Life as a Government entity is difficult. People cry scams and corruption many-a-times without even trying to figure out the background, which is what makes having a Government body wanting to reach out to the public and sharing its success, a great idea.
And for that exact reason, the Government of Maharashtra has come up with an innovative campaign to interact with the citizens of the state and spread awareness among them.
The #etreatdit campaign, has been set up with a simple aim – to attract and interact. And it is safe to say that it’s really one of the first of its kind in the country. The crux of this campaign is to let citizens know about the various successful initiatives undertaken, and the digital milestones achieved by the state. And what better way to do that than giving away free cupcakes?
In select places, three 16-door vending machines have been set up, designed to be accessed using only digital impressions. Each of the locks in the vending machines is connected to 4 digital platforms; Facebook, Twitter, SMS, and Aadhaar. To open the locker, the user can either ‘Like’ a relevant post on the ‘e-governance’ Facebook page, Tweet with the tag- #eTreatDIT or just send a simple text message <eTreat> to 51969. Alternatively users can enter their Aadhaar Number and fingerprint on the machine itself to open the locker in real time.
Each locker contains a treat box, which has a small nugget of information about one of the initiatives along with a sweet treat. Along with that information, there will be a link to take the user to the website so they can know more about such programs. Every interaction made with the vending machine, would add to the social impressions of the entity.
(In case anyone’s wondering… the ‘dit’ in etreatdit stands for the Department of IT) Here’s a video uploaded by the eGov Maharashtra wing, showing you how it’s done.
Apart from the free sweet treat? Hmm… that’s tough to beat. The online nature of the campaign, which is quite obviously its USP, makes it a rare and cool experience. You have to agree that it reminds you of those cool spy-movie moments where the lead unlocks a vault by triggering a computer program in his cell phone. This one’s pretty similar, the only difference being that it’s absolutely legal, and hosted by the Government!
Another positive would be the choice of app integration. There are certain brands that just ignore Twitter as a social network, but that is not the case here. They even stuck with the classic social network, ‘the SMS’ as an option for the not so social media savvy target group. Considering there’s minimal GPRS and 3G connectivity at most event halls, this shows the amount of thought that went behind the planning.
One of the highlights would be including ‘Aadhar’ as an offline-connecting medium. That along with fingerprint recognition is a very apt inclusion if you think about it. Mainly because Maharashtra boasts of the maximum registered citizens for Aadhar, almost over 9 crore!
Though it remains a mystery whether unsuspecting event-attendees will be carrying their Aadhar details. But then again, it’s the most comprehensive physical id in the country, so you never know.
Scope for improvement:
A proper glimpse at the website would be enough to tell you how hastily it was made. The information given behind each initiative was not too comprehensive, neither were there any external links for more data.
The biggest setback for me was the lack of social media buttons on the webpage, which is rather strange considering the purpose of this campaign. Also, there’s no integration or even a link to their official Facebook page. Being a common web-user, I was unable to determine the official e-Government page initially or locate a legit Twitter handle.
This interactive vending machine has been put at 3 different locations and will be moved around and placed at various events in the coming months- which means us Maharashtrians better keep an eye out!
The idea of a vending machine running on social media impressions is not a completely new concept. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Doritos, among other brands have tried and successfully engaged audiences with similar executions.
What’s fresh is the source of this campaign. You normally don’t see the Government take such creative approaches. This just goes to show that we might have many more ‘jacks-in-the-boxes’ in store for us. This initiative marks the progress in the quality of marketing employed by our Government.