Campaign India Team
Jul 17, 2009

Do youth brands understand social media?

Ask marketers about their brand’s social media strategy and the most common cry you hear is that the plan did not go beyond a Facebook page or a Twitter presence. For youth brands looking at addressing their target audience, social media sites have become increasingly imperative given that their audience spends a large part of their day on these sites. How well do youth brands in India leverage their presence on social media and what objective does social media fulfil in their checklist? Campaign India spoke to industry folks to get their point of view.

Do youth brands understand social media?
Ask marketers about their brand’s social media strategy and the most common cry you hear is that the plan did not go beyond a Facebook page or a Twitter presence. For youth brands looking at addressing their target audience, social media sites have become increasingly imperative given that their audience spends a large part of their day on these sites. How well do youth brands in India leverage their presence on social media and what objective does social media fulfil in their checklist? Campaign India spoke to industry folks to get their point of view.

“Simply creating a Facebook page and a message with pass-on hook (viral) isn’t what effective marketing is about. Perhaps the pay-off / measures of success expected from social media sites need to be re-evaluated and recast by marketers. Social media is used more tactically rather than strategically with a long term focus by most brands,” says Euro RSCG India’s Ashok Lalla. He adds, “While interactivity may be over-rated, social media sites allow brands to reach out and communicate in a tone and style that is closer to the youth buyers’ own style than other conventional media. The true power of social media is in co-creating the brand through the community, rather than simply setting up a brand community.”

Channel [V]’s Prem Kamath says social media is important for them from both, a brand building as well as an engagement angle. “Given its heritage a lot of fan groups of [V] and its characters already exist on these sites and leveraging them is a natural choice.” Citing the example of their show Roadies, MTV’s Anuj Poddar adds, “MTV Roadies started off as an on-air TV show but today, it has an online version which is completely independent of the original on-air show. While the on-air version has about 20 participants competing, we have a far wider universe of people who engage with the brand and live the Roadies experience online, through their avatars.”

Urja Communications’ Vijay Sankaran feels that social media has not been exploited by Indian brands, to the extent that it has in the west. He says, “I’d say we are just scratching the surface. We haven’t fully understood what’s going on online. Look at Facebook. It’s growing exponentially in India, from 10 lakh to 32 lakh members in just a year. I haven’t come across any Indian brand which has got its act right on a social network site.”

Zedo’s de Souza feels that in today’s scenario, brands need to look beyond search. “Brands need to have a strategy to listen, participate and enrich the fan’s social experience -- online or offline. 50% of Indian web traffic is now social. When online behavior itself is social, you can’t continue to focus on search and online advertising alone. Brand building is always hard. It will be equally hard on social network sites - but the rewards will be huge.”
 
Prem Kamath, senior VP and GM, Channel [V], STAR India
 
“Channel [ V] uses a lot of social networking sites for both engagement as well as brand building. Given its heritage a lot of fan groups of [V] and its characters already exist on these sites and leveraging them is a natural choice. To a large extent being active on these sites has become an imperative for all youth brands. Today there is no choice but to have a strong digital strategy and social media sites are a large driver for that. We are extremely bullish on leveraging social media. It has to be done right, of course. Applying conventional media tactics and metrics to measure their effectiveness would be a big mistake.”
 
 
  Vijay Sankaran, digital strategy director, Urja Communications

“Social media’s value has not been understood and tapped in India. A brand’s social media plan is more than just a presence on Facebook. Brands need to have a strategy to listen, participate and enrich the fan’s social experience -- online or offline. 50% of Indian web traffic is now social. When online behavior itself is social, you can’t continue to focus on search and online advertising alone. Big brands like to still go mass media. If you are a challenger brand, social media marketing can help you succeed. If you are a large brand and sufficiently paranoid or smart, you better not be sticking to megaphone marketing alone.”
 
   Ashok Lalla, president, digital, Euro RSCG India

Simply creating a Facebook page and a message with pass-on hook (viral) isn’t what effective marketing is about. Perhaps the pay-off / measures of success expected from social media sites need to be re-evaluated and recast by marketers. Social media is used more tactically rather than strategically with a long term focus by most brands. Social media sites allow brands to reach out and communicate in a tone and style that is closer to the youth buyer’s own style than other conventional media. If a brand’s personality mirrors that of its youth audience, blending into the buyer’s mindscape is a good way to create a connection.”

 

  Anuj Poddar, senior VP, digital media, Viacom18 Media

“As a brand, MTV is platform agnostic and the TV channel is just one means of addressing our audience. Social media sites are just another way to do so and it works on various levels. It allows us to create a buzz about new shows online, while also offering a platform for participants to audition and sign up. Roadies started off as an on-air TV show but today, it has an online version which is completely independent of the original on-air show. While the on-air version has about 20 participants competing, we have a far wider universe of people who engage with the brand and live the Roadies experience online.”

 

   Roy de Souza, chief executive officer and co-founder, Zedo

“There is no point advertising your brand to youth on newspapers if the youth are all on Facebook, Youtube and Orkut and not reading newspapers. Agencies will figure it out and the smaller nimbler agencies will get there faster. Social media sites allow you to build brands at low cost. On social networks, agencies can also be clever and creative and build brands at very low cost. Viral videos definitely work and if you can get people to post a link to your video on Facebook or twitter or email it to friends people will know about your brand instantly. Brand building is always hard. It will be equally hard on social network sites - but the rewards will be huge.”

 

 

Source:
Campaign India

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