Chapter 8: Public Relations, Event Promotion, and Social Media

The Era of Business to People (B2P)

Both Public relations and social media are about creating and fostering relationships. They both serve the same purpose, but the process is different and so are the perspectives. In the past, to reach people and to build relationships, brands actively used to engage the traditional media to cover a story about them and to reach out to their potential customers via them. The relationship was very much one-way, where the brands could communicate to the customers through the traditional forms but customers could not. Journalists were highly regarded and so were the relationships with them, but social media has completely changed the scenario today. Previously the combination was business to media and media to mass, but with social media there is a shift today, it is now business to people, people to people, and people to many. Social media tools such as Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and videos help brands communicate with customers directly in a form that is easy to access, convenient to respond to, and entertaining(Figure 8.1).

A brand should slowly bring down the focus on spending more money monthly on a media relation program or to a PR agency that tries to convince a handful of reporters and selected magazines, newspapers or news shows to cover a story on your brand. PR today is not about your senior managers seeing your brand on TV; it is about your customers reading about you on the web. Brands should start investing in different ways to target the bloggers, influential tweeters, web-based news sites, online press-release hubs, social media journalists that are reaching the target audience who are looking for what we have to offer. The rules of the PR world are slowly changing and a customer today loves to participate than being part of media hype. As stated in previous chapters, social media in India is still in its growth phase and brands should now focus on creating their own channels through social media. One can easily create their own media brand in the niche of their own and communicate directly with the audience, avoiding the media filter completely.

Case Study 8.1: How Lakshmi Rebecca Made Herself a Web Journalist

PR world is definitely changing. Everything matters today from priorities of marketers to the opinion of a citizen/social media journalist. It is well known that in the past how a mass communication graduate or a person with a degree in journalism struggled enough to enter into the media industry and to work as a journalist. Today, social media is changing the game. Lakshmi Rebecca, a Bangalore-based model, had a dream to become an anchor person and journalist to cover amazing insights into the lives and pursuits of really interesting people, and she did become one by creating an opportunity for herself using web, social media.

She created an online show of hers, called “Chai with Lakshmi.” Her web channel youtube.com/chaiwithlakshmi or chaiwithlakshmi.in is an immensely popular online show among the urban populace in India. With interviews and coverages on steaming sensation topics, her videos on YouTube channel has got more than 80,000+ views and 180+ subscribers in less than a year and hundreds of subscribers and followers to her updates. Her webisodes are telecast three times a week and get an average 600+ views every time when a new one is uploaded. Besides developing more than 50 episodes and sharing them on her official site and YouTube channel, she also shares a lot of opinion on urban India, hot tips for making good tea and baking recipes on her blog.

PR today is about being always facilitating the ongoing conversations across the web. It is great to have our businesses profiled in Forbes, Times, or India Today magazine. However, putting all the public relations efforts to get mentioned in one magazine would not be that great as to have some bloggers or influencers publish your story and reach to the niche audience who are interested in what we have to offer, that they are looking for. On social media, the brand or organization by itself becomes a spokesperson and plays a role of HR manager, marketer, PR manager, customer service representative and business development manager. In which PR plays the stronger part as social media is all about managing relationships with people.

The Changing Rules of PR

Years ago, brands issued press releases, targeting media, hoping someone would take it on and do a cover story helping them reach to customers via traditional media. The real purpose of using PR was to create some buzz in the market about your organization, product, or service. Press releases were sent through fax machines or hand delivered, followed by reaching out to potential media personnel or journalists and waited for the broadcasting to happen.

Social media is not different; the social networking sites are communication channels that help brands connect with customers and converse with them. The only difference is that it allows brand to connect with customers directly, engage them convey message reachin8.2g the mass via people, and create buzz about the organization and its products or services. The idea on social media should be unique. Similarly it should be in the conventional PR practice too to reach out to customers. In PR, we are never sure if the news will attract key journalists and go viral and spread. Similarly on social media too, brands are never too sure if their content will reach influencers and go viral.

Consumers today are influenced by what they read online, and social media plays an important role in making the information to reach people. Brands cannot afford to ignore social media, and it is going to be part of PR campaigns in some way or the other. The world of PR and social media are the same just with a few differences mentioned in Figure 8.2.

