[I-Age]Social Media as a Career-Building Blocks!

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*Is Social Media a Fad or the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution? * Twitter, Facebook, Orkut, You tube, Digg it, Foursquare, Buzz, Linked in and so on..... *Do these word excite you? * Well for me they do but even better th...
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At the outset, I must confess that I don't know much about Social Media Marketing. Also, I am inherently biased towards mass media. So you may take my opinion with a pinch of salt.

I am skeptical about SMM in India for a while. Though it may seem cool to harp about taking your brand social, one needs to understand the limitations of the same. These points are largely from a stakeholder perspective.

1. Penetration: PC penetration in India is low and Internet is even lower. Mobile phones have come up in a big way, and are being billed as the growth driver for SMM in India. However, my concern is with ARPU's consistently falling for the operators across markets, will this dream really materialize ?

2. Reach: A term often abused by Media Planners, it is still a critical benchmark of how much a media/medium/property can deliver in terms of reaching a large set of audiences. So while the standard argument of reach vs engagement can always be made, we must realize that to reach a large population of the country, mass media still delivers, at a fairly low cost. Though it could work well for brands catering to a niche, I am concerned about how Social Media would fare for brands targeting the mass market.

3. The business need to quantify: A need which arises from the fact that every advertiser wants the maximum bang for the buck. Unless they see numbers, no amount of convincing will be useful to make them move their money from traditional media. For most mass media today, there are joint industry bodies which have set up ways to measure audiences ( TAM for TV, IRS for Newspapers / Magazines ). This becomes the default trading currency, which is acceptable to all stakeholders. This is easy to implement as mass media is still ( and always will be ) controlled by a limited number of people. Given the open nature of the internet, it could be a difficult task.

4. Lack of Comparability: The way the industry measures the return on a media campaign is standardized by a term called Gross Rating Points (GRP's). Though it is calculated differently for each mass medium, the GRP's of each medium are eventually added to give a final number, which indicated how much the media plan delivered.

Now consider the scenario which Apurv mentioned in the previous post. You go to a 45 year old brand manager and tell him about SMM. You need to convince him to move his monies from other media to Social Media. He would ask you to the GRP's it will deliver. Since there is no standard metric to measure the ROI on the investment, it then depends on how well you can sell . What we need more than anything is a change of mindsets, which either will come with awareness or as Apurv mentioned, the newer generation replacing the old

Here I would also want to bring to notice two theories from academia

1. Political Economy of Audience Information systems: There will always be stakeholder resistance when one is looking to upset the given order. In the case of advertisers and planners, this has been proved in India as well. Will not dwell much into it .( Eg TAM & Amap). Hence, combined with the absence of a acceptable way to measure audiences, SMM has serious issues which could hinder its take off.

2. Social Construction of Technology: It argues that the way a technology is used needs to be understood in the social context.In other words, Technology does not shape human action, but human action shapes technology.

The point of quoting this theory is that one of the single biggest concerns facing the Social Media landscape from a consumer point of view is privacy (Facebook tweaking its privacy policy constantly). Today,as individuals we may be comfortable in sharing our lives online, which is why Social Media is picking up. However, that may not be the case always, which may upset this sweet growth story.

So before we worry about building a career in SMM, I guess anyone who understands marketing can move into SMM at a later stage (provided it takes off), if one is willing to keep eyes and ears open.

Also, I would recommend a fantastic book, The Hyperlinked Society: Questioning Connections in the digital age, which could give you some amazing ideas as to how the internet is influencing every aspect of our lives. It can be accessed for free here : The Hyperlinked Society: Questioning Connections in the Digital Age / Joseph Turow and Lokman Tsui, Editors


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Here is an article on "Social Media" written by me in my college magazine.
Social Media Marketing

Shruti Verma (MBE Final)
Social Media Sites such as Facebook, twitter, blogs and flickr, to name a few, have become integral part of common mans life. If you find this hard to believe, have a look at the following statistics:

  1. LinkedIn has over 50m members worldwide, out of which 4 millions are from India
  2. 15% of bloggers spend 10 or more hours each week blogging, according to Technoratis new State of the Blogosphere
  3. 70% of bloggers are organically talking about brands on their blog
  4. 38% of bloggers post brand or product reviews
  5. 7.1 million people from India are Facebook users(growth rate-300%since last year)

Source- Alexa

These statistics shows that marketers can reach out these many number of people, for the purpose of marketing and promoting their products and services, through these sites.
Through active participating on blogging and micro-blogging services, social networking sites, discussion forums, etc., an organization can build relationships with its potential customers and enhance its visibility. This process of reaching out consumers is called Social Media Marketing or Social Media Optimization.

For a company to engage in social media, it has to start building conversations. It is no more about controlling the message or the medium but about participating in it. In order to influence a conversation, not only does one have to be a part of it but he/she must also understand the root of what is being said. (http://www.windchimes.co.in/socialmedia.html)
If the penetration rate of Internet users is considered, with respect to the population of India, it is 6.9% (population-1,173,108,018 and Internet users-81,000,000).Post recession; this figure has increased from 3.6% to 7%. (Source- http://www.internetworldstats.com/asia/in.htm)
Social Media Marketing Tools

Social Networking Sites

Changing status messages, posting comments, leaving scraps in your friends account shows that reaching out to friends is just a click away.
Do you like your friends comment on Facebook when he/she needs the maximum number of likes to win a contest on that page? This requires liking that companys page too and that doesnt sound like a big deal. This is one strategy by companies to reach out to their prospective customers by providing updates about their new products/contests. In other words it means the consumer inadvertently markets the product and services on behalf of the actual marketer.
Discussion Forums
Want to know which Business School you should apply for, or read a review of the new movie that was released recently? Or perhaps find out which mobile to buy? Forums answer these questions where other users share their experience either by live-chat or by putting their points in the respective threads. Care should be taken to ensure that the Forums are updated regularly else they might start resembling the static and sugar-coated websites.
Blogs are open diaries, used for sharing personal perspectives, experiences or something unique, with the public. Maintaining a blog is a trend followed by celebrities a well a common man.
Blogs are powerful and influential sources of information but they are under-estimated. Word of Mouth and SEO are responsible for increasing the viewership of a blog. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a web site or a web page in search engines via the "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results.
Why SMM?


These figures are self-explanatory and indicate how net-savvy the people are these days. Company websites are usually sugar coated to attract mistaken ants (read-customers) .Thanks to Innovation, I-Age consumers dont trust these dormant websites rather they hunt for the required information through blogs and social networking sites.
SMM in India

The best thing about SMM is that it requires minimal investment, yet it reaches a large number of people. Though its pay-off time might be bit longer but with the increasing usage of social media sites, there is a huge potential for SMM in India. Companies get to know what their consumers think about their products and services. Apart from this, SMM is place of direct contact between the company and the consumers, and this interface helps the company in knowing what the consumers feel about their products.
India now ranks seventh in the market size worldwide for social networking, after the U.S., China, Germany, Russian Federation, Brazil and the U.K. The total Indian social networking audience grew 43 percent in the past year. The net worth of social media (India) is estimated to be around Rs. 20-25 crores, (estimating a 4-5% share of 500 crores market) which includes advertisements on Social networking sites and blogs on the Internet.
In India, SMM is still in its infancy stage as it evolved 2-3 years back whereas International counterparts are reaping rich benefits and customer engagement from it. High returns can be enjoyed from SMM and it calls for minimal investments and there are less entry barriers in this field. Nonetheless, SMM represents a quantum leap in the way we promote products/services/movements, given the ever-growing popularity of social networking channels. SMM provides a medium to reach out easily to the consumers and attract the potential consumers.
Here are some of the examples of companies doing SMM in India-
Nokia on twitter- http://twitter.com/nokia
This is a meeting-point for the company and the consumers, where the latter are meant to share the issues or difficulties faced, or provide a testimonial for potential consumers.
The company also keeps updating news linked to the launch of new products and services.
Vodafone India on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/vodafoneessar?ref=ts)
This one is always alive with offers, contests and discussion forums to engage the consumers and become loyal to the brand.
Opportunities and Advantages

