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Social media can help open up regional markets: Experts

04-June-2013
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Social media can help open up regional markets: Experts

With tier II and III cities witnessing growth and becoming drivers of huge chunks of businesses for several corporate players, time has come to devise competent communication strategies. Social media can be an effective platform to track regional markets as well as encourage growth.

According to Kunal Kishore, Founder-Director, Value 360 Communications, a collaborative and pro-active approach to reach out to regional markets is the right way to tap such markets as clients would also prefer those PR agencies that have a better reach in regional areas.

Stressing on the relevance of smartphones and their ability to tap the regional masses, Sanjay Mehta, Joint CEO, Social Wavelength remarked, “2013 would see double-digit growth of smartphones as their growth is bound to happen at 13 per cent. Regional PR is possible through smartphones and major consumption would come from YouTube and Facebook.”

Kishore added here, “While doing research we found out that YouTube is a most renowned form of social media. As a communication professional, we need to understand what people are doing on their smartphone’s YouTube and then we can devise our plan accordingly.”

Research, Content-Creation and Customisation for regional markets
Kishore believes that customising content as per regional festivities such as Durga Puja in Kolkata would go a long way for these markets and tapping their audience. “For social media, I would invest a lot in video initially and then later customise it for the regional audience,” he said.

However, one mistake often made by agencies is to rely on second-hand information, which should be avoided. Sanjay Mehta, Joint CEO, Social Wavelength said, “When you want to talk about social media, make your own case studies and experiment yourself rather than just depending on other sources of information. In case of social media in regional markets, one shouldn’t be in denial mode, which obstructs future growth.”

Corroborating a similar view, Nandita Lakshmanan, Founder and CEO, The PRactice said that agencies should not use social media just for the sake of social media. “There is a need to give a meaning to it,” she stressed.

For Dhrubajyoti Gayan, Managing Director, Candour Communications, learning is the main way to enter these markets. “Understand who we are communicating to. Social media has opened up avenues for people to give their feedback, try not to mess with such feedback,” he advised.

Sustainability
Stressing on the need for social media as a long-term strategy, Mehta said that social media should be sustainable and that’s what matters at the end of the day. He further said, “It is not right to think just from the mode of having a campaign because it would be short-lived. What after that?”

Agreeing with him, Lakshmanan said, “There is need to create content for long lasting and sustained conversations, which is only possible if you understand your client, foundation and context of the campaign that you are running to maintain long lasting and sustained relations.”

This apart, targeting the right stakeholder is important too because a campaign might be able to create a wave amongst the audience, but the question is whether it has been able to create the wave for the right stakeholder.

Gayan noted, “There is lack of knowledge amongst the corporate players in terms of tapping the regional markets via social media channel. While there are examples of tier II and III cities using social media, the question is whether we have really covered that distance from metros to these cities. What is the qualitative change that we are enabling through social media?”

Shreyasi Singh, Dhrubajyoti Gayan, Kunal Kishore, Nandita Lakshmanan and Sanjay Mehta were speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Social Media opening Regional Markets’ at the India PR & Corporate Communication Conference 2013, held in Delhi on May 31. 

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