SEO. SEM. SMM.
Gamify. Amplify. Engage.
Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Pinterest.
Big data. Small data. No data!
A whole new language with enough hifalutin terms to scare you and make you think that Social Media is a complex affair, requiring specialist skills.
It’s not true. It may appear that way but Social Media is no rocket science. The appearance of complexity is deceiving. Cut through the fancy terminology and you will find that the adage ‘the more life changes, the more it stays the same’ applies to Social Media in spades.
Let’s start with the nature of the medium itself. Because that’s what Social Media is. A medium.
In a piece I wrote for the Direct Marketing Association of India (DMAi) last year, I began with the statement, “The Homo Sapiens species has always been highly social. Down the ages, human communities have gathered to share and discuss information, opinions and ideas by congregating around public churches, temples, parks, community halls or through smaller private parties and gatherings.”
So, there’s nothing new about social media other than the fact that technology has enabled worldwide congregations to exchange news and opinions. Making word-of-mouth a marketer’s delight or headache.
Which brings me to the second reason why I am saying that Social Media is no rocket science.
Long before social networking sites came into being, Tupperware harnessed the power of social media. Through their famous tea parties. And therein, lies a tale for Social Media practitioners.
You have to understand the nature of the medium. Sound familiar? It should! Because that is precisely how advertising has been practised down the years. First, focus on the breakthrough to a BIG brand and creative idea. Second, evaluate if the big idea is sustainable. Third, examine if the idea can be rendered across media.
Campaign after campaign in the 1980s would be rendered differently for radio because people understood that this was a medium that was often tantamount to white noise. Radio commercials had to devise creative that caught the listener’s attention. Ring a bell? No, seriously, I am not just asking if memories have been jogged. Many radio spots would begin with a bell ringing as an attention getter. Ting tong!
Social media is much the same. A medium with its own idiosyncrasies. Principle among which is the fact that brands can largely serve only as facilitators if the aim is to build a community platform. Tupperware understood that when organizing its tea parties.
For conversation starters, you need messages that are of interest to the consumer and relevant to the brand. No different from the core principle of advertising. A few days ago, I came across a story from The Better India on Facebook. The post was about an initiative taken by a husband-wife duo, Manisha and Abhishek, to help households in India become more energy efficient through a website bijlibachao (meaning save electricity). The site’s tag line says it all “Because saving electricity saves money.” Great stuff and of interest to every household groaning under the weight of electricity bills. Now, imagine if an energy brand had taken this step. I am sure it would have been a great conversation starter and earned enormous brand goodwill.
It was what the India Unveiled campaign did for Sterling Holidays. Started conversations, increased brand awareness, earned goodwill and added a ‘knowledgeable’ dimension to the Sterling brand. All by revealing little known, amazing facts about India that would create an urge to discover more about the country’s rich heritage. The campaign borrowed heavily from advertising principles, beginning with a teaser on Facebook and followed through with a momentum of one India Unveiled post a day through the month of October 2013. I have posted links to the India Unveiled campaign and the ensuing media coverage at the end of this post for interested folks.
Community building and keeping that community together through a constant stream of conversation starters is not easy. In fact, it’s a tough objective to achieve. Brand engagement with consumers, however, can equally well be achieved by just advertising on social media.
Ideas go viral. It’s as simple as that. Again, no different from why some advertising campaigns click while others that don’t just end up draining company coffers. As an example, let’s take Gillette’s The Best a Fan Can Get. Released on Indian television networks, the commercial has been timed perfectly to coincide with the ICC Cricket World Cup and the guaranteed, ensuing cricket fever in the subcontinent. Launched on February 13, 2015, the commercial has garnered over 2 million views on YouTube in the span of a week. But don’t go just by that statistic. Check out the conversations on the YouTube page. Those conversations, to my mind, reveal just how well the brand has succeeded in engaging consumers.
Consumer engagement. It’s what Keith Reinhard (Chairman Emeritus DDB Worldwide) talks about in an Adweek article where he says the future of advertising still rests on the art of connecting brands and consumers. The article, it seems, was in response to someone in the pages of Adweek who “suggested that, given all the changes technology has brought us, we need to redefine advertising.” Reinhard’s viewpoint is reflected in the title of his piece. He also says everything he has to say in one power packed statement – “We’ve always said that word of mouth is the best medium of all. Augmented by word of Web, it’s even better.”
Word of Web. How eloquently said! Words that sharply pinpoint the one big difference between Social Media and other communication channels.
Social Media has shifted the power to the consumer. Oh, the consumer was always in control. The difference is that in days gone by, the consumer wouldn’t complain. She would simply take her business elsewhere. Now, not only will she complain, she will influence her friend circles into changing their brand preferences.
Making Social Media a powerful consumer research avenue and communication channel. Not rocket science!
You just have to listen, connect, respond. In a language consumers find meaningful and relate to. Not gamify, amplify, engage. Those words, alone, reflect the mindset of many a business today. Hit-and-run.
Featured Image Credit: Tea Party (Photo taken @Sweet Garden- Style Details @Confessions of a SL shopaholic) by Tiff – Flickr.com under Creative Commons license
Let’s get to the heart of it – Sharing Perspective, DMAi, the cmoguide.com – http://thecmoguide.com/lets-get-to-the-heart-of-it/
Bijli Bachao – Now Save On Your Electricity Bills And Learn Of Energy Efficiency – See more at: http://www.thebetterindia.com/6302/bijli-bachao-now-save-on-your-electricity-bills-and-learn-of-energy-efficiency/#sthash.RhWHixYq.dpuf
Bijli Bachao – https://www.bijlibachao.com/
India Unveiled Links:
Keith Reinhard’s article The Future of Advertising Still Rests on the Art of Connecting Brands and Consumers – http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/future-advertising-still-rests-art-connecting-brands-and-consumers-162937