Youth Quotient: "You need not be the first to be the best in social media"
Social media is a great platform for engaging with our communities. It also allows me to use my creativity to do really fun stuff on these social networks, says Buzzinga's Sudeep Shukla
Sudeep Shukla, Head (Social Media) at Percept Profile’s digital media division – Buzzinga has, what many would call, a very envious job. He handles the social media initiatives for Buzzinga’s clients, something that sees him spend his office hours surfing Internet and, especially the different social platforms. Having studied filmmaking and started his career in public relations, he has now settled into his role as a digital media expert. True to the topic of conversation, we conducted this interview via Google Talk.
What made you enter the media sector?
I was always amused by the media and entertainment lifestyle. I thought it was all full of adrenaline rush and craziness. Plus I liked to write, so I thought this was the best space to do that.
Then how did the move to digital happen? Was that planned?
While I was working for an MNC, I got introduced to digital. Watching the trends globally I thought this was the future. So I decided to take a plunge into the unknown. Thankfully, it did pan out the way I wanted, though the Indian digital media space is still in a nascent stage and there is lot to happen.
What attracts you to the digital space, especially social media, which you are now responsible for?
First of all I get paid to be on social networks all through the day. Plus it’s a great medium to get in touch with your audience directly. Social media is a great platform for listening and engaging with our communities and audience on a one to one basis. It also allows me to use my creativity to do really fun stuff on these social networks.
What has working on social media taught you?
Social media has taught me a couple of things. Firstly, everybody has a voice and an opinion which needs to be heard. It in early stages it used to be called “consumer-generated media" and, from there, it has evolved a long way. Today, voice and noise on social media is as important as the traditional media. Another thing I have learned is that social media is as important as anything else in brand building, differentiation and reputation management. Whether you are there or not, people will be talking about you, so you better be there and hear what they have to say and make your audience feel heard. They like to connect with the brand rather than just hear from them. Also, social media gives you some of the best consumer insights and that too in real-time.
What are Indian brands lacking in their social media strategy?
First of all, they lack a proper social media strategy. They also do not properly handle negative reviews or comments. Either they maintain ignorance or just won’t accept it. It is not important for a brand to be on all platforms without a proper strategy. Everybody wants to just jump on the bandwagon, which is wrong. If you are not the first, you can still be the best by conveying your story or ideas properly.
Since your job revolves around tracking things happening in this space, tell me some of the weirdest or memorable things you have come across on Twitter or FB?
The weirdest thing I find is people posting their wedding/ honeymoon/ baby pictures. I find it weird because I feel they are your personal moments and putting them on the public forum is a bit too much. Plus, it makes me feel old! I have witnessed a couple tweeting their marriage live and also tweeting while they were on their honeymoon (Obviously, barring the details!) One of the funniest instances has been the Marvel and Star Wars Twitter fight. Both brands took the conversation very sportingly and intelligently to plug their brands.
Apart from Twitter and Facebook, which is the one social media platform which you think holds the most potential in India?
I feel Instagram and FourSquare have a huge potential if tapped properly. If you have a product that you can display in a really visual, dynamic way, then why not do it? A picture is worth a thousand words. It can also offer behind the scene looks, customer participation, promote special events and also go viral.
FourSquare is another network which needs to be tapped properly. Globally FourSquare offers a lot more than just check ins. It can be a great loyalty forum for customers and brands and can also push special offers and drive sales. Also, it has a big potential for gamefication which has still not been tapped in India properly.
If not digital media, what would you have liked to do?
I would have been making films. I specialise in filmmaking and have made few shorts films. Films have been my passion and I would want to pursue that in the future in some way.
Maybe a biopic on Biz Stone (Twitter’s Co-founder), like ‘The Social Network’?
Not a bad idea. I once thought of publishing my tweets in a form of a book.
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