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"Brands Think Social Media Marketing Is Facebook, Which Is Far From Truth"
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"Brands Think Social Media Marketing Is Facebook, Which Is Far From Truth"  
Yashraj Vakil, COO, Red Digital cleared the air that social media is not only about Facebook. He said a key thing one needs to focus upon to garner success is to create the right strategy, which includes integrating social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube etc to leverage.   
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Friday, March 30, 2012 Social media marketing is fast becoming one of the most sought after media for brand marketing. With an increasing number of companies, both big and small trying out their hands at social media marketing, there is a company that has many successful social media campaigns to talk about. EFYTimes spoke to Yashraj Vakil, COO, Red Digital about their company, reach of social media and much more...

When and how was the entity, ‘Red Digital’ rolled out into the social media marketing space? What was the go to market strategy?

It all started with Dream11.com, a fantasy cricket gaming portal. Success was instant when we were recognised as ‘World’s No.1 Fantasy Cricket Game’ and ‘one of the top 100 startups in the world’ by Red Herring. It helped us connect with the sports and cricket community who wanted to work with us on multiple fronts. We signed up with Mumbai Indians in April 2010 to help setup gaming and fantasy cricket for them followed by managing their presence on Facebook. The roaring success of Mumbai Indians led us to Adidas Cricket followed by Monginis, Godrej and multiple others. Since then, we have had many successful partnerships with major brands like BMW, Lufthansa, PepsiCo, UTV etc.

How is a strategy for the client devised? What all areas are considered before devising a marketing strategy?

Strategy for a client is devised based on the requirement. Sometimes clients don't have a digital presence at all and would like to create one under the aegis of a promo, such as Slice and Mirinda. At the same time there are other clients who want to build on their existing digital presence or correct a strategy that has horribly gone wrong. The strategy can be aggressive, corrective, sustenance or time-limited.

red digital, Yashraj Vakil, social media marketing

What is the future of social media marketing? Do you foresee it replacing or surpassing the print and electronic media ads?

Digital-Social Media Marketing and advertising is going to get more and more personal. It is going to intrude into your everyday life. You could soon be social shopping for groceries and your fridge which has a social media profile might tell you what is really required to be bought. You dog could have a social media tag to tell you his location on a minute-by-minute basis. You will know exactly where the next bus you want to take is and how much time it will take for it to reach you stop. Traffic will become a breeze to skip as you friends will help with areas to avoid. The possibilities are endless to the extent that social media might not exist at all and all your actions will be automated without you having to ever login to your profile from any device.

Digital is the future. We have seen the newspapers, news channels and other entertainment streams taking to Internet through applications for iPhone, Android etc. Many applications come with ad support to it. We are already seeing the transformation. I would not bet on the surpassing to happen immediately, but digital is a phenomenon that you cannot avoid. It is going to dominate every aspect of peoples’ lives. We believe in the future, social is not going to be digital and digital is not going to be Internet. What will matter is the convergence of mediums.

How is it ensured that the right kind of audience is targeted through a social media campaign?

Facebook has a very definite way of targeting audiences. Unlike Google, you know exactly whom you are targeting your advertising to. The big difference is Google can help you find people who are looking for you while Facebook can help generate a need for what you are offering.

A recent study had indicated that the number of likes on a social networking page do not necessarily indicate brand loyalty. What is your take on that?

‘Like’ button is dominating our Facebook account today! The idea behind ‘like’ button marketing is very simple. Making your business socially networked online; Leverage the fan pages; Let your fans follow you; experiment with your posts and increase engagement. The more the likes, the better you are doing and the more social you are. ‘Like’ button equips a person in seeing and following the brand’s Facebook page. Get real time updates; remain informed on the brand and its happenings. With the new look of Facebook, when the user clicks the Like button on your site, a story appears in the user's friends' News Feed with a link back to your page. This result in maximum reach of the information and feeds shared on your brand page.

However, one has to understand the motive why a user would like a page, post or picture. Users ‘like’ pages on Facebook to publicly display their brand affiliation to his/her friends or the user could be interested in the latest offering by the brand. Rewards and loyalty programs is another catch for the user. Exclusive one time offers that are limited to Facebook users can be a great fillip or it may simply be their likeness and association with the brand.

A million ‘Like’ on a page doesn’t mean that you have 1 million ready customers or brands like Audi, Adidas would never had to market their products anywhere but on social media. The ‘like’ feature only goes on to add how aware and popular your brand is, the equity it shares with a million people who are associated with you on social media platform. Liking a brand page does not mean they opt-in to marketing. Research says, about 5-10 per cent result in return sales from social media.

Are there still any issues faced to convince a client about the effectiveness of social media marketing?

