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Imagine 3.5 Lakh Influencers to Share Your Content [Video]

At DMAI roundtable, May 8, 2015
At DMAI roundtable, May 8, 2015

A great deal of attention has been focussed on thought leaders or “Influencers” in the rapidly evolving marketing landscape in India today. The traditional idea of Influencer Marketing in any given industry, is about focussing on the ‘thought leaders’ or messengers to spread your story. With numbers to backup my argument, I feel that in today’s exploding internet scene in India, we don’t have to find a perfect bunch of people to spread our content; If we focus on the message (instead of the messengers) and make it share-worthy, it doesn’t matter if the users who share it have 20 friends or 20,000.

When your message is powerful and easy to share, then everyone’s a messenger :)

Here’s a video from a brief talk of how, by focussing on the message, we turned 50% of our Facebook community of 7 Lakh into Influencers!

What Matters More in Influencer Marketing: Message or the Messenger?

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Fifteen years back Malcolm Gladwell wrote ‘The Tipping Point’ and idea of influencers was born. Gladwell argued the “Law of the Few: The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.” It meant that a select few individuals had the power to influence their tribes and as marketers we had to find these mavens, these super-influentials and have them on our side. Over the last few years, I ran campaigns with this rule implanted in my head. If I focus on select few, treat them well, win them over, then we win the game. Well, all that changed, in the last one year.

When The Message Trumped The Messenger

In August of 2014, we released a video, a travel hacks video for ixigo. The video got mere 300 views on YouTube and died, but the second day we released it on Facebook as a native video. That day, Gladwell’s law in my head was shattered forever. We got 50,000 views on first day, and the video went on to become a 7 million views hit, shared by 3.5 lakh people over few months.

Half of our 7 lakh fans on Facebook suddenly became influencers.

Every ‘share’ our content got, influenced users, with many fans specifically tagging their friends and family to see the video. That one video had the reach of 25 million, which was about 25% of Facebook’s user base in India at that time (view case study) We followed by releasing a bunch of videos, from the learning, and got phonemenal success. One such video was shared by a Facebook user and it alone got 2.4 million views on his page. The question we now ask before we dive into designing the message: How will people be compelled to talk about this and share it? Sharing became the new currency :)

Influencer Marketing On its Head

With the learnings from that one video and many other viral hits later, the best practice evolved into making share-worthy content. If the content (the message) is compelling enough for anyone to hit share, then everyone is an influencer (messenger); We didn’t have to find the perfect people to spread the idea, if we focus on the message, make it compelling and easy to share, it doesn’t matter whether the individuals who share it have 5 friends or 50,000, whether they are popular or not.

However what may be true for one vertical may not be true for another. I’m sure many a marketing strategies are working great by engaging selected influencers. We did some influencer marketing campaigns in the past which were successful, but nothing came close to the phenomenal numbers we saw by focussing on the message.

I would love to hear your experiences with Influencer Marketing, your challenges and if you think this game is changing faster than we thought :)

The power of content, kindness and crowd-funding!

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Take a good look at this photo (left); That’s the kid you’ve seen in countless memes around the web. Popularly known as the ‘success kid’, a baby with fistful of confidence. Turns out the baby is 8 year old Sammy Griner and his father needed a kidney transplant.

With in a week of adding a crowd-funded campaign on GoFundMe, the Internet gave back $94,000!!! Thats’s the power of content, kindness and crowd funding! What a story! :)

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The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention – Oscar Wilde

Interview: How I got into Viral Content Marketing

dv-interview-aashish-chopra-LN

Digital Vidya, Asia’s leading digital marketing training company recently interviewed me after the success of the webinar I did last weekend on Viral Video Marketing. Includes the story of how I got into digital marketing, my insights about the mistakes organisations commit today and key takeaways from the webinar.

Digital Vidya: How did you get into Digital Marketing?

Aashish: I was in grade 9, when a friend from IIT was helping me with physics, and more than the time we spent understanding physics, we shared tools to build websites. It became a competition of sorts after our physics sessions to share what we had done the previous day in building new features for websites. He went on to finish his degree and become a developer and I started designing websites and solving web presence challenges for small businesses. That’s when I got on the web development bandwagon. After years of helping SMEs with websites, even starting a business in Canada, I realized that building websites was half the game, the real action for any business or ROI came in with what the website did for them. It was an exciting time to be alive back in the day, rapidly changing internet scene, social media in its infancy and SEO being the king.

Then the game changed, and social became the big thing, that’s when I dove into Digital Marketing. From social media marketing, to the evolution to content marketing and now focused on content which can go contagious and viral. I realized that the success of any social marketing plan is dependent on remarkable content. So Content Marketing became my obsession and after success with visual content, mainly Infographics, I started making videos. Within one year, got five viral hits, two awards and millions of views. With India rapidly growing in internet penetration, millions of new users are discovering internet through their mobile devices, it is no longer about tools and technology but how to leverage these in impacting their lives. Also I feel social media has an element of activism, and with the democratic nature of sharing, all that is needed is a good idea acted upon, which can change the world.

Digital Vidya: Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?

Aashish: If you look around, where are people spending their time. It is no longer TV, Radio or Newspapers. With millions of Indians getting on the mobile bandwagon, internet grabs the most eyeballs and is rapidly growing. And for any entrepreneur, marketing professional or student, this is where you would be competing. You can start a food business, lead marketing for a big brand or be studying law for that matter, if you need your ideas, products or services to get to the users, it is all about marketing in a digital world.

Digital Vidya: According to you, what are the top mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?

