New Delhi: Paritosh Sharma’s company, Until ROI, is intriguingly named, and he has an explanation for it. In the aftermath of the economic slowdown, he says, people and businesses were seeking out returns on investment—which is what his company hopes to deliver.
Formed in 2009, Until ROI boosts its clients’ profiles on social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter, guiding them towards the audiences they want to reach.
Sharma, 29, has already signed up an impressive list of clients: Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, India Yamaha Motor Pvt. Ltd, Sage Software India Pvt. Ltd and information technology lobby Nasscom, among others. His goal is to use social media to reach not just existing customers but also new ones. “The key point, which we started with, is that social media has a viral effect,” he says. “That is, it can start with one individual but can spread to millions of people...”
Until ROI’s process is divided into three steps. First, Sharma understands his client’s business goals, and studies the customers and the market. Next, Until ROI develops a strategy to get these customers involved. Finally, Until ROI sustains these interactions with content—with polls or debates, for instance, or blogs, forums or offline events.
The reach of social media sites, and the information they provide, often make them more effective than marketing personnel, says Rajiv Mittal, vice-president of JK Technosoft Ltd, one of Until ROI’s clients. “Being a firm that provides educational services and campus recruitments, we had to make sure we reached students,” Mittal says. “And since the young generation today is completely hooked to the Internet, the use of social media has actually proved very beneficial...our turnover of students coming for queries or admissions increasing by 9%.”
Until ROI’s work proves useful for sectors such as hospitality, education, real estate, and retail, he adds. “This is a time when people prefer checking (a product) out first before they actually take the decision of buying that product, and these sectors require (a) lot of background study.”
Social media’s biggest advantage, Sharma notes, is their ability to catch people in their leisure time, and to feed them meaningful content. “When people get polls or debates about a certain product, or they read the blogs about the person behind the product,” he says, that makes them “more aware”. It also gives companies a chance to know the opinion of millions of people they’d never be able to reach otherwise.
“In India, the general belief is that these social networking sites are just another marketing tool, and the companies also revolve around generating traffic to the site,” he says. “But the actual need for generating content, like live blogging, discussions, is dismissed both by companies and social media marketing firms.”