Biggest obstacles are in the head. If we, our partners and the people who work with can clear their heads to think beyond obstacles, anything is possible. Brand and marketers understand that social media is not just about views, clicks and conversion but more about continuous conversations. Today, social media has a much larger role to play as this falls between the first moments; someone visits the site till the final act of becoming a lead. Owing to the importance of social media, marketers in consultation with their digital experts are willing to invest sufficient time to get their strategy right.

Brands, today, are realizing there is no way the social medium can be ignored. You either change with times or perish. Though, some brands like PepsiCo, BMW etc innovate, there are brands who think social media is Facebook; and that is far away from reality.
A key thing one needs to focus upon to garner success is to create the right strategy. How a brand can integrate social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube etc to leverage? One needs to make sure that there is uniformity in messaging, mission and purpose across all these platforms. Create informative blog posts which would establish the brand’s niche across these platforms. Most importantly, remember, it pays to listen to every customer on social media!

What was the most overwhelming response you have ever received for a campaign?

We have been very successful with Mumbai Indians, Adidas Cricket, Lufthansa, Mirinda and BMW. We have successfully experimented with multiple digital innovations on social for them. Adidas Cricket and Mumbai Indians are among the biggest fan pages on Facebook in India. Mumbai Indians is the 8th biggest fan page in India without a penny being spent on advertising. It is also the 27th biggest sports team page in the world ahead of teams such as New York Knicks, Chicago Bears, Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia Eagles, Manchester City and the New Zealand All Blacks. A study conducted by AcNielsen and McKinsey (NMIncite) in 2011 ranked Adidas Cricket as the most spoken about brand on social media during the first three weeks of the IPL, ahead of official sponsors Nike and Castrol. A similar study conducted by NMIncite during the IPL ranked Mumbai Indians as the most talked about IPL team on Social Media during IPL 2011.

In September 2011, Red Digital created the “Lufthansa Park & Fly” game. It used the player’s phone and a giant LED screen to create a real life experience of taxiing the world’s largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380, into its hangar. Players simply had to dial in from their mobile phones to turn their keypad into a control panel that then maneuvered the Lufthansa A380. At the Auto Expo 2012 in Delhi, Red Digital created a live online solution ‘Midas’ for BMW. ‘Midas’ helps brands converge the online and offline worlds for their consumers. It can help sync consumers with social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Linkedin or Google+ and spread the brand’s message virally. Midas generated over 10,200 registration, 18,500 photo uploads, 34,000 unique pieces of content and 3.3 million BMW branded social impressions.

The most recent success we tasted was when we created a TweetMob for PepsiCo’s Mirinda. A TweetMob is a Flash Mob on Twitter where our intention is to take over Twitter and engage Twitterati for a certain duration while plugging-in the brand connect. The activity saw 3,700 tweets in the span of 9hrs for @MirindaIndia. Every 50 tweets with #PagalPanti helped the brand reach 7,990 people generating close to 0.6 million views. The brand reach this time was 5 times of what the first TweetMob generated. #Pagalpanti featured among the topics breaking globally and trended in Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore. @MirindaIndia also saw itself trending in Chennai and Hyderabad.

How good can be social media for SMEs who are still struggling for an Internet presence?

It all begins from the objective, which most businesses only have a vague idea about. Most businesses want to be on social media because everyone else is. We work with brands of all sizes and each one has its own unique set of requirements. On one hand are giants like Adidas Cricket, Godrej, Slice, Mirinda and Mumbai Indians for whom we manage over 35 lakhs fans on Facebook and on the other hand are SME’s like Monginis and Rajdhani Thali and start-ups like Unified Florists and Edu Associates. Our approach is always to help brands find the right objectives and work backward to formulate a digital idea. If the idea converges into the offline and requires commitments from client in terms of logistics, resources or time we keep those into account as well. For example, Adidas wanted to create a buzz about their brand during the Cricket World Cup and increase consumer engagement, which would propel them into the next phase of organic growth. We created a one-stop destination for cricket on Facebook and helped Adidas tag along. Moreover, to keep the engagement going we ported Dream11.com’s fantasy cricket game for Adidas on to Facebook. Unlike most Facebook application, which have a shelf life and die after 4-6 months, Fantasy Cricket, we believed, will always have something new to offer and keep fans engaged. Our efforts paid rich dividends when Adidas Cricket became the most spoken about sports brand on social media during the first 3 weeks of the Cricket World Cup, beating official sponsors.

At the same time when we started working with Unified Florists we just knew it had a strong backend to distribute flowers worldwide and was looking to do something digitally. The most obvious answer would be to create an ecommerce portal and sell flowers online. We tried to stay away from norm and introduced the client to social commerce. No longer would you need to give virtual flowers to their Facebook friends, no longer would you need to pay in USDs to buy flowers online and more importantly they would be delivered on time with Unified Florists taking care of the distribution. In fact we even tracked user’s Geo-Location to throw content and pages relevant to the place of access. We are doing the same with Monginis and helping Rajdhani increase footfalls through social media.

Kalpana Sharma, EFYTIMES News Network

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