How Not To Win Facebook Contests

Ever participate in a Facebook contest? Or two or three, or every one that you came across? You are not alone. With the number of Facebook users increasing by the minute, Facebook pages for different brands regularly hold various contests to attract traffic. These contests promise giveaways that many won’t otherwise purchase. Hence the craze.

If you are a frequent participant of these above mentioned Facebook contests, yet still not a winner, I can tell you just what you are doing wrong. My job is managing quite a few Facebook pages for different brands, running contests often, and I get to choose the lucky winner.

Following is a list of things to do, to make sure you never ever win a Facebook contest.

1)      Have a fake profile. If you participate in a contest with a profile name of ‘Sweetie dolly’ or ‘Innocent Pari (fairy)’, trust me your chances of winning are as high as finding a real innocent pari. Some people create fake profiles just to participate in these contests. By having these contests, brands like to create publicity. We don’t want to give away a prize to an unknown person with a questionable existence.

2)      Participate in every contest you see: If you have made it your life’s mission to participate in every contest you see, well then I, as a brand manager see no interest in you. The winner for my contest needs to be someone who is not only a fan, but is a genuine fan. He is a portal to the real world. The giveaway is like a billboard which will tell people about my product. I don’t want my product drowned out by other prizes you may or may not have received participating in every contest you come across.

3)      Not having your genuine display/ cover: Just like participating in too many contests is a turn off, dedicating your display pictures and cover photos for other contests also make you an unlikely contender.

4)      Not mentioning your city on profile: Sometimes, our clients are located in few cities only and for certain reasons want winners from the same cities as well. When selecting a winner, if I choose you but cannot see your basic details, I will pass you up.

5)      Send a personal message: I take my contests seriously. If you try to butter me up by posting statuses saying how much you love the brand, or inbox me saying you want the prize for your mother, I will consider it a violation of rules (most of them exist staunchly in my head).

6)      Taking us for fools: Possibly the worst thing you can do to screw your chances of winning, is to be a wise ass. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT think you can outsmart me. I check each and every thing before I consider you eligible. I will stalk your profile, look at your cover photo, and check out your genuineness through mutual friends if any. In short I will go the extra mile before even considering you as the winner.

Once you have passed the test, I will then group you together in a list (believe me it is very small) and randomly pick a number. So if you are participating in a contest, either play by the rules, or make sure I am not managing the page.

First published on Sidra Rizvi Says on 1 April, 2013. Click here to view the original post.

About the author: She’s writing her way down, one issue at a time. Using the worst possible analogies to describe every situation, get ready to treat your eyes. She is Sidra Rizvi. To talk to her, either leave a comment, or follow her on Twitter @Sidra_Rizvi

My Experience With ‘Personality’ Tests

European businesses have been conducting personality tests on prospective employees for decades, yet over this period the general view of these businesses’ competitiveness has been in decline relative to their counterparts in the US and, more recently, in emerging economies.

The inherent problem with these tests and all other standardized tests is that they only present a snapshot of a person at a moment in time. Things happen, errors in judgment are committed, life-altering events amongst other occurrences are experienced and therefor people change. It comes across as arrogant or naive to believe that a person and her career prospects can be correctly assessed based on a test result at such young ages. Such approaches are deterministic, fatalistic and, ultimately, defeatist.

I’m all for EQ evaluations of prospective business managers. The vast majority of my LSE peers were all-around outstanding individuals, but the stand-out memorable people all had some sort of fault that was directly related to emotional intelligence.

One was an individual who would regularly thwart or veto the will of a six-person work group when he was the lone dissenting voice (Russian, intellectually brilliant, spoke 3 or 4 languages fluently, was immediately snapped-up by McKinsey for a summer internship but unsurprisingly not hired by the firm after graduation). Another was a fellow Pakistani classmate whose written and verbal English skills were so non-existent that it was obvious to all that he had outsourced someone to write his application. Yet another was a stunningly attractive (and accordingly vain) female classmate who was perpetually convinced that she was more industrious than anyone else (her contempt was evident to all, and those who got stuck with her in groups or on projects received perpetual sympathetic comments from classmates).

