Last year, MTV posted several short videos on Twitter of actors, including Shah Rukh Khan, Varun Dhawan and Sunny Deol, dumping junk in trash cans. While it barely sounds exciting, the celebrities amused viewers by using creative ways - aiming at the trash can while jumping on a trampoline to kicking it in - to dispose of trash as part of the #DunkThatJunk campaign to create awareness about cleanliness. These influencers nudged other celebrities to take the challenge, who further got the hoi polloi to participate. The campaign was a success - it generated 1.5 million interactions on social media, over 17 million impressions and several cans of trash.
A few years ago, brands were vying for reach - getting as many people to see their content. The focus has now shifted to engagement - interacting with as many users as possible. Marketers have finally started questioning the use of reach if it fails to spin off conversations. Engagement on social media is a measure of how many people like, share or react to a post. Some also count the traffic being driven to their websites via a particular post as engagement.
But how does one get around to building engagement on social media?
Content marketing has emerged as one of the better ways to drive conversation on social media. This is done by not talking about the brand directly but creating a story around it. Like what National Geographic did to create awareness about water scarcity.
In its campaign, actor Farhan Akhtar asked people to try balancing a water bottle on their heads. Comedian Tanmay Bhat and his peers attempted the #7StepWaterChallenge, in vain nevertheless, putting forth the point that it is not easy for rural women to walk several miles with pots of water on their heads. The videos resonated well on social media. Several people took the challenge and urged their friends to participate.
Ankit Agarwal, Social Lead at digital marketing agency Isobar India, the creator of the campaign, says, "You have to understand what people would want to talk about and accordingly weave in your story and serve it to them."
One size does not fit all. Sometimes product advertisements, too, bring in engagement. For instance, Piali Dasgupta, Creative Director, SapientRazorfish, says that product images work well for fashion brands. "In fact, the numbers garnered organically by putting out a product image is sometimes way higher than what you would see post spending money," she adds.
For Hareesh Tibrewala, Joint CEO, Mirum India, limiting audiences, what he calls 'narrow casting', for campaigns works really well. He suggests that instead of talking to all and sundry on social media, brands should segment the audience carefully, and find a way to reach only that audience over a period of time.
A trial and error method to see what works is the best way to decide the course of action. Having a consistent tone of voice and messaging in the campaign helps keep consumers interested.
The platform in use is also a major deciding factor when driving engagement. A study by American market research company Forrester states that Instagram drives the most engagement per post compared to any other social network - 84-times more than Twitter, 54-times more than Pinterest and 10-times more than Facebook. It is, perhaps, the power of pictures. Because another study suggests that a Facebook post with images usually records 2.3 times more engagement than those without images.
Eye for Likes
EyeEm, a stock photography website, has introduced a new feature called EyeEm Selects on its app to help users pick pictures that will get most likes on social media. The app will use Artificial Intelligence to advise users on pictures in their albums that can be instant hits on sites such as Facebook and Instagram, and also dig out old pictures worthy of posting on social media. "EyeEm Vision is our cutting-edge image recognition technology. It learns and replicates the curation expertise of professional photographers and it does that using the amazing photographs uploaded to EyeEm by our community," the company said, explaining the technology behind the new feature. EyeEm Selects is only available for Android phones as of now; the iOS version will be out soon.
No Place for Hate
Germany has passed a law under which social media networks would have to bring down any hate speech posted on their sites within 24 hours or face a fine of upto 50 million euros. The law would give social networks a week's time to decide on cases that are less clear, but for 'illegal content' such as hate speech, defamation and incitement to violence, the duration granted is only 24 hours. Although the initial fine on the companies would be of five million euros, it could be hiked to 50 million euros. The law is facing a backlash from digital activists who say that it infringes on their right to freedom of speech and expression.