Initially, there was little acceptance of the impact of social media on journalism. This was because journalism was considered a profession that required discipline, analysis, explanation, and context. However, with the changing times, journalism comprised social media as yet another source that can be used to provide information to its users. Journalism is undergoing a transformation into apart from being a space that provides information in traditional ways, to also ensure that their news and opinions are available in the instant format using social media or involves social media in developing them. This means that while adapting to the changes, they are ensuring that the profession is still following the principles that govern the profession of journalism.

  • From Press Releases to Social Media Releases: The concept of press releases is slowly taking on a different meaning. Brands are finding different ways to attract the mainstream media today via social media. Rather than sending press release through emails, PR professionals are uploading press releases in the various press release hubs (to be traceable on search engines) or they create a customized landing page with rich media incorporated for that specific announcement and contacting reporters or journalists via Twitter by sharing the link with them. They also take routes to direct the reporter to a YouTube video where a CEO is making the announcement.

There are services such as PRXBuilder.com and MindTouch that are changing the facets of press releases with embedded media and easy distribution through various social media and web channels.

  • Two-way Communication Versus a Speech: The old rule of PR allowed only broadcasting, and it was like standing on a mountain and speaking through a loud speaker to make it audible to everyone standing down; however, what they replied was not audible to the spokesperson. Social media changed this rule completely. Two-way communication with consumers helps brand gets real-time feedback and opinions. The ongoing communication with consumers on day-to-day basis helps brand refining and improving their products and services to make a deeper connection with the target audience. Social media helps humanizing a brand and not broadcasting, which helps develop a feeling among consumers that they are talking to a brand and not just listening to their tactics of sales.
  • News, a Tweet Away: In the past the newspapers used to quote a person making a state, ent, the same is now replaced by a “tweet.” It is noticed how journalists are quote tweets as thoughts of an individual these days. A tweet makes news when it becomes highly controversial or creates high amount of conversations. For example, a recent picture shared by the Indian actress Madhuri Dixit on Twitter posing in disguise by covering her face along with her family at Taj Mahal became the talk of the country with coverages in almost all the newspapers, online news hubs, Twitter, and more with media raising questions why did Madhuri cover her face? For another instance, when a video of Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff abusing while shooting for a polio campaign run by government came in to notice Indians on Twitter started talking about it making words such as Jackie Shroff, #Abusivewords used in the video trending in the country thus making that video reach to many individuals who were not aware of the incident. Today, through various social media listening tools PR professionals and journalists can get updated with what is happening in the industry. A thread of conversations or complaints on a digital forum can become news.
  • Journalist Database and Easy Access: In January 2011, I had launched a video called “Social Media Revolution in India,” and this was a web launch, done on a customized landing page on a pre-fixed time. To reach out to the reporters and journalists informing them about the launch of Social Media India video, we did make a press release, uploaded it on the same landing page where the video was supposed to be webcasted and figured out the potential journalists and reporters available on Twitter. With more than hundreds, we individually tweeted them and invitedthem to be part of our web launch. Twitter made our process easier, and it helped us build instant conversations with those journalists who were interested to know more about the video and the happenings in the Indian social media space. http://listorious.com/arunram/indianjournalists has got about 58 of them listed or you can use followerwonk. com to track them – location based
  • Citizen Journalism: Another aspect of social media journalism is the increasing popularity of the term “citizen journalist.” A citizen journalist is someone who does not have the authority to be a traditional journalist; nevertheless, they have the tools to report news as they see or interpret it. This means that more and more individuals from outside the world of journalism are involved.

Journalism is also learning to accept citizen journalists under their wing and giving them the power of expression and the importance that they so deserve. This too has been a drastic change from yesteryears where journalists were providers of information, while people were consumers of information. Today, more and more journalists are turning to social media as a source for forming public opinion and are giving the audiences a voice to represent themselves in mainstream media

Citizen journalism is a popular concept where the process is very simple and personal. A social media enthusiast who owns his own social media channels and shares a fair amount of influential credibility, thought leadership in web sphere and is an opinion maker can be called “social media journalist” or “social media influencer.” Social media journalist’s visibility majorly comes through her Blog, Twitter presence, videos on YouTube, pages on Facebook, etc. Attracting bloggers, tweeters, and poadcasters and making them talk about your brand, captures the real essence of social media. Apart from your own contents about your own brand, people tend to trust what the mob follows. Social media journalists, by their own virtue of influence, make this easily possible. A smart way is to attract key influencers in your industry and have them talk about you.

