We recently arranged yet another phone interview with an early adopter of social media for business. Mr. Arif Hafiz is the founder of Kozmo, 'the legendary Bengali culture renaissance institution that arrived on the Dhaka outing/nightlife scene in 2005...a cafe chain that pioneered the lounging culture in the city with live gigs, recitation, readings and off course cosmopolitan cuisine!' as the way it puts it on its Facebook page. A couple of issues became clearer from the conversation with Mr. Arif Hafiz which could be summarised as below.
Social media has dramatically decreased the cost of communication for Kozmo to reach out to its customers - existing and new. Your marketing mix can allow a combination of communication channels such as TV, print, radio etc. but its increasingly getting more appealing that the cost for conveying your marketing messages is the cheapest if done through social media. Companies as big as Coca Cola recently included social media in their ad plans for the Super Bowl. Moreover, communication can be very interactive and personalised which is otherwise not possible in traditional communications channels.
It perhaps made more sense for Kozmo to opt for Facebook as its main mode of communication platform because the kind of business it is in, it attracts a crowd predominantly urban, young to middle age and who are techno-savvy. Kozmo is a place for dining out, enjoying gigs and most importantly for socialising. So a strong social media presence to engage its visitors is a natural component in its marketing strategy. Imagine companies like RahimAfrooz, the energy sector pioneer company of Bangladesh. Should companies such as them also jump into the social media bandwagon just because Mr. Arif Hafiz of Kozmo uses it and is seeing returns? May be not. The role of social media may become a bit murky when it comes to purely business to business industries who can be better off by sticking to their websites and extranets. However companies which are more consumer facing and allows consumer interaction within its premises (restaurants, retail shops, banks, mobile customer service centers etc.) are good candidates for extending their service through the social media channels.
Its clear that Kozmo's social media activities are solely dependent on the founder himself. Its possible that its more because of his natural love for his entity which he founded which makes him the natural spokesperson for his brand through Facebook. What would happen if Kozmo grows so large in all divisional headquarters of Bangladesh in 10 years? Will the business complexity allow Mr. Arif to continue his conversations through social media? Or he will need to appoint someone to carry on the conversation while he can focus on money matters? Its extremely important to atleast to attempt to define some roles and resources within the organisation as to who or which group would take care of the social media communications. It could be a cross-department, it even can be someone external to the company who has turned out to be an accidental spokesperson (like a good brand ambassador) by virtue of his/her love and loyalty towards the brand.
Fans and followers of Kozmo on Facebook need to enjoy the exclusivity they might receive for opting in this channel over any other. Say if Kozmo promotes daily discount codes to its 'fans'by posting a note like this, 'rush to Kozmo today and write this discount code ILOVEKOZMO24APR at the reception to have 50% discount on everything you eat! Spread the word. The offer is for its Facebook fans and their friends and their friends only, so spread the word and hurry, as this offer ends today!'. This has the potential to create some sort of urgency to loyal Kozmo goers to redeem the short-lived discount. It also has the potential to make the 'fans' feel special as the discount was offered to them only and was not published in a newspaper or aired on TV, radio.
Relocation of marketing efforts
It will be an increasing trend in coming years that consumers will spend more time on social media on a daily basis than they would be reading newspapers, sit in front of TV or be glued to radio stations. As internet will start permeating consumer's daily lives, a lot social interaction, entertainment, education, news breaks, even social commerce and group buying will take place in a social media setting. It doesn't imply that your business should abandon established means of consumer communications, it just implies that your business should start taking social media as the best way to get social with your customers, pretty much the way Kozmo has done it.