How major brands are now leveraging the social media influencers and going an extra mile to make people in social media happy. Tinu Cherian Abraham, an influential Indian in social media shares his story on how Mercedes India fulfilled his dream of driving a Merc for the weekend.
Influence can win you many fans. It has always been that way and who knows this better than the one who follows the rite of passage to becoming ‘influential’. Essentially, the advent of the social media has resurfaced many people’s aspirations to be influential and add weightage to their overall online persona.
While the online world may be full of qualitative definitions to describe the term, ‘influence’ for me is pure numbers in the age of social media. It is the number of fans on your Facebook page or the number of followers on your Twitter or it could be a combination of a lot more factors that influence-calculating tools like Klout can measure.
Whatever it is, brands are loving it. The bigger the number of followers you have, the better the deals that are being lobbied through you. Early on, Chetan Bhagat – author, columnist and speaker but more importantly ‘Youth icon’ – had begun Twitter promotions for the upcoming Hindi film ‘Kai Po Che’ based on his bestselling novel ‘The 3 Mistakes of my Life’. The author with more than 1.3 million followers on Twitter and a feature in the 2010 Time 100 list, where he has been named as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world, started a Twitter contest early February.
Fans were asked to share what is their dream business and what would they call it using the hashtag #MyKaipocheDream. The film is about three friends striving to fulfil their dreams against all odds, hence the concept. With the gratitude being a Mercedes each for three people for the weekend, the contest garnered good response. An excited Tinu Cherian Abraham (@tinucherian) who always had the dream to ride a Mercedes for free in the weekend, participated with a cheeky reply where he took a dig on Chetan Bhagat.
Despite 100+ retweets and being the top tweet on the trend, he did not win but Chetan did acknowledge that he was close to winning. Tinu, then thought of asking other car companies like Audi just for fun. Interestingly it had caught the attention of people at Mercedes India instead of Audi, who then contacted him. This Friday, they sent him a Mercedes SLK 350 convertible worth over Rs.90 lakhs all the way from Pune to Bangalore, to be enjoyed the entire weekend till Sunday.
“I don’t think I would have got this premium model if I had won the former contest”, shared Tinu as an afterthought.
Tinu’s tweets have better reach with the 1.74 lakh followers he has on Twitter. Soon after his dream car arrived for the weekend, Tinu began tweeting about it with the hashtag #Merc4Weekend. He shared pictures and also created an album on Facebook with the same name. This did trigger some very interesting conversations on Twitter, one which had other brands jumping in for a possible future partnership with Mercedes.
This is not the first time, brands have gone the extra mile to make customers and potential customers happy on social media. Tinu cites an earlier instance with beer brand ‘Indus Pride’ on Twitter. When Tinu dreamt of free beer and offered to switch brand loyalties too, Indus Pride sent 4 cases of beer to his home!
We are constantly being bombarded with social media gyan and best practices to be followed, but these instances clearly demonstrate that the brand that ‘listens’ on social media, is the one to take the medal. Had Audi India listened to Tinu’s dreams on Twitter and acted upon it, it could be a different story for Audi. Mercedes did the ‘listening’ and followed it up with thoughtful calculation on social media influence. The SLK 350 convertible, in turn, received great exposure within the relevant consumer segment.
Social media influence has creeped in as a surprise element in the marketing mix, and a boon for brands who have set up ‘listening posts’ on social media. As to how they reap that influence to their advantage, will go a long way in establishing a credible social media presence.