Monthly Archives: April 2010

Facebook’s scrabble: "Like" vs. "Become a Fan"

When the whole world was busy preparing to celebrate Earth Day, Facebook was busy playing Scrabble on its website with words – “Like” and “Become a Fan”. No sooner did Facebook announce this seemingly ripper of the change, thousands of bloggers jumped in to make their voice audible to the millions of netizens. As usual you both lobbies some tapping facebook’s back for the change and the rest criticizing their change (they were less in number).

However, what surprised me was the context of argument, almost everyone argued from the perspective of individual users (read “customers” if you are marketer). Now, this took me aback!!! Yes, the fanpage (as it was known couple of days back) / company page is meant for customers to hog on and show their interests, share their ideas, feelings etc. But hey guys, why did you miss the other important stakeholder, yes the brand which has floated this page (let me call it “brand community”). I am sure, atleast 8 out of 10 marketers, would not have liked the change facebook has brought with “like”, wondering why?? here it is:

I feel, when someone says “I like this”, it doesn’t bring a kick in me, because I feel ya you might be 1 of other billion odd people who might be liking this. On the contrary, when you say me “I am a fan of Facebook”, this ushers the adrenaline in me and makes my stupid brain think, why the hell this person is fan of some strange animal called “facebook”, what’s so special about it?, and this curiosity leads to search for information about “facebook” (which means receiving new unique visitors), getting acclimatized with it (increasing chances of conversion), and maybe becoming a fan of it too (yeahh that’s my target at the end of the day). Does it sound good (if not great)???? Hit me back if any marketer disagrees to it.

The brand community (or a fan page) on the social media platform serves the purpose of providing an unbiased stage to present and potential customers to share their experiences, likings / dislikings regarding the brand, and more importantly have a sense of “community” feeling, which accredits the customer that “Yes, I possess the right product out of all me-too available in the market”. This feeling would further drive the commitment and ensure brand loyalty a money spinner for any damn marketer. This feeling is what every brand is looking for when creating a fan page on the social media platform.

Now, what may happen (I pray which should not happen in the interests of Facebook) is that people would start clicking every other page just because they “feel” or “think” they “like” it resulting in collection of basket full of mangoes, and God knows how many of them would be ripe in the marketer’s interests!!!!

I doubt if just scrabbling a few words would help marketers, other than the scrabble player, Facebook

Now we have Indian case studies on social media!

The moment someone starts talking about social media marketing, it is unbelievable to not hear examples like Starbucks, Ford, Harley Davidson, Nestle from him/her. Its true that these giants were the first movers in adopting social media, but doesn’t mean we keep on talking about them, and relearning the same stuff for years. The prior brand image of these giants is so exemplary that other firm’s moves get over shadowed. It’s time now to move on, get exposed to what other firms have practiced and learned from social media.

It’s really encouraging to see that Indian firms have realized the social media potential and have started adopting it in an organized manner. The first attempts to acknowledge, publicize the social media efforts of firms in India, was carried out by India Social during Feb-Mar, 2010 and three firms were awarded – Pratham books (1st prize), Fastrack (2nd prize), Cleartrip.com (3rd prize). I attempted an analysis on case studies of these firms, which was published at Telecom Circle.

Its time to celebrate the social media success in India too, and let the world know even Indian firms are capable to leverage social media effectively and efficiently.

Cleartrip and Makemytrip…travel with Social Media, but not without blunders!!!

India’s largest and leading two portals for travel booking – Cleartrip & Makemytrip too have tried their fortune with social media platforms. Cleartrip has its profile on facebook and twitter. Also, cleartrip has tried to maintain its own corporate blog. Cleartrip as of date has 2195 members on its facebook fan page and 1788 members follow cleartrip on its twitter fan page. However, surprising element is that there is no mention of cleartrip’s presence on social media on its corporate website homepage. This clearly shows the lack of clarity of using the social media. If a website has presence on social media makes a silly mistake of not highlighting it on its corporate website, how would its millions of customers come to know about its presence….and cleartrip is simply under utilizing its resources. Further, though 1788 members follow cleartrip, only 17 members are followed in return by Cleartrip, which again is a funny mistake. Its really difficult to understand why cleartrip hasn’t made an effort to follow back atleast 1788 members, who follows its fanpage….this is so crucial because people often tweet about their travel details on twitter, which could be a useful information for cleartrip to reach that member with attractive offers….This again shows the under-utilization or the lack of understanding of Indian corporates in utilizing social media.

