Being Social in the digital age!

Posted by priyanki on Thursday Nov 10, 2011

NDTV’s recent debate on We the Tweeple, discussing how social media is changing human equations and our lives in general was an intriguing one. Politicians, film actors, activists and general public participating in the debate used adjectives like dangerous, empowering, confessional, and controversial – to describe this growing platform of communication.


I am an avid evangelist of the power of social media as a channel of communication for those of us wanting to engage an audience with a message. Increasingly as humans, our first stop for accessing news and views about a range of subjects is an FB post or a quick tweet and not the traditional BBC or local newspaper! In this age of the digital revolution where one is constantly on the go and dinner table conversations with friends and family become increasingly rare – the new social world available 24×7 at the click of a blackberry button provides a sense of community, sharing and one on one dialogue. Our friends and followers, irrespective of distance or age and the fact that we may have never met many of them – are our new support system and those we trust. The recommendations of these people influence the choices, decisions and opinions we make.

From the perspective of a marketing communications professional, the opportunity and strength of social media lies in its impact on consumer behaviour and the trust placed in the network. From the mobilisation of support for causes such as the Arab revolutions earlier this year, India’s fight against corruption or even the global launch of the latest new Iphone 4S, the conversations on Facebook, Twitter and other topical blogs have been key to creating awareness, sourcing crowds and influencing public opinion.

Having said that, as a strategic marcomms consultant, I have often thought twice about recommending this channel as a voice box to many. The key to success with social media lies in the quality of interaction with one’s audience. What we say in the virtual world is in public domain to be appreciated or trashed and we got to be prepared for unsuspected reactions. In this respect, the argument about being on social being dangerous and controversial holds true. Especially in context of corporate brands and organisations, this opportunity of building equity with a relevant audience through a two way conversation requires the courage and transparency of being open to naysayers and negative comments.

In the world of social media, the skill of being outspoken is as important as the ability to listen and provide a rapid response. Being unresponsive to a vent on twitter against your brand or worse still, deleting it from your Facebook profile (and yes I have experience of brands doing that!) defeats the fundamental concept of being social. Moreover, it possibly does more reputational damage than being completely invisible on the channel itself. The rules of the twitter world mean you learn to take criticism on the chin and come with a bit of a thick skin along with buckets of wit and humour. For the risk averse and those sensitive to every word spoken about them, this isn’t the medium to chase.

Tags : , , , , , , , Marketing, Social Media | 2 comments »

Social media done well: Starbucks

Posted by ashwin on Tuesday Sep 6, 2011

One of the popular consumer brands that touches many of us every day, oftentimes first thing in the morning – Starbucks, is another leading example of social media done very well.

The company’s facebook page boasts of one of the largest communities on facebook, with over 24 million fans! This allows the company to market its products more conveniently and effectively to a large audience, such as this Starbucks Card eGift, as shown.

Starbucks has over 1 million followers on twitter, and mainly uses twitter to respond to inquiries and spread the word about its new products, company news, specials, offers, etc.

On its YouTube channel, Starbucks posts video commercials of course, but also informational videos on the origins of different coffee blends, etc. as well as video clips about some of its corporate social responsibility and charity initiatives.

The most interesting social media initiative by Starbucks however, is The company has not only benefited from the several thousands of ideas contributed by its customers, but has also done a good job publicizing the fact that its customers are so engaged with the company. For example, on, you can see how many ideas were contributed by its customers – over 100,000, and hundreds of examples of ideas implemented by Starbucks.

Starbucks is a good example of a company that not only has strong customer engagement across several social media channels, but has also treated each channel in a unique and different way to develop stronger ties with its customers.

Tags : , , , , Innovation, Marketing, Social Media | 2 comments »

Hi-Tech, PC, and consumer electronics companies have been in the forefront of adopting social media strategies to engage with their customers more effectively. One company in particular that has done this extremely well is Dell. Interestingly, Dell’s entry into the social media space was driven by a crisis the company faced back a few years back, which at the time got a lot of media attention due to a blog posted by a disgruntled customer – called ‘Dell Hell’. In fact, its viral effect was so strong it hurt the company’s stock price, its reputation, and forced Michael Dell to come back to run the company! The company then started engaging with its customers more proactively in the social media sphere. What started out as a defensive tactic eventually turned into an aggressive strategy to turn its brand around.


Today, Dell has a strong presence across several social media channels and forums. The company has a strong customer community with several channels including Support Forums for its entire product line, Blog forums, Discussion forums, and one in particular branded as ‘IdeaStorm’ where customers provide direct feedback to improve the company’s products. Dell’s customers have contributed over 15,000 Ideas of which Dell has implemented over 400 of them to improve its products. Dell also supports several Facebook user groups and Twitter channels. The company has generated over $3 million in sales via Twitter at @DellOutlet. While still insignificant compared to its overall sales, it has a working model in place to make money via Twitter.


What Dell does really well is synchronize its content across its various social media channels. The company recently launched a ‘Social Media Command Center’ to track, analyze, and act on the information and intelligence coming out of all the social media content related to Dell.

While Dell is one good example of social media done well, there are several companies from various industries that have also implemented social media strategies really well – from Food & Beverages, Retail, Media, Telecom, Consumer electronics, and other industries. I’ll talk about a couple of more interesting social media examples out there, as well as some not so good ones in future blogs.

Disclaimer: All links posted are on third party websites. Copyrights as applicable.

Tags : , , , , , , Marketing, Social Media | 1 comment »