The expanding Indian Social Media industry now plays a key role in Public Relations, Advertising and other crucial communication platforms. But along with this major shift, most businesses are committing critical and costly mistakes. To keep up efficiently with the changing times, read on for some vital ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ by industry experts, who point a finger at some negative practices or mistakes in the Indian Social Media industry. Here are on some of the biggest mistakes that you need to learn from:

1. Not thinking beyond Facebook:

Why is it important to think beyond Facebook?

No one could deny that Facebook and Twitter are the most commonly used social media networks. But there is a world beyond that. Explore it. Social media is very dynamic and someday people may lose interest in Facebook and might want to explore other social networks. Did you know for instance that the popularity of Facebook among amongst the younger generation is already on the decline?

To grab optimum eyeballs you need to first find out what your target audience likes and what social platforms they use. Go where they are. While keeping in mind that some social networks might be very popular but irrelevant to your business. Choose sites that have a maximum impact on your business based on results and not on general popularity.

Instead of getting stuck on just Facebook and Twitter remember that they are NOT synonyms to social media. Also explore other more fruitful platforms for marketing your business such as Foursquare, Instagram, quora, LinkedIn, Youtube, Blogs, location based services and Instagram.

Sabyasachi Mitter, Managing Director, IBS draws attention to the fact that,

All too often social media is reduced to managing a Facebook page of the brand and making “status updates”. Social media is much beyond Facebook and brands need to figure out which channel(s) best suit the marketing objectives the brand may have. Unless brands start to look at non Facebook platforms also, brands may end up putting all their eggs in one basket and be caught unawares if there is any change in social media dynamics.

Sabyasachi Mitter cautions us to the fact that Social Media is NOT just about being on Facebook. Rather, it is a business approach, a mindset that makes your company “social” while using whatever options make the most sense to your business.

So keep in mind that it is vital to update Content Strategies on a continuous basis by being in sync with the ever-changing tides of user preference. You can do this by creating a platform agnostic strategy that takes in to account the fact that prospective clients/consumers are exposed to content in a number of fragmented ways. So DO NOT put all your eggs in one basket, by restricting your social media strategies to Facebook alone.

2. Not listening:

Social Media is not a one sided platform like print or TV. You cannot just broadcast content by bombarding potential viewers or listeners. What gives social media the edge is that it is a platform that allows vital feedback and gives you the unique opportunity to listen, making this a two-way platform through which you can communicate with your audience.

By not listening, you are missing out on a lot of opportunities to pinpoint the likes and dislikes of your target audience; that uses social media to express their personal preferences. To use Social Media to your full advantage it is important to focus on your consumer’s needs and wants so that you can offer fitting solutions. Keeping your ears open, generates customer loyalty. So along with the product pitch do pay equal attention to what your customer needs and help them along.

According to Mithun Rodwittiya; Regional Head – Business Development; Webfluenz,

Social Media has made Brand ownership extremely democratic. One bad practice according to me would have to be the aspect of not listening. The first thing you do when creating a social media strategy is to listen and whilst we at Webfluenz are finding more and more Brands realizing the importance of listening, we believe it does not end there. Listening is more than just reading the Dashboard, it is the ability to extract insight and value from the mentions you have collected and turn it into actionable intelligence that enhances what you would like to achieve or address.

In other words it is important for you to invest in technology that enables you to actively listen to and monitor conversations that are relevant to you. Active listening can lead to rare consumer insights that you can act upon to improve product features. To out beat competition and gain competitive insights it is important to constructively use this feedback for product development. Your PR strategy should also identify potentially harmful conversations and act upon them immediately, so that you can zero in on key influencers and develop relations with them.

3. Not having a conversation:

If you neglect a chance for open dialogue then you are removing the “social” out of social media. To make the most of it you should not only solicit feedback, you should also ensure that you are accessible and responsive to it. Most importantly, NEVER ignore a negative comment.

Chetan Asher, CEO, Co-founder, Tonic Media states that,

One of the common bad practices on social media is ‘Not having a conversation, but just announcing to your community.’ Somewhere we have forgotten the real purpose of social media and are applying communication templates of display or traditional advertising. Screaming at your community everyday to buy your product is not going to make them do it. Social media is where you step down and start a conversation, follow them back, involve them to develop new products or your next piece of communication.

Don’t pursue a ‘No follow’ policy on twitter. It’s OK to spend hours making the ‘perfect’ facebook post, but also spend equal time reading comments and responding to them. Don’t publish your press ads on instagram. In a nutshell, social media is not a platform to broadcast. Stop announcing, start conversing.

4. Social Desperation. Brands desperate to gain social attention:

DON’T be a brand desperate to become the subject of social media interactions on a scale of one to ‘PLEASE SHUT UP.’ Readers get really annoyed with a brands desperate behavior to attract attention on social media. Day by day their brains have subconsciously started ignoring ridiculous “like if you agree” posts while Twitter feeds are overcrowded with spam contests that viewers detest.

