Brands that once communicated on hoardings now use Facebook. Actors that hogged the headlines are now competing 'Average Joes' on Twitter. Car companies that relied on television to sell product, now turn to YouTube. Adhvith Dhuddu, CEO of AliveNow, a Social Media Management company tells Explocity that if you don’t get your online smarts in order, you'll get left behind, standing by the curb.
Way back in 2008 (and on the internet, 4 years is a decade), even as he was finishing up his Industrial Engineering and Business Management Degree in Virginia Tech, Adhvith Dhuddu observed all kinds of companies already begin to use digital media to promote, sell, grab new audiences and shift to a ‘online’ universe.
'Hey, if they can do it, so can I,' thought the 22 year old Dhuddu who was already harbouring entrepreneurial aspirations. He came back home and started a digital marketing company called AliveNow. It was 2009. And he may have been ahead of the times back then, but now it’s clear that his decision was the right one.
"Today, the bulk of one’s time online is spent on social media sites. There are various platforms for advertising, but social (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and digital (websites, mailers) allow targeting to be specific. It’s measurable on the basis of Likes, Clicks and Page Views."
Dhuddu says his company grosses over 1 crore annually and according to him, is the most viable solutions provider in the city. "We cater to a wide spectrum of clients, but our main focus is retailers (shop owners) and restaurants. Instant gratification is imperative."
By this he means that if the shop has a sale, or if the restaurant is running a special, he can actually pin-point and zero in on a likely customer, and send a message to him or her, using his skills.
Are retailers savvy about social media? Dhuddu vouches for a definite change in the market scenario. "Three years ago, asking a Marketing Manager to pay us for social media management was difficult. Today, we show what we have done and what we can do for them and they are happy to work with us."
Dhuddu also explains that retailers understand that acquiring 10,000 'Likes' on Facebook through legitimate methods (if you’re not familiar with the practice of 'buying' Likes, then you should know that there are ways and means to just pay to add likes to your site as opposed to actually waiting for people to genuinely like what you’re offering) would cost between Rs 75,000-1,00,000.
But your work actually begins after acquiring those Likes. Retention of fans, keeping them engaged with content and creating campaigns that allow people to redeem something to generate revenue, is where a social media agency comes into the picture.
BangaloreMag wondered if there was a 'right time' to start one’s own business. "There's never a better time to venture out on your own than when you are young. Once married or you have kids, your propensity to take risks reduces."
He does have some advise for the would-be entrepreneur. "Start young and never duck from challenges. A piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs though is to keep your business plans crisp and simple. VCs and investors don’t have time, so keep your business idea within 500 words."
If Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populous in the world. Twitter would be eighth. These are facts that cannot be ignored. These days, a presence on Social Media isn’t just a formality. It has in fact emerged as the easiest and quickest mode of communication for any brand. Explaining the reach of Social Media, Dhuddu says, "In the next 3-5 years, there will be around 450 million users on the Internet. Interestingly, the US has 110 million Facebook users and India has 62 million. In the next 2 years, India will replace the US."
However, Dhuddu vehemently turns down the possibility of social media replacing mainstream media. "People won’t stop watching TV! Social media won’t work for every company in getting customers. For example, an airplane manufacturer would not reach their customers (decision makers who are 50+) through Facebook." he says. "But social media will become an integral part of advertising. Clients may opt for running a campaign entirely on social media, depending on their objective, but a complete abandonment of mainstream media will never happen."
I asked Dhuddu what inspired him? Was it a dream, a passion, something he heard, something someone said, a mentor a parent.
Refreshingly honest and utterly direct, he says, "My only source of inspiration is making money." He reads a lot about other entrepreneurs across the world and seeks inspiration from what they have achieved.