Dear Friends, Its been a long journey for me since the day I started my blog on wordpress.com. It did change my life. My blog posts helped me get a better and good job in Social Media. I have moved to Dubai as Social Media Strategist for one of the global retail conglomerate. Guess what!… They saw my blog, read my tweets, viewed my linkedin profile and finally called me for an interview.

Today I am positioned as Social Media Strategist for more than 24 brands in Dubai. All thanks to my blog & my blog readers. However, taking my next step into the blogging world. I just bought a new domain few months back and have shifted my entire blog to the new domain name which is known as  www.ursocially.com. Henceforth, you can view my new blog posts on www.ursocially.com.

Hence, My sincere apologies for the people who would have subscribed my blog feed. Hence, would request you all to subscribe the new blog feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/IndianSocialMedia

Humanizing your Brand!

October 6, 2010

It is important for any of the brands to act more as people and not as  automated systems. I have even come across brands who use tools like Hootsuite, Cotweet, Jist and many more to post content regularly in order to look like an active brand.

But, that’s not sufficient for the brands. Most of the time one has to  interact with users regularly in order to suggest, resolve and discuss around various conversations and make sure there are real people behind every Twitter or Facebook Profile

But what about organizations that are leveraging employee participation to communicate with their audiences through social media? Here are a few tactics to consider implementing to humanize your brand:

  • Instead of an icon or logo, use a team photo for your Facebook page or corporate twitter account to show that real people are behind the brand.
  • Include the names of employees representing the brand in any account profiles, about us pages, etc.
  • Include a page on your blog with author profiles and photos – offer a behind the scenes look at their role within the organization.
  • Have a monthly “Meet our Team” post on your blog or Facebook page. This could include a text entry with an attached image or a video post that offers some insight into the personality of the organization.
  • Build stories around individual employees’ favourite products, why they love them, how they use them, etc.
  • Encourage team members to communicate on behalf of the brand through their own twitter accounts – which would include their photo, their role within the organization and a link back to the company website.
  • Get out of the office – have a plan that bridges digital communication with face-to-face audience interaction. This could include employees speaking at industry functions, hosting seminars or educational events, employee volunteerism within your community, regular pr/service visits into the marketplace, etc.

What other tactics could you implement to humanize your brand?

Understand Your Audiences

A word of caution before pulling the curtain back on your organization – take some time to really understand the needs of your internal and external audiences. Before setting out to humanize your organization through social media:

  1. Communicate social media goals and guidelines with employees – particularly if they will be representing your brand through personal accounts of off- hours.
  2. Understand the information needs of your audience and balance the frequency of culture posts – personal stories are great for building relationships but it’s important to be mindful of the fact that too much content related to the organization may not be of interest to your stakeholders.

These are the most aspects that any brand should start following. This will certainly help a brand to avoid crisis as Dominos Pizza faced last year.

Pls Note: This post was been inspired by the original post on Social Media Explorer

I thought, should share this interesting survey done by E-consultancy whom I follow regularly! This topic is very much debatable. Perhaps an interesting post via Digi News

The post goes here…

According to a recent report, businesses that invest in marketing apparently cannot measure their growth results on any scale.

Econsultancy states, by a total poll of 47% from the entire staff of over 800 employees, that includes professionals from PR as well as marketers. An estimated 76%w claim there was no ROI amount for their entire investment on social media channels.

Below is a mention of a few statistics accumulated:

•    83% used Twitter for social media strategies.

•    83% used Facebook for social media strategies.

•    83% businesses plan to increase expenditure on social media websites.

•    28% companies do not spend any amount on social media.

•    33% have an expenditure on social media activities which is less than 5£ per year.

•    29% businesses do not have a reliable staff to execute these initiatives.

•    49% companies state resource shortage as a reason for average performance.

•    30% claim insufficient budgets to reach their company goals.

The Research Director of Econsultancy, Linus Gregoriadis recently stated, “2010 has been a year in which companies have tried to become more focused in their social media marketing activity. Much of their activity is concentrated on the use of Twitter and Facebook, with the vast majority of companies (83% and 80% of respondents respectively) using these sites as part of their social media strategy. Companies are harnessing these sites for a range of business functions including marketing, sales, and customer service and product development.”

