Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Demystifying Social Media

Most of us in our forties  still are a little confounded by the growing importance of “digital media” and “social media”. We still feel reassured, only  when the brands we work on, appear on TV , in our daily newspapers and  billboards. Especially, when the last mentioned is  near airports and on roads our colleagues and superiors travel in. :)

To those of us who try to keep pace with what is happening around us, social media probably means this  :)
 We are therefore, really not convinced, as to  why we need to join the herd of people who seem to somehow want to make a "showcase of their lives" or a  "Truman Show" , if you will.

 I am  attaching two visuals  which I found during my adventures on Face Book, which illustrates to us as  how this medium can be used to the benefit of a brand.
This visual appeared in a page called  I love Ghana and in an album titled "people's choice".
Link to this site   
The intent is to share a funny moment, but what it subtly does, is to underscore the aspirational value of the Apple Brand and its pervasive strength in markets in Africa.
This visual has nearly 68,633 shares and 11,128 people clicking like button.To an old world planner like me, these indicate the reach and cut through of this particular post. It does not however stop here, this visual could be getting similar viewings and likes across the pages where it is posted. The reach figure therefore, grows in geometric proportions. The charm is that this publicity and favorable "buzz" comes free of cost to Apple. With a dedicated digital agency, visuals like these could be "planted" in social media. The key however, is to get the "content right" and to have it placed in the right places.:) Sounds like familiar advice, yes, the rules of the  mainline media game remain :)
This visual above was published around the time litigation was ongoing between Samsung and Apple. It appeared in a page which focused on innovation and technology.Link to this picture
Here too, there is a great valence for Apple, in that it clearly establishes its technological high ground and makes Samsung a "copy cat " brand. The dig at Nokia is hilarious and damaging to the brand to the same extent. While this could be dismissed as a joke, the fact remains that these visuals have great viral value and plant images subliminally. in millions of minds. It does for the brand, what  more than a dozen print campaigns on technological superiority could have done  or  millions spent on PR. This visual in this niche group ended up with 3867 likes and  11, 331 shares. The point to be noted is that these groups include mavens and opinion leaders for the category.

There are many such examples that one comes across.

In Mumbai, India, there was a seismic shift in public opinion after the terrorist attacks in November 2008 and it was the social media that provided a platform for the public to vent their anger and to organize themselves into groups. The movement then spilled onto the streets and forced the dispensation to react.

Campaigns that one may have missed in the regular media pop up on our newsfeeds and when shared by people whose opinion we respect it ends up being looked at carefully. A flash mob effort done by T Mobile in Liverpool was shared by millions and became an internet sensation. This osmosis from activations, events, and mainline to the social networks has made social media very pertinent and an increasingly important tool for brand building.

Yes, the digital age is upon us and in a Darwinian sense, those who do not adapt, will not survive.

Vinod Natesan

P.S. To practice what you have learned, you could start by liking this article and sharing it :) LOL


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