Perspective | Eng GEC's chooses digital medium for engagement...Why?
The trend for channels to promote their shows through innovative and unique marketing strategies is fast picking up. Our readers may recall that we recently carried a feature on Hindi GECs that are making their presence felt in the digital space. This trend has been prevalent among English entertainment channels too which are constantly launching new shows in India. Today our focus point is the English GEC which is moving from the traditional means of promotion i.e. print, hoardings, radio/television advertisements, etc to a ‘new age’ promotion. It is the digital platform and social media that has taken over and this includes Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Pinterest etc. Hence with the help of new media platforms English GECs are engaging with and creating a bond with their audiences like never before.
Adgully caught up with industry stalwarts, Kevin Vaz, Business Head - English channels, Star Jalsha and Jalsha Movies, Star India, Sharlton Menezes, Marketing Head, Zee Cafe, Zee Studio, Zing, Zee Bollywood and Zee Trendz and Ferzad Palia, SVP & GM, English Entertainment, Viacom18 media Pvt. Ltd. and Harsh Kedia, Media Director, Zenith Optimedia, India, to learn more about their views on how the digital and social media platforms have contributed to channel’s interactions and engagement with their audiences and how it benefits both concerned.
When asked, how new media platforms such as Youtube, Facebook and Twitter are helping English GEC’s to create an effective connect with their audience, Sharlton Menezes said, "Given the growing use of social media in the country , both social media platforms – Facebook and Twitter are both effective CRM platforms to engage with the viewers. While getting a feedback about the content on the channel it also provides them with information related to content playing on the channel. This CRM mechanism helps us understand our viewer better and tailor our content as per the audience requirements."
"Youtube is primarily used to let viewers sample content which they can then in turn tune into the channels catch their favourite shows," adds Menezes.
Farzad Palia opined that digital presence is an extension of television. “What we do today on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter is an extension of our on-air strategy of entertaining people. We all know that today’s Indian youth is very active in the social media space. With connectivity and smart phones becoming more affordable, the youth are always connected and that is where all the conversations are taking place. Our aim is to be a part of these conversations in a relevant, interactive and funny manner.” In his view the digital connectivity today has brought about a shift from the static nature of traditional television consumption to more anytime, anywhere, any screen, which also allows consumers to interact with TV channels and their shows. He considers this interactivity invaluable since it has helped them improve the quality of their brand engagement with their audiences.
Kevin Vaz was of the opinion that a huge chunk of the English GEC audience is active across digital and social media platforms and most of them are actively consuming and sharing English entertainment content across the various social platforms.
Elaborating further on his statement Vaz says, "Social media creates opportunities to connect with these users, by offering them interesting and engaging content and also getting viewer feedback across this social media universe. It helps the channels to market and understand what the user wants, needs and demands from an English GEC channel. The audience’s presence on this platform, makes a direct connect with them in a more effective and tactical way."
In India, it is an uphill task for English GEC’s to engage with new audiences. When asked how the option of using digital platform has worked in their favour be it for the channel or the shows Kevin Vaz very proudly stated that Star World has always kept its audience hooked to it’s content and will continue to do so. The channel has the highest number (44,781) followers on Twitter across the English GEC space.
Vaz says, "We are offering the users a platform on digital where they can not only consume information or know about show/movie timings, but also give them a chance to interact with the show content, and also share, comment, discuss, participate, etc, We are also offering the users digital specific content, behind the scenes, special previews, which goes beyond just basic show/movie information."
He further informed that they are constantly providing the user with varied degrees of interaction using the digital space and giving the user a chance to multi task real-time on social media while consuming the show/movie on television. Stating various examples Vaz said, "We hosted the first web premiere 4 days prior to the launch of the Packed to the Rafters. It was a pioneering initiative by a channel to host a live twitter interview with the contestants of Master Chef US Season 3. For the launch of Grey's Anatomy, #toughquestions trended for 1 day in UK, US, UAE and India.”
Harsh Kedia avers, "Be it a GEC or any other brand, they cannot restrict themselves to only one medium. They need to experiment and innovate with other mediums too. So in my view Social websites are meant to give a viral exposure to any news or information. The news posted on any social media website goes viral within a second. There is no doubt about the fact that most of the digital and internet users are more in favour of accessing and consuming information through these social media websites like facebook, twitter etc rather than from homepages of news channels."
"I believe that the approach towards going the digital way is perfectly correct. If I have to promote my product I would prefer using digital media since today there is more usage on this medium than any other medium," he adds.
Menezes shared about the initiatives taken by Zee Café. The channel has undertaken a series of digital initiatives to engage viewers while they are watching their favourite shows. “We collaborated with icouch (android app), to let viewers tuning into Greys Anatomy chat about the show while also streaming conversations live during the episode telecast. We have integrated twitter with the communication of our recent launches. For the premiere of Lost, we created the #TheIsland , where viewers were issued tickets to a virtual island , and the winner was announced on air during the primetime telecast of the show. These initiatives have seen a huge interest and participation from viewers. Over 1.3 mn twitter users were reached during team #Greys , 2 mn twitter users during #LostOnZCafe and over 3000 people were chatting on the icouch application during the premiere of Season 7 of Greys Anatomy. This adds on value for our current base of loyal viewers," he said .
Farzad Palia stated, "In its nature the digital platforms have a high reach and allow for a very high level of interactivity. Our social media strategy of owning comedy and entertaining people has worked very well for us on digital. In a span of nearly two years we have more than 1.4 million fans on Facebook and about 18K followers on twitter. With show promotions, contests, news, jokes and other light hearted content we are creating an entire eco-system for comedy and this has definitely had a positive rub off on our brand and the way we are perceived by our audiences."
Experts are of the opinion that in the present day scenario new media platforms have proved to be one of the best options available for channels to get connected and engage with their audience and the audience too have wide options of choosing the right medium to access the desired content. Hence it goes without saying that digital and social media tools are contributing to greater interactivity in the television space and these tools are here to stay.