Interview with the authors of ‘Social Media Simplified’

Interview with the authors of 'Social Media Simplified'


And finally there’s a book that talks about the social media scene in India with case studies of Indian brands. Now thats quite a welcome change for social media enthusiasts so accustomed to the Kawasaki’s and Solis’s! We were already acquainted with one of the authors, Anandan through our Twitter community but unaware that he is co-authoring a book on the social media mesh in India. The void created by the lack of documented research in the Indian context seems to have been filled. We’ve read it and can assure  you that it lives upto it’s title!

We are delighted to bring to our readers the actual events behind this book from conception to delivery and greatly appreciate the authors for having taken the time to share valuable insights gained during their research.   So here goes…

Vijayendra: Global Executive Manager with an IT company. Studied engineering & management at IIT Kharagpur & IIM A respectively. Alternative interests are social media and social enterprise.

Anandan: PhD student at Management Development Institute, Gurgaon. Research interests include social media strategy, content strategy, social media and RoI.

1) What inspired you to write a book on Social Media in the Indian context? Did you just stumble upon the idea or was it the lure of being the first in the field?
Vijayendra: I had been pondering on the concept of demystifying ” emerging trends, technologies” in the Indian context since the day , I led a team which won Forum for Industry Interaction best project of the year award in 2008. Last year when I got connected to Anandan via Facebook, and realized that both shared a passion for Social Media , I pitched the idea of penning down the book ‘demystifying social media in the Indian context’ to Anandan which was reciprocated well. Thus began the journey of the book.
Anandan: I being a PhD student in the social media domain had read many social media books, which were mostly by authors from western countries but couldn’t find any in Indian context. There was an urge to pen down my thoughts and I started this activity with my blog. In the mean time, I happened to meet Vijayendra via Facebook and as explained above by him, we gradually agreed upon to pen down this book, in the interest of millions of emerging social media users in this country.
2) Research in any new area is always quite a daunting task. How was your experience while researching on the social media circuit in India?
Social media landscape in India is at a nascent stage, barring a few brands who have used it in a descent way. Initially, when both of us decided to include case studies, we weren’t sure if we could be successful to identify 30 brands. As we progressed with the project, started covering one product category to another and we were satisfied to have covered major product categories with satisfactory number of brands. We had to highlight some learnings from each case study and hence we spent lot of time in identifying the right case studies, which the readers would be able to relate it to Indian context. Hence, this book is different from other international books available in the market, as examples covered in them are mostly from Western countries and we feel it would be difficult for Indian readers to understand their context.
3) What kind of readers can benefit from ‘Social Media Simplified’?
We’ve been asked this question in almost all the interviews. We believe that anyone who wants to be more aware of social media, learn about opportunities in this field and use it effectively for his/her profession or business is an ideal audience for this book. We think that the academic community, business and media, journalism schools, marketing professionals and social media enthusiasts should find this an interesting and thought provoking read. Even the undergraduate students ( engineering, commerce etc) who have an inclination towards social media and emerging new media avenues, should be able to derive some good insights from the book.
4) In your opinion, what factors do you think create hurdles to the social media growth in India? Any interesting insights that you would like to share?
We won’t term them as hurdle, but there are some factors on both marketers & Internet user’s sides which are causing below par social media utility. Marketers have a myopic view about factors like - few Internet users, time investment for social media, accountability of manpower in social media activities, social media RoI, incremental benefit with respect to traditional media etc. Though the number of Internet users relative to the total population size is very less, the absolute numbers are at par with total Internet user in some countries. However, since Orkut was the first social networking website to which Indian users were exposed, and as it was used majorly for fun & entertainment purposes, Indian social media users have built a stereotype image of all social media websites. There is very less awareness amongst Indian Internet users on the potential of some information intensive social media websites. There is a need of substantial change in attitude towards social media websites. Likewise, marketers should understand the benefits of maintaining sustained customer engagement (which would benefit the brand in long term) rather than short term objectives like no.of fans, likes, retweets. Most importantly, we feel marketers should try to remain close to their customers via social media, rather than outsourcing them completely.
5) In what ways did Social Media help promote your book and how has the response been so far?
We have been utilizing  social media for making the whole process from getting to know about the book, making a purchase decision and feedback ‘interactive’ and ‘transparent’.  To start with , we buzzed people in our network about the book, created an ‘online event’ launch for our Facebook Page and Twitter handle, launched a ‘ Sneak Peek’  series with very positive feedback . Now for the next thirty days, we are  doing a “Sneak Peek” on the 30 brands that we ‘ve covered in the process. We would like to use our Facebook page and Twitter handle to share informative content & case studies about social media (as far as possible from Indian context) which would be helpful for social media community in India as a whole. More will be unveiled as we progress.
We are sure a lot more will be unveiled in the near future! These are exciting times for Social Media growth in India and keeping track of them all is our sincere endeavor at LHI.
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