A recent report by global investment firm Omidyar Network noted that Indians spend up to 40 per cent of their time online using social media (dominated by Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram). Another 14 per cent of internet usage is spent entirely on consuming content on YouTube.
Facebook was early to spot the opportunity, collating user posts into video stories to be shared with friends. A slice of the past has become Facebook’s mainstay over the past couple of years with users being served with their memories, on a number of special occasions through the year. Uber is the new brand on the bandwagon this year with its ‘Year with Uber’. It has launched the campaign in the Asia Pacific markets which turns trip data into personalised, animated music videos.
“We invested as much effort into representing local character as building an engine that could stitch together the elements instantaneously and infinitely,” said R/GA Singapore’s Senior Technology
Director, Lauren Thevenet about the Uber campaign. “The complexity is concealed, making it an engaging user experience that seems effortless,” she added. Sanjay Gupta, head of marketing, Uber India says that the campaign aims to bring together data and moments, among them Indian cultural elements and festivals. “We are excited to launch a campaign that takes inspiration from the everyday experiences of our riders across over 100 cities in the Asia-Pacific region, including 29 cities in India,” he said.
For content platforms, year-end stories are a means of boosting content visibility too. YouTube’s Rewind video with the most popular content creators in a single video is a case in point as are similar efforts by Instagram.
The objective behind most of these initiatives is mainly to make the consumer feel special. And even if the user is not always at the centre of the tale being woven around the year gone by, brands hope to establish a sense of camaraderie by tying them into a common web of experiences. Such communication also usually sees a very high number of clicks, indicating that customer curiosity is kindled and retained through such initiatives.
Kelkar adds that year-end engagement initiatives are more popular among new age brands and (surprisingly), traditional businesses and e-commerce players haven’t caught on the opportunity yet. “If your online shopping website gave you personalised feedback on your annual shopping traits, not only would it be a great insight for you but also provide significant consumption patterns for the brand itself,” he said.
Brands use metrics like the number of shares and mentions of these posts to measure the engagement level of these initiatives. Given the huge numbers notched up, they continue to create more of the same. But that is a trap; to keep users interested, brands must continue to innovate and surprise with their use of customer data. Also, Kelkar cautions, brands should not view such data-led engagement only as a year-end opportunity. That would be myopic.