AdAsia: From chat rooms to Twitter

02 Nov,2011

By Akash Raha

That the digital revolution is already here, and is here to stay, is a given. But marketers are still perplexed on how to make full use of this phenomenon. In AdAsia 2011 a complete session was devoted to this very issue, and to be more precise, the subject of social media was discussed. The session in context was called ‘From chat rooms to Twitter… what next?’

The panelists at this session were Kate Day, Communities Editor, Daily Telegraph Online, Arvind Rajan, Managing Director & Vice President, Asia Pacific and Japan, LinkedIn and Earl Wilkinson, Executive Director and CEO, INMA. The session was moderated by Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Vivaki.

The session proposed that discussions were going to be a reverse of what this conference is about ‘Uncertainty: The new certainty’. What the session proposed was ‘Certainty: The new uncertainty’. It is certain that over the next few years the driving force will be social media. However, the uncertainty aspect is only what it means to marketers, media company etc.

Ms Day said, “The question one often asks is, ‘What is the next big platform?’ My answer is it’s all about the people rather than the technology. Actually the underlying shift is with the patterns of behaviours of the people involved and audiences. Brand and customer relationship is the key. If that’s the case, then what platform is next does not matter because the people are here.”

All the panelists stressed on the need to build consumer relationship and make the social media experience more real and humane. The consumers today want to interact with a human rather than with an automated interface, they want real conversation, moreover, in real time. It is essential to “get your own house in order and make the customers feel at home”. Also, often while we talk about social media, there are assumptions made about the product, content and consumers. Such clichés are something one should stay away from and not base one’s social media plans on them. Crating content and platform for ones invaluable customers is the key.

FB, Twitter and LinkedIn are three global platforms, but as Mr Rajan said, the reason they are used still remain different. Twitter is a syndication platform. FB is for friends and family and LinkedIn is a professional network. The social media platforms are still new, there is still a lot to be done and lot of understanding needed. The essence is to have meaningful conversation with the audiences, connect with the customers and once that is done, it can be leveraged upon.

Earl Wilkinson, of INMA also shared his learning in the field of social media apropos newspaper publishers across the globe. He pointed out how sharing has becoming the value added special sauce for journalism online. And in a way, he emphasized that digital times have saved journalism. Now that social media is here already, and everyone knows that communication is essential, the trick is how to structure the communication. For newspaper publishers, the way forward is going to be projecting newspapers and news brands as a trusted voice out in the community and the blog-sphere and get the audiences back on the websites.

Arvind Tobaccowala of Vivaki said that the essence to being leader in social media space is differentiating content. Speaking about social media platforms he expressed hope for Google+. He said “Google is an amazing company… Believe it or not, Google+ will work, and it will work in a very big way. I don’t know how it will fit into broader eco system but it will be interesting to watch.”

Pointing to sharing content on the social space as an interesting behavioural aspect and social media phenomenon, the panelists expressed hope that it will only grow further as it is a great way to engage with the audiences. Mr Tobaccowala also pointed out that on the social media space it is important to understand the behavioral aspects of the consumers. There are heavy users and heavy influencers. Right now the focus is less on heavy influencer… Heavy influencers can be further be divided into advocates and detractor. In a nutshell, he stressed that it’s imp to talk to detractors because they are the ones who are more vocal, even more than the advocates. Social media helps rediscover the idea of sharing in new and different ways to new and different audience. The essence is to start with Social media and start with it now. The panelists beseeched everyone to get on it and one might stumble upon something wonderful… “It is not necessary that you always know what you are doing,” said one of the panelists. Also, one should not look for any returns, one will get it eventually. Social media is new and still developing. Not everything that one experiments with comes out right, but one should try nevertheless. Ms Day emphatically suggested, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” advocating that even if a few ideas don’t turn out right, it is a must to explore social media, as it is the big thing of the future.


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