Take the example of Bajaj Allianz using the fact that Tendulkar scored his first 100 runs, to market their retirement plan. This may have had many’ hit’s but the reaction from most readers was not a positive one. One reader tweets,

Desperate attempt by @BajajAllianz to grab attention.

Why? Because the connection was forced and sounded opportunistic, while implying that Tendulkar FINALLY scored a hundred and now he should think of retiring. This inference got a lot of flak from Tendulkar’s fans till Bajaj Allainz tweeted an apology.

The learning from this is to stop being so insensitive. Your association with a brand needs to be a relevant one. If you have a genuine, direct connection with an event, you can surely connect. If not, you will only end up looking and sounding desperate. Now let’s see what the experts have to say…

According to Kapil Gupta, CEO, OMLogic,

Indra Nooyi made her famous remark about brands living in a fickle society, especially with the advent of the new digital media which many brands don’t understand yet…in today’s fickle society, when the brands don’t know what outcomes to expect and how to get them, they become desperate for results. Some brands…set their expectations so high that the end result becomes “engagement ke liye kuch bhi karega.” Brands become desperate for people to talk to them.

This desperation is like a self-goal. Even the customers who would be attracted to you otherwise, get turned off by low-value, high-interaction (noise). Next time, when designing your strategy… just ask yourself whether it would be desperate of your brand to do it. If the answer is yes, avoid.

Negative practices in the Indian Social Media Industry

In the words of Manveer Malhi, Head – Social Business Strategy, Missing Link,

Trust and authenticity are two pillars of social media. Phishing activities where brand/agency buy likes/followers to boost their growth need to be discouraged. The practice achieves nothing, lacks long-term engagement, and builds fake customer loyalty.

Nimesh Shah, Head Maven at Windchimes Communications Pvt Ltd. puts his finger on it when he states,

Community managers end up creating excessive generic content for the brand pages for the sake of increasing interaction but in the process stray away from the brand’s business objectives

Rishi Khanna, CEO, ISHIR., makes a similar observation when he says,

Some brands and their agencies still consider the number of likes/reviews as an objective measure of social online approval and user confidence in a product. With that in mind, the companies/agencies stop at nothing and even indulge in unscrupulous tactics to play the numbers game for their clients and create a flawed brand perception. Brands and their agencies within the context of Indian social media Industry have to create transparent, honest and yet effective campaigns for real social media success. Factors such a brand loyalty, engagement and advocacy are true metrics of success, as against rise in number of fans! Something we all need to remember.

5. Work on your content strategy:

When you are planning your content strategy, see if you are offering any value to your audience. If you do so I’m sure you are on your way to success. Here is what Sabyasachi had to say about not having a proper content strategy…

Too often brands have no content strategy or wrong content strategy. Original content is rarely created and much of the content pushed out is generic and could have been made by any brand. This creates dissonance and boredom among consumers and will lead to a drop in interest and engagement with the community.

While engaging in social media it is important to have proper goals in mind while determining branding guidelines, your style and the tone of communication. Apart from knowing your audience inside out, you must plan properly, manage your content calendar and have a proper strategy in place.

6. Not integrating social media into the marketing mix:

Social media is not a solo act. You have to think about it in a more holistic, integrated way. It’s always a good idea to combine Social Media with your brand’s overall marketing strategy and integrate your campaigns with offline initiatives. Integration will give you enhanced results while ensuring consistency in your brand message throughout your social media activities. With the right approach you can reap synergies for long lasting results.

Sabyasachi points out that,

Too often brands treat social media as a standalone activity not integrated with the overall marketing mix. This is sub optimal use of social media and will lead to inefficient use of social media.

 

7. Not setting up metrics for measuring success:

If you don’t measure your performance with the right Key performance indices, you will never know whether you are doing it right. You can optimize your strategy if you measure results. But don’t run after numbers. Don’t think about the cost of ROI, think about the cost of ignoring it. You don’t have a choice.

Sabyasachi rightly says,

Too often the only measures are Likes, Interactions, PTAT numbers or follower counts. However, brands need to define why they are on social media and how they will measure success. For retail brands ROI can be an immediate and tangible measure. Even if brands take engagement as a strategy there should be brand track measures that give feedback on the movement of the brand pointers and see if what is being done on social media is at all having an impact on the brand.

In other words, set up the right metrics to measure. You should if you are spending your time, effort and money in the right places. Find out how social media has helped you to grow.

Analyze quantitative metrics (e.g. Volume of Conversation) and qualitative metrics like ‘Sentiment of Conversation’. Use the right Social Media monitoring tools to get more mileage out of social media.

To conclude I would like to reiterate the need to adapt and change with your environment, by using social media in the right way. We all make mistakes. But what distinguishes winners from losers is that winners learn from these mistakes. Ignoring them could prove suicidal for your businesses.


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