Social Media in Recession

If one rises above the bias of “lies, damn lies and statistics”, surveys across the globe seem to be crying hoarse that social media marketing will thrive in these times of recession. And this seems to be the verdict at both global and local/ Indian levels.

Millward Brown recently conducted a survey on behalf of PRWeek which indicates that 68% of marketers expect their advertising budgets to decrease in the coming year while 75% of those same marketers expect to spend more money than what they had  budgeted on digital marketing programs.

Closer home, a poll of around 50 marketers by R3 shows that 3/4ths of Indian companies will either not up their marketing budgets in 2008-2009 or slash them down further. However, 40% of the respondents planned to spend more than originally planned on digital media.

Accoding to a paper by Forrester Research, “Strategies for Interactive Marketing in a Recession”, email marketing is likely to increase in recession even as marketing budgets get channelized towards more trackable online media such as search marketing programs. The research findings are also very optimistic about interactive social applications and word-of-mouth marketing because they depend on conversations of customers as opposed to a declining and limited ad budget.

Awareness Inc., a social media consultancy presents an interesting model to distinguish social media from direct marketing and brand marketing. See this fig. below:


I seem to be turning an evangelist of the cause..which I am, on second thoughts 🙂

Getting Hired Through Social Media

In times like these, one doesn’t hear the word “hiring” too often. However, of late, I have come across a few posts which provide an interesting perspective on getting hired through social media. Since most companies these days have started jumping onto the corporate blogging bandwagon, it might be a good idea to deploy social networking to the best of one’s advantage.

One could begin by doing some elementary research about the company’s culture through its blogs (if any), check out the Linkedin and Facebook profiles of its senior and middle management, set Google News alerts, read reviews of the company’s products on online consumer communities.

Something that could work to one’s advantage is that most companies these days look at social media savvy with a lot of appreciation and interest; and of course if not more, you at least have the advantage of familiarizing yourself with the organization.

Online Gaming Article in the PC Magazine: Some Highlights

It’s no more a child’s play! Online Gaming is fast catching up in India. According to a research conducted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India, the nation now boasts of 2.8 million online gamers. Unlike more developed markets, online gaming in India is currently dominated by casual gamers, who play majorly for relaxation and leisure. This is primarily a youth driven segment of males in the age group of in their early twenties. But many industry analysts believe that the trajectory of online gaming in India will not be very different from that of China. Chinese market witnesses major growth in the period 2001-2005 to reach its current gamer base of 30 million.

But Online gaming in India is fast catching up with its global counterparts. According to a study conducted by IMRB, the online gaming industry in India is already a USD 210 industry. The market is expected to grow to USD 200 million by 2009.  At the moment, the market is concentrated in the Top 8 metros. 99% of Indian gamers belong to the metros.

Challenges: The major revenue for the industry is generated by cyber cafes. The challenges are majorly pertaining to the infrastructure which can support the right gaming environment. This would mainly entail PC Specs and broadband connectivity. However, the rapid penetration of broadband is also expected to fuel the growth in the industry; more so because most games are designed with broadband rather than dial up in mind. The number of internet subscribers has been increasing steadily and has grown steadily from 25,000 to 2.9 million in the period 1997- 2006.

Rohit Sharma, COO, Zapak shared his views on the subject with me:

India has a Gaming mindset waiting to explode. With the fact that 54% of the Indian population is below the age group of 25yrs and having the world’s largest youth population – India’s only getting younger. Entertainment features as one of the predominant spending areas amongst the Indian consumers. Internet usage has seen an upward swing in the last few years and the way ahead looks more promising.

Alok Kejriwal, CEO, Games2Win

If I were to ask you – on what day and time of the week in India does online gaming activity ‘peak’? I would probably get an answer like – Saturday or Sunday, maybe late evening time. Yawn…yet another ignorant fool randomly answering, without a clue in the world about ground reality. Believe it or not, online gaming traffic from India peaks on MONDAY between 2-4 pm in the afternoon.

