Random thoughts

Engage Digital Summit 2012 :: What I learnt

At the end of a summit when you are asked to make a note or write about your learning from it, I often wonder whether the actual learning came from what the speakers presented or from the interaction you had from like-minded people afterwards.

I think a bit of both.

Day 1 began with Co-founder, SEOMoz, Gillian Muessig (@SEOmom) talking about the social media in the Indian context. But due to technical difficulties we hardly heard what Gillian had to say. The two bits captured from there her presentation were:

a)      Communities are not based on interests or skill sets they are developed through shared values, shared goals and shared experiences. Hence, the emotional connect and the co-dependence

b)      Be generous with knowledge. Share what you with the outside world and people will echo your thoughts and respect you for that. To build your brand salience you need to share your knowledge. (Something I feel is quite coveted in the Indian context and hence the average quality of most viral blogs)

Going forward, speakers spoke on the relevance on digital content today and the shift from traditional media to the new digital media. Digital content is instant, searchable, sortable, portable and most importantly shareable and hence growingly the most preferred medium of gathering information.

Mahesh Murthy (@mahesmurthy), CEO Pinstorm, in his presentation clearly highlighted that digital already has the reach and the numbers to create an impact. To add to that the cost effectiveness of digital is way higher than traditional media. Re 1 spent on digital media would be equal to Rs 10 spent on TV with a lower target audience reach i.e if we are targeting SEC A, AB. On managing brands at the digital space he opined that it is similar to the role of an air traffic controller. We have to be alive and responding around the clock 365 days a year. For agencies taking the digital route he shared the Pinstorm process of ASPIRE –Absorb the brand world, Solve the existing issues in the brand world,  Develop a Plan to tackle the issues (to mollify the negative sentiments and amplify the positive ones), Invent a property that is remark worthy, Radiate/ spread the brand message, Endlessly tackle customer feedback.

A panel discussion on online reputation management laid stress on transparency in online communication. That a single point communication is required and that you have no option other than to be honest in the digital world. The importance of acknowledging customer feedback was specified with Pradeep Chopra (@pradeepchopra), CEO Digital Vidya, mentioning half the problem is solved if the Company acknowledges a negative comment. It instantly shows the consumer you care.

However the clincher of the entire Summit was the interaction between vivacious Gitanjali Sriram (@gitanjalisriram) and Narendra Nag (@narendranag). The topic of discussion was the Branding Challenges in the new world. The key takeout from Gitanjali’s presentation was that focus on the societal shifts rather than what’s in. Understand the core of the brand and then explore ways in which the brand can leverage the prevalent mood. Example being Coke Studio. The key brand take out is open happiness. Music is taken as a medium of happiness and hence Coke Studio. Narendra on the other hand stressed on building a narrative around the brand to enable marketers and influencers alike to communicate the same message across platforms.

The Day ended with Kiruba Sankar’s (@kiruba) unconferencing session which was more a recap of what we covered during the Summit plus the various viewpoints of the audience.

Day 2 began with Eric Weaver (@weave), Senior VP at Mediabrands, talk on social business and the difference between social business and social media. The key takeout being the entire enterprise needs to have a social view and engage with customers, it’s not the job of one department. Align the entire organisation around the social value chain and you will have a more engaged customer base who are more likely to purchase your product/service.

Well, the rest of the day seemed like a blur with speakers pretty much of stressing the need for transparency online and the need for businesses, organisations, companies to use this democratic medium.