A short, quick guide to understanding some basic
rules of marketing in the (online) social world.
By: Imtiaz Noor Mohammad
KNOW THE BASICS
If someone told you that getting a Youtube channel
and a Facebook page means that you have gone
“social” or “digital”, they are wrong.
How many people have told you to “get a Facebook page” or “get a
It doesn’t work that way.
The fact is that changing consumer media consumption (depending
on the sector you are in) is probably the root of some of the problems
you are facing with marketing your brand.
Consumers are behaving differently and that is causing new
marketing executives to re-think how to approach them.
You can start by deciding who you want to speak to and whether the
audience exists in the online realm that you are thinking about
Make sure you are speaking to the right audience. Please speak
though. That is the rule.
Getting a suit doesn’t mean you are at the party.
Going to the party and engaging does.
Talk like you would in a gathering of people you would
like to connect to. Stop thinking like a Brand Manager,
start thinking like the consumer.
Imagine meeting someone socially for the first time. He seems nice,
polite, interesting. But what if that person only talks about himself?
Day in and day out. Do you see yourself talking to him for more than 5
minutes? How many minutes till your head rings a “salesman alert”?
One of the biggest problems faced by many brands online (especially
in social media spaces) is the lack of an authentic voice. Do not
confuse conversation with blatant brand overloaded advertising.
Keep it soft, subtle and simple.
Listen to people, then talk to them, not at them.
Have a discussion, see if you can help them. Don’t start harping about
your product and its perceived excellence. If someone complains, its
probably because they have used it, and not just advertised it. Also,
since they are not being paid by the brand, there’s a better chance
that they are honest.
If you want to “just” talk about yourself, you are better o
advertising. Don’t complain when audiences stop believing
Social media is not bloggers publishing your
What do you do when you're pleasantly surprised by customer service
or the quality of a product? You rave about it to your friends and
The same is true for social media, blogs in particular. If people have
good experience, they will share it. They will be even more careful
about what they share if they have a large following. They need to be
more careful because readers respect their opinion. And more
importantly, trust them.
One of the biggest mistakes PR firms make is to send bloggers
copies of press-releases and expect them to publish it on their blog.
Stun, shock, surprise (pleasantly) your audience and they won't stop
raving about you.
Sadly, this rule works the opposite way just as effectively too.
Its social media. Media that people create, manage and own.
Not media you pay for.
Give the blogger a genuine reason to get wow-ed by you and talk
about you. Sending them your press release does not do that.
Like any advertising medium, online advertising needs to be well
thought out and aligned to an objective or a set of goals.
The Internet, like any medium, has its own advertising needs and
techniques. It’s good to advertise online, provided you know what you
want from it.
Ads on Facebook and other Social Sites hold very little strength,
unless they tempt the user enough to look at them. Simply seeing the
ad does nothing for your brand. Unless there's some action taken.
All ads should have a call to action, a reason to click, and that is what
needs to be converted and added to the bottom line. The internet
allows us to book customers on the spot, why do we want to just show
them an ad and let them move on?
Ask them to click, and you know you have a positive impression.
Otherwise, good impression or bad, your guess is as good as mine.
The beauty of online and digital marketing is that it is
100% accountable. It is easier to account for an online ad
by an “impression” but really, would it not be better to
know how the customer feels about your o er?
Do you track your online inventory?
Having a social presence alone is no substitute for a brand’s own
website. All brands must have a central official resource point and that
alone should be the centre of action.
If you dont have a website, get one.
If you have a website, keep it current.
If you have created microsites for campaigns in the past, shelve them.
Google your brand. Find out what people are saying and what various
sites are saying.
Make sure no one owns the country specific domain name of your
brand, if you are a multinational. It could be quite an embarrasment if
it turns out that a URL for your brand is being used against you.
Know whats online representing your brand and you.
If its not current, make it disappear.
Understand the power and value of Data.
If there is one thing that all this online interaction produces, its data. Data is
something we all produce during our surfing, chatting and other online
There is data you produce and data you cause others to
Google took over the
world of search &
For a business, data about consumer interaction with their advertising using nothing
brand, the competing brands and allied brands are key insights more than applied
in to consumer behavior. mathematics.
