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Why brands need to dive headlong into social listening

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Why brands need to dive headlong into social listening

Businessworld magazine hosted the launch of the 11th edition of Businessworld’s Marketing Whitebook in Mumbai recently.

On the occasion, a panel of marketers and technology companies discussed the realities of the changing consumer world. The panel included Ashutosh Gupta, Director (Marketing Solutions) at LinkedIn India, Sudip Ghose, VP(Marketing) VIP Industries and Veetika Deoras, Head (Brand Marketing, Digital and Corporate Communication) at Tata Capital. The session was moderated by Suresh Balakrishna, CEO at BPN India.

Balakrishna mentioned how important social listening has become in today’s enterprises. He gave the examples of companies like Coca Cola, Maruti and Reckitt Benckiser, which have either started or are in the process of setting up social listening control rooms that monitor online conversation 18 hours a day throughout the week.

Deoras agreed that social listening has become a huge blessing to brands. According to her, it enables marketers to personalize communications, build communities of like-minded people, research on what people are talking about the competition and a host of other activities. “Lead generation is a lesser focus area for us. We are looking at social in the long run,” she said.

Ghose called social listening an opportunity for “contextual targeting”. “Social media marketing might not work for all brands. It is important for marketers to choose which brands to take to social platforms. You rather get into social media with youth-focused brands,” he said.

When asked about whether marketers have matured when it comes to use of social media, Gupta admitted that it was difficult to generalize. “There are some categories which are very evolved. There are some that are still evaluating. The point is not about whether you have to be on social or not; it is about the customer journey,” opined Gupta.

Balakrishna pointed out that most organizations use social media for service-related issues. He queried the panel whether there are any organizations that actually use social media for all aspects of marketing.

In answer to this point, Deoras said that 20 per cent of Tata Capital’s spends are on digital. This, she said would definitely increase in the future. “Objectives of the brand before it enters digital media should be very clear. It might not have any business objectives but customer service is definitely one. There are other cases like research where RoI cases can be clearly built. For us it is a 50-50 split. One half has clear metrics and RoI while the other is more of a leap of faith but this is also where the magic happens,” she explained.

Ghose’s advice was simple, “If it works for you put your money in.” He gave the example of a recent “Design Your Bag” contest run by the company on digital, which had a reach of 3 million with a budget of just Rs 3 lakh. “it is like going to a GEC channel for a niche product, you might not waste money but you will waste time,” he said.

Gupta opined that generally spends on social are underindexed and not proportional to the results that are expected. “Content is key, especially for social,” he said. Ghose agreed and further added that content with context is also important. Going back to the example of TV, he said that there is a lot of similarity between digital and how brands use traditional channels.

Speaking of challenges, all panel members agreed that getting the right content and ensuring that the presentation of the content from ideation to execution was a big challenge. “The challenge is how to convert the customer insight into good content,” opined Deoras. “Many brands are listening but not absorbing what they are listening.”

“You need to listen to consumers and talk back to them immediately,” opined Ghose. Meanwhile, Gupta also pointed out that from the brand side it is important that the brief is concrete and that all agency partners are on the same page so that the final execution does not suffer. “We should know what you are optimizing for—reach, lead generation, what is the message, etc.,” he said.

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