The following blog entry is written by Sumit Verma who is Online Sales Operations Analyst at Facebook, India.
As India reaches 100million Internet users, 3rd only after China's 300 million+ and USA's 210 million users, more and more focus will be on how to attract this audience. This is not only from a web locus, but also from pure marketing perspective. Imagine, if luxury brands like Gucci and Vero Moda can open exclusive show rooms in this country which offers them such a limited audience, how can marketers afford to evade a medium, which has now reached millions and growing at an ever-rapid pace?
Social Media Marketing is relatively a new term in India as compared to digital marketing (this includes all the 100 million users I have mentioned above). Banner ads on our favourite website home page are not very uncommon. But when it comes to social media marketing, there's still some way to go before we ourselves understand its intricacies, the power it beholds and the risks it inherits. Its exactly like the human brain, we all know its capable of brilliant things and yet we fail to comprehend it in absolute terms, and if it falls in the wrong hands (not literally), can even plan to destroy the world!
Let’s take a look at some numbers first. Out of estimated 100 million users; about 30% of this population is on some or the other social network. Facebook, 'the social network' has an estimated 18 million+ users in India. Orkut, once the reigning king of social networking in India, has been witnessing a downfall in its popularity for the past couple of years, its official tally stands at 17 million. Twitter is catching up with its counterparts, but since it’s a micro-blogging site, it comes with some inherent limitations like no 3rd party applications etc. It stands at around 5 million users in India. LinkedIn, the professional social network is also doing pretty good with 8 million users. Plus we have our own India born social networks like ibibo, bigadda etc. New players like Foursquare, Quora are also foraying in this arena, offering something unique (Foursquare is location based and Quora is question-answer based discussion). All these numbers tell us that there is a sizable number of people that one just cannot ignore.
Consider this with the global social statistics:
Of course, when you look at the percentage wise breakup, things look paltry. Internet penetration, at best is still 10-12% while mobile penetration is around 65%, reaching even 85-90% in metro cities. However India's population is such that even a small percentage takes shape of a big number. And that's exactly where the catch is! If this small percentage is giving you such a huge audience, imagine the people waiting in queue to join the bandwagon. It is the mobile penetration that can really be used to stimulate this process. More and more people are now using their handsets to surf the Internet, and this number is increasing exponentially.
Social media can do what no other form of advertising or marketing could do so far. Let the customer know that the BRAND cares for them, it listens to individuals and it is them who have the power.
All global behemoths are now very active on all social platforms. Coca-Cola, Apple, McDonalds etc. come to mind as the most prominent ones. Social media marketing is much more than just creating a fan page or tweeting, it’s about engaging the customer. Recently one of my friends had tweeted something she found annoying about a leading cellular service provider. I even joked about it on the site that why you are mentioning the operators name ‘Are they going to listen?’ But, to my surprise, they did!! About 10 days later, she received a tweet from the CSP stating that they'll be glad to have any more feedback in the future. They have even started following her tweets! Being social by nature, people tend to communicate, engage and build relationships with social networking. Thus I feel there can be no better place to interact with consumers. It is, in fact, one of the most cost-effective and lasting brand-building medium for any marketing campaign.
We currently might not have enough success stories to go on and on with case studies of social media marketing, but its just a matter of time before organizations realize that this is one field where you can't just buy the best spot and sit calm. You have to make your way through and unleash the consumer power, which eventually is the organizations core strength.
It's like the brain, we all know it’s capable of amazing things…just have to figure out our own way, each of us.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Posted by WIDESCOPE at 1:16 PM