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Social Media Gets Into Biz Picture It Emerges As Key Attraction To New-Generation Employees

Updated: March 31, 2012 1:25 pm

Leveraging the power of social media is the in-thing now among the businesses which see tremendous potential in furthering their reach through this now increasingly popular route. It has already emerged as a key advertising tool and the days are not far off when social media gets a significant pie of the overall ad budget.

According to independent industry figures, companies in India have gauged the might of social networking and are currently spending over Rs 1,200 crore with 30 to 40 per cent of marketing budget on digital media.

“Goods and services worth about Rs 23,000 crore are traded currently on the social networks across the world and the figure is likely to swell to about Rs 1.35 lakh crore by 2015 with India’s share likely to cross Rs 10,000 crore mark during the course of next three to four years,” a senior industry watcher said.

Start-ups and national and international companies operating in India are increasingly embracing the social media to enhance their business and on average spending anywhere between Rs two lakh and Rs 50 lakh a year on social marketing campaigns.

A large number of national and multi-national corporations in India are using the services of social media management companies that help small, large brands manage and heighten their social network presence and maximise their exposure in the newsgroups and news feeds of the people logged on the social networks.

“Significance of social media in the current scenario can be gauged from the fact that the Department of Information Technology (DIT) has recently advised all government departments to make the most of social media in their day-to-day work and communicate with citizens effectively,” said another industry official.

A large number of players in sectors as diverse as BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance), auto, FMCG, manufacturing, IT, telecom, biotech, education, infrastructure, packaged goods and health care are believed to have doubled their spending on social media this year.

“Companies both large and small are turning to social media platforms as the percentage of internet users on social networking sites continues to climb,” an official told Uday India. “Brands today cannot afford to ignore the significance of social media as a key medium to target their identified customers and connect with them.”

Companies are taking advantage of social media to advertise, launch new products, study consumer behaviour pattern and communicate, interact directly with their customers and woo new clientele.

Companies have started hiring employees specially for their social and interactive media cell who perform the task of tracking conversations, blogs, discussions, chats on social networks to ascertain the consumer preferences and perceptions towards their products and services.

Many companies have also said that their dependency on traditional print media for advertisements has reduced drastically and people logged on social networks are their core target group and social media allows them to directly interact with consumers

Currently, there are over six crore mobile internet users and about eight crore users using internet across India.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Linkedin, Orkut, Hi5, Friendster and BigAdda are certain popular social networks used by companies in Delhi to carry out their social media campaigns.

“Low cost coupled with higher visibility and wider reach on social media is the main reason behind this surge in number of companies cashing in on inevitable social media platform to reach young customers as highest number of active social media audience in the country is in the age group of 15 to 25 years,” officials said.

While industries are increasingly embracing the social media, can the employees be far behind?

The desire of young professionals and college students to use social media, mobile devices, and the Internet more freely in the workplace is strong enough to influence their future job choice, sometimes more than salary does, according to a recent international study published by Cisco.

The study characterises the seriousness of the next-generation workforce’s demand to work remotely with more flexibility in their choice of devices. This demand illustrates the importance of the relationship between the Internet, workforce culture, and companies’ competitive advantages, and surprisingly indicates that traditional methods of attracting and retaining young employees may be less important as the ‘millennial’ generation comprises more of the workforce.

The study revealed that one in three college students and young employees under the age of 30 (33 per cent) said that they would prioritise social media freedom, device flexibility, and work mobility over salary in accepting a job offer, indicating that the expectations and priorities of the next generation of the world’s workforce is not solely tied to money.

Mobile networking, device flexibility, and the blending of personal and work lifestyles are key components of a work environment and culture that are increasingly important in determining which companies will land the next wave of industry talent.

More than two of five college students (40 per cent) and young employees (45 per cent) said they would accept a lower-paying job that had more flexibility with regard to device choice, social media access, and mobility than a higher-paying job with less flexibility. In India, 57 per cent of employees surveyed confirmed that they would accept the job option that paid less but offered device flexibility and remote accessibility.

More than half of college students globally (56 per cent) said that if they encountered a company that banned access to social media, they would either not accept a job offer or would join and find a way to circumvent corporate policy.

About two of three college students (64 per cent) said that they planned to ask about social media usage policies during job interviews, and one in four overall (24 per cent) said that it would be a key factor in their decision to accept an offer.

In reality, more than two of five employees (41 per cent) said that their companies marketed a flexible device and social media policy to recruit and attract them. This percentage was the same in India, where 41 per cent of students confirmed their preference toward companies that offered flexibility with devices and social media.

Almost a third of the employees globally (31 per cent) believe their comfort level with social media and devices was a factor in their hiring.

Sujai Hajela, VP and General Manager, Wireless Networking Business Unit, Cisco, said “The findings in the Cisco Connected World Technology Report provide a real-life insight into how information is accessed by college students and young IT professionals and how business communications are changing as a result. In addition to the impact on business communications, the study provides proof that the next generation of employees and their technology demands will influence job decisions, hiring and a new age of work-life balance. How businesses address these demands will determine their competitive advantage and HR success. It is not just a technology trend anymore—it’s a business trend.”

Another industry official commented: “The mobile revolution in India has considerably influenced the way employees communicate at the workplace. Thanks to the plethora of smart-phones and tablets available today, employees often have strong personal preferences; therefore, the ‘one size fits all’ approach by organisations does not work anymore. Our study will help orgnisations better understand employee expectations on workplace and mobility. Organisations are trying to update internal HR and IT policies to support the increasing need for collaboration amongst employee. This is essential for enhancing employee productivity which is critical business metric today. It’s well understood now that employee-friendly IT policy which enables employees to go mobile can also serve as business enabler and a corporate differentiator.”

It is clear that freedom to access social media and use devices is increasingly important to the next generation of the world’s workforce—in some cases, more important than salary. The writing is on the wall for companies, which need to acknowledge this fact in greater numbers, and respond accordingly—for many industries, the status quo of previous work environments is becoming a thing of the past.

Incidentally, Café Coffee Day (CCD), India’s largest chain of coffee cafes, recently celebrated a social media milestone by crossing the one million mark on Facebook. Within just one year, CCD has achieved this landmark figure and commemorated the occasion with a unique nationwide celebration for all its excited community members online as well as offline.

Said K Ramakrishnan, President, Marketing, Café Coffee Day: “We are a family of over one million members now on Facebook which is a huge landmark and we are very excited about it. We have been able to reach this goal by listening to our fans and engaging them with unique and interesting activites on our FB page.”

In times to come, celebrations of this kind in the industry are going to be frequent for sure.

By Rajesh Rao

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