Yesterday I attended a conference which I believe is India’s first social media summit which gathered practitioners, enthusiasts, evangelists, elites from both client and agency side.

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But before getting down with the post, I would like to draw attention to one of my past posts wherein I broadly covered IAMAI Digital Marketing Conference held in Bangalore last year and draw parallel to some extent that how and have things changed since then? Though I put my two cents on the same but would open it up for discussion for you folks.

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Below I’ve taken few pointers I was able to jot down during each session.

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Before we hit the first session, the key note was presented by Mr. Suhel Seth who addressed Social Media opportunities in India (BTW Mr. Seth doesn’t seem to be in Twitter) and then Rajesh Lalwani – Founder & Director of Scenario Consulting Pvt. Ltd (whom I was able to meet during & post conference after virtually knowing each other online for ages) unveiled the social media report which can act as a primer for companies looking to understand social media and leverage out of it by joining conversations and driving it. So grab a copy if you want to…

Session I: How can marketers use social media and achieve ROI?

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Discussion in this session revolved around: Lots of discussion to understand social media from marketing perspective and panelists discussed about what can be the social currency to measure ROI for Social Media. Though nothing conclusive was arrived (also because we are still in the learning curve) but important pointers on engagement, listening and participation came out.

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Some of the pointers from panelists are as below:

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1. Dina Mehta (Managing Director, Mosoci): The fight between Social media and mainstream media has almost vanished.

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2. Hari Krishnan (Country Manager, MySpace India/Fox Interactive Media): 70% use social media to get brand/product information; 49% make purchase decision on such data; 40% get new information through this medium (Case presentated by him). He also mentioned that “Innovation centre of Web” would be Apps, Social Rich media, Consumer Insights dashboards etc.

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3. Atul Hedge (CEO, Ignitee): Social Media is journey not an end result. (He was referring to using Social media for long term strategy rather than short term).

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4. Shivanandan Pare (COO, Trend should change from CPA (Cost per acquisition) to CPA (Cost per Association).

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5. Faisal Farooqui (CEO, The question is how can brand win customers. It’s a two way dialogue and social media facilitates it.

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6. Dina Mehta (Managing Director, Mosoci): Every medium is social where conversations are happening.

7. Parminder Singh (Business Head, Google India): He introduced the “FPFB principle” for social advertisements i.e. F for Fun, P for Pride, F for Feedback and B for bonding/belonging.

8. Prasad Narasimhan (CMO, Virgin Mobile): What helps is the mindset of the audience (referring to the question that is engagement scalable?)

9. Parminder Singh (Business Head, Google India): The metrics to measure ROI are evolving. It now depends on the clients (advertisers) to formulate one for their campaign.

10. Dina Mehta (Managing Director, Mosoci):Unit of measurement in social media can be Conversations. Be transparent and social networking sites (SNS) should open up data so that audience can own data.

11. Hari Krishnan (Country Manager, MySpace India/Fox Interactive Media): Not only brand are going 360 degree but platforms are also going 360 degree.

12. Atul Hedge (CEO, Ignitee): The gap between commication message & product is the actual ROI (Smaller it is, better will be your ROI).

13. Parminder Singh (Business Head, Google India): Talks about $GOOG initiative “Open Social“. Also gives the example of Indian Taxi Driver, Devesh Mishra who marketed himself and his service via YouTube Video and drew an analogy between engagement, advertisement and being more human in your approach.

14. Prasad Narasimhan (CMO, Virgin Mobile): He said that marketers should concentrate more on CPEV (Cost per Engagement & Virality). He also mentioned that Virgin Mobile spends about 15% on social media initiative but demands more accontability.

15. Rajesh Lalwani (Founder & Director of Scenario Consulting Pvt. Ltd, Social media is not about technology. It jus starts online. He recommended one strategy i.e. Surprise your customers.

