Guest Blog 3: The Snapchat Appeal

Just about four years ago, the idea for Snapchat came to a bunch of 20 year olds who wanted to revolutionize the concept of viewing pictures and videos that would disappear with a time limit.  Now looking at the app which is currently the third most frequently used among teenagers with 100 million active users every day, one wonders how did it turn out to be so successful.


Image Courtesy: Google


The main appeal for Snapchat is its disappearing pictures and chats. Based on the idea of a ‘moment’, the pictures and videos stay with you for a brief amount of time before disappearing forever. You can’t lie on Snapchat, everything is real and in the now. Snapchat’s appeal was targeted towards teenagers as a ‘cool’ platform. The teens got their own personal space where they freely express themselves and tapping into the younger audience is what skyrocketed the fame of Snapchat and gave it mass appeal. Here are a list of reasons of what made Snapchat the next big thing:



Since almost everybody is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram these days, Snapchat gives its users privacy. They can have their own personal group of friends on Snapchat, post pictures and send chats which have a timespan of 24 hours before vanishing. There’s less judgment if you post a bad picture or send a risky text as it disappears within a day, it cuts down on the guilt. It’s like your own personal space where you can show your choice of friends how your day was like.  It takes v-logging into a whole new level.

However, with the Memories feature in place, Snapchat gave its users a way to “save Snaps and Stories. It’s a personal collection of your favorite moments that lives below the Camera screen.”

This cool update lets you “use Memories to create new Stories from Snaps you’ve taken, or even combine different Stories into a longer narrative! It’s fun to celebrate an anniversary or birthday by finding a few old Snaps and stringing them together into a new Story.”


Image Courtesy: Google


The whole idea that Snapchat is based upon is that everything has to be in the moment. It’s a platform where you can breathe and be yourself. The content you post is 100 percent original and quirky. The best part is, the rest of the world doesn’t need to see that. Only the people in your close circle gets to view your story. Even the Memories feature as Snapchat’s blog states:

“We realized that Snapchatters want to feel comfortable showing their Memories to friends while they’re hanging out together, so we made it easy to move Snaps and Stories to My Eyes Only — and avoid awkward moments when a friend stumbles upon a Snap meant just for you.”


Snapchat’s UI design is rather easy to figure out, it relies on 100% user engagement as the app opens into the camera. The design is simple to understand, tap to add photo, hold on for video, select the time limit and send it to your story. To view a snap, click on the stories of your friends and swipe right to chat. The users spend an average of 25-30 minutes daily on the app, mainly for the fear of missing out on other’s stories.

A year back Snapchat introduced its live option where users would take pictures and videos of their city highlighting it as they see it. The Snapchat team then selects the best ones for the world to see live. This again relies heavily on user engagement.



The Discover section gives brands opportunity to bring themselves on this new mobile marketing bandwagon, it started out as 12 brands but currently Snapchat has top 16 brands on its discover page creating content that is trending among the users. The rest of the brands were quick to hop on to this new advertising bandwagon and made Snapchat IDs of their brand for the users to follow. These brands also tapped into producing videos for their products since Snapchat’s video views increased 400% since last year.


Snapchat is still in what is considered to be its initial developing stage, it has yet to bloom with more opportunities for its users and marketers to make this app reach number one amongst all social media apps. The full potential of this app is yet to be explored by marketers and advertisers as more and more businesses are hopping onto the Snapchat bandwagon. It has definitely revolutionized advertising and now is the best time for marketers and advertisers to bring their brands on Snapchat.



Guest Blog 2: Future of E-Commerce in Pakistan


In the past 2-3 years Pakistan has seen a major rise in its e-commerce department. With the current boom in online shopping trends, Pakistan’s e-commerce market is expected to reach over US$ 600 million by the next year.

E-commerce in simpler terms is commercial transactions carried on the internet. The transactions are usually buying, selling or trading of products online. Pakistan entered a bit late into the e-commerce sector but even then the market boomed extraordinarily well. Customers have formed trust and reliance with online market places with cash-on-delivery being the most favorable means of transaction. Easy Paisa and mobile transfer have yet to catch on with the masses. The rise of cash on delivery has done well on delivery giants TCS and Leopard along with newly sprung delivery startups in their wake such as Forrun.  

