How often do we pause and ponder about industry issues that have a bearing beyond just our rigmaroles? Share insights that can further the common understanding? Or, at the very least, point at things that need to be set right. View Point - an exchange4media platform, will fill this void and become a source of understanding, action and perhaps some inspiration.
Consumers are the New Media
Atrayee Chakraborty, Business Director, Lintas Media Group
Consumers have always been considered a powerful communication channel. It is not a new phenomenon. They formed interest groups and discussed various topics of interest. What is new is the speed and ease of getting connected to millions of similar-minded individuals by just the click of a few buttons. Internet and mobile phones have largely contributed to this.
For sure, someone somewhere is also talking about your brand, be it positive or
negative. Backed by technology, now the same can spread like a virus.
Social Media Marketing
Realising the power of word of mouth in this digital era, marketers have started
looking for ways and means to reach out and engage consumers through social media.
The process of promoting brands by establishing a two-way conversation between
existing and potential consumers is called social media marketing.
It is different from advertising on social media as here brands do not speak,
but consumers do. It is all about participating, sharing and creating value for
each other. No more of ''''us'''' and ''''them'''', but it is how we work together to meet
our very different needs and objectives.
Benefits of Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing (SMM) has the power to engage audience, encourage conversations,
increase presence on the web, expand brand awareness, generate publicity and provide
search engine optimisation benefits. It is not about instant conversion and hence,
not directly linked to ROI.
Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, in their book ''''Groundswell'''' said social media initiatives
can help in:
SMM can be used for:
Search engine optimization
1. Listening 1 (research) - Observe online discussions of your audience to gain
a deeper understanding of their opinions, needs, desires, etc. This can be a big
help in identifying opportunities to engage with the audience.
2. Talking 2 (marketing) - Participate in conversations. This becomes an avenue
to promote your companies position and message.
3. Energising (sales) - Identify enthusiastic brand advocates and create strategies
to empower them to be even more effective as ambassadors of your brand.
4. Supporting (customer support) - Build networks of customers for the purpose
of helping each other to get more out of the company''''s products or services.
5. Embracing (development) - Once you have a solid understanding of where your
customers are, invite them into the discussion of where the company is headed
in terms of new products or services.
Do''''s and Don''''ts of Social Media Marketing
5 Pillars of Social
Media Marketing by Ben Willis:
Declaration of Identity
Identity through Association
When participating in social media, be honest in sharing your true identity.
Good to be upfront about your intention and the brand or company you represent.
Consumers are intelligent and cannot be faked for long. The day they find out,
damage caused would far outweigh the goodwill generated in short-run.
Identify key blog forums where your target audiences usually interact. It is
a good idea to spot and develop partnership with highly connected and vocal
members, the influencers. Engage with them even offline. Once convinced they
can help tip information faster. Monitor for some time various content people
are exchanging in order to engage in a meaningful conversation. Try to add value
to what is being discussed. Initially try to avoid talking about your product.
Build favourability through familiarity first and then talk business.
It is easy to leverage the good things being talked about your brand, but what
if they are criticising it? Definitely do not ignore the same. In such situations
it is good to first investigate facts and then to respond.
If the information being circulated is correct, you may just explain your side
of the story and how you are planning to address it. Also indicate your willingness
to receive questions through direct emails in order to divert the conversation
And if the stated negative about the brand is not true, then politely request
blog, forum or news site-owner to remove the post by providing valid supporting
evidence. Request them to publish the correct version and circulate it even
in other forums. In case it does not work that easy do consult a lawyer.
It is important to know where and what people are talking about the brand and
its competition. This helps one to get early signals. For this some sort of
monitoring system is definitely needed. A few tips on this from MarketingPilgrim.com
are given below:
- Create custom RSS feeds based on keyword searches: Feedster.com, technorati.com,
- Filter all feeds into one RSS Reader for easy and timely monitoring with Newsgator.com,
Google Reader, Bloglines.com and others
- Use Google or Yahoo keyword based email alerts
- Track changes in web pages with tools like Website Watcher and Watchthatpage.com
- Get a feel for stories that are creating a buzz in the blogosphere via sites
like Techmeme.com and Blogniscient.com
To reap more out of these communities organise your own offline gatherings to
bond with them better and to use them as spokespersons of your brand. A lot
of PR mileage can also be earned in the process.
