Gone are the days when only Facebook and Twitter handles worked for brands in the name of social media engagement. The latest wave in the digital space has forced brands to break away from conventional social networking marketing tools, and focus on content. Now, devices are spearheading brands to navigate the maze of social noise, and brands are looking at ways to use them to their advantage. Digital marketers are now increasingly using social insights to make smart decisions.
In the first of a series of panel discussions, exchange4media hosted TO THE NEW Digital Roundtable in Gurgaon on Wednesday. With the theme, ‘Social for Business’, a panel of top marketers from varied industries explored tangible business performance of social media on digital platforms. Moderated by industry veteran, Atul Hegde, CEO, Ignitee Digital (a TO THE NEW group company), the panel included Shreya Shivangi from LG India, Shikher Gupta from Videocon, Navninder Singh of Akzo Nobel, Ankush Manchanda from Bacardi, and Kanika Mittal from Reebok.
“In an ever-changing business landscape, the digital industry needs to figure out a way to streamline knowledge, and share best practices in order for the platforms to perform in the most effective manner. As social media matures, it is essential to integrate it into the larger marketing organisation,” said Hegde.
Use with Caution
Social media has changed how brands communicate in this day and age. “There has never been more interactive ways to connect with stakeholders. While it is a great tool, it must also be used with care, in accordance with the objective of the business. It is constantly evolving, so you must have a robust but adaptable strategy to cope with this,” said Kanika Mittal, Head – Digital Marketing and Brand Communications at Reebok India.
Shikher Gupta, Head – Digital Marketing at Videocon Industries, said, “Brands must ask the right questions and set the right objectives. They need to look at the ‘why’ of the customer. They need to have the appropriate technology to access and use social data, have people with the intelligence and intuition to apply the data correctly. With this, marketers will be armed to make smart decisions for the company beyond social media.””
Adding that “It is a two way channel,” Gupta said that, not only is it useful for marketing but it is also a great way to gauge customer feedback. “Social media is a quicker and more cost effective way of knowing what your customers want.”
Talking about customising social media in line with different businesses, Navninder Singh, Head – Digital Marketing at Akzo Nobel, pointed out, “It is vital you think about your brand identity when using social media. The way you use social media should reinforce your company brand and what it stands for. What does your brand stand for? Where in the market are you trying to position yourself? Your social media output should always come back to your business.”
Consumers want Response
Another evolution that social media has seen is that consumers not only use social media platforms for sharing grievances, they also expect a response — and a timely one too. Social media for social media's sake is over. “Marketers need to map online buzzshare and content buckets. Companies should increasingly use data to advance the entire organisation across all departments when possible. Social media insights can potentially be used to make critical decisions from human resources to product development to sales,” pointed out Shreya Shivangi, Head – Digital Marketing at LG India. “Community managers all the way up to CMOs should work to share data with others and explore how to capitalise on social insights to grow the entire business,” she added.
Kanika Mittal of Reebok India pointed out that, “Social media was primarily created as a social tool and not for business. With this in mind, brands need to create healthy consumer engagements and generate loyalty. Brands need to talk to people on their terms – social media is very different from normal business communications. With any content, a brand should consider its overall goal. Is it trying to raise more awareness, generate new sales, or boost traffic to its website? Focusing on the objectives should help brands build relevant strategies with the right content.”
According to Ankush Manchanda, senior manager – Digital Marketing at Bacardi, “Over the years, the definition of social has completely changed. Today, social has become media, and media has become social. There are plenty of ways to measure and analyse social media, keeping a close eye on those metrics will help you understand what is working well, what isn’t and will help you to make sure you aren’t wasting valuable resources. Any social media strategy works best when it is targeted to a specific audience.”