Last month, I joined the Brand World Summit and Shark Awards 2022, held in Mumbai, India. Described as “a convention of ideas and ideals”, this influential industry event attracted over 300 delegates and key players from global and regional brands and agencies.
As Covid-19 meant two years without physical conferences, I enjoyed being back at an in-person event and networking face-to-face. I was able to meet up with many attendees, including representatives from large multinationals. Among other things, we discussed the rapidly growing digital connectedness in India and what this development means from a business perspective. I seized the chance to introduce the opportunities on offer through social insights, both to organisations new to the concept and those who’ve begun to tap into this area but are unsure of how to take it to the next level or implement it cross-departmentally.
Growing interest in social data as source of insights
It was great to see the rising curiosity towards public social media as a source of consumer insights, and the realisation that with the widespread access to social networking platforms in India, organic consumer opinions are only a click away (however, drawing actionable insights from these requires a bit more work!). What many businesses have also witnessed is that, with the shift to online, consumers in India are becoming dispersed across various channels and platforms.
With this consumer decentralisation in mind, there was a broad consensus that marketing strategies need to be adjusted to more accurately meet the wants and needs of India’s growing online population and each consumer segment within it, regardless of its nicheness. Those I spoke to shared the typical challenges faced in their bid to connect with their target consumer segments online, such as managing and making sense of big data, understanding what matters to consumers and how to effectively reach and communicate their value proposition to target audiences.
Thanks to these inspirational exchanges at the summit, I came away with a clear understanding of what my team and I can do to support these businesses in successfully adapting to the dynamic consumer landscape in India. As an industry-leading social intelligence agency, Convosphere is ideally positioned to help these ambitious companies on their endeavours, whether they’re focused on optimising marketing efforts, informing R&D or anything in between.
Brand World Summit and Shark Awards – key takeaways
Fast-changing consumer/social media user landscape:
- With the number of active internet users in India growing by the day, thanks to a spurt in smartphone adoption, user engagement on online platforms has rocketed, especially within tier 2 and tier 3 cities.
- Users are increasingly generating and engaging with content in local languages. This has led to a rise of micro-influencers – social media users with large (but not enormous) follower-count that specialise in a certain topic, e.g. tech and gadget reviews, financial tips, organic farming and techniques, DIY, beauty and fashion.
- As they become savvier online, consumers actively seek content, services and products with a clear value proposition that meets their specific personal requirements.
- The sources through which India’s consumers access information have significantly changed in the last few years. Digital channels have replaced traditional media as the go-to platforms across segments (age, socioeconomic class, geographic location, etc).
Need of the hour:
- Listen to consumers’ opinions: Brands cannot afford to ignore the opportunities presented by the fast-growing online population and UGC (user-generated content) in India. By tapping into this and listening to what is actually being said, brands have the opportunity to understand consumers’ perceptions, behaviours and unmet needs.
- (Hyper-)localisation of marketing strategies: Many brands struggle to connect with target audiences spread across local and regional markets. To overcome this challenge, marketing initiatives need to adapt to their audience, via local/hyperlocal strategies and approaches sensitive to the target group in each particular geographic area.
- Declutter to stand out: The shift to online has led to the emergence of many new SMEs. Consequently, already established brands are now facing fiercer competition from these nimble players. Larger brands can no longer rely on unwavering consumer loyalty but must carve out their own niche to secure the top-of-mind position among their core consumer base, while also winning over new consumers.
The current state of social intelligence in India:
- Most of the delegates I talked to were keen to learn more about social intelligence but lacked confidence, especially in how to approach social media data. By nature, social media data is unstructured so it’s understandable that those new to social intelligence can feel overwhelmed. In order to process the data and turn it into actionable insights, the data handler (i.e. social insight analyst) needs experience. That’s why selecting the right service partner and tool/s will ensure businesses get on the right track.
- There was a need to better understand the potential benefits of tapping into regional social media data. Many brands were trying to gauge whether social data analysis could enable the identification of perception and behaviour at a local level, or simply be used to support a birds-eye/country-level view, focusing on prominent languages like English and Hindi.
- While some of the brands were already utilising social data to some extent, it was rarely used to inform business decision-making.
Our 5 essential tips for effective implementation and adoption of social insights
- Identify the right tech partner: Keep in mind the capabilities of the platform to collect and analyse data for India, across key channels and languages. Be cognizant of data privacy regulations and ensure providers adhere to them.
- Keep in mind linguistic and regional diversity: Check that the social listening tool and service partner cover all major languages and dialects in India. Tools that are limited to English and Hindi will fail to capture data that could potentially offer vital insights about small but important segments of the population.
- Follow a bottom-up approach: Let the aim of the research project guide the use of the data. Don’t waste time trying to make sense of millions of data points before you have the project goals set and agreed upon.
- Go beyond the basics: Online reputation management, brand SOV (share of voice), sentiment tracking and crisis monitoring are a must for any brand. But to step ahead of the competition, organisations need to further optimise their use of social intelligence to inform strategic decision-making, pinpoint consumer needs, and form a deep understanding of the industry to identify key opportunity areas.
- Ask the experts: Sure, social intelligence is still in its infancy, but while there’s no industry-wide rulebook to refer to, there are definitely plenty of dos and don’ts. For social data-driven insights that can make a real positive impact on your business, we recommend turning to the experts. Our team’s years of experience in social listening and social intelligence mean you can avoid common pitfalls in the implementation and adoption process. So, by handing over the nitty-gritty to seasoned experts, you can stay focused on keeping your customers happy.
With an MBA in Marketing, Abhinab Bhanja has rich experience in social media analytics in domains including life sciences. CPG, BFSI and technology. As Head of Insights (APAC) and Pharma (Global), he manages some of the company’s key accounts, supporting clients’ research and analytics endeavours and enabling them to make better decisions across the business, from R&D to comms strategies. Prior to joining Convosphere, Abhinab worked with the world’s top consulting and analytics firms, including Genpact, ZS Associates and Fractal.