Data collected by supermarkets and restaurants can provide Amazon is what it is today
significant insight into consumption trends and patterns because of its
including which commodity peaks on certain days, what recommendation models,
products tend to sell in combinations, how customers pay etc.
that too, is nothing but
Combining supermarket data with utility data can yeild affluence,
which could mean a whole different world in terms of marketing mathematics.
Start accumulating data about your online interactions. Find out who talks
about your brand, find out their influencers, talk to them, use data
intelligently to provide special deals and promotions.
The power within data and mathematics is tremendous,
and interestingly, it does not require you to have a PhD.
All you need is an open mind.
THINK Know what you want to do and know
PLAN where you want to be.
Build a list of targets and objectives.
THINK Dont jump the bandwagon because
everyone else is.
If you decide to jump the social bandwagon without planning, you are
destined to fail. Period.
Find your market, find your audience, find your voice. Gain control over ALL
of your online identity. If you are not prepared to use usernames/urls yet, its
better to get them and not use them instead of letting someone else run
away with them. Unify your online identities.
Define your goals. Once you have defined them, identify the metrics you
will use to measure them. Social media is accountable on every level.
Set out rules of engagement. How will you handle negative comments?
Who is going to engage online? Who can talk about the company? What
protocols are to be followed when a fire breaks out? Who will handle what?
Just because most of social media is free, does not mean anyone can
excel. The price is often the time you take in learning.
There are no quick fixes and no quick solutions. The only thing that will
bring you success is intense planning and focused execution.
So 36,246 people “like” you on Facebook and you have
an equally insane number of followers on Twitter. What
does that mean? What do you know about them?
Quite certainly, obtaining a certain number of “likes” or “followers” must be
one of your metrics when it comes to performance measurement. The
question is, what do you want to do with these connections.
Some would be random bots adding you up, and those keep coming. But
when it comes to people, how many engage with you, how many talk to
Most of all, how many represent a potential client base and how many have
you converted into clients? How do you want to leverage off their pleasant
experience to build a greater, stronger and tighter knit community of
Communication sentiment analysis is also a tool to measure change in
customer behavior towards a brand. Have you looked into such tools yet?
Have you pulled out customer emails to just have the text analyzed for
sentiment based on a predetermined metric?
Behind this seemingly innocent set of numbers is a deeper game of
relationship management. Play your cards right.
Once you are online, socially connected with tools like
Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, communities, blogs etc,
there are some very basic rules to follow.
As people, we all like to deal with people, not online identities named after
a brand that we cannot relate to.
Some basic pointers that will go a long way in your social interactions:
Be honest when you talk about your brand. People you are talking to are
consumers, and they may have experiences with the product/service
that doesn’t match the properties you advertise.
If someone talks negatively, handle it with grace and style. You as a
brand cannot afford to be seen arguing or misbehaving with someone.
Do not talk negatively about your competitors. In fact, praise them where
If you don’t know the answer to a question, do not post comments citing
“company policy”. Frankly, policies are for internal use, the client hasn’t
signed a contract with you so your policies do not apply to them.
If a customer has been wronged, find out a way to address his/her
concern, apologize and win his/her support. It will go a long way.
Remember: Anything and everything you say or do online, often stays there
forever. Be very careful and be very certain about what your intentions are.
Your online community can be your best friend and your
worst enemy. Know it, understand the community, treat
them as people and not customers alone.
Thank you for taking the time to read this small guide. I hope it will help you
do more for your brand and may have addressed some queries you may
have had about the online / social marketing mix.
My name is Imtiaz Noor Mohammad and I am a marketing veteran, having
served on both sides of the business fence, the Agency and the Brand.
I am a technology enthusiast and love to see data flow and evolve from one
form into another. An avid believer in data sciences, I continuously look for
data patterns to understand the happenings in marketing spaces.
I am also the man behind a new startup called “Inspire-X”, where my aim is
to not only help business tackle marketing issues in the online and offline
technology space, but also help identify and analyze various trends and
metrics that can be used to derive value out of information.
You can connect with me here:
If you have any feedback/comments, please feel free to share them with
me. Please get in touch using any of the methods above.