The Social Media Storm Is Coming: How Can A Company Rise?

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on August 20, 2012

We are in a period where news travels faster than thoughts and our mind gets peace from others thoughts, the reason social media. We may be all powerful, best of our kind but the virtual world has enslaved us, thanks to social media. When “Troy” burnt no one in Greece knew about it for months, but today when Greece is sinking the whole world can discuss and suggest remedies, thanks to social media.

Today every person is a journalist and every other an expert, no matter how unrelated or vague the issues are, to be aware one just needs to pose a question on Twitter and My God! Experts would shy away from the amount of information one gets from the replies. Even the mysteries tend to get solved, not literally, thanks to social media. Cricketers, footballers, movie stars and even politicians engage their supporters through social media, when all these are happening on this virtual world, it was apparent that brands and managers would exploit the opportunity to bolster their brand value and connect with the customers.

In 2011 the global social network penetration was 53% and the penetration level in India was 64%, of the total internet users. Today over one billion people use social networks, that is around 70 % of the internet population, this shows how pervasive social networks are. Most people use more than one social network; on an average a person in Europe uses 1.9, in the US 2.1, in Brazil 3.1 and in India 3.9 social networks. This indicates that the situation in India is not that stable while leveraging social networks for marketing as compared to other nations, this calls for serious considerations “how to use social networks for marketing in India”.

Few staggering facts that complicate the situation are:

  1. Average Facebook session lasts for 37 minutes
  2. Average Twitter session lasts for 23 minutes
  3. Close to 100% of people who are internet literate know about Facebook and only 33 % use it
  4. Twitter paradox, 80% of internet literate people knows about Twitter but only 16 % use it

First two points provide brands with the opportunity to venture into social media for marketing, but the next two facts leave the question open ended.

Most companies use social media, like social networks, micro-blogs, corporate blogs and video sharing to generate awareness, engage and retain their audience and gain back lost customers. They use them as conversation starters, by addressing to the positive needs and mitigating the bad experiences. All this happens in a virtual world, so the question remains does it converts into sales? It is very difficult to analyze the effect, but most marketers believe if the mind is regularly engaging in activities that involve a brand people get attached to it, thus it results in more sales.

Everybody is gaga over Facebook phenomenon, is it the correct medium? One size cannot fit all, different type of brands will have to choose their own strategy; many brands want to follow the successful players and their type of campaign, then the “copycat effect” follows. The mistakes of successful are replicated, the benefits are generally overlooked and a mountain is built out of a molehill. As negative effects of campaigns are imprinted in the consumers mind for a longer duration, it is not the correct way to go.

Never put all the eggs in one basket, it’s too risky. If any brand is not very sure or had not tried it in the past, and chooses just one social medium for its marketing endeavors then the expected success vis-à-vis capital invested is ought to be a blunder. Many a times it seems as if the medium worked well but only after the competitors’ retaliation the mistake is realized. It is advised to start with a small but active presence in various media and then after studying the consumer reaction the optimal media is to be finalized; this not only provides scope for testing various methods but also helps retaliate any competitor movement effectively.

Catch them Young: Most big brands make small mistakes at initial stage and live with it rather than let the scale of operation grow big with the anomaly and then suffer with it. Catching the mistakes young is the key; many companies have invested a huge amount in developing Pinterest as a marketing medium, just by looking into the initial growth of the network. Though it cannot be said if their investments were bad, but the time of investment was not apt, it was too early as before investing in any medium the stability is to be analyzed. In India Pinterest is yet to take off, only when it gains a critical mass the investment opportunity should be looked into. This is true for every upcoming social medium. A haste step can cause harm not just to the financials but also to the Brand image, so critical mass is the key in selecting the appropriate social medium.

Boost marketing: Boost marketing is a way of increasing the no of hits, views and visits, many a times falsely to make an impression to the potential users that this medium is doing wonders. It is a short cut method to enhance the statistics in their own favor to attract more traffic to gain market share and falsely con users to believe that they are using the popular brand. When a product is launched, though Facebook (FB), Twitter etc. they try to gain audience, if at the launch number of likes on FB is huge, more and more people tend like the brand or product, similarly the followers on Twitter and other social media are enhanced. People tend to get influenced by groupthink; this in turn might be helpful to gain a certain chunk of market.

Boost marketing is like a flash mob, which most brands and companies are planning for every new product launch; this is a very crucial decision to make as the investment to keep the momentum up is high. It is a very good way to create awareness, but in many situations it is restricted to awareness and not converted to sales. The boost marketing may be misleading as the number gets inflated and the future plans get affected. It is effective mostly in case of new product launches but in the case of already established products the conversion from awareness to purchase could be limited, here the investment may not be that fruitful. So it’s very important on part of the companies to choose the medium and the life cycle stage of the product whether to use Boost marketing, if yes to what extent.

Replication anomalies: Acceptance of one campaign through one medium if done in other may not be effective. As the consumer behavior of different countries is different, so is the usage pattern of social media, Orkut is still popular in many South American nations, many campaigns run on those but if without proper research a company tries to replicate the campaign in say India, it may not work. At the same time YouTube is used by American ad agencies to keep consumers hooked, though YouTube usage is on a rise, but due to low bandwidth availability to most users in India it may not be as effective a medium as in the US. These are the decisions that companies should look into while investing in social media.

One major social medium in Business to Business (B2B) set up can be LinkedIn, where the opportunity to deal with the higher ranks is easier and convenient. As per one of the US survey more than 90% of the corporate world is registered on LinkedIn, though in India the number is not that big it is growth was at a staggering 45.1% year-on-year in 2011, this indicates the potential LinkedIn has.

These are some of the steps that help brands rise to the occasion to garner the most out of the social media storm, as the market is evolving marketers are coming up with new ideas, Search engine optimization (SEO) is one such ways to attract customers to their media, but with more clutter in the internet space the competition is going to be more fierce and this will leave the customers more confused. But to tackle this situation quick actions and reaction to competitors’ actions are required. The opportunity is huge but only few can effectively utilize their resources to stay afloat and supersede their competitors, no one knows who these brands will be.

This article has been authored by Amit Kumar Bhuyan from IIM Indore.


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