IN CONVERSATION: Social Media is The Future – But Cannot Ignore Traditional Marketing
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ASMA: Do you think social media is changing the way academia operated earlier?
Mahesh Gopalkrishan: Yeah, it does. Currently a lot of target students especially in Management institutes are studying social media and obviously, it gives them a lot of experiential kind of a feeling, people share their reviews, people come to know about the various social media platforms in terms of infrastructure and immediate cultural activities across universities. And that creates a lot of perception in the mind of students to go for that particular institute depending upon their own perceptions.
ASMA: What is the level of impact social media has created on academia?
Mahesh Gopalkrishan: I would say that in terms of when students are initially looking out to join a university, so from that perspective and from branding perspective it has created a lot of engagement for them to know about any specific university. But obviously, at the end of the day, branding is one thing and deliverables is something different. So, to that extent probably students will have to physically go to the institute and basically see in terms of what is there at the infrastructural ground level, but obviously to go there the branding on social media plays a key role to build that image in the mind of students.
ASMA: What are the different facets where your organization uses social media?
Mahesh Gopalkrishan: As of now, we’re using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, but Facebook and Instagram are the platforms in which we are pushing a lot of traffic which leads to many coming on to this platform.
ASMA: What kind of pedagogical improvements social media has caused in your organization?
Mahesh Gopalkrishan: In terms of the online, we could see that web traffic has increased from social media pages to our website, and we could also see a lot of buzz created within the network, the social network of the students who are looking at that amount of stuff so that trend can be easily figured out in terms of referral traffic has increased a lot on social media.
ASMA: What are the different modes that teaching, learning processes used via social media in your institute?
Mahesh Gopalkrishan: As of now, we are not really exposed to that level in terms of teaching mechanism as such. Currently we’re just creating a brand imagery of our university, but probably yes, we could publish a few live case studies or live classroom study videos in terms of student connection to basically to understand what kind of teaching methodology we follow.
ASMA: Are there any qualified and dedicated teams for managing the social media accounts in your organization?
Mahesh Gopalkrishan: We have just started because we were not there at all since last year. As of now I would say it’s a combination of handling it through agency and in house team who will be managing it. But we are currently exploring it in a very organic level I would say and not at a large scale. So, probably after seeing the results we will increase the dedication in terms of money and time and take help of professional agencies to take it to the next level.
ASMA: What are the important aspects of calculating ROI on social media investment in an academic organization?
Mahesh Gopalkrishan: Calculating ROI probably from a university perspective like us would be in terms of the number of leads we’re generating, what is the brand perception, the impressions which we are creating through social media.
Secondly, the kind of traffic which we are driving from Facebook to our website and how it’s getting converted into enquiries and possibly new admissions. So, that would be the ROI in terms of clicks, impressions and visits which we’re looking at.
ASMA: What are the domains where social media is playing a crucial role in success of an organization which has admissions, placements, alumni teaching, learning etc?
Mahesh Gopalkrishan: Currently we are exploring for the admissions criteria, alumni’s probably don’t have a much of a role to play but, obviously it will play a crucial role in social media which has started building and having alumni’s and create a brand imagery in our university. But, yes as of now we are more into admissions and placements, and publishing placement stats.
ASMA: What are your views on traditional marketing initiatives VS social media marketing initiatives in an organization?
Mahesh Gopalkrishan: Traditional marketing will play a very crucial role as well, but my feeling is that social media, the trends has really picked up and even though one cannot live only with social media but it will help in filling up your reactions via these media vehicles which we are using it to take it to the next level. So, from this perspective I feel it is better to invest in social media at a larger level, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore traditional media marketing techniques completely.
ASMA: What would your suggestions be for the academic institutes for adopting social media tools?
Mahesh Gopalkrishan: I would say that they need to adopt social media in a bigger way and also build relevant analytics as it’s not just about creating a brand but also sustaining it. One really needs to measure it in terms of how you are performing, what is the objective to build the brand for lead generation and measure it in terms of how you are performing, what is the objective to build the brand, what tools you are using and to ensure that you are in a right direction. If that is in place than I believe the institute in a longer run will reap a lot of benefits especially in the years to come.