Posts Tagged ‘India’

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How Social Media Engagement in India Truly Impacts Lives

In India on July 17, 2011 by Amira E. Tagged: , , , , ,

To India, with Love:

Since my childhood, India has occupied an exclusive place in my heart. Spirit. Culture. Passion. Bright bursts of color. As a nation – rich in history and diverse in landscape. As a people – wildly intelligent and exceptionally kind.

Exactly 10 years ago, I traveled to Hyderabad with Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing housing to people in need. For 9 days, my team and I carried hundreds of heavy red bricks up and down hills to help rebuild houses from the ground up with families whose homes had been devastated by recent floods.

Since that day, my affinity to all-things-Indian has multiplied, but now is not the time to discuss my obsession with:

  • Bollywood movies (now thankfully available on YouTube!)
  • Delicious chaat and chutney, and…
  • Two of my very best friends Aarti Jaan and Akanksha Jaan.
    [Jaan is a term of endearment in Hindi]

10 years ago, the world hadn’t yet been introduced to Facebook and Twitter. In times of need, non-profit organizations partnered with schools, governments and on-the-ground volunteers to garner support and create impact. But today, in a world tightly packed with dozens of digital platforms, global netizens have quickly penetrated these social networks and begun engaging for social causes.

In India alone, nearly 30 million people are members of social networking sites, with an estimated 45,000 joining these sites per day over the next four months, according to a recent Nielsen study.

Social media is now ingrained in the way tech savvy Indians live their lives. With its ability to play multiple roles in an individual’s life by enabling shared experiences, creating linkages between communities and satisfying the need to be networked, its role in creating a deeper engagement is a boon to marketing. – Adrian Terron, Vice President, The Nielsen Company

Even more notable is that Indians are increasingly engaging in more meaningful ways on social networks. Here are three concrete examples of social media being used effectively to create social impact:

1. User-Driven Crisis Communications | Mumbai Blasts

The most recent, albeit disheartening, example of this took place just last week after the Mumbai bombings. However, what was beautiful to witness was the quick mobilization of support that flooded through Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other online platforms. As phone lines jammed, people tweeted their willingness to donate blood, give car rides and offer a place of refuge through dedicated hashtags #heretohelp, #mumbaiblasts and #needhelp. Soon enough, an editable Google Docs spreadsheet was created and circulated on Twitter, containing people’s mobile phone numbers, blood types and help required/offered. 30 minutes after the bombings, an Ushahidi disaster-tracking map was created north of Mumbai, showing where people needed help and where they could seek shelter.

#heretohelp Twitter Feed on July 13, 2011

IMPACT: The incident proved that, when put to the test, Indian netizens largely use social platforms for positive impact, rather than to gossip or spread rumors.

2. Corporate-Driven Cause Marketing | Tata Tea & Janaagraha: Jaago Re Campaign


Tata Tea, the leading tea company in India, partnered with Janaagraha, a nonprofit working to improve the quality of life in urban India, in 2008 to encourage youth voter registration through interactive applications online. The campaign has an active social media presence with a YouTube channel, Facebook (over 35,000 fans), Twitter (~3,000 followers), Orkut (~13,000 members) and a dedicated website. The website has a clear call to action, asking youth to “wake up and make the change with Jaago Re!” Supporters are given specific and easy steps to follow to help, whether it be networking with like-minded people, volunteering or sharing inspirational stories.

Impact: As I have been studying cause marketing campaigns in depth for the past few months, I am particularly inspired and impressed by this campaign’s ability to motivate 625,000 people to register as voters. By communicating loud and clear and actively engaging on the platforms where their target audience spend the most time, Jaago Re has proven itself as a model for similar cause marketing campaigns. As the Georgetown professor and marketing expert Gaurav Mishra said on his insightful blog, “…voter registration campaigns like Tata Tea’s Jaago Re have caught the imagination of urban India’s web-savvy youngsters, with their effective use of social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube.”

3. NonProfit-Driven Marketing & Communications | Pratham Books ‘Read India’

This campaign particularly has touched me because I was such a bookworm as a child. I would spend hours on end in the public library reading my way through the children’s library. Pratham Books, the winner of IndiaSocial Case Challenge 2010, is a nonprofit trust that aims to make children’s literature accessible, with the goal of placing a book in the hands of every child. Pratham actively engages its stakeholders through its blog and its various accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube. The coolest thing they do (in my humble opinion) is uploading books on Scribd for people to read and share with others through a Creative Commons license.

