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Social media: dead or evolving? Organic content over click farms and celeb endorsements

Sanchit Khera
19th Jul 2017
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Social media these days seems like its spiraling downwards in its reach - almost dystrophic one would contend. While fighting relevance in the millennial generation, it's present day construct isn't far from being echochambers, struggling to create a true relationship with individual consumers.

India itself, with about 450 million+ internet users, has seen an extraordinary rise of social media with massive appeal. Cheaper data, unlimited browsing and inbuilt social media apps have created a spike in demand with Facebook hitting solid penetration in APAC markets. Growth is significantly considerable in markets with youth population being dominant - the under30-population in India is just that.

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

With a staggering 15-20% increase in social media usage in India, it paints a clear picture of success for digital marketers right? Wrong.

Social media reach has declined significantly to less than 5% on organic content. Brand handles generate lakhs of followers, but only a marginal of them react or share the content. Lesser comments. Leading brands to adopt innocuous methods - such as “tag a friend who might be...” or “which of your friends can relate to…” - to generate traction. Even these are run by click-farms, who provide temporary boost and something that are unsustainable in the long run. Moreover, overshadowing the virility of original and organic content.

With my experience in multiple board room meetings I can assert that nobody has the right answer yet - no matter what a social media marketing agency claims. Social media is JUST a channel. Not a strategy or a department. The quality of your content is what drives your brand or even your social handles. Some of the most successful brands in this matter are – Wendy’s (with their epic most RTd tweet of all time), Netflix (with their Netflix and chill saga), GoPro (with their insane User Generated Content) and NASA (with their awe-inspiring content).

Social media
Social media

YouTube this year started to double-down on the “bell” notifications, to increase engagement. While most brands are going social, there is little to no returns in that arena unless you are a personality-driven brand.

Even brands like “Fit-tea” that have roped in mega-Instagram influencers have fallen prey to the misnomer of “before/after transformations”, “workout videos”, and “trend-jacking”. After investing millions in paid sponsorships and celebrity endorsements, the traction you receive is just about 2,000 to 5,000 like likes with a handful of comments or shares per brand post. That sure as hell is a costly way to see money go down the drain.

Is this the fate of all brands? No. Brands can effectively market themselves using the same principles that we have leveraged over decades. By being a part of the conversation and the community, we can make the brand a core-part of the everyday lives and lingo of consumers. By creating content that shows that you’re either supporting the community or being a part of the dialogue, you’re creating true connections with the audience.

Do your homework and proceed further, or you'll with something as disingenuous as the Kendal Jenner Pepsi ad. Engage your consumer, this allows you to be integrated with a particular niche. Like Mountain Dew with hard core gamers, or Doritos with slackers and hipsters, or Bournvita with “success-driven moms”, or Lifebuoy with “help a child to five”. These are great examples of brands that have truly enhanced social media for the betterment of its platform and evolved itself and its audience for the future.

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