Interview With Karthi Marshan, Executive Vice President & Head – Group Marketing, Kotak

Kotak Group

Kotak Mahindra Bank Karthi Marshan

Social Media is no longer an option but a business imperative for the BFSI Industry. Banks and Financial services are now speeding in this direction and have actively embraced social networking. Kotak Mahindra Bank, a leading Indian financial service firm has a strong presence in the Social sphere. It has been using the new media for engaging their customers, marketing, listening and offering online customer support. They have been creative with their content across all platforms and they have been doing a commendable job with their social media strategy.

In this interview, Karthi Marshan, Executive Vice President & Head – Group Marketing, Kotak, talks about how social media is becoming a key component of Kotak Mahindra’s business strategy.

What is your approach towards Social Media Marketing? What are your objectives?

Our approach to social media is multi-fold. We use it to listen actively, not just to customers, but also to our target audience and stakeholder constituencies. We use it aggressively as a customer service frontier, actively encouraging them to reach out to us via all social platforms. We also use it for business purposes, which include both acquisition as well as retention of customers across various business segments. Finally, we also use it to co-create content and wisdom in the social space that is of relevance in our category, both to buyers as well as sellers, so that we may together build a better world in our small way.

How do you think your approach have evolved until now with the expansion of social media over the years?

Well, like many others, we flirted briefly with the notion that acquiring likes was a meaningful goal, an end in itself. We also did many foolish things in the early days, like using the crutches of Bollywood, cricket and politics to connect with our audiences, but over the last 2 years, we have seen the folly of such shallow strategies, and we now focus all our energies only on connecting with our audiences in the common ground that is created by our expertise and their interest in it.

What is content strategy for Facebook and Twitter?

For us, Twitter is largely about service, and not directly about content. So, if a customer is waiting to be served in a branch and she feels she has waited too long, she can tweet us, and we spring into action to see what can be done to remedy the situation on a realtime basis. Whereas, on Facebook, we employ multiple strategies, which include amplifying our real world campaigns by extending the messaging as well as life of the campaign via engagement on the subject on Facebook. For example, during appraisal and increments season, we did an extension of our TV campaign on 6% with Subbu, where online, Subbu was exhorting employees everywhere to petition their bosses with the most creative “I need a raise because” content.

For the BFSI Sector, What do you think are some of the best ways to keep the community engaged with the brand on Facebook?

I think that the rules are not very different for BFSI as compared to any other sector. With some riders, utilities like telcos and media companies like MTV etc have the license to discuss all and sundry matters to keep users engaged. BFSI has particular problems because our subjects are arcane, customers tend not to want to learn too much, and even though money is serious business, the seriousness itself means a mind block. Hence, BFSI has to find creatively engaging ways of discussing money, life goals, wealth, et al to ensure engagement.

A ‘like’ or a follower does not essentially mean a customer. What does Kotak do to convert the community members into customers?

Nothing. Kotak does not believe in trying to build a large community of followers, many of who tend to be in the 15-20 age band, who are relatively less likely to become customers. Instead, our belief is that our customers are people who have already expressed their fanhood for our brand by voting with their wallets, a far more serious commitment than a frivolous click of a button. What we do however, is to look for these customers online and motivate them to engage with us on all social platforms, where we can communicate segmented and personalized offers, as well as stay engaged to serve them better.

Has the ‘Trade With Us’ option on Facebook proved supportive in gaining customers for Kotak Securities? Averagely how much does it contribute to the overall customer gain?

The trade with us tab is there just in case someone feels like opening an account with us while engaged with the content. Not surprisingly the lead flow from that tab in particular is not very large. He is busy engaging and consuming the content and not really standing up and asking to be sold. Our Facebook ads directed towards performance are seeing reasonable traction and we see that growing slowly as FB further improves its targeting algorithm.

Kotak Mahindra Bank is doing a great job on its YouTube channel by sharing expert views on topics related to BFSI Sector. How effective has it been?

Very. The following on that is growing by the day, and we are not far from the day when we launch something like Kotak TV online.

Kotak Mahindra Bank recently concluded the ‘Adventures of My Junior Contest’ on Facebook. Can you share the details – the objectives, execution and the participation from the community?

‘Adventures of My Junior Contest’ was an extension of the Junior campaign on Social. The objective was to create buzz around the campaign and maximize reach while engaging with the community. The Junior proposition has a huge emotional connect which we wanted to leverage. Also, if you look at our day to day lives, a lot revolves around our children and social behavior suggests that we love talking about our children & their achievements and showcasing it with friends. The activity has done fairly well in terms of quality of participation and engagement. There have been around 7000 engagements on the page at the back of the contest in the last 3-4 weeks.

Out of Facebook and Twitter, which one is working the best for Kotak Mahindra Bank and Kotak Securities at present?

Both are good in their own way. I don’t think we can place one over the other. Facebook is exciting as it’s constantly giving us more and more options to engage and expand the base.

How do you evaluate the performance of your social media campaigns?

Evaluation is always a function of the objectives. Objectives range from brand recall, awareness creation, to engagement and conversion.

What is your procedure for handling a customer complaint via social media? What is the information flow like?

Prompt. We acknowledge almost immediately, and resolve in a maximum of 24 hours, typically within 24 minutes.

Key Takeaways:

  • Kotak uses Social Media it to listen actively, not just to customers, but also to their target audience and stakeholder constituencies. They aggressively use it as a customer service frontier and for  business purposes, which include both acquisition as well as retention of customers across various business segments.
  • BFSI has particular problems in content creation because their subjects are arcane, customers tend not to want to learn too much, and even though money is serious business, the seriousness itself means a mind block.
  • Hence, BFSI has to find creatively engaging ways of discussing money, life goals, wealth, to ensure engagement.
  • Evaluation is always a function of the objectives. Kotak’s objectives range from brand recall, awareness creation, to engagement and conversion.

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