Impact: Through their active presence online, they have received offers of support from authors and translators, recruited social volunteers (see photo below) and launched a listening/engaging program with their followers and fans. Although this is a relatively young initiative, they have done a fantastic job of engaging online and I look forward to see what they do next.

India occupied an exclusive place in my heart many years ago. And it just keeps growing. I look forward to seeing what great things the Indian people, companies and nonprofits do next to create social impact through social media.

For more information on social media in India, here is a great visual overview.

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The Importance of Cultural Considerations

In India on July 16, 2011 by vmcfarre Tagged: , , ,

While visiting one of my favorite museums today, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, I stumbled upon an exhibit titled Paris-Delhi-Bombay. This exhibit brings together artists of all fields into a space to dialogue about the differences and similarities between Indian and French cultures, touching upon violence, sexuality, unemployment and cultural values. It complemented what I had started drafting for this blog, discussing the importance of being culturally sensitive when launching campaigns, especially in this day when social media helps spread information at a faster rate. This is especially important in India who has the 4th largest population of internet users in the world and the 7th largest global marketfor social media consumption. Campaigns are picked up faster and they can either fail or succeed at a much quicker rate than before.

For example, when Haagen-Dazs entered the Indian market in 2009, it did so with one of its worldwide campaign slogans that had been working well elsewhere.  The slogan said “entry restricted only to holders of international passports,” intended to attract customers to their international quality ice-cream.  This slogan quickly made news and created a stir in India as a passerby took a picture, posted it online, and the conversations and comments started to flow. Many were insulted because they felt this campaign targeted foreigners who would be the only ones allowed to preview the ice-cream.  What Haagen-Dazs wanted to relay was that they can now experience a taste of abroad without having to leave India. Many online commentators said that this brought memories from the times of the British Raaj where there were signs in locations that said, “Dogs and Indians not allowed.” This campaign hit a nerve that did not help Haagen-Dazs with their introduction into the Indian market.  If this were to happen today, with the increased number of Internet users since 2009, it could mean  Haagen-Dazs’ end in India.  

On the other hand, a campaign launched by Coca Cola in October 2010 took advantage of the festivity and mood during Deepawali to launch their campaign Come Home on Deepawali.” I am a bit biased by this campaign because I lived with the Warlis for a couple of weeks during a program on comparative indigenous perspectives, which took me to India, New Zealand and Mexico. Before going to India I didn’t know much about an indigenous population existing and learned that 7% of India’s population is Indigenous and that the Warlis who live around Mumbai and Dahanu, remain quite unassimilated from the rest of the India; they maintain their own dress style, customs, religion, and ceremonies. The Warlis have gained recognition only recently for their unique artwork that has been incorporated into mainstream folk-art and this campaign, targeted more towards a general Indian public, helps inform and educate about the diversity that lies within the country. I thought this was particularly smart for their particular target audience (not Warli) since Coca Cola highlighted an important Indian festivity that can be well received, and also used Warli art as a way to educate people about indigenous groups in India.


In summary, it is important to take in cultural considerations for all campaigns since information can be interpreted very differently depending on the context and audience. In this increasingly globalized world, it may seem like this is a step that can be skipped because a “global culture” seems to be emerging due to the increased levels of communications across countries.  As the exhibit at the Pompidou showed, parallels and intersections can be made between all cultures, and in this case, between French and Indians.  It is important to remember that despite all the similarities that can be made between cultures, every individual and culture interprets things differently. As Haagen-Dazs experienced, they used an existing campaign that worked in other countries. By not using a focus group to see how Indians would interpret the information, it led to a failed campaign. In this case, only the campaign failed but  in other cases this might lead to a company being asked to leave a country or shut down due to a culturally disrespectful and insensitive campaign.

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Using the Web to Save Tigers in the Wild

In India on July 16, 2011 by Abby Tagged: , , ,

When you think of India, several things might come to mind. And likely in that list is the Bengal tiger, which has been the symbol of India since 2500 BC.  Despite its status India, the tiger population is in swift decline.

Save Our Tigers homepage

To solve this problem, companies, nonprofits, and individuals in India are working to save their national symbol.  One such campaign is “Save Our Tigers,” an effort supported by telecommunications giant Aircel in partnership with WWF-India.

