DNA Lifestyle: Just tweet


by Lhendup G Bhutia & R Krishna

It was July 14, ’09 and looking out of his window, Asfaq Tapia seemed worried. It had been raining incessantly, offices were closing early and people were leaving for their homes. Reporters on TV were predicting that a repeat of the 7/11 Mumbai floods was possible.

Tapia logged on to Twitter. His first tweet was: ‘Take stock of the rains’. In a few minutes, his Twitter profile was inundated with tweets, from people who had read his tweet, telling him exactly how flooded or not, parts of the city were. He forwarded those tweets to his other friends who planned to take the road. In a few hours, Tapia had sent more than 250 tweets. “TV news is not instant enough,” he says. “A lot of exaggeration happens; many of the footages shown are of the worst-hit areas and of the times when the rains were the heaviest.”

Mumbaikars are swiftly discovering the new uses of online social media as a commercial or communication tool, or indeed as a way to gather people. According to estimates, in India, Facebook has around 70lakh users, Orkut 1.6crore and Twitter around 8lakh. “The number of people who visit these sites daily and the time they spend on it is far greater than what they do watching TV programmes or reading newspapers,” says Mahesh Murthy, CEO, Pinstorm, a digital marketing agency.

Companies have latched on to the possibilities. When Lenovo India was launching seven products this year, apart from the conventional launch, it decided to hold meetings with bloggers. Karthik S, Text 100 Public Relations’ account director, which handles the public relations and online communication of Lenovo India, says, “Earlier, PR would be done through mainstream media. Today, we have many micro-influencers online. It is essential for any brand to reach out to them”.

Not only are large firms tapping into online social media, smaller enterprises have been quicker to adapt to them. Blue Bus Tees, a Mumbai-based enterprise that sells T-shirts, shunned conventional modes by opting to sell their products online. Advertising solely through Facebook, they managed to sell 100 T-shirts in the first month. By the third month, their sales had tripled. They have a Facebook group page, fan page and a Twitter account.

“This helps us get the word out about Blue Bus Tees,” says Pranav Kapur who founded the company with his friend, Abhir Khanna, “We have hired a company to manage our fan pages. But it’s never direct marketing. For example, we have a Bollywood group on Facebook where we discuss tees that we would like to gift to our Bollywood stars,” says Kapur.

The social media is poised to be a bigger part of our lives. The best part is that once you start contributing, you get to play a role in shaping this medium as well. If you need help getting started, just tweet for it!

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Indian Express: New ways to lure audiences to theatres


by Natasha Sahgal

Gone are the days when movie posters and commercials were all that was needed to entice the viewer to watch a film. Today you can listen to Kareena Kapoor’s fashion tips on your phone, read Imtiaz Ali’s blog-posts about filming Love Aaj Kal or pretend to be Akshay Kumar and perform dangerous stunts in front of the computer, all before you set foot in the cinema hall.

With around 500 million Indians with access to the Internet, it’s not a surprise that movie marketing budgets are now being directed towards this new medium. “The number of Internet users are growing by the second, movie makers cannot ignore this revolution and have now started to take full advantage,” says Neeraj Roy, CEO of Hungama Digital Media.

According to Roy, most movies have started to dedicate at least 10-15 per cent of their total marketing spend on the digital medium. “While Hollywood films easily spend 30 per cent, the Indian makers will soon realise the great impact it can have. It won’t be long before the online spending will increase,” he says confidently.

The figures tell the same story too. The website of Ghajini had over 3 lakh unique visitors a month before the release, Saawariya had hundreds of followers on Twitter and sites like bollywoodhungama.com receive 100 million page views each month. It’s clear that Indians are now going online to get their fill of Bollywood.

There was a time when the only form of online marketing was on social media networks, which is basically spreading the word free of cost on sites like Facebook, film forums and blogs. “But production houses have realised that the response they get is really good and so they have slowly started to spend money to make themselves visible and alive online,” explains Moksh Juneja, an online media catalyst. This change is extremely visible by the number of image ads of Kambakkht Ishq and Love Aaj Kal that are doing the rounds of Indian websites for the past month. These spaces are usually bought for a period of time or are paid for every time the user clicks on an ad.

The biggest advantage of online marketing is that it can be targeted towards the right audience. “For example, when you pay for an ad on Facebook, you can choose to target the age group, sex and even interests of the users. This way you know your ad is being showed only to the right people and your advertising budget is not being wasted,” explains Asfaq Tapia, Communication Head from Pinstorm Technologies.

If you happened to log on to MSN before the release of Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na you wouldn’t have forgotten Imran Khan knocking on your computer screen to ask you to watch the film, the Hanuman videogame had hundreds of children glued to their screens and debates on Aamir Khan’s look in Ghajini are still going strong online.

The film plots may be hackneyed but ways of luring audience to the cinemas are hyper-creative.

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