Transparent piggy banking theory is one that I often use in my workshops while teaching what social media or community marketing is. When I was a kid, I was always attracted to piggy banks. There were various incidents when the attraction towards those colorful piggy banks which were made up of clay in different shapes—pig, fish, house, etc.—used to be my favorite ones. The reason why I liked these earthen piggy banks was that the money added by me or the members of my family was not visible and they did not have locking or unlocking facility; therefore, I had to wait until the money reached the brim of the piggy bank and one had to break it to see the savings.
It was fun, had a surprise element, and needed patience; however, the victory was sweet and watching the money had created a great joy.
As time went by and I grew up, I started becoming impatient toward these earthen piggy banks, because I never knew how much money it had. I was not sure how much others in the family were contributing and it was not attractive to me anymore. It was for the first time I decided to buy a piggy bank that was made up of glass in a German fair held in the city, as it made things clearer. The transparency helped me know the status of the saved money, which had given me more patience until the money reached the brim.
Usually, my workshops are conducted in a conference or banquet hall of four-star or five-star hotels. Once when I was explaining the concept of social media marketing, I had taken out a transparent piggy bank that was made out of glass and rolled it out among participants in the hall asking them to donate money. I had clearly specified them that the money they shall donate that day will go to an NGO and not to me and I reassured them, ‘I do party and have a good time, but not with this money; therefore, be assured that the money will be going for a noble cause’; after I ensured that, people started dropping pennies. Considering the above act, I had explained to them how social media marketing is related to the transparent piggy bank (Table 3.1).
The Banquet Room/Web 2.0
Platform If this did not exist, the rest of the action would not have taken place. As a marketer, it is crucial to identify the right social media platform to match with the right kind of audience and content. Different social media platforms serve different purposes. The platforms such as YouTube, SlideShare, and Blogs are considered to be content hubs where various contents can be uploaded and stored for lifetime. The sites such as YouTube and SlideShare have search engines by themselves; in addition, the content uploaded here are very much accessible to the popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN. The sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are considered to be social networking sites where people network, converse, and the content posted on the content hubs can be used here as an engagement element by brands.
Many marketers do not really understand the importance of building a community. I have seen many Indian brands or small businesses that do not have many spectators or people in the community who would respond to their queries. Posting content to a platform without having audience is equal to addressing a press conference without having journalists. To bring the right kind of audience, a brand needs to invest in promotion for promotional channel. The marketers need to invest in promoting their presence on social media through traditional ads, Facebook ads, e-mail campaigns, and product packaging to make their audience aware of the brand’s presence on social media and bring in the right kind of audience to the platform.
Many marketers also believe that the number of people in the community is equal to the success of the social media campaign, which is not true. It is more important to have the right kind of people in the community than just having them and having random people just joining the community. For example, if I am hosting a social media course with 100 participants and just because I hosted a free session, I could have 40 social media enthusiasts and the other 60 who are not aware of social media or who are not keen to pursue a career in this space. It might make more sense to the 40 individuals and sound boring to the rest of the 60 individuals how much ever good my content is. Those 60 will just want to leave the premises or will not concentrate what I am saying. Therefore, the number of likes or followers matter as long as they are relevant and targeted.
From my viewpoint of the businesses in India, most marketers or small-scale business individuals invite their friends and family members to join their business pages or their social media channels. It is a good step to increase the number of followers/fans; however, the response ratio to the content they post will be barely minimum. The followers and fans just join such pages not because they like the subjects or the brands; but because they are the marketers’ friends and they are just doing them a favor by joining their page and encouraging them.
A community manager is the initiator of conversations; he or she is the one who administrates the concerns of the audience on social media. The role of the community manager completely depends upon the brand’s objectives of going on social media. It might be a customer service focused or marketing, sales, legal, HR, product development, or a mix of all of these. A community manager sets specific targets and plans daily schedule of posting updates to engage audience; he or she is responsible for administering comments and charting out the weekly plan of activities to actively run the social media channels of the brand. A community manager is also denoted as a social media marketing manager and is creative enough to distinguish activities compared to that of the other brands and competitors on social media.
