Current usage trends indicate that consumers are straddling between devices (mobile, PC) accessing mail, searching, social media, gaming and applications. A third of Internet users in India – over 20 million people – are accessing some social media site or the other. Going by 6 degrees of separation, this means a message can be passed across this entire set without using any media whatsoever. But this does not mean that any message whatsoever can reach out to all of them. The message has to have relevance and virability to trickle down through these groups. Brands that build interesting propositions can engage users without incurring media cost. This is close to PR, but entirely different because you don’t need a journalist or a publication or a channel to buy in to your story. Consumers are the media and the audience – a dream come true for any brand custodian.
The case of Jimmy Choo shoes
Jimmy Choo, a world-renowned footwear brand, organised a real-time treasure hunt around London via Foursquare. One pair of Jimmy Choo trainers checked in at various locations and those who followed the campaign and were lucky enough to arrive at a venue before the trainers left, got to pick a pair in the style and size of their choosing. In just under three weeks, over 4,000 people got trainers.
- The competition details were viewed on Facebook 285,000 times.
- 1 in 17 of all users of Foursquare in London was following the Jimmy Choo trainer hunt online.
- Apart from 250 blogs, the hunt was covered by Reuters, The Evening Standard, Vogue, etc.
- Daily trainer sales in-store went up 33 per cent.
All at zero media cost.
The brand, consumer ‘social’ experience and the point of sale (offline) have been brilliantly integrated in the promotion.
Just imagine if the entire exercise was instead attempted at driving traffic to jimmychooshoelovers.com (imaginary), a standalone brand sponsored social media site. Building the site, generating traffic on the site, managing relevant content and sustaining the site after the initial euphoria would have been a Herculean waste of precious marketing money.
Therefore, the case for brands trying to utilise social media for promoting their brands far outweighs using paid media and creating destination sites with social media functionality. Why recreate the groups when they already exist elsewhere. Try and engage them. Brand sites will continue to exist, but not as destination sites, but as one of the key touch points in a distributed experience that makes consumers engage closely with brands.
However, it will be unwise to say digital paid media will become redundant. For many categories such as financial services, etc., online paid media is the most effective touchpoint for awareness, enquiry and lead generation. Reach provided by digital paid media is still very effective and makes economic sense for marketers to continue to invest in the same. But then, social media on such destination sites for such campaigns might not be relevant. What will be the need for social media overdrive in a routine personal loan lead generation campaign?
Marketers, therefore, need not focus their energies on creating destination sites with rich social media features, but finding right conversation topics and experiences (online plus offline) that would engage their consumers, thereby creating brand demand. Creating the experience online plus offline will be critical.
The social media scene in India has recently heated up a lot, which can be seen from the number of brands using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. However, despite this, most of the brands have not leveraged the medium enough, for most of them ‘going Social’ still means having a Facebook and Orkut page, where they give out product information and run contests, being present on some blog and forum, etc.
Marketers should resist the temptation of creating a social media page/ app just because it hardly costs anything. Like some mobile brands have created promotions such as “enter and get 10ps for every incoming call” – (916 fans on Facebook and 400 Twitter followers). Another mobile brand says “buy a mobile – enter the IMEI number and you will get a chance to attend IIFA” (600 fans on Facebook). Such promotions lack a conversation opportunity, entertainment quotient and completely rely on incentives that do not excite users to spread the good word in the social media space.
The Zoozoo campaign and Jaagore.com campaign are some local examples of effective social media usage. Expect to see the action on social media space heating up in 2011, where brands will integrate social media and mobile localised search functionalities.
[CVS Sharma (Venke) is Director, Arc Worldwide India.]