Be Brave! Be Social

We Indians by nature are conservative…at least most still are! The same reflects through the cultures of the companies we set up. So when Social Media made a splash some years back, many companies still stayed away from it. They were happy with a quintessential WEBSITE and they believed they were all over the world wide web with it. People could visit their pages and acquire all the information they needed – information which the company intended to provide. What about the feedback a visitor or customer may have? Well he can write a mail for that (Psst… You see if the feedback is negative it is only between the two of us and the whole world will still believe only the good things we write about ourselves on the website)

Unfortunately what these brands did not realize was that Social media pages are not the only places where people can write negative about them. If a client is irritated, he would go to third party websites like Mouthshut, Tweet or Blog and drown your brand in a muddy puddle. The better thing to do therefore is to be more in control of what the world has to say about you. No better way to do it than being present on at least the most popular social channels. There are immense benefits that Social brings to a brand, the foremost being the ability to communicate DIRECTLY. It is challenging no doubt…but who said running a business was anything otherwise?

So what is it that a brand can do to stay Socially effective in the wake of increasing negativity from customers?

  1. First of all know what is being said about you and where. There are services you can subscribe to which help you keep track of all the mentions of your brand as well as the tonality. It pays to pay for these services. Unless you know what is being said, you are a sitting duck waiting for the world to shoot you off!
  2. Act, don’t React! Negativity never goes down well with any of us. Brands are no different. But, instead of getting emotionally carried away with the negative comments and replying back with something hurtful, try to get to the cause of the commenter’s concern. Attack the problem and give him the solution and then politely respond to his comment. There are chances that the mistake was at the customer’s end, but even that should be communicated in a manner that doesn’t offend.
  3. Timeliness is next to Godliness: When it comes to social media, your response time can make you or break you. If you feel that the matter is complicated and you can’t resolve it within a few hours, at least acknowledge that you are working on the matter and will come back within XX hours .
  4. Never shy away from a Sorry: An apology from a brand on social media, only goes on to express the human side of it. People admire brands that have a softer side to them and we all know to err is human. So don’t let ego come in between you and your customer.
  5. Make them happy!: Many customers take their complaints to the social media in expectation that the brand will resolve their problem. If you leave them unattended they would be more furious and may write worse things. So ensure that you not only pacify them but delight them. You do not have to try to communicate over the social channels alone. You should ensure a call goes out to them to understand their problem better and provide a solution to them. Once the problem is resolved and the customer is happy, he would under high probability go back to the forum or media and leave a good comment for you.

So brands, go all out and embrace Social…its where your prospect and customer is! Be Brave, Be Social!

Learn Social Media Marketing and everything digital. Visit Digiperform

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A Question of Trustworthiness…

I don’t remember when I last turned the pages of the humble Oxford Dictionary, which now rests among other old books in a corner of my house. It isn’t that I have mastered English vocab, nor that I don’t like finding meaning of new words. Just that, I now don’t need to undergo the pains of hunting the word in the dictionary. I can simply ‘Google’ it! 

As the world wide web has made life easier for us, we are increasingly spending more time online. Be it to stay in touch with our friends and family or to gather information, to share it or use it in our power point presentation at work. Likewise, companies are gradually moving their budgets from the offline media like newspaper and television to the online space. And why not? Online marketing is far more affordable and highly focused and accountable. Yet, do we as consumers trust an online ad as much as we trust an ad in the quintessential newspaper? Unless it is a known brand, an online ad would usually be eyed with some suspicion in contrast to the offline mediums. A survey by Nielsen reveals that newspaper ads are still the most trusted form of paid media in North America. More than half respondents of this survey said that they trusted traditional advertising platforms such as newspaper, magazine, TV, radio and billboard. However, all new media platforms mentioned in the survey, including search, online video, social media, mobile display and online banners, received a less than 50% trust rating.

This may in part be because a lot of online ads are indeed fake. The other reason could be that online is a relatively new medium and hence users may take time to warm up to the idea (this also explains consumer resistance towards buying products online). It also maybe that the consumer subconsciously knows that ads on traditional medium require a lot of effort and money as compared to their online peers. Creating an ad online can be done with a few clicks and with minimal monies it can be made live, which is not the case with traditional media. To take an example, you do not need to prove ownership of the brand you want to advertise and can create a Google Adwords ad  for it and make it live with a few hundred rupees!!!

With these factors at play, I wonder if companies can ever do away with the traditional media altogether. While they increase allocation to online spends, they may still have to build trust in the brand by relying on television, print and Herculean hoardings…

Living the future continuous…

When cell phones entered our lives we thought they were the biggest life changers… we could all stay connected on the move without having to drop a coin in a giant red colored phone at the public booth. What got introduced as a luxury, moved on to become convenience and has today become a ‘necessity’. I am sure most of us will feel handicapped if we were to spend a day without our phones.

The first handheld mobile cell phone was demonstrated by Motorola in 1973. The first commercial automated cellular network was launched in Japan by NTTin 1979. In 1981, this was followed by the simultaneous launch of the Nordic Mobile Telephone (NMT) system in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. In 1991, the second generation (2G) digital cellular technology was launched in Finland by Radiolinja and Ten years later, in 2001, the third generation (3G) was launched in Japan by NTT DoCoMo. We have come a long way since then. Today we can wear our mobile like a watch on the wrist (smart watch), take photos and share them without using our hands with the Google Glass. Augmented reality can make a cheetah sit and roar (to a visibly enthralled audience) on a Mahindra XUV 500 at the Auto Expo and artificially intelligent robots can clean our floors. Technology has moved faster than our imagination and made things that seemed impossible, possible.

Standing on the verge of the new year, I wonder whats in store in 2014. Would cell phones be a passe and be replaced by some wearable technology that takes words and gestures alone as commands (thus freeing our hands a little more)? Would there be a Time Machine that can show us what happened in the past by tracking light rays that are still travelling in space? Could robots replace washing machines and dishwashers? Would land-line phones and fax machines vanish? We may even have virtual books and newspapers in our hands, making printers and papers a thing of the past. The pace at which technology is moving makes everyone ask ‘what’s next’!
What may seem far-fetched to us now, may be a reality of tomorrow and hence people don’t laugh away other’s ideas anymore. As for me, I only await a technology that can transport me from home to office and back in a second so I can save myself the pains of local train travel. Are the Tech Santas listening?

Mujhko Taare La Ke Do (Get me the stars)!!!

A personalised calendar or a photo-mug may soon be things of the past as personalised gifting takes quantum leap into the future. Today you can gift your loved one a personalized doll (miniature doll that has the person’s face molded on it in 3D!). You can name an actual star in the galaxy after them ( Intergalactic Star Database in UK assigns the name of your choice to a unique star in the sky and a nice gift pack with complete registration details is sent out), gift a piece of land on the Moon to them (The gift box comes with a land deed and other documents from the International Lunar Embassy in UK – so you look into the night sky and say ‘I own a piece of that!’) or even name a rose after them( a unique set of rose seeds variety named after the person is registered with the Amore Rose Registry in UK. These seeds can be grown into a beautiful rose bush which will be a wonderful reminder of the gift!). 

Personalized gifting sure is going to another level and thereby catering to people’s want to be innovative in their gifting approach. And when all this is being made available on a platter (you need only a few clicks to order these) why would people not jump at the options. Sites like www.excitinglives.comwww.dezains.comwww.yourspoetically.inBiigii’s Little Shop, on Facebook.comComicstrippers, on Facebook.com are competing with each other to earn the customer’s wallet share. Check out these sites and amaze your loved ones on their special days…