Siddharth Rajsekar is a musician turned social media geek, speaker, podcast host and an entrepreneur at heart. He has racked up more than 5,000 hours of experience as an expert in social media marketing, consulting, social networking, web branding, SEO, PPC and other forms of digital marketing.
In 2004, Siddharth was inspired by Robert Kiyosaki’s ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ to start his entrepreneurial journey by setting up a record label with his wife.
He is now also a co-founder and director of Scion Social and Scion Ideas. Scion is neither a regular workplace nor a regular social media marketing company. Rather, it is a place where happy people gather to come up with creative ideas that add value for customers.
Wondering how Siddharth made the transition from music to social media marketing? That was our first question too. Listen to the entire Kamkash podcast interview with SMM coach Siddharth Rajsekar, or see the full transcript below.
Q&A With SMM Coach Siddharth Rajsekar
Nishant: How do you make the transition from being a musician to a digital marketer? What was the motivation or need that made you want to become a marketer instead of an artist?
Siddharth: So, not many people know about this, I actually flunked my 12th grade. And that was the starting point for me, stepping into this journey of looking at life in a different way and picking up things that really matter. So after failing my 12th I went on to do my sound engineering in Chennai (back in the year 2001). I started working since the age of 19. I taught people how to record music and produce music using laptops, how to use sound mixers and other recording gears. Later on I got recruited by a company in Dubai that wanted me to make ringtones for them. I am also a music composer myself. So during the polyphonic era, 2004, 2005, 2006, I have actually sat down and composed a lot of tunes for mobile devices, ringtones and games. And later on came back to India did a lot of work in the mobile space, worked with Tata Teleservices, with Reliance, with many people in the mobile VAS industry. Then got married, my wife is a singer, she was an Indian Idol finalist and she was featured on national television in the year 2006.
After we got married, since I am a sound engineer and she being a singer, we thought why not we launch an album. So in the year 2009 we launched our own music album called ILLUMINIZE and we had a very good success in promoting it independently and lot of people downloading that album digitally across the world. Through social media, we did a bit of promotion. So that’s where I got started in the digital marketing journey. So around 2009, I realised the power of Internet and I have been learning different online marketing strategies ever since. To sum up, it’s like Alice in wonderland. I never planned that it has to go this way, but the only thing that I have been keeping as a core is following my heart and doing things which really inspire me.
Nishant: On your website, you have mentioned that you used online marketing and social media to promote your first music album ILLUMINIZE. Can you explain how you did that?
Siddharth: Facebook was just starting off at that time. I think people were just moving from Orkut to Facebook during that phase and from what I could remember, we had joined different Facebook groups back then and we shared a free song from the album and we set up a simple website. In fact, we have redone the website. It’s not like what it was before. We gave away a free song and around 5000 people downloaded the free song because we were promoting the free song campaign in the different Facebook groups where we knew our target audience would be. It’s a devotional cum spiritual album, a fusion album so I basically took a lot of ancient vedic texts and put it with modern sound and shared it on those groups where people are interested in such alternative music. And, that’s how we gained traction. So to answer your question, yeah, we did a lot of group promotion and it just picked up steam from thereon.
Nishant: okay, so you identified your target audience, the community where they engage more, and you tried to promote over there.
Siddharth: Yes. Exactly.
Nishant: What are the first three things someone should do if they have little or no social presence and want to change that? For example, a startup company.
Siddharth: Okay, so for a startup company that does not have any social media presence, the first thing that they need to do is identify who their audience is. Because once you know who your target audience is, then it becomes much easier for you to take things up to the next level. First is to identify your audience. The second step is to create a content plan around your audience’s needs and by understanding what are their pain points, and then the third step is to identify which platforms your audience is more active on. A big misconception is that you got to be everywhere on social media, but that’s not true unless you are a big brand where you need to have the brand presence. But if you are a startup company, even if you just pick one or two channels where you know for sure your audience is engaging, you can just pick one or two platforms and start posting content out there.
