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Today, social media is driven from mobile phones: Rohit Varma

Social Media Week (SMW), the international conference held in more than 40 countries, concluded last week in Mumbai. Hosted by R Square Consulting, the conference this year sported the theme of ‘The Invisible Hand: Hidden Forces of Technology’ (and how we can harness it for good) and brought together well-known digital experts.

Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas, innovations and insights into how social media and technology are changing business, society and culture around the world. Human connectivity is being reimagined and SMW seeks to understand how humanity and technology will come together to change the ways we live, work and create.

“We are excited to see the traction which SMW Mumbai could bring for the marketing and advertising community. The audience was able to learn, engage and converse with speakers and peers who have similar passions. Passions include excelling in marketing through the use of social media,” remarked Rohit Varma, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, R Square Consulting and Founder, Social Media Week.

In conversation with Adgully, Rohit Varma sheds more light on the Social Media Week, the major issues highlighted, social intelligence, growth of social media and more. Excerpts:

What is the genesis behind Social Media Week?
Social Media Week started in New York eight years ago. We brought Social Media Week to India in 2013 because we felt the philosophy was great, it is a crowd sourced platform, which means the content comes from the communities, organisations or individuals and thus the content is different and very original. The content at Social Media Week is very relevant for everyone – be it brands or agencies talking about new platforms, new ideas, and analysing what is right for you and what is not right for you. That’s how Social Media Week as a platform works.

What were the issues and topics highlighted during the Social Media Week this year?
The biggest part that we are looking at to address right now is how effectively different new platforms can be worked looking at the analytics. Hence, the last session was specifically on analytics and explored whether analytics is the new way of doing research to figure out how consumers are behaving today and how to engage with them and how brands should see is consumers are getting into the mode of conversion and how they are looking at buying a product. Whatever marketing that we do, be it in mainstream media or online media, the whole effort is to get the mind share in terms of business. That is very critical and that is what we are looking at. The next part is content – figuring out the right content for your audience. So, it involves going back to the specific audience and finding out what they are looking for and setting your content accordingly. And it that way, your audience can be very helpful in giving you the content, which is what we call user generated content (UGC).

Could you shed some light on the theme – ‘Invisible Hand: Hidden forces to Technology’. What, according to you, are those hidden forces?
When we talk about hidden forces, we largely talk from the data perspective – how do I read the data which is coming, how do I use that effectively, how do I decide my marketing campaigns looking at the data that I am getting? Today, we are all heavy users of mobile phones to be on social media. So, largely today, social media is driven from mobile phones. Thus knowing consumers’ behaviour on mobile phones is critical here, based on which you can start doing very targeted marketing, and that is what we call re-targeting marketing or programming or behavioural marketing. So data is something that helps a lot today in deciding on your marketing efforts, and that is what we addressed in this edition of SMW Mumbai.

How much social media is good for business? Do you think there is an over-reliance on social media today?
No, I don’t think so. You look at the amount of investment that is happening on social media or say same digital media itself, which sums up to around 13 per cent of the overall marketing budget. You still have a lot of investment going on in traditional media. The expectations that we have from social media is way high because that is social in nature, so you expect that you will get a large amount of response. However, you need to understand that it is a medium. Unless you understand how to interact, how to converse, you will not be able to drive that. Some brands have understood it and have figured out how to fuel and to do the right conversations and they have seen the returns. 

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