Hyderabad Bloggers' Meet 2013 - Enabling Change Through Social Media

"The pure lotus flower blooms out of the muddy pond, the fragrant sandalwood grows from the soil, the graceful cherry blossoms come forth from trees, the beautiful Yang Kuei-fei was born of a woman of low station, and the moon rises from behind the mountains to shed light on them. Misfortune comes from one’s mouth and ruins one, but fortune comes from one’s heart and makes one worthy of respect." - New Year's Gosho, ND

The Hyderabad BloggersMeet 2013 started out as an email connect on New Years day among the small group of people who were part of the first meet in June 2012. Over the next three weeks, it turned into a unique social experiment that led up to the event on January 20, 2013 at ITC Kakatiya. The theme was Enabling Change Through Social Media. Details were put up on the social networks five days before the event. It was by invitation only, and the press and media were not invited. In no time, we had more confirmations than we had planned for, and ITC was kind enough to make arrangements to accommodate us all.

Chef Sekar with Pattu (C) and Bhavana
Ashok and his friends - part of the team led by Mr. Kishore who helped us out with the arrangements at the venue.
The staff of ITC were extremely courteous, and when we walked in to the venue, we found the executive chef of the hotel, Chef Sekar, in his work attire, waiting for us. We thought he wanted to discuss the arrangement for refreshments. To our surprise, it turned out that he was a blogger too, and contrary to what one might expect, a social responsibility blogger who has been involved with several social activism movements across the country. He joined us for the entire meeting and shared his valuable insight during the discussions that followed.

Satish Kumar listens as Sekar speaks about his journey as a blogger

The event kicked off with a talk on the bells and whistles of attracting search traffic and page ranking presented by Satish Kumar of CoolPCTips (as well as Director, Maxthon India). The fundamentals of SEO that he shared made us realize that all of us could benefit from keeping small technical details in mind when we go about our blogging work. He also shared how blogging could be a financially lucrative opportunity too. His passion and his expertise came through as he excitedly shared how easy it is to make your page look good to search engine robots. His passion and expertise came through repeatedly during the meeting, and his passion and expertise came through repeatedly during the meeting.




It was wonderful meeting some of the newer participants in the meetings, like Madhur Chadha and Debdatta Sahay. Most of the older group was there, and it was a joy to see Gautam Dhameja walk in. He was the person who had initiated the first meeting.

Satish CoolPCTips Kumar speaking on SEO and monetization.
During the discussion, we were amazed to discover that some of the younger bloggers were actually funding their studies through blogging by using SEO best practices. The other important by-product of this session was the realization that blogging itself was evolving. Not only was the audience comprised of a wide range of niche bloggers, from poetry to beauty, tech to social responsibility, beauty to radio shows, but even the formats were varied, from microblogging on twitter to facebook statuses and notes, audio/video to graphic/comicbook formats, and from blogging based out of image sharing sites to micro-niche blogging.

Samvit, the youngest member of the group, poses. With Madhavi (F) and Shankari (B)
NVL Sateesh speaking about his massive earnings from monetizing his blog - 16 cents in 5 years!
 This was followed by a panel presentation on From Blogging to Getting Published, by Shankari Sundaram, Linda Ashok, and Anuradha Goyal. The discussion was rich and varied, as we realized that the paradigm of publishing was rapidly changing with the growing acceptability of innovative business models and emerging technologies. With inputs from the other attendees, this session presented us with useful insights into creating manuscripts, how to handle copyright issues, what to look out for in agreements, and models of revenue sharing. It also helped us see that blogging itself was an exercise in self publishing in the digital space.

Prasad and Anuradha.
Madhur Chadha, Ratnakar (C) and Debdatta. Madhur runs a poetry and music blog, a very successful internet radio show and is a pioneer in vlogging (video blogging) as well.
The next item on the agenda was a session on niche blogging by the acclaimed travel blogger Anuradha Goyal. While she set out talking about travel writing, the audience interest in intellectual property soon took the discussion in another direction. Anuradha being an expert in intellectual property and innovation in addition to her more popular avatars as travel writer and literary critic, brought in interesting and engaging perspectives. As the participants grappled to find balance between the writer’s calling and the need to sustain oneself as a professional writer, it soon became apparent that doing justice to these topics demanded much more time and focus and it was unanimously decided to devote subsequent workshops to them.

Sandeep (F), Linda, Debraj, Gautam, and Madhur.
 After a refreshment break made memorable by Chef Sekar’s special offerings, we turned to the focus of the evening, social media activism, in a session spearheaded by Ratnakar Sadasyula, eminent social activist, political commentator, closet historian and film buff. He began by shifting our perspective from frustration and hopelessness about the situation around us to one of hope and positivity.



