Is it really that simple? Social Media Engagement plans that will make you smile.

Some brands take it all away with their simple plans! As a marketeer, you are always on the look out for the simplest things with the maximum Return on Investment and when you see “strategies” such as these, you wonder how they did it? Who advised them? Is this what they set out to do, or is this the direction their original plan took and they just went with the flow?

When social media marketing took off, brands didn’t even have a plan, no road map, no help.. nada! They just had to jump on the bandwagon, which is pretty much what EVERYBODY is doing right now with no clue which direction to move in. In times like this when something simple emerges from brands, you are inspired and even though it may not make much sense but you can’t help but admire.

I have picked up 2 brands that are doing really well in terms of social engagement, and I’m going to break them down point by point to understand why their plan works and what other brands can learn from them.

Tata Docomo- India


  • To humanize the telecom brand: Reach out to every corner of the web and to every possible TG not as a corporate brand but as a friend willing to engage the consumer in a one-on-one dialogue on anything and everything pertaining to the brand, its offers, its deficiencies as well as anything to do with telecom per se.
  • To explore a medium other telecom operators had not explored to its full potential.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Orkut
  • My Space Bharat Student
  • Third party blogs and forums

Engagement Strategy:  Tata Docomo currently follows a tight communication strategy by talking about things completely unrelated to the brand 40% of the time and brand related communication being 60% of the time. Unrelated communication revolves covers 3 areas:

  • Current Events: FIFA 2014, Election, etc.
  • Celebrities: Trivia on Indian movie actors, sportspersons, politicians etc.
  • Occasions: New Year, Christmas, Easter, Earth Day, Father’s & Mother’s Day etc.

Twitter: In India, twitter has a more evolved and techy audience than other Social Media platforms. Tata DOCOMO acknowledged the importance of these thought leaders and made sure they got their worth by following the brand. All products, offers and schemes were first announced to Twitter followers before they were allowed on any other media. On many occasions Twitter followers were given teasers and prelaunch feelers much before the product was even in a state of launch readiness.

Since joining Twitter in 2009, Tata DOCOMO has more than 95K followers today. The brand has solved their telecom problems, passed on their messages to relevant people in the company and brought about resolutions.

Facebook: Facebook has a large influential community that was identified as being a major influencer of brand advocacy. Tata DOCOMO created conversations among its fans on Facebook. Like Twitter communication was maintained with all its fans helping resolve problems, providing information and escalating issues. The community was kept engaged through a variety of status updates including discussions on TV commercials, jingles, product service launches and fun and games. Since joining Facebook in 2009, Tata DOCOMO has added 13million+ likes on their fanpage.

Youtube: Youtube has been a central repository for all brand commercials and videos. Tata DOCOMO has made a departure from the traditional way of only uploading videos created by the brand to also showcasing user generated content, specifically animation videos submitted by users.

Orkut, Myspace, Bharat Student, Hi5, Rediff Mypages:  In continuation of its strategy to be omnipresent in Social Media, Tata DOCOMO is perhaps one of the few Indian brands to have reached out to less popular social networking and community portals in India. It carries through the same brand promise of being everywhere that potential consumers could be however small the reach of the portal might be.

Third party Blogs and Forums: The Tata DOCOMO strategy with respect to third party blogs and forums were both proactive and reactive. Everyday 100s and 1000s of blogs and forums were scanned for any mention of Tata DOCOMO and whenever a user posted a question, comment or complaint, a response or resolution(when necessary) was given.

Tata DOCOMO is one of the first and only brands in the Indian landscape who created official accounts on hundreds of blogs and forums as an avenue of communication with customers and always respond to all communication through official id.

Outcome: The social media strategy has helped Tata DOCOMO build a strong and loyal fanbase amongst the youth. The brand values of honesty, transparency and sincerity have been well established in the minds of consumers. Tata DOCOMO comes across as a brand trying to make a genuine effort to connect and engage with every fan and follower with sincerity with the intention to solve their problems.


  • Build Engagement: one to one interaction
  • Acknowledge and resolve queries: dedicated customer response mechanism
  • Crowd Sourcing: collect feedback, test products & ideas, understand preferences, encourage product hacks

Build Brand Advocacy: Engagement and real time problem resolution

Tata_Docomo_1                  Tata_docomo_2

Tata_docomo_3     Tata_docomo_4

Starbucks- Worldwide


  • To connect with the worldwide Starbucks fan following
  • To encourage their followers to share the love and their experience with Starbucks


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Pinterest
  • Google+
  • My Starbucks Ideas (salesforce platform)

Engagement Strategy:  The Company has stayed with the upper-scale of the coffee market, competing on comfort rather than convenience, which are the case with its closest competitors, McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts. It continues to focus on its original product bundle that includes good coffee, quality service, and a nice environment to hang around. They keep themselves focused on paying attention to the details of great execution and service. The company follows a 70-30 ration of communication, with 70% of all the things they say being brand related and 30% of all the things they say being non brand related.

