Social Media Marketing and India

The following blog entry is written by Sumit VermaSumit who is Online Sales Operations Analyst at Facebook, India.


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As India reaches 100 million Internet users, 3rd only after China’s 300 million+ and USA’s 210 million users, more and more focus will be on how to attract this audience. This is not only from a web locus, but also from pure marketing perspective. Imagine, if luxury brands like Gucci and Vero Moda can open exclusive show rooms in this country which offers them such a limited audience, how can marketers afford to evade a medium, which has now reached millions and growing at an ever-rapid pace?

Social Media Marketing is relatively a new term in India as compared to digital marketing (this includes all the 100 million users I have mentioned above). Banner ads on our favourite website home page are not very uncommon. But when it comes to social media marketing, there’s still some way to go before we ourselves understand its intricacies, the power it beholds and the risks it inherits. Its exactly like the human brain, we all know its capable of brilliant things and yet we fail to comprehend it in absolute terms, and if it falls in the wrong hands (not literally), can even plan to destroy the world!

Let’s take a look at some numbers first. Out of estimated 100 million users; about 30% of this population is on some or the other social network. Facebook, ‘the social network‘ has an estimated 18 million+ users in India. Orkut, once the reigning king of social networking in India, has been witnessing a downfall in its popularity for the past couple of years, its official tally stands at 17 million. Twitter is catching up with its counterparts, but since it’s a micro-blogging site, it comes with some inherent limitations like no 3rd party applications etc. It stands at around 5 million users in India. LinkedIn, the professional social network is also doing pretty good with 8 million users. Plus we have our own India born social networks like ibibo, bigadda etc. New players like Foursquare, Quora are also foraying in this arena, offering something unique (Foursquare is location based and Quora is question-answer based discussion). All these numbers tell us that there is a sizable number of people that one just cannot ignore.

Consider this with the global social statistics:

  • 152 million – The number of blogs on the Internet (as tracked by BlogPulse)
  • 25 billion – Number of sent tweets on Twitter in 2010
  • 100 million – New accounts added on Twitter in 2010
  • 175 million – People on Twitter as on September 2010
  • 7.7 million – People following @ladygaga (Lady Gaga, Twitter’s most followed user)
  • 600 million – People on Facebook at the end of 2010.
  • 250 million – New people on Facebook in 2010.
  • 30 billion – Pieces of content (links, notes, photos, etc.) shared on Facebook per month.
  • 70% – Share of Facebook’s user base located outside the United States.
  • 20 million – The number of Facebook apps installed each day.

(Source- http://royal.pingdom.com/2011/01/12/internet-2010-in-numbers/)

Of course, when you look at the percentage wise breakup, things look paltry. Internet penetration, at best is still 10-12% while mobile penetration is around 65%, reaching even 85-90% in metro cities. However India’s population is such that even a small percentage takes shape of a big number. And that’s exactly where the catch is! If this small percentage is giving you such a huge audience, imagine the people waiting in queue to join the bandwagon. It is the mobile penetration that can really be used to stimulate this process. More and more people are now using their handsets to surf the Internet, and this number is increasing exponentially.

Social media can do what no other form of advertising or marketing could do so far. Let the customer know that the BRAND cares for them, it listens to individuals and it is them who have the power.

All global behemoths are now very active on all social platforms. Coca-Cola, Apple, McDonalds etc. come to mind as the most prominent ones. Social media marketing is much more than just creating a fan page or tweeting, it’s about engaging the customer. Recently one of my friends had tweeted something she found annoying about a leading cellular service provider. I even joked about it on the site that why you are mentioning the operators name ‘Are they going to listen?’ But, to my surprise, they did!! About 10 days later, she received a tweet from the CSP stating that they’ll be glad to have any more feedback in the future. They have even started following her tweets! Being social by nature, people tend to communicate, engage and build relationships with social networking. Thus I feel there can be no better place to interact with consumers. It is, in fact, one of the most cost-effective and lasting brand-building medium for any marketing campaign.

We currently might not have enough success stories to go on and on with case studies of social media marketing, but its just a matter of time before organizations realize that this is one field where you can’t just buy the best spot and sit calm. You have to make your way through and unleash the consumer power, which eventually is the organizations core strength.

It’s like the brain, we all know it’s capable of amazing things…just have to figure out our own way, each of us.

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WIDESCOPE – AIESEC GV 2010 partnership

“Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned.” – said Marshall McLuhan back in 1962.

