Technology enhances human relationships

Rohit Varma | Updated on March 10, 2018 Published on September 22, 2016


Highlights of the Mumbai edition of the Social Media Week

And, that was a wrap! Fifty-three speakers, 35 topics, and one didactic event! It’s great to be a part of such an incredible global event, where you have all the ‘social media gurus’ under one roof. This year’s global theme was The Invisible Hand: Hidden Forces of Technology (and How We Can Harness it for Good), and the Social Media Week’s events were held in the bustling city of Mumbai. What a week!

People always ask, what did you cover at SMWMumbai, and I tell them, the right question is, ‘What didn’t we cover?’ There were numerous topics, from social media trends, ideas, content and concepts, to insights, campaigns, tools, features, products, ROI, and so much more.

On the opening day, we were joined by Vivek Nayer, the CMO of Mahindra and Mahindra, as he walked us through the ‘Power of Storytelling in the Landscape of New Media’. Nayer explained why social media is so popular. He says, “Social media encourages innovation and virality for a winning combination.” But, Nayer also highlights a critical point most brands and marketers forget. He says, if you’re looking for data there’s always plenty of it available, but data is irrelevant if you can’t use your common sense and judgement. And, that message was just from the opening day keynote. With that benchmark set, the other days didn’t disappoint.

Day two focused on ‘News, Media and Entertainment’ with three keynotes and three panel discussions. A morning speech led by the Head of Sports Partnerships of Twitter India, Aneesh Madani, gave us a glimpse into the sporting world. His topic, ‘A look at how sport connects and dominates on Twitter’ showed us how who you follow on Twitter is a direct reflection of who you are. “We have moved into a new era where we can be anywhere, but still be a part of the conversation,” he said.

Day two also included a topic most people are inquisitive about – viral videos. But, Aditya Bhat, the Content Head for Reliance Jio, approached the topic in a different way: How not to Make a Viral Video. Bhat said there was no hard and fast rule or recipe for success when it comes to making viral videos.

Bhat says that viral videos have one common element: quirkiness. “You don’t need big budgets for a viral video. You just need an impactful message.”

‘Startups and Entrepreneurship’ encompassed the third day’s focus, along with an important focus on personal branding. Kavi Arasu, the Executive Coach of Leadership and change for Social Business, presented ‘Personal Branding simplified in 60 minutes’. “In the era of social media, building your own personal brand is more important than ever,” Arasu said. While the product is important, people trust people. A little note to everyone out there: You are your own brand!

A key thought that kept arising in everyone’s mind throughout the week was, ‘Why is social media so viral?’ Angad Singh Manchanda, Co-Founder of Chimp&z Inc, had the perfect answer: “There is one common thread among everything that goes viral – relate-ability.” Manchanda says the only reason people are on social media is because it’s the biggest source of entertainment today. And, who doesn’t like to be entertained?

The closing day of Social Media Week featured some great speakers, including Satya Raghavan, the Head of Entertainment of YouTube India, who spoke on ‘Monetisation of Digital Content’. Today, a vast majority of YouTube creators just use a phone to create their content. “A YouTube thumbnail is like a window into a shop. It could determine whether a consumer clicks on it,” was one insight from Raghavan.

To cap it all off, Atul Kasbekar, film-maker and fashion photographer, joined us on a panel discussion with Anand Desai, Partner DSK Legal, and Lavin Mirchandani, Founder of GetEvangelized to talk about ‘Celebrity Monetisation, Engagement and Content Ownership on Social Media’. “Brands think getting a celebrity to advertise and promote a product will help sell the product. That’s wrong! The product quality matters first,” says Kasbekar. He believes there’s a whole new world of celebrity on social media. It has created a sub-culture, just by accretion.

The common thread that ran through the ‘Invisible Hand’ theme was how technology is enabling relationships and relate-ability between people and brands and people. It’s no longer about the hardware or software, we are looking at how technology can build meaningful relationships within online communities.

Rohit Varma is the founder, R SQUARE, and director of SocialMedia Week

Published on September 22, 2016

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