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.

 

Facetime Conversations

Beyond the window of social networks, there is a mirror which I often see and smile. Not because it has started to show me my grey hairs, but for the reason that it reminds me of the time when meaningful conversations were often in person, or so called, real facetime. 🙂

Today, the Skypes, BBMs and emails of the world have inhibited avenues of meetups to a large extent. No wonder how much a tweetup or a photo-walk tries to dissolve this gap, it is an ever increasing phenomenon in the digital age.

A lot goes to the increase in traffic, the underlying urge to perform better and make money or the very desire of staying busy and looking out for simplicity in a life that’s otherwise chaotic out of no sane reason. Sigh.

With broadband and mobile penetration, things are only going to get worse with time.

However, are there still enough ways where one can have a good conversation without a face-time and yet expect a near similar experience? I immediately ponder about some of the most amazing people I met, conversed and made friends with – all on the web. Not just that, an online connect often works as a catalyst to an offline meeting.

At the same time, the abundance of communities which claim to have ‘like minded’ people lead to a large noise/ signal ratio. Beyond a limit, one needs to prune his ‘available for’ list. For each one, his own.

How do you manage your meaningful conversations? How important are offline meetings for you?

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

 

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!

 

My first iPhone!

It’s here! I purchased my first iPhone, a 16 GB, 3GS, last month over eBay US. Thanks to Rohini and Shashank bhaia for helping me with the logistics. 🙂

 

Apple iPad and Sociology

ipad-launch

I am a gadget lover but by no means a freak. There is a hell lot of difference between the two. I read TechCrunch regularly and Engadget often. There lies the difference, if I am in my senses.

While Steve Jobs is adding to the orgasm of Apple fanboys across the world, I have been trying to figure out, how does anything Apple affect the online ecosystem. It’s beyond the power of any agency to build such an ecosystem, community or fan following around any thing. Apple is again a brand.

The sheer ability to build great products is the only reason that I see people getting crazy for such an event. Of course, Steve Job’s’ presentation might just be another reason for people to swarm networks and websites and cause them to go down!

This is a great social effect which could lead to #apple and #ipad trending in minutes on Twitter, timeliness getting flooded with similar updates after every miniscule detail revealed by Apple. Which other brand can think of doing it, at this scale?

Amazon has always ruled the industry for the tablet/reader segment with its Kindle. It would be interesting to see how do things take shape now. Do we see a price war? Apple for sure would not get into it. Apple products have always been priced slightly higher, but it’s a matter of fact that it still excels.

For 499$ for a 16GB WiFi enabled tablet, Apple’s iPad might just attract gadget lovers across the world to opt in. A 3G version is slightly costlier but I guess that’s more value for money when it comes to developing countries where WiFi hotspots aren’t yet very popular. But then, people still get things done over a netbook, which according to Steve, doesn’t do anything great!

I wonder how many people in this part of the world aren’t ready to compromise on the ‘great’ factor, when they get a fully functional netbook for as low as 300$ 🙂 This is still debatable.

Coming down to the key features of an iPad, it is/has;

  • Half inch thin,
  • 1.5 pound in weight (approx 600 gm)
  • Slimmest Tablet
  • 9.7 inch diagonal screen IPS type
  • Capacitive multi-touch
  • 16 to 64 GB Flash storage
  • 1 Ghz A4 Processor
  • WiFi 802.11n Wifi
  • Built In Speaker
  • Built In Microphone
  • Accelerometer
  • Compass
  • 10 Hours Battery with One Month Standby
  • iPad 3G models are unlocked
  • Will be available in 60 days worldwide
  • Comes with Wifi and / or  3G
  • USB Sync with iTunes
  • Uses new GSM micro SIMs

Price Watch

ipad-price

That’s the matrix. Which one are you opting for?

Thanks to Rohit for collating the technical specs!