Aashish: I believe mistakes are good, marketing is all about experiments. You do ten experiments, two work, which give you indicators and best practices for future, on which you can build upon. The mistake is not learning from those mistakes, and be shooting in the dark. Organisations must get obsessed about users and about being authentic and transparent. It is about users not fancy tools. The big problem I see in the industry is the focus and obsession with ‘virality’, I feel the obsession must be on impacting lives of their customers, virality will take care of itself.

Digital Vidya: Please share top 5-7 takeaways from the Webinar you would like to share with our community.

Aashish: The takeaways are focused on content marketing and videos:

  • Don’t start with the intent to go viral; Viral is the result, focus on value for the user.
  • Start obsessing about your users’ pain points and how content can impact their lives.
  • Whatever you produce: landing pages, articles, infographics, slides or videos. Make for mobile screens.
  • Start the culture of experimentation, do ten experiments, two may work. Learn and improve.
  • It is better to execute a good idea, than to wait for that awesome one. Action is everything!

You can read the full interview text on their blog here.

The Crazy Case of a Fool’s Day Campaign

Fool's Day Campaign 2015

It was a week before April, and we had to launch something fun, fake and fast! Last year, we had upped the game by launching a prank auto rickshaw service and this year we had to fake it again. April 1st is a day for pranks all over the trends, and every big and small brand is at the party with their best fake costumes.

The benchmarks from last year’s campaign were set, we had to ride the buzz for this annual ’newsjacking’ activity. The aha moment came about a fake App. The ixigo loo finder. Four days of crazy storyboarding, layouts and changes. Sometimes we stopped just to tell ourselves it was real branding for a fake app! With two days to produce a video, we found a brave volunteer in the team (you’ll know once you see the video). Making it a fun and crisp 30 seconder, from script, shooting and editing, it was crazy 48 hours!

The Game Day

Morning 11.30, we launch the video. Within hours, the feeds got chaotic with all big brands out with their clown hats. And then it started picking up, the video views started climbing and the mentions in blogs started pouring. The CEO even wrote the funniest press release ever! OurLoo Finder app and video were compared with other brand campaigns, including Ola, Google, Uber, Amazon and others.

The difference being, we pulled it off on a shoestring! ;)

Here’s what happened in first 24 hours

Fool's Day Campaign - Day 1

Coverage 1

Coverage 2

50k reach in 5 hours, Newsjacking of the day

Newsjack of the day, when India beat Bangladesh in World Cup cricket quarterfinals
Newsjack of the day, when India beat Bangladesh in World Cup cricket quarterfinals

Nothing better than Newsjacking* cricket in India. India vs Bangladesh, World Cup quarterfinal match was trending all over twitter. Released a snappy little funny photo just when India finished their innings, and it started climbing. It’s all the excitement in first few hours, riding a live event. Compared to all the posts on Facebook in the last week, this one little Newsjack hit the home run (sixer) beating all those posts in reach and engagement. Being topical, riding the news with a creative little newsjacks is now a best practice for viral content marketing.

* Newsjacking is the practice of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story and generating tons of social media coverage and engagement.

Gurgaon Toll Surprise: Story of a Viral Video

Aashish Chopra - Viral Video, Gurgaon Toll Surprise

Every morning on my way to work, I used to dread passing through the bottleneck at the Toll plaza at the Delhi Gurgaon Expressway. Long lineups, chaos and frustration was everyday routine, and coming back in the evening was worse.

An idea had been brewing in my head for many months, about turning this everyday ordeal into a joyous experience.

So I did an experiment. For many days, when my car reached the toll plaza, I paid the toll and also paid for the car behind me. A random act of kindness, buying happiness for a stranger for Rs. 21. One day I learnt the toll plaza was shutting down, on its last day, I thought it would be cool to remember this experience with a happy memory. Took two days off to shoot and edit the video. Credit to my boss at the time for encouraging experimentation and driving action, for which I’m grateful.

Suddenly everything came together, the film workshop I had attended couple of months back, cool little camera gear I had been collecting over months, and my dream of becoming a filmmaker. A low resource filmmaker, making impactful videos for the smartphone generation. I attached three cameras to my angry little Tata Nano, hoping to document my little experiment from all angles. From going back and forth six times, to running out of money and getting permission from Toll plaza authorities to take panoramic shots of the plaza from their offices, it was a full day of a one man film shoot. Took the next day to edit, and shot little sequences, improvisations on my work table. And the end result was a nifty video under three minutes.

From Release to the Radio in 18 hours

I posted the video on YouTube and shared the video on Facebook. The next day around noon, I got a call from a Radio Jockey. My little experiment had gone viral! Phone began to buzz with messages about friends seeing the video on NDTV, IBNlive and Buzzfeed. A simple idea, had hit the stratosphere.

Here’s how far it reached

Slowly many blogs pickup up the video, and today ever after an year, if you Google “Gurgaon Toll Surprise”, first couple search results pages are about this :) For two days since the release, me and my Nano had become a minor celebrity on the roads. People waving, conversations in cafes and signs of thumbs-up from random strangers. What a memory.

The Video

The Learnings

The purpose of the video was to inspire action, and to get maximum traction I released it the day the Toll Plaza officially shut down and it was all over news. Being topical was my first lesson for success in making a video to go viral. But above all the marketing mumbo-jumbo, it firmed my belief in the democratic power of social media. If you have an idea, the world is ready for it. Woody Allen once said

“80% of success is just showing up”; Execution is everything.

Memories in Photos