HBO India, which is what Home Box Office India is popularly known as, is an Indian television channel focused on screening Hollywood content. The channel’s major competitors include Star Movies, Zee Studio, WB and Sony PIX.

One needs to note that while its prime competitor Star Movies is offering HD content, HBO India is not providing any such content as of now. The channel however, has recently launched two other channels as a part of HBO Premiere that offer HD ad-free content.

HBO on Facebook

HBO has over 2.2 million fans on Facebook and a growth rate of 21.5%. The channel is male dominated and 98% of the fans are below the age of 30. The brand has engaged 32.1% of the times with wall posts and has an average reply time of more than a day.

Similar to its contemporaries, the basis of all posts are photographs with a significant absence of videos. One positive about the posts is that they are not random. They take images from movies that are to be broadcast on the channel, and post the screening time with engagement questions.

Every post comes with the time of the movie showcase, and are thus relevant to the product. Birthday wishes for stars happen to be a favourite here with photos being coupled with a trivia/engagement question.

In terms of responsiveness, the page does respond well to fan posts. If an admin post receives a lot of likes/shares/comments, they thank the audience as well.

The page is seen actively responsive when something negative is said about the channel and this needs to be appreciated. However, amidst the negative fan posts, a lot of positive fan posts are ignored and not being responded to. The page is selective on that front.

It has been noticed that often, the answer might not satisfy the user’s requirement and the admin is not seen again after the first response. A majority of these replies are actually indulging in self promotion.

User interaction on fb posts by HBO India

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User interaction on fb posts by HBO

Contrary to the usual social belief, engagement doesn’t always mean asking questions to a huge mass of people. Engagement is about ‘interaction’ and this interaction is always a two-way communication exercise. During our analysis, we came across how the brand actually goes through most of the comments and then responds according to the requirement.

An example of the same is noted in this post for Robert Pattinson’s Birthday where one fan posted that it was her birthday too and the brand page wished her as well. By the way, the total number of comments on the post happened to be 429.

This is an example of good positive interaction with a prospective customer/fan.

Birthday wishes post by HBO on facebook

In terms of contests, the social media strategy of the brand is heavily concentrated around those. These included, Mission Impossible 4 Contest, Gods and Titan Contest, Fix the clock, Mirror Mirror contests and many more. All of these were conducted through a Facebook application.

Apart from the contests, the channel’s social media strategy also worked upon focusing on the HPL, HBO’s popular movie campaign called the Hollywood Premiere League. The way the channel showcased it however, is not something that we are a fan of. We felt it happened to be the most useless kind of advertising for their highlight programme, for which promotion was mostly done using an application called “Dress your cheergirl”. It’s sexist as well as irrelevant at the same time.

dress your cheergirl promotion by hbo

Since the duration of the analysis also included the launch of HBO’s new channels – HBO Defined and HBO Hits, a lot of promotion was conducted around that. When I say a lot, it is also inclusive of the highly self promotional replies that were given to users. The answers didn’t solve the person’s problem, but did not fail to mention that the channel has launched two new channels.

The brand was also seen promoting the Great Gatsby, but unlike Star Movies, they promoted the  movie intelligently by integrating it with the television content as well as the brand’s YouTube Channel. They shared a teaser video of Amitabh Bachchan asking fans to watch HBO at a certain time to catch an exclusive trailer of the movie. It’s not sharing random trailers from random outlets, they have created their own exclusive content.

Since the brand is so focused on contests, the tabs were used optimally for the same. Around 4 contest apps were spotted on the page, and these tabs would show you the names of the winners, even after the contest is over. Well maintained on that front.

There are also other applications that are supposed to be there just for fun. Examples include a Hollywood Quotient game and a Game of Thrones custom social profile app.

The page also has a YouTube tab that shows the videos from the brand’s own channel. Being a television channel, something like this is actually essential on your brand page.

The cover photo is not changed that often but usually focuses on the major movie that month or a kind of a series that the channel is processing that week.

HBO on Twitter

HBO has more than 15,000 followers and a growth rate of 11.3%.

HBO India’s Twitter strategy is fairly good with a decent response time, ample number of RTs and a successful ‘trend’ campaign.

Interestingly, the brand responds to more queries on Twitter than on Facebook.

Beyond the trivia and the birthday wishes, the channel ran hashtag campaigns for almost all major screenings on the channel. Hangover 3 had #veryfunny, #IDanceWhen and #ILikeToMoveIt were run around for Happy Feet 2. Otherwise, the channel uses a lot of hashtags that seem random.

HBO India on Twitter

Moving away from the random hashtags, the brand also ran a successful Twitter campaign around the Happy Feet 2 premiere.

The hashtag #IDanceWhen was being used during the contest and it trended for a long time. It was carried out in an organised order with rules put up as an image. And later on it went on to become popular worldwide with even the Skype Twitter handle tweeting the hashtag!

Hashtag of hbo india trending on twitter

Skype tweeting with #IDanceWhen

HBO on Pinterest

The brand does a decent job on Pinterest with over 400 pins. There are separate boards for a ‘Mirror Mirrorpremiere and its hugely popular ‘Game of Thrones’ TV series. There are 5 pins on an average in a week and while this is an extremely small number, it is better than the rest of the channels in this segment.

The Game of Thrones board specifically is well maintained and has a good number of followers. There is a wide range in the pins, and the sources are varied with a lot of repins from other users as well. So, the brand is interacting well on the platform here.

Pinterest Game of Thrones board by HBO

However, the following things went wrong:

  • Frequency and activity: There are boards named “What’s hot today?” with the last pin put up weeks ago. If there is no time for the channel to update, they should change the name of the board to something pertinent.
  • Lack of personalised content: One thing that the social media handlers need to understand is that Pinterest an entirely visual medium, as opposed to Facebook and Twitter. Hence, having movie shots as pins can work but not to a large extent. Personalisation and branding is missing.
  • Wrong spelling means bad SEO: It is HBO Defined. Not HBO Defind. You do not spell your own brand name wrong ‘twice’.

HBO on YouTube

During the duration of our analysis, the channel uploaded only one video, which was a teaser with Amitabh Bachchan promoting the telecast of an exclusive trailer of the Great Gatsby on HBO. Other than video, no new content was published on the YouTube channel.

It is interesting to note, that up to June 2012, the YouTube channel for the brand had otherwise been pretty active with about 15-20 uploads a month. Since then however, the YouTube Channel is practically dead.

The basic premise of having a social media platform is missing here and the problem is the absolute lack of content.

Conclusion

With a user based approach and one that is focused on the product that they are offering, the social media strategy of the brand is well defined and not haphazard. That said, they need to reply to more user posts and at times in a better fashion. While the fact that they reply to both negative as well as positive views is one to be appreciated, but still going self-promotional and then going off the grid for a particular query is something that needs to be rectified.

With significant segments of the product such as the HPL being promoted through irrelevant mediums, the marketing strategy on that front appears to be in deep trouble. You sell your highlight series with something that enhances the product and tells people how amazing it is, not through sexist applications that let you dress cheer girls.

They can perhaps take a suggestion from Star Movies’ strategy and incorporate a schedule application instead of such games. The brand can also use the cover photo more innovatively.

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