We caught up with Digital Marketing Head of Club Mahindra Holidays – Arun Nair to talk about their product and also social media in India in general. Interesting bits from the talk are transcribed for our readers:
Question: When did Club Mahindra begin its journey on social media?
Answer: We’ve been in existence on the Internet since early 2006. But digital as an initiative didn’t have any roots until we started lead generation campaigns, with no real thrust on social media. We had our presence on Facebook but Twitter came at a much later stage. What we noticed was that our customers were beginning to get more involved and active on social media.
Question: What is the main target that Club Mahindra wants to achieve?
Answer: We realized that Internet as a medium was the future. A lot of our prospects exist here. It is important, that we don’t just look at the numbers that are not there, but see the numbers that are there. They are also the most vocal of your customers and if you don’t have a presence online, then in a way you’re saying you don’t care about these people. Focus primarily is to build engagement as far as social media is concerned and to build prospects. We’ve seen prospects that have emerged through Internet are far more interested and evolved. The chances for conversion are greater and also chances of a sale are higher.
Question: What are the achievements that Club Mahindra has achieved in terms of awards or numbers?
Answer: Let’s start with awards – As part of our consolidated initiative within six months, Mahindra Holidays won the best practice award across the Mahindra group for its approach on social media. The jury of this award includes Anand Mahindra and various other enterprises. Anand Mahindra was very impressed with the initiative that was taken on social media in respect of bringing down the number of complaints. We were able to engage and close issues quickly on the Internet. We got a lot of recognition because of that within the group as well.
In terms of numbers, we crossed the threshold levels on Facebook and Twitter. Even the brand campaigns for these properties had their extensions on social media. So Facebook of Jiyo Life (brand campaign) gathered lakh fans in a small time and that to me is a commendable number. We also had a lot of contests and other engagements happening. Today we are sitting on 2lakh fans for that initiative alone.
Question: How do you go about selecting the platform for promotion of a product?
Answer: When it comes to social media its clear that you start with Facebook due to its more than 500 million users. Also the whole Facebook ecosystem provides applications and contests that you can run. With the right message, right focus and right approach you can reach out to a large audience at a fraction of a cost which you would otherwise spend on other means. So Facebook obviously is one. Then you have Twitter for updates, tips and quick information to your followers. Then you have YouTube. You don’t treat each of them separately but it’s how you marry all of them together for a single campaign.
Question: What is the difference that you have seen since the start of the campaign in 2007?
Answer: I think the biggest difference has been in terms of the change of mindset. In the past Internet as a medium got the leftovers but today it is rising up on its own. People are beginning to accept the fact that there is a lot more to Internet than just mails. Social networking is lot more powerful than what people thought. It is not just confined to the corporate world as recent events in japan, Tunisia and Egypt are clear indications of how powerful the medium is.
Question: Are Club Mahindra using any measurement/listening tools?
Answer: Currently we don’t have any advanced tools of any sort. We use primitive tools as of right now such as Google Alerts, Google Analytics and actual human intervention. As we speak, we are in the process of evaluating other advanced tools such as Radian6, Nielsen Buzzmetrics. We do a sentimental analysis and a tool like Radian6 that helps you do these things, would be highly effective.
Question: How do you combat negative sentiments?
Answer: Be honest that’s the best way. It is important to respond to the customer. Be proactive and answer when the issue arises, that solves half the issue. Thereafter, get into the depth of the matter and resolve it. Don’t divert the issue or try to beat around the bush, that’s important.
Question: If you could share one piece of advice for fellow marketers?
Answer: Use social media & Internet effectively. There is a lot of intelligence and insights available here. Your customers are getting more vocal and frank, more honest here. Don’t be defensive. Gems are to be found even in the negative comments. They can also be used to improve the product. Intelligence gathering is one of the most important aspect of social media which has been overlooked. Typically social media has been used for lead generation.
[Image via celebrate.in]