The last few years have revolutionised digital exposure in India. The way we communicate, with the brands around, has taken a huge leap. Today, the world has moved towards information that’s real-time. And that’s exactly why the amount of content that is consumed digitally is way beyond what one can imagine. The last decade has been the age of social networks. And if we go by the last 4 years, the current decade is touted to be the decade of mobile. From Motion Posters to Print Motion to Geo-targeting Mobile Push to Augmented Reality. It’s all happening out there. Only time will tell the fate of this decade. But if we were to look at the aftermath of the previous decade (and a couple of years more), apart from a lot of good, there’s also a flip side to this erratic world of online communication. Each channel has got it’s own challenges. And all these put together are being thrown at brand owners and marketers today.
Digital Exposure – Facebook – A.K.A fakebook
There have been claims that Facebook is falsifying likes and accounts. Well, if statistics are to be believed, around 33% of Facebook accounts are fake accounts. The strategy seems believable. That’s because they are trying to monetize every pixel on the website. Incidentally, ads are now available in video format too. Their sole purpose of connecting the world, however, is losing its charm. With advertisers spending big bucks on the website, the pressure for showing results is high. The most highly misused term “ROI” is now the cynosure of most client-agency conversations that revolve around the digital world. And clients seldom understand that low “ROI” could be the issue with their product or service. It could also be a result of too much interference into what external Professionals that they have hired are strategising. The expectations are sky high. And so is the pressure. In a game like this, Facebook has the big need to at least show higher likes to pages or posts. Once advertisers / brands see this ROI in the form of likes, they begin to advertise more; that simply means, they spend more. The cycle then becomes vicious. To achieve this, Facebook has been apparently falsifying likes. So, next time you see your name popping out on a page you’ve never heard of before, don’t be surprised. Facebook would have saved you that effort with liking on your behalf!
With a strategy like this, saturation is certainly around the corner for this mammoth Social Networking Platform. The attempts of Facebook to buy other growing and more promising mobile platforms like Snapchat (a photo-messaging application that actually turned down a $3 Billion offer from Mr. Zuckerberg) have gone down the drain.
Clients of Digital Agencies, with all the digital exposure in India, however, still consider likes to be the only, and the most important, metric to gauge the success of a an online strategy. Budgets are also allocated to meet just that need of theirs. This half-knowledge that brand owners collate from the Internet does more harm than good.
Twitter – Bad clone of an average original
With a look and feel that’s dead and gone, it shows Facebook’s heavy influence on the design team. What’s worse is that they couldn’t even copy an existing model properly. There have been several complaints of users who’ve been trying to find out the right size of the cover image for personal profiles and brand pages; the content area is confused with the image size. The result? A confused user!
Apart from all this, they are far behind Facebook, in terms of active users (excluding the fake profiles on FB). But their CEO however, ridicules Facebook’s mechanism to collect accurate data from their servers. He feels that though their user base is less, their active users are pretty good. He also feels that Twitter has done an awesome job in terms of monetising the micro-blogging site.
Despite all this, one thing is evident that Twitter is no hurry. They are steady with their growth plans. And they don’t intend to inject users and brands with this steroid called advertising.
LinkedIn – Monster enters facebook
Initially, it remained true to it’s intent of connecting the world… professionally. Since then it has become a big hub for job hunting and job seeking; people also send random requests to unknown honchos, CEOs, HR Representatives, etc., to hire them. It’s like a Job Portal (like Monster.com) going Social. But soon it began to bring in flavours from all corners. With options of Like and Comment, it’s got an undertone of a typical Facebook mechanism too. As if all that was not enough, they decided to come up with Brand Business pages a la Facebook. Even email (LinkedIn calls it Inmail though) was not spared. It began to not just offer free email services to profile holders but sell them at a premium too. From advertising banners to specific target-based hiring ads, it’s on roll. The options seem to be a bit tad expensive to the Indian Marketers who thrive on digital as a medium though.
While all this was happening, LinkedIn did not take into account the make-money-by-taking-this-survey population. And that actually turned out to put the Professional Networking leader in a catch 22 situation. Looks like, today, that’s become the key purpose of the website. And that’s primarily because digital exposure in India is still limited. A big chunk of the population is yet to make the optimum use of these mediums.
