Build your brand’s digital and social presence right: we tell you how

Photo: freedigitalphotos.net/photoraidz
Photo: freedigitalphotos.net/photoraidz

Twenty years ago, brands had to plan extensive PR mechanisms to get their stories told; today the same PR mechanisms are hard at work, ensuring the right stories are gaining traction and trying to get a hang of popular sentiment about the brand, via the opinions and reviews floating free across all social media. So what changed in the last 20 years to bring about the change? A lot, of course, but the biggest contributing factor was the rebirth of the world wide web, via social media networks, and the pervasive usage of Internet via handheld devices including the ubiquitous mobile phone. Most cell phone users today use (or want to use) at least one social network from a phone app, so much so that on entry-level phones, sites like Facebook are often a newbie’s first exposure to the world wide web. Welcome to the virtual world!

The modes of storytelling and the avenues of networking have changed: both have gone virtual, and the possibility of virtual content going viral has multiplied manifold! One bad review, in the days of word-of-mouth, would not have hit a brand very hard; but these days, a well-worded, cheeky tweet could be retweeted and liked hundreds of times in a matter of minutes! Which also goes for happy product and user experiences too, of course. So how does a brand build build its digital presence right? We give you some pointers:

  1. Define your goals.
    And let your goals define your social media strategy. If you are looking to be a thought leader in your industry space, perhaps you need to focus more on blogging, LinkedIn and Twitter. Google+, Facebook and Twitter are excellent for customer interactions and engagement. So are a plethora of other social media platforms. If you need to choose the right one, you need to know what your goal is.
  2. No hardsell please.
    Let your ads do that. On social media networks, people are looking for information, engagement and real stories. Don’t use the space to exclusively market your products. What if that is your priority? You can talk about the difference or benefit your product or service can bring about, you can mention new developments in your industry, you can share happy client-speak and occasionally you can put up product-specific updates. Take some tips from Nike, one of the brands that leverages social media best.
  3. Be consistent, stay relevant.
    This may seem obvious but the truth is not many brands are consistent about implementing this: add your social media URLs to all your branding and marketing materials, from ads to visiting cards to signages used for an event and most importantly, your website. Help your customer stay connected to you by making it easier for them to find you on the social media platforms they use.
  4. Assign a budget.
    Signing up on a social media platform may be free but it takes time, effort and money to update and monitor your social media profiles perfectly. Defining a budget for social media activities and ads are crucial if you want to invest time in creating and sharing the right content. There are a lot of brands competing for attention on the social media space, and you need to allocate resources for your social media plans if you intend to take it seriously.

So what are your key goals when it comes to social media? What are the challenges you face when you are planning a social media strategy?

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Aren’t you blogging yet?

India is poised at the tip of a digital revolution, and leading the charge is social media. The number of people going online to search, review, browse or simply Facebook, has been quietly and steadily on the upswing: A comScore report for March 2013 says that 73.9 million Indians went online via a computer at home or at work; the figure was 56.3 million for March 2012. And that doesn’t count the thousands who check into the World Wide Web via their trusty mobile devices. Indian Internet users numbered 205 million in 2013, and industry observers expect it to hit 350 million by 2015. A lot of these users search for brand and product related information online. More than ever before, people are engaging with the brands they love (and occasionally, hate) online. Social media makes for an open forum where people can reach out to brands and hope to be heard.

While India is now officially Facebook’s second biggest market, poised to overtake the US by end-2014 to become the largest market, there is another quiet-yet-steady revolution brewing in Indian Internet-land. Blogging has found a large audience in India, and blogs are the new ‘reader’s digest’ for those who want news and views at their fingertips.  The data for March 2013 showed that blogs added 11.6 million new users in a year! So why aren’t more companies out there, blogging and letting the world know their point of view, the story of their brand, updates about new products and more?

If you thought ‘do people really spend time reading such stuff on the Internet?’, do know it is most often ‘the first place’ people turn to for information, for entertainment, for news and for just about anything. Companies and brands can increase their visibility, build brand image and reputation, create a trust factor and even drive sales via blogging. If your company does not have qualified people on board to write the right kind of stuff for your blogs or you are looking for expert help for high-quality or keyword blogging, you can always seek help from an agency that provides focused content solutions. An experienced blogger can help you find your brand’s voice and will be an asset in your digital brand-building exercise.

If you aren’t blogging yet, what is holding you back? And those who have tried blogging, what are the benefits you have derived and the challenges you face? We would love to hear from you, so do leave a comment.

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Social Media for the Uninitiated – I

“What is social media?” It is a question we often come across from friends, associates and mostly, prospective clients. The minute we mention names like Facebook and Twitter, most faces light up in recognition. However, even then, a majority of people do not understand what our scope of work is, or in the case of potential clients, they wonder how a page on Facebook or an account on Twitter can help their business.

We don’t blame them since the media (print and electronic, that is) has just about started talking about social media and the impact it has been making. For most people (read businesses), an account on Facebook is for youngsters who have nothing better to do. Having been in this business for over a year, and having made a difference to our clients’ businesses, it’s time we delved into the ‘whats’, ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of social media, once again. (No, we don’t get tired of doing this!)

Let’s start with something simple. Traditional businesses believe in keeping things under wraps. They like it quiet, and they love keeping ‘secrets’. But the ‘secret’ ingredient of Gen Y marketing is to SHARE. Share information, knowledge, news, tips, whatever there is to share and that will bring you one step closer to your client. Getting under the skin of your brand is just not enough. Look beyond selling; think bonding. And the best way to bond with your client is to get on to the same platform as him—reach him via social media. The mantra is to ‘Become Accessible!’ Clients love brands which are accessible.

According to the leading business daily, The Economic Times, Indian consumers use social media to convey grievances.

So if you are not on the network, how do you address these grievances? The complaints will largely remain unattended, and you will soon find your business going out to other companies (which are most likely to be social media savvy)!

It is high time businesses took social media seriously. Your online presence does not begin and end with a website. If you are a small business, how do you let people know you exist? If you are a large one, how do you convey that you are within reach? Start networking!

However, social media is not just about getting a page ready and inviting people to become fans or followers. Social media is 24/7. You have to be active round the clock and constantly stay in touch with your fan base. Answer questions, give people titbits to chew on, keep interactions alive, bond with your “fans”—do anything to stay top-of-the-mind. Clichéd but true; THINK OUT OF THE BOX!

We will leave you with this interesting video on the revolution called Social Media. 

Tell us what you think! Meanwhile, keep checking this space, because there is a lot more gyaan on Social Media coming up right here!

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