A lot of consumer brands are doing commendable work on social media. While some are using it for branding, some are using it for sales and customer service.
In this interview, Mr. Lakshmikant Gupta, VP Marketing, LG Electronics India, talks in detail about their social media strategies and how they are leveraging various platforms. Read on:
What were your goals when you first started out with social media?
Our goals with regard to social media have been to create a closer connect with our current and future consumers. The objective is to foster a bonding with the brand based on the likes and dislikes of consumers rather than through brandspeak. Over time this will build higher likeability and preference for the brand.
How does your strategy for Facebook differ from that of Twitter?
Owning to its full audio-visual capabilities and a significantly larger user base, Facebook is a much broader engagement platform compared to twitter. LG’s approach to FB is one of engaging, informing and entertaining our target audiences. Therefore, we host a wide variety of initiatives related to product and technology news, contests, celebrating India-specific occasions and exploiting our sports sponsorships such as ICC cricket and Formula One. Interaction levels are very high here. While we do some of the news dissemination and contests on Twitter too, the activities are more limited in terms of content sharing. However, Twitter tends to also become a platform for grievance redressal– a lot more than FB.
What type of content works the best on Facebook?
Many brands like to transmit predominantly brand messages to their followers. However, the marketer must understand the reason why the consumer joined a social community in the first place. Any content that satisfies that consumers’ urge for which he is on Facebook will work better than pure brand messaging. So, content that helps people enjoy themselves, connect with others, and entertains them work the best.
You are holding this Smartphone iDEACAMP on Facebook where you invite people to share their ideas. Can you share with us the objective behind this campaign and how has the response been till now?
We at LG firmly believe in constant innovation and this contest allows our consumers to showcase their creativity and talent. The Smartphone Idea Camp is an excellent way to gain inspiration from the imagination of the mobile phone users and tech enthusiasts. It helps us gain a better understanding of the demands and desires of our consumers and gives us a first-hand insight into their minds. For dynamic products like mobile phones, it is extremely important for us to be in direct contact with our consumers in order to understand what exactly they are looking for and, therefore, add value to their lives.
The 2 month long campaign, encourages tech enthusiasts to share their innovative app feature concept, service, design, UI ideas on www.lg.com/in/smartphoneideacamp.jsp. The contest is open to all Indian residents, and the entries would be evaluated on the basis of imagination, creativity and utility. Till now the response is quite good.
How has your experience been with Facebook Ads? Many business claim that Facebook Ads invites more fake profiles than real ones.Your thoughts?
We use FB ads sparingly. Every time we’ve used FB ads we have invariably added thousands of followers, but that doesn’t mean they’re all quality followers. So, we’ve slowly and steadily reached 1 million fans with focus being on interactions rather than aggressively acquiring fans.
What is the best way to boost interaction on Twitter?
That’s the million dollar question these days! I don’t think people are on Twitter with a specific purpose of interacting with brands and companies. Brands happen to be present among them. Rather, people use Twitter to talk to each other and give their own viewpoint. Twitter’s role for brands should be to listen more than talk; to solve problems and answer questions when asked. Occasionally promotions and new product news can be done, but that can only get temporary spikes in interactions.
We noticed that most of your YouTube videos are your TV commercials. Any specific reason for being low-key on YouTube?
Video usage online requires a separate approach altogether, what I refer to as Branded Video Strategy. Till now, we do not have a formal Youtube channel, but are in the process of constructing one where the accent will not be purely on TV commercials, but more on education and problem-solving.
You also have a LG India blog. Can you tell us what is your approach towards blogging?
LG India blog exists to help the brand on two counts – create a better technology image for the brand, and to give opportunity to readers to compare and prefer LG products. In this sense, LG India blog regularly features write-ups about latest LG products, their technologies and awards won by LG at global forums. As well, we feature writings and reviews of other bloggers and reviewers who have experienced LG’s flagship products.
Some time back (19th July) you had a blogger’s meet for the launch of your LG Optimus smartphone. Can you share with us how important are bloggers for the marketing of a product?
