Apr 28, 2014

In Social media, when does a customer get hurt or really outraged?

As brands get more active in the social media, its but natural that the quantum of engagement move up, driven the layers of social media teams across companies.

In the recent times, the social media brands of some large corporations like General Mills Co and American Airlines, have been at the 'receiving end of the 'online' activists, and their customers as well.

If you have missed on the General Mills story, you could see it here 

US Airways faced the ire of some of us, as one their social media handle happily sent out a lewd picture in response to a query of its customer using twitter.

So, contrasting these two cases as extremes in social-media goof up, what could construe as real blunder in social?

The conclusion - as longs as the rights of the consumer are not at stake, and as long as the user and viewers have a good laugh - whatever the social handle disseminates will NOT cause real outrage.

Note the word REAL - that's the kind of outrage that has long term brand consequences; else outrages are just noise most times.

The moment the customers and stakeholders realize that the organisation is meddling with their rights, then its time for damage control.

Apr 27, 2014

UPA and Congress's communication - a flawed strategy?

We are in the midst of an intensely fought election between the ruling UPA and its host of allies and the BJP and its pre-poll allies in the opposition.

Going by trends, most pollsters have suggested that the BJP led by its Prime-ministerial candidate Narendra Modi would be in a position of strength trying to manage a simple majority on their own. At-least half the country's votes have been canned, and some parts of the country will poll in the coming days.

While the ruling party and its trusted allies have accused Modi and his party, the BJP of polarizing the election, the fact remains that from a communication perspective, all that the opponents of the BJP and its leading light, Mr Modi communicated more often, was not what good they did and would do, BUT what bad Modi and his party would do to the nation if he comes to power!

Contrast this - Right from the word go in the run up to these elections, Mr Modi and his party have stead-fastedly and singularly focused on the development plank, and how if ushered to power, their combine, the NDA would bring about a marked shift in the model of governance - by making sure that the length and breadth of the country will see the fruits of an able delivery of governance.

The ruling combine, fighting a palpable cross-country anti-incumbency made sure it focussed all its (or most of its) communication armor on chanting why Narendra Modi as a person is bad for the country and its future. Leaders across levels, including the Chair of the ruling UPA, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul and daughter Priyanka and a host of other leading lights have communicated mostly on why Modi is bad.

About 80% of the time, all these leaders have spent time on why Modi is evil, and why the country is bad. The remaining 20% of the time, they have spoke more as a lip service about "Vikas" (development), and what they promise to this country. The reason behind that could be the fact that even after 10 years in power, and a 'towering' economist like Dr Manmohan Singh being at the helm of affairs, the ruling combine had very little to speak of it terms of accomplishment.

When there is no story to tell, you have nothing much left than to make personal barbs and attacks - seems to  be the outline laid down by the communication advisors of the Congress led UPA.

In the advertisement blitzkrieg of the Congress party, its leader Rahul Gandhi is seen with the common man, saying 'we are with you' and similar slogans. But in most of the campaign stops his ruling family and its top leaders only attacked the 'Modi model of governance' and many time in the guise of that, have made personal attacks on him.

Even leaders like the Finance minister, Mr P Chidambaram, instead of speaking of what the Congress party had delivered in 10 years, resorted to making jokes about the economic knowledge of Mr Modi.

Once many such personal attacks where countered in the same style by by the BJP led campaign, the Congress party went into a shell reminding the opposition of the need for decorum in polity.

In a nutshell, across this entire campaign, the Congress campaign was fixated on communicating Anti-Modi, more than anything else. This has if any, only contributed to the already larger than life image that the man, Narendra Modi already enjoys.

The communication strategists of the Congress would do well to remember - although in hindsight - that you achieve better fruits by speaking on more positives and showcasing what has been accomplished. And by admitting to the shortfalls in governance, and stating clearly that mistakes will be corrected. That works miles better than sharpening all your communication tools to attack one man.

Although the results will show as to who will form the next government, it is a given that rulings UPA's communication strategies were personality focused, negative, loaded with vile, and when backfired, resort to some words about women empowerment and development.