Social Media for the BFSI and the Blind Men of Indostan
Remember the six blind men of Indostan? Yes, the ones that felt the trunk and the tail and the tusk to draw their own conclusions about the shape and the size of the elephant? Well, the way we approach Social Media, especially for the Banking, Financial Services or the Insurance Sector is no different.
The first and the most prolific are the ones who equate Social Media to Facebook. They think, and mostly, at the top of their voices at that, that having a facebook account in the means and the end in itself. Tell them that Facebook is a platform for connecting with Friends and may not deliver the kind of magic for your business that you expect and they will turn a deaf ear. Some are even more knowledgeable than the others – they ask you as to why their facebook pages have less likes than the one of Priyanka Chopra!
At the other end of the spectrum are the ones that swear by Linked-in. They screw their collective noses as what they call the facebook types and tell you how they have joined 337 groups in Linked in and yet have a total of 23 people that they are actually linked with. Linked in is for “por-phe-ssionals” like us, they say with detached disdain, their knowledge as flimsy as their ethicality. He sits on his desktop the whole day and reposts puzzles like “if 73 X 29 is A, then how many legs do Amazon Anacondas have”? And then asks you as to why his overwhelming Social Media presence is not translating into business!
The third approach the elephant armed with their website – yes, the same one that was made a decade ago when the sariwalla from the native village had started a web development company. To them Social Media is all about having a website, howsoever pathetic and dysfunctional it may be.
The fourth is typically the Boss’ son – uncouth and a self-styled netizen, he thinks trolling people is his birthright. His idea of Social Media is equally jingoistic. He believes, sorry, knows, that the solution is flooding Tweeter with inane shayaris, holy messages from his family Guru and photoshoped images of buxom women.
The fifth dolt swears by YouTube. How can business be anywhere else when all the item numbers (and every other thing that appeals to his imbecilic brain) are in YouTube? Be prepared to be forced to watch the montage 50 top weeping scenes from Salman Khan classics, Social Media integration be damned.
The last one is the most difficult. For, he has it all that it takes and has already been swindled a pretty packet in the name of SEO. He expects you to get him a bigger fan following than Amitabh Bachchan and drive the sales of his dud products apart from getting Barrack Obama to like his Facebook page. Oh, he also knows terms like Viral and drops them with ceaseless, often gay abandon. BTW, he also expects that you will do everything for free for the first year so that he can first form an opinion about the effectiveness of all the s**t before he can start haggling about the pittance that he wants to hire you for.
Friends, countrymen, fellow Indians, social media is too serious a stuff to be left in the hands of any one or all of you social sentinels describing the elephant to the best of your ability and knowledge. It is all about conversations happening real-time around your brand in the social media space. And, the key is quality Content, stuff that will tango with the Search Engines, before they can attract the eyeball, drive the footfalls and finally lead to a surge in the reflection on your bottom line. It is not about maxing out the numbers, or even about the number of followers that you have – but about how engaging and effective your content is. It is by no means uni-dimensional like the proverbial elephant’s tail, but has many layers with multifarious nuances. The actual activity should be Content led, Search Engine optimised, Social Media integrated, Corporate Communication.
Read my lips as I say it. If content is the King, then the queen certainly is honesty, for the Social Media space is hugely democratic where everyone has a say – and is therefore, by default, capable of calling your bluff. Be prepared to be honest, forthright, transparent and upfront before you can even dream of Social Media dominance. And back it up with a product or service that exudes quality, is fair to all concerned and is offered at an attractive price point. Yes, we are talking Honesty, in intent, content and purpose.
LOL. Why do the blind men of Indostan always go deaf (and dumb) when I reach this stage? Post your response in Facebook and who knows? Dude, you may win a chance to click a selfie with your friendly neighborhood Fund Manager.
(the piece was written for the Financial Express BFSI @ Kolkata)