18 January 2011
6 Lessons from 5 Companies That Use Social Media
Between them they have more than a million Facebook fans and Twitter followers. On an average they have been on social media platforms for less than a year. Barring one, they do not have a budget or staff for social media marketing activities. Yet, they acknowledge that social media marketing is the "backbone of their marketing efforts." These are the lessons from five companies that have understood social media and have used it to grow their business.
Listen: "Social Media have a feedback mechanism built-in, which needless to say benefits both the customer and the brand," says Sachin Bansal, CEO and Co-founder of Flipkart.com (an online bookstore). "The key is to listen to what is being said about you and to you. Users will be brutally honest if you give them an opportunity. The onus lies on you and your brand about what you do with the feedback." Flipkart.com has done very well by listening to its cu. The site has close to 700,000 fans on Facebook and has used conversations both as a tool to sell products and a guide to build features users want on the site.
Integrate: Giveindia.org, a charity portal that lets users donate to their favorite charity, has used an integrated social media marketing campaign to reach out to donors across the world. Their Facebook page links back to their site. Their landing page on causes.com links back to their Facebook page, Twitter handle, blog and also has videos of Giveindia events that are posted on Youtube. This 360 degree social media integration has helped the organisation reach its message effectively to the widest possible audience. IndiaMART too uses an integrated approach that includes blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and photosharing sites Photobucket and Flickr. This all-round approach has helped the site engage with its audience of SMEs and keep them informed about products and services on the site as well as general developments in the sector. "Social media marketing has become a very strong medium to reach out to a wider audience. Social media platforms in the form of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube have made it possible to broadcast messages and news to a larger base of business persons and the like. Its ability to engage with the stakeholders irrespective of geographical barriers has helped us penetrate SME space to a large extent," says Dinesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO, IndiaMART.com
Engage: One site that has learned the value of engaging with its audience is pagalguy.com. The site prepares students for MBA entrance exams and has been active on Social Media since 2008. Pagalguy realized early social media is ideal for interacting with its students and prospectives. The company uses its Facebook page for contests, polls and surveys. It does not duplicate content between its Facebook page and its website. "We recently launched a survey to rank business schools and saw around 9,000 clicks from Facebook in 20 days. This was a phenomenal way to reach out to our current and new users," says CEO Allwin Agnel. Legal website Lawisgreek.com also uses its social media platforms to create a level of interaction with its auidence. This, the company believes, has resulted in a loyal customer base and one that actively contributes to the growth of the site and therefore the business. On its Twitter account, too, Law is Greek encourages conversations between its experts and its customers.
Use Discussion boards: For a specialized service like Lawisgreek, discussion boards are a great way to connect with their audiences...in this case lawyers and people in need of legal advice. The site is active on Linkedin and regularly participates in relevant discussion boards. This helps create awareness as well as drive traffic. Palash Das, from the Strategic Alliances division of LawIsGreek.com, said, "Social media marketing is the backbone of our marketing initiative. This is what has helped us reach out to our target audience, engage them and create our brand."
Inform not just advertise: IndiaMART, lawisgreek and pagalguy have learnt to provide a wide spectrum of relevant information on their social media platforms. For example: you will find interesting discussions on news--everything from a UP Khap Panchayat ruling on Jeans to Advani demanding that black money from Swiss bank be returned can be found on the lawisgreek Facebook page. IndiaMART uses its platforms to inform about government policy and overall developments in the SME sector, while pagalguy limits advertising its services to its website.
Social Media Marketing is really free: Barring lawisgreek.com (which has a minuscule budget for social media marketing), the others have used existing resources to set up and run their social media marketing. All those fan pages and followers have come at little extra cost, thereby truly bringing home the advantages of this medium.