Looking for a digital high

MUMBAI: With the number of netizens increasing day by day in the country, for a brand to create conversation with the target audience on the digital platform has become an utmost priority.

And following this mantra are English movie and entertainment channels, who are eagerly trying to tap into the virtual space, where their target audience spends most of the time.

According to Zee Studio and Zee Caf? content and marketing head Sharlton Menezes social media enables channels to create relationships with their viewers and at the same time raise awareness around their offerings. ?It also makes us more accessible to viewers for feedback and queries they may have,? he says.

Agreeing with the point, Pix VP marketing Neville Bastawalla adds, ?Great programming for digital is key which will provide great entertainment, which will in return drive great organic engagement.?

For another prominent player in the fragmented space, HBO,  a major reason for encouraging digital engagement is to have their ?ear on the ground?, so they get a pulse of what the audience likes, dislikes, expects, accepts and rejects. ?The higher the interaction with the audience on a specific film, the greater the probability of this involvement being translated into tune-ins for that film,? feels HBO India South Asia managing director Monica Tata.

English movie channels have a legion of followers on social media. On Facebook for example, Star Movies has 3,877884 likes, Pix has 21,68,570, HBO has 34,17,539, Zee Studio has 14,55,263 while Movies Now has  4,421,487 likes. On twitter, Pix has 49.2 K followers, Movies Now has 133 K, Zee Studio has 63. 4 K , Star Movies has 96.7 K while HBO India has 55.4 K followers.

Social media has been a pivotal stage ahead of movie premieres and campaigns for the channels. For instance, Movies Now?s second season of 100 Mania campaign, starting 7 December, will see viewers stand a chance to win prizes like cars, international holidays, iPhone among others by only giving a missed call on the number flashed during 9 pm movie. The 100 Mania season one witnessed an increase in channel viewership and phenomenal viewer participation. The channel saw 25 per cent increase in the GVTs and close to one million missed calls. In addition to that, over 50,000 fans were added to the Facebook page of the channel and the number of Twitter followers shot up from 31,000 to 100,000 in a period of 100 days, claims the channel.


Similarly, Pix?s recently launched campaign ?Pix School of Bonding? initiates a live chat between the face of the campaign, Sania Mirza and the fans.  The channel has a micro property called Notty Pixy, who is a gossip reporter and provides hollywood news first in India on the social media.

HBO, this year, launched a digital campaign #SteelTheDay, for the movie ?Man of Steel.?  The buzz started with the famous line ?It?s a bird, it?s a plan?It?s Superman?, with supported creative?s.  Through this campaign, the channel was able to reach three lakh fans generating approximately two lakh interactions on Facebook. On Twitter, within five hours, #SteelTheDay campaign reached 50K accounts generating one lakh plus tweet impressions at an interaction rate of 25 tweets/minute.

Zee Studio, which refreshed the brand this year, had  a digital activation running for 15 days starting 3 October where the channel hosted a ?See it All? contest on Twitter for its viewers to tune-in to the 9 pm movie and win goodies through contests.

While some of the online content is managed by the in-house teams of the channels, digital agencies are also hired to take it a notch up. HBO?s social media pages are handled by the digital agency OMLogic, who has been working with them since the past five years. Zee caf? and Zee Studios digital pages are manned by Interactive Avenues, who have been with the channel for the last two years while Tonic Media handles Pix.

The channels claim strong and continuous posts and interactions help them drive strong engagement rate. Bastawalla claims they currently have a 12 per cent engagement rate on social media versus the nearest rival which has a five per cent engagement rate.  On the other hand, Tata quoting Sprout Social report from 1 January to 21 September 2014 says that HBO has an engagement rate of 100 per cent. She further says, ?As per the Klout report, HBO India has the most influential Twitter account among all the competitors.?

According to Maxus managing partner north and east region Navin Khemka, the matrix is changing as brands today are willing to associate with properties which have a high digital success rate. ?Even if a channel is not getting the ratings, but has a high digital engagement rate, the brands are willing to ignore the ratings and continue as partners. So the matrix for evaluation from a brands point of view is also changing,? he concludes.

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