Social Media Week

The Week That Was – Tales from A Winjit Wanderer  


You really know social media is changing the world and the etiquettes the caveman build around it  when the organizers of a panel discussion deviate from the norm and instead of graciously asking you to switch off your phones, encourage you to bury your head deep down and engage with your device, especially in the middle of a panel discussion to keep the ‘little blue birdy’ updates going as a part of live social media update from the room. Ah. The sentiments of the panellists you ask? Nada. Your disengagement won’t have them blink twice either. Just how much more our world and everything we know in it was changing, I was about to find out. Excerpts from Experiential moments from the Social Media Week: 16th-20th   November. Mumbai.

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When day one opened with the keynote about Tata Motors signing up Messi as the brand ambassador for their automobiles and seeing the Spaniard fold his arms and going ‘Namaste’, ironically set the stage for the Integration challenge that forms the crux of social media today in various aspects. How do you blend traditional media with digital social media as a smart move towards strategy?  One needs the other. More than ever, adaptability, succession to change, fine tune planning to the last detail were seen as solid cementers towards a successful merge.

A more pronounced and business oriented angle was taken when IBM threw light on its Watson Personality Insights. Taking social profiling to another level, once you hear this, you will perhaps think twice before dismissing someone’s random tweet about their favourite shade of pink as insignificant. This test assimilates customer personality type, studying patterns in their tweets in under a minute, and is capable of giving a detailed psychological, habitual & behavioural profiling of customer personality type throwing up his likes, dislikes, thinking patterns, sentimental and behavioural data within the blink of an eye. So is the new face of market research on the brink of explosion?  And you thought Twitter was just 140 characters of expression., a social media company from Bangalore, suggests to give social media marketing a penny and see the results. Social media knows how to stretch it to a pound by now. And this is honestly, from the looks of it, just the beginning.

But apart from just an academic lens on trending, the week also brought out some very heartening and relatable aspects to the fore. It’s an established fact  that social media has been a boon to small time businesses who ten years ago would have no chance of enjoying the penetration that they do today. Food entrepreneur like Munaf Kapadia who runs The Bohri Kitchen, a home run experimental lunch concept, seats a total of 15 people over a meal at his house. The guests are treated to a scrumptious meal by his mother, a home chef. A dream to turn her lifelong skills into an entrepreneurial streak, Munaf had no funding to go in for expensive advertising. That’s when integrating Facebook as an idea occurred. Simple online postings asking people if they would be interested in coming home for a delicious meal which they would be willing to pay for, garnered great response, acceptability and a positive reception and word of mouth and organic growth and today Munaf’s venture is extremely successful in its own right and has been covered by most publications on merit. Cost of advertising= Zero. Business revenues= Multifold and still growing.

Panellists circulated, the future of content was up for debate, the relevance of ‘buying’ followers to interesting trends emerging (intimate products which had never seen the light of day in the country, especially smaller towns was now doing a 360 degree turnaround). For instance, one of the highest purchases for adult toys for women in India, surprisingly comes from not the major cities like Mumbai or Delhi as expected, but Baroda. Go figure.

The only panellist over the week who seemed unperturbed and not over crazed about social media was (not surprisingly) Arnab Goswami.  He opined that social media was only a medium and not the context at the end of the day, and what you had to say would always be more relevant rather than where you were saying it. But as much as people stopped to consider this point for a moment, they were back to their original comfort zone and zeal when comedian Suresh Menon who perhaps only half joking pointed out, “There will be a time when the next panel discussion even if it happens face to face, the audiences will be asking questions on WhatsApp, the panellists will also be replying on WhatsApp sitting across, without a single word being exchanged between them in person”

Lol roared Jill furiously into the media week hashtag, who sat next to me with his head buried in his phone, at this exact comment.  And so the week continued with these interludes, with social intertwined with media between fingers surreptitiously. That effectively ladies and gentlemen, in dollops of myriad shades was the Social Media Week unplugged, and yet sufficiently charged, for the tech initiated.

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