The Crucial Social Media Question: Have fans? Now what?

07 Aug,2012

By Tuhina Anand


Every marketer worth his salt wants his brand to have a presence on social media. However, the truth is that the marketers are still trying to figure how to navigate this medium.


Having heard that it’s a ‘cost effective medium, can be tracked and is ‘the’ medium’ where the customers hang out, the marketer obviously wants to be there too. But the social media still has a long way to go before it is seen as the ‘vehicle of choice’ and not just as an afterthought.


Yes, one agrees that marketers are warming up to the medium but they are still testing waters barring a handful who have taken the medium wholeheartedly.


Once a marketer decides to go on social media, the next move is to create a presence on Facebook and maybe on Twitter. We have often heard the marketers talking about the large number of fans they have acquired on FB, so what do these number of fans mean to them and how are the marketers leveraging these fans to engage effectively with consumers?


Chhaya Balachandran Aiyer, Founder and Managing Director, BC Webwise agrees that there is peer pressure to acquire more fans and clients often bow to that demand: “The number of fans and likes is a visible number, hence one can’t write it off completely even though many of the numbers could be dormant fans. These numbers are an opportunity to engage those fans in a meaningful way to create brand loyalty and brand recall.”


She added: “Two years back, the common demand of a client was to be on Facebook, but we have seen a shift now where they have realized that it’s not the ultimate answer but social media too needs a 360 degree approach.” So it’s clear that there are different kinds of marketers and the early adopters are clearly asking the right kind of questions.


Some of the brands that have effectively used the communities on FB are Fastrack, Café Coffee Day, Sunsilk while more are getting on the engagement bandwagon. Explaining the significance of the numbers, Rajiv Dingra, CEO, WATConsult, said: “While all readers of an ad do not become buyers of the product, similarly with FB, the marketers become a publisher of its page to reach out to the consumers. The aim is not always conversion to transaction for all people on its FB page, but with a large fan base the number of potential buyers definitely increases.”


Mr Dingra is clear that there is no replacement for good content. He added that the numbers might reflect various objectives of a brand at different points, but if the content is good, the engagement with brands will become only much more involved and meaningful.


Vineet Gupta

Vineet Gupta of 22feet has been relentlessly engaging with brands to enable them to use their social media tools effectively. He explained: “We have brought out exclusive sale for Fastrack fans on FB and the brand has been doing a lot of stuff exclusive to the community. Scale has its own benefit and one can’t deny that. With people becoming familiar with social media, there are lots of activities happening which take people beyond the likes and the fans.”


The agency has recently done activation for Lee titled ‘Shadows of City’, where people were encouraged to present their photographs of the city and the shadows they create which would then be put up in the stores.


CCD is another brand that has been using FB to listen to its customers and also engage them via the medium. Ramakrishnan K, President- Marketing at CCD elaborated: “At CCD, we not only have numbers, but also a high level of engagement. Our fan base is 2.6 million and our monthly engagement level is 60 per cent, i.e. 60 per cent of our fans interact in some form with our page every month.”


He added: “At CCD, we use social media base for regular tailor-made communication on happenings in CCD. We have a direct consumer feedback on cafes across the country which gives us instant information that keeps us on our toes. Most importantly, we use the fan base for co-creating many of our offerings – be it new menu, suggestions for improvement, live tasting of new introductions, choice of music among others. We engage fans to co-create their brand. As a result, we drive a very high level of consumer engagement, which in turn helps us drive sales.”


One concern is that many fans on FB might be dormant, so then do the numbers really mean anything? Sanjay Mehta, Joint CEO at Social Wavelength explained: “I think that the key is to deliver message to interested people. If people receive the message but not respond, that is not a concern, but if they do not get the message in the first place, then it’s a bigger challenge. I think one should not be dismissive of the dormant numbers, but focus more on getting the right kind of messages that will get them to engage.”


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