Indian Digital and Social Media Events: A Contributor or an Enabler?

 

If I were to post this article two years back I possibly wouldn’t have been able to formulate a single para! Events in the Indian digital and social media space were scarce & less hyped unlike now. India’s digital and social media hemisphere which still constitutes a small part of the advertising & marketing world is gradually growing & there shall soon come a time when digital marketing will not be categorized under ‘niche presence’ for brands.

Events have played a major role in binding our industry & have proved to be an excellent platform for several players who’ve taken their business seriously. Hailing from an events background since 5 years, the last two years have been very eye opening for me as an individual as I learnt intricate details that go into building world class ‘products’. I genuinely feel that events grow just like the way products grow in terms of their success cycle – scaling, innovations, product enhancement, variations, flexibility, etc are a few aspects that can define an event & help in the long run.

Be it the recent FICCI Frames or AdAsia 2011 DIGITAL dominated the agenda with considerable discussions around it within which social media wasn’t given a miss! Traditionally, these are forums where all aspects of marketing are discussed – TV, Print, OOH etc. but have now diverted their attention towards the online space.

The real question is can small scale Indian digital and social media events afford to spend big money on hoardings, bus stands, wasteful one page ad’s in mainline newspapers! Not really. So how do they market their events & make requisite noise.

social media events

Social Media’s biggest advantage would be the reach it garners to a powerful audience. This platform ensures an organic reach to people & their networks or connections via updates they publish.’

 

Says Rajesh Lalwani, CEO Blogworks & Principal Coordinator at IndiaSocial Summit.

When asked his take on print advertising for online events, he believes tie ups with print media houses who reach non social media-holics but hail from the online medium is essential. Such tie-ups facilitate in reaching out to relevant stakeholders in the industry. He foresees the print medium to be highly leveraged by digital and social media events going forward as the industry grows & so will the scale.

Social media buzz at events

Founder of WATSummit & WATAwards, Rajiv Dingra (CEO WATConsult & Chief Blogger @ WATBlog) is an avid believer of heavily using social media platforms for his homegrown events. He says

‘For our conferences, social media is used in 3 stages – Pre event (build up), On Event Day (Launch) and Post Event (Buzz). In each of the 3 stages social media plays a critical role. In build up phase we announce key speakers, sponsors, panels and create excitement around the event. We @ tag the speakers so as to leverage their connections on social media. During launch we have real time updates with pictures going up across our social channels and during buzz we have videos, blog posts and tweets with quotes on the event.’

While this is the route most of the events take, he added his take on the kind of social media integrations he’d prefer

social media eventsI’ve seen integrations like in-store RFID tag based liking on Facebook, Augmented reality based kiosks that allow users to tag friends and upload, several online offline integrations with print, TV ads and so on. I’d like to see social being the centre of a campaign and mainline being the support. Very few brands have been able to go that path as yet.

 

Internet today enables live screening an entire event & making it viewable to an audience who are unable to attend an event. Live tweeting gives a similar experience to such an audience who’re tracking the trending hashtag & following it innately. But does that replicate the experience of understanding an event! In Lalwani & my opinion, it’s a clear NO! These are places where vital networking takes place & one to one connections are build. However, it’s thoroughly upto an individual as to how he leverages the occasion to his best.

Marketers: The better side to the coin!

Whats amazing to note is that marketers themselves take keen interest in attending digital and social media events & actively participate in contributing to solutions that will shape their brands future in this medium. A CMO summit of sorts only meant for digital media professionals & brand marketers iMedia Brand Summit is a LIVE example of how seriously marketers are evaluating their spends on this medium.

social media events“Marketers today are looking for solutions that are real, engaging, and interactive and ROI driven that impacts the brand positively in the ever evolving digital landscape. For this it is critical that all the serious marketers who look at digital for many of their business solutions come together, share and learn the nuances that also has issues around various business categories to enlighten them to make the right decisions that enables brand vibrancy across all parameters mentioned above. For this it is important for them to meet various service providers who could help them meet their objectives.

social media events At iMedia Summits, we host 100+ marketers who not only interact between themselves but also meet over 100 sellers who give them the right solutions under one roof through various innovative proprietary formats of iMedia”

says Rammohan Sundaram, Founder, CEO & Managing Director of NetworkPlay & Event Chairman of ad:tech & iMedia Summits in India.

The Flipside: cluttered space!

Its great to see an influx of various events that have sprouted since the last one year in the Indian digital and social media industry. The good part is that it leads to more discussions & the bad part is that the discussions revolve around the same topics! No, I’m certainly not hinting that we don’t have enough matter on hand to talk about but with observation, one would realize we’re too stuck with certain things. This definitely brings to attention that certain matters need urgent solutions & such gatherings enable free flowing discussions (or even arguments!) to reach some kind of a consensus in the presence of a meaningful audience.

I always wondered on the takeaways for brands from such events & whether do they really imply suggestions discussed on ground. Rajiv’s positive take

Hearing or seeing something doesn’t empower you to execute it. We all see movies but can we all make it? Not really. There is a dearth of talent that is serious about digital and not just there to make money from a growing medium. Most resources you see are digital converts and not digital natives. That’s where the problem lies. We need more and more fresh younger blood to be working in this medium and the same need to be empowered to decision making positions where budgets are decided. Thats when fun with come into digital :)

With that, I am yearning to witness the real change through digital and social media events & the onus both sides take to empower the Indian Digital and social media industry to newer heights. Quotes from the above personalities are people who’re genuinely trying to evangelize this space positively & I can vouch for that as I have deeply interacted with them in the past. Do utilize the comment box below to let us know your thoughts on any event you’ve attended in this space!

Featured image Courtesy Charlesdyer

 
Currently working as an Associate Director at NetworkPlay handling international brands like ad:tech & iMedia summits, Namita has worked in the events industry since 5 years & closely understands the digital space. An avid networker, loves meeting & interacting with like-minded professionals, a stage show comperor, twitter addict, foodie & a day dreamer.
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