Social media forcing corporates to revisit strategies: HUL chairman

With the proliferation of social media networks and the exponential growth in digital content, corporates are being forced to revisit their strategies and adapt to the changing situation, the Hindu newspaper quoted HUL chairman Harish Manwani as saying in a reports.

''The consumer is taking ownership of the content and the social media is creating the content about products,'' Unilever's chief operating officer and HUL chairman Harish Manwani told the newspaper.

The change, according to him, was not an option but a necessity and unless companies worked to address the new generation that accessed content on the social media, they would miss out, the newspaper said.

Manwani, who was in Hyderabad to address students of the Indian School of Business, outlined how the business landscape was fast changing. He said there were big changes in business-to-business (B2B) models, where agility and decision-making speed was of paramount importance.

''Putting in place the right analytics is critical in this context,'' he said in an informal chat with reporters.

The HUL top executive, who declined to share information about the company's operating numbers, said Asia would emerge as the next destination for companies as it was leading consumption-driven growth. China and other Asian nations had overtaken developed markets, including the US and Europe.

''We are in fact taking some practices from the developing world to developed countries,'' he said.

While large corporates like Unilever were evolving ways to address the needs of big format outlets, they had to simultaneously focus on the smaller stores. Regarding pricing, he said the question did not pertain to prices any longer, but consumers were more concerned about whether they were getting value for their money.

''Lesser income groups want trusted brands and were willing to pay that extra bit if quality is guaranteed,'' he said.

Meanwhile, The New York Times, reports some dicta about bad news travelling faster than good news as also some others like bad news sells are increasingly being overturned by the proliferation of social media, according to experts.

Neuroscientists and psychologists who have been pouring over emails and online posts have found that good news can spread and farther than news about disasters and other negative events.

According to Jonah Berger, a social psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, the 'if it bleeds, it bleeds' rule may work for the mass media that want the user to just tune in, as they were looking for eyeballs and did not particularly care how users were feeling.

He said mass media wanted users' eyeballs and did not particularly care how they were feeling. But when users shared a story with their friends and peers, they cared a lot more how it was received by those with whom it was shared.

Researchers analysing word-of-mouth communication - emails, web posts and reviews, face-to-face conversations - found that it tended to be more positive than negative, but that did not necessarily mean people preferred positive news.

But did users share news more often simply because people experienced more good things than bad things? To check out on the possibility, Berger looked at how people spread a particular set of news stories: thousands of articles on The New York Times' website.

Bergman and Katherine Milkman, a Penn colleague, analysed the "most emailed" list for six months, and among the most important first findings they came up with was, articles and columns in the Science section were much more likely to make the list than non-science articles.

The researchers found that science aroused feelings of awe and made Times readers want to share the positive emotion with others. Readers also showed a tendency to share articles that were exciting or funny, or that inspired negative emotions like anger or anxiety, but not articles that left them merely sad.

According to the researchers, users needed to be aroused one way or the other, and their preference was for good news over bad.