Debraj (F), Gautam, Madhur, Ratnakar (C), Debdatta and Nishant.
He used the momentum from earlier sessions to turn his presentation into a group discussion to help the audience see that activism is much more than a single action of liking, sharing, donating, or writing. He explained the complex continuum of attention that is needed to make social media activism truly effective. Using examples, he spoke about the quiet existence of several well meaning initiatives in the social space, and how their value could be multiplied manifold by lending them the leverage of our collective social media reach. Due to constraints of time and the energetic debate that his ideas generated, his exploration could not be followed up in as much detail as the group would have liked. Once again, it was decided to devote subsequent workshops to discuss these ideas.

Our cherished gifts.
This was followed by the unusual giveaway that had been organized. During the communications about the meeting, all participants had been requested to bring along one, two or many gifts from among their personal possessions that they cherished. These gifts from the heart were thrown into a digital basket and randomly given away to the attendees. Sandeep, the official recordkeeper of the meet, ran a random number generator to decide who gets which gift. The gifts were truly special not just in what they stood for by themselves, but in the value they had for the one who had brought it along. As the gifts were given away, the gift givers spoke about what was cherished about the gift and why they wanted to share it. There were author-signed books, prize winning photographic prints from the photographer himself, games and puzzles from the gaming expert, books on culture and art, music CDs, personal grooming items, household items, bags, clothing, pens, and even chocolate bars! Everyone went home with several gifts - gifts with a difference and no strings attached.


The young band of technology bloggers were the find of the evening. (L to R) Gautam, Pavan, Koundinya (F), Sampath, along with Madhur, Anuradha, and Pattu.
Where do we go from here? This was the question that the meeting ended with. As we had overshot the time by nearly two hours, it was decided to take up this discussion through the various platforms that were already in place, such as the Hyderabad Bloggers’ Meet Facebook Page and the email group to which all participants have been added. While upskilling workshops for bloggers have already been planned, these discussions will give greater shape on how we can use our collective reach to make a real difference to our times.


In our excitement and out of concern for the late hour it had become, we forgot to take a group pic. When we remembered, many of the participants had left. We still got those who were there to pose with the banner.



The main event was followed by a dinner which saw the bloggers reveal their “true colors.” By this time, we were no longer talking about the huge amounts of money that we could make from blogging any more. It was a time filled with fun and laughter, music and poetry, conviviality and comradeship. My biggest take-aways from the evening were realizing the evolving definition of social media activism and blogging, the importance of technical inputs such as SEO and SMO, the immense collective reach that we have as a group, and of course, the fact that we connected with so many likeminded people who are all trying to do their bit to create a better world.

Sandeep glowing as he displays his gift.
This post will be incomplete without mentioning the people who worked (more or less) selflessly (more or less) behind the scenes to make it happen. Anuradha helped bring in ITC Hotels as venue partners and Satish Kumar brought in Maxthon as technology partners. Maxthon and CoolPCTips sponsored a giveaway of t-shirts and caps in addition to lending technology support and getting the lovely HBM banners done. Big Basket, the online grocers, graciously offered all participants a free shopping voucher from their site, while our own curated catalog of fine teas had its official soft launch by gifting all participants sampler packs from Blend of Tea.

Madhavi Padma, Sandeep Ingilela, Bhavana Nissima, Anuradha Goyal, Pattu Raj and NVL Sateesh were the creative directors for this program. My name is Willis Conover, and you were listening to the Jazz Hour.

Posts by others on this event - (if you wrote a post on this event and it is not listed here, please let me know so that I can update the link library)
At Tilling The Earthwoman
At Gardener At 60
At Desi Traveler
At Crack The Sky
At Random Musings

This report was about the 3rd Hyderabad Bloggers' Meet. The 4th Hyderabad Bloggers' Meet is scheduled for December 7, 2014 at Saptaparni. It is a daylong affair and includes mentoring workshops by leading bloggers and social media influencers. The event page can be found HERE and if you are planning to come, an RSVP would be nice. 


(All photographs used in this post were taken either by Bhavana or me. Please feel free to reuse them for any purpose that will lead to greater good. Credit and a link back would be nice but not essential. We don't sleep with your conscience, and we don't expect you to sleep with ours.)

40 comments:

  1. I Will Not Leave Blogging Until I Became a members of such meetings :)

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    1. Srikanth, it was a wonderful time. I am sure you will join such meetings in future.

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  2. Awesome. Looks like you guys had so much fun. :) I also saw some of the pics you posted on FB, looks like you guys were up all night after the meet? :P

    Anyways, the Bangalore meet on the very same day was super fun too. Thoroughly enjoyed it. :)

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    1. We did. And we were up till 4 in the morning, sharing our plans and aspirations, and of course, laughing a lot. Saw your Gandhi monkey pic. Now you are into celebrity league!!

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  3. I love the spirit behind this meeting, Subhorup - truly for bloggers, by bloggers! Hyderabadis (and some friends of Hyderabadis - Bhavana!) rock!

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    1. Thanks, Corinne. The spirit was truly what made it so special, we are so blessed to have these wonderful people as part of our lives. Good to know about your Hyd connection too.

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    2. Grin, Corinne-Thank you!!! I now know why I love you so much!

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  4. Subhorup, you brought the essence of the meet so beautifully. Thank you!

