We don't need social media handles to do great social media marketing

By Rahul Vengalil , Isobar, Mumbai | In Digital | December 06, 2016
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Or so says Isobar's business head.

"Rahul, I want an agency to handle my brand's digital media activities", she said.

"Great!!! What kind of activities are you looking at in the digital space, what are your objectives for the medium?" I asked.

"Oh, my brand has presence on social channels like Facebook, I want an agency to manage that. Digital is going to be the focus medium this year, our management is well aware that the future is digital".

Rahul Vengalil

This is a conversation that I have had a hundred times with clients and I know exactly where it is headed. They want an agency to update posts on their social media channels, which they believe is being digital first in today's changing digital economy.

On one hand, I am happy that brands have woken up to the benefits of social media, but on the other they haven't really accepted the power of social media in spirit. This is the primary reason for looking for marketers who have set upon on a journey in creating or establishing a brand using the power of social media, but the conversation that they have with the agency is about how many posts to make on Facebook, how to respond on Twitter, and if the agency is lucky, some discussion on Instagram.

The fault lies with the digital agencies as well. We haven't shown the grit or will to educate the brands in embracing social media. We have been showing them the possibilities on various social media channels, which can be executed by them rather than what is truly possible.

In an era where Facebook, Twitter & other traditional social networking sites have stopped positioning themselves as social media sites but as news networks, image discovery sites, tech companies, social shopping sites, etc., everyone in the industry needs to really understand the possibilities.

Quality Vs Quantity of content on social media has been a constant struggle for us since the last couple of years. Every day is a fight for our social media team and brands, to create meaningful content & conversations. The number of stories that we create have reduced to a third of what it used to be a few months back, the number of curated content pieces have gone up, we have been looking beyond posts and working with influencers across channels, newer content formats like FB Live, cross platform content promotion, chatbot applications, etc.. We still have a long way to go in truly tapping into the power of social, but at least this is a start.

To have a strong social media strategy, we need to first define the channels that we consider social. Few years back, when we had a handful of channels of prime importance, this was easy. Today, when a new platform is being discovered each week, how much will you invest in different mediums?

What matters today is no longer the platform, but the content. Consumers are no longer loyal to any brand, but are loyal to content given by a brand. This is visible if you look at the engagement for TVF or ScoopWhoop or brands like Wrangler, Cadbury, Zomato to name a few. This has been the case always, and it is for this very reason that there are some memorable advertisements from the past like that of Fevicol, Bajaj, Maruti, etc.

The need of the hour is for brands and agencies to understand and finalise on the content that the brand would be creating (campaigns as they were called by traditional agencies) and then utilise social media channels to amplify this content.

Take the example of the ALS challenge or Van Damme's Volvo split, which literally took over the world a couple of years back. If the team behind them would have been thinking about posts & tweets, the campaign wouldn't have reached a few thousand people on social media.

The social media campaign by Anouk, bold is beautiful, is an example of how content needs to be used effectively across platforms. While the brand had presence on all relevant channels, conversations happened on ScoopWhoop, storypick, indiatimes, etc., that is how social media needs to be used.

Take the example of the 'most popular girl of Instagram' campaign. One fine day people on Instagram were following a girl for the awesome stories she told through the medium. Later, the agency revealed that they were running a campaign to drive awareness on alcoholism.

Today, with the changing social media behaviour of consumers, a brand can enjoy great social media presence without having a single social media account or channel. Maybe we should start thinking on these lines to truly think of consumers and content, and maybe then we will find success on social media.

Everything else that we invest in, like listening tools, command centre, reports, social team, daily content, etc., should then be aligned to enable the content that the brand needs to be creating and cease to exist as a good looking slide in your annual review presentation.

(Rahul Vengalil, business head, Isobar)

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