The Anchor: Karthi Marshan’s 5 rules for engaging financial services consumers on social media

09 Dec,2011

By Karthi Marshan


Social media engagement for brands have many uses, and just like dating, socializing and evangelizing, there are things we must keep in mind. Here are a few of mine.


#1 Listen first

Obvious, isn’t it? Yet, we’d be amazed at the number of brands that ignore all the digital chatter their brands already enjoy / suffer, and dive blithely into a ‘campaign’ that plugs a product or extends their offline messaging. Just like you would at a party you have entered late, identify a group where some interesting conversation is happening, hang around and listen long enough to understand the mood, and then maybe, yes maybe consider interjecting with your two bits.


#2 Speak human

While it is contingent upon brand ambassadors to ensure propriety and appropriate representation of the brand’s stature, it would be prudent to eschew any language guidelines that the stuffed shirts throw at you and talk like you would at home or in a restaurant. It’s amazing how the people who run brands seem to check their human selves at the door when they communicate on behalf of brands, and start spouting what can only be described as ‘brandese’. Big words don’t impress, sincere ones do. So chill, be real, stay cool.


#3 Chat, don’t plug

Don’t be misled by it being called social ‘media’. Do not just blindly run your ads here. Just like you wouldn’t turn up at a friend’s cocktail party and start singing your brand’s jingle, apropos of nothing. Talk about what they are talking about. Be interested first, and then hopefully interesting. For heaven’s sake, don’t plug your messaging. Social media users are very sensitive to blatant plugging, and will flame the brand so badly, Hades (the place, not the person) will seem like Manali.


#4 ‘Fess up

When you join discussion groups or respond to comments about your brand and category, be clear about your identity. Don’t pretend to be just another regular guy who just ‘happens to really love the brand’. It smells a mile away. It’s perfectly fine to be a representative of the brand and defend it where relevant. So ‘fess up straight off the bat, don’t be cute.


#5 Tell the truth

While this sounds like a twin of ‘fess up’ there is a nuance I am trying to convey. Lots of brands are happy to troll the web and selectively display only the compliments they receive for good service. Stinks. If you want to share the bouquets, have the body parts to show off the brickbats also. So long as your intent to address the brickbats sincerely is evident, ‘they’ will understand. And just like in your marriage, saying sorry sincerely is usually more than enough. You will be forgiven and allowed to stop sleeping on the couch.


Karthi Marshan heads marketing for the Kotak Mahindra Group.


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2 responses to “The Anchor: Karthi Marshan’s 5 rules for engaging financial services consumers on social media”

  1. Guest says:

    Very Basic text book article…