16. Parminder Singh (Business Head, Google India): Social Media is a continuum.

17. Prasad Narasimhan (CMO, Virgin Mobile): He mentioned about “Treadmill path of Social ROI” i.e. CPM => CPC => CPL (Generating Sales)

Session II: Social Media- Is there a critical mass or is this an elilist phenomenon?

Discussion in this session revolved around: Mahesh Murthy (Founder & CEO, Pinstorm) kick started the session with a live demo of “LIVECONTEXT” and “BUZZMETER” which allows to track a conversation and automatically bid for Google adwords in just couple of minutes. Looked interesting but personally I think it has a long way to go it terms of its robustness (as duly pointed by someone from the audience later). This session primarily revolved around target markets, online population, Social Media for long term not short term etc.

Some of the pointers from panelists are as below:

1. Ajay Kakkar (CMO, Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group): He asked about how much is the target market reachable through this medium is the basic question?

2. Raj Nayak (CEO, NDTV Media): The people who use social media are yound (citing a small example of how his daughter didn’t allowed him to make an account on Facebook) 🙂

3. Yudhistir Gopalkishnan (Name might vary) (July Systems): Same metrics are being used for social media as for other online medium.

4. Raj Nayak (CEO, NDTV Media): Major upheal taks for online advertisers because of recent activity of click frauds.

5. Ajay Kakkar (CMO, Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group): You like it or hate it, but you can’t ignore it (Social media).

6. Raj Nayak (CEO, NDTV Media): Don’t use social media for short term but if you to build a brand for long term then social media it is.

7. Ratish Nair (Co-Founder, Interactive Avenues): There is critical mass but as the threhold of the next phase of evolution – may be for rural markets (bottom of the pyramid).

8. Mahesh Murthy (Founder & CEO, Pinstorm): Social networking sites keep traffic inside. It can’t be a traffic generator (referring to online advertisements on social networks).

9. Raj Singh (Executive Director, Active Media Technology): Internet spend is just 3% of total ad spend. Also growth of social media will happen through mobile phones.

My Take: It seemed like huge gap between reality & perception between what clients want, what agencies give and what audience cares about.

Session III: Have media planners understood and invested enough in Social Media?

Discussion in this session revolved around: In the final session as I see it being in the audience side, lot of discordance between what audience percieves as how this space is evolving and what the panelists think. Good friend, Sumant Srivathsan asked a very thought provoking question to the panelists which was the need to the hour to fill the disconnect between thinkers, doers and practitioners. He asked, “…the discussion has focussed on media buying, which tends to focus on ad inventory, rather than active engagement. What is the media planner’s role here- which is more a brand/product/marketing manager’s role?

1. Beered Sheth (Co-Founder & CEO, Webaroo Technology India Pvt. Ltd): Social Media is noisy but you got to do something interesting & valuable (to keep your audience hooked on).

2. Leroy Alvares (Country Head, Tribal DDB India): Social media is not a media planner’s role. It is important to “LISTEN” or be ostracized. 3 concepts are important with the context of ROI -> R= Relevant, o= Origial, I=Impactful. Also social media should be a strategic decision not a driven by media buyers. Social media don’t work as a short term strategy.

3. Sandip Tarkas (President, Cusomer Strategy, Future Group): 80% spends 3 hours on TV and 3% spend 80% on Internet. Also importance of Context is missing in social media (It is proving to be a barrier to participate)

So these are few pointers I was able to capture in the whole summit. This brings me to the point wherein I remember Gaurav wrote about it last year around this time that Indian CEOs/ CMOs Still Don’t Understand Consumer Engagement in a Networked World and I believe not much has changed since last year. But yes, it is just a learning curve for all of us practitioners, enthusiasts and evangelists etc and as time progresses we will understand and adopt to the fast changing nature of business and need of social media for conversations for sure.

P.S. Nice catching up with Dina & Rajesh post conference and as  usual we somehow ended up with tweetup sort’a thing.

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