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  • Old Buyers, new markets

    Old Buyers, new markets

    This is the piece I wrote as part of the Exchange4Media and Blogworks “India Social Media Survey 2009” Report Document that we revealed released on 28 March 2009. It summarizes the gap I see amongst the marketing/ communication fraternity in their understanding of the connected consumer and social media. The gap was obvious on many occasions at the India Social Media Summit 2009 indicating that we are all still just learning the rules of this new game.
    Here is the piece:
    The game has changed, and for a change, it’s not the marketers who are in the driver’s seat. The Consumer is…
    Meet the ‘new and improved’ Consumer 2.0. She and her peers (they) are coming together on social networks, blogs, content communities and forming tribes, sharing opinion and voicing their concerns on a variety of social issue, customer service, brand experiences, politics – life.
    When Mumbai is attacked, they don’t just report live in a perpetual stream, they also take the government to task; when Ram Sene dictates that women belong within the four walls of their homes, smiling they send Pink Chaddis to Sene bosses; Not just are they creators and editors of news, they also take head-on battles with mainstream media from time-to-time.
    Mainstream media itself is evolving, integrating social media, to stay relevant to the times. Not the types to be left behind, celebrities and politicians too have joined the social media space engaging stakeholders.
    Social media has forever changed the dynamics of how the Internet is consumed – from predominantly being a work tool, to becoming a tool for personal expression & connections
    Conversational marketing
    Marketing and communication ought to change too, for, marketers now have the opportunity to narrowcast messages; to change the tone from greedy sales pitches, to personal conversations.
    How are the marketer’s responding? The focus is still on the tool…
    Have you seen a child play with a toy? He fumbles with it, turns it around in his hands trying to figure out how the damn thing works; once figured, he plays with it for a bit, gets bored; a new toy appears on his limited horizon – his neighborhood friend – that’s what he wants now.
    Social media play for most marketers is no different: “Mummy, mummy mujhe bhee apna social network chahiye.”
    So you got yourself a fan page on Facebook? Also a video up on YouTube? Even an account on Twitter? Great! So?
    Have you really thought through why you are doing, whatever you are doing? Are you listening to what the consumers are saying? Do you know where you really want to go?
    The rules of the social media game are a little different, they are being written by the community and the game is evolving so rapidly that if you turn away, just for a minute, the scene has already changed.
    Why are most marketers lagging behind?

    1. Marketers are scared of the unknown and aren’t prepared to jump in
    2. Marketers have never spoken face-to-face- they get the agencies to front and want to continue doing so
    3. Marketers are plain lazy
    4. All of the above

    Social media is like masturbation, you have to participate ‘yourself’ to get anywhere.
    What is clear though…

    1. Social networks are where media will be consumed, besides content being created
    2. Brands will be discussed
    3. People want to talk brands when they want to, not when we want them to
    4. They are equally vocal about brands/ experiences they love/ hate
    5. Social media influences purchase decisions
    6. Negative comments allow for an educated purchase, besides helping marketers improve the product/ service
    7. Social media can’t wipe off inefficiencies, or poor quality

    So what to expect?

    1. Social media credibility is going up, as it attains critical mass and more & more thought leaders join in
    2. Social media impact on marketing will only get stronger
    3. Social media will seamlessly merge into mainstream media
    4. Meaningful blogging, with thought leaders joining in
    5. Micro-blogging
    6. Breaking news moves away from television, to citizen journalists
    7. Social networking will continues to surge
    8. Anytime, any device consumption and creation of content
    9. Social noise- with so many voices saying so many things- making it difficult & important to separate noise versus signals/ meaning/ insights

    Savvy marketers are also evolving: going beyond mere buzz aspects of social media, to draw real time insights and feedback to improve product/ service; the focus is shifting to engagement; social media is becoming central to marketing.
    All is well in my world.

    Disclaimer: Views of authors are personal and do not represent the views of Blogworks, or any of its clients.

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