With established brands on internet in India, the position of ‘online community manager’ is not a new position. However, this is a new position for many businesses that are planning to develop a platform to interact with their customers. Many small and medium businesses hire community managers who can engage, cultivate, and manage the social media channels by offering the finest service through various forms using internet as a business extension. Established brands prefer to consider these roles in the middle level management and are meant for professionals with prior skills in customer service, social media, and marketing. Since social media space is mostly dominated by young minds, the one who comes with a good social media marketing experience is a rare case to see and that is why many small and medium enterprises in India forced to go for someone with less of experience.
A good social media community manager is the one who juggles between internal and external communication goals of an organization. He or she is also responsible for carefully laying out the company’s holistic presence on the web. In India, career opportunity in social media is increasing and many organizations are hiring social media community managers to structure their business toward the customer and customer relationships. Doesn’t your company still have an online community manager? It is right time to hire one!
If I had not have rolled out the transparent piggy bank, I would not have really raised funds for the cause. The reason why I chose to pick a transparent piggy bank is for the act to showcase how transparency of communication is essential in social media. The content you post on the web are transparent enough and so are the contributions by the customers’ similar to people dropping in pennies in the transparent piggy bank. Everyone can see everything.
It is often said that content is the king of social media and so is the reality! Sometimes, content by itself forms a community; for example, the song Why This Kolaveri from the Tamil movie “Moonu” did not really have to have a community; however, the song went viral and there where many communities created later by the fan club of the song, conversations were triggered by them, and it was a complete viral phenomenon. Social media may be a free platform (to an extent); however, a brand’s establishment on this platform does not lead to success quickly. A brand needs to hold persistence and the right strategy with some fantastic contents to execute a social media campaign. In addition, to get the strategy right, one needs to have good content and the following are various reasons for the same:
- creates and adds value to the conversation
- drives interest
- shows you care
- positions you as a trusted advisor
- is authentic and believable
- makes your brand a thought leader
Pennies/True Value Received
In the act, when the transparent piggy bank is sent on rounds, people start contributing to it. Some contribute less, some contribute more, some prefer to skip, and some definitely share the experience with their friends. In a social media marketing scenario when content is posted on the platforms, some audience react to it and some do not. The audience who majorly react would also share about the incident with their friends. There could be many reasons why people would have dropped a penny or why audience/customers contribute in the social media marketing scenario, they are as follows:
- Platform Impact—The impact of the platform and the general mindset of the audience associated with it. For example, people on Facebook usually tend to like, comment, and share as that is the limitation of the users of what they can do with a brand’s page and they follow these steps if they like the content posted by a brand. Similarly, on Twitter, retweeting or responding back is the maximum a customer can do for a brand or create conversations about the brand to achieve some value out of the relationship. It also depends upon the community and the kind of social media positioning the brand does. For example, if a brand’s objective is to use social media for customer service and the marketers spread awareness about it, they will see people posting their concerns and queries on their social media platforms. If their aim is to generate leads, they will run campaign accordingly. Similarly, in the piggy bank act, people dropped pennies just because they were at the hotel under ‘Echovme’s Learn Social Media Banner’ and wanted to learn about social media marketing.
- Content Impact—It was made very clear that the money will go to an NGO and not for my partying and this could be one of the prime reasons of contribution. This message went along with visually appealing packaging, which is ‘Transparent Piggy Bank.’ Remember that in a social media marketing scenario, content plays more importance than anything else to obtain audience’s feedback. Today, visually appealing contents such as video and pictures get more popularity on social media channels than a plain blog post and that is the reason why you will notice brands on Facebook prefer to post updates along with images, as image attracts the audience to react. Pinterest, a social networking site is completely based on pictures and people first get attracted to the image, they will then be lead to the information page on clicking on the image. It is very important to understand that the content needs to be decided depending upon the community, audience, and the platform chosen for marketing.