And one of my most memorable professional colleagues was a woman (tremendous intellectual horsepower, minority, not Omarosa) who was one of the most ethically-challenged and manipulative people I’ve ever encountered (regularly claimed to be a federal employee to get the US Government rate so she could stay in fancier hotels and not exceed the company per diem, was a walking excuse factory for missed deadlines, curried favor via various mechanisms with 22-year-old’s in the office so they would agree to go feed her parking meter every three hours and was ultimately fired within three months by her post-graduation employer, with an excuse that was clearly the first excuse the company could come up with that would stick without risking litigation).

Too bad we don’t screen our elected representatives as thoroughly as we seem to want to screen everything (and everybody) else.

About the author: Zohaib is former CEO of Nadia Textiles and currently a franchisee for Pearl Continental Catering in Lahore and investor-founder of several B-corporations, notably Uth Oye.

My Experience With ‘Personality’ Tests

European businesses have been conducting personality tests on prospective employees for decades, yet over this period the general view of these businesses’ competitiveness has been in decline relative to their counterparts in the US and, more recently, in emerging economies.

The inherent problem with these tests and all other standardized tests is that they only present a snapshot of a person at a moment in time. Things happen, errors in judgment are committed, life-altering events amongst other occurrences are experienced and therefor people change. It comes across as arrogant or naive to believe that a person and her career prospects can be correctly assessed based on a test result at such young ages. Such approaches are deterministic, fatalistic and, ultimately, defeatist.

I’m all for EQ evaluations of prospective business managers. The vast majority of my LSE peers were all-around outstanding individuals, but the stand-out memorable people all had some sort of fault that was directly related to emotional intelligence.

One was an individual who would regularly thwart or veto the will of a six-person work group when he was the lone dissenting voice (Russian, intellectually brilliant, spoke 3 or 4 languages fluently, was immediately snapped-up by McKinsey for a summer internship but unsurprisingly not hired by the firm after graduation). Another was a fellow Pakistani classmate whose written and verbal English skills were so non-existent that it was obvious to all that he had outsourced someone to write his application. Yet another was a stunningly attractive (and accordingly vain) female classmate who was perpetually convinced that she was more industrious than anyone else (her contempt was evident to all, and those who got stuck with her in groups or on projects received perpetual sympathetic comments from classmates).

And one of my most memorable professional colleagues was a woman (tremendous intellectual horsepower, minority, not Omarosa) who was one of the most ethically-challenged and manipulative people I’ve ever encountered (regularly claimed to be a federal employee to get the US Government rate so she could stay in fancier hotels and not exceed the company per diem, was a walking excuse factory for missed deadlines, curried favor via various mechanisms with 22-year-old’s in the office so they would agree to go feed her parking meter every three hours and was ultimately fired within three months by her post-graduation employer, with an excuse that was clearly the first excuse the company could come up with that would stick without risking litigation).

Too bad we don’t screen our elected representatives as thoroughly as we seem to want to screen everything (and everybody) else.

About the author: Zohaib is former CEO of Nadia Textiles and currently a franchisee for Pearl Continental Catering in Lahore and investor-founder of several B-corporations, notably Uth Oye.

Social Media Advice For For 21st Century Businesses

The most important first step leading to an immediate assessment of long term online strategy, image building, corporate exposure and policy development is the social media audit.

Now that Facebook has passed the one billion user mark and consumes over 16% of its users online time, this seven year old company and its counterparts need to be integrated into the corporate media strategy at all companies, regardless of their B2B or B2C stakeholder relations. It’s critical to assess the temperature of social media in your industry, and the impact its having your products and services, should you choose to capitalize and acquire new customer bases or are interested in leveraging social media to inspire loyalty and grow customer relationships.

