Recently, Anand Mahindra's tweet about "collectively acquiring" the iconic music shop Rhythm House for "restoring it; turning it into a performance venue", sent Twitter fans into a frenzy. His tweet attracted around 14,068 likes and 4,002 retweets (and still counting); celebrities, such as politician Milind Deora, music composer Vishal Dadlani and chef Sanjeev Kapoor, as well as several professionals came forward to offer free legal advice, ticket booking, advertising and other services. Gauging the buzz his tweet generated, Mahindra got his cultural outreach team to spearhead the revival initiative. The Twitter handle 'Rhythm House Revival' already has over 3,000 followers.
With his tweet, Mahindra organically and effortlessly brought together two powerful tools that are often used in silos - crowdsourcing and influencer marketing - which he then converted into a social movement, says Siddharth Deshmukh, Associate Dean, Area Leader - Digital Platform & Strategies at MICA. "It is like bringing together digital campaigning site Change.org, crowdsourcing platform Kickstarter and his celebrity status to market an idea," he adds.
At a time when brands are striving to be relevant, being part of a social movement is no longer about doing something good, but is an integral brand building exercise in itself. Consumers do not show affinity for a brand only for its products or services, however good they may be. "Brands have to go beyond their offerings and create affiliations that people can connect with," says Deshmukh.
It is important that the business a brand operates in and the brand's values complement each other to reach a wider audience and create a strong impact. To do that, a brand must know the pulse of what consumers are thinking, so that they can take a stand. The 2018 survey by social media management firm Sprout Social found that around two-thirds of consumers think it is either "Somewhat Important" or "Very Important" for brands to take a stand on socio-political issues; only 11 per cent of those surveyed said it was "Not at All Important". Luckily, social media allows brands to quickly judge people's reaction to their messaging and alter it if needed.
Procter & Gamble took up a socio-cultural issue with its hashLikeAGirl video marketing campaign; the hashtag stood for an oft-used insult signifying weakness and flippancy. The campaign's messaging was not about its feminine hygiene products, but was aimed at empowerment, in support of girls going through puberty and transitioning into adulthood. The response the campaign received on Facebook and Twitter was phenomenal.
Pooja Jauhari, CEO of digital marketing agency The Glitch, says that taking up social issues brings out the humane side of brands and lends a positive sentiment. "It also allows for an authentic and deeper connect with the audience, something an ad making a sales pitch cannot achieve," she adds.
Facebook and Twitter are still the dominant social media networks, but New York-based Vero is catching up and has reportedly recorded three million downloads. The photo- and -video sharing platform, which is similar to Instagram, does not show any ads and charges its users an annual subscription fee to keep its head above water.
Twitter is seeking suggestions from users to reduce the incidence of trolling and abuse on social media, and to improve the overall health of public conversations. "Twitter's health will be built and measured by how we help encourage more healthy debates, conversations, and critical thinking; conversely, abuse, spam and manipulation will detract from it," said the company on its blog.
Say 'Hello' to Hello
Orkut Buyukkokten, founder of social networking site Orkut, has launched a new social networking app called Hello Network in India. The app lets people discover relevant posts from friends based on shared interests and hobbies. Users need to choose at least five hobbies or 'personas' to get started.