Sunday, October 07, 2007

Branded Online Communities move to Television

Branded Online communities, set up by companies for Building brand equity are now tying up with the electronic media for greater visibility. As the interest of the youth increases in social networking, with humongous volumes of youngsters not only hanging around networking sites, but also eagerly participating in consumer communities,these branded online communities have found themselves most wanted on Television.

In a recent developmentin India, Hindustan Unilever's SUNSILK GANG OF GIRLS, an online community , and Zoom Television have come together to present a singing reality show called Sunsilk Gang of Girls - Spotlight Mein.

In response to online applications at the Sunsilk GOG site, this new television series will present four talented girls in the country who will be groomed and mentored by maestros from the music and entertainment fraternity, in preparation for a live finalé performance in front of a big audience.Reality TV, it's success, the impact generated and the huge volume of viewership it draws is not new to us.

As branded online communities embrace Television, the euphoria created by such shows will further increase traffic on the site-increased membership is a foregone conclusion.

Kelly Mooney's thoughts in an ADAGE article on For Relevance, Think Three-Way throw light on how corporates can leverage such situations.By looking at the Brand, the consumer and online communities as three components of a love triangle, she reiterates the need for brands to intersect with online communities, to be able to connect with their consumers.

An excerpt-
"There are no diminishing returns when brands think three-way, when they "triangulate" to communicate in a b-to-we world. Online communities are an infinite resource bringing not only preexisting participants within the brand's range, but new i-citizens formerly uninvolved until their passions are sparked by a marketing campaign or message that inspires them to spread the love."

In Sunsilk's case,the three sides of the triangle are aptly covered- the brand connects to each girl and the fan community; the girls connect to the brand and each other -- all tied to the community or the event as the center.While acting as excellent repositories for information, such communities help the brand marketers by providing information to validate their understanding of the market, while further bifurcating consumers with respect to preferences, expectations, and level of brand loyalty.

The CRM Forum, Mumbai

was invited to conduct a session on 'Social Media and the Customer Relationship' at the CRM Forum organised by Marcus Evans at the Le Meridien, Mumbai, in October,2008. The event was aimed at achieving business excellence through an integration of information, people, policies, processes and technology strategies-effectively executing CRM on its own.

The CRM forum aimed at providing a platform to receive top notch knowledge in capitalising the concepts of CRM, latest trends in customer strategies and technologies, and developing organisation cultures to achieve customer satisfaction , along with advanced applications in the areas of creating a ynergistic partnership between marketing and IT to drive forward CRM initiatives, utilising brand strategies, the media, as wll as data warehousing and data mining.

The event unfolded with an interesting presentation by Dr. G. Shainesh, Associate Professor at the IIM Bangalore, India, where he talked about identifying the consequences of the shift from CRM with technology orientation to a business strategy. This was followed by an interesting case study presented by Mr Gautam Anand, Vice President, ITC Welcom Group on creating outstanding service levels and designing a service design.As several industry experts including Anupam Jalote, Chief Process Officer, Bharti Airtel, Dr. Wolfgang Messner, Director Capegemini shared their experiences, my session on Social Media, and its impact on customer relationships and consumer behaviour was well received.

As I focussed on Corporate Blogging as a potential tool for engagement and reducing the perceived indifference of organisations to consumers, Gaurav Lalla, Director of Internet Marketing,Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces emphasised the need of organisations to listen to customers and use the internet as a medium for the purpose.His reference to the utilisation of Second Life as an upcoming medium to conduct brand led dialogues with avatars was interesting.

The event was well attended by delegates from several sectors ranging from Banking and Insurance to hotels, healthcare, retail, telcom and airlines.