Nishant: Is that where the buyer persona comes into action?
Siddharth: Exactly. Identifying your target customers is very clear on your buyer persona.
Nishant: Siddarth, can you please explain to our audience how to create a buyer’s persona?
Siddharth: The method is very simple. In fact, you can just search on Google or search on HubSpot for buyer persona template and you can actually come up with a bunch of questions, so you need to create an imaginary prospect, give them a name, what age, where are they from, what is their education level, what is their family situation, what are their fears and frustrations, what are their hobbies, passions, what movies would they go to, what music they would listen to, what kind of books would they read. If they had to go out and eat, where would they go and eat? So the exercise that I follow till today is, getting deep into the minds of the prospect and creating a virtual customer. What I call a customer avatar. When you create a virtual prospect, the only question that you need to ask yourself is whether the post that you are gonna do on social media is gonna resonate with that person or not. If your answer is no then you should not be posting. If your answer is yes then that’s what you need to post.
Nishant: Could you please explain how to create a content plan for the target audience. You mentioned that once you know your target demographic, once you know your target audience we have to create a content plan. Even on social media, we need a content plan.
Siddharth: The process of creating a content plan is again linked to the customer persona. Knowing what are their needs, and once you know their needs, you can actually think about all the different pain points they go through, okay? For example, consider my ideal prospect is an event organiser. Then in my customer avatar, I would write the person’s name as Mr.Ramesh, he owns an event management company in Bangalore and the biggest challenge is that he is not able to consistently fill rooms for his events, he is having a hard time with digital marketing because he has spent a lot of money and he is not getting much results. Number three, he doesn’t have the systems and processes for him to track, from where he is getting his different leads. Number four, he doesn’t have a proper customer service engine or a lead management system online. If any enquiries are coming online he is not able to track them properly. So all these are pain points and once you know the pain points you will derive phrases from the pain points. Around these phrases, you will create content pieces which address the pain points of your target customers.
Nishant: Siddharth, mostly people will be having their online presence on three social platforms like linkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. What are the key differentiators between these three platforms?
Siddharth: Each one is a different type of platform. If you look at Facebook, it’s more a platform to build and nurture relationships. LinkedIn is bit professional. It is more on the professional side, brings out your business side, your career side and as you know LinkedIn is more for people who are either looking for jobs or for recruiters who want the right prospects and business networking and to make strategic alliances with key decision makers.
I would say Facebook is like home and LinkedIn is like an office. So even the persona and the types of content will change. At home you are a little more casual, you may post content which is more casual in nature. People come to Facebook to de-stress themselves, they wanna look at what other people are doing and what’s going on in other people’s lives. Whereas on LinkedIn, the mindset is little bit more geared towards business. So even the kind of post you do there would be more around your industry, relevant topic supported by statistics, those kind of things which are more attuned to business. And Twitter is a short messaging service. I use Twitter a lot to discover new content, to find out what kind of things are trending so that you can go join in the conversation.
Let’s go back to the example of events. If Mr.Ramesh is an event organiser and if he is using a particular hashtag for a particular event and if, I am planning to participant in that event, I can actually go and engage in the conversion with other people who are attending the event using that particular hashtag. In Twitter and Instagram, the usage of hashtags are more and it’s a fantastic social network for you to discover new people, to discover new content and to dive in and engage in a conversation and build a meaningful relationship with people that will directly impact your business.
Nishant: Siddharth, I would like to take you back to a question I asked previously. What process do you suggest for a startup company, if they have little or no social presence and want to change that? Can you please elaborate on this.
Siddharth: Like I said the three step formula. Know who your customer is, create a content plan around their needs, then set up your social media handles. But more importantly, I follow a seven step process.
Step 1: Know your Business Objective.
A business objective will be like, how much of business is getting through social media and where would you like to take this in the next 12 months. Pen down your business objective.
