Social networking sites are not merely a means of staying connected with your pals but a platform where franchisors can promote their brand, build contacts all over the world and metamorphose random viewers into loyal customers and potential young entrepr
According to eMarketer estimates, internet user population in India is set to grow by over 30 per cent to reach 161.6 million individuals and projected to cross the 200 million mark in 2014. The bulk of internet users explore social networking sites. Throwing light on their relevance, Avinash Agarwal, CEO, Food Jockeys LLP says: “Social networking sites are primarily used as a means of engaging with current and potential customers. They are also used as a means of communication to let people know about the upcoming events, offers, new products and new outlets.”
Vikram Chopra, CEO and founder, Fabfurnish.com expresses his views: “Besides generating huge revenue, social networking sites help in building brand image and instill more product information by showing product utility in comprehensive ways. Word of mouth on social media has a big impact and helps to create a loyal customer base.”
Social networking sites serve as sales booster for the organisation. Peyush Bansal, CEO and Founder, Lenskart.com informs: “Around 30-35 per cent of our business sales and growth are dependent on social networking.” Chopra of Fabfurnish.com says: “Social networking contributes around one fifth to the growth in overall revenue and social channels' revenue.” For Food Jockeys LLP, around 10 per cent of their business sales can be attributed to social networking.
Manav Narula, GM-Marketing, Fashionandyou.com, puts forth his views: “Social networking sites are turning out to be the quickest mode of delivering communication and response for our business. The speed at which our business model works (flash sales); it requires immediate variability and responses. Social media is therefore ‘the’ platform for us. Around 20-25 per cent of our sales are driven by it.”
Social media management
Usually the social media for a brand is managed by the brand owners or by master franchisees. Franchisees are given only basic training. Food Jockeys LLP brought the American Coffee brand; Classic Rock Coffee Co. in India via master franchise route. Agarwal of Food Jockeys LLP, the master franchisee for Cocoberry for parts of western and southern India says: “We have engaged a social media agency that handles our social media presence and online reputation management. We have an employee well versed with social media to interact with them and decide content and strategy. We are present on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram."
Surf and savour success
Having browsed through the benefits of social networking sites, now arises the question which all sites should be surfed by young entrepreneurs and how they need to be harnessed so as to derive profits. Chopra of Fabfurnish.com says: “Starting from Facebook and Twitter, to Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, Line and Google+, we have tried to cover all the popular platforms. Social media helps us reach the right audience for the right product. Every platform has a different tone and we use it to cater to different interest groups. We show them the products they like along with its utility to help them make an informed choice. While some channels give us remarkable sales, there are others that help us in brand building. Reaching a large number of audiences with different interests is what makes social media such an important marketing tool.”
Agarwal of Food Jockeys LLP says: “The most commonly used site is Facebook followed by Twitter and then others such as Instagram and Pinterest. Facebook is used more to post information and to run advertisements. Twitter is used more for engagement and live interaction with customers. Instagram and Pinterest focus more on the product and images posted by the customers or the businessmen. These days people use Four Square to ‘check in’ online to a certain location. The frequency of ‘check in’ keeps us updated about customer response.”
For Fashionandyou.com, visuals involving pictures, videos and graphics are very critical. Therefore Facebook becomes a very useful platform wherein they can render high resolution images and describe their offers. Another advantage it offers is ‘sharing’. The potential of offers going viral is much high. Nearly 55 per cent of the internet population is on Facebook today. Mobile sharing is also picking up. Customers can be sharply targeted in various segments with specific offers.”
There are other social networking portals and sites like E.Factor, Ecademy, Entrepreneur Connect- a community by entrepreneur.com, Fast Pitch and LinkedIn allowing young entrepreneurs all over the world to connect and expand. So hop on to these sites that undoubtedly serve as adequate channels for brand validation and sales generation.