Light Within

making sense of social media mix

Pakistan Army should blog as a policy

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I remember the days when army soldiers were told not to disclose their locations where they happened to be serving. I also remember seeing those silly signs on bridges saying ‘photography is prohibited’. No more. Things have changed now. Advent of technologies like GPS or cellular phones has changed the way we work and also our priorities. It is in this milieu that I say blogger outreach and social media influence can be of great advantage to any organization including Pakistan Army. Why else other armies have dedicated army blog networks where soldiers, family members, friends and supporters can post video, images and written stories?

By getting into blogging and other social media channels, army can pick up useful insights to successfully and directly connect with people. Blogging can encourage authenticity and transparency to build credibility. Social influence is very much relevant to any army today, more so to Pakistan Army that derives its strength from masses. This may also help army to actively listen to those strong opinionated advocates and those “realist, liberals, progressive, revolutionaries” that are present out there in blogosphere.

It is about time that Pakistan Army should include blogging in its communication strategy and fill the huge void that exists. Army need to update policies and encourage solders to engage meaningfully. And I know soldiers are good at it (I still remember those public speaking lessons that I had during my training in Pakistan Military Academy – one of the best training institution anywhere in the world – and later those Method of Instructions tutorials I had to attend).

Army has great opportunities to offer to its people. They need to tell this to people it serves. Internal as well as external army bloggers can do this better than anyone else.

Can influential bloggers help army in present context? Shoot down if you don’t agree.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, January 17, 2018, , links to this post

Making Money Online in Pakistan

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Blogging is no more a new phenomenon in Pakistan. Many Pakistani online users are writing their own and rest are reading others' blogs and interacting in meaningful ways. Their voice is being heard in the blogsphere. Getting paid for blogging is still a new idea in Pakistan though.


There are reasons for this. Ironically, corporate Pakistan is yet not aware of blogs as economical, effective and interactive marketing tool. Like anywhere else, blogs can be a welcome mat for local businesses to reach out across the world but this has not started happening yet. Which is why Pakistan blogsphere can be characterized by only anti-establishment, noncommercial write-ups and rants, mostly. Exceptions aside, Pakistan blogs are mainly personal where bloggers post purely because of their own interests.

One wonder why local businesses have failed to notice the growing readership and influence of these Internet postings and the buzz corporate blogging can create particularly as a process of Search Engine Marketing or targeting online segment of consumers. But this is not about how Pakistani businesses can harness the power of blogs to reach out. This is about the options available to Pakistan bloggers to get paid for their work online.

Payments by most online advertising programs and affiliates are made through Paypal - widely used online money transfer service. Sadly, Paypal is not available in Pakistan so far. This alone puts Pakistan bloggers at a great disadvantage because without Paypal account they cannot join most of the programs.

That said, Pakistan bloggers are exceptionally good (and I am not being ethnocentric here). They have acumen for corporate writing. Their language and blogging skills and networking capabilities can be compared with any bloggers' community in the world. Internet coverage and users ' base is constantly growing. Even trend to shop online is taking off. Given chance, all this can indirectly help in efforts to make making through blogging.

Despite the odds, some of the savvy Pakistan bloggers are already using different methods to make money from blogs; Google AdSense advertising program being the first choice. Google pays through check and is liberal in taking small blogs in their program. Only recently, Google has started paying in Pakistan through Western Union and now bloggers here don't have to wait for 40 long days to get their checks cleared through normal banking channels or pay them $ 12 for every transaction.

Google's AdSense program, which started in 2003, pays Web publishers including bloggers based on how many times advertisements on their sites receive clicks. Google places the ads on participating Web sites using contextual word matching, in an attempt to ensure that the advertisements relate to the content on the page. Users' friendly AdSense also offers the opportunity to monetize site searches while providing a powerful and fast search engine for blogs sites. Google places relevant ads along with search results pages. Clicks on these ads also earn the site owner revenue. Earnings are not big mainly because there are not many local ads in Google's AdWord inventory. "Things are changing," says Badar Khushnud, Google country representative, "as Pakistan businesses have started using AdWord program."

