Case study: Channel V – Using Twitter to create buzz around the relaunch of Channel [v]

India Social Case Challenge – Edition 1

Category: Short-term Initiatives

Title : Using Twitter to create buzz around the relaunch of Channel [v] in August 2009

Share a little about your organisation

Channel [v] is a music and entertainment channel, and part of the Star group, owned by News Corp. Largely a television channel, in recent times, the engagement of the brand extends beyond, and to other platforms including the Internet, and specifically Social Media.

Executive Summary

Channel [v] was in a unique position in terms of having a focused target group, that was well aligned to the Social Media usage profile in India. With a clear objective of creating awareness about the new “Bloody Cool Channel [v]“, the Social Media campaign identified and executed, especially via Twitter, worked to near perfection. In terms of meeting the desired objectives. Also in doing so, it got Channel [v] going into the active realm of Social Media, and engagement with its users. With the great start provided by this campaign, Channel [v] has not looked back since then, and has only gone from strength-to-strength, in the space.

Background

Channel [v] was being relaunched in a new avatar, with significant changes in television programming, positioning, tag line, style, etc. Almost like a rebirth. This was in August 2009.

The time was ripe then, to extend the engagement to the Social Media platform as well, as the core TG for the brand was very active on the space. A decision was taken then, to utilize Social Media along with other marketing initiatives, for this relaunch.

More specifically, the new platform of Twitter was identified for these two specific campaign activities, as being the perfect platform for the impulsive and viral run, that could be obtained for these campaigns.

Approach/ Strategy

  • The most important communication that we needed to get out, was that Channel [v] was changing. So “change” was one of the key buzzwords.
  • Beyond that it was important to communicate ‘WHAT’ this change was about. In a simple quick communication, a different logo after many years, for a well recognised brand, serves the purpose of communicating that ‘some change was afoot’. It was important then, to see how we could get the logo in front of maximum number of people.
  • Keeping these objectives in mind, the goal was identified as being able to reach out to maximum number of people with the communication of “change” and the visibility of a new logo of Channel [v].
  • The duration of this specific launch phase campaign was going to be about 1 month, from late July, till the launch date of August 22, 2009.
  • We worked with limited budgets. We found a great Social Media agency in Social Wavelength, who were able to give us the right strategies and execution of those strategies, as a completely outsourced service, and that too, at very low budgets.
  • The overall budget for this one month phase, including the fees paid to Social Wavelength, was around Rs. 2 lakhs.

Stakeholders

The primary stakeholders which we seeked to engage with, were the consumers and potential consumers, of the television channel. For a youth, music and entertainment channel like Channel [v], this meant the urban and semi-urban, educated youth, largely in the sub-25 age group, in India.

As this demography fits in well with the Social Media user profile in India, the strategy to use Social Media seemed like a perfect fit.

The initiative was received very well, by this group of stakeholders, at the time of its roll out in July-August 2009, and they continue to remain fiercely loyal and engaging, even today, many months after the launch of the initiatives on Social Media platforms.

The secondary stakeholders to be engaged included the senior management within Channel [v] and that purpose was also served well, as the numbers that we achieved, impressed them. They have continued to support and encourage all plans for Social Media engagement, ever since.

About the initiative

Overall, during the lauch phase of the channel in July and August, all the popular Social Media platforms, viz. Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, YouTube etc. were used.

However what we would like to highlight in this case study, are a specific couple of Twitter based initiatives that were employed.

Activity 1 was called iSawTheChange.

Use of Twitter

  • We created a web page where we put a collage of our various popular characters and icons, from over the years. Over a period of 15 days, we would make one small change on this graphic everyday.
  • The challenge to the users was to track the image daily and identify that one change. And once they did so, they had to convey their answer to us, via a very small form on that same page.
  • Along with their answer, we asked for their Twitter credentials as well. And in doing so, we (after their permission) sent out a tweet on their behalf, that said, “Hey @ChannelvIndia I saw the change on http://iSawTheChange.com . 10 Daily Prizes and 10 iPod Nanos to be won!”.
  • As this tweet reached the followers of the participant, more intrigue was created and others would click and reach the same URL and many of them participated too.
  • This contest was played around a 1000 times, and the viral impact of the tweet stream enabled the brand to reach multi-fold number cumulatively.

Activity 2 was called On Yours.