Step 2: Plan your Marketing Objective
You can set a marketing objective like I should generate two inquiries per day through social media. Be clear with your marketing objective.
Step 3: Come up with a Marketing Strategy
For generating 2 or 3 inquiries per day, you need to come across strategies like doing facebook ads, creating landing pages, daily tweets on twitter something like that.
Step 4: Create a Content Strategy
Content strategy will be like If my objective is to generate two leads per day what content should I be generating. Should I create an ebook, white papers, blog posts which are clear towards lead generation? That will all come under the content strategy.
Step 5: Create a Content Matrix
Create a content matrix to measure your KPI’s. Set those benchmarks. Whether you want to measure the reach, the traffic to your website, or you want to measure the quantity and quality of incoming leads.
Step 6: Create Your Content Tactics
Your content tactics can be something like, I am going to do one post on facebook fan page and share it with 10 groups per day.
Step 7: Plan and Decide on a Budget
Allocating budget is important you should allocate a budget for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You should have a two track activity, one side you create good pieces of content that resonate with your audience and parallelly run ads on these different social platforms to really get that visibility.
When you go through this process, then it becomes very easy for you to track social media ROI. Otherwise, you will be a postman posting stuff and not measuring any results or wondering why am I not getting customers.
Nishant: Siddharth, the next question is how do we integrate SEO with Social Media Marketing?
Siddharth: SEO has changed over the years as you know. Google keeps changing its algorithms. The one thing that really matters is the quality of content. So for some of you who are still new to this, SEO is all about Search Engine Optimization or how to write content that adds value to the audience and picks up by search engines like Google, Bing and other. Mainly we integrate SEO with SMM via blogging. If you are able to do the right keyword research around your niche and get quality articles written on your blog and share it across social platforms and across web platforms like Delicious, Reddit, Tumblr, etc. (there are different marketing automation tools that periodically sends your blogs across social medias). Once you are able to integrate high-quality keyword rich article and share it across social media, that will actually help you in long term SEO and you will start ranking for more keywords.
Nishant: Siddharth, you mentioned high quality articles. What does a high quality article mean?
Siddharth: The search engines are getting smarter every day. So previously you could get away with what we used to call as keyword stuffing. So the keyword is, say “best dentist in Bangalore”. Previously you could actually just repeat that keyword many times in the article, best dentist in Bangalore, couple of times in the article and you would rank on the first page. But the search engines are getting smarter every day. So what I mean by quality content is content which is humanised, content which adds value to readers. And there are many tools also in WordPress where it will actually track and give a readability score for your article. So it also depends on the style on how you write, how you can keep the language simple easy for people to consume.
Google search algorithms are extremely smart and it can actually identify the language patterns used, the quality of information that’s provided. The search bots are actually looking at the article and comparing it with other articles in the same niche and which ever they feel is of better quality in terms of visual representation, mobile optimisation, etc. There are many factors which play an important role in getting you ranked on the first page of search. So quality content means that you got to write for people, add value to the reader by giving solutions to their problem, and it also has to be represented in a beautifully visual way, even the design of your website matters.
Nishant: Siddharth, what do you think is the future on how businesses use social media to reach their target audience?
Siddharth: The future is definitely gonna be very bright. That much I can say, because three years ago when I used to speak to businesses to get on social media many of them had their questions. They would say like why do I need to get on it right now? Does it really make sense? But today it’s a no-brainer. Like everybody, they want to be on it, they got to be on it. So the future is very bright, which means a lot of businesses, small or big, can instantly reach out to their customers globally by getting more active on social media.
As the downside is concerned, if the businesses are just using social media like broadcast media, that means setting up a fans page or a Twitter handle and just doing post-post-post, like posting flyers every day with their logos on everything. That’s not gonna help them. If businesses are able to realize that social media is a two way interaction, a two way street where you are able to reach out to your customers. The whole goal of social media is to create an engagement, you know, it’s a two way interaction that’s when they will start to see a more traction and more results. And some of you who had been following me on Facebook have noticed, I do a lot of post on my personal profile, where I really engage on a human to human level with people and lot of people end up buying the stuff that I promote.
