‘Social media takes away control from the marketer’

Social networking is a key driver of PC and mobile activity, cannibalising many other activities, feel marketers, as they warn “adapt or die”

e4m by Neha Goel
Updated: Feb 24, 2012 7:40 AM
‘Social media takes away control from the marketer’

India is home to 100 million Internet users. 75 per cent of the Internet users are in the age bracket of 15-35 years. With this base of online consumers expanding rigorously, the need of getting to the core of digital marketing becomes a priority for marketers. Gian Fulgoni, Executive Chairman and Co-founder, comScore, said, “The Asia-Pacific region contributes to 41.3 per cent of the internet users of the world. In India, younger consumers are leading the online revolution.”

With the consumption pattern of consumers changing, it becomes a priority for marketers to stay updated about where their consumers are. “What is fascinating is not that there is change, but the pace at which the change is occurring”, says Arun Tadanki, Managing Director, Yahoo! India. In these times of change, the greatest challenge for marketers is to keep their brands relevant to consumers and communicate with them than communicating to them. Virginia Sharma, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, India/ South Asia, IBM India, remarked that brand visibility could be bought, hence, relevance had to be created.

The Always Connected Generation
The need for a dialogue is fulfilled by the presence of social media, which forms a large part of a brand’s digital marketing strategy. Viral Oza, Marketing Director, Nokia says, “I call social media story telling. In today’s digital age give people the tools and story, they will tell it.”

According to data, around 30 per cent of the online population recommends brands and products in the online space. This makes it equivalent to word of mouth and hence creates brand loyalists.
Facebook forms an important part of the social media phenomenon in the world. According to comScore, the website has a penetration of 55 per cent in the world and is ranked the second most famous site in India. Fulgoni says, “Facebook is the way to amplify reach and trusted persuasiveness. A brand must aim to build as many fans possible on Facebook.” He further said, “Social networking is a key driver of PC and mobile activity, cannibalizing many other activities.”

Social media takes away the control from the marketer and the messaging solely gets determined by what consumers think and say. Gaurav Kachru, CEO & Co-founder, Dealsandyou.com, offers a tip to marketers, saying, “Negative conversations will happen with or without you, so better be a part of it than staying away.”

Digital Marketing Begins at Home
Marketers are gradually realizing the dearth of understanding about the medium as the sword of ‘adapt or die’ hangs loose on them. “The problem is that people perceive social media as something that is outside office”, says Karthi Marshan, EVP&Head, Group Marketing, Kotak Mahindra Bank. “They park their souls outside before coming to office,” he quipped.

Players like Kotak are thus experimenting with digital medium internally first to bring in a better understanding about the medium amongst the team. They internally built their social network on their 25th anniversary and engaged employees through games. This enabled employees to get a hang of the medium. In the same breath Sharma from IBM says, “One needs to educate before selling.”

Taking Insights from the ‘real’ World
Marketers are taking cues from the fame of reality television and creating properties that strike a chord with consumers. “Reality TV changed consumer behavior to a great extent. Recognizing the power of ‘reality’ shows, we created campaigns like ‘Swap your car’,” says Anurag Mehrotra, Vice President, Marketing, Ford India.

He suggests that marketers should be authentic, they should engage with consumers, integrate their campaigns and keep measuring their investment on the digital front.

Marketers feel that engaging consumers in conversations on the digital medium will leverage their brands. Co-creation, thus, becomes key in making a mark for a brand.

The speakers were part of an industry presentation at Ad:Tech conclave, being held in News Delgi over two days on February 23-23, 2012.

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