Contributed by Vinish Kathuria, Chief Operating Officer, Digital Quotient

Vinish Kathuria

Today, the ever-changing social media landscape provides umpteen opportunities to brands and marketers. The concern is how brands leverage these opportunities in the right manner and at the right moment to convey their business messaging, social media marketing today has moved beyond likes and follows. There is no choice for a brand whether ‘I should be on social media or not’, it’s a pre-requisite. But the point is once you are on social media – what’s next? Where do you go from here? Is there a roadmap to reach to your objective? Social media marketing is not a cakewalk as one might assume, instead, it involves data-driven strategy, dedication, understanding your audience and in an era of smart devices calls for smart marketing tactics to sustain and build a brand here!

As people around the world are increasingly spending more time on these social platforms, brands and marketers across the globe have realised the true potential of social media and are not shying away anymore from treating this as the most vital task. The Social world is constantly updated, shared, liked, and followed. Do you remember how Super Bowl in USA in early 2014 saw almost 24 million tweets during the 3 hour game and how Oscar ceremony host Ellen’s tweet pic from live ceremony was retweeted 2 million times? There are numerous examples of how brands and individuals are using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. to better connect with their digital audience. An interesting point of this trend is that it is not restricted to western world only. Asia, with its dominant population and mass adoption of mobile devices is leading the world with effective usage of mobile and social media for marketing. Social Marketing is a strategic process chain which involves individuals who turn into audiences (potential customers) on these platforms and how they can be further converted into consumers – which depends on how smartly and persistently brands do their marketing multiple platforms.

Here are two case studies which I would like to cite here.

(1) Campaign for a premier juice brand by associating it with breakfast

India, with its 1.2 billion people, GDP growth of 9% plus in last few years, 40%population below the age of 35 years, is a country on the move. Today’s fast paced and hectic lifestyle makes it hard to keep a balance between professional and a healthy lifestyle. Early morning traffics, people are always in a rush and so it gets very easy to skip a proper breakfast for variety of reasons. Leading juice brand, Tropicana, wanted to bring this important message to the attention of the working population. Instead of using the traditional outreach media, the brand decided to use social media, and wanted to convey this in a humorous, subtle yet powerful manner and make it viral.

So, the brand leveraged Twitter for its outreach activities, an effective promotion around #skippedbreakfastbecause was launched, encouraging people to bring out their own stories and reasons for skipping breakfast. Effective use of 6 second vine videos through pointed and quirky videos added to the momentum. In a very short period of time, #skippedbreakfastbecause was trending @ #1 in India and #2globally, with a reach to almost 10 million people. People came up with all funny and some serious reasons for skipping breakfast and indirectly started the process of self-realization of missing an important meal and an integral component of juice in it to fill in all vitamin needs. The campaign will continue for additional few months and is expected to generate more buzz for the brand.

An interesting part of the campaign was its standalone digital nature- e.g. unlike Super Bowl and Oscar ceremony twitter success, where Twitter usage was along with a live event on TV with big superstars or icons. Tropicana’s digital success can be totally credited to crowd sourcing and effective usage of creativity, technology and analytics.

(2) HT’s No TV Day in Mumbai goes global

Mumbai, commercial capital of India. Hectic lifestyle, people always on the move and spending the rest of their time sitting in front of TV. For last few years, leading media house Hindustan Times runs a campaign asking people to skip TV for a day, spend time with their loved ones, take kids out to park or museums, go the beach, watch plays… encouraging outdoor activity and say no to TV for a day.

Through an effective cross media marketing, including Facebook and twitter, the campaign reached out to 2.8 million people, #htnotvday trended #1 in India and #3 globally, people from 15 countries shared their experiences and most moving of all, 15,000 people posted pictures, videos, poems, articles etc. of what they did on No TV Day. A great example of effective usage of social media for driving brand outreach, crowd sourcing of content and driving emotional connect with consumers for effective long term brand association. The campaign was also recognized with Mobbys award in 2013 for best integrated marketing campaign.

The above two examples illustrate how brands are awakening to the power of social media, and effectively integrating it in their marketing strategies. Asia, with its massive mobile user base and people who are spending significant part of their daily time on social media, undoubtedly, are expected to lead the charge in not so distant future.

With the onset of 2014, we are expecting a profound shift in the social media marketing by brands. To begin with we are already witnessing some changes like brands moving towards dedicated teams & professionals to do the job, and a big chunk of marketing budget being spent on social media marketing. Today, Facebook is not just about liking other posts or status messages talking about ‘what on your mind’. Nowadays, people are uploading videos, sharing content which is interesting, trending videos on youtube, twitter and instagram posts are also shared across these platforms. People are now looking for intelligent content with intent to read, connect, travel, shop, share, and not simply follow. Talking about Twitter, it becomes crucial to understand the nature and the relevance of who’s engaging with you and retweeting. So it becomes imperative to create connect between content and context – then only brands will be able to engage differently and smartly!

The social media landscape is both dynamic and exciting – it’s not a passing by revolution but is here to stay and we are quite upbeat that we will continue to witness some major transformations, shift towards transparency with consumers and maturity in existing tools in 2014. Marketers must stay updated about latest trends and persistently adjust brand’s strategies and tactics. The year will also witness the evolution of smart marketing where marketers need to further develop and leverage the buzzing and much talked about tools like ‘big data’, ‘video’, etc. In the end to sum it up, here are a few valuable points:

Embrace the digital environment and adapt to smart marketing

Don’t shy away from having experts for the task

It’s good to have a roadmap that connects back to your brands original messaging

Engage effectively and create transparency to transform audience into loyal consumers

Think smartly on how you can best leverage the existing tools before inventing new

So what are you waiting for the digital world awaits you, get on the wagon and enjoy the ride!

Vinish Kathuria is the COO of Digital Quotient. A digital entrepreneur, Vinish is a visionary in the fields of Social, Mobile, and Video marketing as well as Cloud Computing. He comes with a rich experience of more than 20 years across the corporate worlds of USA & India having experience with companies including Ericsson, Microsoft & Infospace to name a few.

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