The Relevance of Social Media Agencies in India 2023
The Increasing Relevance and Demand for Social Media Agencies in India
With deeper and broader penetration of the internet in India, a minefield of opportunities has opened up for social media agencies. An increasing number of businesses are scrambling to gain marketing and business leverage by profitably tapping into the ever-expanding reach and power of social media networking platforms, thus amping up the demand and relevance for social media agencies in the country.
Understanding Social Media, Social Media Networks, Social Media Agencies
If the turn of the 21st century ushered in the age of the internet, the third decade of the third millennium has spawned the era of social media, where social media networking platforms and social media agencies rule the roost.
For the newbies and those who are not clued into the world of the internet, it is important to understand the concepts undergirding terms like social media, social media networks/ platforms, and social media agencies. Broadly speaking, these are all cognate terms closely associated with the internet realm today. But each of them has distinct meanings and characteristics of its own.
The term “social media” encompasses in its ambit all websites and online platforms (including different types of media, such as videos, blogs, etc.) that allow businesses and individuals to share and exchange content and enable participation in digital networking.
In other words, social media draws upon web-based and mobile technologies for communication and also for turning communication into an interactive dialogue between different participants.
Social networking platforms, on the other hand, are web-based online channels that allow people to interact with one another. The rise of technology and internet consumption have acted as accelerators for the growth of social media platforms and social media networks.
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The prolific growth and expansion of such online channels, in turn, have acted as game-changers for connecting and engaging with internet users and online communities at large. Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Quora, are some of the top social networking sites prominent on the World Wide Web today.
The growth of social media and the proliferation of social media networks fertilized the ground for rising of social media agencies. In a way, social media agencies can be likened to being the offspring and progeny of social media and social media networking sites.
Businesses, whether big or small, need social media and social media networking platforms to market their products and services, and these are now being offered by social media agencies. A social media agency does the job of marketing and advertising products and services on different social media networking platforms on behalf of the client company.
A social media agency could thus be a marketing or advertising company that uses social media resources and/ or is engaged in the task of promoting, advertising, and marketing the business of client companies using both social media as well as social media networking platforms.
The explosive growth in the popularity and following of social media and social media networking platforms have resulted in these channels emerging as the go-to mediums for promoting, marketing, and branding products and services on the internet.
Each of these platforms has something to offer that can help rake in more business and social media agencies help to promote the business of their clients on different social media platforms.
Social media agencies are thus productively tapping into the mediums of social media and social media networks. They are helping to fulfill the growing requirements of promoting, advertising, marketing, and branding products and services of different businesses.
This function performed by social media agencies has assumed all the more importance and salience in recent years. That’s because businesses, entrepreneurs, independent professionals, and freelancers are increasingly choosing to use and hire the services of social media agencies to reach and engage with their existing and potential customers on social media and social media networking sites.
It has thus become both desirable and necessary to hire a social media agency to market one’s business more efficiently and profitably. At the same time, the prolific growth of social media agencies in India as elsewhere in the world is a timely reminder of the boom in digital and social media marketing, which can be attributed to the explosive growth of social media networking platforms.
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The Dawn of Social Media Agencies
The genesis and roots of social media agencies can be traced to the advent and subsequent rapid growth of social media and social media networking platforms. In fact, the recent growth and evolution of social media networking sites is the primary reason for the spread and runaway growth of social media agencies today.
Around the late nineties and early noughties – when the internet was in its efflorescence – companies like Google and Yahoo were busy spreading their wings on the way to becoming powerful and popular mediums of communication and information.
Google and Yahoo were blazing the path for the Internet age that would soon bloom in full glory. And the growing bulge of internet consumers was beginning to get a foretaste of the full-bodied social media networks that were to follow.
Soon, the arrival of sites such as Six Degrees and MySpace foreshadowed the ubiquitous following and footprint of today’s bigger social media networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Within years, social media networking sites like Facebook and Twitter had caught the fancy of internet denizens all over the world. On the heels of their popular success and massive adoption, several other social media networking sites burst onto the scene: Instagram, Tumblr, Spotify, Foursquare, Pinterest.
Products of the rapidly evolving internet age, these social media networking sites swiftly established themselves in the public ken by offering new-fangled services geared to serve specific social networking niches.
Today, three decades after the internet made its way into the popular psyche and mass culture, it has now cast off its adolescence to enter the next heady phase of mature growth.
Riding on the back of technological advances, the internet has become a universe all its own. It is inhabited by a dazzling array of planetary stars – cyberspace behemoths like Google, social media networks like Facebook, online shopping Goliaths like Amazon.
