Social media marketing opens up a two-way communication channel for brands to understand what their consumers want, for real
“Unlike print and television, digital is the child that went around saying, advertise with me and I’ll give you exact numbers. Today, that metric is being challenged by social media,” says Rajiv Dingra, founder and CEO of WATConsult, a Mumbai-based digital and social media agency.
Dingra believes that with the emergence of social media, the bigger challenge for companies and social media agencies now lies in not just driving click-based marketing, but in turning conversations online to sales. Here, he shares his views on how brands can achieve that.
(As narrated by Rajiv Dingra)
A true measure on investment
Unlike digital, social media is about talking to customers on their platform. Compare the usage of Google and Facebook, from a brand perspective. Google allows brands to associate with keywords in a search; in other words, it helps the brand associate with the ‘intention’ of a user. On the other hand, Facebook enables brands to associate with the ‘identity’ (age, location, education, interests, pages he follows etc.) of a person. When brands begin their digital ad campaigns, it is crucial that brand managers understand with clarity how users engage with Google, Facebook or for that matter any other digital media property.
So, what can brands do to drive social media engagement? First, they should identify the relevant audience and connect with them, say, in the form of posts on Facebook, hash tags on Twitter or engaging videos on YouTube. The second step is to converse. The moment a brand voices its message, the customers start reacting. The trick here is for brands to understand what the customer wants and create relevant messages, in real-time. Next, the brand should collaborate with its customers and work towards a common purpose. Lastly, it should co-create. Often, this is the toughest part of engagement because co-creation requires the customer to invest equal time and effort in aiding the brand. In such circumstances, if a brand enables a customer to feel good about himself/herself, through the brand, he /she will in turn build equity for the brand.
“ A brand shouldn’t talk about how big the discounts are, but about how great the value is. For instance, a contest on Facebook or Twitter will certainly drive temporary traction, but, to build long lasting relationships, a brand has to focus on building value and brand worth.”
A four-prong approach
Most importantly, while communicating with its target audience, a brand shouldn’t speak of what it does, but how it does things differently. For instance, today, for every product category, be it a deodorant, a consumer appliance, clothing or a food segment, a consumer is spoilt for choice. Thus, the differentiation here lies in what the brand stands for, how it is serving the needs of the consumer, what quality assurance it delivers and more.
Secondly, a company should think about building a brand, not just a relationship. A classic example of this will be the strategy adopted by mom and pop stores. Their primary branding strategies are driven by two-way conversations between the customer and the store representatives. It builds loyalty and brand equity in the longer run.
Thirdly, a company should convey how its products can aid consumers, not what the product is about. Think Coca Cola. In plain words, it’s an aerated drink. But, it managed to become the most preferred beverage world over because it said; Coca Cola leads to ‘Open Happiness’. In other words, it created an emotional connect with its consumers.
Lastly, a brand shouldn’t talk about how big the discounts are, but about how great the value is. For instance, a contest on Facebook or Twitter will certainly drive temporary traction, but, to build long lasting relationships, a brand has to focus on building value and brand worth.
In all, when a company analyses its brand engagement on social media, it shouldn’t just focus on driving mass numbers, such as likes or followers, but should focus on audience quality, understand how fast the community is growing, how much engagement is happening, how people are reacting to it (capture responsiveness) and, what the ultimate outcome of this engagement is. And, the last one is usually an impact on the sales numbers.
Founder: Rajiv Dingra
Rajiv Dingra is the founder and CEO of the Mumbai-based digital and social media agency, WATConsult. A prolific speaker and mentor, he has been a part of several digital media and telecom conferences such as the Yahoo! Digital media conference at IIM Bangalore, Digital Media Conclave and Search Summit.
His passion for social media led him to partner with the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMA), and launch the country’s first certified social media course. Through this workshop, he has played an instrumental role in training several senior level professionals about how they can integrate social media into their business objectives.
Rajiv is also on the jury of The Bees Awards at San Francisco, which grants recognition for the best social media practices of the year. He is an active member of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) and is an advisor to the entrepreneurship cells of renowned institutes such as the IITs and IIMs.