Online advertising is projected to grow by 32% over the next five years and reach an estimated Rs. 20 billion in 2013 from the present Rs. 5 billion in 2008 (source- http://img36.imageshack.us/img36/7239/meforecastedgrowth.png)

Cost effective marketing

Very quick response from the consumers regarding the new products/services

Can build brand loyalty

Constant increase in social network users from India


Comparatively a new form of Media-still in nascent stages

Delay in return on investment discourages the marketers from doing SMM

Difficulty in choosing the right medium and take the right step

Highly time consuming

Creativity and networking skills

As we can see, most of the above challenges are either due to the infancy stage of SMM or due to the requirement of tech skills, and neither of these will last long.
SMM is, thus, fast emerging as one of the most preferred avenues for marketing. Every passing day, more and more marketers are joining the Social Media Marketing bandwagon. With opportunities galore and not very restraining constraints, the only road ahead from here is the road further. Poised to take over as one of the largest marketing platforms, all companies and consumers have everything to gain from the rise of SMM. A win win situation for all!
I am unable to upload the pdf here 😐 Do pm me about it :)
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The generation of people who are heading big brands and big companies now come from our generation minus one or minus two. It's hard for them to get the juice of websites such as Twitter and Facebook and the cultural quirks of the Internet in general (for many of them, Facebook is just a way to keep a tab on their wards' party pics and make sure their kids are not turning too wild. They have no clue why these kids take silly quizzes or how posting the color of their bras can create breast cancer awareness).

Whereas companies that have taken birth in the last 10 years are mostly headed and staffed by younger people for whom Facebooking/Tweeting comes naturally and who are okay putting their lives out there for everyone to see. It's a cultural thing that our generation is imbibed with that the previous generation isn't.

Which is why, when someone tweets something bad about a Mobile brand or a FMCG brand, the 45/50 year old brand manager starts to shift in his seat and after a few such mishaps, he picks up the phone and calls people such as Chuck_gopal ( ) and his agency to help him handle the mess better.

Alternatively, these 45/50 year olds are mildly aware that there is something called as Facebook which the world is calling as a super marketing tool. Since he does not want to be left behind in harnessing it for his brand just in case it means something (search for 'Pascal's Wager' on wikipedia) and he has nothing to lose by throwing some calculated money at it (most social media strategy deal sizes are rather small, making them just boutique businesses), he calls up a social media agency to help him out. To this extent, social media marketing agencies are helping out a lost generation that is too old to learn new media concepts and are valuable for now.

For most new companies, to whose young managers Social Media comes naturally, it's not some hi-fi strategy. Take Pagalguy for example: we at PG maintain a Twitter account and Facebook page which we post on actively. An aggregation of the tweets of people working at Pagalguy is available on one of our 'About us' pages, etc. We don't do this with any 'strategy' in mind because this comes to us naturally. Similarly, other new-age brands in the country run by relative youngsters such as Cleartrip, Burrp, Makemytrip, etc too do this without employing a social media marketing agency because it's just obvious second-nature to them.

Here is why social media marketing is just a fad: as the older generation moves out of the world's companies, there will be no use for Social Media agencies because the new people heading them will have grown-up with these so-called Social Media tools and know how to use them without making such a big hullabaloo about it.

The Social Media agency market bubble will then burst and whatever remains of it will consolidate with the Public Relations/Advertising industry. Social Media marketing is a buzzword that is nothing but a temporary offshoot of the larger core subject of 'Public Relations'.

Moreover, there is little core science behind social media marketing. If you use traditional marketing for your brand, there are gadzillions of math and scientific tools developed by statisticians to guide you and tell you how you are doing. However, there is hardly any research or core analytics science behind Social Media as of now. Facebook has just started providing some data to companies having Facebook pages under the 'Insights' link and I suppose they will expand that section. Google provides another kind of data not qualifying under social media as such but infinitely valuable. Others such as Twitter, Friendfeed, etc too will go that way. Once that happens, companies will employ their existing marketers/statisticians to work on that data and measure the impact without needing any social media agency. At the end of the day, statistics is statistics.

