This food-delivery startup just got serious about social media marketing (​and why you should too!)

After we released Zoho Social last month, I’ve been talking to a lot of customers, replying to love and hate emails, helping them set up their accounts and what not. It’s fun helping small businesses get better at social media marketing!

Get serious about social media marketing

Last weekend, I was looking forward to meeting someone at my favorite cafe. No, this wasn’t about work. It was about food! A young entrepreneur who started a food-delivery business right after he graduated got in touch with me over Twitter. He said he was meeting some foodies in the city over the last couple of weeks and wanted to meet me to talk about my favorite food joints in the city. Well, that tells you a thing or two about me. 😉

He mentioned how his idea turned into reality, and he’s been growing his business month-by-month with word-of-mouth and zero ads. I found that it was commendable for a 24-year-old to bootstrap such a business and do well for himself. He keeps his regular customers happy in a Whats App group by offering special deals and discounts sent only in the group. Smart!

Soon after we spoke about Zoho and how we do marketing, he asked me how he can leverage “content marketing” and use social media to reach out to existing customers and their networks. Especially because social media is free!

Nothing is free though, especially not social media. There’s an opportunity cost to it, apart from the time and energy that you need to learn and do any marketing activity.

I asked him a question – “How do you think social media can help you?” He said, “it’s a medium to reach out and engage with existing as well as new customers”. What he said wasn’t wrong, just that I wanted him to think of the big picture. We left the coffee shop after each one of us had finished 2 Iced Caffè Lattes each, over a long discussion on social media marketing strategy for small businesses and, of course, food. 🙂

Businesses that are serious about social media don’t believe in gimmicks or discount codes and for their social media is a part of sales, marketing, customer support and other functions of the business. Like every other form of marketing, social media has evolved over the years. Even for large brands, it’s not just about buying Twitter trends or running a contest on your favorite social media network. Your target audience most likely won’t fall for it and you shouldn’t be doing it unless of course you’re crazy about absolute numbers alone.

Those who *get* social media right, listen to what’s being talked about them, their competitors and the industry. They follow and engage with customers, have a well-defined content strategy to drive relationship with those who matter (targeting is the key) and do interesting stuff which expands beyond the horizon of online engagement (social media has an interesting offline-online angle that I would talk about in another post). Social media isn’t just about broadcasting (well, even email marketing isn’t that anymore. Times have changed!)

From a mere follower count/page likes war to a full circle social media plan, today, social media is more strategic than ever before.

Social is personal. Think of it – your brand is intruding into my Facebook timeline where I am looking at pictures and messages from my friends and family. You better have something good for me to follow you, no?

At the core social media marketing is about 3 activities;

  1. Listening to what people are saying (about you, your business, your competition, your market)
  2. Engaging with those who matter on social networks (not by pushing your agenda or product information, but by offering value). It could be an invite to a closed-group event that the audience is passionate about, or a secret sauce that could help the reader, or it could even be a limited time offer for a relevant group of people).
  3. Having goals and measuring performance at regular intervals. The key is not to be crazy about numbers, but the quality of content that goes out and the engagement that it drives.

One can do this on many social networks, but you’re good if you start with the popular ones.But I run a very small businesses and I do not have the bandwidth to do ALL of this!

OK, start small. Consolidate your efforts. Use automation (and intervene periodically to give a personal touch). At least, get started. 🙂

I’m glad this discussion helped him revisit his social media strategy and streamline his efforts for social media marketing. It’s fun to meet passionate business owners, listen to their story and help them grow their businesses as we grow ours. What’s your social media marketing strategy? What’s stopping you from starting with the three core activities?

I’ll soon be talking about more ways to get started with social media marketing for your business. For now, you can start by signing up for Zoho Social and trying it out. It’s designed for and is being used by businesses just like yours. 🙂

Image courtesy: Darice Vuong

This post was originally published on the Zoho blog. Check it out for interesting stories around smart software for growing businesses.


The Desperados Experience Video

Over the years, we have seen a lot of Youtube (read video) centric social media campaigns. Some of my favorites include : Will it blend? by Blendtec in 2006 and the Old Spice Guy in 2010. In case you want to check them again;

Will it blend? - BlendtechOldspice

But this one is different by all means. Perfectly blended icing of facebook connect and YouTube features, over a clubbing video to target the youth. I liked it, much! Check out the Desperado Experience;

The Desperado Experience


Online Reputation Management – An article on Inc. Magazine

I recently got quoted in an article by the Inc. Magazine along with Pradeep Chopra of Digital Vidya and others.