What you just need to avoid is to advertise or commercialize your message, fake
identity and over-inflate expectations on what the campaign can do. It is very
necessary to have a well-thought social media marketing strategy to make the
most of it.
Social Media Measurement
to be looked at:
User Generated Content
Tracking of various social media content such as blogs, wikis, micro-blogs,
social networking sites, video/photo sharing websites, forums, message boards,
and user generated contents in general is known as social media measurement.
BuzzMetrics by AC Nielsen is a step forward in measuring the power of social
A few examples of successful Social Media Marketing
In March 2007, the ''''Never Hide'''' word-of-mouth campaign of Ray Ban was a big
success story. The objective of the campaign was to become relevant to youth
adults once again. They decided to speak the language of today''''s consumers and
break out of their comfort zone - press and TV advertising. As part of the initial
plan photos of customers wearing their favourite Ray Ban shades were shown on
11 video screens in New York Times Square. Then a video called ''''Catch'''' featuring
two average-looking individuals was released on YouTube. Not only did the video
create buzz on media like CNN, BBC, CBS, it got viewed more than 13 million
times worldwide according to Ray Ban data 1.
Another example of how WOM can boost brand awareness is Dove''''s campaign for
Real Beauty in year 2004. The campaign used ''''real'''' women, not professional models,
their stories and photos to redefine ''''real beauty'''' from the stand point of Dove''''s
customers. These interactive web programmes and videos were also supported by
traditional advertising. It served to reinforce that Dove believes in natural
Not just abroad, even in India a few brands have started using social media
marketing, say, for example, Makemytrip.com. They tied up with mouthshut.com
to leverage social media. The objective was to gather consumer feedback via
an interactive mechanism. Campaign responded well and loads of good and bad
feedbacks were received. They resolved the issues and re-communicated it back
to them through the same network.
One more example is Jet Airways. They had a student package for those going
to countries like the UK and the US for further studies. To reach out to the
student audience, Pinstorm opted to run an SMO campaign on social media networks.
They created a character called Neha Thomas, a person helping Jet Airways to
market their students'''' plan, to spread the buzz in relevant forums where the
target audiences are most likely to be found chatting. The response was really
eye-opening on how fast and how well this media works if used in the right way.
Another live example of social media came into force during the 26/11 Mumbai
terror attacks. A few Pinstormers got together to collate vital information
such as hospital and other emergency service numbers at http://helpmumbai.pinstorm.com.
After the attacks, the group now works in partnership with the Bombay Community
Public Trust, one of the most reputed NGOs in Mumbai to rehabilitate those affected
in the terror attacks. So far, the group has succeeded in raising lakhs of rupees
by spreading the message on social media websites like Twitter and Facebook.
It is time to reap the benefits of this new dynamic media. Recent survey from
Nielsen show 78 per cent of Internet users worldwide place more trust in consumer
recommendations than advertising. On a standalone basis, however, social media
marketing can do nothing. It works wonders mostly when used appropriately in
conjunction with other media. According to the study by Bigresearch, consumers
often get triggered to do online search after they see ads on traditional media.
This further establishes the importance of integrated media solutions in driving
communication better. However, the biggest hurdle in our country is the fact
that most Indian web users hesitate to upload content and express their point
of view freely in writing. They mainly prefer to read and download. Screening
out the niche vocal influencer-class is a big challenge in social media optimisation.
We at LMG, in association with Pinstorm, can monitor, design and execute various
SMM campaigns. Pinstorm uses a tool called the BuzzMeter, which allows us to
monitor conversations about any brand/ product/ service all over the Internet.
Using this tool, it''''s now possible to track user response in real time and optimise
any marketing campaign mid-course. It is time for us to think how we can leverage
the best out of this media for all our clients.
1. Psst….pass it on by Thomas Wailgum, http://www.warc.com/ArticleCenter/Default.asp?CType=A&AID=WORDSEARCH87411&Tab=A
2. Groundswell by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li