Social media and the future of business

by Darinia Khongwir    Jul 18, 2013

Social media

Indian organisations use social media much more than the global average and their counterparts in emerging economies. According to a study of social media marketing practices among various social media-savvy organisations in India, show that many marketers in India use social media optimally to reach out to their target base.

According to the study commissioned by Oracle, it was found that 95.7 percent use the medium to build communities and advocate usage, while 76.1 percent use social media as a platform to highlight brand news. Around 16 percent of organisations that use social media for both the above reasons also use it for customer service, lead generation, and research indicating high social maturity and moving toward getting business meanings out of engagements.

Facebook is the most important platform for marketers in India for engaging customers, followed by Twitter, YouTube and blogging. Almost half of the social media-savvy organizations are already using emerging platforms such as Pinterest, Google Plus, and Foursquare.

Social media and marketing campaigns

The world’s internet-using population has crossed a billion, with Asia accounting for 45 percent of it. There has been a phenomenal 600 percent growth of Internet users in Asia since 2000. Asia’s two largest economies, China and India already boast of 500 million internet users, it is estimated to go up to 1,200 million users by 2015. Given the fact that internet penetration in Asia is below 30 percent at present, this means explosive potential growth in Asia’s emerging markets.

The Internet, and through it, social media is leading major evolutionary trends both in society and business. Values, culture, norms, and behaviour are making paradigm shifts. Understanding these shifts requires careful consideration of factors that are driving the digital revolution namely – the democratization of technology and the rise of the millennial population, writes Rahul Koul, Head-Digital Marketing & Thought Leadership, Wipro Technologies.

Social media-savvy organisations in India have conducted campaigns where social media is the leading component. Among the respondents, 87.5 percent said they have conducted campaigns where social media was the leading component. More than half have speeded up processes or have shown a special favour for their online fans and followers that they wouldn’t normally do for their offline customers.

The utility of the Internet

At present, 33 percent of Asians access the internet via their mobile devices, which exceeds the global average of 10 percent. Asia also enjoys regional advantages of cost as compared to the rest of the world. Lower costs of incorporating new internet infrastructure in the region ensure greater internet speeds at lower costs. For example, the Japanese enjoy the highest speed of 61 Mbps for only $0.27 per Mbps, whereas in the US, the maximum speed is only 4.8 Mbps, at $3.33 per Mbps. This accessibility to technology has given rise to the digital natives, they are redefining human interactions, business operations and societal connections through a powerful tool called Social Media.

The paradigm shift

A Cisco survey conducted in 14 countries on 2,900 respondents in the US revealed that young workforce are willing to accept lower-paying jobs in return for flexible social media access, device choice and mobility. Access to social media and social friendly policies are fast becoming a candidate choice for an ideal job. These youngsters are freer in sharing their personal information, redefining privacy and giving rise to security concerns like identity thefts.

Social media drive customer behaviour

Business is dependent on the end user. With a consumer behaviour change drive by social media it is inevitable that businesses have to adapt to the new norms. According to the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 94 percent of all global businesses use social media to advance their digital marketing efforts. Recently, a lifestyle brand Madura’s Van Heusen, launched a campaign in social media site LinkedIn to connect with their user base. Experts say users have even increased their visit to the site in the past couple of months.

This way, social media can be used effectively in many ways to create a buzz, connect with customers, gather customer insights, and also for customer service and support. Social listening is also an important area which helps to understand consumers, employees and the society at large. Social listening tools bring in data that can be used to provide better service all around.

Social media has reinforced the importance of here and now. Organizations can no longer take days to resolve consumer queries or grievances, unless they are ready for a social backlash. Word of mouth has gained a new meaning with one good or bad review being shared instantaneously with millions across the globe. Social has had a profound impact on product launches also, gone are the days when emerging markets had to wait for year for a product to be launched in the country. It is now available within months if not as a simultaneous launch. If used well social media can help businesses build essential emotional connections with people, thereby creating a profound impact both on customers and employees.