Online Reputation Management is a key deliverable when it comes to working for brands on Social Media. Over the past two years, I have been associated with it and still continue to figure out better ways of separating the signal from the noise.

In my quest to bring up a sound listening framework and tool, we at Media Redefined have had several achievements and insights to share with.

You may want to download it to read it offline. Here is a copy of the article;

If you’re interested to know what are your customers talking about you and where, get in touch.


Social Media Workshops in India – The one I endorse

Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study. Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life. ~ Henry L. Doherty

Social Search Optimization BootcampIt’s such a fascinating thought! However, the pressure of performance is a sheer hindrance in achieving it once you’re in a job or business. Today, we live on the theme – Survival of the freshest! (The Goa fest’2010 theme.)

In this context, social media marketing has been one of the most exciting and easy-to-opt careers for “consultants” and “gurus” across the world. Thank you Beth, for this amazing post on Social Media Experts!

Technology is just an enabler and not the whole pie. With that I refer to the facebooks and twitters of the world which are just tools and platforms for engagement and listening. Where it starts is not this, for sure.

How many of us actually believe in getting our basics right before mounting ourselves as the next “guru”. How important is associating our thoughts with a real case and practicing the way we can use social media tools and platforms to leverage the knowledge gained.

For the ones who conduct workshops or training sessions, it is important to hand hold the attendees and walk them through the  journey, or at least a snapshot of the same. Adding value to the ecosystem with  the experience we gain over time, working on social media strategies for brands and businesses is very important for someone who wants to establish himself as a social media trainer.

Last month, I got an opportunity to be a part of the Digital Vidya bootcamp. I had known Pradeep, the founder, for a while and was always excited to draw some insights on the value proposition he generates at his Social Media Workshops. I should thank him for inviting me to the last bootcamp on Social Search Optimization.

I have been fortunate enough to be invited to/be a part of a few other social media and mobile/internet marketing workshops. There are a couple of things which I would want to say about Digital Vidya;

  1. Their workshops are based on – Case Studies & Hands-on Experience – Unlike Gyan/Information session at many other bootcamps. (Think of a Facebook Community Building Competition in a Social Media workshop!). That is what I always want workshops to focus on. Not just jargons.
  2. As Digital Marketing Evangelizers, these guys don’t do these workshops to get consulting/execution assignment unlike many others. That makes me respect them, all the more. They leave it for social media agencies like us!
  3. Both Pradeep & Kapil, the trainers have a rich, 10 years of hands-on experience in Digital Marketing in all formats like – in-house, agency, etc. and hence bring up some real good insights.

I would personally recommend their workshops, which are on varied topics around Social aspect of the Internet communication. Check out the upcoming bootcamps and try enrolling for one. You would never regret!


Offline Communities – Road ahead?

In this digital era – where we look into the world through our wide screens monitors or 4″ screen iphones, we foresee a large amount of conversation around varied topics. To an extent, we’re true with our perception. However, when we talk about online communities, do they actually help scale the passion to a level that smaller, yet offline communities are good at?

When I think of offline communities and societies, there are  direct, one-to-one relationships that appear in the backdrop of my mind – many, if not with all the members. However, being a member of an online community – where I may share an idea, get it voted, do a debate with ‘handles’ and not always people – just fails to generate those vibes. … 


Facebook Ads can pay you back!

We’ve been doing facebook all day, all night. I use it both for personal and business reasons. We @MediaRedefined also handle several fanpages for world’s popular brands. But have you ever saved a penny off a facebook ad?

I happened to save some 7.5 grands! Now, how did that happen?

While my daily usage of social networks is pretty high (mostly because of the nature of industry I work in), I happened to stumble on a facebook ad that led me to a pathetic website. However, that website was of a well versed Apple Premium Retailer who assured me some great discounts after we exchanged a few dialogues over phone.

I could eventually get a huge discount on my macbook which I was planing to buy, otherwise. What happened next is a history!

Have you ever benefitted from a social ad? Do share your story!