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

Idea:

  • 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.

Channels:

  • 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.

Takeaways:

  • 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

Idea:

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

Channels:

  • 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.

Takeaways:

  • 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 🙂

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My birthday- My Big Day!

Truly! Celebrating Birthdays is an art. I’d like to think it’s an acquired skill. If I was to think otherwise, I’d be depressed in life because I would have to come to terms with the fact that I most certainly don’t have that skill. 😦

My birthday is the single most exciting day of my life. Whenever I have kids, I probably won’t be as excited for their birthdays as I’ll still be for my own. My parents used to make such a big deal out of my birthday. There wasn’t always a big party or a huge cake, but there was always Chocolate cake, my favorite breakfast- pancakes, my favorite dinner- mac and cheese with grilled chicken & mashed potatoes on the side and presents. Lots and lots of presents.  Those were some of my best birthdays. I don’t want to sound completely hopeless, as if all my birthdays were disastrous. I have had some pretty fantastic birthdays in my childhood and some in my adult life as well you know. But they were all unplanned (atleast I hadn’t planned it).

My mother would go to all the trouble for my yummy dinner, my dad would smother me with kisses and tell everybody how he always gets confused about whether my birthday is August 16th or August 17th, and I used to get offended every year. The truth is, he was just kidding. There’s no way in hell he could get confused over my birthday and I knew it, he knew it, the whole world knew it, but it never stopped him from joking about it. 🙂

This tremendous amount of expectation I have from my birthdays mostly comes from my childhood, when my dad used to take special pride in reminding me of how special my birthday is. I mean he never even referred to my birthday as “Birthday”. He talked of it, like it was a National holiday- you know like the 4th of July? My dad would call my birthday “the 17th of August”. 😀

He would start reminding me of it a months in advance, to the extent of asking mundane questions like “Honey, when is the 17th of August?” I mean come on dad! But I’m smiling right now as I write this, it was so obvious and was a “Duh!” moment most of the time, but I still smiled, I still got excited. My dad passed away a month before my 21st birthday but even today, I can hear him say “Darling, 17th August is almost here” 🙂

Ever since I was 13 I’d plan and plan for my birthday, sometimes, months in advance, sometimes even an year in advance, and then at the end of the “Big Day” I always feel like it was a let down. I wonder how it can possibly be the most planned day but end up being the single most disappointing day ever, even more than New Year’s Eve. Perhaps in the case of my birthdays, anticipation is inversely proportional to success of the birthday. Back in the day when my parents used to plan my birthday parties, I remember everything would be exactly the way you wanted it to be, the guests would be as per your choosing, the food would be as per your liking, the decorations would be as per your approval, even then, there would be something that embarrassed me and taint the memory of the party for.

How do some people manage to get it so right? They don’t plan, they don’t even care, but it all magically works out. They get the best presents, the funniest wishes and it’s a completely fantastic day in total! I think, I have literally, written enough to make myself sad. I manage to plan all these fantastic things for my husband’s birthday, family members’ birthdays, friends’s birthdays, and execute them perfectly but my own…? 😦

My birthday is coming up in exactly a week, and this year, I decided NOT to plan. No party, no cake, no friends or presents…nada nada nada!!!!

I am going to go with the flow. I will keep no expectations from the day and the day will not disappoint me. Even though, I know in the deepest corner of my heart, that birthdays haven’t been the same since my dad died. So, whatever happens, I will always be disappointed that my dad’s not there to share my big special day with me like he used to.

This year, my dad decided to make me feel special from beyond the grave. I haven’t had the courage to go through his belongings since he died, but I did this year- 6 years after he died. I found a note from my dad. It was scribbled in a notepad hidden in his belongings. It was addressed to me and it was so wonderful and symbolic. I had it framed and hung it on my bedroom wall. It’s my dad’s birthday gift to me, makes up for the 6 birthdays he has missed.

Thanks Dad, and a Happy Birthday to Me! 😀

My dad's birthday note to me, 6 years after his passing.

My dad’s birthday note to me, 6 years after his passing.

 

The actual text of my dad's note

The actual text of my dad’s note

 

My 3rd Birthday, August/17/1989, Vancouver BC, Canada

My 3rd Birthday, August/17/1989, Vancouver BC, Canada