Facebook: The Starbucks Facebook Page was created in 2008, with a total fan count of around 200,000. In 2011, their fan count went upto over 27million+ and in 2014 their fan count is over 36million+ The company does not have a fixed communication strategy sometimes allowing days and weeks to go by before posting an update/tweet. Posts consist of attractive product images, and these gain thousands of ‘likes’ and hundreds of comments. There is no response management system on the Facebook page. Include several user posts on their wall.

Twitter: With 6.28million followers on Twitter Starbucks has a relaxed attitude. Most of its posts are responses to @mentions, but it also tweets product images and links to its loyalty scheme every couple of days. The content is often repurposed from Facebook.

Pinterest: Starbucks has one of the best Pinterest Accounts. It has 17 board, 2161 pins and about 152,088 followers. The boards are full of fantastic images that are almost entirely sourced from third-party sites. In September 2012 it offered followers the chance to win a Verismo System coffee machine if they created a board named ‘It’s possible’ then pinned six images to it, including one of the new machine. A quick Pinterest search for ‘It’s possible’ shows that contest had hundreds of entries.

Google+ : Normally brands neglect their Google+ pages because of the fact that nobody uses the network, but in this case it’s actually in keeping with Starbucks’ overall social strategy. The coffee brand has more than a million followers and posts content every few days with nearly all of it taken from its Facebook page and Twitter feed. Each update attracts hundreds of +1s and up to 100 comments.

Outcome: Starbucks rode the baby boomer trend in the 1990s and have been successfully executing their social media marketing plan since the first days of social media and social commerce. Starbucks has managed to outperform nearly all other consumer brands in terms of community engagement despite taking the exact opposite approach of posting daily and providing customer service. They have managed to build a strong and loyal fanbase despite their unorthodox social media communication approach.


  • Looks at maintaining relationships with existing customers than acquiring new ones
  • Go to customers: Presence and ongoing conversations and activities at all the places where customers are than asking customers to come to their pages.
  • Cross Promotion across different social media networks
  • Encourage sharing by customers
  • My Starbucks Ideas: Business Crowdsourcing; Encourages customers to submit ideas for better products, improving the customer experience, and defining new community involvement
  • Taking a stand: Giving consumers a charitable reason to buy from Starbucks

Starbucks_1                      Starbucks_2 Starbucks_3                      Starbucks_4

Don’t forget to share share share 🙂


The Best Social Media Campaigns of 2014

My article written for and published by Beta21 (for more articles:

As I always say.. Share share share 😄

The Best Social Media Campaigns of

Companies take to Facebook and other social networking platforms everyday, to run contests with the purpose of creating more engagement, generate more fans and increase loyalty amongst audience members for the brand. Some get it right and some fail miserably. Although we can fill volumes of books on botched social media experiments and failed campaigns, for now we’ll focus on some of the most innovative and best social media campaigns of 2014!


With over 10 million fans on the Facebook page, Nat Geo India decided to promote their show CoverShot through a ‘My NatGeo Cover Shot’ contest on Facebook. Participants could experience the thrill of having their photo as a NatGeo magazine cover. All they had to do was upload their pictures and add a caption through the Facebook app to create a virtual cover page.
The USP of the campaign was that participants could download this image as well as share it on Facebook and Twitter with their friends and followers. Every week participants with the best shots were announced as winners on the show. Thanks to the contest the FB page currently has 13.8 million likes even though there was no need to ‘like’ the page to be able to participate.


With selfies being all the rage on, it wasn’t surprising to see that somebody would spin this blatant show of self-love. From author Laura Lippman posting a no makeup selfie to Gwyneth Paltrow’s no makeup picture of herself, to Beyoncé, Rihanna and Cheryl Cole. All of these women have taken part in a trend that ruled the social media space and helped Cancer Research UK earn more than £8m in just a couple of weeks.
Interestingly, a trend that was not even started by the NGO, directly benefited them and helped them sponsor 10 new clinical trials. Since its creation in March 2014, the No Makeup Selfie Cancer Awareness Facebook Page has received 261,692 likes with each of their photos gathering approximately 1500-2000 likes and over 100s of shares each photo.


Hyundai UK teamed up with the largest independent football channel on YouTube, Copa90, to engage with football fans through a contest to add value to its FIFA 2014 World Cup Partnership. The contest asked participants to create a video of them recreating their favorite goal celebrations and submit it via an app on the Hyundai Facebook page. They will then have a chance of winning one of seven pairs of VIP packages to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
With the estimate number of digital fans alone for soccer being 3.5 Billion in Europe and America a campaign such as this was able to see huge numbers in shares and participation and Copa90’s YouTube channel jumped up to 613,056 subscribers with over 45,589,346 views.