PR Through Bloggers/Tweeters—Encouraging Citizen Journalism

Vipin Sachdeva, a Chennai-based owner of chain of restaurants such as Burgundy, Kryptos, Subway, Tuscana, bar, regularly invites food bloggers and influential tweeters from Chennai for lunch or dinner at any of his restaurants.

While having them on board, he personally connects with them and shares detail of every dish served on the table. The invited bloggers are later sent an email with photographs and details of the dishes served to them, with a request to share their experience on social networking sites and review based sites. On a personal invitation, I have been part of one of the similar meetup and I had realized almost everyone goes back and blogs something positive about the restaurant at the same time reviews them on popular review sites and share their experience on Twitter and Facebook thus generating positive word of mouth. The relationship Vipin develops with these bloggers, gaining them as customers is another value-build in itself.

Reasons Why Social Media Journalists Are Essential

  1. . They Stay Connected: Social media journalists are usually active on social media space to obtain more traffic to their blog or YouTube channel and also to attract audience to the conversations they raise on social networking sites.
  2. Social Media Journalists Are Influential: The social media profiles you have created for your brand might have very less number of audience/ community members/reader base/followers. A social media journalist’s influence or a well established blogger’s reach will be better than the business profiles recently created on social media.
  3. Endorsement Matters: A social media journalist is not just someone who shares the link but also a thought leader in his space or industry. They are also known as the influencers of social media. When these influencers cover your story, their identity endorses your brand and influences many other individuals to talk about you. Remember, their thoughts are respectful, so ensure there is no negativity in the air when you address them and want them to address the larger audience on behalf of you.
  4. Frugally Yours: Word of Mouth Marketing is to be considered the most power tool of marketing. Reaching the non-conventional social media journalist to talk about your brand is a cost effective solution for your brand, provided you do it right!
  5. The Social Way: Inviting social media influencers to cover a story on your brand is a wise choice to understand the reaction of social media towards your products as these influencers will not just write about you on their blogs but will also share what they have written on blog through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking sites they on. This is the only way where a brand can test the power of social media even without having a visible presence on social media territories.

I had the opportunity to work with TiE Chennai team (TiE is a global, not-for-profit network of entrepreneurs and professionals dedicated to the advancement of entrepreneurship) – during 2010 and 2011 to promote their business conference “TieCon 2010 and 2011” on social media through the social media journalists. We first announced the requirement of social media enthusiasts from Chennai city who would be willing to cover and promote the event through their social media channels. After we received few entries, we finalized enthusiasts who had influential reach and started promoting the event via social media by creating a common hashtag on twitter and also by establishing presence on all social media channels to reach out to different audience. The social media journalist team was involved in giving a running commentary on the complete event through their social media profiles using a commong hashtag, thus reaching to their followers and also to people searching for the information via pre-announced hashtag. The social media journalist team talked about registration counter, speakers of the event, context of the discussions, content shared, details of sessions, food, caterers to cleaner, aiming to show all those happenings of the event that went in the spirit of making the event successful. The event was later re-buzzed on social media with its pictures, comments and cherish-able memories. The moments shared on social media are captured for life time and the event happenings now remain historical. In a similar fashion a team was formed to live cover the entire event Social Media Summit 2011 that echoVME had organized with national and international speakers and more than 1000 participants.

Citizen Journalism via Bloggers—The Process

Citizen journalism is other word for social media journalism as stated earlier. Inviting bloggers for a product launch or an event to cover a story or to generate buzz has now become regular practice for many brands. Inviting bloggers is beneficial for various reasons:

  1. Bloggers will write a story on your product – increasing your chance to get visibility on search engines also to reach out to their regular reader base
  2. Bloggers will share their experience on their social media channels – increasing your chance to go viral on social media.
  3. Bloggers can become your long term brand advocates

Citizen Journalism via bloggers is a six-step process, mastering which brands can start inviting bloggers on regular basis to create a buzz about their brands on the web (Figure 8.3).

Step 1—Objective: The first and most important step is to define your objective of the campaign. Your objective could be anything: create awareness, increase visibility on search engines, get a review done about your products or services, get influencers speak about you, live tweet the event, have bloggers to create buzz on social networking sites, review the product or restaurant etc. You need to have your vision clear before defining it setting up your objective, appointing a social media manager who can work along with the bloggers throughout the process will be a fair idea as this process needs to be done with focus and needs a lot of hospitality. A person dedicated to this campaign will bring in a lot of difference.

