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Beyond the Numbers: Interview with Sushobhan Mukherjee

Vikas Bysani

In this week’s Beyond the Numbers we catch up with Sushobhan Mukherjee, a highly awarded strategist with over two decades of experience in marketing. Follow him on Twitter for more insights into the digital marketing world and growth strategies for brands.

This interview is part of an ongoing series; see other great interviews with industry experts in our Interview archive here.

sushobhan-mukerjeeHow does your organization define social media marketing, and how does it fit into the larger digital marketing picture?

The ambit of social media marketing keeps expanding, as marketers realize that they have lost their monopoly of their brands’ storylines, they are now just one of many influences on their brands’ story. This opening up of Pandora’s Box necessitates a fluid definition of social media marketing.

We believe any conversation and indeed, any experience that can result in a conversation, is a form of social media marketing.

Digital marketing is of course a superset of devices, interactions and processes which influence experience, transactions and conversations. Once one views digital marketing thus, social media marketing becomes starts occupying a larger role.

How have you seen social media greatly impact your business?

Yes, indeed. As a consultancy advising brands, we have seen a deft analysis of social media reveal patterns, which change the way one does business.

In a recent assignment in North Asia, we found that conversations around healthcare were in lock-step with concerns about retirement and pensions. For a seller of healthcare packages, it is an opportunity to engage on a larger emotional platform. This has led to product innovation ideas, with the potential to add substantially to the bottom-line.

This example illustrates how we as an advisory business are impacted by social media – we find newer opportunities based on reading the social media tea leaves.  

When is social media data most critical to your efforts: During the planning process; while you’re executing a campaign, so you can change course or allocate more resources; or afterwards, to measure your success?

We have experienced greatest value during the planning process, using social media listening to shape our recommendations, pretty much as a laboratory. Calibration during campaigns and measuring success are no doubt vital, but subservient to what we create.

What’s more valuable, competitive intelligence on brands within your industry, or being able to look at the efforts from brands in other verticals?

Consumers think in terms of experiences, not categories or industries or verticals. If one uses Google Now, that experience raises expectations from every service provider (banks, are you listening?). This boundarylessness means that learning about efforts outside one’s category is extremely valuable. 

Social media channels are increasingly moving to where paid content is promoted more than organic content. How do you feel about this, and how has it affected your social strategy?

For one, this has raised the costs of entry, which is not a happy thought. That said, this movement is resulting in better quality content, which increases sharing and builds esteem. This renewed focus on how we say things (in addition to where and when) is fundamental to creating greater value for our clients. To use a financial markets analogy, it is getting back to Fundamental rather than be swayed by the Technical – Warren Buffet would smile at this.

What do you see as the single most disruptive force coming to the world of social media marketing?

Twitter providing ways to buy within the timeline. This will merge conversation and commerce. One expects Instagram and Facebook will replicate this rapidly. The mind boggles at the potential.

What are the social media metrics you don’t have access to today but would like to be able to leverage in the future?

I would love to see a set of vector like metrics, which indicate which way the flow of opinion is shifting and how fast. I would love to see Bayesian learning applied to mainstream metrics, not just in labs and doctoral theses. 

The descriptive role of social media metrics is over leveraged at the moment, to the detriment of the predictive ability of social media. Vectors and probabilities help model the future, don’t they?  

Click here to view more social media insights, thoughts and opinions from agency and brand experts.