E-commerce has actually helped open many business portals online. From giants like Foodpanda, to Delivery Chacha, it has given people the assurance they need to open up their own business online. We have seen a drastic rise in online shopping pages on Facebook and Instagram selling everything ranging from clothes, jewelry, makeup to even crockery and baking items.

One of the main factors that e-commerce depends on is the internet penetration rate, which is low in Pakistan. The internet penetration rate of Pakistan stands at 30 million users till date, however,  with more and more people connecting with the internet and 3G services, the figures are expected to rise by 56 million users by 2019. With the increase in internet access and more people joining social media sites, the marketing trends will also change. We have already seen the trends with the masses changing every day, people now have grown into the trend of ordering in. Be it food, gadgets or clothing items, the masses want to order everything online and a huge number of marketers like EatOye, and the likes are already catering to it.

The trend of putting trust into these online marketplaces has also seen a huge increase from customers. In the early days of e-commerce people used to think a lot before placing an order online, they considered the risks of lost parcels, mishandling of products and spending more money on useless products. Now that more and more customers have tried out online shopping, seen reviews on social media and through first hand word of mouth experiences, they have found e-commerce to be trustworthy and reliant purchasing medium. Options like exchanging the product and a 7 day return policy, internet users are making most of their shopping transactions online.

Now with Pakistani brands making the most of e-commerce, more brands are hooping onto the e-commerce bandwagon, catering to their customers every need. From, being the online job portal for Pakistanis to giants like and PakWheels, e-commerce is expanding into each and every possible marketplace there is. The trend has now just started, the boom is expected to get louder with time.


Image Courtesy: Google



Last year Pakistan saw a huge rise in its startup culture. With new startup incubators springing up in cities like Lahore and Karachi and tech ideas getting global funding, we have yet to see what 2016 adds up to the rising startup culture in Pakistan. These top 5 startups made the headlines in 2016.



Image Courtesy: Google recently made the headlines for securing its seed investment making itself the highest valued startup at The Nest i/o. This startup was incubated at the Nest i/o, a tech incubator launched by P@SHA having global partners like Google for Entrepreneurs and Samsung. Their idea started out as a one stop online solution for home repair and maintenance services and it went big by securing its seed investment. Sukoon provides their customers with technicians, plumbers, electricians  and carpenters at their doorstep so they don’t have to get through the hassle of going to them for maintenance. Sukoon is also getting much social media attention for its creative and well thought out campaign ads.




Image Courtesy:




Image Courtesy: ProPakistani


If you are a tremor patient or know anyone who gets tremors then this smart watch was made just for you. Trequant is a smart watch that tracks and records tremors in the body by connecting to a smartphone app on your phone. It’s a one of a kind wearable device introduced for the first time by Pakistani startups company. The watch also has a vibrator installed that reminds the wearer of its medicine timings. The man behind Trequant, Fawad, has had a history with tremors and designed this idea to help other tremor patients. The smart watch comes in three colors black, blue and pink. Trequant has also started its campaign on Kickstarter.


Paimona is the brainchild of Sana Khan Niazi who got the idea for reviving Pakistani handicrafts by promoting the works of local artisans and handicrafts globally. This startup, sponsored by the Nest i/o, stands for true Pakistani heritage and tends to promote the ‘made in Pakistan’ aspect which has been lost in the global market. Paimona is all about giving the traditional handicrafted furniture an urban and stylish appeal yet keeping its cultural touch alive. From chenaks to charpais and truck art, Paimona tends to bring all these cultural handicrafts to the global platform.  




Image Courtesy: Tech in Asia


Wifigen is a startup that provides wifi solutions to businesses in the vicinity to boost their social media grip in exchange for their social media logins. It was in the headlines for raising its seed investment which was kept disclosed. The investment placed the company at US $ 1 million.



Autogenie is Pakistan’s first on demand car maintenance and services startup, it was recently in the headlines for raising US $ 100,000 seed investment from PakWheels. This startup was incubated by LCE and is also a part of PlanX’s startup program. Apart from the basic services Autogenie will also be providing its premium members with car analytics and roadside assistance.

The ‘Brand’ New Year on Social Media


There is a certain adrenaline rush as 31st December comes nearer. There’s hope of a clean slate, a new beginning, new opportunities and better lives. Most of all, it all boils down to the “happy new year” message.