Step 2—Define Bloggers: To attract bloggers, you should be clear on the type of bloggers and the quality they can offer. You need to define the kind of bloggers you are attracting to cover a story. Bloggers are of three types:

  1. Niche bloggers—Specific topic writers, it can be about food, city, marketing, finance, etc. They are preferred partners to market your specific products/brands, since people follow them for their thought-leadership.
  2. Personal bloggers—Poetic and storytelling ones, who share their life, life-styles their philosophies. Not greatly appreciated for marketing, unless their blogs are very famous.
  3. Corporate bloggers—usually involved in describing products and services, sharing the humane side of the corporate, processes involved, etc. They are not in our area of interest.

You may also want to check the quality of the person’s writing, their reach, their influence level on the web and their popularity on social media. For example, if you are targeting to have your restaurants reviewed you might want to invite food or city bloggers to cover a story on you, inviting bloggers who writes on environment or finance will not make sense as the audience for each of their blogs differ and so is the author’s mindset.

Step 3—Defining the Quality of the Blogs: In the web world, a relatively older blog is known to be more popular than a new blog both in terms of credibility and visibility. A marketer should consider the following components while deciding the quality of the blogs:

  1. Relevancy of the blog to your business.
  2. . Page rank of blogs and their visibility.
  3. Regularity and credibility of updates.
  4. The social media connect of the blogs.
  5. Viral reach of their earlier blog posts.
  6. Quality of the content, the flow of language, and the presentation of the blog posts.
  7. Quantity: Number of subscribers to the RSS Feed or Feed burner
  8. Reach of the blogger on social networking sites.
  9. Online influence of the person

The above specifications of the blog will help you scrutinize the bloggers.

Step 4—Promotion for Promotion (P4P): In this stage a marketer needs to promote the blogger meet-up to drive the interested bloggers to participate – this can be called as ‘Promotion for Promotion stage’ as you are trying to promote a meet up, the sole purpose of which is to promote a particular objective of your organization.

The P4P announcements could be via: Facebook advertisements, existing bloggers communities, online PR, traditional advertisements, announcements via existing social media channels, regular and targeted tweeting (database based), social media influencers etc. Once you start receiving entries you can scrutinize the bloggers on the basis of specifications previously made. Remember, the entry for the event should be free!

Many brands in India have been using the services of indiblogger.in – a community of bloggers with more than 40,000 active Indian blogs registered. Indiblogger.in helps brand organize a blogger meet-up by planning the complete agenda and by inviting the niche bloggers (as defined by brands) from their existing database of bloggers.

There was a Stayfree Indiblogger Meet, hosted on 27 May in Mumbai, which was only targeting the women community. More than 100 women registered for the event. The event was webcasted virtually where many men and women watched it live. A social issue “healthy and hygienic life is every girl’s right” was associated with the event which was powered by UNICEF. Prashoon Joshi (One of the popular writer and lyricist) was available at the event live performing and sharing his thoughts. The event was very thought provoking and appreciated by the bloggers who participated. Many blog posts and tweets about the event were later generated (With #VoiceofChange), that helped brand spread word of mouth.

Step 5—Experiential Treatment: This is the most crucial part of your entire strategy. Every second of this treatment will be reflected in the words they are going to utter through their blogs. Bloggers need to be treated with a wonderful experience. For example, if the bloggers are invited at a restaurant to write review on the food you serve, they need to be given the best of the hospitality, finest of the dishes, and should be treated personally. The CEO must dine along with bloggers, sharing stories about the launch and various processes involved to add the personalized touch. Chef may visit to know if there are any customized requirements by the participants.

Similarly, if the bloggers are invited to cover a store launch or product launch and if they are huge in number then there should be enough space given for them to network with each other. Hosting fun moments, contests, and opinions on the industry can make them converse about your brand and make their experience memorable. In such cases the products or services are launched at the end of the show so as to make bloggers feel the event is not very promotional.

In the whole P4P scene, social media connect becomes very essential. Bloggers can be asked to live tweet the event, live photograph the moments, and later share their opinions on the blog. Brands mostly run best tweet, best picture and best blog contest with an expensive give away to encourage participation. This who planned to come will help create charm among those bloggers in the network but could not turn up and also among the registered ones who did not get selected and of course gives food for discussion for people who are attending the P4 P party. Give bloggers a souvenir to take along – could be a product sample or a freebie such as Tshirt, Umbrella with brand’s key message for them to remember and flaunt.

