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The Influence of Social Media - Femina Magazine Quotes Ranjit Nair

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Do you think social media boosts brand value by leading to a lot of cross marketing?
Can negativity on social media completely be avoided?
This is what our CEO Dr. Ranjit Nair had to say in this month’s Femina special feature

Published in: Economy & Finance
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The Influence of Social Media - Femina Magazine Quotes Ranjit Nair

  1. 1. may get irritated, but if you put up a competition on Twitter and say the best 140-word review will be awarded a free cake, people would want to participate in something like that. You want to get people talking about your brand and product. After all, one of the reasons social media is so powerful is because you’re getting a recommendation from someone you know and trust.” This is a point that Shalini Mehta who worked in the banking industry for 22 years emphasises. Even with just over 3,000 friends and 2,000 followers on Facebook, 1,200 Twitter followers and 500 followers on Instagram, Shalini is often urged to ‘like’ pages, post event details on her timeline and endorse products on her social media streams. So much so that she actually changed her ‘settings’ to ensure that nobody could post anything on her Facebook timeline without her approval. Why? “My Facebook timeline showcases my personal views—I feel—views that people I know rely on. So while I have no objection to being tagged in events with a social objective, as that’s for the greater good, I don’t see why I should be used to endorse a product, event or restaurant that I may not even like. Germin8’s Ranjit admits that people do try to recruit influencers to push their brand, some even resorting to purchasing their “likes,” though he feels this usually happens with celebrity influencers with huge fan followings of over 50,000 people. “You see when it comes to anything you can buy online, social media becomes a great place to drive up sales, because you can engage with buyers and see that the sale is completed. “There is an ethical way to recruit influencers though,” he outlines, referring to tactics such as the one Neha used. “So, a sports brand may contact influencers and say try these shoes out and tweet your experience, for instance and, of course, the shoes are gifted to the influencer.” Steer around social media pitfalls Negativity can, therefore, be simply avoided by employing the services of a firm like Germin8 that helps brands optimise on social media’s power. Ranjit says, “It’s important to identify what you want your brand’s image to be, who your target client is, as well as to be very clear about your goal. Facebook, for instance, is, by far, the medium on which people spend the most time, both abroad as well as in India. So, it’s a good channel to create brand awareness. A lot of FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) and computer consulting companies are doing this.” Twitter, says Ranjit, works best for organisations like banks and car brands, where customer care is a vital touchpoint and where a lot of back and forth communication happens. He also reveals, “Certain brands may benefit from knowing that Pintrest and Instagram have more female users and that 35 per cent of the online shoppers on these platforms, we discovered, were female. On the other hand, for e-commerce websites, restaurants and fashion labels that want to pull traffic to their site, platforms like Pintrest and Instagram are the ideal medium, as the visual impact of images actually drives action and results in sales.” ARmaan, IShaan and ArYA, jewellery brand Isharya currently retails in over 50 countries but the ladies behind the brand tell us, “We also have a fast growing e-commerce and social media presence that generates sales globally.” “Social media is an important channel for us to curate our brand message directly to our customers, as well as engage with new fans in the most cost- effective way. Besides, posting high quality visual images with links back to our websites or partner retailers has definitely boosted sales. Currently, we have 1,15,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook and 7,000 Instagram followers and we’re now expanding our presence to other platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and YouTube.” The brand image is also boosted when celebrities and social media influencers like Sonam Kapoor and Kerry Washington post pictures of themselves sporting Isharya creations on Instagram. Her own brand ambassador Hyderabad-based wedding-ensemble designer Anushree Reddy, whose four- year-old label already retails in Mumbai’s Twitter, we’re trying to reach out to parents and influencers, so we may weave a subject that’s trending into content that’s relevant to our brand. For instance, when the Mangalyaan Spaceship’s orbit around Mars was trending, we associated that with speed and accuracy, two aspects of students performance that we work on improving. We use LinkedIn to showcase the work culture at our company so as to attract talent and we use Google Plus along with YouTube to showcase our academic content and client testimonials. Besides, we use Google’s ‘hangout’ feature to broadcast web-seminars.” How effective is all of this? Some evidence of the potency of Embibe’s social media presence is presented in the fact that the company was invited to participate at the Web Summit in Dublin in November alongside the world’s top 150 start-ups. Lending the brand a new glow Launched in 2004 by Tandon sisters-in- law, Gauri (Mumbai) and Radhika (California), and named after their kids, high-end stores such as Ensemble, Aza and Ogaan, relies solely on Facebook and Instagram to build her brand. Anushree, whose posts on these sites have inadvertently turned her into a brand ambassador for her label, says, “I didn’t plan it that way, but I’d put up pictures of myself with friends at a restaurant or with a glass of wine and since fans were following me on Instagram, it built a more personal relation with them.” The designer also points out that the linking of social media has led to a lot of cross- marketing which, again, boosts the brand’s recall value. “You get tagged in personal as well as professional posts, which are re-tweeted and shared across social media, then people ‘like’ your pictures and too attracts clients.” Proceed with caution Still, Anushree’s cautious of too much social media exposure too. “The downside with interacting with so many people is that you could inadvertently offend someone, say, if you haven’t replied to a query or if you’ve missed a message and that negativity could snowball too. Besides, by posting pictures of designs you do invite imitations. So, my last print, for instance, a design I developed with an