Rahul Vengalil

“I want to get 10 million views for the video in the first week...”

Unless brands re-look social media, the industry will continue receiving such briefs.

Social media marketing needs to evolve at a much faster pace if brands are really interested in keeping their customers engaged on this platform. Social media is one of the most influential mediums in India today, with over 200 million active users only on Facebook. Add platforms like WhatsApp and YouTube to this mix and the numbers would certainly go up.

“I want to get 10 million views for the video in the first week...”
Rahul Vengalil
The reasons why consumers are coming to social media has changed drastically over the years. They are no longer coming to engage with brands, the way they used to. Their priorities have changed, their needs have changed. In such a space creating two to three posts per day – that is, the obsolete 'prescribed medicine' – will no longer do anything for the brand. Today, consumers are seeking value from brands, and that holds true with social media as well.

Unless we embrace the changing dynamics of social media, the industry will always be at the receiving end of briefs like, “I want to get 10 million views for the video in the first week,” and you'll find yourself smack in the middle of conversations on whether Likes or Shares are better... or whether it's better to follow scorecards like “Top viewed ads on Youtube”, “Top engaged handle on Twitter,” etc.

If you go through various social media handles or pages, you will go back with a sense that brands are all over the place with Hero – Hub – Hygiene strategy and are doing everything because competition is present, not because there are clearly measuring ROI for the efforts. To have a great social media team, activations and ROI from the medium, you need to answer five basic questions:

What is the objective or role of social media in the marketing mix?

The answer to this can't be 'Because Indians are on social media' or Cmpetition is using social media'. There are multiple ways in which social media can be used by a brand. It can be a customer acquisition tool, customer retention tool, CRM channel, awareness medium, and so on. It should never be everything though. Often, if you go through social media pages, you will find that there is hardly any focus on anything. Ola cabs used this platform effectively for acquisitions, Mondelez has used it for awareness, Vodafone used it for customer retention.

How do you define success on social media?

As most the briefs start with, “I want to create an engaged community on social media,” neither the brand team nor the agency partner know what this means. This leads to a situation where everyone is chasing a whim and not clearly define goals. For a brand like ScoopWhoop, for which 45 per cent of traffic is driven by social, it is crystal clear what success looks like. This is again linked to the first point of objective. The success metrices for CRM, awareness, etc. all look different on social media. For awareness, engagement would be the least important measurement metric. This also saves reporting and optimisation time.

What are the platform strengths?

I have fought many a battle to not use all available platforms and then replicate the content across these platforms. It is important that we understand what each of the platforms can offer the brand and use it accordingly. Recently I was asked whether it makes sense to use Facebook and Instagram together. I will again go back to the first point of objective. A growing brand that needs to be reach maximum number of people needs to use Facebook for reach metrics and smaller platforms like Instagram for meaningful engagement. This also means different formats of content, different promotion strategies and different partners. More effort, but better clarity on ROI.

How much of content created should be amplified?

Today, we spend so much time and effort in the name of strategy, and then follow it up with time and money in creating content only to dump it on platforms like Facebook or YouTube. We assume that it will do wonders thereon. This approach is tantamount to creating a great TVC and then assuming that your consumers will come looking for it. Ideally every piece of content that you are creating needs to promoted, and, at times you will even have to contextualise the message effectively. A standing salute should be given to Tata Tea for taking up the “Alarm bajne se pehle jaago Re” concept and then creating contextual content on exam pressures, Women's Day, Water Day... and then putting the might of media to amplify it.

How do we tackle fragmentation of the medium?

Keeping the 'clarity of objective' challenge aside, fragmentation is one of the most challenging aspects of using social media in marketing. When every platform has its own measurement metrics, and you can't compare them with with one another, how do you measure the success of campaigns? The only way this can be done is by taking a unified view of your social media efforts, for which listening becomes a very important investment. Unless brands are able to do this or alternatively only be present on a single platform throughout, the effectiveness of the campaign can never be measured. Without measurement, ROI tracking will always remain a goal to be achieved during the annual review.

Over the past few months, I have read many articles which urge advertisers to play a more active role and understand digital as a platform more and not just rely on partners. Arming ourselves with answers to these five basic questions and pushing all stakeholders to have a clear answer is half the battle won.

Have news to share? Write to us atnewsteam@afaqs.com