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  5. Great post. I enjoyed basking in the glory of eminent bloggers. Btw the guy holding the book is clearly high :-)

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    1. The guy holding the book has been high for the last one month, so whats new!! :) Picture abhi baaki hai.

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  6. Really had a good time in HBM 2013 with New Blogger Friends. Thanks a lot Subhorup sir for organizing this meet and also Thanks to Everybody for making this meet successful :)

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    1. Sai, it was wonderful meeting you and your friends. Thanks for making the evening so special.

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  7. I didn't want it to end. The enthusiasm and knowledge that the bloggers have is remarkable. Yeh dil maange more! When are we meeting next? :-)

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    1. Totally agree. The breadth and the depth of wisdom is such that it will take a lifetime to glean it all. But hey, we are all here. Lets keep the gleaning and growing going. Thanks for bringing Samvit along. I hope he enjoyed his under the table networking as much as we did.

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  8. What a wonderful meet it was. I have been reading about it on many blogs and now I am really enthused to attend one. Hope it happens soon in Pune.

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    1. I am sure it will, Jaspreet. You can make it happen; just reach out to the local bloggers you know, and meet up. That really is how this meet happened. It is the first step that is most important.

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  9. I truly enjoyed reading your post and Pattu's and Bhavana's pics. You went beyond a normal meet and brought in enrichment and learning sessions that are even more relevant and enjoyable as they come from bloggers themselves. For the enthusiasm and sheer persistence, kudos to everyone. I miss such meets and the interaction and learning that happened. Do share the Youtube videos that I promise to listen to with great interest in one place if possible. I feel genuinely sad that I could not be there. It seems so much like my kind of thing *sad face*. Great that you guys had so much fun!

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    1. The meet was so you, Rachna! You were missed. We mentioned you couple of times in informal discussion. You would have participated with gusto and would have let your hair down with equal gusto--a girl after our hearts. Missed you, yaar!

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    2. It was indeed good learning and community building, Rachna. And like you noticed, it was very you. We were missing some people from across our networks all through, and you were one of them.

      We didn't get the whole presentations recorded, which is a pity. Updated the post with some video snippets. We had just a couple of them but they capture the spirit.

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    3. Thank you Bhavana. It was bittersweet seeing your tweets come up on our timeline when our meet was nearing its end. Me and my loudmouth would have fit right in :). Subhorup, I have gone through the snippets. Wish there was more recorded. Maybe next time.

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  10. And the gifting ideas were really beautiful and thoughtful :). Till 4 am I mean seriously folks :)?

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    1. It is only fair to acknowledge that the gifting ideas came from reading about all these bloggers meets where you air-walk your way back home with phablets, anti-aging gift hampers and 3D printers that can print your dinner. We wanted to have something like that here too. Hence.

      The next day was a working day for most of us who have work! But that didn't stop us really. 4 a.m. was just adrenaline from realizing that here was a forum that was not only extremely wise, compassionate and resourceful, but also thought alike. It was like being at a Woodstock of the heart.

      Of course, we were also monitoring some other Woodstocks of the heart but that is another story!

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    2. What was refreshing was the lack of clamor and desperation to get the prizes that is often seen at the other meets.

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  11. A lovely meet, Subho--one after my heart. Love the Hyderabadis--present, past and future! They are so easy and warm. Love the theme, love how it was brought together, love the energy, love it all the way through the many sips of fragrant tea.

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    1. Didn't know about the Hyderabadi - past. :) Your presence was in many ways the most important catalyst for this event. So much more tea to be had. Dang.

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  12. What a great coverage!

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  13. I have been traveling hence missed reading it completely, reading on phone is just not my thing.
    I must say this meet has created a wonderful platform and you have captured the essence very well. Now it is upto all of us to keep on taking it forward.

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    1. One of the lessons from the last meet, which was also similar lines was that following up on an agenda turns out to be challenging if not impossible. Hopefully with the larger participation in this meet, we will be able to make a difference.

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  14. Wow, that reads like a news report on the event. So you guys had another great event. :)
    You make me wish I were in H'bad. :)

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  15. Lovely event and a great post. Pity I'll never get to attend because I don't live in India.

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    1. Thanks, Damyanti! Maybe you can initiate something like this in your neck of the woods.

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  16. The meeting sounded very informative and productive. If and when I move to Hyderabad, I hope to go to a meeting.

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  17. Hope to see everyone soon at some meet.
    Great efforts by everyone involved, Subhoji!

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  18. I missed the meeting :(
    n I regret not attending it :(
    and
    I will make sure that im meeting you all the next time when you meet :(

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  19. I missed it *face palms* I will be there for nwxt one evn I hav my end sem!!

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    1. The next one is on Dec 7, 2014 at Saptaparni. It is a daylong affair with learning, sharing, and celebrating. Search on Facebook for the event page. Hope to see you there.

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  20. When will be the next blogger meet in Hyderabad?

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    1. 11 am to 5 pm on Dec 7, 2014, Saptaparni. Search Facebook for 4th Hyderabad Bloggers Meet.

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