To avail pennies (value) from the customers or prospects a smart marketer designs the content considering the age, gender, time they prefer to get on social networking sites, language preferred, expectations with the brand, status of the brand awareness, market penetration, emotional quotient of the market, and lot more. Remember that in social media marketing, your context of content and messaging are highly important. One needs to be transparent and cohesive when vouching for responses from the audience. Since the communities formed on social networking sites are owned by brands and the accessing of the channel is a cost-free solution, brands will have to test their audience with different tones and trials of communications to understand what really their audience like. Considering the feedback analysis using analytic tools, brand managers can decide what content works well for their brands and what does not. This can help them streamline their future tone of communication.
- People Impact—With reference to the piggy bank act, I have always noticed that when the first person drops a penny, most of the audience in the room also follows that; sometimes, when the first person starts with a larger amount, the others do follow the same. Similarly, in the social media scenario, a content that gets more feedback attracts lot more other people. For example:
- On Facebook, when a brand posts a update that goes viral with its fans commenting, liking, and sharing it, the friends of the fans get to know about it and thus they start reacting to the same, as it has reached them via their friends (who in reality turn out to be brand advocates unknowingly or willingly). Thus, an update that gets more number of comments and likes usually attracts audience and they tend to participate just because they want to be a part of the viral, share their opinion, and be part of the viral conversations.
- On Twitter, when a hashtag is introduced, brands usually vouch for influencers to use it, as they have more number of followers and have stronger impact on the audience; through them, it reaches the mass and as people start participating in the hashtag-based activity, the words just spread through their followers. That is why you will notice a lot of Indian brands create a common hashtag-based contest, encouraging people to participate and spread the word about their new product for a free give away to the winner—this just spreads like wildfire. On another note, people usually participate in the conversation that occurs between people they follow and that shows conversation or a mass impact does matter.
- On YouTube and SlideShare, apart from the context and quality of the content, audience also get attracted to the number of views that video or presentation has obtained. The video that obtains more viewers also obtains more comments, likes, and dislikes.
In a social media marketing scenario, each platform has its own judging variable. Most of these variables are driven by content. If a content is attractive, the wavelength of variables increases with people; however, if the content is just plain, the wavelength dies with time. The wavelength in the context of a content can be defined as its ability to go viral and reach more number of audience. Remember that each platform on social media has its own set of variables, which denotes directly to the reaction of the audience and that ultimately impacts the wavelength of the content. Anyways, it is also very important to the kind of audience in a social media marketing scenario that usually favors the wavelength of the content.
They are distinguished in three different levels: Known – Unknown – Popular ones. Each level is explained in detail below:
The Known Ones
In a small- or medium-scale business, they are individuals who are closely connected to the business or the leader. They could be members from your family or friends group or loyal customers who are closely associated with the business. In a large-scale business, these people are employees, well-wishers, prospects, customers, and the loyal members existing in the pre-built community on social networking platforms. If a brand’s objective is to make its content go viral, they are the first ones who react to the content or requested to react to it. They can be also called ‘primary individuals.’
The Unknowns Ones
First-Level Unknown Individuals
As the content goes viral among the primary individuals, they spread the word about it to these unknown ones. They are usually people in the network of the primary individuals who are closely connected to a brand. They are not directly connected to the brand; however, they get to know about it through their friends and react to the content considering the participation or references made by their friends. This can be termed as a chain reaction, which usually takes place in word-of-mouth marketing. Through these unknown ones, it reaches to their friends and the process goes on in the same fashion on the same platform.
Second-Level Unknown Individuals
They are basically those individuals who pick the information from one platform and share it on another and try to create an impact and make the word reach through similar chain fashions on different social networks.
The Popular Ones
Since the content goes viral on different social networking sites, it grabs the attention of the media, influencers, thought leaders, and bloggers through them and the content reaches to the mass. For example, the song Why This Kolaveri first grabbed the attention of radio stations, then reached the news channels, newspapers, music channels, etc., and finally it reached the masses through these popular channels. Similarly, when a content posted by Ticketgoose.com on Chennai-based MTC Bus issue went viral on Facebook, which was shared by more than 12,000 individuals, the story got picked up and published by a journalist from The Times of India. There are many such case studies that you will come through in the later chapters.