“With social media we are dealing with live storytelling skills”

Published: September 29, 2015 12:35 AM

Brands can never be social; it’s the idea which becomes social. It took a while for our marketers to figure this out.

Brands can never be social; it’s the idea which becomes social. It took a while for our marketers to figure this out. The real eye opener being Facebook’s aggressive presence as one of the largest publishing houses in the country; its incredible reach made all media planners re-look at social media. The numbers made certain sectors, especially banking, insurance and auto, adapt quickly and build a sizable following by the sheer power of reach and intelligent buying but unfortunately the communities built were just cribbing about the unsatisfactory services or unattended complaints. More importantly, all conversations and relationships were transactional and nothing built on emotion.

I believe both marketers and agencies were not completely ready to mount campaigns that engaged the new social tribes. This led to long unedited boring television commercials on YouTube, reducing the internet to just a passive broadcasting entity. Finally things have changed last year with better understanding of the new social consumer behaviour. In fact, the fastest growing brand on Facebook today is Xiaomi. Service providers Vodafone and Airtel continued the dominance while newcomers like Reliance Mobile preferred to garner following on a far more volatile and active medium such as Twitter. One of our failures on social campaigns is our limited understanding of people and their behaviour. Today people on social media are not interested in listening to brand stories; instead they are more interested in their own stories. Therefore the real intelligence is that people need to be woven into brand stories. However the unanswered question is “how”. I guess one needs to be selfless to be selfish. If brands find common values they can share with people, I am sure one can find enough stories.

Coming to the biggest spender— FMCG—it is still lagging behind but will catch up soon. Unilever, Nivea, P&G, KFC, Nestle are all making calculated strides in social media. The biggest lesson is Nestlé’s Maggi fiasco, the downside of social power. If not for the love people have for Maggi, the brand would surely have been in deeper trouble (worse than it is today). Brands must constantly be in touch with the social topography to plug in relevant responsive messages. With social, we are dealing with live storytelling skills and not the canned version of a television commercial; one needs to orchestrate the brand’s story with connected thinking and experiences like a DTS sound system. One of the biggest trends emerging is the questionable presence of corporate websites for consumer facing companies. If you were to go by the statistics of Facebook pages in India—Docomo with 11 million fans fallowed by Microsoft Lumia and Samsung with 10 million each amply demonstrate the power of Facebook presence. I am sure lots of brands and companies must be itching to get a million, if not ten.  Going back to my earlier point, brands must learn to create content, which truly makes people heroes, rather than themselves.

The author is chief creative officer at Sapient Nitro

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