#TheSocialCMO: Anupam Vasudev on Aircel's social media strategy

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The Indian Telecom industry is one of the most competitive and ever evolving industry. As Aircel adapts to these changing dynamics with active social media marketing, Social Samosa gets in conversation with Anupam Vasudev, CMO, Aircel to understand what it means to market in a digital age.

As a marketer what is your objective from social media marketing?

The Telecom Industry is in its most dynamic phase with technological advancements constantly disrupting the sector. Marketing in Telecom has been no exception to this, with social media gathering prominence as well as the constantly changing dynamics of telecom Industry playing a vital role in shaping strategies. At Aircel, the objective to drive social media is for:

· Drive products and services

· Amplify brand recognition

· Increase brand loyalty through continuous engagement

· Portray a more humanized face of the brand

On Facebook and Twitter most of your content is around entertainment. Is it a part of your content strategy? How has it worked so far?

Today, Facebook and Twitter are the two most potent tools for social media engagements. Any engagement activity that we do on Facebook and Twitter are linked to our products and services. We have some healthy 10 million followers on Facebook and more than 0.65 million on Twitter. These are ROI driven channels and they help us not only to drive conversations but business as well.

Our content pillars on one level drive ROI generation – where products in a contextual form are regularly promoted – and on another level build brand preference and generate a positive sentiment around the brand. As a direct consequence, entertainment becomes a key pillar besides sports (primarily cricket) to create the buzz in social media. This strategy has worked wonders since entertainment content helps us to promote a wide variety of VAS contests that revolve around sports and entertainment.

Does Aircel have any particular recurring content property?

Yes. We do have some interesting weekly content buckets that we follow for sharing content. A few recurring content themes on social media are - Technology, Entertainment, and Sports – all with a clear focus on driving ROI or positive engagement within the brand framework.

One of the oldest and the best performing trend is the techie trends. Besides some of the few interesting content pegs that we have recently introduced are - ‘Lights Camera Action’, ‘Shades of India’ and ‘Bioscope’. All these content properties have done well in terms of garnering engagements. Other product related weekly content are – VAS, App Promotion and Friday Big Sale.

What are the other content hooks that you use?

Apart from the regular content pillars, we focus a lot on topical stuffs, which are not only within the purview of the brand but are also relevant to our target group, which is the youth. On a regular basis we share content on Tiger, which is very close to brand Aircel due to our CSR initiative – Save Our Tigers (SOT), which has been a very successful corporate CSR program.

Where does Social Media stand in your CRM mechanism? Do you have a dedicated social CRM team?

Social media has always played a key role in creating a dialogue with our valued customers. Our TG is social media savvy and there is a lot of traction on our social media platforms for complaints, hence there is a lot of focus in this area. We have a dedicated consumer redressal team that religiously works in handling customer queries on social media platforms and also resolve the issues.

Across social media platforms, we have clearly defined our Turn-Around-Time (TAT) to address and resolve consumer queries and issues. And to add to this we also have backward integration aided with circle based data of the consumer to minimise TAT.

What kind of social listening metrics and tools do you engage in?

Radian 6 for Social Listening: This tool helps us understand the user sentiment for the brand across a few core social platforms. It is also used for tracking conversation trends and Aircel’s Share of Voice among its competitor brands.

Unmetric for Social Media Analytics: The tool helps in determining quantitative and qualitative social analysis of our brand against the competition. It also helps in comparing their content, campaigns and performance against ours.

How much per cent rise did you witness in the social media spends in 2016?

World over we have witnessed a strong rise in social media spends in 2016. In the last two years, global spends have almost doubled – from $16 billion on 2014 to $31 in 2016 ( Keeping in mind the global trends, our social media spends have remained stable in 2016 over the last year. For us, the focus is to have a strong creative content that can drive conversations rather than heavily relying on media push.

Initially, Joy of Little Extra was the crux of all social media communication. What is the core theme now? How would you describe your brand voice?

For us the overarching message remains, ‘Doing a Little Extra’, which handsomely reflects the philosophy of the brand. It remains the core communication for the brand on all social channels. All our campaigns (Gandhi Jayanti, Durga Puja) and some of our content buckets and product updates are mostly promoted with the message of ‘Doing a Little Extra’.

Aircel is a mass brand and the same holds true even for Aircel’s voice and its communities on various Social platforms. Aircel’s tone remains inclusive, relatable and engaging.

We focus on establishing the communication upfront only when we are planning a campaign. As this is when we are actually building the brand image by sharing an opinion or thought with the online audience.

How much percent of your social media mix is reserved for influencer marketing campaigns? How have you leveraged influencers in the past?

Today social influencers have assumed prime importance, keeping in mind the challenging role they have in driving and building positive conversations around the brand. We engage with influencers on a regular basis since they are a key constituent of the mix that we are tapping.

Apart from the specific campaigns, we also engage with the bloggers through a blogger engagement program called Aircel #BlogUp, where we take key bloggers through our constant innovations and disruptions.

How important it is for the CMOs of this age to be socially active?

Today, marketing strategies are getting sharper and creative than ever before and hence it has become extremely important for CMOs to stay on top of the game – the social game. The game is to aggressively capture the imagination of the new age consumer, who is well informed. There has been a significant paradigm shift in the power between customers and brands, thanks to the influence of social media.

Being a brand custodian, CMOs need to engage with the new age customer through social media to capture their imagination. This is an age of transition where we have seen a radical shift to social media. People want to see the face behind the brand and being socially active helps CMOs in building trust and creating a preference for their brand.

Being socially active also helps you keep abreast on the latest global trends and consumer preferences. This in turn leads to humanizing the brand and positions the CMO as an industry leader. I feel that at times of crisis, proactive communication adds value to the brand and helps build an emotional relation with the consumers.

What are the 5 traits that CMOs of the digital age have according to you?

One of the more challenging tasks for a marketing leader is to build and sustain a team of specialists that is highly competent, action oriented, customer centric and revenue accountable. Traditional qualities like Focus and Leadership are the most important traits, even in the digital age.

A CMO should be able to grasp changes in consumer behavior and have a firm understanding of the latest trends and changing customer demands. This finer understanding of his craft enables him to use market dynamics to the benefit of his brand while planning a marketing campaign.

He/She should be active on social media platforms and keep engaging with his target audience based on the demographic, geographic requirements of the end user.

To ensure that the brand will never disappoint the customer, CMOs doesn’t just focus on advertising as a part of his marketing campaign but also spends energy on influencer marketing through social media platforms.

Lastly, finding creative solutions to better serve the customer is a distinguishing factor that helps create a brand recall in the customer’s minds.

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