Social media gave a makeover of sorts to the celebrity-commoner equation. Facebook and Twitter accounts brought in the personal touch to how the relationship is perceived by both sides, a feat unequaled by print/electronic media. What the new media did for personal branding of celebrities is perhaps best exemplified in this part of the world by thecompleteactor.com – superstar Mohanlal’s official website.
The Complete Actor tops the list of most visited Indian celebrity websites. Having bagged the Indywood award this year for website management, the site is in news for more than its celebrity host. Smita Nair, advocate and partner of Lenico Solutions, which manages the website, says it all boils down to credibility at the end of the day.
Excerpts from an interview:
Sajeev Soman, an IT Professional, and I had launched Leniko Solutions because we believed that law and IT put together has an immense scope. Sajeev was a friend of Mohanlal sir, which is how we happened to undertake the revamping of the website. We are happy to say that the new version of the website is the most interactive among Indian celebrity websites. The site even has an auction store called Lal Store. We believe it is these innovative ideas that led to the website winning the Indywood award this year.
Entertainment law and its business opportunities
The surge in the use of social media has brought with it its own set of legal issues. We still have very few experts in the state who deal with copyright issues. If you look at the film industry, there are lots of issues that crop up like artist agreements, digital media support, things that need to be blocked in websites, defamation and so on.
We have a wide cross-section of clientele. Apart from the clients from the film industry, there are celebrities from sports, music and other entertainment businesses. We also have companies on our client list. A lot of companies entrust their legal and IT issues to separate firms. Leniko gets a lot of reference from those who have benefited from the one-stop solution we provide for both legal and IT issues.
Apart from this, we do software and mobile app development, which brings a different set of clientele. We have an e-commerce website modeled on Amazon. It showcases products related to spirituality, religion, and art created by people who are passionate about their art. Since we never see these products in the market, we wouldn’t be aware of them. In a regular market set-up, the artist might get only a meager share of the money that these goods fetch. This is one reason why heritage art and handicraft are not able to retain the interest of younger generations; they are not lucrative at the end of the day. We want the artists to be able to market their product directly. This is the concept that led to the e-commerce website.
On the role of social media in boosting brand building
Everyone is on social media these days. If we are looking at promoting our brand, it becomes imperative that we have a presence on the social media. Celebrities mostly handle the content in their websites on their own for this same reason. It establishes that personal connection with the audience, which is crucial in brand building. What we do is to support their activities on social media.
In the case of companies, social media plays a pertinent role in brand building. For instance, somebody who nurses a personal grudge towards the management or staff of a company could post a negative comment on a social network site. If it gets shared multiple times, it does serious damage to the goodwill of the brand. We offer crisis management services in situations like that. Google pages can be removed from searches results. Further, we can handle it through Intellectual Property Law.
These transactions directly affect brand building as it has to do with the penetration of Internet and mobile usage. Social media is user friendly and everyone can check for updates on their phones. People don’t pick up books or magazines as much as they used to, because everything they want to know is just a swipe away. Another reason they rely on websites and social media accounts of celebrities is because people are certain that they are genuine. All this translates to brand building too.
Security and safety of websites
The content is verified for authenticity before making public on the website. If any information seems fake, it is cross-checked again, especially videos. If anything seems out of place, we advise the client accordingly. Copyright issues are a major concern when doing websites related to music and while dealing with content on YouTube. In cases where there are issues of copyright violations, we give the necessary support. If a YouTube video is removed due to copyright issues, the client might lose the income from it. We help with submitting the video again citing our reasons and arguments. But since there is the possibility for such issues to arise, we are always extra careful.
We do not always take up the management of celebrity websites. In a lot of cases, we mostly offer support services. In the specific cases of websites where posts are managed by our team, we make sure we have the permission to do so each time. There are instances when something needs to be posted urgently and the client is out of reach. In situations like that, the thumb rule is to wait till the client confirms the post. All these are clearly stated in the agreement that we make with the celebrity so that there is no room for confusion. It is important to ensure that the client has complete trust and confidence in us.
Smitha is from Ayroor in Pathanamthitta. She graduated from Law College, Ernakulam, and went on to do her masters in Corporate Law at Cochin University.