Is the hype for social media justified with such results for business firms and brands?

To conclude it further. The hype cannot be justified at this point of time because we all know Social Media will start generating results only after sometime. At this point of time.. it is imperative to consider it strongly and include it our marketing mix. Moreover, this is not a time to actually think of results but only keep doing with best of the efforts.

Hence, this topic does not justify that Social Media is actually a hype! We have seen many brands in India who are equally adding their best efforts to engage users in different ways and have been successful. Then there are brands like Pantaloons who consider Social Media as their ATL activity

Along with the dynamism of this medium it also brings ambiguity to many of us about how successful it can be. But, the answer is Try it out first and then conclude! As I said,  getting into Social Media also needs great sense of motivation and devotion. It’s not easy to manage people!  🙂 Isn’t it?

I have been absconding from Blogging for few months and it seems I have found an excellent reason to come back again. I have always felt, there has to be a lot of thought process involved in understanding our consumers, especially in Social Media Marketing. Its been more than 6 months that I had stopped blogging. The only reason behind it was to know more about Social Media Marketing practically.

In last 6 months+ I have handled more than 7 clients and every where there was one common problem i.e how to build people around a particular community. There are many things other than that but, it is imperative to start of with it for any new entrant in the Social Media space.

Amongst all this exercise, I have realized one important thing around Community Building, is to identify your target audience and approach them first. The best way to achieve this is to furnish the social URLs especially Facebook & Twitter on your Business cards, Carry Bags in retail outlets, Pamphlets, websites, Emailers which links back to the Facebook page or Twitter Channel. This is the best cross media referencing available to gather your customers first.

Agreed!.. That one needs to build their community or one needs to be where people are. But, we should always begin our first step with our customers. Its a common sense to keep our customers happy first and new customers will follow. Similarly, it is imperative to keep our customers in touch not through intrusive approach. But, there should be some need where the customer comes back to you or wishes to engage with you regularly.

Loyalty programs are the best place to gather our customers to our Communities (eg: Facebook Page, Group, Orkut Community, Twitter Followers). One gets a major chunk of their customers involved in the loyalty programs and what best option could be, than a loyalty program. Most of the marketers fail to understand this logic and they always end up searching or gathering new people.

Keeping the current technology or logic of any Social Networking, if we are able to gather our customers first on our communities, there is a proportionate impact or influence to their individual networks, which drives new followers regularly.

Once, you gather your customers at one place, what should one do to engage them? That’s an interesting question! You may find many marketers have been using contests, polls, quizzes regularly to engage them. But, it will be very soon saturating. Hence, one needs to integrate an online and offline event in order to extend the engagement process and humanize it further.

Lately, when people talk about social media, they are referring to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn only. This is because everyone is trying to follow each other here. But no one is ready to do things differently.

Lets say, We all have misunderstood Twitter and Facebook Completely. Most of the users on Twitter end up sharing about themselves. But it does not help anyone anymore. Say Twitter is more about sharing useful information and not just say that you are in a washroom, washing your hands and legs and Twitter isn’t a GPS system. Twitter is a powerful tool than we have imagined it to be. News, Useful information which benefits others  plays a major role

Same thing with Facebook, Today every Brand things their target audience is on only Facebook.. Sorry sir.. You are mistaking it.. Facebook is just a 5% of the overall social media approach. Well you can certainly find more opportunities in the list below.  All the best Marketers 🙂

However, social media started well before these tools were part of the landscape. Now, social media has a lot more to offer.

If we think back, early forms of social media were bulletin boards or forwarding emails and sometimes online newsletters too.

Now, we have certainly long way to go to explore all these opportunities. I tool agree that India is still in the evolving stage of Social Media. But I guess, we all will start using the below activities very soon. I feel these activities will certainly justify the efforts made in Social Media for every Social Media Marketer.

Here is a list of some opportunities and/or tools to consider when you’re thinking about how to use social media in your business:

Important Tip : Hey Small Business have more and more options to explore here...