Step 6—Post Bloggers Meet: Following up, asking them how their experiences were and thanking them for being there, will prove to be a great gesture. This is essential! When the whole campaign is over you just need to wait for the magic to happen.

Case Study 8.2: How Univercell—The Mobile Store Organized the Indiblogger Meetup

I remember I was part of a bloggers meet organized by Indiblogger.in in association with Univercell (a chain of mobile stores) in March 2010. More than 200 bloggers gathered at the event, and Univercell launched its blogging platform encouraging bloggers to write about the products they sell, few products were put on display and bloggers were asked to review. The event was informally welcomed by the Univercell Marketing Head, with display of tweet walls where the tweets with common hashtags such as #indiblogger #Indichn were on display. The event had fun elements, few games, and some food. A T-shirt was given to all the bloggers which did have a Univercell logo on it. Many of the bloggers were tweeters and they actively spread the word about what Univercell do and how thankful they are to Univercell for hosting this event, and there were many who took part in the Univercell blogging contest and many blogged about the event, giving a thanks note to Univercell. In April 2010 this was hosted in Hyderabad attracting Hyderabad bloggers. Even today if you Google “Univercell Bloggers Meet” you can see a lot of praises and experience. In a similar fashion, Indiblogger hosted a blogger meet in 2011 which was sponsored by TATA Grande. Though I was not part of this event, I learnt from the tweets of bloggers I follow that the brand gave its car for test drive for bloggers to drive and experience the car, later blog about it, if they wished (which was the actual purpose). Many had clicked the photos of the car and its accessories, which was live tweeted and later blogged. Some of the popular brands that have been hosting bloggers meet: Samsung Tablet, HP, Spice Mobiles, Akshay Patra, Kingfisher, etc.

Many companies in India have still adapted to promote their products via bloggers without hosting a meet up. This is hosted in the form of a blogging contest which is advertised and promoted through traditional media, and the community members or followers on social media are encouraged to participate. Many a times bloggers are asked to collect votes and sometimes it is judged by a panel of popular bloggers: Brands such as Apollo Hospital (Billion Hears Campaign), Lakme (Diva Blogger Campaign), Bombay Store (Bangalore Blogathon Campaign), Castrol Power, and Mahindra Holiday have been hosting such regular campaigns

Making Your Event Social Media Friendly

If your corporate event today is not social media friendly, you are losing the major chunk of PR and Word of Mouth marketing. Companies in India have started using social media to promote prior, during and post event activities. In fact, most of the case studies given above on social media and PR are mostly events based. Adding the social media touch to the event makes it more engaging, people friendly, and globally visible. Why confine audience to a room when the world is there to listen?

By organizing and hosting several events and forming the social media journalists team for TieCon 2010 and 2011, Search Marketing Summit 2010, Social Media Summit 2011, and more than 70 social media workshops in the country, here are some take aways based on my experiences that can make your event a social media friendly event:

  1. Online Ticketing Solution: It is essential to allow registration of the event online when you are planning to promote event via social media. Today, online event registration integration is just a call away. With sites such as ayojak.com, doattend.com, and meravevents.com having a payment gateway for selling your tickets online is just easy. As a loyal eventnu.com (the service is now closed) customer, I easily integrate the payment gateways on my website and keep track of all the registrants and their details on the Google document shared by the admin for every event we organize. Ensure, you ask for social media details of the participants while they register for the event. Ask for their Twitter handle, Facebook URL, and LinkedIn URL, this will later help you in engaging them on social media.
  2. Presence on Social Media Channels: Having a Facebook event page is just not the solution. If you are planning your company’s signature event and are planning to host it every year, then it is suggested to create a presence for your event on social media from a long-term branding perspective. For example, the mistake I did while registering my username for Social Media Summit event’s business page on Facebook was the fixation of the year in URL, it is Facebook.com/ SMSin2011 which has got more than 2000 audience in the community. It is suggested to use common titles and name without fixation of year of hosting or the theme in title, URLs while registration. Registration on Facebook (for updates), Blog (for updates in detail), Twitter (for engaging audience, live tweeting, and promoting), YouTube (for sharing videos on backstage activities and later sharing the videosof events and podcasts), SlideShare (to share the decks shared by the speaker), and Flickr (for the pre and post photos of the event) are highly recommended.
  3. Deciding a Twitter Hashtag:com/registerhashtag/ is a popular service that helps your register for a hashtag and let world know that you have already claimed the conversations built over it (unofficially) and also helps you understand if the hashtag you are planning to launch is available or not. It is suggestible that your hashtag should be small and must be between 10 and 12 characters considering the Twitter limitation of 140 characters in a tweet. For example, #SMSin2011 was the hashtag for the conversations on Social Marketing Summit India 2011, it is #SMSin2012 or #SMSin2013 for the consecutive years.
  4. Promoting the Social Media Presence: While you are promoting event via emails, brochures, sold tickets, posters, online banners, advertisement on social media platforms, online and offline PR, showcasing your social media links on the official event page will be a smart idea. Look at the top right-hand side corner of the advertisement above, which was published in The Hindu, it shows the Facebook links of the event and the introduced hashtag. Promoting the event’s social media presence helps you to sell and engage audience better. Many people start using hashtag as a meeting ground for other participants of the event, they engage with each other on social media first and meet in real world during the event.
  5. Engaging Audience on Social Media: The regular updates made through social media on the making of the event and backstage activities makes audience more enthusiastic and excited about the event. During SMSin2011 we had shared following information through event’s social media channels to keep the audience updated, engaged and excited:
  • Profile of the speaker.
  • The photographs of the team members working on the event.
  • The photos of the event (the pre- and post-arrangements made for event).
  • Stage decoration and the design of the backdrop.
  • The names tags made read for the participants.
  • The kind of seating arrangement.
  • The menu.
  • Announcements about performance and the entertainment.
  • Photos of the event kit in making.
  • Tagging the participants and speakers on Twitter by using common hastag (the Twitter handles and social media profile details of the participants are collected while they register for the event).
  • The CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activities associated with the event or the NGOs who are given a free stall to exhibit.
  • Announcements about sponsors, their branding element is included in social media banners and backgrounds.
  • Announcement about the contest.
  • Encouraging social media journalism, pre announcing the availability or non- availability of WiFi for participants to live cover the event or share their experience.

There are lot more creative things that one can think of. Keeping your audience updated about the minute details of the event (prior to the event) is totally impossible or a very expensive deal on traditional media, you cannot aim your media partners to cover all these minute stories about the event. Agree?

  1. During the Event:The following activities needs to be performed during the event to add the social media touch:

Webcast Your Event: If you have planned your event considering all the above steps, then it is suggestible to host a live webcast of the event as there would be many among the audience who have followed all the updates about the event but could not come to the event due to pre-fixed schedules, location, illness, cost of the event ticket, emergency, etc. Webcast will help you overcome all the barriers and make your event visible and accessible throughout the world. This will also encourage more and more people to discuss about the event, live.

Encourage Usage of Tweet Walls: Today many international summits and conferences host a Twitter wall that allows tweets with the common hashtag display. One can create a Twitter wall using www. tweetwally.com. It is suggested to have two big screens, one at the networking area and the other inside the event hall just behind the speaker. The tweet wall allows event managers to display the tweets from the audience inside the venue hall and from others who are watching it live through webcast. A tweet wall is the fun element as you will notice audience giving honest feedbacks about the event or the speaker at the same time they are spreading the word about the event through their social media profiles encouraging more people to know what is happening at the event. A tweet wall also encourages social networking on the web and in the real world.

Remember on the landing page where the webcast is hosted, a tweet widget should also be integrated on the right side of the video to display the tweets with the introduced hashtag. This will help audience listen to the speaker while watching the conversation around it.

Host Social Media-Based Contest: To encourage people to live tweet or update about the event right from the venue while the event is on, companies can think of creative contests. For example, at SMSin2011, we encouraged surprise giveaways to participants who shared the first tweet of the event, first picture of the event shared, first blog post about the event and more. To make the participation go little creative we also hosted a question “A Day Without Social Media is like_______________” and there were many from the audience who tweeted their answers using #SMSin2011 to participate in the contest. This question was just raised before the lunch hour, which added a fun element while people enjoyed the food served for appetite and funny tweets for gossips, gag and more.

