[Interview] Sharlton Menezes, Marketing Head, Zee Café, on their Social Media Strategy

Zee Cafe Interview

Social media, as we know, has a great impact on television channels too these days. Not only with updates of shows but even in engaging with the viewers through contests and other activities on social media.

Sharlton Menezes, Marketing Head of Zee Café, shares the social media strategy of the channel and how important it is to be focused on digital media as being visual helps to a large extent even on social media.

What are the communication objectives of Zee Café for India and how does social media help in achieving these objectives?

We believe in connecting with viewers on a personal level and building viewer loyalty on the channel. Our social media platforms, be it Twitter, Facebook or Instagram help us achieve that on a daily basis. In addition to helping us with engagement it’s also great for CRM. To channel brand loyalty, we also do lots of interesting activities on a regular basis and give out exclusive merchandise to our fans.

Tell us about your contest for American Idol. Does it extend to Indian viewers as well? How do you differentiate between your markets when you set out a contest?

The contest is exclusively for the Indian viewers as American idol is a very popular show not only in the U.S. but in India as well. Coming to the contest, we always look at ways in which we can give our viewers a shot at connecting with the shows off air as well. With the latest season of Idol premiering exclusively on Zee Cafe, we decided to give the viewers a chance to catch the finale of Idol live at the Nokia Centre in L.A.

#TVsFunniestHour – this seems to be an interesting contest. Which hour actually did win? Give us more details about how the response has been for this contest?

“Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory” are two shows that have a universal appeal and are thoroughly entertaining, and we have created a one hour comedy block with a back to back airing of these shows on weekdays. The hashtag #TVsFunniestHour was created to introduce this block to our viewers and get them talking about it online. We conducted a contest on Twitter using the hashtag where we engaged the viewers, gave out exclusive merchandise and encouraged tune ins. We got a great response from the twitterverse, with a lot of people joining the contest and sharing their enthusiasm for the shows.

What are the three main platforms an entertainment channel like yours needs to be on social media?

We use social media platforms as per user trends. Currently we are active on Facebook and Twitter and have recently started interactions on Instagram as well.

Explain to us your social media policy and what are the top three rules that can encapsulate your entire policy?

Social media is great for engagement, real time conversation and feedback, and we take a very human approach while conversing with our followers. We can gauge the interest levels the audience shares with respect to our shows, take their feedback and suggestions. We have always refrained from in-your-face advertising and promotions when it comes to social media. The idea is to get social with the fans not bombard them with advertisements.

Does an external social media team manage your presence or is it an internal team running the show? Your Facebook page elicits lots of interactivity. Are the responses managed internally or is there a process you follow with your agency to respond quickly and intelligently?

Our social media is monitored internally and we have an agency which manages it for us. We try and respond to all of our viewers’ queries and comments in the shortest turnaround time possible.

How much of your total marketing spend is allocated to social media? Has it increased over the years? How much do you plan to allocate in the new financial year in terms of percentage? Is it because you are getting a better ROI and impact?

Almost 50 percent of our spends are focussed on digital media. In addition to Twitter and Facebook we also look at other digital media for promotions. The biggest benefit of advertising on digital mediums is the ability to target effectively.  We have seen an impressive ROI and impact in all of our digital campaigns and spends on the medium would continue to form a chunk of our campaign budgets.

What is the age group and profile of your followers? Do they match up to your television viewer’s profile?

70 percent of our viewership comes from the metros and it comprises of young, urban and evolving audience between the ages 15-34 years, and a majority of fans and followers online also fit the same profile.

How do you measure the efficacy of the social media campaign? What tools do you employ?

We take our TV ratings and the social media reach of the campaign into consideration in order to gauge the overall efficacy.

How important is presence on Youtube and Pinterest for an entertainment channel? Does being visual help to a large extent even on social media?

Pintrest is a medium that is yet to gain considerable momentum in comparison to entertainment channels. YouTube is highly effective as it allows the audience to sample your content, it is also great for advertising as it helps reach out to a large chunk of relevant audience.