AdBrite and Bidvertiser - both click based advertising programs that make payments through checks - closely follow AdSense.

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Bloggers can also make money through "affiliate networks," which, in contrast to Google's automated system, allow blog writers to choose which advertisements to put on their pages. They also can be paid based on how often ads on their sites lead to sales rather than how often the ads receive clicks. I have experience with Text Link Ads (they pay through check) and it is fun working with them. They sell space off my blogs and I have control over what appears on my multiple blogs.

Then, businesses and organizations from all over the world offer to pay bloggers for mentioning them, their products and or services in blogs in order to create an online buzz, get more traffic and better page rank. Many online services like Pay Per Post, Sponsored Review, Loud Launch - paypal required - and Reviewme to name just a few, have come up. These services manage growing demands by advertisers and arrange supply through interested bloggers. Few months ago, I had signed up for Reviewme because they also pay through check. Reviewme offers products or services for review. I write about whatever I like and they pay me fifty percent of what they charge the advertisers. This arrangement works fine for me.

I have tried with merchandising through my blogs as well. Attempt to sell my own books (and the one I had translated) was a good experience. While I did not have a lot of success with merchandising - I am sure other bloggers can see this as an opportunity to make some money from blogs by selling products. That is not all. Bloggers can sell branded products whatever way their entrepreneurial heart desires using CafePress by creating and adding online store's link to blogs and CafePress will do the rest. There are so many more ways to earn money by blogging for those who are interested in earning using blogs. Driven by demand, more advertising programs, affiliates and sponsors and others are coming up every day. Bloggers can experiment with different programs that suit them and can create diverse stream of earnings.


A word of caution; earning through blogging does require persistent postings of quality contents and blog promotion. Best is to keep blogging for joy and monetize blogs on the side; keeping money making expectations realistic. It is a long and slow process. Only "17 percent of most popular bloggers in NYC earn more than thousand dollars a month. That leaves a whooping 83 percent earning less," revealed a NYC Blogger Summit Survey earlier this year. But again these figures are relative.

Blogging is a creative activity and fun. Most bloggers enjoy blogging. That is why they are blogging in the first place. Now let's think about getting paid for blogging.

Some of the sources that pay through check and I have experienced are Google, Link Worth, Earn $$ with WidgetBucks and ReviewMe.

posted by S A J Shirazi @ Tuesday, January 16, 2018, , links to this post

Sunday Tending

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, January 15, 2018, , links to this post

Harand heritage

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Perched in between legendary Suleman Range on one side and mighty River Indus on the other, ruins of original Harand Fort are situated in the area commonly known as Pachaddh. The Fort has seen a lot in the past and looks as if hiding thousands of secrets besides its historical and archaeological importance.

The Fort was originally built opposite historic Chachar Pass in Suleman Range to guard against the invaders. The fading signs of the edifice are still there in the forms of derbies and bricks scattered around the old site. Sikh Governor Sawan Mall used the material of the old fort rebuilt the Fort on a new location in 1831. Present structure of the Fort - a valuable part of our heritage - is situated about 25 kilometres west of sleepy and rustic town Dajal in district Rajan Pur. The Fort is spread over an area of 50 acres. The outer wall of whatever is left of it is one kilometre long and was made of thin red bricks. There are 16 pillars. Main entrance is in the west and another one is in the east. What ever is left of the fort is a clear evidence of its past, solidity of masonry and quality of construction.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, January 15, 2018, , links to this post

Urdu Twitter for Hilal

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This article appeared in June 2012 issue of Pakistan Army Monthly Hilal .
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, January 13, 2018, , links to this post

What Are Criminals Made Of?

