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Interview: Sanjay Mehta of Social Wavelength on its Second Round of Angel Funding
Interview: Sanjay Mehta of Social Wavelength on its Second Round of Angel Funding
By: Namita Ved

The New Media space in India is certainly on an exciting road as Growth persists & so does healthy competition arise. Social Media has been one of the most chased topic of discussion ever since the web has evolved to make it a social platform – where multi communication chains are built & has been one of the fastest building medium when compared to Print, TV, Radio etc. Moreover, Brands are now realizing the power of this medium & are hiring agencies or specialists to make sure their online presence is not only executed but also well monitored.  

One such company in India is Social Wavelength which has recently been Angel funded & is working with an array of brands since three years now. We exclusively caught up with Sanjay Mehta, Joint CEO at Social Wavelength to know more about this development & his plans in the near future.   

Q1 - Congratulations on Social Wavelength's 2nd round of Angel funding. With a company that's just less than three years old, how would you describe the journey till date? 

Very exciting journey for sure. For an entrepreneur, all journeys start with a vision. Very rarely however, does the journey actually go, as per the original vision. However, Social Wavelength has been an exception. Not only has the vision panned out nearly completely as visualized, the growth rate has been far more accelerated than what we had conceptualized! 

So yes, all in all, it’s been fast, it’s been racy, and it’s been very exciting :) 

Q2 - How do you plan to utilize these funds for the growth of the company in the coming months? Any plans of mass recruitment or Expansion?

There are a few clear areas where we will be using these funds:

a). We expect to expand on our geographical presence. Start offices in Delhi and Bangalore within a few months. So there will be some recruitment there, and of course, the infrastructure cost.

b). We are also focusing on creating verticals of business, beyond the default Social Media marketing. We believe that companies will need to understand and participate in conversations that happen amongst employees (past, present and future ones), some may need to participate in investor conversations (especially companies that are listed or on their way to get listed), and others may find social media to be an amazing market research opportunity. These kinds of opportunities need focused effort in terms of domain knowledge, to develop. And our aim is to bring experts from the industry on board, and along with our understanding of social media, together; we can add a lot of value to clients, in these specialized areas. 

c). We are also investing into some technology aids for social media analytics, workflow, etc. 

Of course, recruitment will happen and continues to happen. But there is no plan to do "mass recruitment". We will be selective in hiring, and will look to hire talent that is exceptional and which also fits our organization culture well. 

Q3 - How has your company enabled Brands who're your clients in making their social media presence felt. Could you name a few that could be counted under your body of work & the unique activities your company has done for them?

We have worked with many great brands and continue to work with them. 

For the entertainment brands like Channel [v], Star World, Star Movies, Star Plus, etc., we have not only extended the presence of their various programs on to the social spaces, but we have extended the character of the channels in independent conversations and engagements on social media. 

For a brand like Havells, where there is a challenge of being in a low involvement, low engagement category, we have used interesting pegs including energy, cricket and ad campaigns, to generate buzz and active participation from fans. 

With Mudra, we were involved to manage social media for AdAsia 2011. And from building up interest, featuring speakers, creating user generated content around the theme of the event, to covering the event very actively, live on social media, we connected a large part of the advertising and marketing world, via the social media presence of AdAsia 2011. 

For a B2B business like IGCW (Industrial Green Chemistry World), where we have been involved now, for more than 2 years, we have managed to build a global community of people interested in the space, over various social media platforms. There have been two large events which we have managed during our association with them, IGCW 2009 and recently completed, IGCW 2011. In both cases, the role played by social media to connect and engage the stakeholders (speakers, academicians, consultants, industry professionals, students, etc.) was significant. 

These are just a few examples from different types of businesses and segments, to give you a feel of our work. In fact, we are working with more than 50 brands on retainer level, and have a large body of work that we can showcase. 

Q4 - A lot of noise is made when the question arises of what brands should be doing on social media. Pertaining to Indian markets, do you think this is a niche industry or one with many spokespersons in it as there are tons of quotes by 'social media experts' on the internet?       

Not just in India, but globally also, there are many so-called social media experts. I guess, in any new field of this kind, such a phenomenon is bound to happen. While the hype will allow people to ride on it, and make a quick buck, those who aspire to be leaders and long term players, will need to show how they are different, how they get the medium at a deep level, and how they can help make a difference to a brand, in its core business objectives. 

That said, the space is evolving, and everyone is a student, no matter anyone calls them an expert or a guru or whatever! 

Q5 - What according to you will help in seeing a clear growth for companies like you & other social media boutiques in the coming years? Are there too many players making it a cluttered market or is it healthy competition.  

There are a lot of boutiques in the space at this time. And there is genuine challenge for these boutiques to scale up. Scaling up a social media business is not easy.  So while there may be boutiques who may cater to a few clients, I believe that there will be few who can reach decent size, say upwards of 500 people with multiple offices around the country. We aspire to be one of such large social media agencies. 

Somewhere that our large experience of building and running businesses comes to the fore, is to convert an opportunity of this kind into a scalable business, by creating the suitable business model for it, and also by recruiting talent of the best kind, from industry and from agencies. 

Q6 - How important is it to educate Brands on the 'power of Social Media' as a platform. Does Social Wavelength as a company believe in evangelizing this space. If yes, then how do you do so? 

Absolutely necessary. While there are a few brands who can be termed to be a little ahead of the curve today, most are still grappling and many are yet to begin their 'adventure' into social media. In such cases, it is absolutely necessary for people like us to evangelize the space. 

And we have been actively doing this, in many ways:

a). At a very early stage when we started out, we had an open offer to prospects. We would go and give them a 45-60 minute talk in their offices, ON social media (and NOT about Social Wavelength), and share with them, the opportunities that the space provides. This was accepted by many brands. It is another fact, that several of them developed confidence in us, at the end of such talks, and ended up doing business with us! 

b). We are fortunate to be called as speakers and faculty at various industry events, and also within corporates, when they have some of their internal events. We have participated in more than 50 such events, I believe, between our management team, and have only carried forward the torch of social media, at these events. 

c). We are quite active on blogs, forums, discussion groups, etc., and keep sharing our views, and thereby also, continue the process of evangelizing. 

d). We have also talked and shared our views at several colleges and management schools. If we can help them get a better idea of social media, we reckon, they will contribute to the brands, in companies they join, after their education. 

Q7 - Lastly, being a 100+ employed company, whats the culture like at Social Wavelength. 

The culture at Social Wavelength is clearly of a young and dynamic organization. While Hareesh and I may be the "seniors" in the industry in a way, at Social Wavelength, the rest of the team is largely under 25 years of age. And the team has a lot of fun (check our recent 'goonda theme party' at the office, for example), there is sharing of knowledge, there are training sessions often taken by the team members, there is good camaraderie, there is a strong sense of purpose.. 

All in all, we have a good foundation laid, some great team leaders, and that sets us up well, for the next springboard of growth! 

iMedia Connection India wishes them all the very best!