In India itself, the Social Media boom happened about 2-3 years back and since then most agencies that started then have either closed down or changed tracks to mostly doing SEO, building HTML/flash mini-sites etc. (Recessions are great levelers.) My guess is that remaining agencies will eventually close down and the slightly larger ones among them (2 or 3 max of the 100s) will be absorbed by some existing Ad or PR agency. Until then, a few agencies will make money in 2-3 year spurts until the business hits a cap and they find that they can't make more money and pay salary increments.

In short, you can find a job today in social media marketing and stick around for 3-4 years max, but I doubt you can make a career of a lifetime in it. It's just not a real enough business.

Some additional reading to help you understand:

From HBR - http://blogs.hbr.org/haque/2010/03/the_social_media_bubble.html

I come in peace. Take me to your leader. http://www.twitter.com/apurv
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spirit11| Says
1. Does one need to have a in depth knowledge of a product/service before hand, for us to market it in social media space?

Sometimes. For example, if we're doing SMM for a financial client, it's important that the information be bang-on. So sometimes we go in for co-creation of content, which is the way it should be. Any info that we create should be cleared by the client. An agency is obviously not expected to have in-depth knowledge (but is expected to do a sufficient amount of research, eg, which banks are using SMM, what the scene on Youtube is, etc). But remember. SMM is all about content.

spirit11 Says
2. How do we monitor what is being said about a brand online and how do we make it positive if the opinion is negative?

Many ways. In our agency, we have a proprietary engine that tracks all social media platforms. There are a few free engines with limited features also. But manual tracking is a pain and very labour-intensive.

You can never change a negative opinion. We always tell our clients that there is freedom of speech, anyone can write whatever they want. All we can do is get in touch with the person, and hope to sort his queries out, and politely ask him to edit his post / comment. You see how it works, don't you?

Mature companies accept that there will always be negative comment. Dell and Canon are two of the most mature companies in this regard - to the extent that they allow negative comment on their own websites!

In any case, with the evolution of social media and tools like Google SideWiki (if you haven't heard of it, check it out. It's fantastic, and I can't understand why it didn't get as much hype as Wave), companies have nowhere to run. The main implication of social media for companies is that... Whether or not you're there, your customers are. And they're talking about you. So either turn a blind eye, or participate and resolve issues and be seen as a brand that wants to help customers out.

Oh and an aside. Just because you're ON Twitter or FB doesn't mean you're automatically solving customer queries.
Vodafone India is doing a decent job of addressing customer issues on Twitter, whereas all ICICI Bank does is say 'we're sorry for your issue, please mail care@icicibank.com'. I'll leave it to you to search for the individual profiles.

|spirit11 Says
One more important question, there is so much to read online, that i for one get lost some times, so many technologies, platforms, where does one start and how does one know till where have they reached?

There are a lot of sites / newsletters. I've mentioned some of them on my previous post. Just start with one or two, or it will all become too much :-)

A Mallu Accent is just a Hyundai made in Kerala. http://www.facebook.com/ChucksComicsAndStuff
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1. SMM and its usage in IT sector
2. is it used in IT sector if yes how...

IT companies mainly use SMM on a corporate front. For example, check out the FB and Twitter profiles of Infosys. They do a damn decent job. Official Facebook page + company blog is the norm.

But there's scope for so much more, such as sharing documents and videos, reaching out to aspirants, etc.

One sad thing is that these companies don't bother to touch Orkut. Which is sad, because the number of communities forming there are huge, and the number of questions are large.

IT companies being B2B (business-to-business), and most of the client information also being confidential, they don't have too much scope to talk about their work and all. So that's always a restriction on their front.

