The year 2011 has borne witness too many ups and downs and dynamism in the world of Social Media. Radical changes in the interface for two of the most ubiquitously popular Social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter, Klout’s remarkable drop in the ranks, Google+ and Facebook in close encounters, viral videos being recognised as a potent medium to catch eyeballs, augmented reality entering the Social Media Space et al.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which brands could maximize user engagement in the year to come.
Social Media as a 360° Brand Promotion Enabler:
Social Media platforms would be expected to aggravate and play a greater role in enabling a 360° communication. When efficiently integrated with outdoor activation and ATL communication it could lead brands to have a much enhanced user engagement with their potential consumers.
This could have a twofold approach. One, a campaign solely triggered on the social media platform supported by an ATL medium could be a building block to establish a much larger audience base. Two, campaigns initially launched on the mass media vehicles and later on reinforced by the social media. There are enough and more examples of brands that have been practicing these two strategies internationally. In India, the scope is huge considering that not many players are either not aware of the potency of combining SM with ATL or they are plain wary.
A look at Aviva’s ‘the big picture’ campaign where Aviva highlighted stories of their customers, partners and employees and brought alive the brand promise of individual recognition, gives us the idea of integrated campaigns that can be done. Entries were invited through Facebook where interested people could submit their photos and get a chance to feature on building facades of 6 big cities of the world. A classic campaign that that got triggered through the social media and supported by outdoor activation.
Another interesting campaign took place post the inflammatory tweet made by English cricketer Michael Vaughan about Vaseline. Vaseline spawned a campaign in defense of its brand identity and reinforced the message through facebook, where supporters were asked to tag themselves on the page. Needless to say, the campaign did steer in favour of Vaseline’s brand identity and generated a lot of positive reviews.
Although relatively new in the arena of Social Media, Google+ Hangout, in all probabilities is a great platform that Google+ could provide brands to create a niche user engagement. Brands, businesses, movies, musicians etc. are always on a lookout to grow their fan base. Internationally Dell and Macy’s have already used Google + hangout successfully to provide customer service and engage with their target audience base face to face. The Muppets (movie) had collaborated with Google+ hangout to create a pre-release.
In the Indian context, Google+ hangout is still at a very nascent stage. Barring a few popular incidences like Shah Rukh Khan doing a Google+ hangout for his Ra.one, cricketer Virender Sehwag catching up with fans etc., for many brands Google + hangout is still a gold mine waiting to be explored.
Google+ hangout provides 2 options for hangout: private and public. Although it has limitations on the number of people in a group who could participate in a hangout (10), if carefully planned out, a brand could really build a relationship with its customer/potential customer/stakeholder.
Viral Videos as an Attraction Enabler:
Viral videos have been a talk of the town for many years now, including the year gone by. 2012 will only see it emerging further up the ranks of a marketer’s favourite way to garner attention.
Again, looking closely into the aspect of how many brands are actually doing it and creating enough buzz in the local scenario is important. Internationally brands have been using viral videos to develop pre-launch, launch time, post launch videos at regular intervals and provide exciting content for their consumers that can further grow with the word of mouth.
For example, T-mobile did a pre-planned flash-mob invade Liverpool St train station in London and made a crowd groove to some funky beats. The sheer number of views on their official channel itself were in the tune of 15 million+. Let alone other social networking sites. Closer home, HUL’s Dove evolution’s stop motion video that talks about having self-esteem and keeping it real went viral and in the first year itself it got around 12 million+ hits.
Click on the image below to check out the video:
The point is, there are many brands in India that have still not recognised the potential of a
video in either directly or subtly present the brand to its audience. The recent success of an
Insanely popular video, ‘why this kolaveri di’ is a proof how the film makers of the south Indian film, ‘3’ utilized social network as a pre buzz marketing tool and are soon to set the cash registers ringing.
Location Based sites as a Market Research tool:
Much has been talked about the efficacy of location based Social networking sites like Foursquare, Gowalla, BOOYA, Google Latitude etc. The year 2011 has seen a steady rise in the number of ‘check ins’ happening across platforms. In fact, despite not being able to take off as expected by all, Facebook places has also had a decent number of people checking in through this feature, introduced not so long ago. The point being, geosocial networking is growing fast and is expected to go full throttle in 2012 in all likelihood.
Considering that there is an ever increasing footfall on these LBSN sites, the possibility of using such platforms as a market research tool is quite huge. Tracking the usage and the check in patterns of users and the titles that they win when they check in is just the start. Recognise people’s check in patterns at various locations and earmark them to do related brand promotions.
For e.g.: Considering the demographic profile of a group of users who checks in at a TGIF at regular intervals could be potential customers for say an energy brand like a Red Bull or Cloud 9. Triggering a promo campaign at the POS could be one of the things that could be done. Organising contests, quizzes with a definite brand agenda in mind is just some of the other things what associated brands could look into.
Augmented Reality integration into Social Media:
Augmented Reality has been quite a buzz word in the advertising circles lately. A lot many premium brands have already jumped on to the band wagon recognizing it as a key driver to brand communication and customer engagement. And coming from the understanding that most of them would mostly be live on mobile space in delivering relevant targeted content in a contextual environment, it makes more sense for us in India to tap into that.
Augmented reality has already been here in India and brands like Nike and Ford Figo have already demonstrated the use of quick response codes in their various print campaigns. AR essentially brings alive the dormant senses that usually are not quite active for traditional mass media dissemination channels.
AR for social media is to soon see a rise in 2012 based on the ever increasing presence of the target audience on various social networking sites. A simple .jpeg could contain coded information which when integrated with mobile applications could provide a much engaging experience for users.
For example, Volkswagen’s all new Beetles’ ‘Juiced up’ campaign where Augmented Reality was used to bring alive the spirit of car that was all over the hoardings. All one had to do was point their mobile devices enabled with a decoding app and see the all new Beetle do what it does best. Thrill.
Click on the image below to check out the video:
Although it cannot be said with surety how successful the aforementioned trends are going to be, riding high on the waves of last year’s success stories, they seemingly hold promise. A meticulous and timely dissemination of the message at the right time could spell wonder for brands.