VJTI stands for Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute – one of the leading engineering colleges in Mumbai (and India). I have many VJTI-ans as Facebook friends and they keep sharing interesting stuff from Quora. I saw that VJTI as a topic on Quora is very popular.

Followers: 982

 Most questions in the topic have 1 or 2 answers but often 30+ votes, thus showing the high level engagement of the student community.

VJTI-Quora I was wondering about the on-the-ground situation – was VJTI admin part of this? Is the college facilitating this or was this purely student initiative?

Then I came across this QnA…Aditya Sengupta VJTI

 

and I realized that Aditya would be the best person to talk to with regards to this.

Is someone managing it (the topic) or is it a natural consequence of students being avid Quora users?

This is natural. Guess it started with Quora becoming popular within my VJTI friend circle and spreading outward from there – causing a lot of VJTI folks to come to Quora (because Quora is such an enticing+addictive service).

Why is the VJTI topic so active on Quora?

Critical mass. VJTI is a topic that lends itself well to being institutionalized, like several other classical institutions (the older IITs, BITS Pilani, etc). To get a feel of what I mean, here’s a good writeup (we can’t access the link as the Facebook note he refers to is not public but I have produced it in full at the end of this post). When a topic like that hits an audience with critical mass, activity happens.

How did you make Quora popular amongst VJTIans? Any interesting ploys?
No ploys. All natural growth. I’ve barely been active on Quora after my early days there a year or two ago.
Will this Quora popularity sustain on its own or do you (and the first adopters with you) still lead the participation?
If it can’t sustain itself organically, it won’t sustain in the long run even with the involvement of early adopters. I believe it’ll sustain itself.
Also please explain your role in VJTI – I am a little confused – you are a faculty member?

Not a faculty member. Normal ex-student (finished my BTech in 2009).

I usually find natural adoption of social media very interesting to study.  I find there is lots to learn for a marketeer.

1. Passionate Community

What Aditya rightly calls Critical Mass. Many brands have a passionate community – online, offline or mobile. Identifying this community and then empowering it to enhance the brand and the community itself can be a very crucial step. In fact Coca Cola in the early years of social had empowered their fans who ran a fan community for the brand. Instead of trying to take over the fan created page they actually empowered them.

2. Employees, Employees

Even earlier I have written about the merits of an employee centric social strategy. While your brand may not have built a significantly large community of users, the employees usually & especially for startups tend to be very loyal proponents of the brand. The challenge usually is that they may not be active social users and even if they are the company rules and regulations need to empower them to be able to participate actively as required.

3. Wolf in Sheep’s clothing (haha)

What I mean is that someone amongst the employee group should spark the passion. If the VJTI college would have started a campaign to get students on Quora etc.. we really can’t guarantee it would work and also the effort required would be a whole lot more. Instead someone who is part of the student community has sparked the passion a lot easily.

I have had similar experiences in startups when I used to work in-house. The boss had been trying to get employees to come onto social media and participate bit it wasn’t working too well, but I was as any other employee (albeit with a cooler job 😉 ) I used to keep telling them various Twitter stories, about the fun trending topics, shared some fun tweets on current topics, in case of Mumbai rains showed real, live pics and all of a sudden they were a lot more interested in Twitter and they adopted Twitter.

What are your thoughts on bringing about a natural adoption of new social platforms in a community? Will be coming up with more dope about interesting stuff on Quora soon… so stay tuned 🙂

Here is the note about VJTI that Aditya was refering to,

The 8th Wonder

June 6, 2009 at 11:15am

I remember the first time I heard the name VJTI. It was in the threadbare classroom of my Physics tuition teacher Mrs. Ghurye. I didn’t pay much heed to what she was saying. Most of us were drowned in the stupor of the laziness caused by the midday sun. My mind was more on the bead of sweat trickling down my back since the a/c was out of order, as she conveniently told us. She went on and on about how only a few handpicked chosen ones will ever be able to walk through those gates with pride. “Only the crème de la crème will ever call the illustrious Victoria Jubilee Technological Institute home”, she haughtily proclaimed. “Five of my students got admission there last year!” she had added with a self satisfied smirk.

At that time an image was etched into my subconscious. A magnificent, mammoth building, built of brick and stone. Beyond whose gilded gates laid boundless tomes of knowledge. The reticent walls when coaxed would tell tales of the geniuses and masterminds who studied there. I knew I’d never see that place in all my life. Apparently she made it seem like none of us were really worthy of it. That if we went there, we’d always get this feeling of aloofness and distance, a step-motherly treatment if you will.

I got in here by somewhat of a chance. I never really wanted to do IT or Instrumentation or any of these infantile branches. I felt, somehow, they did not give enough splendour to an engineering degree. I wanted a core branch. My dad at that time insisted that come what may, I must try for this institute at all costs. As distant as it may seem, it was worth a shot. I got my admission in the second round at COEP, Pune.

I remember the first day I walked through those gates (after the admission procedure), there was a stately aura around the campus and paradoxically everything and everyone seemed so humble. Even till this day, when I step into college after an extended period of time, I can still get the tingling sensation that I did on the first day. A Molotov cocktail of apprehension, fear and excitement flushed through my veins. What arcane secrets did she hold? Would this association end for the better or worse? Were the girls here pretty? It’s amazing what goes thru the mind of a 17year old at the threshold of his career.

Coming from the ‘eminent’ Jai Hind College I was shell shocked when I had my initial association with my peers. I thought “These aren’t my people! I belong with the Brand Wagon, mindless, haughty children of socialites with little sense and no aim. Who classify friends by the cars they drive and where they spend their Saturday nights, who scoff at anyone who as much as mumbles the words suburb, allowance or scholarship.” I can’t begin to say how wrong I was. I made friends here that I would have never known otherwise. Now THAT would have been a definite loss. For my suburban bandhaas, with their allowances fuelled by scholarships, are more ‘dope’ than anyone can fathom.

The people here were genuine and sincere. They all had that same quality of frankness and humility. Untainted and untarnished by the stains of ‘high society’. Its not that they came from humble beginnings, no. They were from all strata of society, coalesced into one single institution. They were cool in their own way, each one unpretentious, unique and irreplaceable, always eager to help and never to judge.

These people taught me that sometimes water might just be thicker than blood. I learned the fine art of proxy, experienced the zeal and enthusiasm only an inter-department cup can create, understood the nuances between the nerds of Electronics and Computers and learnt just how much fun ‘CounterStrike’ in the hostel can be.

We often crib about the shortcomings of our college. How the faculty is lacking, the infrastructure is crumbling and the knowledge is more theoretical. But no one really realises the fact that these hallowed walls play a mean trick on you. You learn to despise them for the first year, you turn indifferent towards them for the next to and eventually you realise that you just can’t let go. It’s called being institutionalised. A word I picked up from a movie I saw, which was recommended by, none other than, a hostelite!

I now stand at the middle of my term at VJTI. The friends I’ve made, the experiences I’ve had and the things I have learnt. I find this repertoire of memories forever engraved into my mind more priceless than I can ever put into this article.

Dedicated to: – Those who made double lectures more bearable, the library more conducive to gossip, and practicals as something to look forward to.

Raj Dabholkar
TE Production