A Mallu Accent is just a Hyundai made in Kerala. http://www.facebook.com/ChucksComicsAndStuff
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Moving onto tarunceo's questions:

tarunceo| Says
1. Why does it take a hell lot of time in Social media marketing?

Let me put it this way. When you start a blog, you don't expect the entire world to come and read it, do you? You'll expect your close bunch of 3-4 people to religiously read it, and spread the word when you come out with a really good post. This way, in a couple of months, your readership will become 10-15. Using a variety of tools, including GTalk status messages, FB, etc, you will get more people to read it. And then eventually, in a few months, people who you don't know would have stumbled onto your blog by means of referrals.

My own blog (not to sound like I'm blowing my own trumpet, but it's the best example I have) took about 2 years to get the first 10000 hits, 6 months for the next 10000, and 2 months for the third 10000.

This is how social media marketing also works.

Suppose a company puts up a nice Twitter profile, why would you as an individual join it (think from an individual's perspective rather than a company's)? You'd join it only if you see value in it, right? You wouldn't want to become a fan of a company which just tom-toms itself.

Social media is a lot about sharing. Let me give you an example. I like guitars. If Gibson guitars has a Twitter profile talking about only 'buy my guitars', I wouldn't follow it, since it's just pushy sales. However, if I see if that profile is actually talking of guitaring techniques, interesting articles, YouTube videos, etc, I would be tempted to follow it since my knowledge of guitars per se increases. And someday down the line, I might buy a Gibson guitar. So from here you might have deduced two things:

1. A company may or may not reach out to it's TG. I mean, I might get all the guitar gyaan in the world from Gibson, but might end up buying a Fender. That's a risk companies have to take.
2. It involves a lot of sharing.
3. But the amount of loyalty that you get from a good, well-maintained social media campaign is incredible. The best example is Dell, who are reported to have sold 3 million dollars worth of laptops through their Twitter profile alone, last year!
4. Lastly, all this takes time to build up. A following on Twitter, YouTube, a blog, FB fan page, anything, takes time to set up organically. And I hope you understand the importance of that last word.

SMM is not advertising. If you want results in 3 days, SMM is not for you. If a company comes to me and say, I want 1000 fans in 3 days, I tell them to use paid advertising through banners. The advantage of SMM is that, we will get 1000 fans in 6 months, but each of those 1000 fans are going to be relevant, compared to the quick-fix option which will have a lot of 'whatever' people. If you get my drift.

|tarunceo Says
2. Now fb,linkedin,youtube,twitter are the best tools though orkut is outdated now but what more kind of tools you can suggest?

Don't make the mistake of saying Orkut is outdated. It's still huge, especially in non-metro towns.
The various platforms are:

1. Social networking sites: FB, Orkut, LinkedIn, Indyarocks, BigAdda, etc
2. Creating a blog
3. Twitter
4. Video sharing sites: YouTube and others
5. Q&A; sites: Like Yahoo! answers
6. Discussion forums and review sites

These are the generic platforms one can use. Obviously there's no one-size-fits-all.

3. what is the scope of SMM in INDIA as in BAHAR GAON(Abroad) SMM is very popular but i havent seen such trends and fashion in INDIA?

I've answered this to come extent in my previous post. See, it will take time for digital to get accepted in India. So while social media was growing in the USA, we were still clinging on to banner advertising. And it's still sad to see marketing managers devoting around 1% of their spends on digital. It'll take time. But it will happen.

Keep yourself updated by reguarly visiting aFaqs!, Audience Matters, AdAge South-East asia, Mashable, etc. Good fun to read, and quite informative as well.

There's a lot of literature about social media out there. Just Google it all up :)

A Mallu Accent is just a Hyundai made in Kerala. http://www.facebook.com/ChucksComicsAndStuff
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estranged_gnrs| Says
Firstly, stay away from .... Social Media agencies

Kya bhai saab, do you want me to sell pencils on the road?

Alright. Now that I have a bit of time, let me try answering questions. First, a few disclaimers:

1. While I work for a social media agency, I am not going evangelize social media or sell my agency, I will try to answer everything as objectively as possible.