  • Blogging
  • Bookmarking
  • Comment/Reputation
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Customer Service
  • Documents/Content
  • Events
  • Forums
  • Lifestreaming
  • Livecasting
  • Location
  • Micromedia
  • Music
  • Photos
  • Reviews/Ratings
  • SMS/Voice
  • Video

Wonder who is going to handle all of this for a Brand 😉

Social media tools for socialites that is becoming increasingly popular is the internet. Reasons could be many, but main one is the content generated by the users which is directly from the public. Social networking sites and very popular with the users, and plenty of them can be found online. They are free to use and are advanced in technology. The concept of social media optimization utilizes such forms of media for increasing your website popularity and value. As a form of online marketing strategy, it is also a part of functions carried out by the search engine optimizers. Optimization of your content by keyword is crucial here. Make sure you update your content on regular basis. Do not forget to use apt keywords and phrases, but stay within limits and do not over stuff your content. When starting SMO, you should submit your main site to as many social networking sites as possible. Social Media Optimization requires lots of effort and hard work, similar to Search Engine Optimization. One will not be able to craft web space and presence without being patient and hard working. It is the unlimited web presence offered to the website optimizers, that is the main advantage of social networking sites. To increase business popularity, Social Media optimizers can use its name and reputation. Some use a fictional name for this purpose, which is also OK. We can therefore craft a profile of our virtual and non-existing person, but it should be avoided if possible. No matter what name you use, it is crucial that your profile shows strong background and experience in the required field of business. The most common cause of the marketing tools and techniques failure is inadequate exposure to the business that is being promoted which later leads to brand anonymity. It is very important these days that marketing is done in proper and continuous manner. Promoting is very difficult with a new business, but if you do it in a planned manner you can have really good results. Online business, in order to be successful, needs you to put a lot of work and effort. Many optimizers have agreed that social media optimization is a good option for effective website optimization.

Social Media Optimization also involves a clear strategy of the specific tool adoption. Sometimes, the selection of tools are very important more than the Social Media approach. The selections of tools directs us towards a clear goal of reaching our target audience and this has to be planned to what is the overall reach one is looking at. In some cases this is tedious in nature ensuring every tool is connected to each other to ensure a seamless content distribution. But there are some tools such as Friendfeed, Facebook, Tubemogul which helps content dissemination easier.

There has been a significant evolution with the current tools which have come up with more integration options. Thus, hoping to similar evolutions in future which will make things more organized and smoother for any Social Media Programs

Traditional media had always promised us millions of Reach but no one bothered to measure or did not have any tools to measure the reach with qualitative analysis. Social Media PR which is so called “New Media” in India comes with Reach and a strong influence…

People ask me why Social Media PR can be dominating in the future. The most important draw-back of traditional  marketing approach is the reach but no influence or less influence. Thought it claimed to have quantitative reach but failed to have qualitative results to the reach. We never felt it important just because we didn’t have any other option. But Social Media has opened the big doors for consumers to voice their opinions against their bad experiences with the Brand. This certainly did not change overnight in India but it took enough time to reach out to people’s realization.

Social Media Marketing - Indian Social Media

Social Media Marketing - Indian Social Media

Most Importantly, Social Media Marketing comes with a strong power to influence consumers decision because of its communication model. Social Media Marketing is more towards permission based marketing approach. This does give them a right to accept what they feel and how they want it to be. It is very difficult for a brand to approach a consumers with its own rules and approach. In such case of personalization there is strong sense of influence too. Since the consumers have to power to weave their perceptions it becomes very easy so establish a strong chain of influence along with the reach. Its the enough room consumers have achieved in this medium bringing  more difficulties and straight-forward approaches for the Brands. This has completely changed the consumer’s experience with the Brand. Hence, marketers have to strongly think and brainstorm about building necessary approach in this medium. There can be silent damage to the brand if the marketers do not feel the necessity of interacting with the consumers directly, which may result in great downfalls for any Brand or service.

This certainly can also be a great help for brands to also identify the loop holes in their Marketing & Communication approach, resulting them to fix issues and problems pertaining to the Product, service and much more…

Most importantly since Social Media PR has a great Reach along with strong Influence, marketing efforts can achieve assured qualitative results and also ensure better penetration of the brand or service amongst the consumers. In such cases a clear ROI is also defined effectively.