With respect to brands, the new year post is a goldmine. The 12:00 a.m. mark is the peak time to gain the attention of almost the whole target segment. Social media is ablaze with New Year wishes, check-ins and selfies.

So, how did some brands send out a Happy New Year message for the year 2016?  View below:

On Facebook

Some Pakistani brands explored gifs to spread their New Year message to their fans. One brand, Beautiful You posted a gif that was compatible with its image and tone.


Image Source: Beautiful You

Similarly Masarrat Misbah’s Makeup Facebook page utilized gifs for their fans to wish them a Happy New Year. The brand used their own


Image Source: Masarrat Misbah Makeup

Peak Freans Sooper joined in with their own New year gif which captured it brand personality as a fun, cheerful and young entity.


Image Source: Peak Freans Sooper


Other brands such as Young’s and Peak Freans Nan Khatai had taken the static approach and published visual posts to wish their followers.

On Twitter

Brands, TV serials, Movies, Celebrities and utilized Twitter to wish their fans:

Facebook pages are considered as the official bulletin board which are more or less translated to Twitter. However, most of the New Year visual copies and tweets had more creativity and focus added to it.

The New Year festivities are quite contagious and everyone wanted to wish everyone. So in a hurry to be part of the fray, I also made a New Year visual tweet:


Since my tweets are specialized  in digital marketing, I kept it relevant to that genre. Well, it’s not the most unique but last-minute ideas end up that way. Note: each post has been well thought out and it always shows in the result.

On Instagram

Instagram was flooded with personal New year posts about where is the next big New Year party, acknowledgement of 2015 as the year well spent or a hope to have a better year ahead.

Most posts require three main features to increase brand image, amplify post share-ability and engage followers:

  1. A brilliant call-to-action
  2. Mesmerizing visuals with relevant context and ingenuity
  3. Brand advocates to amplify reach and engagement

Similar is the case with New Year posts. Some made a home run and some were a swing and miss. Lets see how brands do next year.

JY –The Style Studio Is Heaven On Earth For Beauty Lovers In Karachi!

Karachi – 30th October 2015,JY – the style studio entered into the market for all the beauty lovers who like to be pampered with excellent spa treatments and beauty services. It kicked off with a massive blogger’s meet up where all the bloggers experienced an abundance of services ranging from Hairdo, Styling, Manicure and Pedicure. Javaid, the visionary behind the leading beauty salon of Pakistan, personally looked after each blogger while they were enjoying the beauty treatments.

JY The Salon Studio

JY The Salon Studio

JY – The Style Studio is not just another salon in town but a whole new vision. It was brought together by two enthusiasts, Javaid and Yasir, who wanted to chisel a place of peace, rejuvenation and style. JY offers a unique salon experience which is certainly a rare find in Pakistan. Yasir, the brain child behind this salon was always very passionate about style and beauty trends. Javaid, the head stylist, on the other hand is a true artist who worked with a renowned makeup artist for 14 years before he ventured on his own. Javaid made his name in the industry with determination and created the most adored fashion styles that are unparalleled. Their team consists of skilled individuals who share the same vision as Javaid and Yasir.

Hair Power!

Hair Power!

At JY, their priority is to bring out one’s inner beauty and put it on display for the world to see and admire. From classic to contemporary, they consult with you to create a unique look and create a style that matches your personality. With a wide repertoire of styles, whether you are looking for natural or soft, vintage or retro, showbiz glamour, or simply something in between, you get what you asked for at JY.

JY, located at Khayaban-e-Bukhari, offers a novel approach to a destination that combines a multidimensional, stylish and suitably designed interior. The studio has plenty of space and seating arrangement. The whole area has been carefully planned to create an aesthetic ambiance that perfectly suits the salon interior design. On one side you will find a nice cafeteria to revitalize with a beverage or snack and enjoy in the seating lounge while on the other side there is a large enclave of space for male and female clients. A whole separate area has been designated for bridal services and a nail art section (which is rarely found in salons). In other words, Just JY has about everything you could imagine to get all your styling needs under one roof.

