The retail summit of Jessie Paul had just concluded, and Kiruba Shankar was gathering his podcast gear, when I asked him about a question that kept coming up during the panel discussions – the relevance of social media to selling.
“I am a big believer in social media. There is no doubt about it. But I think it is also important for us to realise the shortcomings of social media itself. I personally believe that social media is an excellent interaction engagement tool but not necessarily a great sales medium,” began Kiruba.
When I say sales medium, imagine if a bunch of us are sitting across in a coffee shop, and suddenly a guy from an insurance company comes right in and says,‘Would you like to buy my insurance?’That’s the equivalent of how advertisers go and advertise on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.
Because we are all on these platforms not to see ads but to really engage with our friends. At the same time it is a fantastic opportunity forbrands to give useful information to the audiences. It is a good way for them to get their brand on the top-of-mind recall. And, eventually, sales will happen.
So, there is no doubting the fact that it’s a great influencing tool, but it’s not a sales fulfilment platform.The sooner the brands realise this, the better it is for them.
Great sales or great leads happen when there is a combination of offline and online. Take, for example, any conference that happens. It really needs physical speakers to come out there and speak, and physical people or the audience,to hear it straight from the speaker and have a post-conference discussion. Eventually, business happens. Similarly, for brands, I think offline presence does wonders, and helps with the conversation online, and thus engagement happens.
Kiruba wears many hats – as an entrepreneur, social media consultant, speaker, author, teacher, podcaster and a farmer. Apart from being the CEO of BusinessBlogging, a social media consultant firm, he also heads Vaksana Farms, a farming venture, and Verdure Books, a publishing house.