Social Media is not kids play and people who think that creating a Facebook account makes them experts then they better splash some water on their face. I am not an expert here but as a community manager myself, one question that has intrigued me always is what makes a fan like or comment a certain content. I am yet to figure it out myself so I keep experimenting with the content inline to my objective. Apart from this our team thought that it would be a great idea to question people who are breathing social media day and night.
Starting from today every Saturday, we will share thoughts of people from both sides of the coin. People who manage their own social media in-house and people who have outsoourced. Arcopol Chaudhuri, the Online Marketing Manager runs the show in-house for Uread. The email interview we did with him to start the series is shared below:
1. URead.com is an ecommerce portal for book lovers in India. Would you like to add some more thoughts to this?
In fact, uRead.com is an e-commerce portal for book lovers across the world, since we’re probably the only Indian online bookstore to ship books to international customers. Although a majority of our customers are from India, a significant portion of shoppers on uRead.com are from abroad.
Our collection of books is huge (over 8 million titles and counting). We had our official launch in January 2011, and given our small team (a staff of less than 50 employees), I think we’ve done a fair job. We also exclusively manage and process orders for the books sections of e-commerce portals like Indiatimes.com and Homeshop18.com. Overall, people are buying more and more books across the country and that’s a healthy sign.
2. Some brands just jump in all social networks but URead is not one of them. What has been the early strategy in terms of selection of social networks and connecting with fans?
Most brands are managed by agencies. When agencies pitch to clients, they try to overwhelm them with numbers - just to acquire as many fans or Twitter followers in the shortest time possible, using all sorts of gimmicks. You cannot force customers to ‘like’ you. They need to seek you out and find you easily.
That’s what we’ve done.
There’s no mad rush to acquire fans and Twitter followers. If people see value in our attractive discounts and trustworthy service, word-of-mouth will do the job. Facebook, Twitter are means for us to reach out to our consumers, and vice versa. The DNA of our brand is very strong - we aim to offer the best discounts on the widest possible range of books, and ship it within our promised delivery time-lines. There are no gimmicks. However, having said that, there’s a lot more can be done on our social media. By the end of this year, you should more activity. At the moment, we’re trying to optimize our services as much as possible for customer delight. A delighted customer will automatically search our brand and ‘like’ us and follow us.
3. Amazing Facebook and Twitter presence indeed. What has been your content plan for both the networks?
Not so amazing, we still have a long way to go! 🙂 About the current content plan for social media, most of our updates are about books we’d highly recommend to our readers. We also review books on our blog and this has got publishers and authors very excited. Twitter also lends a helping hand for customer care. All our out-going mails encourage customers to tweet to us, if they need our assistance with their orders. We also have a fabulous range of bookmarks which are shipped with every order and they help us stay ‘social’ even when we’re offline.
4. More than 30K fans on Facebook and a community that is quite engaging. Any tips that you would love to share on how to engage your community on Facebook.
Engagement has come with experience. There are some authors or books, or genres that excite our fans in a big way. There are some that don’t. We try to maintain a balance. A social media manager must understand the pulse of the community he is talking to, than merely surrendering to the whims of the client. That’s the key. Ask questions, give away freebies, spot quizzes…there has to be a call-to-action for your posts. We try to keep this in mind in our social media communication. It’s a simple logic: Fans will ‘like’ only when they like what you’ve posted. We try to understand what they like. Not by doing a survey or something, but just by observing their interactions on our pages.
5. Personally, I am very happy that you have given blogging its due. Why is blogging so important for Uread?
Our blog is a destination where, as a brand we’re expressive and showing a certain intellect of a book specialist. It also helps us tell authors and publishers more about ourselves. It’s an engagement platform with the book trade, readers and fans. Also, users are more likely to trust a good, elaborate blog post than a Facebook post which says, “Buy this book!”
6. The big question in social media is with ROI. Do you calculate it and would you like to share how much social media has helped in terms of sales.
Honestly, we haven’t cracked our brains too much on this yet. That’s majorly because we haven’t invested any money in marketing and advertising. Most of the growth has been organic. The number of shopping transactions on uRead.com is currently growing at 30-35% every month, and we’d like to believe that our social media presence has something to do with it, but we’re still not sure how much. A strong social media presence helps give a credible face to our brand, which is very important for a start-up. It makes it easier for the customer to trust a brand when it sees healthy interactivity on its Facebook and Twitter pages.
7. Lastly, you manage your social media in-house. What are the reasons and any advice you want to share?
I’ve worked in an agency myself and I would not recommend small businesses to outsource their social media. There is far better agility, clarity of purpose when you employ an in-house resource who understands the brand and it’s objectives. Social media demands you to be responsive. Of course, you may be required to outsource work to an agency for specific requirements, such as apps, social games, etc. But for day to day updates and interactions with consumers, an in-house resource (ideally, the CEO or the marketing head) is a must.
Amazing thoughts Arcopol and I have lot to take back. You can’t force customers to ‘Like’ but if a delighted customer will definitely find out and ‘Like’ you. One needs to understand that social media is not about Facebook or Twitter, it is about people. I am sure that with this attitude, Uread.com will excel in the Indian social media space. What do you think?
By the way, do let us know about our new series, we hope it helps you in your decision making.