Social Media Catalyst

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Web Influence

Social Media trends in India

Our communiqué, interactions, online business, blogging has all changed in one decade owing to the tremendous growth and innovation in the online world. Social networking websites are now a widespread means of the way people converse everyday and also the way many youngsters earn money.

More importantly Social Media is not a Fad, it a paradigm shift which is the accepted way of communication.

The use of internet has undergone a fundamental change with anyone creating content and sharing it with others using platforms like Blogging, Social Networks, YouTube etc. People have started easily ‘connecting’ with others via tagging, locations, content creation,

Some trends identified in social media are:

Social Scanning
Smartphone owners have the world at their fingertips. As grandiose as that may sound, advances in mobile barcode scanning technology have given rise to applications that allow for comparison shopping, QR code place checkins and ultimately a social experience around product barcodes.

SMS-based mobile social network
Even as we see several innovations in location based mobile social networking internationally, the adoption of such services in India will be minimal, even with the launch of 3G and flat data rates. 3G will be restricted only to smart phones initially, before people start adopting it.

Gaming and location based applications
Foursquare.com already allows 4 million users to track the locations of their friends on their smart phones. Also gaming elements like Mayorships and badges attracts a lot of loyal followers, old and young alike.

India is not for behind the social media and tech revolution. Indian companies are focusing on growing Indian middle class, which has the fastest growing internet user base in India. Hence, one thing is sure that in this digital age social media trends and marketing will play an important role in determining any products success as well.

Audience Control in Social Media Marketing

We’re in the age of the listening parent. Children and teens don’t repress their desires for lack of money or fear of the parent anymore, and astutely enough, the parent’s methods of regulation and culling the best out of their children have changed correspondingly. Today I can see an educated breed of parent who neither smacks nor whips but ‘has a talk’ with her/his child to make the child aware of behavioral transgressions. This breed grows progressively.

Wonderfully, this trend of liberalism seems to be seeping into marketing. So long has the product been the manufacturer’s dominion, subject only to the general demands of the customer. The question then, was: Will they buy, or not buy? (Of course, there are notable exceptions – the Tatas and some international brands have relied more on building open, perceptive, dependable brand images)

Today, the question is: Do they want to buy or do they not? Today’s audience is the charmingly spoilt child. Cross them, deny them something and they react by scorning your brand. If you plan to use social media platforms to promote your business, you must be reasonable, kind and democratic in your approach. The one-sided, self-selling approach is neither appreciated nor tolerated. However, in this case the child has some great chocolates to give. A good recommendation by a consumer on a social media platform visited by hundreds is worth a hundred advertisements, in my opinion.

On social media, both the producer and the consumer have their say, and most often the consumer is more widely believed. Power of influence. What can the producer do for power? Nothing. In the words of the great Beatles: “Let it be.” And work for consumer-satisfaction.

Geo Location – FourSquare trend catching on!!

Foursquare = pure genius. It’s odd how genius can manifest itself in ways that, on seeing, you realize were right there all the time. Foursquare is one of these manifestations. There is nothing particularly difficult to imagine or do in the concept or execution of Foursquare, yet for some reason, not even Google was able to achieve location-based networking that is this clear and successful, even though they had the feature available. So did Twitter. Cheers to Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai for that one! Despite Google buying Crowley’s initial idea, Foursquare turned out more efficient than imagined.

Combining social networking, SMM and social gaming, Foursquare is one ingenious application. Foursquare gives you multiple reasons to visit that bar around the corner. Or the one at the opposite end of town, for that matter. Not only do you gain game points for visiting it, chances are that the bar has a special offer for Foursquare users who check in there and you know by a single glance at your phone, that your friends are hanging out there.

What’s more, if you visit the same place more than anyone else on Foursquare, you get a ‘Mayor’ badge – and probably free drinks too in the offline world, once the venue starts recognizing Foursquare and your loyalty to the website and the venue. This is of particular gain to the bar-owner – he knows, simply by putting his business on Foursquare, how many different people visit on any day, the regulars if any. The gaming part practically pulls people to the business.

Daniel knows that going to Red Shoes is going to get him game points, and he is going to have a great time doing it. It’s a win-win situation for him (unless he is broke). Also, if the Red Shoes bartender makes an amazing Cosmopolitan, Nina knows through a recommendation Stacy put on Foursquare – and now she also knows where she is going to be dancing away her birthday night. Foursquare combines 3 of the things youngsters are most excited about today : nightlife, friends and achievement. Party, know where your friends are and get a mayor badge for it. What adds up here is that, you are standing on hill road, and want to know, where we can go and have a nice economical burger, someone has already added the tip that you can check it out at Hearche Bakery.

Amazing psychology combined with technology that is not very difficult to comprehend = great concept and execution. The success of Foursquare is an admirable feat, especially with regard to geo-location, a scene that has been stumbling for a while. There was a missing link there – so I know where you are?

