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Here’s How Tweeting Right Can Make You a Marketing Legend

Get ready to unearth the gold in your language arsenal with Mine Your Language by Abhishek Borah, where the power of words can make your brand go viral. This book uncovers how the words we choose can either make or break a company’s success. With insights into the marketing tactics, and social media strategies of top brands like Toyota and Tesla, as well as tips on understanding customer reviews, this book is your go-to guide for using language to connect with consumers and drive business growth.

Read this exciting story of how Oreo became an overnight Twitter sensation during the Super Bowl.

Mine Your Language
Mine Your Language || Abhishek Borah


For a while now, digital communications have emerged as one of the most important means for brands to engage with customers. Brands increasingly use social media marketing, brand communities and buzz agents to build brands. Anecdotal evidence suggests, however, that a growing number of consumers have become disenchanted and have grown suspicious—if not tired—of digital communications and online advertisements. Many firms utilize personal data collected from their online users to target and personalize ads. This has led many consumers to find such ads intrusive, annoying, creepy and tiresome.


To help overcome this consumer annoyance, fear and fatigue, I, along with a set of friends who are also my co-conspirators in several research papers, explored the potential of ‘improvised marketing interventions’ (IMI) on social media. By ‘IMI’, we meant an impromptu, humorous, timely and unanticipated social media message from a brand that capitalized on an external event not connected to it—such as the Luis Suárez incident. We examined thousands of messages on X to see if tweets with the characteristics of an IMI could excite audiences and generate virality for the brand. ‘Virality’ means the number of retweets or shares received by the IMI on X.


We focused on X as it allowed us to capture a rich dimension of virality via retweets. Retweeting in X is a social phenomenon where users take a message someone else has posted and rebroadcast the same message to their followers. Unlike Meta (or Facebook), X is a one-way directed social network. On X, a user A ‘following’ user B does not imply that B ‘follows’ A. This unidirectional network structure suggests that a retweet is more credible, diffuses beyond the original user’s network, and is probably read more than a typical tweet because it is pre-screened and shared by a user who is followed. Though there are other forms of engagement on social media, such as likes and comments, which proxy for various engagement measures, we focused on virality. Our main goal was to enable managers to improve the effectiveness of sharing a brand’s digital communication on social media.


One brand that took advantage of the Super Bowl blackout was Oreo. When the entire Mercedes-Benz Superdome lost power for over thirty minutes, American football fans across the US took to social media to pass the time. Unexpectedly, Oreo, a popular cookie brand, filled the void within moments of the power outage, Oreo tweeted, ‘Power out? No problem’, along with a starkly lit image of a solitary Oreo cookie. The caption read, ‘You can still dunk in the dark.’ This now-famous tweet received 15,000 retweets in the eight hours after they posted it, creating significant publicity for Oreo at minimal expense. By contrast, a Super Bowl ad slot costs an average of $4.5 million. And this is an average. There are ads that cost much more. Amazon’s ninety-second commercial, Before Alexa, aired during Super Bowl LIV, is the most expensive Super Bowl commercial, along with Google’s commercial Loretta, which aired during the same Super
Bowl. Both cost a whopping $16.8 million. Oreo’s tweet cost the company almost nothing compared to the two above.


So, how did Oreo win the Marketing Super Bowl? One important phenomenon that Oreo used to its advantage is the modern consumer’s propensity to use multiple devices, known as ‘multiplexing’. Sports fans now, often, use not only the TV but also their smartphones and tablets to keep abreast of what is happening. Gone are the days when the only source of entertainment was the television. Oreo’s fifteen-person social media team realized they could catch the attention of these multiplexing fans when the Blackout happened. Their social media team, consisting of copywriters, artists and a strategist, was ready to react online to whatever happened in the Super Bowl within ten minutes—whether it was an amazing touchdown or, in this case, the lights going out. The team reacted quickly, and boy, did it pay dividends!


‘The new world order of communications today incorporates the whole of the way people are interacting with brands right now,’ said Sarah Hofstetter, former CEO of digital marketing agency 360i, which handled game-day tweeting for Oreo, in an interview with Wired. ‘Once the blackout happened, no one  was distracted—there was nothing going on. The combination of speed and cultural relevance propelled it to the forefront.


Similarly, Snickers, the chocolate bar brand, used the Suárez ‘Bitegate’ incident to showcase its cheeky brand of humour. The Snickers social media team was one of the first to call Suárez out on X, posting an image of a half-eaten Snickers bar with the slogan: ‘More satisfying than Italian’. The post generated about 17,700 likes and 1500 comments. Snickers was rewarded with 43,000 retweets in the next twenty-four hours and 38.7 million earned media impressions in two days with no paid media behind it. Again, no high television advertising costs, just like the Oreo tweet.



Get your copy of Mine Your Language by Abhishek Borah wherever books are sold.

Brand Communication for beginners

Nine Timeless Nuggets is a knowledge accelerator for young marketers and an absorbing update for experienced ones. Arranged in three sections-‘How to Think of People’, ‘How to Craft Your Brand’ and ‘How to Go to Market’-the book casts new light on eternal marketing fundamentals and makes us rethink some basic questions.