The site reaches their audience through their website and Facebook page, with Stripey the Cub acting as the face of the campaign.  Indians can “roar” (pledge) their support for the campaign within their own social networks, on the “Join the Roar” webpage, or offline through volunteer events.  In December 2010, the campaign held a 12-hour telethon on major television channels in India that garnered a lot of interest and support.  Since then, they have branched out and moved to social media channels to engage and promote activism.

The campaign has a lot going for it.  The mission is important, Indians feel connected to the cause, the content is powerful and moving, they are making progress and they have access to valuable resources through well-known partners.

On the other hand, the campaign could do more to actively engage its audience using social media.

A few suggestions:

  • To better engage online, the campaign should do more than post news on its Facebook page.  By promoting two-way communication, the community might feel more connected and inspired to get involved and take action.

Stripey's Facebook Page - all "push" no "pull" communications

  • Aircel is a huge company with many resources.  The campaign could leverage these to develop content for additional channels, including mobile apps. Aircel’s mobile presence is huge, but Save Our Tigers is missing out on this space.  Aircel’s Blyk service sends updates and promotions to mobile users based on their interests – this could be a great way to reach and engage the younger Indian population.
  • It sounds simple enough, but the campaign should keep content fresh.  The campaign blog is advertised and linked to from other areas of the site, but it has not been updated for well over a year.  If there simply aren’t resources to continue blogging, Save Our Tigers might consider removing the blog and repurposing the content rather than seeming inactive.

Save Our Tigers clearly makes the point that saving the tiger is necessary to uphold the heritage of India, but more could be done to make that point in a quicker and more engaging way online, and translate their success into social media success.

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Bollywood: Raising the Social Media Profile of the World’s Largest Blockbuster

In India on July 12, 2011 by sdaniellebenjamin Tagged: , , , , , ,

What do you get when you combine an exciting, melodramatic plot (think star-crossed lovers, twins separated at birth or dramatic reversals of fortune) and a few good song and dance numbers? Simple: you get Bollywood, the largest film producer and one of the largest centers of film production in the world! The informal term popularly used for the Hindi-language film industry is derived from Bombay, birthplace of the Hindi-language film industry (and former name of Mumbai), and Hollywood, center of the American film industry. But no matter its etymology, Bollywood is solidifying itself as the cinematic giant in the global film industry with cultural influences that stretch far and wide.

A quick search online will pull up several websites that give movie reviews, share celebrity gossip and sneak previews on upcoming Bollywood films, including the popular site BollywoodWorld. Coming up second in Google searches of Bollywood – just after the Wikipedia entry – the site touts itself as the premier source for the latest information on this cinema genre. And while the site provides enough information to educate any film critic, it has not found a strong foothold in the social media arena to really carry its wealth of information to the Indian and global audience.

The following are two easy social media strategies BollywoodWorld may consider to expand its reach and attract more visitors to its website:

1. Create a permanent YouTube page for BollywoodWorld.

Highlighting trailers of upcoming Bollywood films on YouTube, the preeminent video sharing site, stands as an immediate social media strategy to amplify the voice of this site. The Indian culture is steeped in storytelling and the uniqueness of Bollywood films lend themselves to an interesting, exciting piece to share and watch again and again. While hosting mini-videos on the website is a good start, the global dominance of YouTube creates a new platform the website can use to attract new visitors both in India and from around the world. To take this video sharing capability to another level, BollywoodWorld should also use the StumbleUpon Video service as a way to encourage viewers to positively rate the films they watch so that they can “stumbled upon” by their peers and friends. 

2. Use Facebook to interact with Indian users through a gaming approach.

While Orkut was once the dominate player in the Indian social media playing field, Facebook use has increased and the social media giant is exploring new ways to reach out to this audience. Just this month, Facebook announced that it was introducing Facebook Credits for Indian users – a virtual currency that is popular among gaming enthusiasts. By creating a BollywoodWorld Facebook game, users can test their knowledge of random movie factoids, celebrity insights and famous liners from the most popular films. Providing fun ways for this audience to engage with each other and with the site will not only increase the number of Facebook fans, but also drive more traffic to the website.

BollywoodWorld has made a good start, because there is some truth to the famous movie line, “if you build it, they will come.” Now it is time for this film industry site to take it to the next level. While they have the content to entertain visitors for hours, the site lacks is a comprehensive strategy to attract more visitors. By incorporating and better using a few digital communication tools, BollywoodWorld is sure to see an uptick in web hits and a much more engaged audience.