India Social Media Summit 2009, organised by exchange4media.com, in association with Blogworks.in, was held in Mumbai on March 27. The event saw industry experts discussing at length the growth, impact and emerging trends of social media in India. The Summit was presented by BigAdda.com.
Delivering the keynote session, Suhel Seth, Managing Partner, Counselage, spoke about the evolution of social media in India. Comparing the rise of the social media revolution in India, Seth cited examples from India’s freedom struggle and went on to say, “I am amazed we are having a discussion at this stage of our lives. The first person in India who had taken up social networking heavily for a greater cause was Mahatma Gandhi. Talking of the present situation, we are stressing more on technology than methodology. We should not forget that our freedom struggle was also the result of a great social networking.”
Commenting on social media advertising, Seth said, “Marketers make the same mistake every time a new medium is given to them. The consumer has moved on. The time to inform consumers is over. It is time to involve the consumers. Advertising on social networking sites (SNS) is not going to be the only solution. The first paradigm shift, therefore, is to move from information to involvement.”
He further said, “The second question is how polarised are social networking sites going to be, and that takes one to the third point on whether marketers understand these changing behavioural patterns of the consumers, and if they do, then have they found out a way to channelise that. Therefore, advertising on SNSs is not about conveying the message, but about how to validate the information.”
While explaining the nature of social networking sites, Seth drew an analogy between SNSs and human tribes. He noted, “SNSs are not advertising sites but are engagement platforms. You cannot have a zillion tribes on land when land is so scarce.”
Seth felt that there was no more traction in the field of SNSs. “Unless one innovates further, it will be difficult to develop the product further. One cannot just create a product and then allow it to wither away,” he pointed out.
Speaking on the disadvantages of SNSs, Seth said, “Social networking sites also preset a very rabid view of the society. So, advertisers have to be careful about where they advertise. Brands should be partnering a media which is controllable.”
He concluded by saying, “The whole topic of social media can be considered to be a medium where the advertisers need to reinvent the consumers. Consumers need to be engaged rather than be informed. They need to be inspired and involved. It should be projected not as a medium but as a tribe, and that one should try to be its tribal chief.”