Google Plus – The white collared mafia
This is the search engine giant’s attempt to get a big share of the social networking base. From having special contracts with celebrities to making it mandatory for businesses registering even with Google Maps, it has done it all. In fact, the latest search engine update called Humming Bird, re-iterates how the search engine giant will use it’s muscle power to showcase your business, only if you have an active Google Plus account. Now that’s more like white-collared blackmailing!
Unfortunately, its growing numbers are more inclined towards new user base, for obvious reasons. Number of active users is still dubious.
E-mailers – Junk we ought to clean
We get a zillion junk emails everyday. Ever wondered how all this works? Obviously, there are some that we get because we share our email IDs. But most of these are from unknown and irrelevant sources. There are some who’ve opened shops of selling e-mail databases. They get some of these from interconnected sources who sell a good chunk to them. But then there are other ways that they’ve mastered too. From luring people outside malls with holiday packages to making phone calls with other promotions, they’ve got all the tricks up their sleeves, to fill up their email and other contact information databases.
Excessive e-mailers have become the norm. And most of this junk leads where it actually should – Spam Folder. But looks like marketers are happy with the illusion of reaching out to their potential customers through this medium.
Websites – Not rocket science; it’s a science
A website is your virtual store. And in most cases it is the first thing an associate, a potential employee, investor or your customer sees. The importance of a nice and informative website is ignored by business owners. With the mushrooming of web development companies, and more lately, online DIY (Do-It-Yourself) portals that promise websites for a few hundred bucks, this aspect of the digital world is the most distorted. With common templates that smaller web development companies or freelancers create for a brand, they clearly position it into a “me-too” segment. Not that a fancy website is always the need. But a website that doesn’t complement the business, a website that doesn’t elevate a business, can categorically be described as junk! This is one section where people do put their digital exposure in India, to use. But that population is very very limited. They however, feel that aping an international website is the best way to go about things.
Business owners, however, tend to take this up as a profitable deal as they save a few thousands. What they don’t evaluate is the big hit that their brand has taken in the process.
Blogs – Ignored kid of a loving mother
The most effective, and unfortunately, the most ignored area of the digital world is Blogging. Marketers avoid it as it involves a lot more time, effort and domain knowledge. Of course, the reason also is because clients are not willing to pay for this effort of theirs. Clients avoid it because they don’t see any value in writing paragraphs on subjects that may or may not directly connect with them.
The blogging community, however, is moving on an upward scale. In fact, they are the most sought-after bunch of people who’re paid to write stuff for brands, and in some cases individuals too. But the flip side here is the increase in reviews and blogs that are highly biased. Brands that began blogging for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) purposes only, end up publishing blogs that are nothing more than a distorted set of keywords they wish to show-up with. Only if people had enough digital exposure in India, this would have been the key weapon of a lot of digital strategies.
Web Banners – Permanent sticky notes
This has become one of the most common ways of monetising a website, some of them charging a fortune to lease out a few pixels. In fact, its cost can be directly compared to real-estate costs in some places. Brands, on the other hand, are not leaving any stone unturned to take undue advantage of this option. They use these banner spaces to promote their product or service even if there’s a heavy irrelevance in the aligned brand. That’s where a limited digital exposure comes in play.
With content consumption being so high in the digital space, audiences tend to get irked by these forced ads.
Retargeting – Stalker you can’t ignore
A year old phenomenon in the country, it does prove beneficial to trick the audiences online into making a purchase. In fact, it works great with impulsive buyers. But it has certainly left a huge section of innocent audience guessing. They have no clue how a specific product or service that they had browsed on a specific website ages back, still shows up on small windows across most of the websites they visit. They don’t understand that some times even after purchasing the product, the website is till trying to sell it to them with customised discounts and offers. It’s like a magnet that’s stuck on them. Wherever they go, what ever they browse, these products seldom leave them alone. Well, blame it on cookies!
All in all, this is a great development, provided it’s not overused. With the limited digital exposure, it could even freak people out.
Digital exposure in India is growing to understand that the World Wide Web will be
content with good content only.
With so many online channels at the disposal of a brand owner or a marketer, achieving the perfect mix is going to be one hell of a task. In fact, with the haywire digital exposure in India, things get all the more difficult. And when one has to show results, it’s a different ball game altogether. But there is a way out. And it’s the simplest thing to do. At the end of the day, it’s a proven fact that unique content has always been the front-runner. Websites and marketers do realize the importance of innovative and fresh content. Audiences across the globe have always acknowledged such content. Hence, investing time, money and effort in creating content will go a long way in this ever-changing digital world.