  1. Social Media Remembrance Flavor: This will help you make your customers loyal to your event or to your presence on social media and will act as memoir. In case of TieCon 2010 we hired a professional photographer from the city and ran a “Display Picture Campaign,” which allowed participants of the event to get their professional picture clicked for free that was then later posted on the event’s Facebook page (to increase the number of visitors and likes). Similarly, at SMSin2011, we hosted a backdrop with the branding of the event (look at the image below) called as the “Photocorner” that allowed participants to get their pictures clicked by the hired photographers at the event or using their own gadgets. There are many other options that you can think of: T-shirts, stickers for car, customized mugs, etc that can be taken as a souvenir back home.
  2. After the Event Get Over: Even before your participants start asking you, your social media team must be quick enough to post the photographs of the event, videos on YouTube as many participants would want to listen to speakers again and again (have an editing team ready to get this done) and the presentations in PDF format on SlideShare (downloadable version) for audience to access. Send a thank you note to all the participants who helped promote your event online by talking about it through their social media profiles.

How Brands on Social Media Get Unique Sponsorship Opportunities

Ramco Systems, a global organization serving ERP on Cloud services, not only participated in the Cloud Computing Forum which held at London but also sponsored the tweet display wall at the event. Previously, brands used to sponsor to get their visibility on the banners on the dias or across the venue. @RamcoSystems preferred to sponsor the tweet wall as the brand has a very active twitter presence and it believed many eyeballs these days constantly vouch out for audience reaction through the displayed tweet wall. To add further to the value and visibility @RamcoSystems was live-tweeting the event with the common hashtag introduced for the event.

Case Study 8.3: How Indian Automobile Brands Are Doing Their PR Through Influencers

Automobile companies have a different funda on social media. Videos and contests with free giveaways have become the norm now. Like how Volkswagen ran #Anything4Jetta campaign asking people to tweet to win a car. However, brands either invest in the development of expensive application or a flashy video to engage audiences about their new luxury car and very rarely go that extra mile—to engage influencers in hitting the right chord.

Here are a few stories on how the influencers have been exposed to these marketing stunts by receiving cars for a day or two or for long drives to experience the luxury and share their experience on social media channels.

In turn, brand receives some honest opinions from them, which reaches out to mass through their profiles—We can probably call this as a Public Relation Campaign that comes with ease of amplification

Ford Affords a Long Drive for Lakshmi Sarath

Ford helped Lakshmi Sarath, a popular travel blogger in the country (Lakshmi has received numerous opportunities to travel abroad for free to cover stories    on different cultures and tourism before), by letting her drive a Ford car to Bekal in Kerala from Bangalore. Ford’s intention was simply to give her an experience, not a part of any contest. By choosing Lakshmi, Ford made a subliminal advert

Aarti Tries a Tata Indica Vista d90 for 3 Days from Blogadda

The Automobile industry often leverages blogger communities such as a blogadda, indibloggers to reach out to Indian bloggers. Aarti Krishnakumar, an active twitterati , a popular food and travel blogger and an influential Facebook persona was given an opportunity to drive Indica Vista d90 for 3 days. It came with a full tank and liberty to drive wherever. She later received a Rs. 2500 Chroma voucher to redeem.

@TinuCherian Lost the Contest, But Still Won a Mercedes Car for a Weekend

When it comes to luxury @TinuCherian (active Twitter user) won it all. As part of its promotion, Chetan Bhagat and the #KaiPoChe promotional team ran a business idea contest by asking followers to tweet using #MyKaiPoCheDream.

Tinu received the maximum retweets that shot to the top tweet and trended (with 144 RTs & 52 Favorites—check the pic below). Despite this, Tinu lost and decided to ask Audi for a car for the weekend with an exceptionally smart tweet (he tagged Mercedes and Audi in the same tweet—check the pic below). The tweet got him 147 RTs, catching the Mercedes India’s attention instead of Audi’s and hurried to contact him. In addition, sent him a SLK 350 (90+ lakh worth model?) all the way from Pune to Bangalore, for an entire weekend as requested. Now, that’s brilliant isn’t it?

Tinu did full justice! He shared pictures and the experience of driving a Merc with his internet fan followings.

 

@Dhempe Gets Lucky with Mercedes as Well

Savaari.com (a portal to book cars—for hiring) hosted a Valentine’s Day contest on Facebook asking participants to post their best couple pictures. The one who got highest number of votes won a free luxury car ride for a day. @Dhempe (active social media personality) had achieved about 132 votes, becoming the runner up and Madhumita Ghosh won by gaining 235 votes. Both won a free car drive. Dhempe being highly influential on his social media platform, did justice to savaari.com and Mercedes by sharing his experience on Facebook and on Twitter, winning a Mercedes E Class!

