I hardly watch any television but this time when I went visiting my mum, I ended up watching a whole chunk of it. And how has the medium changed! Every program, be it news, science or comedy, has a presence on social media. Reminds me of the days of the dotcom boom when every company displayed a “www” everywhere. And this has been happening progressively across all mediums – TV, radio, newspaper, outdoor, etc. Recently a daily soap had a Facebook-style advertisement in the newspaper! So I wasn’t surprised when I heard the presenter of a particular program “Third eye of Nirmal Baba” announce that the viewers can also connect with him on Facebook or on Twitter.
I visited the Facebook page, half expecting that it would either be deserted or in a state of neglect by page admins. But it was nowhere near to that; the sheer number of followers on Facebook could put large brands to shame. And the brand I’m referring to is a spiritual guru, Nirmal Babaji Maharaj who runs the Nirmal Darbar in New Delhi. And I wondered since when did the social savvy online junta believe in ‘spiritual gurus’. The answer seems to lie in the info section of the Facebook page that says ‘Devotees should visit this page and click LIKE BUTTON to get regular NEWS FEED from NIRMAL BABAJI’. Hence, we know for sure that 2,28,438 devotees ‘like’ the Facebook page for Babaji’s news feeds. And a whopping 45,846 fans are talking about them.
The wall is a spectacular show of sheer brand clout. There is not a single update about the brand (a person in this case) who continues to be elusive. All updates are about when a TV channel has added their program apart from the usual update from the cookie-cutter, ‘My ashirwad for everybody’. And the number of likes and comments for each of these updates is in 4 or 5 digits. As a social media believer, this is quite frightening to me. If the website does not give any information about the Babaji and his method of ashirwad, then what can one say about the Facebook page.
Curiosity got me to visit the Babaji’s Twitter page @nirmalbabaji and I was stunned to see 28,720 followers all geared up to be blessed by his tweets. The tweets are absolutely irregular and always skewed around his ‘samagams’ – mostly informing about bookings and cancellations with a rare ‘My ashirwad for everybody’ tweet along with information about a new channel where the TV program would be telecast. Currently, the program is on 30 channels as I was able to count them on the website.
The entire digital setup seems to be a really crafty one. As all your believers and so potential customers are on television, you broadcast your website and social media locations. When they visit the digital space, you push them to register for the samagams eventually. So much for conversions! The only information that is clearly explained on the website is how to register and where to pay and the cycle is complete!
The totally wrong social media presence shook me up. Here was a brand that defied all laws of social media – it is secretive, it is selling, it does not listen. It should have flopped a long time ago but it hasn’t.
What does one make of this? Social media helps you personify your brand – share your values and beliefs. However, for Nirmal Baba this seems unnecessary. He does not talk or engage, listen or solve issues in any of the networks. He only broadcasts about his services and one can see them selling like hot buns. He is surviving on the pure trust of his thousands of fans and followers; a social media presence is a mere namesake for him or rather another channel for sales and marketing.
Does this mean that other brands can violate social media too?
Well if you think you have an amazing clout offline and really don’t need to engage on social media, then you can. Consider the case of Dalai Lama being present on social media. As compared to Nirmal Baba, at least Dalai Lama has a much more better and active presence. The Facebook is more active and vibrant but then if you see the Twitter, he has got huge fan following with zero engagement. Simple reason is that the Dalai Lama has an amazing clout so even if he is just present, people will follow him.
Hence creating a trustworthy brand is a must for any business or startup. If you have a pathetic product or service, then despite hiring the best social media agency in the world, you won’t get results. Do you think otherwise?
Images courtesy: Nirmal Baba website, Nirmal Baba Facebook page