I’ve outlined some universally accepted steps that allow for the development of a social media strategy:

1. Look at your internal functions and see the business areas that could benefit from social media engagement for sales (LinkedIn), brand awareness (Twitter), CRM (Facebook) and R&D

2. Delve deep and investigate how digital, mobile and social media will support your short and long term goals of each identified business function

3. Formulate, test and finalize the mechanics with which stakeholders are engaged on the chosen platform and the agenda

4. Pick qualitative ROI metrics for success, improvement & optimization and see how they will be measured

5. Conduct on audit on the outcomes, key learning’s and add new media for the next term

Bearing in mind that most of your employees are using social media, it is paramount to conduct regular social media audits, as they offer a company a clear understanding of those social media activities, sanctioned or not. If your company has a social media usage policy for internal stakeholders, then an audit can be used to assess compliance with that policy and assess the effectiveness of their execution and recommend ways to improve. And, on monthly or quarterly basis, audits can help optimize the effectiveness of strategies and policies.

About the author: Stafford is an Associate at BodyBeat Pvt Ltd, in the customer development & management function of BodyBeat Recreational Center in Karachi. He can be reached on Facebook.

The Apple Strategy

Although I’m not an Apple shareholder, I don’t think Apple should try to conform to a stock market that is played like a casino. It’s the stock market that needs to be reformed, not Apple’s financial model. Any company can sell lots of low-cost products and quickly grab market share. I don’t think that’s in consumers’ best interest nor do I think that sort of business model is sustainable. Eventually, Apple’s growth will slow but that shouldn’t make the company any less valuable.

Apple needs to think long-term in holding market share and steady, even if slow growth. Apple’s shares are down but that’s because the hedge funds are always playing musical chairs with companies. Hedge funds have no long-term interest in companies. A stock market driven completely by greed is bad for the economy. It only caters to the already rich investors and not the mom and pop investors.

I think Apple should continue on with its business model. If the company doesn’t want to pursue high market share numbers, that’s fine by me. Shareholders will just have to be satisfied with increased Apple dividends if not a rapidly climbing share price.

About the author: Zohaib is former CEO of Nadia Textiles and currently a franchisee for Pearl Continental Catering in Lahore and investor-founder of several B-corporations, notably Uth Oye.

Hannibal Vs. Bates Motel: Season One Showdown

I hate getting into new shows because I’ve been burned so many times by cancellations but Bates Motel is one that I got sucked into from the first episode. Hannibal has a great concept, but it’s boring. I felt like the show was trying to bring the ”ice truck killer” scenario back from Dexter as a way to add on to Hannibal’s character, which is fine; I didn’t mind at all (mainly because I’m a Dexter fan). The only issue with the adaptation was the lack of a purpose to the whole conflict. For a moment, the story kept looping until it finally found its way to the next conflict and so on. The show has good potential, but needs to be worked on again.

To be honest, I never got past the third episode of Hannibal. It just didn’t hold my interest; the characters weren’t that interesting. Bates Motel, however, kept me watching every week, I couldn’t get enough of it. Remarkable show. For the first few episodes I thought, what an amazing place to live – I mean, nerdy guy has a bunch of girls knocking on his door the moment he moves into town? Either this place is awesome or there are some ulterior motives at play here. And after finishing the show, I was seriously wondering if every single person in this small town is deranged. There is so much rot and decay beneath the pretty facade. Anyone else believe Norman didn’t kill his teacher or is it just me? I don’t believe it either. I think Bradley did it. That girl could manipulate water out of a stone. She looks like a younger version of Norma. Willing to go to any lengths in order to get what she wants and woe to anyone who stands in her way. That makes sense, considering how upset she was by finding out her dad was cheating.

After watching it, I can only say that season two can’t come fast enough.

About the author: Stafford is an associate for BodyBeat Pvt Ltd in the customer development and relations department. He can be reached on Facebook.

Hannibal So Far

I recently watched ‘Red Dragon’ and this TV show, based on the same characters, trumps that movie. It has aspects of a procedural cop show, but it’s really not the focus of the show.

