Most web posts, press articles and cocktail conversations appear to hover round this fast-growing phenomenon called Social Media. Marketers are trying it out, analysts are examining it, consultants are spouting ‘gyaan’, while the youth quietly goes about using it, making it a part of their daily lives, with minimum fuss.
I’d like to share some interesting patterns (these are currently anecdotal) that I happen to observe with respect to this medium…
- In general, it is the older folks, who are writing about it, curious about it, discussing it and obsessing about it.
- In several instances, I find that the ‘conventionally’ social person is less active on SM, while those with social constraints are freaking out posting, sharing, inviting, blogging, et al.
- Marketers, when I meet them, talk about SM, state that they are doing stuff on it, but I notice a dazed look on their faces. It makes me suspect that they are not exactly sure of what they are getting out of it.
- Taking advantage of this curiosity, a fresh breed of consultants have popped up, who claim they can help marketers exploit this medium, both, to listen into as well as to influence.
- However, marketers are not biting the bait, as rapidly as one would have expected, judging by their posturing that SM is critical to their communication strategy.
Now let me share some empirical data that underscores the growing relevance of social networking by quoting recent statistics…
- Globally, people spend 5.5 hours per month on social networking sites, Facebook being the one where maximum time is spent
- Active unique users of social networks are also up nearly 30% globally, rising from 244.2 million to 314.5 million collectively.
Based on both anecdotal evidence and hard data, if we agree that social networking is the next big platform for brands, then the challenge for marketers is to develop sufficient knowledge about how people interact on these sites.
They have to listen, listen and listen some more before they apply. They have to invest in sound research that will eventually help them unlock the potential that everyone seems to sense, but hardly anyone has exploited effectively. Only then can they hope to build the right context in which to present their brand to the consumer. Currently, a lot of brands seem like intruders trying hard to gate crash into private parties!
This blog post is written by Parvati Mahadev, Insight Consulting Partner & Practice Leader – Global MR, Brandscapes Worldwide
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