Using Social Media To Market your Business- Shahjehan at T2F 2.0

Shahjehan Chaudhary, the founder of, conducted a workshop on ‘Promoting your business through Social Media’ at The Second Floor which was jampacked with people from various cross-sections of the society, from budding entrepreneurs to media people to established businessmen. Everyone wanted to have a piece of the new elusive genie that is social media. To Shahjahan’s credit, he did managed to debunk some myths about the purported power of this new media especially Facebook.

First, a little about the ‘The Second Floor’. The Second Floor now rechristened as the T2F 2.0 is the brainchild of Sabeen Mahmud, a sort of a social entrepreneur. The brand is positioned to be a haven for intellectual pursuits, from book-reading to Singing workshops to Entrepreneurial seminars, it aims to be in the thick of creative endeavors of the city.

This session was coordinated by Jehan Ara, the president of PASHA in the absence of Sabeen Mahmood.

Here are the highlights of what transpired at the event:

(Shahjehan kicked off his presentation with the famous social media video that has become the norm at all such events:

  • How many users are there on Facebook in Pakistan?
  • About 1 million and the numbers are increasing exponentially.
  • That’s the paradigm shift in cyberspace. With the proliferation of social media platforms, news spread instantly, virally and exponentially.
  • I can try any brand and then blog about it and hundreds of people would know about it right away.
  • A product can make or break by a single post from the user because everyone is connected to everyone else.
  • Social media has stirred changes in publication in the following way:
    • Publish:  Infinite as opposed to few
    • Comment: Feedback as opposed to Monologue
    • Share: Viral as opposed to limited distribution
  • If HBL for instance provides unpleasant customer service to just one person like me, I can spread negative word of mouth in the online arena and within no time HBL will have a serious problem just because of one disgruntled customer.
  • However, you just cannot write something about a brand or a person and get away with it. When you are writing for a publication in the real world, credibility is neither established nor wiped away instantly, but online the entire world can comment on your article and everyone else can see what the others have said about it. So credibility is quickly built up or destroyed virally solely by the commentators of the article who themselves may not be the experts.
  • As an entrepreneur if you are thinking what am I going to say to my customers online, then you are asking the wrong question. What the customers are saying about you is a more pertinent question.
  • How to create enormous value for your business at virtually zero cost is a real possibility and ought to be the ultimate aim of any business aiming to use social media.
  • T-Shirt Wars (Showed the video on Youtube) is a video made by a couple of budding entrepreneurs on a shoe-string budget and yet it has been able to generate enormous interest, having 4 million views to date.
  • In contrast brands like Mobilink and Telenor spend crores to generate the same level of interest.
  • The new mantra is to create an experience around your brand to engage the consumer instead of just communicating the message which is a fundamental flaw of marketing of today’s era that communication wins customers.
  • The fundamental mistake of advertising is that repetition works. Of media is that content is king.
  • Offering a platform to the consumer to interact and engage in the brand, generating his own content along the way is the new age strategy.
  • Facebook is most effective in spreading information because of the news feed feature. Anything one person updates or writes about gets permeated to all the connected people. But the new itself ought to be enticing enough so that people pass that down to their connections.
  • Coke Studio was a culturally relevant product which appealed to this connected world, becoming a mega-hit in the social media sphere and not because it was produced by Coke.
  • In networked markets where there are hundreds of thousands of blogs, e-zines and what not on every topic under the sun, the commodity which will be the most scarce is Attention. You get the attention of the consumer and you’ve made it in the new world. Hence this is the age of Attention Economy.
  • The best way to get the attention of your target market is to engage them in something that excites them. Threadless, a small start-up was able to do just that by offering customers the opportunity to design their own shirts which threadless would then manufacture.
  • However, as a small start-up don’t expect to reach this number anytime soon and that also without spending money. If you want to be popular on Facebook having a large number of fans, you need to advertise on facebook.
  • And without a huge number of fans, you cannot expect to create a viral campaign. Just don’t expect to create a facebook page, put all your friends on it as fans and expect to go viral any news you put in your network no matter how good it is.
  • Until and unless you have at least thousands of fans for your brand, you cannot create a viral campaign on Facebook.
  • The good news is that advertising on Facebook in Pakistan is extremely cheap. For just a $100 or so, you can generate a lot of fans provided you advertise the right way. Instead of directing your target market to your website, you should direct them to your facebook profile and urge them to become a fan. That way you can stay connected to them and entice them with good offers as opposed to making them visit your website where they’ll just visit once and forget about it.
  • Also while creating the ad campaign on facebook, choose the CPC (Cost per click) instead of CPM (Cost per impressions) because by choosing the former you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. In the latter option you would have to pay for every impression generated which is a waste of money because if you bid too low, facebook won’t show the stats of the impressions that your ad got.
  • Also while choosing the target audience, don’t choose the sex. For instance if you choose female, chances are you’ll end up with a very low turnout. It’s best to choose all options under Pakistan. That way you’ll have the maximum possible reach.
  • On an average expect to pay Rs. 3 to 10 per fan. But that can wary enormously depending upon a number of variable. For instance a brand about fashion and style is going to generate a lot of fan following because these are the topics dear to the Pakistani heart especially women.
  • Facebook advertising in Europe and USA is very expensive, and if the same rates are applied here as well, then you would be better off using the traditional modes of marketing.
  • Remember that fans on facebook do not necessarily translate into sales. You have to engage the fans in a meaningful way for you to cajole the fans into buying your brand.
  • Twitter although an effective viral tool in the world is not so in Pakistan because not many people here use it. You need to have a critical mass on a particular platform for it to be effective. Until more Pakistanis embrace, it won’t.
  • The same goes for Youtube. Do a search for Pakistani videos on Youtube and you would be hard pressed to find a single meaningful one. That’s because Pakistanis are not that active on Youtube and most of the videos they themselves refer are foreign videos.

