Mine is bigger than yours, more people ‘like’ it you see!
Saurabh Parmar, Founder & CEO, Brandlogist Communications

Most companies in India seem to have started a separate business vertical - building Facebook Communities (a large number are also ‘setting up operations’ on Twitter).

And what’s the business about?

Well it’s building Facebook communities! And That’s it.

Get random, varied, people across target groups and get them to ‘like’ your page and comment on your posts and upload pictures. This irrespective of whether those likes connect back to your long as “we have the numbers”. It’s almost a typical male egoistic way of saying “mine is bigger than yours.” (And it seems most of them still don’t know bigger isn’t always better).

And the business model?

Facebook makes money (via Media buy)

The agency makes money (by charging a retainer)

And the company gets numbers!

Doesn’t matter whether most of those people aren’t your current or potential customers, doesn’t matter if  they buy your products or they don’t, doesn’t matter what whether the only reason they are there is to win the holiday package or free  iPad or to check out pictures people have uploaded for the model hunt contest.

All that matters is that your numbers are achieved and end of the day the business head or brand manager can go and say “yes we are doing social media because that’s where our consumers are.”

And once there, brands are definitely ‘connecting with their consumers’. So whether it be a car brand, a refrigerator company, an e-commerce portal or even a lingerie brand we all talk about the latest movie, the cricket score, asking a consumer to get his friends to like or comment on the post in order to get anything from the coffee to a 3 day holiday in the Caribbean free.

The result-The brands participate, the consumer participates but at the next review meet, conference or while giving a byte to the media, this client or agency says “Social Media is the future but we are (still) trying to evaluate the ROI !!”

So yes Numbers and Engagement are definitely social media metrics but not before a prefix called relevance is added to both of them. To get return on investment you need to invest in the right things.

Social Media ROI-The Dichotomy

Social Media is everywhere, right from agencies, clients to even the TOI or Hindu talking about the power and wonder of it. Yet almost the same numbers of people are asking ‘What or Where is the ROI of Social Media.”

Isn’t it strange if it’s such a wonderful path breaking thing, why are we questioning the ROI and still questioning 2-3 years after the business of social media services has started here in India.

The challenge, when everybody sells - a lot of crap is sold!!

I had spoken about why numbers and engagement can’t just be the metrics,. What we also need to add is relevance. How do we specifically do that:

Relevant Numbers: First brands need to understand that rather than building the largest community you need to build the largest community of relevant fans (even if it’s much smaller than the ‘largest community’. )

This happens by identifying and targeting the right Target Group. Work along with your agency to identify the right TG not just from a demographic viewpoint-age, sex, location  but also from a psychographic viewpoint-interests , likes, behaviours etc.

Relevant Content: Every brand has it’s own personality, thus what the brand talks about and shares and creates a buzz around should be unique. In two words ‘unique content’.

The way to work on this is to understand a brand’s positioning ,understand what he stands for and stands against (the second part is very important, most great brands stand against something as well as stand for). Create a content planand response strategy using these perspectives and finally create the content on an ongoing basis.

Relevant or Right tonality: Social Media is not about ‘share of voice’ as much as ‘tone of voice’. Recently I was checking out the Facebook page of one of the top telecommunications brands in India, after every post of theirs there were four to five people complaining about the brand in the comment thread. Now they obviously had the right TG (their current and potential customers), content was OK and relevant to the brand but the conversation tone or brand sentiment was extremely negative.

The Reason:

They failed to integrate social media across verticals. The solution to this is to use a good ORM tool along with human intervention to analyze and categorize conversations, target the concerns in near real time to the support or operations department, the leads to the sales team and suggestions to the product team. At the same time ask the brand team at your agency to integrate these insights into the brand plan both from the short term and long term perspective.

Seems quite a task? Well, the other option is to try and build the ‘largest community on Facebook’ and forget ROI.