What is more popular than an IPL match featuring the world's most destructive Twenty20 batsman? Social media, being used by corporates to drive consumer behaviour, and showcase themselves as all-rounders in the game of life.

Rajasthan Royals recently teamed up with Operation Smile India, which provides free surgery to repair cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities in children.

The company decided to use the power of social media to drive social change. Through a campaign developed by Ogilvy India, consumers are exhorted to express support for the cause by tweeting :{to:) #CleftoSmile. The goal is to reach one million tweets by April 30.

“The idea is to raise enough of a noise to make cleft treatment a part of the government's agenda. If this translates into volunteers and funding, it would be the icing on the cake,” said an official.

Though the company is in talks to bring corporates on board to help with funds, and is engaging with telecom majors to monetise the tweets, its first priority is the mass awareness of cleft deformity and available medical solutions.

Besides Twitter and Facebook, YouTube and other platforms are in use. Ranjit Barthakur, Chairman, Operation Smile India said, “One in 700 children in India is born with a cleft deformity every day. One million remain untreated due to lack of resources.''

As for the Rajasthan Royals partnership, CEO Raghu Iyer said, “A new comprehensive Cleft Care Centre in Jaipur would be launched in partnership with the Santokba Durlabhji Memorial Hospital and the Rajasthan Royals by April end, for surgery and post operative care.”

Corporates are adding cricketers to the social media mix. Virender Sehwag wearing corrective prescription glasses attracted immense attention late February in Bangalore, during the Australia tour of India. Within 24 hours of the viral, Titan Eye Plus ideated, conceptualised and created a campaign called ‘SpecXYViru’.

The Twitter campaign started before Sehwag came to bat and though he got out within 30 minutes, the topic continued to trend. Godrej Consumer Products used social media for its Cinthol brand.

A hashtag (#InViratsHead) invited Indian cricket fans to answer what was going on in Virat’s head. Within three hours and without any media spends, the hashtag was trending worldwide. In just one day, the campaign generated 7,000 tweets and had 400+ followers in a five-hour time frame. The current reach: over 730,000. The campaign has reinstated the power of social media.

amritanair.ghaswalla@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on April 7, 2013)
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