Two things are noticeable when you meet Kiruba Shankar, one is his dashing moustache and second is his humble behavior. I had the opportunity to meet this suave gentleman at the #socialindia conference in Bangalore. The first thing he told me was a sorry when I introduced myself. Kiruba had promised us an interview but for some reason it was always in his to-do list. However, he promised me that this time he is going to spare some time from his busy schedule.
Finally on day two at #socialindia conference, Kiruba was all set to have a conversation with me. We grabbed a corner place in the visitor’s lounge at The Royal Orchid, Bangalore. I was all set with my recording device i.e. my Samsung mobile and my notepad where I had jotted my questions. Kiruba was watching my actions curiously. With his nod, I started the conversation.
Introducing Kiruba would be better in his own words rather than the usual format. So let’s see what’s keeping him busy these days.
1. Business blogging which is a social media consultancy where we advice digital strategies to large and small businesses which earns our daily bread.
2. In addition to this, I run an open source web development company called F5 Technologies. It is a company where we focus on open source tools,wordpress and ecommerce implementation. It also ties very well with the social media thing we do.
3. I have recently started getting into agriculture because that is what has been my family background and I didn’t want to lose my roots.
4. I have been an author and passionate about books but the problem with writers is the absolute frustration of publishing a book. I felt that there should be a far better way of doing this so recently I started a Publishing company called Word Your Book where we focus mostly on digital publishing and offline presence too. So these are the few things that are keeping me busy.
I believe that it is a whole bunch of stuff and out of all your activities, I am excited to know more about the fourth one. You are an author and publisher too which is commendable and I am also aware that you are on your way of writing your fourth book. Is it true? If so then can you share bit more about the book and whom is it addressed to?
Sure Prasant, I am an author and in the past I have written three books. The first one is “How to contribute to Wikipedia”, the second one is “Copy Right and Left” which explains creative commons and why it is important to share knowledge and my third book is called “Crowdsourcing Tweet” which is a book that discusses Twitter as a platform to crowdsource ideas. The fourth book that I am writing about is Couch Surfing. The book discusses on how a visitor can come to your place and how you can go and stay at somebody’s place rather than staying at hotels. The concept is simple but has huge repercussions in terms of understanding another culture and how one should adjust with another family. This is a huge thing in the rest of the world and in India not a single book has been written on this subject and I thought it will be a great thing to go for it.
Sounds exciting Kiruba! However I think Kiruba is more popular as a Blogger. I read an interview few months back where you had shared that you started blogging the same year when the term ‘Blog’ was coined. So you have been blogging since 1999 which is inspiring. What drives you to blogging day after day?
True Prasant, that’s a great question. Time and again I have seen how much ROI can a blog drive. For me a blog is bottling a barrel of wine. The more you write, the more it adds and the benefits can be reaped for long time. The problem with Facebook or Twitter is that content dies but not for a Blog. For example on Facebook and Twitter, certain content dies after some time but on Blog due to archival nature, content stays there. For example I can go back two years or three years ago to find a certain post or even readers can find a content that was written long back which is not possible with Facebook or Twitter. So it also becomes a great reference material. This quality drives me to blogging and I use a Blog in multiple ways like a diary where I write my day to day items and to share what I have learnt and it also serves as a diary to collaborate with others too.
Inspiring! However Kiruba I have personally seen brands are excited to open a Facebook or Twitter page but they don’t want to start a Blog. Why is it so and do you think that Blogging is dead?
Great question Prasant. First thing first social media should be where your community is. Indian brands are creating a great presence on Facebook, Twitter but blog is also essential. A blog is a great way of explaining your stand of views and brands should use it effectively. It is also a great way to make those subtle press releases and engage with your fans. However I have seen that the engagement level has died down as it has moved more to the social networks but we should not take away any credit from blogs. So blogs are must have and as you rightly said Ryze came and went, Myspace fizzed out, people are now saying that Twitter is losing its presence for whatever reason but blogs have been there and will be there. Companies should be present on social networks but they should have a strong presence on blogs too is what I personally believe.
That’s good to hear Kiruba but don’t you think we bloggers are responsible for making blogs extinct. We don’t respect our readers and one of the common mistakes we make is not replying to comments. What are your thoughts on it?
Prasant, all of us are interested in voicing individual thoughts. For instance Prasant runs Lighthouse Insights and he will want people to come and read his blog. Same way Kiruba will be happy if more people come and read his blog too and the same applies to all. So what we can draw an analogy from this is suppose you go and talk to a person but if you don’t respond then one will lose respect. Another example, suppose a guy shakes hand with you and you don’t respond to him then for sure you lose respect. Same way the same thing should be applied to the online world too. However, most of the times it is a challenge for me because of time constraint too. Saying that I know responding to comments on Facebook, Twitter, etc. should be a must as you get back lot of things by doing so and build one selective audience at a time. So if one person comes to Lighthouse Insights blog he reads it and chances are that he will come back again too and if he leaves a comment and if you reply to it then he feels great about it and a future relationship is created. So responding to comments is time consuming, very low ROI but it is a must as it keeps on building one follower at a time. So creating relationship organically is what you can expect.
I agree Kiruba that with a blog, fans develop in an organic way and there are no shortcuts. It is sheer hard work but most of the blogs can’t take the pressure and give up. Kiruba it would be great if you can share some tips with all Bloggers.
Yes I have some thoughts over it. Continue to write about things one is passionate about. The second thought comes from one of my mentor who said that our mind is fresh in the morning. So as a blogger think of what you can write best at that time. Today when we get up, we check our emails, Facebook and Twitter updates. With that think what will give you the maximum ROI at that time. For example, you are writing a newspaper column while you are also blogging, sharing on social networks and emailing it. So out of all these activities, writing column is more important when you are fresh in the morning compared to the emails. So prioritize your activities and give the most time to the one which you think is important.
One can only keep on blogging if he is passionate about a certain topic. Thanks Kiruba for your time and sharing such great insights. When you sit with such an amazing personality, you just want to listen but all good things come to an end just as this interview.