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Engagement: Key to reaching India’s growing number of mothers online

For a country with a steady population growth rate over the years, it is little wonder that India’s parenting market has been reinvigorated by its burgeoning population. With technology gaining a steady foothold in India’s society and subsequently impacting everything in its wake, seeing its effect trickle down to the typical Indian household is of no surprise. For example, India’s Internet penetration has been growing 14 per cent annually- the highest growth rate among all of its Asian neighbours.

Digital mothers
Among mums surveyed in India, a whopping 87 per cent revealed that the Internet is now an important part of their lives. Echoing the results, our recent ‘Asian Digital Mum Survey 2015’ showed that Asian mums remain the primary decision makers in every single country, with 83 per cent of the mums surveyed saying that they are the ‘chief household decision makers’ of their respective families.

Parenthood has clearly played a role in the transformation of India’s women into ‘digi mums’. After becoming a mother, the typical Indian mum reported a 71 per cent increase in terms of utilising the Internet for searches. Meanwhile, they reported a decrease in the usage of other traditional media such as the television.

So, what exactly are mums reading on the Internet? Our study has revealed that that #1 topic revolves around parenting. While the Internet has largely been associated with the younger crowd, parents are slowly emerging to become a noticeable target segment too. What this trend unearths is a whole new growth potential for brands to tap into the digital parenting market.

The benefits are clear: brands can foster healthy relationships with mums, and also position themselves at the forefront of the parenting market because of their keen knowledge attained by digitally interacting with mums.

So in light of all this, what can brands do to engage with India’s ‘digi’ mums online?

Build online communities
48 per cent of mums now interact online with other mums at least once a week. That is a near seven-fold figure compared to the 7 per cent of mums who interact offline with other mums at least once a week. What this reveals is that mums are shifting their conversation from physical social correspondence to digital interaction on the screens.

This is where brands can make themselves visible by establishing online communities that encourage open and respectful dialogue between mums. Only then would mums be more inclined to contribute quality information and to seek help for their problems.

Having in place online moderators would also strengthen the conduciveness of such communities, which ultimately helps in establishing a safe and secure environment that encourages mums to return. Maintaining and moderating the site regularly by subject matter experts builds credibility as well, and extends the brand reputation by enhancing it with trust.

Over time, such positive interactions online can help form relationships, ultimately leading mums to associate positive experiences with the brand. It’s a win-win for both parties: brands boost positive brand recall and brand awareness, and mums get a safe place for help and support.

Generating quality videos
Going online is the easy part, but retaining eyeballs is a whole different ballgame. How do brands stand out then when they have to compete with the plethora of content available on the Internet? That answer lies in creating engaging videos that are now an essential part of the online user experience.

We found out through our study that videos are the emerging medium through which mums get the information they need. Social media platforms that boost video functions are widely popular among India’s ‘digi’ mums, and they contribute clout to the power of videos. 94 per cent of India’s mums own Facebook accounts; 56 per cent of them own Instagram accounts, and 41 per cent of them own Youtube accounts.

Why videos then? Content delivered in the form of videos are more visually appealing, compared with textual information. They engage more of the senses with their sight, sound and motion properties. Plus, they give mums the extra option of listening to them while on-the-go.

Shareability of such quality videos must also be ensured, so that mums may be able to share them easily within their own communities in order to facilitate healthy discussions. This way, mums act as unofficial ‘ambassadors’ for the brand whenever they harness and share relevant content with other mums.

Staying true to the brand while creating unique content that is emotionally engaging, timely, and relevant, is the Holy Grail for all brands, and if brands manage to execute that well, it may just prove to be the hook that gets mums to keep coming back for more.

Getting social with mums
As mentioned earlier, India’s ‘digi mums’ are getting social, as seen from the high figures of them owning social media accounts. With that, it would only be prudent for brands to listen and respond to what mums are saying on social media.

The goal here is to connect with mums by creating shared experiences. By establishing presence in the social media sphere, brands can seize the opportunity to better engage with parents. This is a shift from the past where one-way information used to be given out, and it’s something that brands would do good to embrace.

Here is one such example: As an American cereal mascot with cult status, Cap’n Crunch has a huge audience base spanning generations. The brand wanted to find a way to engage with men in their 20s and 30s, who often eat the cereal as a snack.Using Twitter to speak directly with this target, Cap’n Crunch replied to brand mentions in hilarious, unique and surprising ways that captured the Cap’n’s fans and mainstream media, as well as capitalising on Twitter trending topics.

In doing so, Cap’n Crunch managed to draw even more new followers and launched a spree of retweets and favourites in the social media sphere. All these aided Cap’n Crunch in achieving increased brand visibility, and helped solidify its place in the American cereal market.

Cap’n Crunch’s example is not the only way. That’s the thing about social media: the possibilities are endless. Brands can get creative with their own way of engaging mums. These can include the myriad from answering questions and solving problems to hearing ideas and offering support.

The key here is establishing that personal touch. When mums feel that brands are investing the time and resources to build individual relationships with them, they feel that much closer and connected to the brand. Remember that the end goal here for brands is to meaningfully engage with mums and to keep them interacting with the brand. When mums know which brands are the ones that are responsive to their needs, they will be more inclined to turn to those brands when they need something.

Joining in the digital conversation

The behaviour of mums today have evolved from leaning back and receiving brand messages to leaning forward and actively engaging with them. When mums actively engage with brands that share their passions and interests, and when the engagement is really strong, they become fans, and fans yield the most power when it comes to brands.

As such, the influencing power that mothers yield cannot be underestimated. Information shared digitally by one can be picked up by another, thus sparking a two-way conversation between mums where the Internet acts as the medium of influence. With the Internet having a far wider reach than the traditional mode of information-sharing could ever achieve, this essentially sets the stage for a sea of conversations about parenting in India.

This is where brands have the opportunity to partake in the conversation by constructing online communities, producing relevant videos, and digitally socialising with mums. By riding on the digital wave that is currently sweeping parents in India, brands can turn the tide in their favour by establishing an online presence, which is essentially a representation of the brand’s digital persona.

For brands, the ball is currently in their court. Parents are already online, so it is their turn to make the move – by taking their brand message to mums on the Internet.The digital realm is a growing and ever-evolving space, and brands would be wise to stay ahead of the curve and join in the conversation early.

Roshni Mahtani

Roshni Mahtani is the Founder of theindusparent.com.
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