In this decade, with rapidly growing online media bloggers are as important for a brand as journalists have been in conventional media. In fact, bloggers and reviewers carry far more brand building influence than any other media since they carry expertise as well as the capability to have conversations with the wider public. Hence, marketers can no longer ignore bloggers and tech product reviewers in their marketing mix.
How do you handle the customer complaints on social media? What is your average response time?
We have a ORM system that monitors, listens and responds to the public online. In case of customer complaints, we contact the person individually and feed the complaint to our customer service department immediately. We respond to consumers within 24-48 hours.
There are some blogs and forums where people have written negatively about LG products. How you handle such instances? How do you neutralize the negativity or better, turn it into a positive one?
In the social area it is inevitable that a brand will have positive as well as negative opinions. While the overwhelming majority have only good things to say about LG, we take negative comments very seriously. Our ORM system picks up such comments and if there are product or after-sales service issues, we tackle that on priority. We respond online to anyone who carries negative opinion through facts about our products, technologies and service. I am personally very active on social media and try to route negative opinions back to the company for improvement and better services.
Do you think social media is a bane for customer service?
Not at all! If anything, social media is a boon since it gives the company another touchpoint to be able to listen to our consumers and create delight. Let’s face it – the consumer will talk about the brand whether we’re there or not. So, it’s better to be present on social media and participate!
How do you handle a community as big as yours present on different platforms? Any specific tools that you make use of?
For Twitter we use a variety of free social tools, and for FB we use Facebook metrics available to all page owners. We use Radian6 for monitoring and reporting buzz and sentiments.
How do you measure the success of your social media marketing efforts? What are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you analyze?
Share of online buzz is an important metric that we track. Another KPI is interaction rate and positive/negative sentiment. At a brand level, we measure brand likeability and preference, and image on key parameters.
Please introduce us to the team behind your social media activities.
Our digital marketing efforts are led by Chandrani Banerjee who’s the head of Brand Management. Social media in particular is spearheaded by Shreya Shivangi, who works under the Digital Lead, Vishal Srivastava. Our social media & ORM agency is Hungama.
How important is social media in your overall marketing mix?
It is very important for us to have an optimised social media plan. Overall, it generates a buzz and gives the brand the opportunity to have one-to-one interactions with consumers.
How much are LG India’s other departments (HR, Admin, Sales, development etc) integrated with your social media team?
Through our ORM system, all the departments in the company are linked to our social strategy. Whatever the nature of interaction, we have the relevant department respond to it.
How has your social media budget varied over the last few years? Has it gained more importance with time?
Yes, social media budget has increased over the last year or so, though the absolute amount is not huge since we go for interaction more than advertising.
How much has social media influenced your sales and customer service?
It has been a learning process for everyone in our sales, marketing and customer service. Over the last year, all these departments have grown to embrace and respond to social media because they realise the power of this phenomenon in creating good brand equity.
Mobile is said to be the next big thing after social media, any plans to foray into mobile marketing?
We have already experimented with advertising on mobile, and quite certainly this medium will grow for us as the smartphone penetration grows.
What would you suggest to a brand that wants to adopt social media?
It’s rather simple – find out why your consumers are in social communities, and fulfil the purpose for which they are there. Create brand love, and sales will follow.
Have your hired any of your employee using social networks such as Linkedin?
Our HR department regularly scans Linkedin for prospective candidates for our job openings.
Key takeaways from the interview:
- Any content that satisfies that consumers’ urge for which he is on Facebook will work better than pure brand messaging.
- FB ads helps you get thousands of followers, but that doesn’t mean they’re all quality followers.
- Twitter’s role for brands should be to listen more than talk; to solve problems and answer questions when asked.
- Bloggers and reviewers carry far more brand building influence than any other media.
- The consumer will talk about the brand whether we’re there or not. So, it’s better to be present on social media and participate!
Want us to interview your favorite brand or personality on social media? Let us know in the comments section below. We will try our best to reach out to them.