2. It's my firm opinion that social media, if done right, can work wonders for a company.

3. If you're a marketing manager looking to do SMM for your company, send me a private message

Moving on to the questions.

spirit11 Says
What are the Technologies that will shape Social Media Landscape?

As more people get onto the internet, the more social media will evolve. And this will happen across two main screens - that of your computer and that of your mobile. With more adoption in India, and the (hopeful) coming of 3G, people want to be connected all the time, and will be able to access videos on their phone (how cool!). Example: Twitter is such a phenomenon globally simply because its platform independent. One doesn't need to be connected to a computer to use it. I don't need to gas on this further, surely.

But, like my boss said, social media will continue to evolve only because humans have an innate need to keep in touch. Tomorrow, FB and Twitter might die, but something else will come in their stead.

spirit11 Says
What is the Industry Outlook like?

I'm guessing you mean market for social media in India. There aren't too many specialist agencies in India. Traditional agencies and media planning houses are trying to set up a social media 'wing' (read: two people who know how to use Twitter). But there's still a long, long way to go.

If you're talking about India-specific statistics, then:
1. 8 of the top 15 sites in India are social-media related. Check out Alexa.
2. India is the 2nd most active Tweeting nation in the world: Over 2 million users.
3. There are now 7.1 million Indians on Facebook, a figure that has grown 300% over last year
4. LinkedIn has 4 million users in India

And all these numbers are growing at an exponential clip. Should stabilize in the next couple of years, in my opinion.

spirit11 Says
The Pros and Cons of being in the Social Media Industry?


1. Dynamic, growing industry. Always something exciting happening, clients actively seek out social media activities now since it's a buzzword.
2. Conceptualizing for social media is genuinely fun if you like social media.
3. There's a coolness factor associated with working with FB, Twitter and all that, no?

1. The perpetual flak of Rohitji Kidding
2. Truth be told, the industry is still in its infancy. Best practices need to be adopted, better methods for text seeding / participation in forums etc need to be adopted in a way that does not become very pushy.
3. All said and done, many clients are still iffy about getting onto social media. And we all know how scared some people are of getting onto digital. To put things in perspective, 2 slots on Bidaai = 6 months of a full social media campaign.
4. There's not too much talent in the industry. Better minds tend to gravitate towards more stable jobs, even in media and advertising. Hence conceptualizing AND executing social media activities becomes a problem.

Right, so that's spirit11's questions. I'll get to the others in a bit...


|spirit11 Says
Reading up this these days!- Thanks to Deepak aka chucl_gopal for introducing me to it.

You're welcome, but please spell my ID correctly, no?

A Mallu Accent is just a Hyundai made in Kerala. http://www.facebook.com/ChucksComicsAndStuff
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Just a small li'l link on " The Fad called Social Media"

YouTube - Social Media Revolution


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Thank you Rohit Bhai, for taking time out of your busy schedule.

I went through your insights and found another query for you.

But yes, there are tons of "strategists" who have read few books, few blogs and can provide strategy to your organization but ask them to implement it, you will get a no. The reason being implementation is the hardest part!

How do we really implement a social media strategy and is there any such thing as Social Media Strategy?

And,another big question is,how do we really start interacting with our audience?

Thanks for helping us out!:)

Deepak Bhai we are waiting for you too.:)

The Only thing constant in Life-Change!
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Thank you puys for joining in.:)

Special Thanks to Deepak for guiding us over here.:)

My Questions will be..

1. Does one need to have a in depth knowledge of a product/service before hand, for us to market it in social media space?

Like for eg, i had to market financial services of a financial company, i found it necessary for me to know what drove the customers, what are the solutions they are looking for and what mediums do they use?

2. How do we monitor what is being said about a brand online and how do we make it positive if the opinion is negative?

One more important question, there is so much to read online, that i for one get lost some times, so many technologies, platforms, where does one start and how does one know till where have they reached?

Thanks for helping us out!


The Only thing constant in Life-Change!
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