Global Village 2010

GV AIESEC

Taking cue from this idea of a unified global community, the Indian chapter of AIESEC, the world’s largest student‐run organisation fostering youth leadership development, came up with their event `Global Village’ – a platform to canvass the concept of unity in diversity that has bound mankind over the ages, across nations.

We at Widescope have consistently worked towards associations and partnerships that speak for a universal ideology. And hence the media tie up with Global Village was but imminent.

This year, AIESEC India hosted global villages on 23rd August in 9 cities (Delhi, Vadodara, Chandigarh, Chennai, Mumbai – to name a few), the largest being in the city of Hyderabad where the AIESEC 62nd International Congress also took place. The theme of Global Village was “Breaking Boundaries, Creating Bonds.” A theme bearing a subtle resonance in the tagline of WidescopeThe Scope just got Wider!! As Digital Media Partners, Widescope outlined the complete digital marketing strategy for the event.  The first rung in this online promotional ladder was to conceptualize, design and develop the official website for Global Village 2010 – www.gvaiesec.org.

Widescope planned, formulated and executed an aggressive digital media campaign to promote Global Village 2010, which covered the online networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and more. It also designed and channelized a meticulous online communication for the event.

With delegates from as many as 107+ countries and participation of over 200 Indian undergraduate students and selected invitees from 14 Indian cities, Global Village 2010 was a huge success! And so was the Widescope – GV partnership.

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What’s in a name….well……..A LOT!!

For an entrepreneur, forming a company is like a dream come true. And this dream brings with itself the contours of the whole branding exercise. So when the founder of our company took the big entrepreneurial leap, the first task at hand was to decide upon a name for the venture. NAME – an innocent simple four lettered word…hmmm…can just say that the Widescope team now no more gives it the tag of simplicity, atleast!

Naming your company could be a real tricky affair. You would want the name to be unique, creative and yet memorable. All in all, a PERFECT NAME! So the quest for ‘the perfect’ name began. To start with, each member of our team jotted down couple of attributes that he or she felt the name should bear. `It should be original and distinctive…It should convey a message…Why not make it jazzy? Let’s keep an acronym…No way, it should be descriptive ….’ The list went on and then there was Big Boss -`You should be able to remember it after hearing it once – simple yet classy’.

Keeping all these inputs in mind, we put on our brainstorming hats – pens/pencils, notepads, dictionary & thesaurus (in both physical and online avatars), laptops and big coffee mugs at position. The first one to get an entry into our “Hall of Name” was IRIS Media Pvt Ltd. Turned out that it was already a registered company based out of the land of maach – bhaat (read West Bengal). Other names of similar fate were Marvel Media, ICON Media, PRIME Media and Transent Media– already there though in varied versions. Someone suggested TCE Media, TCE for The Complete Entertainment. But the response was `logic toh achcha hai…par naam nahin’ (logic is good but not the name). One of our young guns proposed E3 Media – Excellent Entertainment Everyday!..Wow, a readymade tagline free! But a segment of the team vetoed the idea – No numeric names please! Next in line was XENT Media, as in eXcellent ENTertainment. Hmmm…not bad…cool…sounds good. But our director gave us an objective response. `Xent gives an impression of a small exclusive specialized company catering to the needs of a niche segment. We need an umbrella name for a much wider audience’. Point duly noted.

Moving on, someone put forth the name Paradigm Media. Now here we came to realize a common but often overlooked fact of life. One of the veterans in the team said that the ‘aam aadmi’ (common man) may not be able to pronounce the word correctly. We are a global entertainment company and our products and services would reach the masses. The whole nomenclature exercise goes futile if the name itself is lost in skewed pronunciation or translation or whatever. So basically a name should sound linguistically natural and should be easy to comprehend. Done.

The next name to find a palpable acceptance was GEN –Global Entertainment Network. Gen in its normal form could also refer to all `gen’-erations seeking entertainment. Fine. But there is a slight hitch when you work for a company that stands by the book. Global, Universal, Worlwide –  however good these words may be, the race to get these names approved is delicate, the procedures complicated and the rules quite stringent, to say the least. So we decided upon keeping a name that involved lesser `complexities’. Though we maintained that the scope of the name would still be the same, something global and universal. An entity with higher ambitions, greater aspirations and wider horizons. Something that calls for a wide scope of creating a piece of work. And there we were, we had our name!

The name… WIDESCOPE MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK PVT LTD.

Phew! So with all those permutations and combinations, moments of intellectual highs and lows, puns intended and unintended, the mission was finally accomplished. A name with a global reach and we are so proud of it!

Well, to wind up this blog, all I can say is – All the Best for your naming endeavours!!

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