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of Mr. Barack Obama as president of United States of America by 200 electoral votes and 8.5 million popular votes, by converting common people in to engaged and empowered volunteers, donors and advocates through social networks, email advocacy, text messaging and online video. The campaign’s appetite to online advocacy is a major reason for his victory. Obama is the first president to govern with Blackberry in hand; with a legion of 13 million advocates at his fingertips. I am one of his followers on twitter and always get update on his government’s initiatives. This is not unique but a different way to communicate with the common people without the message getting distorted through different participants who otherwise would have presented their own interpretation. The social media can be and is being used for personal, service and product branding and is yielding excellent result for everybody. I read “No Money Marketing” by distinguished writer Ms. Jessey Paul on the subject of creating a brand on frugal budget, which includes this very topic of social media marketing. The social media marketing of this book was amazing and believe me, more I searched on internet about it, I became more eager to have my copy in my hand. It took to me scan the three crossword at Malad, Vashi and Bandra(w) to get one for myself. My own opinion on social media has gone under complete change in last 10 years, from a medium of dating to a great tool to create brand at minimal cost in this flat world. Obama has changed the way strategists think not only about engineering electoral win but the way social media can be used to take your message effectively to your target audience. So, what exactly social media is? Dave Evans in his book “Social Media Defined”, defines it the following way: “Social media is the democratisation of information, transforming people from content readers into content publishers. It is the shift from broadcast mechanism to a many-to-many model, rooted in conversations between authors, people, and peers. Social media uses the “wisdom of crowds” to connect information in collaborative manner. Social media can take many different forms, including internet forums, message boards, weblogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures and video. Technologies such as blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, group creations and voice over IP, to name a few. Examples of social media applications are google(reference, social networking),Wikipedia(reference),Myspace(social networking), Facebook(social networking),Last.fm(music),Youtube(Social Networking and video sharing), Second Life(virtual reality), and Flickr(photo sharing).” Some of the social media statistics are as follows:
• Facebook has more than 400 million users worldwide. It recorded 40% growth in
last 6 month. India has more than 8 million users as on March, 2010, which is more than 400% growth on year to year basis from 2009.
• Twitter has long back crossed 5 Billion twits and has more than 75 million user accounts. • Linkedin has over 50 million members worldwide and approximately 15% users are from India.
• Flickr hosts now more than 4 billion pictures uploaded on it.
• Wikipedia has now more than 14 million articles.
• Photo uploads to Facebook have increased by more than 100%. Currently,
there are around 2.5bn uploads to the site each month. • Back in 2009, the average user had 120 friends within Facebook. This is now around 130. • Mobile is even bigger than before for Facebook, with more than 65m users accessing the site through mobile-based devices. In six months, this is over 100% increase. • There are more than 3.5bn pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, etc.) shared each week on Facebook. • According to Technorati, 15% of the total bloggers spends more than 10 hours blogging every week. • 70% of the bloggers are talking about brands in their blogs. Social media is different from the traditional media. In traditional media, communication is always one sided, but in social media, audience can participate by adding comments and even edit the story as well. As a student of marketing, I am fascinated by its various facets and Social media marketing one of the facets I am enjoy participating and learning a lot. A lot has been written by experts on this topic on various platforms, but I will be sharing my own experience and practice as a student and starter, which are as follows:
• Plan and define your brand image- When your profile is accessible to millions
of internet users worldwide, you need to be very sure how you want be viewed and assessed by them. You can use it for purely networking with your friends and share messages, photos, videos or you can use to cultivate an image for yourself and viewed by fellow netizens accordingly. For doing so, you need to be very consistent in the messages you are leaving on the various social media networks. First point in using social media marketing is to plan and define your brand image.
• Set Goals: When you have decided about the create something executing (your
planned image), set a measurable, achievable and relevant goal. You can’t get to make your brand built across all network, across the globe with the word “go”. So, you need to create the group of followers very carefully on relevant number of networks which you can manage. In a hurry very active and popular on the social media circle, I selected group suggested on twitter and ended up following lot of international celebrities. Now I am in the process of unfollowing most of them. Similarly, I signed up 7-8 networking sites but I am using only 2 (www.linkedin.com and www.facebook.com ) now on regular basis, almost logging in daily and 1 (www.toostep.com ) on may be once in a week. I am not adding www.technorati.com because I refer it mostly for intellectual purpose, because it hosts best blogs on various issues (purely my opinion). Rest of the networking sites I either visit once in a fortnight or even in a month. So, you will agree with me I should not have been on the sites, where I am not visiting regularly. Further, efforts should be stop any leakage in your image or you should not leave any rathole. As I mentioned earlier that, in a hurry to increase my followers, I started following lot of international celebrities on twitter. Will they ever follow me? Definitely not. Similarly, if I drop something interesting message once, my profile may attract lot of hits on it, but it will keep continuing only when I keep posting similar interesting message. One of the biggest mistakes you can do in social media marketing is to set up a profile and then not maintain it. Would you like to visit a store which always empty? If somebody
visits your profile and sees lot of activity happening, he or she may also chip in and continue awhile if finds some interesting messages either you or your fellow group members.
• Have a destination- You may be on active various platforms, but you won’t be
able to draw audience, if you don’t have a permanent destination, you can’t hold your audience around yourself. So, decide a destination according to the brand image you have planned and legion of followers you have created.
• Root out vague goals: There are lot of things happening around and you want
to voice your opinion on it. My advice; never get tempted. A lot of talking on different topics will dilute your brand image because you can’t be expert in everything and meaningless opinions will create a negative impression about you. Create a couple of topic, on which you will continuously and always write and it will become your referential.
• Clarity of your message- It becomes more relevant, when you are using twitter
because you get only 140 characters to express your point. Apart from that unlike other traditional media like TV and Radio, where messages comes for less than a minute, one may forget it after sometime or may not notice altogether, but when you are leaving message online, then it can referred again and again with the help of various search engines. So, clarity of message is crucial and important in social media.
• Make somebody responsible- It’s better you manage your brand image of your
own, but if are too busy and can’t do it yourself, then please hire somebody who understands your priorities and your point of view.
• Be what you want be known as- No brand image can be sustainable without
substance. So, it’s very important that you better be what you want to be known as.
• Connect with power users- As I mentioned earlier, twitter has crossed more
than 5 billion twits long time back, but how may of us know about them unless and until something is coming from Shahrukh Khan or Sachin Tendulkar. I am a commoner, you may not want to hear me, but if I am regularly being seen in the company of big people, then you may want to know about me also. So, get into the group of people, whose opinion matters. If they endorse you, then it’s even better.
• Long Term Commitment- Branding anyway is not a short-term activity, it’s
ongoing process. You will have to commit yourself to whatever you are promising. Otherwise somebody will take your position in the mind of overinformed audience.
• Use the lull period- Millions of users are on different networking platform, but
not everybody is committed enough. You can be new entrant but your commitment can see you through and make you more popular than other group member.
In this flat world, creating brand image will cost you nothing, but you need to be very consistent and concerted in your efforts, otherwise you will end up doing more harm, because your audience is equally informed and qualified if not more. Keep twitting and keep blogging. Social media is a great place to hang around.
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