Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cranberries & Baking

I finally got my baking mojo back!!!!

It had gone into hiding for wayyyyy too long. In my last post I wrote about my 30 things to do this year, getting back to baking was one of them. I've spent most of the month of May being ill, and by the weekend I had just about had my fill of sitting in bed.

Truly, NOTHING felt better than getting into the kitchen and pulling out the ingredients, baking pans and my new ipad to look up recipes.

Saturday was a grey day with bits of rain, and in the evening just as we were about to make our cup of chai, the thought of warm vanilla cake overtook me. Nothing feels more comforting than a slice of simple, freshly baked vanilla sponge cake - Vanilla Cake it was.  I found this amazing & easy recipe which I highly recommend, especially given the outcome - Check it out here. 

With all this baking suddenly happening, on Sunday, I got a tad bit ambitious. I wanted to bake macaroons. So I got my almonds, soaked them and was all set to make almond meal at home. Just as I started, I realised my mixer was not going to give me almond meal and I had something that looked more like almond bits (and lots of it!) So quick search on the trusty net for cookies with almonds and tada, some delicious recipes popped up. I settled on a Oatmeal Almond Choco Chip Cookie recipe. Mouth watering yet?  Yes, of course I'll share the recipe - here you go.

So why Cranberries you ask? Well I had them so I added them .... besides who doesn't love cranberries!

PS: You can follow this board or repin the recipes from here
Follow Helen's board Baking is Good for the soul on Pinterest.

Friday, May 2, 2014

30 things to do at 30!

Yup it's the year I turn the BIG 3 - 0 and honestly I couldn't  be happier.

This year got me thinking about all the things I want to accomplish and work towards. Some are ones I've been pushing out over the years, others just dreams and wishes, and some others just goals I want to meet. I've been building this list in my head and thought it time to write it down.

Maybe at the end of this 30th year of my life  I get to reflect on it and maybe make this goal setting a yearly thing ;)

  1. Travel LOTS
  2.  Get a bicycle & Bike (Check)
  3.  Learn to Dive
  4. Get Fitter & Be strong (would love some real muscles and an enviable core)
  5.  Buy a Home
  6.  Send a yearly newsletter to friends
  7.  Have more sit down dinners with friends
  8. Cook &Bake more .. esp macaroons!
  9. Do more DIY Projects
  10.  Blog frequently
  11. Take the doggie on beach vacations and walks in the park
  12.  Having a garden & plants AND keeping them alive & maybe even have a herb garden
  13.  To make more 'US' time with the Husband
  14. Go back to theater in some form (Check, but want to do more)
  15. Find a way to work with Kids.
  16. Spend more time with Family
  17. Focus on the kind of business I want to build and to build it !
  18. Make sure a Goa trip happens a minimum of twice a year
  19. Keep in touch with friends on a more one to one basis
  20. De-clutter - live with the things we really need.
  21. Hike - long hikes, short hikes, any hikes
  22. Spend time with my camera and take more pictures (not the phone kind)
  23. Run workshops around social media & build out the social media community
  24. To challenge myself and not be complacent with life
  25. To be able to say NO
  26. Taste many many wines from across the world
  27. Spend time with the girlfriends and have more girls nights.
  28. Spend more time in the outdoors  - biking, hiking, picnics , simple walks
  29. Make time for the things I WANT to do and not to use the word 'busy' as an excuse
  30. To live my 30's with more passion & youth than I did my 20's

So that's it - there's my list ... I think it's going to be a fun year ! 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

5 steps for a sustainable social strategy

I’ve been keenly following Kellogg’s Special K in India and more so their Facebook page. Why? Because I thought their social strategy was really amazing. They had hit the spot in terms of understanding the pain point for most Indian women - weight management, AND had devised a strategy to be that friend to the Indian woman with custom meal plans, tips and just really being that online friend. They clearly spent lots in the offline world too - billboards, print ads the whole shabang (let’s not forget spending on Facebook as well) 
Their Facebook page specifically had thought through messaging, images and what was even more amazing was the engagement they were creating around it.
Today their ad popped up in my news feed and I clicked to see what they were up to. Surprise surprise - their last post was the 4th of august!! After all that hard work of creating an engaged community there was no plan or strategy to take this forward. They are still replying to posts on their page but are not producing any new content. They have directed traffic to their website but that’s no reason to stop your social conversations. All this left me with one thought.This was a campaign - the campaign had a goal, budget and a timeline and social media was thrown in with the campaign Or did they simply run out of content? (There is always the chance I could be wrong of course..)  And here in lies the importance of a content plan and planning out your social strategy.
So as a brand tiny, small, medium, big - whenever you choose to venture into social media and create a page or account for your brand here are 5 steps to help ensure the longevity of your brand on social media and ensures you don’t come to a grinding halt because of lack of content or a longer social strategy. 
1. Define your target audience
Put down on paper who the people you want to target are. Create an ideal profile for them - age, gender, country or city, competitive brands they might be interested in or larger interests that are connected to your product. 
2. List what you aim to achieve via the platform 
While social media is largely used for engagement a lot of brands have driven sales through these platforms. Some use it solely to manage customer support. Whatever it is, define what you want to achieve. 
3. Define your tone of voice
Define the tone of voice you want to take - are you going to be funny, or serious, irreverent or a bit of everything. It’s important to think about it and define it as this gives you clarity in the kind of content you share. 
4. Create Content Categories
Think of all the content you want to share on your page and put them into broad buckets - product, offline activities, broader interests related to your brand. When you are going into the details in your content plan this will help give you consistency. Eg- Home Decor brand would also look at - ideas of home decor from around the world, or DIY projects for the home, seasons latest trends etc. 
5. Create a Content Plan
This is one of the most important parts of your social media strategy. I use a simple excel sheet and put down a day & date calendar. Google has a ready to use social media calendar . Start by broadly defining what you will talk about each week. Once you have that plan set, work on each post. This helps you plan images you might need for a post, or ensuring supporting content you are creating is ready in time - like a blog. This also gives you a view of what you’re doing on each platform and helps maintain consistency in language, tone of voice and messaging. 
Deploying these 5 simple tips will help you ensure you have a long term social media strategy. It will also ensure you don’t run out of content and will help you prepare in advance to create content you will need. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

3 Tips To Create Effective Status Updates

When it comes to Facebook Status updates a question I’ve always been asked by brands is ‘How can I get more likes & comments on my status update’ . While there is no set formula on what makes a status update engaging there are a few thumb rules that help in making them more  appealing to the general Facebook audience. 
1. Use a picture
The old saying ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ has never held truer than today. With audiences having lesser attention spans a picture grabs your fans attention almost instantly. Once you’ve piqued their interest with the picture they then proceed to actually read what you have said. It’s is this point that then leads them to interacting with the brand via a like or even better a comment. If you have video content - it ranks even higher. 
2. ”Quote” the article
When sharing interesting articles & blog posts try and pick out the most interesting line in the article or post and quote it in your status update. This again grabs your fans attention and makes them want to read the article you have posted. The quote gives them that little extra push to click the link & interact with you. Don’t be shy to have an opinion on the articles you post 
3. Short & Sweet = Effective
Remember this is a status update and not your blogpost. Keep your communication to your fans short & precise. Don’t use overly complicated language. Adding a call to action (click here, read this, tell us your thoughts) opens up ways for them to react and interact with your content.

With the decreasing attention span fans have and the increasing amount of content being generated and shared it’s important to find ways for the content you share to stand out & grab their attention.