Social media embodies trading in the comfort zone, ET BrandEquity

Pallavi Singh, Utsav Malhotra, Anirban Roy Choudhury (LR)
In its initial phase, social media marketing goes the way of discovering its target group on social media channels. Credibility and reliability are two fundamental factors to keep moving forward so brands last longer. Now the consumer’s comfort zone is also a priority. In a fireside chat moderated by Anirban Roy Choudhury, Associate Editor – Special Initiatives,, Pallavi Singh, Head-Digital and Consumer Services – Emerging Mobility Business Unit, Hero MotoCorp and Utsav Malhotra, Chief Operation Officer, Noise emphasized customer behavior and – preferences, as the golden classic marketing adage goes, you go where the customer is, you go to those platforms and start talking to them because that’s the key to attracting consumers.

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Malhotra said: “All these clients are driven by the three E’s, they are engaging with social media for education and entertainment and in some cases they are looking for solutions that we call engagement. Brands are constantly trying to connect with consumers, educate them and give them a reason to stay on these platforms.”

“We are uncompromisingly a brand built on social media. Because people are willing to engage, people today are willing to interact with the brand in an environment that is conducive to them. You’re not asking them to step out of their comfort zone, but in a way you can be a seamless part of their lives where the brilliance really lies!” he added.

Malhotra stressed the importance of communicating through ads on these platforms. Then magic really happens, was his submission.

He pointed out that if someone feels an ad is intrusive, the right question to ask is how many of you managed to see some of those ads and actually complete a transaction?

He mentioned that this is the process of discovery, for a marketer this is the moment of truth. This has become a discovery platform for most brands.

It is crucial that the consumer in this environment not only seeks dialogue, but also wants to build trust through credibility and reliability. Understand the purpose of the brand’s existence while engaging with you and this is what brands need to know.

Speaking about using social media, Singh shared her take on the fact that it’s not just you who buy something, sometimes your whole family, whether it’s a scooter, a motorbike or a car, especially when it’s a foursome cyclist. It’s very different. The social media in this category play more of a community role.

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She pointed out that companies needed to better understand the platform and create nuance and content that would potentially lead to trading over time, which is becoming increasingly difficult.

Singh said: “Unless you get a smooth communication or conversation going, you’re not reaching the right consumers. So it’s a challenge. But I think today marketers aren’t all about making great ads and creating good content. But it is about what can lead to commerce.”

“That’s why there are creative studios today, whether it’s Facebook or Google today, they tell you how you should use platforms and improve your communication with the user. It’s a whole different ball game when it comes to using social media for brands versus for consumers. It’s more evangelism and advocacy than just using these platforms for conversation,” she added.

Regarding the changing landscape on social media, Singh points out that the landscape is now changing every three months as consumers change, their behavior changes, circumstances change and a financial crisis looms.

She emphasized that when things change around the world, it not only affects people’s minds, but also everything we converse with. If there’s an amazing display but it hasn’t changed any readings, it didn’t really serve a purpose.

Malhotra continued his perception: “Video has become a mainstay today, short format films have of course taken a much higher share, that’s obvious. The whole idea was that people’s attention spans are decreasing.”

“People are willing to watch content for six or ten seconds, in reality you spend a lot more time watching these ten-second videos. If you understand the nuances of changing consumer behavior, you can mediate and implement some of these interventions in changing consumer behavior,” he added.

Singh emphasizes the success of social media and highlights the ubiquity of WhatsApp in our lives, and as such it is actually driving so much more for brands that enjoy the most. Because smaller groups are created, conversions actually happen from there than on any other platform.

Singh emphasizes: “From a measurement point of view, it’s very simple if I said what really drives. Every euro spent must lead to something, it must not lead to sales. And that’s how we track it, it can’t lead to sales, but it either has to lead to someone endorsing your product, which has an impact.”

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She continued, “Perhaps the second most important thing is to consider an upgrade. Third, of course, you buy a new product. But it’s very hard, because most people who use social media are actually to be scolded. You will never find a customer who has had an amazing experience, go on Twitter and say, ‘Oh my god, this brand really helped me solve my problem!’”

She further added: “We don’t look at how many bad tweets have come and how many good tweets have come. But if there’s a particular trend that’s coming, we have to attack it. I think it’s about a trend towards attack and moderation that won’t happen again. I think marketing is about making business, not making more ads. I firmly believe in that.”

In another discussion, Malhotra stressed that a frugal mindset of looking at the return on a dollar spent helped them build the business.

Malhotra said, “I think you just don’t have to be on a platform to be fair to a platform, you have to look at platforms that work for your business and then look at the metrics that justify some of those platforms, because otherwise you’re just subordinate to platform presence and not really what works for you as a business.”

Regarding the consistency of brand expression on social media, Malhotra points out that consistency doesn’t work. He explains that each channel has its own nuances and you need to tailor your communications to what suits that channel.

Malhotra said, “I think more than content, context is more relevant to marketers today. The content you create needs to fit the context in which it is published.”

“When you post a message on Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter, they are meant for different purposes. There is a channel that serves as a visual interaction channel, there is a conversation channel, there is a B2B vs B2C divide,” he added.

Addressing the insignificance of the age-related slant of social media platforms, Singh talks about three Ps, namely Product, Price, Promotion, which have expanded to six including three Cs, namely Content, Context and Commerce.

Singh points out, “It’s not like a 50-year-old just looks at Facebook, maybe TikTok. Someone who is 13 years old and will only be on TikTok and will not use LinkedIn. Today children are much more developed.”

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“That’s why today Facebook says it’s one in seven, if a customer has seen a piece of content three times, I won’t show her that again because she won’t respond to it. The landscape has changed,” Singh added.

Malhotra said, “I think initially all the targeting filters were demographic driven. It’s only when you start getting a lot more data signals that you realize there were smarter ways of targeting and that basically meant interests, what are you going to put your time into contextually.”

“Because of the fact that we’ve evolved, I think you need to look at your customers through psychographics, not demographics,” he added.

Singh also mentioned, “Look at the data first and then create it because then you can actually be objective about it and not emotional about it.”

Addressing the challenges marketers face, Malhotra points to two major challenges, one of which is getting the targeting wrong and not looking at the data enough, thus targeting the people who see the ad don’t want to see. The second bit has to deal with the mess.

Malhotra pointed to the fact of a manic obsession with refreshing content and a desire to produce truckloads of it.

Malhotra mentioned, “What we don’t realize is that the bottom line is really effectiveness. If you can just make these tweaks, I believe this is a channel to stay and grow and businesses can be built. We are living proof of that.”

Singh added, “The biggest challenge isn’t clutter, it’s authentic storytelling. It’s always about the experience you want to hear that it was great driving that car or that bike or that scooter but that person helped me.”

“That helps us sell 100 more units than maybe a particular ad that’s running on social media,” Singh concluded.

DigiPlus Fest 2023: How WhatsApp connects companies

During a session at ETBrandEquity’s DigiPlus Fest, Ravi Garg, Head of WhatsApp for Business, explained the importance of WhatsApp’s simplicity, security and reliability in connecting brands and customers without compromising on WhatsApp’s core principles.

Updated February 20, 2023 at 7:35 am IST Most Read in Digital

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