The closest competitor of Cleartrip, Makemytrip.com has also not been far away from joining the social media bandwagon. It has maintained two profile pages (Makemytrip & Makemytrip Deals) on Facebook. The first profile page has about 140 fans and the second one has 605 fans. Similar to Cleartrip, one would hardly find an indication on its corporate website that they have presence on social media platforms. However, I found that Makemytrip Deals page was very active and their team instantly responded to the queries placed by members, which was missing in Cleartrip fan page, so one could say that atleast makemytrip is managing its fanpage in a much better manner. Also makemytrip has twitter account and has maintained multiple profile pages – Makemytrip Deals, Makemytripcare. Similar to facebook, makemytrip is very active on twitter accounts and has tweets at regular intervals, which cleartrip lacks to a great extent.

My understanding of this small exercise is that its not the presence on social media matters, but what matters is the extent to which you get engaged with your members (read prospective customers!!!) and make them feel the purpose of your presence…Hope, other companies do not make such silly blunders!!!!

Nestle….Needed desperate break from Oranguttan!!!

Social media though is sought after by marketers for its “attractive” benefits. However, I discuss in this post how it also involves high risk element. Nestle, the ubiquitous brand of the Earth, faced an unexpected challenging campaign against it raised by Greenpeace in March, 2010. Nestle was accused of using inexpensive Palm Oil (mostly sourced from Indonesian rainforest) instead of cacao butter in its leading brand Kit-Kat. It was not the use of palm oil that infuriated Greenpeace, but the major concern was the loss of rainforest for Oranguttans. Usually marketers tend to incline towards social media, but in this case Greenpeace utilized the social media to spread negative word-of-mouth. Greenpeace created maximum damage by floating two videos (Video 1 & Video 2) on YouTube. This lead to furore which spread like a forest fire through the Nestle’s Profile pages on Facebook & Twitter. Greenpeace not only used third party social media platforms, but also used its website to spread awareness amongst nature lovers about the deforestation caused by Nestle which was becoming dangerous for Oranguttans.

This kind of situation is worst for any company to face….Think of a situation where one adapts a platform to build image, but people make use of the same platform to degrade the image……An important point to notice is that social media spreads negative publicity at the same rate (probably even at a faster rate) than the positive publicity….This reminds me of times when Cadbury faced worm issue and Coca-Cola faced pesticides, had social media been more active in those times, it would have been a tough task for these giants to control the antagonism against them.

As a reader of this post you would wonder didn’t Nestle respond to this initiative…yes it did, with a mere explanation on its website which read: “The company recently announced its commitment to using only ‘Certified Sustainable Palm Oil’ by 2015, when sufficient quantities should be available.”

Time would decide if it would be early enough for Nestle to justify its position by 2015…..Marketers: Beaware of your antagonists who are anxiously waiting for an opportunity to prove their worth!!

Kaya Skin Clinic’s Social Media Endeavor

Ever heard of a Skin Clinic imbibed in the social media wave to market its products and services???? Yes, it happened in India, Kaya Skin Clinic in July, 2009 joined hands with Windchimes Communications to market a new campaign on “Bridal” package. Kaya Skin Clinic is one of the country’s largest skin clinic chain with more than 100 clinics operating across 26 cities in India and 13 clinics in Middle East. Understanding the distinct importance of marriage in Indian culture, Kaya Skin Clinic launched a special “Bridal Package” in July, 2009 and decided to take social media route for its promotion. Windchimes helped Kaya in the entry to social media, by creating company profile page on Twitter and Facebook. Moreover, they also created and posted an informative video on YouTube. As of writing this post, Kaya has about 1,000 followers and Kaya is following 951 fans on Twitter and so far they have exchanged 563 tweets in approx. 9 months, which indicates that efforts by Kaya have not been let down by its fans. Kaya has maintained two profile pages on Facebook – one for Indian fans and another for Middle East fans. Surprisingly, there are only four fans on Indian page, while there are about 287 fans on Middle East page.

It would be too early to comment whether Kaya’s efforts have been paid off, but its good to see traditional Indian companies (as Kaya is an arm of Marico) believing in the potential of social media and joining the bandwagon….I would love to see many more jumping in……