How Brands in India Are Leveraging Twitter to Make Their Hashtags Trend and Reach Out to People Across the Country:

Before I begin this case study let me explain you what hashtag is all about:

If you are using Twitter, you must be already aware of what a Hashtag is. But, if you are not using Twitter then for your understanding “Hashtag” is basically a keyword that is used to assimilate all the tweets at one place when searched for. If a tweet of yours considers a word with hashtag, for example: #ForYourUnderstanding—the word becomes hyperlinked by itself, which on clicking goes to a separate page which displays tweets of all the tweeters who have used #ForYourUnderstanding in their tweet. So it basically can be called a “Content Aggregator.” When a hashtag is used by thousands of tweeters at a particular instance the chance of it becoming a trending topic is high on Twitter. However, Hashtags can also be used on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or Instagram to aggregate content at one place. In simple term Hashtag = Grouping of Messages.

What Is Trending Topic?

When a hashtag is more often used by people and by various numbers of people more frequently at a steady pace, the topic becomes a trending topic on Twitter. In simple terms, things that is most discussed becomes trending. For example, Anna Hazare was trending on Twitter for more than 4 days as it was the most discussed topic of a particular season. On a similar note, KolaveriDi was trending for more than 3 days as the video kept going viral across the globe. Though there are many hashtags, many discussion topics that goes on Twitter but the topic which is discussed by vast number of people at a particular instance in a particular geography has golden chance to become a trending topic (globally, nationally, locally)

How Brands Leverages It?

Brands use hashtags and trending topics in different ways:

  • By using hashtags in their tweets to be part of industry-specific conversations or events. For example, echoVME often uses #SocialMedia while tweeting an information related to the topic.
  • By participating in the trending topics or hashtags of the day to be part of limelight.
  • By introducing a hashtag-based communication for an event they organize.
  • By hosting a hashtag-based contest to generate conversations around the brand and make it trend.

The following hashtag based contests were hosted by some of the popular brands of India that got trending nationwide:

 

Brand Contests Nationally Trending Hashtag Impact
Ebay India

Giving a personal touch to

engagements, Ebay India on

turning 8, ran a contest asking

followers to reminisce on

what happened in their lives

8 years back, urging them

to “scream” about it using

hashtag and ran contests that

awarded ipad mini for the

winners.

#8yearsback Since the topic got trending

in India many people got to

learn that Ebay has actually

completed 8 years of its exist-

ence. That was a very smart

way to celebrate.

Appy Fizz

Appy Fizz, along with Saif

Ali Khan (Actor) brought

out a “Dream Hangout”

which is directed at a social

media hangout. Followers

were asked to participate

in the contest by posting

pictures, sharing about one’s

favorite place to hangout.

The contest lasted for

several hours and the topic

trended successfully all over

India.

#SaifNFizzHangout The choice of hashtag is wise.

As the topic got trending

many people could relate to

the popular brand and its

association with Saif Ali Khan

as a brand ambassador. In a

similar format, #SRKlovesf-

rooti was trending and that

was when the first official

video of the ad was launched

and a contest was planned

around it.

Vogue Eyewear #IStayInVogueWith Followers were asked to

tweet using #IStayInVogue-

With with the recent trends

or something that they are

always updated with. The

winners were awarded an

eyewear by Vogue.

Cadbury Silk #BidForSilk Are you ready to bid for the

biggest cube of indulgence?

Reads the contest for Cadbury

Silk with a hash that says

#silkaholics. It ran contests

by bidding for the biggest

bar of silk and by replacing

movie titles to silk. The topic

trended on Twitter and over

10 winners were awarded

with a Silk.

 

OLX India #ReplaceMovieTitleWith-

BechDe

BechDe that got trended saw

hilarious tweets like “I hate

luv – Bech De,” “Social Net-

work Bechde” and “#Replac-

eMovieTitleWithBechDe

people have sold everything

with this hashtag but they

forgot about Deshdrohi

BechDe” among a series of

BechDe contest OLX India is

running, #ReplaceMovieTi-

tleWithBechDe was the most

popular and hilarious one.

The topic trended at #1 on the

very first day in India.

 

 

You can also download this chapter in PDF format if you want