Recognizing firms tapping social media’s potential

Recognizing firms tapping social media’s potential

New Delhi: A number of Indian companies are moving beyond merely leveraging social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to reach their target audiences. Companies are adopting business models around social media, using these platforms to market events, generate sales, introduce innovative concepts and even create a new market for their brands online.

It received 105 submissions in three categories—best strategic programme, best short-term campaign and best use of platform. Finally, nine case studies by Reebok, MTV, Channel [V],, Kaya Skin Clinic, Max New York Life,, Fastrack and Idea Cellular Ltd made the cut.


To popularize Indiafest—a college fest featuring 11,000 students from 1,200 colleges— Channel [V], Star India Pvt. Ltd’s music channel, roped in Mumbai-based E-Phoria Technologies Pvt. Ltd to offer radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for the event. The technology uses electronic tags attached to an object to transfer data.

With a budget of around 10 lakh, Channel [V] imported 15,000 RFID wristbands from China. “That’s the cost of two hoardings in Mumbai for 10 days each," said Prem Kamath, general manager, Channel [V]. Though the budget was low, the online impressions, which had audiences swiping these wristbands at especially created Facebook booths at the venue, were massive. At least, 6,000 people swiped their RFID wristbands to create more than 12 million impressions on Facebook in barely 48 hours. “We wanted to engage the youth all over India and promote Indiafest as a brand," said Kamath.

Up next: Importing 30,000 RFID wristbands for next year’s fest and introducing the technology at [V] Spot, a cafe chain the channel opened a few months ago.

Like Channel [V], telecom company Idea Cellular, which has been associated for four years with popular reality TV show the Roadies, flagship programme of Viacom18 Media Pvt. Ltd’s music channel MTV, decided to evolve a comprehensive social media campaign to reach out to the youth.

To popularize Idea Roadies VAS packs, especially designed value-added services for mobile phones priced at 49 each, Idea started a campaign on social networking sites. With a tiny budget, Idea Cellular clocked a revenue of 19 lakh from the campaign in two-three months. Its target was 4.9 lakh. “The programme has been a huge success, and, through this campaign, we have realized the value of earned media," said Sashi Shankar, chief marketing officer, Idea Cellular.


Fastrack, the lifestyle brand of Tata group’s Titan Industries Ltd, wanted to translate its online presence into business on a thin media budget. It also wanted space on its shelves for new stock, so selling its older products became vital. Fastrack announced on Facebook a day-long 50% sale at its outlets. The result: sales of 2.75 crore in a single day.

Komal Jyoti, brand manager for Fastrack, said it was a gamble to run a campaign only on the Internet. The gamble paid off and some stores stocked out in seven hours. Fastrack has added one million fans on Facebook since and plans more such sales.

Similarly, Reebok saw sales of its EasyTone shoes surge through advertising largely done on Facebook. Sajid Shamim, brand director, Reebok India Pvt. Ltd, said the online campaign targeting a niche audience (women in the 18-24 age group) was a “risk" but was paid off well. The campaign was named The Butt Revolution, an interactive page where certified Reebok trainers answered fitness queries. Shamim added that after the initial communication using the traditional media, there was a need to keep the proposition alive. So the company launched a campaign on social media.


If Idea, Reebok and Channel [V] used the social media to increase sales and create a following, and used these platforms to create online markets for their products.

Given that physical sales of non-film Indian music is almost non-existent, was started last year as an online platform to allow musicians to release their content online and connect directly with fans.

Run by Hungama Digital Media Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, began “webcerts" or online concerts that allowed people to watch, listen, download and buy un-released music from independent artists.

Indian rock band Parikrama’s webcert, for example, took place at The Sports Bar, a pub in Gurgaon. booked the venue and sent a team of technicians who recorded the gig and uploaded it on the website. Corporate sponsors such as Hindustan Unilever Ltd and Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd have chipped in for webcerts in the past. uses forums such as Facebook and Twitter to advertise its webcerts, directing a growing number of people to visit the website, download music and attend webcerts.

With 155 musicians, 33 genres and more than 500 songs, ensures musicians retain the publishing rights for their compositions. Singers such as Shaan, Kailash Kher and Sona Mohapatra have released albums first on, which has created its entire business model of selling tickets to movies, plays and other events online, introduced its mascot Bob on Facebook. With continuous updates on films, plays and other events, exclusive releases of movie trailers and contests offering cinema tickets and other goodies, attracted 350,000 fans on Facebook till June, compared with 12,000 fans in November.

“There’s low cost but high visibility on social media platforms," said Ashish Hemrajani, founder and chief executive of Bigtree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, the parent company of


With three million Facebook fans, the sixth most engaging Facebook page in the world, Roadies, the MTV show launched in 2003, is an online success story. No wonder then, MTV’s overall digital marketing budget to evolve innovative online media strategies has gone up significantly, from 1 crore four years ago to about 5 crore a year.

“Television ratings are important, but a bulk of our viewers are sampling us online," said Aditya Swamy, head, MTV.

The channel has evolved content, listening and interactive strategies to promote Roadies online. From announcing entries to showing uncensored footage of the show online, MTV has ensured that audiences who get hooked online also watch the reality show on television.

The content was shown simultaneously on television, Internet and mobile phones. At times, select episodes were first aired online and later on television. To encourage participation, a lot of the show’s online content was edited based on the suggestions of fans.

An in-house team of 10 people in their early twenties uploads micro-posts on Twitter, replies to Facebook comments even past midnight and updates content through the day.

Given the phenomenal reach, Swamy said the digital media budget for Roadies was roughly 5% of the entire show’s production cost. Typically, reality shows cost 25-35 lakh an episode. “The dependency on traditional print media for advertisements has reduced because my core target audience is on the Internet today," said Swamy.

Kaya Skin Clinic, a chain of premium skin care clinics owned by Marico Ltd, used Twitter to address the complaints of consumers. In a marketing campaign that began in August 2010 to promote its brand using Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube, Kaya refrained from hard-selling itself. Instead, it reached out to the core audience group: women of 16-40 years, offering them advice and answering queries by Kaya-trained dermatologists.

Max New York Life Insurance Co. Ltd, the joint venture of Max India Ltd and New York Life International Llc, started igenius on Facebook and Twitter, aimed at encouraging not just academics but also extra-curricular activities among children while awarding scholarships of up to 10 lakh.

The insurance company created a parenting community on Facebook and Twitter with more than 90,000 fans. The challenge was to keep debates on parenting issues healthy, said Anisha Motwani, director and chief marketing officer, Max New York Life Insurance. “Online social media, used regularly by consumers, can make or break a brand," she said.

The company has a special online reputation management team to track consumer comments and deal with their concerns.