We Indians are social, virtually active too
Brands should learn to communicate deals, discounts & information better to engage with their consumers on facebook, twitter
LAST NIGHT I went to the community managers’ meet in Bengaluru organised by my colleagues. Although I’ve never directly played a community manager’s role, I’ve spent a good deal of time over the years working with people who have acted as ‘host’ and I’ve also done my fair share of designing social interactions for apps and the web.
This was the second time the group has got together. Somebody from the group explained that community managers are quite a rare breed, and often find themselves either working in isolation in a business scenario, or doing the job but not realising that there is a job title for what they do. The point of the meet-up, he said, was not to be a formal conference set-up, but a place where people working in community within different areas could meet and share tips, ideas and support.
I met people who worked at other media companies, but also people working in charities, the gaming industry and students. Looking at these 150-odd people, listening to the kind of work they have been doing, I realised that actually they are holding the fort for the top 10 spenders of our country. Yes, India’s largest brands are engaged in active conversations with their consumers through these people.
A few years back, I didn’t know any such ‘communities’ existed in our country. Neither did their RTB. In the world of engineers, doctors, bankers, marketers, here is a new community called the ‘Earned Media Innovators’. And it’s all based on one of the most exciting advents of the decade – Facebook and other social media!
A new study from Nielsen shows that India loves to socialise. At present, there are over 60 million active users on social media sites like Orkut, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, 80 percent of whom spend more than 22 minutes on social media every day. Social media is gathering momentum rapidly. Based on the current rate of growth and the intention of online Indians to participate in social media, the study estimates that over the next six months 45,000 online Indians intend to join social networking sites each day. When asked about the awareness of brands on social media, a fourth of online Indians were able to recall brands using social media.
But before they get all crazy with the Facebook likes, marketers might want to take a look at the results of this Nielsen survey.
Ranked by percentage, here are what users in India said they wanted most from a brand page:
1. Sales/discounts (53%)
2. Industry trends (50%)
3. Tips and tricks for maintaining and using products and services (48%)
4. More contests (42%)
5. Resolution of concerns (41%)
6. More utility applications and games (35%)
7. More conversations (31%)
8. Updates on products and services (17%)
Now one can look at this data, find the crude reason behind one individual intuitively liking a particular brand page on Facebook, or on the contrary be amazed with how marketing dynamics are changing and how fast a brand needs to change its tactics to be relevant to its consumers, How Kotler’s 4P’s are increasingly becoming irrelevant with each passing day.
The planning time for brands for campaigns have significantly come down from 2-3 months to merely 2-3 hours. Because each conversation, each trend, each social post can spin into a new thought or campaign angle. And hence this time brands need a complete new thinking from not the agencies, so much, but the marketers. The way marketers think, plan and strategise needs to change significantly.
Because with the right conditions in place, a brand can move beyond a purely transaction-based relationship to become a platform for an experience that feels like friendship. Great marketers have known how to do this for decades, of course, but it is now possible to make authentic connections more consistently. Tapping into the social nature of a brand this way means thinking differently about the expectations that consumers have for the product or service, their view of the company that produces it, and the values they share about it. Some marketers, like Starbucks, ikea and eBay, globally, are consciously evoking a shift in attitude that grew more prominent in the Great Recession: a desire for less acquisition of goods (or even experiences), and for more meaningful, lasting forms of fulfillment.
Companies that promise simplicity, connection, and sustainable benefits can gain the most from this shift — but only if they deliver.
A brand has a positioning; it has a character, especially when it comes to an interactive medium like social media. They shouldn’t forget the same when it comes to managing social media profiles. A consumer’s expectations from the brand perception should take the center stage beyond the products/services. While hiring, social media agency brands need to keep that in mind and then actively engage with them to teach them the brand language. Finding and defining the tone of voice is extremely critical as that’s what consumers are used to hearing. As a brand it’s only fair that the brand match up to the expectations of consumers, as they have been proud enough to endorse the message of their fondness for your brand on their personal walls.
So, think before react. Listen before you think!
It’s been thankfully by far the best journey that I as a brand strategist could have embarked on and I am hopeful to crack the success mantras on the way. The new book of marketing is yet to be written. The Innovations through cutting edge technology from a bold marketer will rise and shine soon. I along with my colleagues at Starcom MediaVest Group, take the newness of this medium in our stride and co-create such elevating and meaningful experiences for our clients consumers across the globe and in India.
The author is national director, digital, Starcom Mediavest Group. The views expressed here are his own