The show isn’t doing ‘killer of the week’ in the traditional sense where the bulk of the plot is them hunting down the killer. The show needs that formula to even exist on network television, but it’s subverting that entirely by making the hunt for the killers mostly tertiary to the plot while the major serial elements move forward as the true meaning of the story. Not to mention that the killers themselves often act as thematic reflections of what’s going on in the parallel overarching story. This week, Henriksen was a killer whose obsession with methodically creating a legacy was revealed to be misguided mistake, which can be applied to how Hannibal is currently trying to build this pseudo-family and proteges out of both Alana and Abigail. Both of those will eventually come to a head.

This show isn’t getting the credit it deserves for circumventing the bull that network shows have to include to be funded and aired in increasingly clever and ingenious ways. I’m not really bothered by the number of serial killers they are finding at this point. I saw a documentary a few years back where the FBI claimed that by their estimate there are over 300 active serial killers in the US at any one time. Obviously the people you’d go to when you suspect a serial killer would be the FBI.

You have to be able to suspend a degree of realism to believe someone like Hannibal is out there anyway. They’ve found cannibals quite a few times, and Hannibal and Norman Bates are both based on the same killer. But there’s never been a serial killer/cannibal that has the medical and psych background that Hannibal has. So as long as they don’t ramp up the numbers to the point that its completely laughable I’ll go along for the ride. I will be so disappointed if this show isn’t back for a lengthy run. There is not another show on TV that even comes close to this.

About the author: Laila Rehman is an associate with SIlkSKIN in the corporate sales team. She can be reached on lailar@silkskinonline.com for business meetings.

Pilot Review: Avengers Assemble

I chose the above image because Iron Man is giving the perfect hand gesture to explain the quality of the new show and the message the producers have for the Marvel fan base i.e. ‘lanat tere shakal pe‘.

While I tried to be objective, the episode was doing its best to make me hate it. Obvious plots with one-dimensional villains, bad animation disguised with after effects and art style, voices that don’t fit the characters, a story-line that rushes in some parts and strays too long in others, characters that act out of character.

There are scenes where the characters are cardboard cutouts that move around the screen. That’s something I’d expect out of some Marvel cartoon from the sixties, not something in 2013. Better art style ≠ better animation. Not to mention it mixes the traditional animation with awful CGI, and randomly switches in and out of letterbox for no real reason.

That’s not even counting the poor attempt at drama with Captain America’s ‘death’ and the fact that the lazily-done plot is centered around a mind-swap plan. Plus the ‘humor’ is USM-tier garbage. EMH may have had it’s own flaws, but at least it was trying to be it’s own thing and had some semblance of actual effort going into it. This just seems like a attempt to profit off the success of the recent Marvel films, what with it reducing the team to the cast of movies and sporting similar outfits and attitudes with these characters. This just makes it nothing more than a cheap, soulless cash-grab.

Marvel is plain clueless when it comes to animation. Every series like this has to go through origin stories, build up of the usual villains, etc. So when they keep cancelling series only to relaunch another soon after, we have to sit through basically the same introductory episodes which don’t differ enough to be truly fresh. They are slipping in movies as well, relaunching Spider-man and X-men so close on the heels of the previous trilogies, although X-men seems to be dancing around the trilogy rather than replacing it. Spider-man wasn’t as good as the first two if you asked me.

About the author: Zohaib is former CEO of Nadia Textiles and currently a franchisee for Pearl Continental Catering in Lahore and investor-founder of several B-corporations, notably Uth Oye.

Why Google Bought Motorola

In the first quarter of 2013, Samsung captured over 90% of all Android profits, as reported by Neil Mawston of Strategy Analytics. Because analysts are contributing this substandard market chunk to Google’s purchase of Motorola last year, I decided to chip in my two cents.

