Facebook, Twitter, Orkut and many other social media platforms have become a way of life for many consumers in India. Sharing information with friends and also strangers has become the new reality. How can brand managers and advertising agencies cash in on this growing segment? Can this very-evident opportunity in the media world be monetised? Can it become the centre of digital communications? How does one measure social media?
All these questions and more were addressed at a panel discussion on Social Media, which was part of Knowledge and Learning Seminar on Day 3 at GoaFest 2010. The session, which was moderated by Eric Ashok Ledergerber, Founder, hub.in|dia, had among its panelists Patrick Liotard-Vogt, chairman, ASW.com; Kiruba Shankar, well-known blogger and CEO of Business Blogging Pvt Ltd; Gaurav Mishra, CEO, 2020 Social; and Vishal Gondal, CEO & Founder, Indiagames Ltd.
Vishal Gondal started off the session by explaining how the whole media space was reinvented with the evolution of social media. “We are moving towards participative media, where the ballgame of engagement has change dramatically,” he noted.
Gondal further said that with mobile coming into the picture, and with its convergence with social media, interaction amongst consumers had increased irrespective of their locations. “Social is not just another website. Rather, it is a medium that can transform a brand in the sense how the consumers look at it,” he explained.
According to Gaurav Mishra, “There is a way advertising works – get 20,000 people listening to you, do a campaign and then move on to the other campaign – having the consumers hooked on to you on an on-going basis.”
Mishra further went on to explain the importance to scale up passion. He said, “Select a big lifestyle, interest or cause. Ignite passion, build a focused community around it, and scale it by leveraging with the social media.”
Explaining the role of the small communities within the social media space, Patrick Liotard-Vogt said, “An online community with 61 members and present in 200 countries will target specific sort of social media users – could be the elite class. Such small communities are stronger than Facebook or Twitter in terms of the offline activations.”
He further said, “Facebook is for keeping in touch with your people and small world is about meeting people offline.”
At this point, Kiruba Shankar asked, “How many of us go beyond Facebook or Twitter? If this continues, there is no way we can help social media to grow.”
On the advertising front, Gondal noted that a majority of Facebook revenue came from gaming.
Talking about the Indian Premier League, Gondal said, “Consumers are spending an average of Rs 900 on IPL. These people are active on the Internet, and we haven’t done enough to monetise this opportunity.” On the gaming front, he said, “None of our games are launched without social connect, or through the mobile support. 3G will get in many more users.”
Taking the discussion to another level, Gaurav Mishra asked, “Why is social media important at all? The answer is: It is not social media that is important. Perhaps it is social, which is important. How can I do more social?”
Liotard-Vogt pointed out, “95 per cent of Indian websites are financed through advertising. Advertising is not relevant – too much of irrelevant information is floating around. The future lies in target marketing.”
On the measurement front, Mishra explained that India was terrible in measuring the Internet. “All we measure is how much we spend in terms of advertising or public relations. If you can measure offline, you can also measure online,” he said.
Gondal concluded by saying, “People need to understand that social media is very personal. So, if I am tweeting, I expect people to reply. As a company, you need to need to ensure that all your people have a Twitter account. It has to be managed by the brand manager, you cannot outsource that.”