In Conversation With Rajesh Lalwani

Interview with Rajesh Lalwani Founder of Blogworks during the WAT Summit 2012.

One of the things that has caught my eyes in the Indian social media space has been some great work done by Blogworks. The IndiaSocial case challenge which is running for the last two years is a relevant example and when I heard that Rajesh Lalwani, the Founder of Blogworks was at #watsummit 2012, I really didn’t want to miss him.

Rajesh readily agreed to share his thoughts when I had requested for an interview at the #watsummit. He spoke about IndiaSocial, the business of social media in India, how it is expanding, etc. To know more please find our conversation in detail.

1. Rajesh, can you share what is keeping you busy and how is IndiaSocial Summit 2012 shaping up to start off our conversations.

The opportunities are opening up, scaling of existing work, business inquiries, etc. which also means that we have to be ready for the new scaling up. So all of that is keeping us pretty busy.

India Social is very clearly a platform that we want to build up as the most useful conference on social media in Asia. When we started last year the idea was to make it big and this year it has gone bigger. It is a three-day conference with 2-day conference and half day of un-conference. The topics are in tune with the demand and needs of the market. So a) we want to focus on the needs and b) we want to look ahead in the future and think what would the brands of the future be, future of the media, etc. is the second thought on why IndiaSocial Summit has been built.

So in all it is shaping up well and we have seen lot of interest from various corners such as speakers, brands, participants, etc.

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2. IndiaSocial case challenge is an amazing initiative from you guys. I have seen it growing by every year. How do you see the growth of it?

The purpose of IndiaSocial is very clear. IndiaSocial is all about facts, figures, case studies and that’s what we have remained focused on. Our idea is that the case challenge is not only about winning but it is also a way of showcasing the amazing work in front of the industry.

[pullquote id=”lhipull” class=”center_pull”]My opinion on case studies is that they should be taken literally and should not be replicated. What has worked for one brand may or may not work for another brand. But the idea is to see the case studies and correlate what is the common thread that is running among various cases.[/pullquote]

The case challenge provides an incentive to participate but along with that it is a rigorous process of filling up the details, fact finding and also soul searching. Lot of people have come back to us and said that we didn’t know that we will have to think that much. So in the process of submission they have been forced to think on the campaign all over again. I think that is the value that is driving people. There is a start date, end date and hence people are motivated towards IndiaSocial case challenge and there is a gratification in the recognition. Money is just a very small part and it is not a gratification, it is just a small incentive for the team to go out and have a dinner. Saying that brands don’t need money they have the money but the recognition and appreciation is important for them. So that is a property of ours that will again grow and we are looking to scale it up in the coming future where we are thinking to have it as an offline event where the best could fight and win it.

3. Rajesh, there are two schools of thought right now in the market. One that believes that Social Media is all and the other one thinks that social media is a part of my 360 degree marketing effort. Which school of thought do you come from?

It depends on what business are you in. Blogworks is a business and we drive it completely on social media. We don’t have money to spend on traditional mediums; we do some print ads in B2B marketing magazines that is also in the B2B marketing. On the other hand, Pepsi will have a 360-degree approach. So it all depends on the nature of the business that decides which medium to take.

However the fight today is if I have Rs.100/- where I am going to spend it – will it be print, TV or social. Can social build a program for a consumer product by itself. My answer would be maybe yes or maybe no. The value of social media being different from traditional media is that communities are not built for a day. Communities provide long lasting values when they have been setup, invested into and nurtured.

[pullquote id=”lhipull” class=”center_pull”]Numbers don’t make a community, the involvement makes a community.[/pullquote]

4. Of late we saw that there are major brands that are blindly ignoring Facebook promotion guidelines. What are your thoughts on it?

I am of the opinion that media owners for example Facebook in this case to educate market better and they are doing that. For example the IndiaSocial summit for the first time other than the keynote speaker actually had two people from Facebook coming and undertaking the master class.

I think Facebook should do these things more often so that market can be educated on what this flouting of rules is all about. I think this is the value the market is seeking from media owners such as Facebook.

5. Where do we head from here in social media marketing ?

It is growing, it is mainstream, and clients are pouring more money into it. It is clearly now an avenue to spend money into. It has passed the experimental stage and now it is mainstream.  There are other channels that have opened up but where will social find its way again that will depend on the businesses. Some businesses will spend more on social and some may spend in other avenues of digital but the business of social is going to fairly grow.

Thanks Rajesh! Social Media in India is growing, I really don’t doubt it. What do you think?

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