While Samsung is dominating the Android market and making the most majority – Google isn’t Samsung’s rival, it’s Samsung’s partner. Google doesn’t mind as long as people keep buying their apps on Play and getting their mobile ads from Google. And Google didn’t buy Motorola because “it decided to bring manufacturing in house”. Check your facts. Google got approval of all their partners in the Open Handset Alliance (including Samsung) before buying Motorola.

The reason they bought Motorola was for their patents which would help Android (and Samsung, HTC and other Android partners) fight Apple, Nokia and Microsoft in court. In fact, Google has done nothing with Motorola except cut spending because they were making losses that were affecting Google’s profits. The “pure” Galaxy S4 is for developers, not to gain market, the price of it itself made it obvious. Developers need to test their product and the newest software using the most popular hardware. That combination would be pure Android on the GS4.

About the author: Zohaib is former CEO of Nadia Textiles and currently a franchisee for Pearl Continental Catering in Lahore and investor-founder of several B-corporations, notably Uth Oye.

What We Can Learn From World War Z And Man Of Steel

World War Z
Point # 1, the book was amazing. That said, it would not make a very good movie. A movie needs characters that you can both relate to and feel for. The book jumps around too much for a movie. This looks like they are going to take elements from the book and meld them together into a story about one man.

Point # 2, an examination of human behavior; I’ve always been kind of fascinated by the idea of a zombie outbreak. Not because of the carnage or gore factor of it, but because of the idea of a serious outbreak that threatens society. This is similar to what happens to the world when a super virus hits or there is a lethal outbreak of the flu like in the 1920′s. But its intensity is raised up a notch. One thing that I’ve always been curious about is what the people at the top of the governments do when faced with these sudden bizarre circumstances. How do the governments, with all their resources and contingencies for different scenarios, handle this sudden unexpected fast moving lethal plague?

Previous movies have touched on this idea, but they have a throwaway line like, “I’ve heard rumors that the government has gone to a secure location,” or “the government is collapsed, we’re all that’s left.” I’ve always wanted to know the story of what’s going on behind the scenes in the war rooms. It’s fun to see a zombie movie where the guy who used to make french fries at the local burger place wakes up and everyone is gone or turned into zombies, but I want to know what happens when the type of people who beat the axis powers in World War II go into action. These are the people who break down all the logistics and factors such as developing new science like the atomic bomb, or understanding how taking out a ball bearing factory in Austria will weaken the enemy, or breaking a code can change the outcome of a military campaign. How do these people deal with this new threat to civilization? World War Z looks like it will be the first movie to explore that idea on a large scale and that’s why I’m pretty much ready to line up to buy my ticket today.

Man of Steel
Superman movieWe live in a world of terrorist threats and have to ask ourselves if an alien not from this world be looked at not just as a national threat, but also as a global one. I think that’s the tone this film is taking. How does someone like Superman fit in a world full of cynics, fear, and doubt. Most of us grew up accepting Superman because he was our comic savior, but if this was real there would always be doubt about his intentions. As seen in the trailer, one of the ways he deals with this is willingly submitting himself to questioning in handcuffs. He’s submitting himself to Earth’s security. He shows he does not see himself above the law. This is what distances Superman from Batman. This is a powerful, iconic image. Superman fights for those who can’t fight for themselves.

I’m hoping this story-line or at least the ending stays true to “Superman: Birthright” since they have clearly followed the comic legion religiously. The “S” logo was originally a modified version of the symbol for the House of EL in Kryptonian, but after the Birthright story arc in comics, it became a symbol for hope… which roughly translates as the same thing since Jor-El refused to leave Krypton before it’s fall as he believed he could save it. When it became apparent he could not, he sent his son Kal-El to Earth.

Somewhere in heaven, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel are crying tears of joy. Here’s to hoping Cinepax doesn’t encounter any government issues acquiring distribution rights for either of them.

About the author: Zohaib is former CEO of Nadia Textiles and currently a franchisee for Pearl Continental Catering in Lahore and investor-founder of several B-corporations, notably Uth Oye.