How brands can go ‘social’

How brands can go ‘social’

Those of you who have lived social media over the past decade will attest to the fact that it started out as being a platform for making friends or keeping in touch with each other. About half a decade ago, it became a platform where people started putting out their personal opinions. People wanted to express their views, and it became a great platform for building a personal brand.

Today social media has assumed gigantic proportions across the world. Whether we’re looking to get a piece of news or looking for a job, we tend to use social media to find it. In the past 2 years, it has become the go-to platform for any information that you might be seeking.

In the global context of 4.2 billion users of social media, India has 400 million users of Facebook and 230 million users of Instagram, making it the largest market. It also makes India the country with the widest number of users for Facebook and Instagram.

The third most important social media platform in the world is LinkedIn. We enjoy LinkedIn because it is the place to find or land great jobs. It has already garnered 87 million users in India. Whether it is Instagram or Facebook or LinkedIn, everybody is looking to develop or introduce new features and cater to the users in India.

It is no secret that we are the youngest country in the world and have 400 million Millennials and another 480 million GenZ users. In fact, India is home to 20% of the global GenZ population.

All of this presents an enormous opportunity since the GenZ are digital natives and are not daunted by technology. It just shows that they’re able to take to social media in any form of online technology, rapidly and fluently.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, social media usage went up four times because it was our only form of respite, release and entertainment. It connected us with people who we weren’t able to meet for at least a year, if not longer.


Brands then decided to launch their businesses online and started creating awareness and fuelling demand for their brands. A lot of micro-businesses saw great success in social media as well.

In 2021, social media became the number one channel for marketing ahead of any form of published advertising, tele-marketing or e-mail marketing. People who had never been on social media platforms also jumped onto the bandwagon.

There are numerous reasons as to how companies in the alcohol beverages (alcobev) industry can also benefit from being on social media. Firstly, social media becomes an excellent tool to create awareness, especially for home-grown brands.

A lot of home-grown brands, which have limited production and make their products with a lot of passion, are unique in their method of production. They can use social media as an excellent channel to tell their stories.

Secondly, social media becomes a very important place to build a community. This is a community of your followers who are going to be loyal to you and will eagerly await what you have to show and tell them.

All they expect in return is valuable content that is authentic, and that in some way adds value to their lives and helps them enhance their own lifestyles.

Thirdly, alcobev companies can at least create a latent demand for their products. You can create a lot of occasional context and aspirational demand among your consumers. Since there’s a wave towards premiumisation, everybody wants to drink better.

Consumer insights

One other important use of social media, which we often tend to overlook, is that it can be an excellent tool for marketing insights. If you listen to what your followers have to say, you can get some direct, unbiased feedback.

For instance, if you pay attention to the direct messages, or the comments on your social media platforms, you will notice that your followers will often ask questions. This gives you direct and real insight into how your product is being received.

We have been in the business of education since 2009 through the Sonal Holland Wine Academy. For the 10 years before the pandemic, we’ve been offering classroom training, but during the pandemic we had the perfect opportunity to launch our online courses.

We designed, curated and produced our own classes with the vision of wanting to make world-class wine education accessible, enjoyable and affordable. Just through marketing on social media, we saw nearly a 300% growth in our online education business during the pandemic. Some of our short form videos went viral too.

Lastly, it is important to stay consistent as a business or as a brand. Posting just once a week doesn’t have much impact. It is important to consistently post something and think about your viewers to put out content that they want to see from you.

– The writer is India’s first Master of Wine and runs several wine educational, tasting and consulting programmes through her Mumbai-based consultancy, SoHo Wines. This is an abridged version of her presentation on the topic. The full version can be seen on the YouTube channel of Brews&Spirits Expo.