Friday, October 28, 2011

The Power of Social Media

There was a time when orkut, facebook, you-tube & linked-in were used solely for catching up with distant friends & family i.e. for online social activities only. Over a period, companies have used this effective tool to market their products and services, understand the consumer preferences spread their company goodwill and many other initiatives. I was not aware of the potential till I started working on initiatives related to digital media. The revelation of the potential of social media was astounding!

I was going to fall-off my chair when I read that Indian firms spend c.Rs.1200 crore on social media. It’s obvious if you get a tool which has higher penetration and wider reach and not to forget economical for a business, then logically a business would opt for social media initiatives. Many companies in India are focusing on keeping aside approximately 30-40 percent of their marketing budget for digital media. Historically, companies have spent huge amounts on conducting market research surveys to understand consumer behavior as well as product vulnerability & sustainability in the markets. If you look closely at the life cycle of market research, by the time the analysis is complete, the markets could have completely changed. So what you as a customer gets is redundant information. With the advent of social media however, we get an eagles eye view of the market scenario as well as customer preferences if not literally but close to real time basis. This is precisely what twitter has been doing. You get movie reviews, product reviews in a jiffy. Who would want to read the paper the next day for the reviews now? What I think is key is that social media offers a ‘podium’ for customers to be heard. I remember when I had an issue with ‘Fashion & You’, I was fed-up interacting with the help desk guys since they kept me running in circles. Then I wrote on their facebook page about the horrific experience I was having. To my surprise, there was one lady who called me, listened to my problem and solved it within a day. This was the first time I experienced the power of social media!

Please don’t be under the impression that social media can be leveraged by companies only. You can use this as a tool for your personal branding as well. I am quite surprised that although people are aware of the existence of social media. They are unaware of its POWER and have made little or no efforts to unearth its POTENTIAL. Very few mid or small size companies think it’s a waste of time to market themselves or their companies on social media. For all your guys who fall under this category, I would like to share some statistics. The Nielsen Company conducted in collaboration with AbsolutData a report on social media in India.

The findings of the report are as follows:
•30 million Indians who are online consumers are members of social networking sites
•20 million of these spend time on social networking sites daily
•Indians spend more time on social media than they do checking personal email
•Over the next six months 45,000 online Indians intend to join social networking sites each day
•1/4th of online Indians were able to recall brands using social media
•Having a social media presence connotes ‘innovation’ ‘customer friendliness’ and a sense of ‘cool’
•Nearly 40 million Indians are using online reviews to inform purchase decisions
•67 percent of Indians who are on the web use online reviews to help them make purchases
•60 percent Indians who are social media users are open to being approached by brands
•Social Media in India is growing at 100 percent and is likely to touch 45 million users by 2012
Maybe now you will be able to identify the power of social media.

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