Social media has been the ‘in’ thing for some time now. Utilizing it to drive business and improving customer satisfaction has been something even big companies have been trying to figure out. There have been quite a few instances where social media has generated convertible leads (ex – Infosys bagging a deal via a lead generated on Twitter) and great stories of customer feedback being heard and acted upon (ex – Kiruba and the MakeMyTrip incident). I have personally experienced instances where my feedback was listened to and issues resolved (with,, Mast Kalandar, etc). Not just businesses, but individuals can create a brand using social media effectively (read an older post – Creating an online brand).

However, awareness about social media has been increasing only recently in India. There have been some campaigns from Indian companies which have produced a great deal of buzz about their brands, take for instance the Kingfisher calendar launch campaign where they had one photographer chosen by public voting and each vote was displayed on the voter’s twitter/facebook profile. Or, the Samsung Corby launch campaign on Twitter where phones were given away. However, small businesses still haven’t caught on to social media in a big way yet – the reason could be that they do not have enough resources to monitor and capitalize on social media or they do not understand it well. True, utilizing social media has to be a well thought out process just like any other form of marketing media. Also, as social media gives you a direct channel to customers, it becomes a very powerful feedback system. Small businesses can actually benefit more by using social media as it is costs a lot less than traditional means of lead generation, sales or customer engagement. However, developing a social media strategy is what is more challenging.
Preetham Venky (founder of Catalyst Labs) and a friend of mine, is organizing a hands-on workshop on social media on March 19 called Social Campfire. Hrish Thota (a pretty powerful Indian voice on Twitter) is one of the trainers too. They will be talking about common social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and how to use them in an effective manner. Do consider attending it if you are interested.
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