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Violent crimes have been at historic up nationwide; they are rising sharply in all cities. The rise seems to have been set off by something more bewildering.

Imagine Lahore only ten years ago: It was a different city; socially cohesive, closely knit. Young children could go visiting neighbors or to nearby shopping centers to get groceries and other things but not now. People then knew each other personally and had strong social bounds; hence courtesies for each other.

Things started changing with an exponential increase in urbanization. Large number of outsiders started moving in Lahore to live and or work. Now even the immediate neighbors do not know each other and people act like total strangers. Garish housing societies have come up on all the open spaces inside the city and Lahore has expanded much beyond what used to be municipal boundaries. The crime rate has grown with mush faster speed than the city.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, January 13, 2018, , links to this post

Mountain Might

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Pakistan Urdu Science Board textbook defines earth surface “13000 feet above sea level as mountains. Areas that are 9840 feet above their surroundings are also mountainous.” Much more than travel, recreation and adventurous destinations, mountains are natural resource reservoirs that help to sustain life on the planet earth. Nature has blessed our country with rich mountain terrain.


Nowhere in the world is concentration of high mountains, peaks, glaciers, clean water lacks (full of trout and romantic legend attached to them) and passes except in Pakistan. Of the 14 over 8,000 meters high peaks on our earth planet, four occupy an amphitheatre at the head of Baltoro glacier in the Karakorum Range: K-2 (this year Pakistan is celebrating fiftieth anniversary when man first conquered the world’s second highest - 8,611 meters – peak half century ago), Gasherbrum-I (8,068 meters), Broad Peak (8,047 meters) and Gasherbrum-II (8,035 meters). There is yet another great mountain, Nanga Parbat (8,126 meters), located at the western side of the Himalayas. Moreover, there are 68 peaks over 7,000 meters and hundreds others over 6,000 meters in Pakistan.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, January 12, 2018, , links to this post

Say it with flowers

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Flowers surely bring people together. Blossoms can fuel a flaming passion, calm a raging jealousy, comfort a living being or earn a living. Presenting flowers is a romantic social folkway. Aside from romantic and literary delights, there is commerce in flowers too.


The town of Patoki is one of the most famous places in Pakistan for growing flowers. The town has one of the biggest clusters of flower, fruit and decorative plant nurseries in the country. Growing flowers and tree plants and selling is a major business concern in this sleepy town situated in the suburbs of Lahore.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, January 10, 2018, , links to this post

'Tera Dera Ya Mera Dera'

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There were many things on my schedule when I travelled from Multan to Quetta by road instead of rail: to see the tomb of Ghazi Khan, to visit famous Fort Monro and familiarize myself with this less travelled rout to Quetta.

For those who take their chance for the first time to the city, it might sound too good to be true but Dera Ghazi Khan (D G Khan) in the past was known as Dera Phullan Da Sehra — ‘land of flowers’. “The canal skirted its eastern side, fringed with luxurious gardens of mango trees, while ghats lined the bank, thronged in summer by numerous bathers.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Tuesday, January 09, 2018, , links to this post

E-commerce

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E-commerce is global in nature. Connected users from all over the world will resort to online shopping if businesses can offer safe, user-friendly online shopping experience. A recent international ecommerce survey conducted by Pitney Bowes has crossed my desktop that points out major preferences that can be mirrored anywhere in the world. As per the findings, “71 per cent international internet users look for competitive prices, 42 per cent want a broad selection of products and services online and some 35 per cent opt online-shopping for an easy checkout and other savings; deals, free shipping and taxing costs”.

In any market based economy, prices convey all of the information that consumers require to make learned decisions. On both the production and consumption sides, market prices act as coordinating signals. In order to make informed decisions about what to offer and how, businesses need to know the prices of inputs. Similarly, consumers need to know the prices of the goods and services they might buy so that they can make appropriate decisions. The internet offers a very advanced means to communicate prices that were never possible before.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, January 08, 2018, , links to this post


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