Shah’s enterprise provides two key services based on the kind of social media. First is the social media marketing which works primarily on the principles of WoM, which is known to be an extremely efficient means of promoting brands. It is nothing but conversation between people. It is through these conversations that people talk about brands and either recommend or discredit them based on their experience. WoM is eccentric in nature and hence more successful as an online medium. “People form communities, forums and groups online. And as members, they also actively seek information about various things. Brands must also participate in these conversations and create value. It is when they start influencing consumers through online conversations is when we call it social media marketing,” explained Shah.
The second and the more crucial of the two services is online reputation management. As mentioned earlier, social media platforms allow people to congregate and discuss among themselves. People make use of these platforms to voice their views and opinions on subjects that are of importance to them, mostly about companies and brands.
This makes it imperative for companies to know what their users think about them and their brands. It’s their responsibility to find out if the consumers seek information about its products, or have some suggestions to offer or complaints/issues that need to be addressed. “Companies must attended to these and reciprocate in a prompt and relevant manner. It’s similar to the ‘broken window’ analogy. Quickly fix the first sign of damage before it rolls into a larger issue and eventually gets out of hand,” said Shah.
Windchimes’ operation benefits almost every company operating in the B2C space. And since social media cannot be termed as advertising, most of the projects the company undertakes are of at least 4-6 months. The company believes in entering into a contract with a company and becoming their long-term partner. “We help them understand their brand proposition and how it can be translated into an online space. That’s how we set our deliverables and plans,” he asserted.
What differentiates the company from other enterprises in the field is that unlike its competitors, Windchimes is a specialist agency. It strives to make social media understood in the broader perspective. And this it believes can be done best by practice. Most people have the misconception that social media is all about advertising on Facebook, Orkut, YouTube and other networking sites. The concept of social media agency is still very nascent and is dire need of people who can spread the right information about the industry.
“Our strength lies in our people. Everyone practices social media as much as they recommend it to the clients. This apart, we have developed proprietary software called WORM (Windchimes Online Reputation Management), which helps track our client company’s mentions and critical ratings. So, people and technology are our key differentiators,” opined Shah.
The company caters to local, outstation and international clients, but plans to expand its scale of operation by making its presence felt in Delhi and Bangalore by the end of this financial year. Shah is confident that its presence in these three cities would help him map at least 90 per cent of corporate India. As for the company’s scope, Shah seems unruffled. This self-funded firm plans to expand with the help of its internal accruals. But if required, it would opt for part funding too. A number of social media outfits are proliferating, and like al other sectors, this medium would too get saturated. But eventually it would come down to just 5-6 big agencies dominating the space, and Windchimes aspires to be one of them. The company also plans to enlarge its service range, but will stick to focus primarily on social media.
Unlike other entrepreneurs, Shah has no grudge against regular jobs. “I did job too, and I found it extremely informative and enriching in terms of experience. I would, in fact, encourage people to work for a few years before venturing out on their own,” Shah suggested. But he nonetheless admitted that being an entrepreneur is more fulfilling. “It gives a high a job cannot. Success of course gives immense pleasure and boosts confidence, but even failure tastes sweet,” he added.
For Shah, the biggest challenge, which he still faces, is to educate clients about social media. He does not believe in promoting the company, but in sharing experiences and information about how can people use social media for their personal benefit. The young entrepreneur has also won accolades for his untiring efforts that yielded positive results for his clients. “I have won as many awards as I have lost, but a few will always remain close to my heart. We received an award for a project on the brand Saffola. We were able to carry out some rather interesting work on cooking oil and were successful in making a difference. This one achievement will always be very special to me,” said Shah.
Tips for budding entrepreneurs — Believe in your ideas and in yourself. Jump off the edge of the unknown, you will either meet the ground or learn to fly.