Get real, get social

Last Updated 19 January 2011, 12:23 IST

A random job search on Linkedin throws up several opportunities for social media professionals in the Indian corporate sector, a far cry from the days when social media was considered another passing fad.

Many opportunities as social media strategists, bloggers, social media marketing executives, search marketing managers, online marketing managers, player conversion managers and so on exist in the social media sector.

Web 2.0 is not a fancy buzzword anymore, and corporates such as Asian Paints, Nescafe, Future Group, Manipal and Pizza Hut among others, who have been quick to adopt viral marketing, will vouch for this fact. The interactive internet or Web 2.0 has changed the face of business in a networked India.

Companies have realised that youth is driving market forces and platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, discussion boards, online forums, YouTube and innumerable networking, microblogging, blog and video sites are great to make that connect with a ready audience.

Nescafe’s ‘Know Your Neighbours’ Facebook campaign is a great example of how powerful this medium has become. Deepika Padukone and Purab Kohli starred in the ‘Know Your Neighbours’ television commercials but the Facebook page has been able to make a better connect with the page having 307,646 people liking it.

This means 307,646 people with whom Nescafe can have a conversation with. This also means 307,646 people with whom Nescafe can build a relationship, promote its brand, get feedback, experiment with its products, and create a buzz that percolates to a far larger audience through this network.

Why social media

Companies have understood that the social media prism gives them a far larger and direct reach when compared with marketing campaigns on old-world platforms including papers and television. In India, there are nearly 10 million people accessing the Internet and companies are busy sniffing the immense possibilities on social networks.

Educational institutions such as Manipal have been able to use their online presence, particularly social media, to engage the student community, keep them abreast of new admission drives and create awareness about new courses.

Creating such online campaigns requires special expertise, and therein are the job opportunities. Almost every company is looking to tap Web 2.0 to connect with a larger, vibrant audience. Web 2.0 is about creating an impact and sustaining that impact with meaningful conversation.

We are past the Age of Information and in the Age of Insights. Social media strategists provide these insights. They help to create a campaign that can sustain audience interest and generate chatter over networks.

Any brand can make its presence felt in the social networking space and create a buzz-feedback chain at a minimal cost, but again, to do this, what is required are people who understand the social media. For big brands, reaching out and creating a relationship is relatively easy since people are already aware of its existence, but for smaller brands and wannabe brands, there is a huge challenge. The challenge is about creating a brand in the consumer’s mind and engaging the audience to reciprocate.

Listen & engage

Theatre personality and avid movie buff Ameet Bhuvan understands this, and he has successfully made the transition from being an observer to a doer. After all, social media is all about doing. Ameet is a member of Yours Truly theatre, an interactive group that is experimental and unconventional.

The group did not have any Facebook presence though Ameet himself had a huge personal network on Facebook. He decided to apply his personal strategy to the theatre group’s official page: Listen and Engage. He initiated Yours Truly theatre into the social networking site, and today runs a 658-member and ever-growing Facebook page, where people routinely write in with their comments and reviews, provide the group with new ideas for plays and possibly the next venue for screening a show.  

Ameet is today the group’s social media strategist, and is constantly coming up with new ways to connect with an audience, who are diverse in their tastes but united in their love for theatre.

Expert moves

Since the social media space is constantly evolving, there is no structured learning content on offer from educational institutions. However, this same aspect makes the social media prism a great place to experiment. Sites like Mashable, Hellbound bloggers, Wordpress, Reddit, Slashdot and YouTube are just a few that disseminate information about social media and social media tools.

Web design, graphics, search engine optimisation and other web-related courseware is available in IT curriculums. However, to be a social media strategist, one needs to know the basics of social media platforms and how they work; practically applying this to market brands and products.

Bloggers who see great traffic on their blogs will vouch that techniques to create more visibility include writing on popular trending topics, using meta tags, providing trackbacks and comments, joining a network of bloggers writing on similar topics and, of course, setting up blogs in popular blog sites like Blogspot and WordPress.

The social media space has matured to some extent as corporates now make social media strategy part of their marketing and communication mandate.  Some prefer outsourcing this to PR agencies they work with as more often than not this involves conducting events on social media platforms and even event and crisis monitoring of events which PR agencies are equipped to handle. Also, most companies these days prefer using social media not only to market and build brands, but maintain open communication with their employees.

People who have great communications skills, especially writing skills, can look to become corporate bloggers and part of the company’s social media team. Corporates have even opened up profiles aptly termed ‘Listening Officer’.

Defined responsibilities include maintaining the company’s social media presence, trawling various networking sites to gauge what people think and project about the company, interact with a specific audience including company employees on the company’s behalf, and constantly monitor public perception in these networking sites. The next time you log on to Facebook, pause and think. You are probably looking at your next career move.

(The writer is CEO, brand-comm)

(Published 19 January 2011, 12:23 IST)

Follow us on