Coming next in order are again millions of satellite entities on the internet offering multifarious ancillary services. Among such entities are hundreds and thousands of social media agencies engaged in a host of activities designed to leverage the powers of social media networking platforms.
Traditional Media Agency Versus Social Media Agency
All media agencies share one common goal and objective. That is to promote and serve the interests of their clients through targeted advertising, marketing, and promotion campaigns on the specific media platform for which the customer is paying.
In this respect, both conventional or social media agencies work by enhancing and amplifying their customers’ brand appeal and helping to amp up the sales of their products and services on the chosen marketing and advertising platforms.
Apart from the commonalities, there exist quite a few differences between traditional media agencies and social media agencies. One very obvious difference is that traditional media agencies employ and craft their advertising and marketing campaigns for their clients on select mediums and channels: radio, TV, newspaper, magazines, hoardings, and billboards.
Social media agencies, on the other hand, engage in a purely online marketing and branding approach where the focus is exclusively on driving traffic for their clients on social media and social media networking channels.
For companies and businesses looking to market and promote their products and services, the traditional marketing/advertising approach through the print or electronic medium (TV) as employed by traditional media agencies can be more expensive.
Also, the returns on investment often come with a longer gestation period and can be tough to measure accurately. Conversely, social media marketing carried out by social media agencies offers a quicker, surer, and more cost-effective way of promoting a business.
The beauty of social media marketing is that social media agencies can exactly show and tell their clients about the efficacy and effectiveness of their advertising or marketing spends. But can anybody find out how many people read or saw particular marketing or advertising communication in a newspaper or even switched on a radio or TV to hear or watch a specific campaign?
Thankfully, it is possible to measure social media marketing and find out the number of times somebody has clicked through and viewed a marketing message. Also, one can know exactly how many times someone has visited your company’s website pages and if any visitor to your website has also shared any content with others.
Another unique feature of social media marketing is that it allows one to change or edit a marketing message or campaign if such a need arises. However, the flexibility to make amends and changes to your communication is not possible once that has been published in print. By its flexibility, social media marketing scores over traditional media marketing in terms of interactivity and engagement with the target audience.
Social media as a platform lends itself to direct engagement and interaction with customers by way of two-way conversations, chats, comments, likes, shares, etc. Social media agencies can help their clients to build a strong online community, which can help to propagate your brand message further and wider.
Social media marketing also makes it possible to target your potential and prospective audience through customized and built-in advertising tools. In turn, these tools can be fashioned with specific audience targeting features including location, interests, age, and other metrics relevant to a particular business category.
This advantage is not inherent to newspapers or television, which makes it difficult to craft campaigns targeted at people who may actually interested in your business. Quite obviously, social media marketing – a specialized function performed by social media agencies – confers bigger benefits and advantages than traditional marketing.
How to Select the Right Social Media Agency for your Business
Having discussed at length the nature of social media and the role of social media agencies, it is natural to ask about how a company or a business should go about selecting a social media agency.
What criteria and benchmarks should one consider? As the nature of social media and social media marketing has kept evolving with time, so have social media agencies kept improving and changing their stripes to be in step with the new demands and market needs.
When looking to hire a social media agency for serving your social media marketing requirements, one should look at certain table stakes – the basic acceptable market requirements – and the higher-order services that a particular agency is competent to offer.
It is very important to pick a social media agency that can best serve your social media marketing requirements and offer the maximum benefits out of the social media platforms. Picking up on a social media agency that falls short of meeting your requirements could prove to be costly in terms of wastage of time, money, and effort.
You may find your business lagging and underperforming the market and competition on important metrics like sales if you end up hiring the wrong company. To make sure that you hit the bull’s eye when scouting a social media agency, you need to assay and weigh certain important considerations in your mind and probe carefully to find out if your agency fits the bill.
- Make sure that your social media agency is in alignment with the specific requirements of your business concern. One should take on a social media agency that can take the pains to understand your business and accordingly map out the right social media marketing strategy to achieve the goals that deliver quantifiable results for the business. Pick on a social media agency that lays out a concrete blueprint and strategy to translate your social media vision to fruition by delivering tangible results in terms of more business leads, higher sales, bigger online reach, and deeper engagement with customers.
- Before choosing a social media agency, one needs to understand and frame one’s business requirements very clearly. These are days of specialization and in keeping with the times, social media agencies specialize and excel in performing specific and unique functions. As such, these days, social media agencies come wearing different hats and they come in distinct avatars: digital marketing companies; content marketing companies; social media marketing companies.