artist in three colours, is now available in 20 ripped-off versions.” Pick your influencers wisely Ritu David, CEO, Social Samosa, a big data and social media crisis management company, which, of course, is also promoted on social media, says that used right, “social media can be an extremely powerful marketing tool. It can give you insights into how your product is placed in terms of pricing; you can mine data to find out what the optimal prices are by comparing to peers or to gauge what your target client would be willing to spend on this sort of product. Data mining companies can give you this sort of actionable insight which could also help you narrow down on which social media platform to use and how. For instance, if you ask people to ‘like’ your page on Facebook, they 2.6 crore Linkedin users. Drawing a comparison between paid advertorial content on other media and social media marketing campaigns, Ranjit Nair, CEO of social media intelligence firm Germin8, says, “12.5 crore people have access to television in India; Internet penetration, on the other hand, is much higher— somewhere between 25 and 30 crore people—and of these, 14 to 21 crore Indians are on social media. So the potential reach is far higher than television, though the actual reach depends on the effectiveness of each campaign.” This might explain how 33-year-old ex-banker Aditi Avasthi’s Embibe, a site that personalises exam preparation modules for students appearing for highly competitive exams such as IIT- JEE and AIIMS, already has 1,82,840 ‘likes’ on its Facebook page, though the company (set up in 2012) only reached out to end users six months ago. Reaching out to lakhs of students Aditi’s brother, Karan, who heads the company’s marketing team, explains that Embibe provides a personalised alternative to coaching factories where hundreds of students are jammed into a class where they must struggle to focus on the words of one tutor. Here, students pay a subscription rate of `12,000 per year or `1,000 per month, a trifling amount compared to the lakhs of rupees that coaching classes charge.” But, the lowered cost of tutorials and the convenience of working at one’s own schedule and pace are hardly the only benefits. Aditi’s site also uses interactive tools to gauge students’ attention spans, problem-solving speed and confidence levels (while they attempt to answer questions) and then prescribes case-specific performance- boosting guidelines for each student. With word out about the company on social media, traffic on their website increases by the minute, so in the time it took to type this sentence, for instance, 250 questions were attempted on the site, taking the total number of questions attempted to 16,40,946, and the site garnered 115 additional feedback views (taking the total to 4,51,817 feedback comments). Encouraged by the response, Aditi now plans to extend her company’s services to CBSE students as well as students in grades 8 through 10, “and then perhaps we’ll also look at SAT exams,” adds Karan. “Social media is a vital tool for us especially since we’re dealing with 13- to 18-year-olds—there’s no better medium to reach out to kids with. Facebook is particularly popular with our target age group, but we also engage with clients via LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter.” Each of these is used differently and to different effect. Marketing’s fine-tuned to suit business model “Facebook is a great way to reach people so it’s what we use to educate people about our company and what services we provide—we have over 20,000 interactions per month. On CMYK T wo years ago, Mumbai-based Neha Sethi launched an enterprise with a completely unique selling point: It was a nomadic cookie company whose whereabouts and menu (different cookies were sold on different days) would only be published on Twitter a day or two before the stall-on-wheels set out. Social media was the only way to contact the then-anonymous baker, an ex-banker with a degree in finance from Wharton School of Business, who refused to take orders at the time, determined as she was to limit the enterprise dubbed ‘Sweetish House Mafia’ to a labour of love, a hobby rather than a business. Back in 2013, this writer sampled one of Neha’s Nutella-Sea Salt cookies (`70 per piece), while riding in the Tata Nano dedicated to the enterprise, and watched awe-stricken as the tiny car was mobbed by fans and a hundred cookies sold out within mere minutes of the Nano pulling up at a Breach Candy parking lot. The cookies were good, that’s true; the marketing, however, was exceptional. Cookie contagion In no time, 29-year-old Neha went from selling 100 cookies every couple of weeks to selling 200 cookies every couple of days and in September 2014, she finally gave in to the ever-rising demand for her product and opened a store (complete with an old-fashioned telephone number) in Mumbai’s Lower Parel. Recounting the birth of her brand, she shares, “It was a friend who was active on Foursquare, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter who suggested that we use social media to get the word out. To create a buzz around the product, we sent out samples to some of his friends who are also active on social media and their posts about the cookies caught everyone’s attention. So, the first time I sent out 50 cookies back in 2013, they sold out in less than 20 minutes.” Now, plans are underway to launch an e-commerce site for the brand that also uses Instagram to showcase its range. “We’re even working on an app to enable clients to place orders on their phones,” says Neha, who now routinely prepares customised cookie hampers for special occasions and festivals. Selling out in two clicks Though Neha’s success with social media came as a surprise even to her, India-specific statistics compiled in 2014 by Wearesocial.net, a UK company that uses research on social media trends to fine-tune brand marketing and communication strategies, shows that social media users in India spend an average of two hours and five minutes on social media every day.” Digital Insights, a site that publishes social media trends, also offers some indication of the Internet’s potential to reach consumers in these figures published on their site: As of March 2014, India had over 10 crore Facebook users, 3.3 crore Twitter users, 55 lakh Pintrest users, and Social media’s driving a sheconomic revolution as women network online to take their businesses to new heights. Now, there’s an idea we ‘like’. By Anjana Vaswani 2 April 7, 2015 A special feature AWOMAN’SDOMAIN CYBERSPACE Ranjit Nair, CEO, Germin8 Ritu David, CEO, Social Samosa Gauri and Radhika Tandon, founders, Isharya jewellery Neha Sethi, founder and CEO, Sweetish House Mafia Aditi Avasthi, founder and CEO, Embibe Shalini Mehta PHOTOGRAPHBYVINAYJAVKAR

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