Social Media Success Stories from Sri Lanka?

Few weeks back, @Chamara posted a Facebook status asking for ‘Social Media Success Stories’ from Sri Lanka. My instantaneous response (which I posted as a comment) was ‘it depends’.

‘Success’ is a relative word, as it depends on how you define your desired outcomes. What brand ‘A’ expects to see as social media results may totally be different from what the brand ‘B’ defines as success. Without knowing what you want to achieve from your social media campaign, it is impossible to define whether your campaign had been successful or not.

Unfortunately, in Sri Lanka most social media marketing campaigns start off with no proper objective in mind. Let me guess how you started your social media efforts! A top executive in your company read something online about the ‘Facebook phoenomena’ and told his immediate subordinates (the middle managers), “Hey, Facebook is becoming really cool. Let’s do something there”.

The middle managers (who are most of the time middle aged as well, and are not really fans of Facebook), will turn to the IT manager of the company and ask ‘Errrr.... why don’t you look into this? After all, it’s something to do with the Internet, so why don’t you give it a try?”. The IT manager walks into his department, and picks up the guy who he most frequently noted browsing Facebook while at work (a junior IT executive, in most of the cases). 

From that point onwards, that guy will be in charge of the entire social media presence of the brand. This is how, most of the Facebook pages of local brands ends up in the hands of the IT department, instead of the marketing or corporate communications department where it should ideally belongs.

Then you start spending money on ‘building your Facebook presence’. Spend money on sidebar ads, spend money on bribing fans to write positive comments on your wall, spending money to hire freelancers, so on and so forth. After about two three months, you call up that young executive from the IT department and ask “How is our Social Media campaign doing?”. The young IT executive answers “We’ve done 50,000 fans in three weeks, and we are 20,000 fans ahead of our biggest competitor”. Most managers stop at this point and say “Great! Well done!”, but how many of you will ask the question “so what? What’s the point of having 50,000 fans on my Facebook page? What’s your plan next?”. If you ask this question, many things will begin to surface. You will realize for the first time, that you have not set proper objectives for your social media campaign, you have not identified measurement criteria for success, you have not initiated your Facebook page as a plan of a much larger overall social media strategy. (Strategy? Ah! The most abused word in management jargon!)

Sadly enough, this is the true status of how Social Media Marketing is done in Sri Lanka. May be this is not a problem unique only to Sri Lanka, as there is no proper set of commonly agreed global standards for managing social media. As a result, most companies blindly run after the ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ count on Facebook and Twitter as measures of ‘success’. This false sense of success, paves the way for publishing false case studies as ‘success stories’.

A true success story should clearly answer the question ‘how social media helped to solve a business problem for your company, or how it helped to take your brand to a different level?’. A true succes story should have a clear set of defined social media goals in the begining, and sound evidence to show that, you have achieved those goals. It may need not to be a huge achievement but the most important thing is, there need to be a positive ‘impact’ from the social media campaign, on your business. In other words, the ‘status quo’ of your business should be different when you compare ‘before’ and ‘after’ the social media campaign.

Now, back to @Chamara’s question “are there any Social Media Success stories in Sri Lanka?”. @Udara said, ‘yes’ and we are eagerly awaiting his story to be published :-). I’ve done a video blog sometime back (with poor audio quality, I know!) about our friendly neighbor Coco Veranda’s social media success. Facebook has published this case study, about “Gonuts With Donuts” as one of the best Sri Lankan success stories with Facebook marketing. These are only a few published, Sri Lankan success stories on Social Media. I’m sure that, there are many more SME sector companies like Coco and Gonuts, who are having their own story to tell. Do you have a story? Tell us, we’d love to hear!

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  1. Hi Amitha, Super Post and Very True . it is indeed difficult to find social media success stories in Sri Lanka. As you said correctly any brands are chasing after likes , followers and circles ( in google plus) to gain more attention and the brands with the most likes, followers and circles always seem to be end up on top.

    Somehow i feel that it is not a bad thing since in social media that is how you can show the results , that is how you get customers to visit your brand page and check it out. ( it is the mindset of the customer and as a brand u need to target their mindset to get their attention).

    But to show be a "Successful" Brand in social media, you need to check the offline behaviors of the customer too. How many are buying the actual product and using it? is that particular brands sales rising due to its social media campaign ? those questions need to be answered too. Seems like the example you have given " Go nuts " are getting both those things correct. That is how you can call them a successful brand who succeeds in social media.

    Sadly, many doesn't seem to understand theory and just stick to the likes and the followers and say to the rest that they are successful. I guess it is important to educate them about the real meaning of social media and how to use it more tactically in order to be a successful brand.

    Just my thoughts :). Would love to hear your thoughts on it. Great Post again :)

    Cheers !!

  2. Hi Chamindra,
    Yes, educating the market is the key to solving this issue. The problem is, we Sri Lankans are very reluctant to do detailed research and studies, before executing something. We always do things randomly. How many of our brand managers are open to learn these things? How many of our agencies are willing to think long-term, rather than focusing on short-term like counts?
    If this continue like this, Social Media in Sri Lanka will face the same fate as what happened to web development in Sri Lanka. People who barely know how to set up a web page, went to clients and charged big money to do a simple website. In few months, client realize the website doesn’t serve any purpose and they concluded “having a website is useless”.
    Same thing will happen, if this madness for attracting more ‘likes’ continue like this.

  3. check the RAINCO page

  4. @Anonymous at 12.41PM,

    What's so cool about the page? How do you conclude it's a 'success story'? How good does Rainco do on other social platforms?

  5. Wouldn't you say Dialog's being Verified by Twitter counts as a success story? :)

  6. Hi Himal,
    Twitter verification, IMHO is never a “Success story” for any brand. Those are just feel good factors. Say, even if you don’t get the “Verified” badge on Dialog Twitter profile, we all know it’s truly Dialog. (Sorry to say yaar! :-D)
    But I believe, Dialog may have a bigger story to tell as a ‘success story’, if at all if the company is willing to publish it. It may be a story about how the company reversed some negative sentiments about the company published by bloggers, forum posters, Tweeps, etc by using Social Media as a platform. How the brand managed to increase the “likeability” (rather than the ‘likes’) among social media users in SL etc.

  7. Fine article.... agree with all the points. I also doing social media. The thing is I have seen big companies doing it by spending money.... Its good, but as you say its bribe... And so many people have no clue what is social media manager does. One company asked me to do their Face book fan page and suddenly they offered me very low salary. I know the salaries of social media managers. Company say we will pay less money to our full time workers, and how could we give you equal or more than it. I realized that those people do not know what is social media....
    So happy to read your article, Thanx...


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