What’s going on? It’s not that difficult to understand. Millions of India’s digital jungles (a la offices) come alive on the first day of the week! Just blink and think of those thousands of BPO’s and IT parks and Service business offices coming back from a lunch and ‘gamertaming’ themselves before logging back into work.

Web 2.0 and Ambush Marketing

An article on the marketing in and around the Beijing Olympics and the ones scheduled in London in 2012 offers an interesting insight into the world of ambush marketing in the post web 2.0 era. It uses the successful examples of viral marketing campaigns by Pepsi and McDonalds which have leveraged the concept of consumer generated content to skirt the strict advertising and sponsorship norms of the International Olympic Committee. The regimentation of the outdoor advertising has been hugely undermined by the smart virals. Jesse Kanclerz has an interesting article where the author observes that “Ambush marketing is at its worst when the company misrepresents itself as the official sponsor of the event. ” However, in Pepsi’s case, the cola giant played upon national pride while skirting clear of any hints of formal tie ups with the event. It would be all the more interesting to observe how lesser known companies with limited marketing budgets use the web 2.0 and buzz marketing campaigns for share of voice. Will get back with some interesting cases.

Blogs: The New Serial Killers?

So will blogging really kill us? C’mon! Let’s grant reality TV that priviledge. Of late, I have been noticing a lot of feeds on how compulsive blogging can impact health issues. But the fact is that internet related psychological disorders and complexes will become more and more conspicuous as internet gains further stronghold. According to Dr. Pinhas Dannon of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, 10 percent of Internet surfers are afflicted with “Internet addiction disorder,” which can lead to anxiety and severe depression. So, I personally feel blogging is not a disease. It may be a micro manifestation of a larger lifestyle disorder. And if you don’t believe me, just take a quick look at how irregularly I blog, despite being a self proclaimed pundit of the cause!!

All New Open Socializing

So if leading a virtual life through social networking wasn’t enough, we now hear that players like Google and Yahoo are working on a project which would make it possible for your online profile to be portable as well. What this implies is that user profiles would be shared across websites without the risk of exposing sensitive site specific user information.

Amit Ranjan, one of the founders of the popular Power point sharing platforms, Slideshare, traces the precedent of this in the Single Sign On alias Open ID project. The idea behind it was to create a single username and password which could be used to sign into different social networking sites. One question that comes to mind though, is who stands to gain the most. If experts are to be believed, the smaller players would stand to gain the most. Ranjan says, “You can draw an analogy with the mobile telephony sector where users can retain their numbers while moving from one operator to another. This benefits the smaller operators the most since it helps them seamlessly increase their user base.”

But if this is the case, then how does one explain the advocacy of this initiative by the leading online players, especially considering that they enjoy a vantage position in terms of user base and community? If experts and industry analysts are to be believed, this is a response by the biggies to the heat being generated by the enviable success of Facebook. Zuckerberg’s brainchild had pioneered this idea in 2006 when it allowed developers to use its platform to create applications. It created massive buzz and a huge user base for Facebook which was instrumental in fetching it a valuation of 15 Billion USD. So what Google is doing with Open Social and Yahoo with its Open Strategy is something similar i.e. to develop a common application programming interface (API) for social applications across multiple websites. By doing this, they hope to combat Facebook’s growing domination in the social networking space and create a similar impact in terms of user mindshare. With these standard Javascripts and HTML codes, developers would be able to create applications that can access the participating social network’s friends and update feeds.




So did ya network on friendship day?

I recently got this email from the PR Cosultants of Apparently, the social networking site has been trying to make the most of the Archies Utsav aka Friendship Day. Mr. Navin Mittal, Business Head, commented: “Social networking and friendship go hand in hand. With the Internet becoming an increasingly popular medium for friends to connect, it is only fair that we do something special for our users. The idea behind the Friendship day contests is not only to make your friends feel special but more importantly to have fun!”

It’s interesting, more so because a certain prominent though niche segment of Indian youth is certainly gravitating towards virtual socialization and business models centered around the internet might as well be flushed down the drain if they fail to capitalize on this opportunity.