For Julie Atherton, worldwide director – digital practice, Hill & Knowlton, the fact that social media gives real-time consumer feedback to brands should be the single most important motivating factor for marketers to look at engaging with social media.
“What is valuable about social media is that here people make a choice to engage with the brand. That’s a great personal connection and I think it’s worth gold for brands. It’s real-time feedback on products and services,” she adds.
On her maiden visit to India, Atherton took some time off to talk to Campaign India about the reasons behind her visit and the challenges of managing corporate reputations for brands online.
Talking about the reason for her India visit, Atherton is candid enough to say that she isn’t going to launch into a volley of cliches about the potential of the BRIC nations. “I am here on an initiative that Hill & Knowlton is rolling out globally for senior counsellors. The training is meant to help counsel our clients in Digital. We already have experts in the network. The goal is to make the senior counsellors understand the basic concepts and empower them with the means to integrate it with traditional media,” she says, adding, “Our goal by the end of the year is to educate everybody on the network. We have worked through the processes, putting the strategy together, getting an understanding of how to use various social media tools. It’s to do with strategy and giving good counsel. That’s my goal by the end of the year for which I am doing a big swing through Asia, down to Australia and then back to the States.”
India, believes Atherton, has the valuable advantage of being at a different growth curve as far as leveraging the power of social media goes.
“My belief is that social media in terms of marketing communications is moving really quickly. In India, the biggest demand from clients as well as colleagues is for best practise and case studies. That means that everything that markets like USA have struggled with, over the last few years, India can leapfrog over those issues and move ahead very swiftly.”