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‘Social for Business’: How far have we come?


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By Ankur Singh


As the digital space expands, brands seek to engage directly with consumers to create extended relationships. Social media, primarily a personal space, has become a platform for businesses to be more efficient and easily accessible for consumers. On account of this constantly changing landscape, consumer expectations are growing, and brands need to rise to this challenge. 


A panel of top marketers from diverse industries explored tangible business performance of social media on digital platforms at the TO THE NEW Digital Roundtable hosted by exchange4media at Gurgaon last week. In the first of a series of panel discussions, the theme was ‘Social for Business’. Moderated by Atul Hegde, CEO, Ignitee-To The New, the panel included Shreya Shivangi from LG India, Shikher Gupta from Videocon, Navninder Singh of Akzo Nobel, Ankush Manchanda from Bacardi and Kanika Mittal from Reebok.  


“Today, the digital industry needs to figure out a way to streamline knowledge, and share best practices for the platforms to perform in the most effective manner. As social media matures, it is essential to integrate it into the larger marketing organization. In this light, have the expectations from social changed?” pondered Hegde.


Social media has changed how brands communicate in this day and age, said Kanika Mittal, Head, Digital Marketing and Brand Communications at Reebok India. “There has never been more interactive ways to connect with the stakeholders. While it is a great tool, it must also be used with care, in accordance with the objective of the business. It is constantly evolving, so you must have a robust but adaptable strategy to cope with this. The biggest challenge that brands face, and the biggest change in expectations from social, is that brands need to figure out how to get the power of social to convert into e-commerce,” Mittal added.


The latest wave in the digital space has forced brands to break away from conventional social networking marketing tools, and focus on content. Digital marketers are now increasingly using social insights to make smart decisions. Another evolution that social media has seen is that consumers not only use social media platforms for sharing grievances, they also expect a response—and a timely one too. Social media for social media's sake is over. “Marketers need to map online buzzshare and content buckets. Companies should increasingly use data to advance the entire organization across all departments when possible. Social media insights can potentially be used to make critical decisions from human resources to product development to sales. With so much data available, the biggest expectation of social today is aligning one singular view of the consumer within organizational departments,” pointed out Shreya Shivangi, Head – Digital Marketing at LG India.


Shikher Gupta, Head – Digital Marketing at Videocon Industries, said, “Brands must ask the right questions and set the right objectives. They need to look at the ‘why’ of the product. They need to have the appropriate technology to access and use social data, have people with the intelligence and intuition to apply the data correctly. With this, marketers will be armed to make smart decisions for the company beyond social media.”


“It is a two way channel, which means not only is it useful for marketing but it is also a great way to gauge customer feedback. Social media is a quicker and more cost effective way of knowing what your customers want,” he added.


According to Ankush Manchanda, Senior Manager – Digital Marketing at Bacardi, “Over the years, the definition of social has completely changed. Today, social platforms have become media-oriented, and media platforms are suggesting ideas which are inherently social. I believe we need to be clear with objective to be achieved since digital and social have evolved in the last two years to an extent that they can provide solutions from building brand image to providing reach in a campaign to engagement, research, customer care and sales. Any social media strategy works best when it is targeted to a specific audience and the brand is creating specific opportunity for this audience to react. There are plenty of ways to measure and analyse social media, keeping a close eye on specific metrics that will help you understand what is working well, what isn’t and to make sure you aren’t wasting valuable resources.”


Talking about customizing social media in line with different businesses, Navninder Singh, Head – Digital Marketing at AkzoNobel, pointed out, “It is vital that you think about your brand identity when using social media. The way you use social media should reinforce your company brand and what it stands for. What does your brand stand for? Where in the market are you trying to position yourself? Your social media output should always come back to your business.”


Feedback: ankur.singh@exchange4media.com

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