This was just a brief account of what Shahjahan presented at that talk.

Now, the brand valuation of the brand that is Shahjahan Chaudhary. Shahjahan is one of those budding entrepreneurs that are specialist in a field that didn’t even exist a few years ago. But he’s sensible enough to know that promoting yourself the traditional way in the real world is still the best possible strategy. Giving presentations and interacting with people face to face still reigns supreme, and he’s capitalizing on that to build his personal brand.

However, he does need to spruce up his presentation style. Nothing wrong with his delivery or confidence, it’s just that his presentation sounded more like a lecture in the university rather than an allusive speech on social media. Captivating the audience for two hours straight is no child’s play, and to capture their attention even for brief moments of time within that time frame is no mean task. He was able to do it for small bouts interspersed in dull passages of time, which was evident from the audience’s body language.

To be fair he did manage to engage the audience in the dying moments of the workshop and ended on a high note. Plus he was candid enough to state the ground reality about facebook instead of raising it to the altar of invincible success. He was forthright about the pitfalls and limitations of facebook and other social media tools which most other ‘social mediapreneurs’ won’t tell you about. He even explained about how to advertise on facebook on your own instead of seeking his help.

What he needs to do is instead of just explaining things like ‘being honest is going to be effective in the social media sphere’ or giving hypothetical examples, give concrete examples. The shirt wars and threadless were good examples. He needs to inundate his presentation with such examples, giving an example for each point he’s making, preferably even giving examples from his own experience. People warm up to you when they hear about your own success or failure story.

Shahjahan got off to a good start showing the famous social media video, but then he launched in a sort of monotonous lecture devoid of real-world cases. Even the slides were bland at most.  The slideshow is available on slideshare. Judge it yourself.

The thing is, if you lose your audience in the first five minutes, you’ve lost them forever.

To Shahjahan’s credit he managed to recapture his audience to an extent. And every time he piqued the interest of his audience, it was either due to a real example or a pragmatic way to boost up their business, and that’s exactly what he should be doing for majority of his presentation.

The most mindboggling thing about this whole event is its lack of coverage, let alone mainstream media, even online. The most amazing thing is that there’s no post-event review even on the organizers’ websites, t2f 2.0, PASHA or on Jehan Ara’s blog even though she seemed to be filming the whole event. There’s no video on Youtube.  Then there were quite a few people from the media side including Dawn and Synergizer yet no one bothered to cover the event online.Maybe there is some sort of mention of it in the dark recesses of the net, which is as good as non-existent.

Then Shahjehan has a blog of his own by the name of Billion Dollar Workshop which he seems to have abandoned after just a single post more than two years ago. If he’s not going to be using it anymore, he ought to completely delete it instead of letting it stay in a state of limbo because it’s showing in the search results. You don’t want any material floating around that doesn’t augment the brand image that you are trying to project, not if you can help it.

Bottom-line: You need to capitalize on every available opportunity to promote your brand even if it’s just a presentation in the real world or a blog in the virtual world.