KRDS, India’s only preferred developer consultant for Facebook, on branding in viral media
Last month, Facebook took down the official pages of Pizza Hut’s, Cadbury’s and FCUK’s India businesses for guideline violations. Preetham Venkky and Guillaume Simon of KRDS, a French company that conceives and develops social media applications for marketing, whom BrandLine met last month, had predicted that many companies would feel the heat. They should know, being Facebook’s sole ‘preferred developer consultant’ (PDC) in India. A France-based company, KRDS operates in India, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland, and has its Asia Pacific office in Chennai. In this interview, they provide an insight into how Facebook (FB) and social networks work for brands. Simon, co-founder and CTO, has a Master’s in e-Business. Venkky, Business Head, has over 10 years of experience in the Internet space, and has spent over three years building social media teams with expertise in brand communication on FB, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare. KRDS’ clients include Titan Industries, Asian Paints, Frito Lay and Facebook India itself. Excerpts:
What exactly does KRDS do?
Venkky: Any kind of social relevance and recommendation makes a huge difference to brands, there are opportunities for exciting engagement.
Now, conversations on FB are filtered by EdgeRank. You’ll notice that updates from the people on your friends’ list that you don’t interact with don’t even appear on your wall. It’s the same with brands. It’s done to make the newsfeed manageable. If you have 300 friends posting three times a day, you normally won’t have the time to keep up with that.
EdgeRank has many other parameters for updates – is it a video, a link, number of likes and comments. One of the rank’s most important parts is how you’ve interacted with a brand page. Now bring in an FB app. If you interact with an app, its updates will appear on your wall, but how does that start? Only if you’ve engaged with the brand. FB takes it on face value that you’re probably not interested if you don’t interact much. There’s the 1 – 9 – 90 rule of social media. One per cent are creators, nine per cent interact, by liking and commenting, and the balance are just bystanders. So what Facebook is trying to do is give relevance to the 1 and 9, it will weed out the 90.
What does it mean to be a PDC for Facebook?
Venkky: We are the only ones in India and one out of two in Asia. (The other’s in Vietnam.) It’s quite prestigious as it’s an official relationship with FB.
Simon: It’s a label FB gives agencies which it trusts to make the best applications, and encourage strong and genuine relationships between users and brands. As PDCs, we have to follow a set of rules and use the Facebook guidelines strictly. Most important is user confidence and trust.
When a brand wants to advertise on FB or do some business, it advises these brands and gives them a list of PDC members and recommends they use one of them
Venkky: There’s a huge list of what not to do, to make sure user experience is maintained on FB. You may have noticed recently that a lot of Indian companies had notifications sent by FB saying you’re violating guidelines, and who did they turn to? The experts, agencies like ours, who add value by telling you what to do and what not to do.
What do you notice about brands getting on to social media?
I think that percentage has been increasing drastically. Last year, it was less than one per cent, now touching 3-4 per cent of the overall marketing budget. Investment has doubled in terms of digital and half of that comes to social as a part of it.
Social typically this year would range between 2 and 2.5 per cent. The Internet user base was around 100 million in October and is now 130-140 million, that itself’s a 50 per cent increase in six months, and at least 25 per cent of this base are already on social networks. One essential element is the virality.
Are brands approaching social media right or just jumping on the latest bandwagon?
To be honest, it’s all of it. At first, it’s the bandwagon, let’s-give-it-a-shot attitude. Then competitiveness: ‘Coca-Cola’s got so many fans so where am I’, and slowly, it becomes a learning curve. Everybody’s there at some point on this curve.
Very few brands are taking the monitoring aspect seriously as of now. They’re very ROI-focused. Which is a good way to start. They haven’t started doing the listening bit. I’ve been to so many pitches, only one of 20 says let’s invest in listening infrastructure.
So what’s the right way to listen?
Actually you need listening infrastructure. If someone commented on a blog mentioning my brand, how do I get to know? If someone’s mentioned me in an FB update, how do I get that information? It may not be on my page.
