This weekend got off to a great start on Saturday the 24th of March when the Pune chapter of Social Media Club held their first panel discussion on:
Using Social Influencers To Get The Customers Attention
The morning started off at the Zomato.com office in Koregaon Park, Pune where the panelists converged and the got some time to connect with each other. Including some of Pune’s most active social media folks, the panelists were a great mix of individuals ensuring this was going to be a great session.
Introducing the panelists:
Top row from left to right:
Sonali Brahma : Independent Strategist and Creative Consultant
Saurabh Sengupta : Business Head, Zomato
Radha Giri : CEO of Midas Touch Consultants
Dr. Parag Dixit : Co-Founder of Sheepstop.com
Neil Sequeira : Founder of BuzzFactory.net (that would be me)
Swati Maheshwari : Co-founder of Rustic Art (Moderator for the discussion)
Bottom row from left to right:
Shikha Pakhide: Co-founder of Social Media Club Pune Chapter (Organizer for this event)
Yash Sharma : Founder of Change Republic
Sandeep Saxena : Founder and CEO, Acton Biotech
Prasant Naidu : Co-Founder of Lighthouse Insights
Arun Prabhudesai : Founder of Trak.in
Social influencer’s are to the social media realm what celebrities and brand ambassadors or brand influencers are to the offline marketing world. They hold the attention and have the trust of their audiences whether through their blog, Twitter accounts or social networks and a single mention by them could help or ruin the reputation of a product, business or brand. As the panel discussion got underway, there were some terrific examples, experiences shared, points made, opinions brought to light and tonnes of great insights around the subject of using social media influencers and the use of social media for marketing in general. The overall learnings from this fruitful discussion may just be to vast to review or list out in a single post but here are just some of the points the panel generally agreed on and made during the discussion which would be good takeaways to remember and chew on:
1) Using social influencers can be effective in promoting a business or brand however, social influencers have built their audience and reputations the hard way and won’t necessarily use their power/influence to promote or mention something pushed to them.
2) If you ask a social influencer to promote or review something, expect they won’t necessarily say only good things about you. Many won’t like being pushed to review or promote your product or brand especially if they don’t really know you. Others may agree to have a look at it but they won’t compromise their honest criticism or feedback .
3) There are indirect ways to catch the attention of a social influencer, get to know them or get on their radar. They’re more likely to mention you or your brand once they’ve gotten to know you and genuinely like the product or the brand on their own without being pushed into promoting it.
4) Brand evangelism and influencers can really impact your sales but you can gather brand evangelists only if your product/service is great or worth talking about. There are lot of little creative things you can do to make your product or service better and give people something worth talking about. If you do, they will do your promotion for you. A crappy product or service can not be pushed through social media channels even if you pay people to talk about it.
5) If you’re using social media and want others to talk about your brand in a positive light, be ready for negative feedback and reactions too. Don’t block people from being able to express negative sentiments instead, address every unhappy customer or user and try and turn that negative into a positive. A single negative that is turned to a positive on social media channels is worth more than a hundred positive comments because it shows people that you care!
6) You can’t just leave anyone in charge of your social media especially if they don’t have a clue about what they’re doing or they are not empowered to respond and act. For example, a company CEO doesn’t let some random employee reply using his email id, so why should he do that with his social media accounts. Cases when a CEO, business owner or an empowered representative of the company immediately responds to a comment, tweet, update or conversation and takes swift action showing the company is listening creates immense respect for that brand or company.
7)You have the technology, the audience and tools to take a conscious decision to become a social influencer within your field. It’s a process which needs constant interaction, activity, passion and dedication along with a systematic effort but any one of us can gradually become an influencer today if you invest the time and effort to doing so and you earn the respect of online users.
8)One needs to bring in personality into their social media presence since no one wants to interact with robots or even worse, humans posting like robots!
9)You need to identify how your social media interactions are working for you. In some cases, it may not be about bringing in more traffic or new customers, it could be to retain existing traffic and keep people coming back.
10)Identifying who the best social influencers are for your business is important and can vary a lot depending on what kind of business you are. For a small services business for example, it’s all about word of mouth and your existing customers can be your most powerful influencers if they talk about you to their peers. For some companies, their employees can be their best evangelists while others a highly passionate and influential customer can become your best evangelist.
11)Money is rarely an effective compensation for most social influencers and directly telling them to promote your product or write a good review will probably backfire. If you wish to leverage social influencers, the approach has to be much more inviting, creative, giving them an opportunity to voice their own opinion on something whether good or bad. It’s about creating an experience for them to talk about and giving them the freedom to do it their way on their terms.
Those are just some of the takeaways from this session which could prove invaluable to anyone planning on identifying and engaging social media influencers to evangelize their brands or businesses. All in all, a Saturday morning well spent with some interesting discussions, valuable takeaways and … scrumptious pizzas to top it off!