It’s all about relationship marketing using technology. That’s where the future is heading. A lot of businesses need to first get on social media and then get it right. And that’s one of the reason I have created, my course, social media launch pad, which is not a type of course which talks about how to do stuff instead it’s a course which tells you how to think because thinking in the right way will get you far more results than just randomly doing things on social media. That’s one of the reasons I have created the course social media launch pad, It’s not a kind of course that talks about just doing things, instead it makes you think. Thinking the right way will get you far more results than just randomly doing things in social media.
Nishant: Siddharth, how does social media marketing on desktop differ from social media marketing on mobile?
Siddharth: There is not much of a difference if you think about it, because all of us are connected on all devices these days. Even if you are working on your laptop, you are having your mobile phone on the other hand and just looking at Whatsapp or other social tools. Based on the platform we use, online marketing strategies can change. So we need to think about platforms like Facebook, lot of people access it on their desktop, a lot on mobile too. But platforms like Twitter, where more than 90% of Twitter users access it on their smartphones. And on the other hand, Instagram is a 100% smartphone operated social network. So we have to look at platform by platform. It’s like one universe right now and everyone has to be mobile. Mobile comes first today and then comes desktop.
Nishant: So when we say mobile comes first, what kind of optimisation and marketing are we doing for mobile?
Siddharth: It starts from your website. You need to have a website that is mobile optimised / mobile responsive. Your landing pages have to be mobile responsive if you are generating leads. Anyway, all the social media have a mobile version of their apps. So you need to think about everything, even your email marketing. Let’s say you are sending a mail out to your list. The emails also have to be mobile responsive. So that’s why you need to use systems like, “Get Response” which I use. You have “Mailchimp”, you got “A Webber”. So your entire ecosystems of whatever you are doing on social media including your website and assistance all have to be mobile friendly for you to really leverage that.
Nishant: Siddharth, On your LinkedIn, you have mentioned that you are on a mission to empower and build highly effective virtual social media teams that can serve clients across the globe at top-notch levels. Can you give us an update about it?
Siddharth: We are living in a world where the whole concept of checking in and checking out, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., is kind of getting boring for a lot of people who are getting to the jobs circuit. More than 50% of my teams in Scion work virtually. That means you give them the flexibility to work from anywhere as long as they are able to deliver results. And even our clients are… we have been able to acquire clients from across the world and I have not even met a few of them face to face. We have been able to serve them completely using video conferencing and other tools. So my mission is to empower a lot of people to live the Internet lifestyle or to live a lifestyle of flexibility, freedom to do what they want, and also to be very productive. Scion Social is actually giving an environment for such kind of people through our employment opportunity. Lots of my employees are virtual social media experts and they completely deliver virtually. So that’s the big mission. I want to build one of the biggest virtual teams who are connected with the brand but who are also able to be at their own place serving clients.
Nishant: Siddharth, do you have any advise or tips for small business owners and startup founders, or can you share some of your startup success secrets that would be much helpful for our audience.
Siddharth: I would say the single most factor for a startup success is knowing WHY THEY ARE IN BUSINESS. It should not be just money. It should be a bigger mission connected to you than just making profits. We will look at 3 buckets. The first one being people, the most important aspect of a startup. Then you have profits, which is important. If you are able to target the right audience and make profit, then you can give it back to the planet. So you have people, profits, and the planet. When you are scoping the vision for your business, it should have all the 3 elements. Only then you can be really successful.
I would highly recommend that most of the startup companies should go and check out a TED talk by Simon Sinek, on “FINDING YOUR WHY”. It will give a perspective of what I was talking about. So if you really want to be successful in a startup environment, to achieve your end goals and to sail through the challenges, you should need to know your why. No matter what, there will be hard times in business. If you know how strong your why is, that will act as a fuel for achieving the end goal.