If someone is tweeting about me on Twitter which does not have a relationship with my ad account, how do I know? How do I interact with this person?
Brands need to have external applications and software to get more information. But that’s not all.
There’s a flood of information from just the mediums that you own. You need to be able to funnel that into the right tins. After that how do you respond to it?
The Dell effort online, it’s absolutely fantastic. Most people reach out to Dell or Zappos online because there are as many people manning it behind those online walls. There has to be human face to it. Just putting one community manager to handle a million people is not enough.
Most brands are at this point on the learning curve today: ‘Let’s open a fan page. Let’s get the community going, let’s invest in getting fans’, through ads or whatever. Numbers are not what they seem in FB. Because as we’ve seen, a million fans is not a million reach. But if I increase the engagement for you, that fraction multiplies.
Why the focus on FB? Isn’t Twitter the in-thing of social networks now?
For people, Twitter has become centre-stage, but hasn’t been able to establish itself as a campaign medium. Right now, the competition is how many followers can I get. Most brands are using it for CRM (customer relationship management), not as campaign strategy, and they haven’t been able to get the right numbers. And there’s nothing wrong about the CRM perspective – we know the famous instance of (film director) Farah Khan saying there weren’t enough diapers and P&G sending her a month’s supply. It might throw up stories like this and earn some brownie points for P&G but this is all happening offline.
It’s typically a case study PR but not campaign strategy. It hasn’t got people ordering diapers from P&G on Twitter. Twitter hasn’t enabled much commerce, whereas FB is now in a very, very fantastic position – J. C. Penney, for instance, has its entire store on FB.
Facebook privacy is itself a big cause for concern, how does that work for brands and their consumers?
(Laughs) Every time there’s a rumour about privacy lapses, the number of users goes up. It’s not as serious as you think. They may’ve made a few minor mistakes but they’ve now gotten their act together. Big brands such as Google, FB and Apple have been spending money trying to protect consumers. Notice how many Web sites send you a link to change your password (and not the password itself) if you’ve forgotten it? They can’t get to your password because it’s encrypted.
What should brands do to attract and keep talking to their customers?
Any content should be interactive and shareable to help propagate the campaign strategy. Mark Zuckerberg (founder of FB) wants ads to be information-based. ‘Do not spam’ is the one big rule you have to follow. Recently, a fast food chain’s page got shut down for 24 hours and nobody missed it. The speculation is that they were violating guidelines – no contest on a wall, no uploading photos and getting ‘likes’. That’s a hidden trick. If I were to get my friends to like a photo I put up on some fan page for a contest, they have to become members – that’s a serious violation of the guideline, what its doing is getting its fans to spam their friends’ walls. Don’t do anything online you wouldn’t offline – would you spam your audience with some contest as soon as you get the mike?
Brands have to make fantastic content. It’s very, very important to have constant engagement. The problem with typical Web sites is that they haven’t been able to activate their audience. You have to create really movable content – the user should feel “I’m going to click on the button and share this”.
What are Indian brands’ prevalent attitudes? Do you have to evangelise your services?
At this moment we have to. In the beginning, brands were saying why do we need apps, we’ll do everything on the FB wall. FB is taking its role in Asia quite seriously and doing its bit – so it could be either through shutting down pages or issuing press releases. Brands are waking up and realising they cannot get a free pass.
It’s not just about creating simple applications or games, but making sure the communication is delivered. Our Badal Jaa campaign for Kurkure is an example. As you add the ingredients into the pack, the colours change. Figure out the right ingredients used, and the impact is way more than what TV or print can have. As you interact with something the recall value improves drastically.
Sometimes the experience is itself engagement. The value lies not in the number of users but the number of users into the engagement itself. If four minutes is spent on an app and 20,000 people are doing that, that’s 80,000 minutes. Four minutes per user is not small. Users aren’t watching a 20-second ad but are spending four minutes here.
Do you also manage the responses to the campaigns based on your apps (community management)?
We’ve just started doing it. But it needs to move away from the person who manages the agency and towards the person who owns/manages the brand, because they’re closer to it.
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