My job offers me the opportunity to meet and interact with top brand managers of India every day. But each time I get surprised with Indian marketers reluctance to new media. Post-meeting, I am always left feeling their halfhearted willingness to experiment with emerging Digital Media and lack of their understanding about it. I do understand the challenges which they have in hand and which makes them keep focusing on traditional media like TV, radio or print. Very few brand managers of India focus their marketing efforts on consumer testimonials or word of mouth campaigns or thinks of Brand Advocacy model. Most of them opt for the easy way out and focuses on TV and Print as media of communication when it comes to reaching out to consumers.
Timing of this year’s Elections is the best for the brand manager to learn about the power of Social Media. Two leading political parties used Social Media extensively to reach out to the electorate and to voice their opinion and influence the voters – the product they are selling is DREAMS for BETTER LIFE.
Front runner political party BJP used the PAID social media management model. They started with hiring huge force to open free Twitter Accounts. They monitored tweets and attacked or reacted to people who tweet against their party and ideology using twitter brigade. BJP created the buzz word and initial momentum aggressively around their star campaigner Narendra Modi using twitter. Soon they hired a group of youngsters in identified clusters (which were carefully selected based on past track records of the constituency’s past performance and vote share) to roam around in the town, gather information and float word in the town and also through Facebook posts on personal accounts. These groups will meet every day their group leaders for debriefing and on next day scoops and will go back to their jobs. This process was followed day after day in all identified clusters. Daily social media trends and data was monitored and next day strategy was formed and distributed using groups. Final resultant that the party was able to create euphoria in the country in favor of their leader.
On the other hand, the other newly formed political outfit APP used Word of Mouth and Brand Advocacy model effectively and efficiently. They realised early that they neither have financial muscles nor has resources and their only chance in this election maybe if they are able to galvanize the people’s support and press media. They inherited some support from famous Anna movement and used huge fan following of Arvind Kejriwal to kick start their election campaign. Without spending the money they started picking up the issues and topics of larger public interest and created their own space in Indian Politics. Post win of AAP in Delhi Elections, AAP effect started forcing other Political parties to re-look at their own candidates and policies differently. AAP brought new thinking in Indian Politics and gave hope to a large section of society using Word of Mouth of the common man.
Now when Election Campaigns are about to die if we analyze social media activities, Arvind Kejriwal emerges as clear WINNER as he was able to generate more share of voice for himself and his party in Social Space than high media spent (TV, Print, Radio, and Digital included) supported candidate of BJP Narendra Modi.
So what is the learning for Brand Managers here when it comes brand promotion? To me following are key take out not ignoring the importance of traditional media:
1) Money cant buys everything and nothing is more powerful than positive word of mouth and brand advocacy.
2) Creative advertising and high octane campaigns can only create awareness but Word of Mouth and consumer as Brand Advocates creates credible brands.
3) Consumer Testimonials are most effective in building positive imagery of brands and not celebrity testimonials.
4) Social Media Content and PR can be many times cost-effective than paid or traditional media.