Philips India Ltd launched a campaign in partnership of the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation to promote the lighting of Mumbai’s iconic ‘Gateway of India’ structure. As a way to introduce and promote their new colored LED lights, Philips India utilized Facebook as a channel to multiply the reach of their campaign. The company asked customers to click interesting pictures of the Gateway lights or share their own plans on how they would enjoy the new lights.
The campaign killed two birds with one stone – an increase in the number of tourists to Mumbai as well as promotion of Philips.


With his phenomenal success in the 2008 Presidential Elections, the President of the most powerful nation on the planet was widely called the social President. President Obama’s social media team made incredible strides in changing the course of history in 2008 and once again they were at work to spread the word about insurance coverage. The campaign originally launched towards the end of 2013 with a microsite was an abysmal failure with memes and gags turning up on social media.
The White House re-launched the #GetCovered campaign in 2014 with the support of prominent members of the movie and music industry. Some of the stars being Lady Gaga, Connie Britton, Kerry Washington, Will Ferrel, Zach Galifianakis and many more. The campaign focused on getting American Millennial (Generation Y) to sign up for insurance and before the deadline, since research showed that this demographic had avoided signing up for insurance so far.

A day in the life of a marketing executive.

If you work in marketing (and I know that you do);

then you will know that I am being very very true.

The life of a ‘marketer’ (as I like to call myself),

is absolutely, (and I mean truly) off the shelf! 🙂

I know I sound cheesy with all these short lines,

It’s all the more worse ‘coz every other 1 rhymes.

So getting back to what I was originally saying,

That the life of a marketer is worth craving.

There’s so much running around that you don’t have to exercise,

There’s so much creativity that you can’t help but sigh! :-S

The best part about marketing is the secret inside

that marketers, never casually take things in their stride

They seriously listen and ponder, to understand your ways

But beware, because for mean-ness they’ll make you pay.

Whatever your designation, you’re just some glorified fire fighter,

You can be President of Marketing but you will still be called a marketer.

I just realized how this is not just about a single day,

this entire poem is about marketers everywhere.

Marketing execs as people like to call them,

you can love ’em, you can hate ’em, but honey you just can’t ignore ’em.

They are flashy but harassed and annoyingly accurate,

you can wrangle them, push them but boy are they sarcastic.

We are moody, sometimes shady and but we are always so right

We are efficient, intelligent and never out of sight.

My job of a marketer, may not be as big,

may not be as fancy as VP or Country Head.

That’s the thing about marketing, it’s so wonderful,

that without me your business would just fall and crumble.

Who would do your branding, your promotion and your stage

that needs to be set up to make you look great.

So, next time you forget it, I’ll say it out loud,

think about it before you boss a marketing executive around.

Road to modern marketing

Road to modern marketing

“How to run a Zero Budget Campaign on Social Media?”- 15 ways

Last week, my marketing team at work and I attended a webinar called “Budget Campaigns on Social Media?” I have to admit that even though the viewing quality of the presentation was terrible, but some of the stuff the trainer actually talked about made a lot of sense. So, keeping that in mind and my own understanding of social media campaigns (budgeted or otherwise), here are 15 ways I recommend to run zero budget campaigns on social media:

  1. Consistency in social media efforts: Maintain uniformity on all social media platforms
  2. Be omnipresent on all your social media platforms: Address and acknowledge all likes, comments and questions
  3. Engage on twitter using keywords related to your products and services and include yourself in the conversations that are occurring around those keywords.
  4. Provide free goodies as an incentive for referrals
  5.  Incentives for twitter engagement and tagging your twitter handle
  6. If there is not much engagement on your blog then switch to Quora because Quora is now hosting blogs as well, so you can take advantage of the users that are already present on Quora to get your blog some engagement
  7. Send out mailers to your database of existing clients telling them to join your network
  8. Using LinkedIn to save cost on recruiting agencies.
  9. In case of an IT company, B2B marketing should be done if you have a strong existing database. So in case you don’t have a strong database of past customers and prospective customers, then step 1 would be to invest time and manpower in building such database. Step 2 would be reaching out to them through social media for marketing and promotion as well as brand building.
  10. Upload case studies and a portfolio of your services on your company blog and slideshare and send it out to the database members.
  11. Use Asset Ambassador which is an upcoming network for school students (this in the situation that your products and services concern school students)
  12. Make use of LinkedIn groups for promotions
  13. Be consistent in the name and design and outline you use on various social networks and platforms. Use the exact same on all the channels, whether it is your company page or personal. The benefit you will receive out of this is that through this consistent use of name and design, you will automatically be optimizing your social media pages, so that when anybody searches for you or your company (using the same name you have used on all the platforms) then the search engine will automatically put together all the places where your (or your company’s) name appears on the first search page. Justforhearts is a great example for this trick.
  14. Get personal on twitter, going the extra mile in your responses and your customer satisfaction efforts, making the other person feel as if they are dealing with a person and not a company.
  15. Use Google + circles, communities and hangouts to create valuable conversations.

I hope that was helpful to all of you, because let’s face it, aren’t we all marketing something or the other these days? 🙂

Thanks for reading everybody and always be social and Share, Share, Share! :-)