We’ve all been there, done that, and gotten our hands burned in the process of doing that. I’m talking about spends, creatives, campaigns and no gains. We’ve all looked for the cheapest options or outsourced our social media to startups based in tier 2 towns, with tier 1 dreams of getting ROI on spends. We design creatives that look like our children have drawn them, we initiate conversations that nobody wants to entertain, and then eventually we settle with memes and forwards. But why?

  1. We underpay and over expect – Agencies from across India have struggled with margins and are shutting down or opting for acquisitions across the land. Why we choose to spend 50K on a social media agency (after months of negotiating) but are ready to spend 15 Lakhs a day on a TV commercial spot on a GEC is beyond me. We have dinosaurs still roaming the board room who want what’s worked before – because they’re not true marketers. They’re copycat engineers. These are the Top level CMOs who reinvent the wheel by turning it around one circle past its due date.
  2. We have shallow expectations – Likes are not sales. Neither is community building, a gate-way to Q1 expectations. It’s simple – Build a REALationship with your customers and they’ll value you. I’ve had the great fortune of working with India’s number 1 semi-conductor company with over 3000 employees and 200 offices across the globe. We did everything for – including social, media buying, and strategy. And it was great. Why? Because their customers loved them! They had worked hard to build a real relationship with the target audience and invested money into their development over the years.
  3. We hate our competition – We don’t mind competitors taking over our blue oceans, but we do mind it if we overcome their territory. Because that leads us into Round 2 – “The What Else”. This is a scary place to come from, because once a CMO has taken a risk, the CEO and the shareholders say – “What Else”. As kids growing up, we are always answerable to our parents and teachers. Especially marketers, who had dreams of making a difference but ended up selling shoes online. Our creativity stemmed from looking at a better world, instead we were destined for mediocrity because of our highly judgemental superiors. Thus became the Indian story of risk-aversion. Nobody wants to be different, because we’re all the same thing beating onto oblivion. This hurts our industry immensely. Gone are the days where we would learn from our competition and work with them sometimes to collaborate onto bigger things. Now, CEOs would much rather invest their money into Startups (bubble alert) than their own company’s branding and marketing.
  4. We’ve become unsure – There are SO MANY GURUs out there with million dollar ideas and spends. We trust them and burn our hands. Thus we’re unsure about new comers who have real ideas that they want to execute for brands. Now this leads to a game theory like Nash Equilibrium where each player (agency and brand) become intertwined into a cosy-yet uncomfortable discussion that leads on for months. This involved competitors, negotiators, middle men, and unfortunately – Bosses. Bosses from across the land come forth and winter arrives at the end of the period. I’ve personally made plans for B2B HUGE Financial houses, that start in the Summer and get executed in the Winter. Wanna know why? – Because we are insecure and unsure. We want what’s worked in the past because that’s where safety is. You shouldn’t go for safety, you should aim for the stars!
  5. We love social media – We love the idea of it too much. Its just a platform and not a paradigm. We have to stop being in love with social media and actually love our customers instead. We can’t rely on organic posts reaching 1-2% or ad spends have 2-4% conversion rates, we have to create a BRAND. A brand that people love, a brand that’s been well thought through. A brand that stands for something that people stand by. We can’t let our promoter-lead mentality take over our lives and deaths over mediocre branding and lacklustre customer engagement. We need to look at them as people and not as numbers. What’s the last big Social media campaign that you really loved or even participated in? Nothing comes to mind right? Because we either love social media too much or don’t think of our customers as human beings. #relatable #tbt #tweettouswithataglineforthisarticle.

We need to understand why we don’t think about social media strategically and why all the bottlenecks across the company are in our ways from doing great work. Not work that wins awards for inflated agencies, but work that gets admired anonymously from large forums, large organizations and large communities. We need to market on social media and create a real human connection over on that platform. We can change things and together we’re stronger. Now who can tell me which brand has that last line as its tagline?

Written exclusively for Paul Writer.


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