Overall, JY has proved to be a more people-centric salon which is on the rise as the only salon to go to. It was a momentous event where bloggers got the chance to revel in the five star styling experiences. The event was organized and managed by Mystic Marketing (Formerly known as Mystic Social Media). The meet up was attended by Natasah Carim,Amber Zulfiqar,Jadirah Sarmad,Sarah Lalani,Sana Shahid,Umaima Mehtab,Fatyma Naim,Farah Zaki,Gul E Zehra,Husnain Minawala and other well-known beauty bloggers of Karachi.

The Golden Age of Bullshit – Bob Hoffman

“Bullshit is hurting us” – Bob Hoffman said (with respect to the trends of the marketing and advertising industry)

In Advertising Week Europe 2014, Bob Hoffman scoffs at the idea of brands having relationships with consumers. He says that consumers say ‘we are passionate about brands” in which he replied “What? Dude get a f****** girlfriend”. The thesis of Hoffman’s talk is based on the skepticism of brands building ‘relationships’.

Hoffman speaks about his teaching background as a science teacher. He gives a difference between a hypothesis and a theory which is lacking in the advertising industry. His claim is that the ad industry works on hypothesis instead of theory. He says that “knowing something is different than thinking that you know something”. Overtime, Hoffman stopped believing in advertising experts because they did not have facts regarding a trend, prediction, experiment or behavior. The ones providing ‘predictions’ were masquerading as data experts.

In the talk, he compares experts ‘data’ and facts itself with examples. He gave examples of Seth Godin, an advertising guru, saying that the age of traditional advertising was at an end; Hoffman replies that ‘apparently he forgot to tell that to McDonalds and Toyota who made high profits solely in traditional advertising.

Hoffman quotes predictions made by advertising outlets, gurus, experts and pundits which scarcely comes true. He also provides statistics that give an opposite perspective to the so-called predictions. He does admit that social media is a worldwide phenomenon but social media marketing is another story. Then he outlines the falsity of social media marketing disrupting traditional marketing. He gives the example of Pepsi. They lost 5% market share after cancelling their TV advertising to funding an entire social media marketing campaign. As a result, they went from second best beverage in the U.S. to third. Pepsi CMO quotes, “we have doubled our Facebook fans!!” Pepsi has never been able to recover its position.

Hoffman does admit that there is a place for social media and online advertising, but there is no place for bullshit. In his final point, Hoffman talks about the lack of traditional advertising to an audience over 50. They hold 50% of the U.S. wealth and if they were a country, they would be the 3rd largest economy in the world. Hoffman ends his talk with the thought that advertisers believe in fairy tales more than facts.

Hoffman’s argument was never without facts, statistics and data which was backed by scientific theory. He clears up a variety of ambiguities which had been floating around about the new digital trends which is changing the dynamics of advertising. However, he does not agree with the idea that traditional advertising is at its deathbed. In fact, it may be thriving more than ever due to digital advertising.

It was certainly an interesting outlook on fact versus predictions, trends versus data and experts versus wanna-be experts. Have a look at the entire talk here.

Delivering Happiness – A Story for Everyone With A Passion

There comes a spark which needs to be grabbed and held on to. There is passion which must be nurtured and grown to the next level. There is an idea that can make you or break you. The story relayed in Delivering Happiness- A Zappos Story by Tony Hsieh is about a spark that ignited, passion that exploded and an idea which became a phenomenon.

This book is a must read, even for non-readers. To make it accessible for all, I have produced a summary for each chapter.

The book of the present

The book of the present

 Chapter 1 Summary

Chapter one is based on the CEO (Tony Hsieh) of Zappos who was celebrating with his employees upon the good news that Amazon had bought Zappos. He looks back at his journey, trying to pinpoint when he started as an entrepreneur and he realized that it dates back to elementary school and his venture into worm farming.

He discusses key values that he learned from elementary school to Harvard. He’s from an Asian heritage which came with a lot of predetermined obligations to be the best student and getting into the best college. As he explains that for an Asian family in America, their children are their scorecard. However, he worked smart rather than hard. He found creative ways to fulfill his responsibilities such as tape recording his piano lessons and playing them at the scheduled time. Then he would read whatever books he liked, especially Boy’s Life magazine.

The chapter is based on the various ways Hiseh tried to gain a profit from various business ventures. He was successful with some idea, he wasn’t in others. He learned lesson by taking risks. Thinking outside the box was a core value in his early stage learning experience. This was especially profound when he submitted a poem based on Morse code for a Shakespearean assignment in high school.

