A newcomer in town, Netflix India has managed to make up for their premium pricing with a native social media and content strategy. Social Samosa takes a look at the social media marketing lessons from Netflix India’s strategy.

Netflix announced its entry in India in December 2015 and was immediately touted far from a threat. According to media reports, Netflix India was working on premium pricing (INR 500 per month), lacked Indian Originals and was gearing up to work with an audience, still devoted to television.

Netflix battled directly with Hotstar, which debuted in February 2015 and had much more than an early mover advantage over the former. Hotstar was the web version of the deeply rooted Star Group in India and boasted of Hindi and other Regional titles.

Netflix however, was soon to tip the scales in its favour with a customized communications strategy for their Indian audience.

While the first right in their kitty, was adding new titles to their fairly limited content bank, Netflix India managed to bring a total turn of tables through social presence of mind.

Desi look

Be it actors or brands, foreigners in India are either immensely loved or immensely hated, and Netflix’s position at the time of their debut was nearing the fag end of hate. But, Netflix was about to change that.

The brand started creating tailored content for its Indian audience, while interacting with them in desi style and manner. To begin with, they devoted a huge space of their global Facebook page to interacting with their Indian audiences. Not only were they candid, like they are on their global accounts, they Indianised their tone dramatically.

Like when they replied to an irate Indian customer in a very desi monotone.

Netflix took it a notch higher with Andaz Apna Apna GIFs for communication and a Narcos design done in Mehendi (henna). Their #LifeWithoutNetflix campaign created tailored communication for the Indian audience!

Influencer Marketing Route

While other OTT platforms such as Hotstar, Sony LIV and Voot have strong television and digital networks to market on, Netflix enjoyed no such luxury. The brand needed to create an independent network, to reach out to their Indian TG.

Netflix, thus started looping in micro-celebrities, this includes stand-up comedians, cast of popular web-series and more, to feature in their digital campaigns, banking on their loyal reach. One of their first campaigns for the Indian audience featured Sumeet Vyas and Nidhi Singh, the favourite Permanent Roommates’ couple, who worked their charm in the brand video.

Close on the heels came, Tanmay Bhat’s ad to market the Netflix Original, Narcos. With Bhat’s immense acting skills and fan following, the campaign amassed great reach.

The latest in this genre was Alok Nath and Biswa Kalyan Rath starrer campaign to market the new season of House of Cards. The campaign was critically acclaimed for offering a precise summary with an intertwining storyline portraying Alok Nath and Biswa as father and son.

YouTube too took a similar approach last year with their #SeeSomethingNew campaign, featuring influencers such as Nisha Madhulika, Vidya Vox, and Geeky Ranjit.

Real Conversations in Real Time

Netflix added a feather to their cap by their spontaneous and downright witty banters with competitors and others alike.

Netflix put up a poster for the fourth season of House of Cards, similar to the one created by Hotstar for On Air with AIB. This soon ensued a Twitter war and Netflix didn’t shy away from it.

Recently, Netflix jumped in a conversation with Bengaluru Police, as the latter created a Narcos meme to target drug peddlers.

Banking on Originals

Indian OTT industry is severely competitive – Netflix India is on loggerheads with Amazon Prime Videos, Hotstar, Spuul, and likes. While Netflix has an edge with their Originals, which have picked up surprisingly well in India.  The streaming service has done a fairly good job in presenting their hit series with Indian flavours.

Netflix ran a series of videos to promote the latest season of House of Cards; it commenced with the aforementioned video featuring Alok Nath and Biswa. After receiving flak for revealing spoilers for those who are yet to see the previous seasons, Netflix released another video featuring Boman Irani.

The brand released another video featuring comedian Karan Talwar and actor Varun Thakur, who plays a struggling actor ignorant about the House of Cards.

For their upcoming Original film, War Machine starring Brad Pitt, Netflix has looped in Shahrukh Khan and Rohan Joshi, both influencers in their own right, to popularize the move in India. They created a video, bringing SRK and Brad Pitt on one stage and screen.

The second video showed Rohan Joshi of AIB asking Brad Pitt some interesting questions, creating curiosity and good word around War Machine.

In terms of active users, Netflix has a long way to go in India; viewer engagement and originals being one their biggest strengths, the brand has been actively banking on it. With competitive pricing, how the brand translates its social success into business leads, will be worth watching.


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