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Smart companies are using Twitter successfully and are exploiting it for their advantage. ICICI Bank is the most conversational brand on Twitter, while Dell India uses the social networking tool to look into various customer queries.
These were among the many findings of a 66-company study covering nine verticals by Iffort Consulting, an India-based Web strategy and social media consulting firm.
At a time when a few politicians are getting into controversies with Twitter, Anand G Mahindra, CMD, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, is effectively using his Twitter account to communicate with his consumers.
Mr Mahindra has nearly 29,000 followers. Today, he tweeted: “With r pop & poverty we hv an almost unique problem of stampedes. Time we legislated accountability of temples etc for crowd control & security.”
Nokia Music India uses Twitter to promote music albums and latest mobile phone launches from the Nokia Music Store. It regularly conducts Twitter contests to drive user participation. The Twitter account of Colors TV channel is synched with Facebook. The channel’s tweets promote its new shows and keep a tab on user reactions to reality show eliminations. UTV’s Bindass and Zee TV are also using the same strategy for promoting their shows.
The Iffort Consulting research report also showed that MTV India was the most followed brand with 56,500 followers (from November 2009 to February 2010). This indicates that India's Twitter audience is populated by youngsters. During the same period, MSN India was followed by nearly 40,000 tweets.
Most news brands have Twitter accounts which are set up using ‘Twitter-feed’. This helps them to update their Twitter accounts, whenever a news article is uploaded on their websites.
Most companies are very conversational with their users, through their Twitter interface, for discussing various issues and problems faced by consumers. ICICI Bank is primarily using the social networking tool for responding to queries from both current and prospective customers. The Bank is monitoring tweets to address concerns over Internet banking, transaction charges, and problems with debit cards.
Dell India has a Twitter account to handle customer queries related to showroom information, personal computer details, computer shipment details and payment details information. Dell’s India account is in line with the computer manufacturer’s global initiatives. Its website has more than 30 dedicated feeds.
Organisations have started using Twitter to showcase their latest offerings, promote product launches, announce discounts and advertise contests. Specific campaigns are tailored around Twitter where users win free prizes for using a company’s name in tweet ‘hash tags’.
“As against advertising where people aren’t affected as much, here there is a chance where a person is able to create better product awareness,” said Sanjay Mehta, joint chief executive, Social Wavelength, which specialises in social media strategies.
Iffort’s study covered IT Enabled Services (ITES), telecom, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) healthcare, Internet, finance, logistics, media and automobile sectors. These sectors were observed on different quantitative and qualitative parameters. Quantitative parameters included joining date, number of tweets, last tweet date, number of followers with the number following them, the number of re-tweets and replies. Qualitative parameters included conversations and tweet types.
“You get a chance to mingle with your prospective clients (by using Twitter) and in the process they also get to know what they feel about the company; the possibility is a little less with other media,” Mr Mehta said.
In India, Twitter usage picked up slowly, but today India ranks ninth in the list of top 10 countries in terms of Twitter users, behind the Netherlands and Australia.
Iffort’s report states that usage of Twitter will penetrate more organisations, and more firms and customers will start using this social networking tool.Conversations between users and brands which are managed by humans with an emotional quotient will continue to boost Indian marketing efforts.
Several broking companies are promoting and encouraging individual investors to dabble in highly risky currency derivatives
While most investors would think twice before investing in stock futures or even stocks, the thought of putting their hard-earned money in currency derivatives would simply send a shudder down their spine. In a situation where many investors seem keen on avoiding less complicated stock markets, some online trading platforms are offering their customers a chance to try their luck in currency derivatives.
HDFC Securities and ICICIdirect.com have both come out with their own currency derivatives offerings that is, currency futures. ICICIdirect believes ‘equity retail investors can use this opportunity to hedge their stock market risks’. The offering is supported by highfalutin intellectual arguments.
Anup Bagchi, executive director, ICICI Securities opines, “Firstly, for the retail customer, it will be one more source of diversification of an asset class; secondly, active traders will benefit from the low margin requirements and hence high leverage will be a big attraction and lastly for the SMEs and corporates, there will be an avenue to hedge at a low cost and in a transparent manner.”
HDFC Securities is of the opinion that ‘the volatility and multiplier effect would make it a significant trading option for traders. Borrowers can hedge foreign currency loans for interest or principal payments’.
If retail investors are not the target, it beats us why these broking companies would target them through emails, as HDFC is doing. While it may make sense for some corporates to hedge their exposures to currency movements, it is certainly a toxic product for retail investors.
Currency futures are a highly leveraged form of trading product that leave very little margin for error. A few basis points fluctuation in exchange rates can leave your trading account short by thousands of dollars. As such, trading in currency futures requires a highly sophisticated and professional approach and a minute-to-minute monitoring. Is this right for retail investors?
Foreign exchange rates—unlike any other asset class—move depending on various factors like demand-supply, interest-rate parity, capital flows and speculators taking positions. Currency derivatives were first introduced to the country by the National Stock Exchange (NSE) in the form of futures contracts. Apart from hedgers, the currency derivatives market is flooded with speculators and arbitrageurs who take bets on exchange rate movements with short-term profits being the sole motivation for trading.