[Interview] In Conversation With Nishank Gopalkrishnan, BigRock, About Their Social Media Activities

nishank-gopalkrishnanMr. Nishank Gopalkrishnan, Director, Marketing and BizDev at Big Rock tells us about their social media and digital activities, and how they’re trying to leverage it to the maximum to benefit their business.

Read on to know how they’re venturing into various digital possibilities like mobile apps, alongside their social media activities, and also how well it has been working out for them.

Tell us more about your Facebook app. How does it serve your business purpose?

On Facebook, we have built apps for specific contests and that has allowed us to create a custom experience, whilst retaining the viral nature of Facebook. Be it the hugely popular “Dunk the Neta” campaign or the “Pic a COM” contest, these apps have allowed us to reach a new demographic easily. On the mobile side, we recently launched a responsive mobile site and it has been seeing good traction. We focused on creating a simple user experience and registering a domain which is literally 3 clicks away. You can check it out at m.bigrock.in and give us your feedback.

Who manages your social media presence?

We have an in-house team that manages our social media presence right from the conceptualization to the execution. We did experiment with an external agency last year but realised that an in-house team is far better equipped to handle brand communication and maintain tonality. It is very important that your brand’s persona is reflected in your social media voice too. We look at our social media channels as powerful extensions of our brand messaging and they offer a great place to engage with our awesome customers.

Is a large part of your marketing budget allocated to social media? How important is social media a part of your communications strategy?

Social media plays a key role in our communications strategy. In today’s age, one cannot ignore the voice of a customer. We, as a brand, love the reciprocal nature of conversations that take place on social media. We rely on it to get constructive feedback about our products, offers and services and this has really helped us grow as a brand and serve our customers better. In fact, recently, we announced the launch of our new TVC on social media even before it hit television. We strongly believe that the customer rules and what better way to engage with them in real time than social media? Be it blogs, contests, polls or conversations, social channels have become an integral way for us to speak to our target audience.

How important a part does your blog play in setting the tone for your business?

Our customer base is fairly diverse, consisting of web designers, SMBs, college students and professionals. Our mandate has always been to educate them on how best to leverage the internet and succeed in growing their business online. Our blog is “the medium” that allows us to offer insights on our products, industry trends, tools and gives our readers a sneak peek into the happenings at BigRock’s HQ. Pushing out engaging and valuable content is challenging and it feels satisfying to know that we have been successful at it.

Tell us more about your social media policy? Can you outline a few tenets?

Our social media policy can be encapsulated in 2 words – communication and engagement. We want our customers to come and talk to us freely on our social media handles and we look forward to these conversations. Our blog posts, contests, informative posts etc. give us an opportunity to engage with our fans and keep them abreast of the latest happenings in the Web Services industry. We believe there is no such thing as too much communication.

Does LinkedIn help when hiring for your company as against a traditional hiring route?

Over the past couple of years, our HR team has definitely been relying more and more on LinkedIn to shortlist relevant candidates across various profiles. That being said, we still get a lot of success from traditional methods like job portals. LinkedIn adds in a layer of social recommendation that traditional channels do not. As a company, we believe in hiring the best talent, and employee referrals are a great way to recruit talent.

Tell us about your latest contest for users #BigRockAuction

We try keeping our Facebook page and Twitter handle interesting and engaging with fun posts, contests and offers. Our in-house team conceptualized this activity. BigRock always encourages businesses to go online and this activity enabled our fans on Facebook to get a .COM domain at the price they wanted. Social media engagement stats for this contest literally hit the roof. We were very happy to see the enthusiasm with which our fans were bidding. You had people walking away with domain names at just Rs.11 J. It was a unique concept and it worked really well for us.

Does your social media presence play an important role when tackling crisis situations?

Social media is a fantastic platform to keep our customers updated, especially during instances where we undergo maintenance or face an outage of some sort. Our customers are pretty active on our pages and appreciate the timely updates that we provide them.

Tell us more about your Friday Fiestas and the response you receive

Fridays and Mondays see a lot of engagement on social channels and as a brand we like to tap into that sentiment. Friday Fiesta is just a vehicle for us to connect with our audience on the eve of a much awaited weekend. The response has been brilliant and the onus is on us now to keep the engagement and momentum going.

What has been your experience in engaging with technology bloggers in India and abroad? How effective are these engagements in understanding your end customers on what they want?

We have worked closely with bloggers through platforms like Indiblogger and BlogAdda. Specifically, technology bloggers are close to our heart, given their understanding of our space and appreciation for our products. For example: labnol (Amit Agarwal) wrote a great piece on our first television campaign. Connecting with this group gives us a strong perspective on customer expectations and is a great learning each time.

How evolved is the social media space today, than what it was 5 years back? Obviously the numbers have increased but has the quality of engagement improved over the years?

Absolutely, the kind of targeting and tools available today has definitely increased the quality of engagement. Five years ago, brands did not have as much data available as they do today.

Brands, now, have in-depth data on engagement, customer sentiments, customer demographics, influence and a lot of other metrics. This really helps a company fine tune their communication strategy based on the knowledge they now have on what works and what doesn’t for their brand. It would be interesting to see how soon networks like Pinterest etc. catch up in India. One aspect which is disheartening though is that social channels are moving towards a “pay to play” model and that has seen a drop in organic reach for brands across the board.

Tell us more about how e-commerce has evolved since the time you launched.Please share some numbers as well.

When we launched in 2010, e-commerce was barely raising its head as India started to “move online”. The past 4 years have been nothing less than a revolution. The Flipkart-s and Amazon-s are paving the way for a giant e-commerce wave. Being an infrastructure provider, we have been witness to some strong growth in the number of websites and e-commerce enabled sites in the country. By 2015, we expect nearly 15% of all websites in the country to be e-commerce enabled. The fact that is great about this boom is that it’s also seeing great traction from tier 2 cities. We see nearly half of our domains being registered from tier 2 towns which makes for a great story.