Hsieh writes about his experience in Harvard where his business analytical skills had been honed enough to recognize a need such as McDonald’s hamburgers, identifying the target audience which is the dormitory he was living in and marketing that need for fulfillment at a profit margin. And he wasn’t afraid of taking risks. He converted the burger selling business into a pizza selling business which had a higher profit margin. He also came to meet Alfred, who was to become the CFO and COO of Zappos.

The chapter ends with Hsieh trying to find a high-paying job after college graduation. It shows his personal trait of wanting a well-paid job where he didn’t have to work a lot.

Chapter 2 Summary

Chapter Two is about Hsieh’s journey after graduation and how he reached the decision to walk away from millions of dollars that Microsoft was willing to offer. His journey starts from Oracle, his first job after graduating. He receives a healthy $40,000 pay-check a month to test out software which leaves him having more time to get bored. Over five months, he realizes that he does not have any interest in spending the day unproductive with a steady pay-check. His room-mate, Sanjay is in a similar situation and they both decide to do an independent project in their free time to combat boredom.

They build a Website designing start-up with Hsieh in sales and customer service and Sanjay in designing. They attain an important ‘client’ (chamber of commerce) for whom they do the work for free and market the name for paying services. Eventually the start-up gets a paying client and both realize that the fun and excitement is incomparable to the boredom at the office. So they quit their regular jobs and venture out on their own.

This leads them to bigger obstacle; their start-up is not innovative enough. It doesn’t provide enough fun and soon they fall into boredom again. Hence they venture into building another start up called Internet LinkExchange (ILE). This idea blooms considerably as they sell ad inventory to company websites which is run on credits. Once the company obtains 100 credits by the click-through-rate, they receive 500 times impressions by ILE and the website can use the ILE domain for advertising their company. This enables free exposure for companies who are unable to spend on conventional advertising. It becomes more than a million dollar idea!

The chapter ends with LinkExchange getting sold for $265 million dollars by Microsoft and Hsieh gets $40 million if he stays for a year. However, the change in company culture from fun and exciting to politics and profits bores the CEO into leaving within a month. He realizes that happiness is not about money. It’s about passion.

Wise words from a fun-loving CEO

Wise words from a fun-loving CEO

Chapter 3 Summary

This particular chapter gives a comprehensive insight in investing into a startup and the entrepreneurial skills required for its success.  The chapter provides a progress into how to go about business networking and creating meaningful connections with those around you. There has to be an effort to create a relationship or engage in matters that may not be related to the company you represent. With his two friends, Alfred and Nick, Hsieh invests in the shoe company called ‘Zappos’. One specific business strategy used for the online shoe store was the ‘drop-ship’ concept.

“We were pioneering a new concept of having brands drop ship directly from their inventory to the customer.”

Hsieh learns a new skill, poker. He finds it fun and challenging and also finds similarities between poker and business strategy. To name a few, he learns about Marketing and Branding as follows:

  1. Act weak when strong, act strong when weak. Know when to bluff.
  2. Your ‘brand’ is important.
  3. Help shape the stories that people are telling about you.

He also spoke about Evaluating Marketing Opportunities, Financials, Strategy, Continual Learning and Culture.

His excerpt from Ivana Trump’s Book is also quite insightful into creating an environment of connectedness. He explains the necessity to know the person first and then know what he does and form a relationship which is ever-lasting.

Hsieh’s passion comes through when Zappos does have enough funding and not many investors were interested in the company. He learned about taking risks and believing in the idea. He feels strongly that Zappos can work if marketed right as it is definitely a growing industry. His passion to prove everyone wrong was all the motivation he needed to put aside his investing hat and put on his entrepreneurial hat.

Chapter 4 Summary

An important lesson was learned in by the Zappos Hsieh in this chapter:

“We learned that we should never outsource our core competency. As an e-commerce company, we should have considered warehousing to be our core competency from the beginning. Outsourcing that to a third party and trusting that they would care about our customers as much as we would was one of our biggest mistakes. If we hadn’t reacted quickly, it would have eventually destroyed Zappos.”