Augmented Reality

Slick, touch-responsive, elucidative glares have long been a feature of science-fiction. The suave, dashing spy strides down a bus New York street and pauses before a man with an impassive, phlegmatic expression. Cut to the hero’s glares: a blinker appears on the top-left corner for a few seconds, after which a list drops down the screen. The suspect’ stats – vital and otherwise – have just been sourced ‘from the database’.

In a few years – heck, now, probably – these glares will be reality. Augmented reality (AR), actually. That’s the technology these glares use. Augmented reality superimposes graphics, audio and other sense enhancements from computer screens onto real time environments. What is most impressive about this, is that AR’s information is given according to subjective needs. (If you want eco-friendly bags, that’s what your AR-instrument will point you towards, in the mall.) While Pranav Mistry’s Sixth Sense technology is the most popular and promising aspect of AR today, there are also gaming, wikitude and numerous other possibilities.

This will take convenience to a new level – Look at a lake and know if it’s too deep, cold or toxic to swim in. Calorie-count will appear as soon as you look at food. Military operations will be aided greatly by AR – blueprints, night vision, detection of weaponry – all at the touch of a screen. Surgeons will have an objective, unimpeded view of the area of surgery, with constant indicators on a single screen. Not to mention that looking at a person brings up all their information on the internet.

Which begs the question: do I *want* a stranger to see the details of my Facebook and Twitter pages? Will I have the same attitudes to the guilty culinary delights if I start using AR calorie-counts? (I know I can stop using AR if it makes me guilty, but will I ever eat Tiramisu again?). Yeah, I want the Indian Army to know the enemy’s actions like it knows cricket scores, but do I want the enemy to know the same about India? Is it really a good idea to be peering at a virtual screen every few seconds?

When AR does make an appearance in the lives of the masses, it will be extensively powerful and correspondingly dangerous. However, like all other technological progress today, it will march on regardless. Preventing a virtual Hiroshima-Nagasaki is up to the users. The choice is yours are you willing to be part of the revolution as a user or as a creator?

Trends in Social Media Marketing in 2010

Mobile will gain in Social Networking – people will start using cell phones more extensively for social net working needs. Fall in rates, more competition between mobile service providers, and the most anticipated 3G spectrum will fuel this growth.

Digital divide of the online and offline world will come together – there would be more explosion of interest based meet ups – feng shui, dog lovers

Social Networking will not be just a few handful of early adopters, but this time the voice would be much louder and the reach would be larger and more amplified

On the applications and websites the “coolness quotient” will move to more “utlity quotient”. The coolness will attract but then utility will make the stick around and keep coming back for more!!

One thing that might be negative or should be used with caution will the aspect of Peronsal Privacy and copy of content without giving acknowlegement to the user, specially true in case of blogging.

More celebrities will start engaing with their fans online, will use this tool not only to promote their movies, but also the causes that are close to their heart. Fans will be excited to have a tweet reply from their favourite celebrity or celebrities’ symphatasies on their fan’s loss.

From a more business perspective it would become micro-tagetting, mass-prsonalization and interest based profiling of users and demographic profiling of users would be a passe.

Facebook, Twitter will stagnate, next big thing would foursquare.com, are you on it yet or be left behind.

This article was featured in the DNA here

Understanding social network users:

For the last few decades, sociologists and psychologists have been wondering whether computers are going to spell the demise of interpersonal communication. We are all going to retreat into our dark rooms where our computers are located, and avoid things like playing cricket with the neighbors, shopping at the mall, or heading down the haji ali road for a juice at the famous juice centre.

It seems that the people mostly impacted but the rise of social networking would be the clubs who charge a bomb for membership. But this may just be more a result of what they have (rather don’t have) to offer young people, more than just the cheap drinks.

To attract the youth, you need Wireless Internet may be a Wi-fi or Wimax. I wouldn’t go to a club if I don’t have internet connectivity.

Moksh: As a Marketing person who does business online, I need to understand the psyche of the young chap. They are not introverts who sit nonstop on the internet. For them, it is their way of mingling with friends.

Daksh: I could not agree more. This audience has grown up in a system where the computer is an answer to all the problems. Be it information on a particular thing or if you are getting bored, play online games on local network, play online pranks and enjoy everything at just the click of a button.

Moksh: I think parents are also responsible for this attitude of children. They do not want the children to play out. So they prefer them sitting at home and on the computer. Thus getting back on the marketing aspect, these people are very strong influencers for a brand. It is almost like word of mouth publicity e.g. mouthshut.com or consumercomplaints.co.in. This audience sits non stop online and have an opinion on all things. And it carries weight since it is from a similar peer group for the consumers.

Daksh: social networking is going to change the rules of the game for marketers. Rather than just putting up ads on the face of the consumers, interactive based marketing will be the way forward.

Moksh: marketers need to understand that to make consumers loyal to your product/ service, you need to make them a member of your product community (as in case of orkut) online. The consumers should have problems solving avenues online so that you can get as close to understanding him as possible. Their need to be social networking managers to handle the traffic.

Daksh: Finally, it can act like a double edged sword. Good reviews magnify the impact help but bad reviews damage too and they need to be managed effectively.

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