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Framework for social first brands in 2025

At Social Samosa's eighth edition of SMLive on June 30, Social Media Day, industry experts shared insights on how understanding and leveraging social media effectively is essential for brand success.

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Pranali Tawte
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social first brand

Social Samosa’s SMLive held annually on June 30, Social Media Day, brought together industry experts to discuss the future of social media.The focal point of the panel 'how to build a social first brand in 2025' was to understand how to effectively harness social media is critical for brand success.

The session was moderated by Hitesh Rajwani, CEO, Social Samosa Network and featured the following panellists who shared their experiences and insights.

Aditi Mathur Kumar, Creative Business Lead, Interactive Avenues

Sandesh Gupta, Director, Growth, MPL

Paloma Sharma, Brand Lead, Thrive

Shitiz Dogra, Independent Digital Marketing Leader

The current state of social media

Social media continues to evolve at a rapid pace, driven by advances in technology and shifts in user behaviour. For brands, this means adapting to new platforms and trends while staying true to fundamental principles of engagement and authenticity. 

Aditi Mathur provided her insights on the contemporary landscape of social media. She emphasised that "social and digital are indispensable for brands today, with the digital age revolutionising how brands connect with audiences." Reflecting on her career, which began in the digital realm, Mathur underscored that she has always viewed social media as essential. 

Despite changes in platforms and mediums, the core values and fundamentals of social strategy remain the same.

- Aditi Mathur

She highlighted the need to adapt to new platforms without losing sight of the foundational principles that have always driven successful social media engagement.

Diversifying focus and investments across platforms

As brands face the challenge of diversifying their focus and investments effectively, the key lies in understanding each platform's unique audience and crafting content that resonates with them. This approach helps brands maximise their reach and engagement, tailoring their strategies to fit the specific characteristics of each channel.

Shitiz Dogra, drawing from his experience in the aviation industry, shared insights on how brands can successfully navigate this complex landscape. He stressed the importance of moving away from vanity metrics and focusing on genuinely understanding and addressing consumer needs. “Brands need to stop acting out of vanity and probably listen to the consumer,” Dogra asserted, highlighting that this should be the foundational strategy for content creation.

He illustrated his point with an example from his own sector, where aviation content was initially distributed across Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube without much differentiation. By delving deeper into consumer insights, his team realised that the audience's engagement and interests varied significantly across these platforms. This led to the creation of a targeted content series, Licence to Fly, which provided detailed guidance on becoming a pilot. The series achieved remarkable success, garnering over 30 million views and influencing many viewers to pursue careers as Junior First Officers.

When you listen to your audience and try to find the right channel, it works for you. Understanding the channel and getting into the insights is important. There's no one size fits approach, but relatability needs to be there.

-Shitiz Dogra

He outlined the three key pillars for maintaining a robust community: content that is helpful, informational, or entertaining. This approach ensures that brands can build relatable and engaging content without constantly battling algorithms for visibility.

Differentiating and standing out on social media

Brands are embracing more fluid and dynamic communication styles to connect with audiences. 

In today's social-first era, brands are ultra raw. While this approach can generate buzz, in the long term, this can blur the lines. Brands have to strike a balance between authenticity and strategic visibility. 

-Paloma Sharma

She laid out four essential steps for brands to differentiate themselves effectively:

1. Define your core identity: Brands must start with a clear understanding of their core values, mission, and vision. This foundational identity should be rooted in the business and product, guiding all communication efforts. Sharma noted, "There is no harm in being raw and spontaneous. Follow the trends that make sense to you, as long as you tie back to who you are at the core."

2. Develop a distinct voice: The brand’s voice should reflect its personality, whether it is witty, compassionate, bold, or sophisticated. Consistency in tone and visual language is crucial for creating a memorable brand image. She cited Mokobara as an example, noting how their social content consistently ties back to their value proposition and aspirational Gen Z travel theme.

3. Storytelling with substance: Effective storytelling involves more than just surface-level engagement. Brands should craft compelling narratives that highlight their journey, values, and impact. Sharma mentioned how new D2C brands bring their founders into their reels, creating heart-to-heart conversations with their audience. “Distinction comes when you can humanise your brand. Be raw, be human, be compassionate,” she advised, stressing the importance of forming deeper connections with the audience.

4. Build a community: Engaging the audience and responding to feedback, even if it's negative, is essential. Building a sense of community around the brand not only amplifies the brand message but also protects the brand's unique proposition in the long term. Sharma highlighted Spirit Animal, a niche brand in plus-size activewear, as a great example. Despite having a relatively small following of 30,000, their highly engaged community adds significant value to their brand.

She said that by following these steps, brands can not only capture attention in the short term but also build lasting relationships that foster growth and loyalty in the ever-evolving social media environment.

The scalability and value of social media and influencer marketing

Social media’s role in performance and influencer marketing has become more nuanced and critical as social media is evolving.

Sandesh Gupta emphasised that the focus has shifted from merely seeking likes and comments to understanding and engaging with the right set of users. Brands are now more concerned with where their customers are and what they are looking for.

Sharing insights from his experience in the gaming industry, particularly real-money gaming, highlighting that two primary concerns for users are trust and fraud. He explained, "When it involves money, trust and fraud become crucial. You have to balance these to succeed in your marketing efforts."

To address these concerns, brands must integrate social media and influencer marketing into their performance campaigns. This approach helps in building a comprehensive 360-degree campaign. He shared that the role of social media and influencers is vital in performance campaigns, as they help drive the ROI that brands are seeking.

Social media cannot give you the direct ROI, it can help drive the ROI you want.

- Sandesh Gupta

In the gaming industry, for example, influencer content is more effective than traditional gameplay videos. This trend is not limited to gaming but is observed across various industries, though the scale and approach may differ.

He also emphasised the scalability of influencer marketing. He stated, "People ask if it's scalable. Yes, it is very much scalable. Influencer marketing is a new era of social marketing, and anyone can become an influencer." He advised that brands should not focus solely on follower count but should look for genuine value in potential influencers.

Gupta underlined that social media and influencer marketing are essential components of modern marketing strategies. They provide a scalable solution that, when integrated thoughtfully, can enhance performance campaigns and build stronger, more trusting relationships with customers.

As brands continue to adapt to the digital age, leveraging these insights will be key to standing out and achieving long-term success in the social media arena.

digital gaming Social media scalability Influencer marketing