At lunch with his colleague/friend Fred, Hsieh takes about the bigger vision of Zappos. By the end of lunch, they realize that the biggest vision would be to build the Zappos brand about the very best customer service. Then Fred initiates another way to apply customer service to the vendor community. It was something that was never done before. Vendors do not have the best relationship with retailers, especially department stores, usually trying to squeeze the last dollar out of them. (Due to their conversation at lunch, where on the side they recommended books to read to each other, Zappos library was born).

Their big vision about the best customer needed to come to fruition as Zappos was tight on funding and possible solution for cash flow into the company was running thin. Internally, the employees were excited about implementing the core value of customer service but was it all talk? Or were they committed to take on the challenges? Thus, on March 2003, Zappos removed the drop-ship products from their website permanently.

Chapter 5 Summary

This chapter begins with the decision of Zappos headquarters to be moved to Las Vegas. Different employees give their intake on the move and from 90 employees; around 70 employees agree to move to Las Vegas. This is mostly due to a great correlation of company culture within Zappos. To maintain this sort of culture, Hsieh initiates the Zappos Culture Book which has a new edition every year. It’s given out to prospective employees, vendors, and even customers. Ask Anything is the company newsletter which is a by-product of the culture book. The employees could ask anything they want and their question will be answered. One of the questions asked were “Do vegetarians eat animal crackers?”

It is because the Zappos team invested in improving customer service (the main reason the whole Zappos HQ was moved to Las Vegas), strengthening their company culture, and caring about their employee’s personal and professional development, that they reached their gross merchandise sale of $1 billion in 2008 instead of 2010.

“Looking back, a big reason we hit our goal early was that we decided to invest our time, money, andresources into three key areas: customer service (which would build our brand and drive word of mouth), culture (which would lead to the formation of our core values), and employee training and development (which would eventually lead to the creation of our Pipeline Team).”

The brand philosophy Zappos invested in was to take most of the money they would have spent on paid advertising and invest it into customer service and customer experience instead, letting their customers do the brand marketing through word of mouth. The CEO had tapped into a resource not known by any company: the WOW experience.

“The combination of a 24/7 warehouse, surprise upgrades to overnight shipping, and having our warehouse located just fifteen minutes away from the UPS Worldport hub means that a lot of customers order as late as midnight EST, and are surprised when their orders show up on their doorstep eight hourslater. This creates a WOW experience, which our customers remember for a very long time and tell their friends and family about.”

Kew lesson learned in this chapter: “Your Culture is Your Brand”, out which 10 core values were born.

What it means to be an entrpreneur

What it means to be an entrpreneur

Chapter 6 Summary

“If you just focus on making sure that your product or service continually WOWs people, eventually the press will find out about it” – Tony Hsieh

The beginning paragraphs of chapter six tells about the marvel of word of mouth. It organically gets news coverage or publicity on blogs and it spreads like ‘wildfire’. It wasn’t initiated by the company, it just happened because it was a different way of conducting a business – Keeping the customers first. The increase media coverage gained the CEO opportunities of public speaking at summits and events. He would personally be a nervous wreck but it helped his brand gain a positive impact so he accepted as many public speaking events as he could. This gained him an insight: people love hearing personal stories and about the company culture. He made three basic rules for his talk:

  • Be passionate
  • Tell personal stories
  • Be real

Another unexpected result of public speaking was the realization that Zappos was changing other companies and other people’s lives as well. They had helped in implementing a combination of profits, passion and purpose. This gave birth to Zappos Insights – an online video subscription service and Zappos Insights Live – a two day immersion seminar. The company’s initiative to create a valuable company culture with the best customer service grew their gross merchandise sale to $1 billion in less than ten years. This was possible because their focused on their core values time and time again.

Although they had achieved their billion dollars goal way ahead of schedule, there was misalignment with the board of directors. They did not see the need for the previously mentioned activities, they wanted a financial exit. Hence Tony, Alfred and Fred came up with a plan to buy out their board of directors. An opportunity came in 2009; Amazon reaches out for an alignment with Zappos. After months of talks and understanding of both companies Zappos and Amazon, they come to a ‘definitive agreement’. It would help Zappos maintain it company culture and grow exponentially. The transaction for Zappos shareholders was over $1.2 billion.

If you like the summary, read the entire chapter in the book here. Or better yet, read the whole book! 😀

P.S. There are couple more chapters in the book. Read them if you like.

Have Fun. Period.