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Ashok Lalla

Ashok Lalla is an Independent Digital & Marketing Advisor who helps enterprises use digital to accelerate business impact and growth.

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BW Digital: 17 Digi Ailments To Avoid

For brands to make the most of digital in 2017, here are a bunch of 17 digital afflictions to steer clear of

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

Hashtagitis: This digital infection is as common as the common cold. It refers to a brand’s use of an overdose of hashtags in everything it says and everywhere it says it, as if it is the most important thing that will attract consumers to the brand. Hashtags are essentially handy conversation markers in social media, and are best kept to being that.

The viral viral: The predominant digital disease amongst marketers before hashtagitis took over was the viral viral. It is still fairly rampant and is known to afflict everyone from the CEO to the still-wet-behind-the-ear digital newbie looking to create something that goes viral. The reality: Real virals happen, very occasionally, and cannot be created. Trending hashtags do not make a viral, neither do a million views of a video.

Appmania: “Let’s make an app” was in 2016 what “Let’s do a website” was in 2000. An app is good to have but not an end in itself as several marquee e-commerce brands have discovered. If an app is not used by a consumer every day, it gets fast forgotten like those books lying on that bookrack you no longer look at.
Think widgetising your brand instead and embedding it wherever your customers are, rather than building yet another digital outpost through an app.

Contest bug: This ailment spreads largely through unimaginative agencies and clients who think running a contest is a great way to build a brand and get customers. All that it usually achieves is contest junkies making another killing, while real customers turn blind and deaf to all the contest-related noise surrounding them.

Discountisis: Closely related to the contest bug, this is another grand fallacy that lazy marketers fall for. Giving something away at a discount attracts discount seekers, not real consumers. Take the discount away, and these discount seekers flock to the next brand giving a discount. Thinking about the brand’s intrinsic value and playing it up smartly is a great cure for discountisis.

Influencer influenza:
One of the fastest spreading digital ailments — this is what gets businesses caught up with trying to create brand impact through a few experts and opinion makers and an army of digital billboards (aka influencers).

Since the real influence of most of these influencers beyond their follower numbers is questionable, businesses would be better served by getting their real customers and advocates to spread the word about them to their networks, while they play the role of enabler in this endeavour.

Likeitis and fan frenzy: It is 2017. And we still hear of businesses seeking to grow their fan base and garner more likes on social media. How quaint. And how irrelevant. More so, since organic reach to one’s fans and following is pretty much zilch. Move beyond such vanity metrics and instead, focus on ones that can really impact a brand’s preference and sales.

Facebook fixation: No doubt, Facebook is the leading social network with a high number of active users on it. However, thinking Facebook is the social answer to all one’s brand prayers is no longer true.

More and more digital users are spending time in growing special interest spaces, and often in private social groups of their friends. A better approach will be for brands to focus on following their users where they are, and to start thinking beyond Facebook.

Transformation fixation:
The newest holy grail for businesses seems to be digital transformation. Basically, it is a way of playing catchup to the growing opportunity digital offers for businesses and their brands. However, expecting a digital transformation exercise to be an end in itself is shortsighted. All it does is prepare a business to be more relevant and competitive in an evolving digital world.

Data gluttony: Data may or may not be the new black. But what is clear, is that businesses are often tripping over themselves collecting more and more data without really making any use of it. I have even come across brands that are apparently willing to lose a customer who does not provide her mobile number at the cash counter at the time of sale.

Data is gold, but only the right data that is used in a smart manner to impact what is most important to a business. Start 2017 by focusing on a handful, but most relevant data points and expand the data menu gradually. Bite off as much data as you can chew.

Content dependence: Content to tell a brand’s story is not new. It has existed as long as advertising has. What has changed dramatically over the past few years are the formats of content and the nature of the interactivity between content and its consumers that digital has provided.

Therefore, merely thinking content without thinking consumer and brand and the interplay between the two, is akin to shooting blanks. You will make some noise, but achieve little real impact.

Ideas deficiency: Yes, vitamin I is a common deficiency in the digital play by lots of businesses. They simply “do digital” or expect the digital channels to do wonders by just being present on them. That is far from the truth. Solid, singular ideas that can spread their wings through digital is the crucial vitamin shot businesses must have in 2017.

Humouronia: The number of brands trying to be funny on social media is no longer funny. Humour may be a good way to connect with people, but not all brands have an intrinsically light-hearted or funny DNA.

Their trying to be funny does little for the brand, and often alienates it from consumers. Think brand personality first, before trying to be the funny one around, or the joke will be on you.

Trollenza: Trolls dominated social media conversations in 2016, and have come to be an everyday occurrence. What may work for politicians and those with an agenda does not work for a brand or a business. Trying to score one on competitors by trolling them directly or through paid trolls is a recipe for disaster. Trolling has no space in marketing or business.

Cheapeglia: This is the malaise that afflicts clients who always seek the cheapest digital marketing solutions, be it strategic advice, tech, social media, creative services, or media campaigns. Quality costs money, and brands built over years with deep investments cannot afford to jeopardise their future by always going to the lowest bidder. Think value, not cost.

B2Copia: Most business owners believe digital is good for consumer products and services but not as effective for enterprise or trade marketing. Nothing can be further from the truth. Digital done right can be the most effective channel for B2B brands, and outperform traditionally used trade marketing methods.

Digital India wonder pill: The political leadership evangelising Digital India does not mean India will dramatically turn digital overnight and all consumers and businesses will go digital. There is a steep evolution curve and miles to go. That said, not making digital integral to your 2017 brand strategy could be very injurious to your business health.

On that note, here is wishing all business owners and brand custodians an ailment-free, digitally-healthy 2017.