Using social media is different from doing an online campaign

MUMBAI: Companies that advertise online should remember that there is a difference between using social media effectively and simply running an online campaign. The latter is temporary while the former is a 365-day 24-hour activity.

Companies also need to delegate more manpower and money to have a more evolved social media strategy.

This point was made at a session called Social Media Opportunity for Brands and Business at WatSummit, an event aimed at shedding light on digital media and trends being observed.
The speakers were Infosys head online marketing Sanjay Sahay, AgencyDig! co-founder Karl Gomes, MTV Networks director digital media Ali Hussein and director Kedar Gavane.

Sahay said that companies need to think through their strategy when they use social media. It helps a company keep in touch with influencers. It means aligning your marketing and sales processes. Social media is an everyday activity rather than a campaign to campaign thing.

Hussein said that the digital division of Viacom is a separate unit. Various brands of Viacom have done well on Twitter and Facebook. Gavane said that social networking is the fastest growing segment in the online space. Facebook reaches 65 per cent of online Indian users, while YouTube reaches 50 per cent.

"Earlier brands used to dabble in social media. Now they are listening more to what consumers are saying. How they use this to convert it into business remains to be seen."

Gomes said for companies digital has to be a way of thinking. "Tweets have to be responded to. What is being noticed is that companies often delete negative comments. Some brands only want to see the good and agencies must push clients to listen to consumers. Agencies should also push ideas and content to clients rather than simply push technology and mediums." 
At the same time it was pointed out that marketing teams tend to be small within a large MNC. The importance given to social media will depend on the boss. It was noted that sometimes the permutations involved are too many for marketing teams to get their social media strategy right.

Hussein noted that the company does not delete negative comments unless it is derogatory. "We let most things be. You cannot control a person‘s thought process".

It was noted that people will be on social media and not brands. People can see through the rif raff. They probably know if an online chat with a film star is real or fake; they are getting smarter.

Brands will become consumers on social media. To succeed in the social media space brands need to have a personal identity.

Brands must also realise that they are an individual among several individuals in social media. The brand is not leading the conversation and it should not try to do so. At the same time if a social media platform is not part of the conversation, it could lose its edge which is what has happened with Orkut here.

In terms of a company dealing with a negative troll, it was noted that it is not just the responsibility of brands to deal with it. The users should also come in to handle the threat of social bullies.

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