Samyukta Media is alive and kicking, please visit website for more updates www.samyuktamedia.com
So it has been about 3 months that I have quit and an update is much needed on how has life been without a job. Life has been good, more importantly, it has been exactly the way I planned. Sometimes I get worried when everything goes according to the plan, a voice echoes constantly in my head saying, “Something have got to go wrong somewhere.”
Having spent a good time in Breakthrough I realized that for a Non-profit organization to run a cause based social media campaign it is important that the core staff own the campaign and feed the online conversations themselves. A consultant can only ensure that strategies are built, tools are in place and the campaign is set in motion but to keep it running we need core staff, involved with on ground activities, to be engaged with the online conversations. Thus my role as a consultant will always be limited to the extent I set up the strategies, run it for a while, engage and inspire the core staff to take it forward. Once that is done it will be time for me to move on to other organizations who need the same ground work before they could take up social media campaigns and advocacy.
I quit Breakthrough with that thought and then I sat back, relaxed and asked myself – Ok, so where should we start?
One thing was clear, that I am not going to do another job because like I said, I want to contribute to multiple organizations, causes, fields rather than be comfortably secured with one job. The other important thought in mind was that I need to sustain myself and perhaps my family. Not that I have a lot of liabilities, dad has his pension and my sister is independent but then our utility bills are huge and dad bears them. A little contribution wouldn’t harm.
Enter Samyukta Media, a Social Communications Consultancy. An initiative born with the mission to take the social media revolution, as we see it, to every door step; To make online media simple, accessible, affordable and sustainable.
I have a problem with gaps, gap between rich & poor, black & white, urban and rural and so on. In every society the privileged people mostly live in their own bubbles oblivious to the pain and sufferings of the marginalized people To fill this gap there is a need to reach out and converge. Most importantly, the work done by non-profit organizations in India is required to be brought into the global forefront. This can be achieved by using social media strategies and technologies.
Indian Non-profits and Social / Online media
I have known several NGOs and development professionals in my 8 years of work experience. Each doing amazing work at the grassroots. While some of them have a fair amount of funding to sustain them, many are self funded and really run on a month to month basis, often, the activists paying bills out of their own pockets. But you ask an average MNC employee or average Indian babu, what does he/she know of NGOs and he/she will say, “NGOs are boring fund bungling agencies getting rich on foreign funds.”
This mindset have to change. The need is not on the part of the NGO but on their part who don’t understand what it means to work for a cause. Because once they know, chances are they will join hands. NGOs have to reach out as much as we have to reach out to the NGOs.
Most organizations I have met have told me about two of their most common challenges, documentation of their work and knowledge sharing. Every time I hear this I tell them,
“the best way to document your work and share knowledge and experiences is by using social media. You can do documentation in multimedia format, share them with the world and all these are for free”
This statement almost 90% of the time finds a cynical response.
“With barely 3% of Indian online users, what is the point of doing all this online stuff?”
The remaining 10% of the time it meets intimidated response,
“Oh no we don’t understand all that, its too complicated, we can barely handle our emails. And we cannot afford a digital service provider either.”
Indian non profit sector is still using the traditional news letters, email groups, press releases for their communications. Their websites have the most common and boring navigation tabs like Home, About Us, Our work, Contact and Donate. They have neither the time nor money to think beyond this. Except a few organizations in the last 2 years very few of them actually even cared about online activities. Most of the time they don’t make budget heads for online communications. Even a costly PR agency only handles TV and press for the Non-profits and does not provide online PR services. The apathy towards the online space is unbelievable.
What will Samyukta Media do? (See the Services)
I, with my humble venture wish to change all these. My efforts are to convince my friends in the Non-profit sector that firstly, social media is important even though internet reach in India is minimal; Secondly, social media is something that they should be able to do on their own, all they need is a bit of introduction and a little push. Samyukta Media is here to provide them exactly that.
I say ‘social communications’ rather than ‘social media’ so as to emphasis on the fact that it is not just enough to have a social media presence, one has to also focus on how to communicate and what to or what not to communicate using the social media tools.
Needless to say, the entry point to social media is different for different organizations, businesses and individuals. For those who are absolutely clue less, I create their basic online foot prints, write the initial content keeping in mind the organization’s mission and causes and lastly train the staff on how to carry it forward. Others who might have created a presence but not really sure how to optimize I help them build strategies etc.
But this is only a small part of what I want to do with this venture. Let’s say these are to begin with, I am very ambitious with its future.
Who am I competing with?
In the past few days I have had several panic attacks imagining myself trying to make my space in a field which has leaders such as Rajesh Lalwani (Blogworks), Gaurav Mishra (2020 Social) and Kiruba Shankar (Business Blogging) I see these names as the unquestionable leaders in the Indian social media field and I cannot fully explain how tough it is for someone like me to compete with them. So I am NOT. They are also more like my mentors and friends (I have known all of them for 4-5 years now) so the question of competition doesn’t arise.
I am trying to create my own niche, which is simplicity and sustainability.
In the past 3 months I followed 100s of Google alerts, news feeds and blogs and observed that there is just too much focus on social media marketing for profit making businesses. No body talks about non-profits. Their approach, their language, the words they use all focus on business, words like customer, target, market, profit, product, competition and such.
The non-profit sector talk in a different language. No body understands that better than me. Non-profits also don’t want powerpoint presentations and numbers, they need somebody to handhold them through the process of social media campaign and advocacy. That is my niche.
So that means no corporate client?
Well, money mostly don’t harm no one. So I am not allergic to it. But think about it, if you are a giant like Mitsubishi Cedia you will hire an Experience Commerce who can pull of awesome campaigns like the Great Driving Challenge, I am a small fish compared to them. A TATA Tea’s Jaago Re campaign will hire a Webchutney. Their costs run into over a few lakhs but they are awesome service providers.
There are many questions I am still trying to answer. Should I register as a company or firm? Should it be for profits or not for profits? Should I invest? Hire more people make a team? Or should I be a sole consultant?
These questions will take some time to find answers, but all in good time. Till then, send me your wishes and words of encouragement on my humble start, my small step in a big world. What you read in this post today are things people are not supposed to reveal about their business. But then this is me, and my truth, let us see where it takes me.
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