A digital marketing company is an entity that offers all kinds of online/digital services. They are like the general physicians of the medical world who are qualified and capable of treating and diagnosing commonplace, garden-variety common ailments but not something more complicated. As they are generalists and not specialists, it is best to visit a neurologist for a more finely-combed diagnosis and treatment if the ailment is brain-specific. Similarly, it is best to opt for a social media agency specializing in a particular core function if that happens to be the requirement a business is looking to meet.
Social media agencies specializing in content marketing place blogging at the heart of their marketing strategy. By creating topical and relevant blog posts that are closely aligned to the products and services of the client company, content marketing helps to build brand visibility around the product or services of the client company besides helping to raise an online community of users sharing a common interest.
For a company that is looking majorly to register its presence and pull ahead of its competitors on social media networking sites, one needs to hire an agency that has an established reputation for social media management.
The right social media agency will help the business to find and build the right target audience for its products and services. In the social media universe, finding the right audience and customer profile for your industry, product, services, business is the elusive holy grail that social media agencies help to discover.
- When hiring a social media agency, hire a company with a track record and experience in executing and implementing social media campaigns. Verify their claims by asking for the links to the social media campaigns.
- Make sure to pick a social media agency that does not cut corners when it comes to frequent, easy, and honest communication with the client. Make sure of the agency’s credentials and its commitment to sharing regular updates on the progress and status of its social media marketing strategy and business goals. The company you hire should make a sincere effort to hold regular conversations with you through e-mails, conference calls, meetings, etc.
- Advertising and marketing resources are limited and often come with tight budgets. It is therefore prudent to hire a social media agency that is capable of offering the biggest bang for the buck. Go for agencies that have reputed accounts with them and offer their services within a reasonable price range and command respect and credibility in the market.
You don’t need exceptional sleuthing abilities to find out if the social media agency you are about to hire is worth the dime you are paying to avail of its services. At the same time, avoid such agencies that tout a dubiously low price for their services because good performance comes with a cost attached and a low-cost-hire company might just as well offer poor services that are simply sub-par.
Suffice it to say that before hiring a social media agency, it pays to do your homework. Dig up some valuable information about your prospective social media agency by undertaking some background research.
You can get to collect precious anecdotal references and information on the agency by going through the user reviews on Google+, Yelp, and Facebook, etc. This feedback will help you to form an informed opinion about the social media agency that you wish to hire and also help you in deciding on the right social media agency for your needs.
The Future of Social Media Agencies
The proliferation of the internet into every nook and cranny of the country together with the jump in the growth and number of social media users has pitchforked digital and social media advertising to an orbit never seen before. As per industry statistics, India has close to 650 million active internet users in India.
A sizeable number of this internet user base are consumers of social media and contribute to the growing traffic on several social media networking sites. Industry estimates show that the average Indian social media user spends 17 hours on the platforms each week, more than social media users in China and the United States.
It is estimated that there will be around 448 million social network users in India, which is a significant jump from 2019 figures at 351 million. Among the leading social networking sites, Facebook comes out tops in India and across the world. In terms of numbers, Facebook accounted for about 270 million users in India as of last year, making it the country with the largest Facebook user base in the world.
Data shows that Millennials and Gen Z are the main contributors to social media usage in India. About 52.3 % of social media results come from Millennials whereas 28.4 % of social media conversations are from Gen Z; 15.1 % from those aged 35-44. Also, 97% of Indians who are connected to the internet watch videos online.
According to an authoritative industry report, the digital advertising industry in India is expected to cross Rs.50,000 crore mark by 2025. As per a report published by DAN and trade portal exchange4media, digital spend on advertising currently stands at Rs.13,683 crore and is expected to climb 27% to reach Rs. 17,377 crore this year.
The biggest slice of this share on digital advertising will go to social media platforms, and then to paid search, online video, and display media, in that order.
The share of digital advertising has grown pretty appreciably in recent years within the overall advertsing pie, which is expected to climb to Rs. 75,952 crore growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.9%.
For businesses, companies, marketers, and brands, the rise and spread of the internet has introduced another dimension and plane of activity for conducting business and commerce. Conducting and pursuing a business at the physical, on-the-ground level imposes various kinds of limitations of the real world.
However, the internet has opened a vast virtual world of seemingly endless possibilities. Today, a business can be conducted more fruitfully, more productively, more efficiently and cost-effectively, and more profitably through the internet than through the traditional and physical mode.
Looking into the future of social media agencies, one can safely presume that their prospects could not have been more promising. The world of the internet is only going to grow many times bigger, more pervasive, powerful, and influential. Alongside and concomitantly, services and solution providers to various existing and emerging internet niches, including those offered by social media agencies, are set to grow and flourish manifold.