Brands in India are placing social media at the heart of their strategy as they strive towards 360-degree customer engagement. The global insights consultancy TNS' (formerly known as Taylor Nelson Sofres) annual Marketing Monitor study, highlights the centrality of social media for marketers. The platform ranked as the top element guiding the planning process, as well as the top metric used to measure the performance of campaigns.
According to the study, businesses use a variety of sources to inform their marketing strategy. Insights gathered through social media monitoring have overtaken more traditional metrics such as market share data and brand tracking to become the most popular component used by marketers.
Social media monitoring tops the list of top five metrics which informs planning. Brand tracking comes next, followed by market share and data. What the competition is doing and information from ad agencies, too, feature in the list in the fourth and fifth slots respectively.
Zoe Lawrence, digital director, APAC for TNS, says, "It's no secret that social has become an intrinsic part of our daily lives - 94 per cent of connected consumers in India use social networks, switching between Facebook, Google+, and Twitter as the top three channels. This mass adoption of social provides marketers with an array of sources when it comes to developing strategies and evaluating the effectiveness of their marketing activity. As the digital ecosystem evolves, we will continue to identify new ways to build insights. However, whatever the metric used, it's important to ensure marketers are monitoring the indicators that contribute to sales."
The study also highlights customer relationship management as the top priority for marketing departments this year. The Marketing Monitor findings revealed that marketers' sphere of activity has now broadened, as they concentrate on how to deliver the best overall customer experience, ahead of the traditional aim of increasing brand awareness.
To achieve this, businesses are using social media across a range of disciplines, shows the study. According to it, half (50 per cent) the marketers are using social media for brand communications, but in addition, 43 per cent are using it to provide customer service. Social media appeared to be a big part of e-commerce strategy, with 51 per cent using social media advertising, and one in three (32 per cent) using social media buy buttons.
Despite this approach to using social to support a variety of marketing goals, the results in the study show that businesses are not working as collaboratively as they should be, with only 37 per cent marketers partnering with customer service teams, 38 per cent working with the digital team, and a mere 11 per cent working with the insights department.
According to S Visvanathan, managing director, South India and Sri Lanka, and head of brand and communications practice, TNS India, businesses are typically overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data generated. "India's online environment is developing very fast. As more consumers and customers start connecting to the internet through mobile and start accessing different digital platforms, the amount of data available will explode. It is important that marketers devise effective ways of extracting insight from this data before it is too late," he says.