Social marketing driving growth in viewership: STAR India

By creating a strong two-way interaction, STAR India’s English channels Star World and Star Movies not only gained new viewers, but also built up a relationship with the audience.

e4m by Gopal Sathe
Updated: Feb 21, 2011 7:24 AM
Social marketing driving growth in viewership: STAR India

For STAR India’s English channels, Star World and Star Movies, bringing the focus of their marketing efforts to the online space was a natural decision. Not only are the viewers for the channels online, but the value for money equation online means that the channel could afford to reach out to far more people than it could using traditional media.

Saurabh Yagnik, General Manager & Senior VP, English Channels, STAR India, said, “Almost the entire effort of marketing our channels is focused on the online medium, where we have our website and are very active on Facebook and Twitter. I’d say that 90 per cent of the people who watch our channel are active on the social networks and so it was only natural that we go to them.”

“We used our own channel to promote our Facebook and Twitter presence and asked people to follow us in our ads. We ran a lot of activation and engagement programmes and what we found is that people who are following us on Facebook do so very actively, commenting and interacting with us very enthusiastically,” he added.

Creating a strong two-way interaction meant that not only did the channels gain new viewers, but also built up a relationship with the audience. Yagnik said, “We listened to our viewers and created content on the site to drive engagement too. For example, we invited our Facebook fans to come to our office and share their views about our channels, about the kind of content they wanted to see, and also about what they thought about other channels, and by doing this we got a very clear picture of what the audience wants, and made sure that the content on our channels reflected this.”

Cumulative gains
The initiative, which started off nine months ago, seems to be paying off for the channels. According to Yagnik, Star World had seen 7 per cent growth in channel share in the last six months, and he attributed this to the gains through their social marketing plans.

He said, “Social marketing is highly focused and precise and the price of reaching out to viewers is low, so instead of cutting our budget, we are expanding on the work we do online to reach and engage with even more viewers. For a lot of shows, our promotion is only online, by creating apps and games around them, which can be played online, and we have grown from 20,000 fans six months ago to 335,000 fans today.”

These fans create an active community, which also interacts within itself. So, even as the channels run teams to bring quality communication to the fans, engagement grows even without their direct intervention, through the viral effect of networks like Facebook. Adding 12,000 fans a month on Star World and 30,000 on Star Movies, the channels are seeing large numbers of people following them, and according to Yagnik, this had also reflected in increased viewership.

He further said, “We create a lot of content online, which adds to the shows and movies that we air. So, for example, we have trivia pages about the characters on shows and gossip about what is happening in Hollywood, and another event we carried out, which did very well online, was to present live updates from the ‘Koffee with Karan’ launch conference online, and for all of these things, we have seen a lot of feedback from the audience.”

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