Published: 23rd September 2019
Everyone must understand the objective of spending time on social media: Karthik Srinivasan
Karthik Srinivasan helps us understand the nuances of social media and how can one make the best use of the platform
After two decades of working as a communication professional for various reputed companies, author of Be Social: Building Brand YOU Online Karthik Srinivasan quit and chose to become an independent consultant for marketing and communications.
According to him, youngsters can use social media as a tool to enhance their careers and not just post selfies or forward news. He says, "I have no clue why people share selfies, unless they think they are celebrities and others are interested to know what they do in their day-to-day lives. I tell people that whenever they share something on social media, it should be of use to others. For example, if you are posting a picture of what you are eating for breakfast, then share the name of the restaurant so that the eatery can gain new customers or other people can simply find out about the good breakfast options available around." Excerpts from a conversation with the author:
1. Why does one need to build their brand on social media?
Whether you are a student or a working professional, you are one among millions of people who use social media. Hence, there is a need for you to stand out so that you can be better at doing business or connecting with other people. For instance, even in a classroom, there are always those who speak up or answer every question to show that they have studied. This is also a type of branding. When we look at the opposite side of the spectrum, some students are backbenchers and don't want to answer any questions to show that they are not interested. Now, it is up to people to pick a negative or a positive brand. As people grow more mature, they should choose a positive brand for themselves. This is why there is a need for branding on social media.
2. What did it take for you to write the book Be Social: Building Brand YOU Online? How is it relevant in the current times?
The current debate on social media is negative. The impression is that our data is being stolen and sold, that it makes us get addicted and so on. Instead of that, why don't we think that because of it, we are able to connect to strangers across the globe and learn more? I was thinking that if there is so much negativity, then why are we spending so much time on it? There is a way to make use of this powerful tool. Don't just think about what social media is doing to us, ask yourself how you are contributing to the platform.
3. Can youngsters use social media as a tool to enhance their career or the options they have?
Youngsters have taken to social media far more than middle or old-aged people. This is because youngsters think it is easier for them to manage it. They find far more interesting things on social media which is why everything goes viral around the world. But taking up a challenge to click a selfie at a dangerous spot or posting a risky TikTok video have led to deaths. While taking up these challenges, what youngsters don't think about is that one can become popular for the right reasons or for the wrong ones. For instance, if a student who is fresh out of college applies for a job, every company nowadays does a name search on social media just to see what these people are all about. But on social media, the person is not their real self, they project another self. They selectively share the perfect two minutes of their day across all the platforms of social media.
If you are cognizant of this kind of nuance, then social media can also be used as a storytelling device to build your brand. You can start posting things that can add value to your career when you apply for a job. Anyone who uses social media like this has the advantage of getting a better job over the one who does not showcase themselves. When a person is a working professional, then they can curate their online persona to match the profession they would like to take up. For example, if you are a sports journalist and have shared something interesting, then people will get to know you better. This kind of recognition will help you on a broader level and branded companies might ask you to join them. Another aspect is that it becomes important for the older generation to build their brand too so that they can work as independents consultant for other brands.
Build a brand: Karthik Srinivasan along with other guests at the Atta Galatta stores during the discussion on social media
4. Who can youngsters look up to to learn about social media presence?
From the point of view of a working professional, I would say Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group. My book has a complete chapter on his presence on social media. The reason for this is that he does not really need to be on social media, but he is there and does well on Twitter. He doesn't need to talk about his family, daughters, rains, women empowerment and so on. But he talks about everything like any common man. His tweets go viral and the fact is that no other CEO in India is as good as him on social media. He shows his human side on social media. Whenever people want to buy automobiles from Mahindra, they will think about the human behind the brand who is genuine and does not cheat.
5. What are the basic things that one must keep in mind while posting something on social media?
One of the basic things I recommend is to understand why you are on social media in the first place. According to data from a report by GlobalWebIndex, people in India spend over two and a half hours every day on social media. I think two and a half hours is a lot of time and if you don't have a real objective behind spending this huge chunk of time, then it is a waste. I suggest that you have an objective, something to gain from the time you spend on social media. Once you have an objective, it becomes easy for you to share relevant things on social media. Whenever you share something, read it aloud once before you post it. When you read it aloud, you are trying to understand what the other person would feel when they read it. It is then that you will understand how people perceive the post. You will start questioning yourself and add empathy to what you post so that it doesn't hurt the sentiments of others.