If you like to keep a tab on social media in India and are on Twitter, it’s hard to miss out on @LHinsights (Prasant Naidu) or @oldfox004 (Vinaya Naidu) with their commentary on social media. They run the blog LHInsights and were recently voted as the 8th best social media blog globally by the Social Media Examiner. Meeting each other because of their personal blogs, Prasant and Vinaya have a warm story. Prasant was a business analyst while Vinaya was a freelance designer and they both were avid writers who chanced upon each others blog. They got in touch to exchange opinions after which one thing led to another and the rest, as they say is history. Based out of Pune, the duo started LightHouse Insights on December 1, 2010 while they still had their day jobs. They ran it that way for a year post which in January 2012, they decided to devote all of their time to LightHouse Insights.
Here, we get in a conversation with them to learn more:
YourStory: Two years is a long time when you look at the way in which social media evolves. How do you look at it?
Prasant Naidu: Oh yes! Earlier, brands were contemplating whether to be or not to be on social media but since 2011, we saw a spate of brands joining the social media bandwagon. In 2012, we saw brands exploring new ways to promote themselves on social media. Now, of all the marketing channels available, brands are opting for social media first to break stories, be it new product launches, announcing brand ambassadors, launching TVCs or movie songs. Many brands are also crowdsourcing from social media for fresh talent, funds and new ideas from the community.
Vinaya Naidu: As compared to traditional marketing channels, it is still to pick up as much momentum though. 2013 has begun to see a growth in terms of innovative campaigns and budgets have increased but nowhere close to the traditional means. And the future lies in more integrated campaigns between all mediums.
YS: How do you compare the Indian space against the west?
PN: The West has been the early adopters and is far ahead on the learning curve. India has been late to join social media but goof ups happen everywhere. There are social media blunders in other nations as well as in India. Social media is about experimentation and many Indian SM campaigns have braved new paths.
Additionally, in the West social media is about products and services, whereas India, by and large, has been more service driven. But innovation is happening now in products too.
YS: Have Indian brands evolved in the way they use social media?
PN: There has been a significant change. While previously, social media was just another marketing channel, today brands are building communities and creating two way conversations with them. Social media is being increasingly adopted for product launches, surveys, recruitment, customer service, crowdsourcing, etc.
YS: So, what has been your favourite campaign?
PN: The Reliance Tweet-A-Tab was an interesting campaign. Reliance Communications had launched a unique treasure hunt for its latest tablet, the V9A in a 5 days-5 cities campaign called ‘Tweet-a-Tab’ where fans had to locate the tab in a Google Map that zooms in with the growing number of tweets. Tweet-a-tab was a beautiful integration of Facebook, Twitter and Google Maps. The location was in a zoomed-out Google map of the city, which kept zooming in along with the rise in tweets. The tablet location was finally revealed when the zoom on the Google Map was at 100%.
YS: Husband-wife co-founders, how does it work out?
VN: It has its own charm as well as some wicked moments! We got married exactly 6 months after Lighthouse started, so the arguments multiplied right from the blog name, template to what kind of work table should we get designed and how much money can we spare after all our expenses. But, LI has ensured that we keep it above our petty arguments and helped us both evolve and strengthen our relationship. Co-founders maybe the best of friends or a husband-wife duo, but a startup can only be nurtured with co-creation, positive sharing and strong passion.
PN: It is exciting and we are two different people on how we work. For example Vinaya is a methodological person and I work on the fly. Both working styles have their advantages and disadvantages but we have tried to take the best. It is a challenge and entrepreneurship is all about that so loving it.
YS: How big is your team? How are you sustaining as a company?
PN: We are the two of us as of now. And fortunately we have been able to get a few regular contributors along with a growth in guest posts. Some agencies and brands are supporting us by putting up ads on our site, but majorly we are bootstrapped. We are in the process of working out on sponsored content where we are pitching to brands and agencies to leverage our platform for focused reach.
YS: The Social Media Examiner recently put you in the Top 10 Social Media Blogs list. What does this award mean to you?
PN: When we started off in 2010, we spent days on ‘Social Media Examiner’ just to learn and understand. The site is a very rich source of information on everything social media. So, this award means the world to us. It is a confirmation on our belief in the idea of LI.
YS: What are your plans for the future?
PN: We do dream to grow as the one-stop destination for social media content in India. Going further we would like to focus on Asia at some point, provided we get the resources and support.