interest. But when you are talking about Social Media, a trend still emerging, what research work did you take undertake?
Our view point is that if you are passionate about something, then writing flows. In writing fiction, its quintessential to capture ‘the moment’ , when you have an urge to pen down; otherwise writing just does not happen. Even in the context of this book, whenever, either of us got a thought or an idea, we either posted it in Google doc, or dropped a mail or even SMSed. The essence is not ‘losing the thought’ and capturing ‘the moment’. In our case, we ‘asynchronously’ captured ideas. Of course, being well-read and observant in the domain helped.
Did it worry you that the quotient of risk is higher considering you are writing something out-of-the-box? How did you convince your publishers to it?
We were more excited than worried. That joy of doing ‘the first of its kind’ thing and being passionate about the subject overshadowed the ‘risk element’. Honestly, we did not have to make extensive pitches and the response we received was positive instantaneously. I think the publishing community at large was able to understand the potential of the book and our backgrounds also further added credence.
Since your book is not a stereotype, you might also be targeting a different market of audience in lieu of the stereotyped young avid-reader. Correct me if I’m wrong.
You are right on book not being a stereotype. In fact, we did not have a ‘benchmark’ when we were penning this book. This made the entire process more intellectually simulating and challenging at the same time. Our idea of an audience for the book is anyone who wants to be more aware of social media, learn about opportunities in this field and use it to effectively to further his/her profession or business.
Say I purchase “Social Media Simplified” from a book-store tomorrow. What must I expect from it?
Our suggestion is to read with an open mind sans expectations or a bias. Every distinct category of readers basis their background, awareness etc will derive different value from the book. We would recommend the readers to follow the sequence of chapters to the extent possible. When you will read the “Prologue” for instance, you would know how this book is an outcome of ‘reconnecting’ via social media, the Chapter on “Introduction” will give you the bigger picture. Hence on and so forth. We believe that facets of social media unknown to you would be unravelled as you read and this experience will provide you with more confidence. Also, please note that reading is just the beginning of our association. Do buzz us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/smsbookindia and Twitter handle @smsbeyond. Be assured, we will revert to you as soon as possible.
How did you handle the critics?
We appreciate them taking their time out to review the book and share their insights with us. We have already started making notes on what to incorporate in “Social Media Simplified- 2.0” or an advanced version of the book. We have to bear with some ‘less informed’ critics too, where we do give clarifications, but that’s part of the process! So far, this has been a pretty healthy process must say.
Do you think the role of an author is greater than merely writing a book and transcends into influencing the minds of the youth? What according to you is the role of Social Media in governing the juvenile generation?
It’s not only the author or the books, its media at large which influences, not only the mind of the youth, but of the entire population. The impact on youth may be more as opinions and perspectives about issues, subjects etc are still in formation stages. We think that the youth should be ‘well informed’ about all facets of social media rather than using it for just connecting with old friends or casual networking. Once a person if fully aware, it’s purely a personal choice, if he/she wants to use social media merely for fun purposes (like sharing pics, posting videos etc) or for finding suitable activity partners, doing projects or for a professional purpose (like we ended up writing a book) or for promoting or build his/her own brand or of the business etc. The inspiration behind writing this book is to demystify the social media domain bringing out different facets and also giving suggestions / sharing insights in the process.
Have you ever contemplated taking writing as a full-fledged profession? Or the uncertainties it brings with it shall always render it as Plan B?
At this point in time, it’s surely “Plan B” for both of us. A lot is going to depend on how this book and God willing future editions and more books we author/co-author are received by the audience.
Thank you for the wonderful interview. Please give some valuable advice for emerging first-time authors of the country.
One insight is “write what you are passionate about” and some day the hard work will pay off. The primary motivation for any writer should be to write for the joy of it and not for the publicity that one may get post getting the work published. To sum it – enjoy the ride and stay focused.
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