Social media and cost effective ways to build brand

This is a transcript of my talk on ‘Cost effective ways to build brand’ at the ‘2nd Women Entrepreneurial Conference’ held in December 2011 at held on 15th December at the Lok Manch, Lodi Road, New Delhi.

Brand Communications – test of retention rate

We are constantly surrounded by brands. Everywhere we look we can see brands but how much of the brand communication is retained by our minds? What is the recall rate?

Here’s a simple test I always follow.

  • Did you read today’s morning newspaper?
  • Tell us what section did you read? News / sports / Entertainment / Classified? Which sections do you usually read?
  • Do you remember the name of at least one brand that you saw in today’s newspaper. Which one is it?
  • Do you remember a brand that you saw last evening on TV? Which one is it?
  • Name a brand you saw on some outdoor media while coming to this Conference. Which one is it?
  • Do you remember any celebrity name associated with the brand?

A simple test of brand retention would tell us that only the big brands who can afford to run a 360 degree multimedia ad campaign are retained in people’s mind. In addition celebrity endorsement also plays a big role. Traditionally, only the large businesses have been able to hire an ad agency or PR agency and run such advertisement and brand building campaigns. The entities in the small and medium (SME) sector, solo entrepreneurs, start-ups on the other hand have always used means like pamphlets and flier distributions, newspaper ads or networking and word of mouth marketing.

With internet and social media everything is changing. Social media is a digital version of the good old word-of-mouth marketing.  Today, social media is the most easy and cost effective means of communication.

Definition of social media

To simply define, ‘social media’ is a collection of simple, easy to learn and adapt, freely available internet based tools and platforms that can be used to reach out to a worldwide audience. The defining factor about social media is the ‘ability to establish real time dialogue in multimedia formats.’ Traditional media like Ad films, Radio, TV, Newspapers, outdoor hoardings, corporate websites are all one way medium. On the other hand social media tools like blogs, social networks, picture and video sharing enables two way communications which is friendly, open and democratic and simply put, ‘social.’

But ‘cost effective’ is not the only factor

We should not talk about social media just being cost effective. That sounds like social media is relevant only for those segments of entrepreneurs who cannot afford mainstream media brand communication. No, it’s not a case of “grapes are sour.” It is not just about the money, had that been the case these top most brands in India wouldn’t have joined the Social Media bandwagon.

Even NASA uses social media

NASA uses social media

As a matter of fact an entity like NASA wouldn’t join the social media Bandwagon if they didn’t see that cost effective or not social media offers a whole new kind of brand communication that has never been possible using any other form of traditional media.

So why is everybody joining social media?

Because of the revolutionary magical difference between traditional media and social media – the ability to establish a dialogue with, listen and respond to the consumers whenever, wherever and in whichever format.

  • Real Time
  • Two way communication
  • Longer shelf life

Every brand has a story; every entrepreneur has a story, a cause a mission with which they start. Social media gives the brand an ability to tell their stories.

The Social Consumers

Slide11 - Cost effective way to build brand - social consumer

The number of internet users in India has crossed 100 million this September. It is predicted that in 2 years India would overtake United States in being the largest country to be on internet. There are currently 38 million Indians on Facebook. This large number of people are the social consumers.

Social consumers are different from traditional consumers in that they no longer take purchase decisions by simply watching a TV commercial or outdoor hoarding or newspaper ad. They want more from a brand. It is no longer enough to tell, “We made this cream, if you apply it, you would become fair.” The social now wants to know – How and why I would become fair? Who else have become fair? What were their experiences during the process?

So how to connect to social consumers

The social consumers go to their respective social networks to find out about a brand and then make a purchase. They go with the brand that extends a friendly hand towards them, a brand that shares its stories heart to heart with the consumers.

A brand can achieve that only by being present on the social networks, using the same tools and platforms that the consumers are using for their day to day communications.  The brand has to rise over the same old sales and target oriented greed and have to show love and respect for the consumers. They have to show that they care to listen and respond that they are sporting enough to handle negative remarks with dignity.

Cost effective way to build brand - how to connect to social consumer

Slide 13 – some case studies

  • Ananta Spa and Resorts – What they did right
  • Emami – What they have missed
  • Fortis Hospital – How they handled

We would discuss the above 3 case studies in the next few posts.

To be continued


About Sanjukta Basu

TED Fellow Sanjukta Basu is a Feminist Writer, Photographer, Political Analyst and Gender Trainer. Her columns appear on Daily O, Huffington Post India, Firstpost among others. Also a public speaker she has spoken at TEDx conferences, universities, colleges, and NGOs.

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