Anup Jain, Director Marketing – Pizza Hut, Yum Restaurants International, Indian Sub-continent
Let’s face it. We hear a lot about it these days. Let’s also face it. Many of us think of it as something we must have on the radar rather than we need to actively participate in, to drive our brands. Let me spend some time today unraveling and potentially evangelising the use of social media by whoever is reading this piece, because I believe it could be the turning point in media, creative development and PR – all combined into one.
Let me start by stating the obvious – there are four key things every marketer gets paid to drive – awareness, trial, repeat or loyalty and equity. And, to get us interested, social media must solve for either one or two or all objectives better than what we are using right now, right?
What is social media?
Wikipedia defines this as an umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This means that Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Orkut, YouTube, Flickr, blogs and others comprise this definition.
Why are consumers aggregating in huge numbers on such social networks?
All these networks are helping consumers connect with either their friends or colleagues or people holding similar interests, at the cost of using Internet! Facebook in India has anywhere between 14MM and 17MM users, Orkut 19MM, Twitter at 2.3MM. Thus, it is clear that this rush will continue until the last person in the world is connected, since most people around him will put enough pressure to do so!
So, what does it mean?
Let’s do some simple calculations. We can safely assume nearly everyone on Facebook in India is SEC A. This means that out of an urban population of 300MM, of which SEC A is 12 per cent (NRS) = 36MM, nearly 42 per cent of SEC A are on Facebook today! To reach a 42 per cent reach on SEC A, our media agency will give us a comprehensive plan consisting of TV, press, radio and Internet that will eat up the entire annual budget of most brands in a few months.
Whereas, to be present continuously and advertise on Facebook, all it will take is a fraction of that cost. The other part worth noting is that almost 70 per cent of this audience is in the 13-24 age group, meaning if you get them now, they will be yours for life. The next logical question is how.
How can I use social media? What is the first step?
The most wonderful thing about social networks is that they allow you to begin a group or fan community. Check out www.facebook.com/starbucks or www.facebook.com/blackberryindia or www.facebook.com/pizzahutcelebrations. Once you have done that, it is time to advertise to bring in people to become fans and then engage with your fans by way of exciting contests, useful and fun applications and of course, inform them about privilege offers or give them sneak previews about what’s coming up. Be prepared for some candid and heart-wrenching feedback and get ready to answer it real time, because patience on such networks runs thin.
Starbucks has a fan community in excess of 20 million consumers now, and if everyone in the 300 million US could drink a cup of coffee, this page allows them to reach out to 15 per cent fans at the click of a button! So, this is media, advertising, customer service and PR all combined into one.
Now, the same thing is going to happen in India very soon as 40 per cent of SEC A is already on Facebook and is joining communities started by brands which have recognised the impact this medium could have on its sales and imagery. At Pizza Hut, we ourselves are targeting an 8 per cent share of FB users in India aiming to reach 1MM within a couple of months, being already at 0.7MM at current. So, it is important to participate now and get to a critical mass before your nearest competitor. I would say that number is a million as things stand today.
What can I expect as return on my investment?
Your own TV channel – 24x7, 365 days a year with thousands of eager viewers uninterrupted by any surrounding noises (read competition). At Pizza Hut, we released our new TVC for an initiative to 600,000 fans in one shot even before we went on TV. This is the best tool in the coming times to retain your fans and get more fans through word of mouth vis-à-vis advertising that consumers often discount and it gets equalised anyway. This is emotional equity built over time, just like that with a friend or a colleague.
Most brands get almost 50 per cent of their continued sales due to loyal users who swear by the brand. This medium allows your loyal users to recommend you faster to their friends than ever before. Thus, it helps you solve for awareness, trial, repeat with equity being intact – which marketer wouldn’t want that?
At Pizza Hut, we have experienced three times higher redemption on vouchers sent to fans rather than those sent via mass SMSes, emailers, mall advertising, etc.
What can I expect as costs?
Expect to spend at least Rs 15 lakh per year as retainer for your account. Expect another such amount for applications, advertising and contest giveaways to reach that critical mass. Then, the fun begins as you start to drive awareness for your new initiatives, give away privilege news and vouchers to drive larger purchases and higher frequency.
Okay, but who’s gonna do it for me?
Clearly, this is not a space where your traditional agency can help you, who are either good at designing outdoors or posters for kirana shops or your PR agency, which is good at chasing journalists and organising press conferences or your customer service cell, which takes 24 hours before it responds to any query. Also, it is too small a pie for your media agency to handle, because 2 per cent of your online budget is not worth their time, so they haven’t yet invested behind people who understand more than online banners.
In comes the new breed of digital agencies like Hungama Digital or Interface or others who have special skills to handle your fan pages and tweets – content writers who know how to say good morning in your brand’s tonality or know how to respond real time to customer queries, application developers who understand how FB/ Twitter work and the kind of plugins they need to implant to get virality going.
Lastly, where is it all headed?
My personal prediction is that this medium will do two things:
• Endanger traditional second rung media like radio, press and outdoor;
• Challenge our traditional agencies to think ‘ social’ if they aren’t to lose some spends from our budgets in favour of the new digital agency.
(Anup Jain is Director - Marketing – Pizza Hut, Yum Restaurants International, Indian Sub-Continent.)