In this case, an application was built, which allowed people to register, and then opt to swap their personal Twitter Display Pictures, with the new Channel [v] logo. The swap would work on a random basis for 50% of time. Or in other words, on a random basis, half the time, the user’s own personal DP was visible, and for the other half, the new Channel [v] logo was visible, as the user’s profile picture.

The inducement for people to do this, was in terms of gratification. Any user who stayed registered for at least 5 days, was given a Channel [v] T-shirt (of course, with the messaging of the changed channel, and its new tag line, “Bloody Cool”). And for lucky few, there were bigger prizes involved.

There was excellent adoption of this activity. We generated good participation.

Impact – Outcome

We have to be honest.

We went into these two activities on the urging on our agency, Social Wavelength, but we did not know what to expect. Our expectations in that sense, were limited. We had chosen to spend a small budget, and it was a trial of sorts. Our management team was even less engaged, in this initial activity.

However the results surprised us pleasantly.

The participants in both activities, and through their participation, the larger reach to a multiple number of people, was tremendous.

While the activity of iSawTheChange would have been visible to more than 100,000 people, the changing logos at On Yours created a buzz equivalent to a large billboard campaign in the real world.

We did measure the growth of Twitter followers, Facebook fans (as an accompanying by product), the conversations generated, the RTs that we got, the stats on the two web pages, etc.

All in all, these numbers all represented results beyond our expectations. While we were trying to create communication that the TV channel, Channel [v] was changing for the better, we also achieved a great secondary objective.

Learnings

The key learnings on the positive front were:

  1. Users will react to an interesing proposition.
  2. Uniqueness creates more impact. People don’t want more of the same thing.
  3. Something new creates intrigue, and a mentality to “try it out”. That is good for the brand.
  4. Users have to always hear “what’s in it for me”. Once that is addressed clearly, the engagement can be achieved.
  5. The medium is all about viral factor. If we make the application fundamentally tuned to be viral, we are giving ourselves the best opportunity to spread the fire.
  6. Gratification is good. But it does not have to be very expensive. A simple T-shirt is enough to generate interest and excitement.
  7. A little debate does not hurt. There were some who questioned the logic on the On Yours activity. Why do people trade in their DPs, for example. And why were they seeing channel v wherever they looked on Twitter. But while there was a sense of critical feedback here, it helped in keeping the interest and the buzz alive.
  8. Good strategy well executed is magic potion.

In terms of the challenges, these were:

  1. Starting from a low base of users (followers), and without a media buy budget, there is challenge to generate large usage, even for a great idea. A media buy budget to create initial awareness, can help, in such cases.
  2. The above referred negative feedback about On Yours was not anticipated. We would look to be better prepared to visualize different reactions, in future.

What Next

The launch phase itself, was a one-off effort. However it showed us the merits of interacting with our stakeholders on Social Media. Since that point in late August 2009, we have continued to engage our TG, and created several other specific efforts and many ongoing activities, on Social Media. We have used Facebook, Twitter and Orkut, to promote shows on air, call for entries to reality TV shows, and for completely independent Social Media specific activities as well.

Reasoning

  • We had a clear objective for our business requirement at that time, viz. to promote the new Channel [v], create awareness and buzz about the change, and in turn, start our serious presence on Social Media as well.
  • The actual strategies and the roll out were a perfect fit to this goal.
  • We achieved this at low cost.
  • We used the elements of Social Media, in terms of engagement, conversations and the viral factor.
  • It was one of the earliest focused effort by an Indian TV brand, and in fact, one of the earliest amongst Indian consumer brands.
  • The strategies used were not oft-repeated rehashes, but completely fresh and original strategies thought out of the box, and used very creatively.
  • And at the end of it, they also drove desired results.
  • These factors, according to us, make for this initiative to be definitely a good case study, and perhaps a best practice case as well.

Credits Strategy

Social Wavelength, Mumbai, represented by Sanjay Mehta. In fact, the strategy was completely thought out by them, and we simply sanctioned the same!

Credits Execution

Social Wavelength, Mumbai, a team led by Mihir Karkare, handled the execution.

Testimonials

1. On Aug 13th, 14th and 22nd, 2009, respectively, @ChannelVIndia was rated as 2nd, 4th and then ‘The Most Popular’ Twitter user from India. Details in presentation referred above.

2. Medianama’s coverage of the activity

3. Manuscrypt / Manu Prasad’s coverage of this activity

Factsheet

Name of the company: Social Wavelength
Number of Employees: 51-100
Category: Media
Case submitted by: Sanjay Mehta
Website: http://www.SocialWavelength.com