I just realised I haven’t posted a review of a book that I enjoyed reading some time back – “Facebook, Twitter and a Pair of Shoes” (FTAPOS) by G.Sankaranarayanan, here it goes.

There have been many books about how businesses can benefit from having a good social media strategy. FTAPOS takes a slightly different approach, rather than prescribing you with models to follow the author tells you about many of the successful journeys, how they achieved it and what we can learn. To be wildly successful in social media you have to play long-term; yes, it’s a journey and not a bullet point to cover. The book talks about how businesses can co-create value and become social businesses.

Sankar starts the book by walking us through the differences between the generic “wild” social and nurtured Social gardens like MyStarbucksIdea & Equal Choice. All brands desire to make their campaigns “viral” but what’s the single most important ingredient – unequivocally Sankar makes a case it’s virtue through the telling of this incident; a UPS staff who saved a dog from starvation and the post about it becoming viral in August 2013.  We ourselves have seen similar stories like the case of SouthWest Airlines turning around a plane to have a mother rush to her son in a coma last year, contrast this with United Breaks Guitars incident in 2009 that became a negative storm of embarrassment for United airlines.

When we think of brands going social, we think of social media marketing; the author makes a compelling case for a social way of marketing, which is about personal, high-touch campaigns and not about advertisement $$$. Social Media is not only for big brands like Coke and Starbucks, Sankar provides many instances of how small business have benefited immensely, the key is to approach social with the same care that companies give to a customer who walks into their stores.

Moving on, the author explains why social can’t be a one-way traffic of information from brands to customers. To be successful social campaigns have to be two-way interactions; it has to be more of letting the customers express themselves like what Cafe Coffee Day did through their Coffee-mate of the month or Titan created through celebrate father’s day with Titan campaigns. Advertisement campaigns tend to be planned, rehearsed, prepared for perfection over months; but social media is all about listening to your customers live and responding to them as humanely as possible. Like the saying goes 50% of advertisement budget goes waste but we don’t know which half, in social the audience tend to self-segment themselves, all brands have to do is to create focused campaigns and work with influences to reach to a wider audience. Lastly Facebook & Twitter can take a brand only to a certain distance, to be successful the brand owners have to put on a pair of shoes and walk along with their customers; only then true co-creation can happen. Without co-creation where you get all your stakeholders involved in the creation process, you can’t have true economic value for the long term.

To read about these in detail and how technology &agile processes can create affect even large existing businesses if they are not listening, pick a copy of this good book. Apart from the excellent material in-between its covers, for me, FTAPOS is a special book as I had the privilege of receiving the first copy of the book from Mr.Vinod K.Dasari, Managing Director of Ashok Leyland in an event last year.


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