In the book, Bharat Bambawale proposes new models for customer motivation, customer relationship and twenty-first-century brand building. Together, these models can provide a strong foundation to any brand’s marketing strategy. Here’s a short excerpt from the book on the importance of brand communication for businesses.


Many Indian brands focus communication on a single aspect, or at best on a few aspects related to a central concern: acquiring customers. A reason for this is that companies are split into departments. Marketing’s job is often only to bring customers through the door; meeting their needs might fall into the hands of operations, managing their complaints in the hands of customer service and so on. Each department will have a head and its own people, as well as its own objectives and performance measures, and thus silos are created. While everyone is working for the success of the brand and company, common measurements of customer satisfaction elude the team, and with it a comprehensive communication plan across the entire customer journey.

Any customer-brand relationship journey has four elements: discovery, companionship, exclusivity and belonging. During discovery, a customer is finding out about you, a brand she doesn’t know or knows only a little. She might be exploring a curiosity about a new category, one she hasn’t participated in before, through you. In companionship, a customer is spending time with your brand as she expands her research, but she is also spending time with other brands. She is making comparisons, asking for advice and looking at reviews by previous users. In exclusivity, she is making a choice in favour of your brand. This might seem like a moment of triumph for the brand, a completion of the acquisition, but in actual fact this is where the hard work begins. Because when a customer chooses your brand, she lays all her expectations from the category at your brand’s door. Your onboarding has to be great, as well as your subsequent actions. Most important, your brand must now meet pretty much all her expectations from the category, even those that might not be among the strengths of your brand. Finally there’s belonging, where the customer is so happy and fulfilled by your brand that she repeats her business with you or makes your brand a regular part of her customer journey.

front cover of Nine Timeless Nuggets
Nine Timeless Nuggets || Bharat Bambawale


Brand communication for each of these stages is different. What a brand must say and do during the discovery stage is very different from what it must say and do during the companionship, exclusivity or belonging stages. Discovery will take you into online search engine optimization and search engine marketing (SEO and SEM), along with perhaps a TV ad, a few pay-per-click ads and so on. Companionship will take you into comparison sites, influencer recommendations, customer reviews. Exclusivity will take you into emails, phone calls and complaint management. Belonging could take you into special offers and celebratory discounts.

If a brand takes a holistic view of the customer-brand relationship journey, great things will come to it. If it takes a siloed view, the number of not-so-happy customers is likely to be high.


Nine Timeless Nuggets provides a 2020 perspective on timeless marketing ideas.


Politics and the Art of Branding

Political parties and consumer brands have more in common than you think, both have a set of target consumers and specific marketing strategies.
Here are a few things that political parties can learn from consumer brands
Leveraging Technology
Brand Proposition
Brand Ambassador
Youthful Brand Offering
Brand Slogan
Authenticity of Brands
Can you think of any more tips that political parties must bear in mind while planning their marketing campaign? Tell us in the comments.

How Tata Tea and Apple Came To Be — An Excerpt

Steve Jobs created Apple, one of the most successful brands on this planet. Apple is remarkable because it has married design and technology marvelously, time and again, generating sensuous products that millions of human beings across the world lust for. Jobs himself attributes a good part of this Apple magic to his curiosity.
In his famous commencement speech delivered at Stanford University in 2005, he gave an example of how, during his student days, he decided to take a calligraphy class at Reed College out of sheer curiosity. He said he learnt about serif and sans serif typefaces in this class, about varying the space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography truly great. He called this learning experience beautiful, historical and artistically subtle in a way that science cannot quite capture.
He went on to say, ‘None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Apple Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them.’ He added, ‘Much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.’ The sheer beauty of Apple products, which is a huge contributor to the brand’s success, owes something to its creator’s curiosity.
Just like Apple, so many great brands have their roots in the curiosity of marketers. Consider Tata Tea, the leading brand of tea in India today. This brand was born out of the curiosity of Darbari Seth, who was chairman of several Tata companies in the mid-1980s. He wondered why tea could not be packaged in an airtight polythene pillow pack (polypack), rather than in the cardboard cartons that were the norm at that time. His visits to various Indian towns had shown that consumers were very happy with these flat pillow packs for another commonly used kitchen product: salt. Seth had, a few years earlier, already launched the popular Tata Salt brand.
In addition, his own explorations into two very different spaces gave rise to some thoughts that he could toss around. From his numerous informal conversations with traders during the early days of Tata Salt, he had learnt that the strong smell of spices permeates all Indian kirana stores, which, in turn, taints various products stocked in these stores, including tea. Seth’s explorations into the world of science—he spent many decades working as a chemical engineer—had left in his mind the clear impression that polypacks made from a laminate of polythene and polyester would be significantly better than cardboard cartons, ensuring tea leaves were safe from these strong spice smells. So, driven by these curiosity inspired reflections, he went ahead and launched Tata Tea in laminate polypacks in 1987. This kept the plantation-packed tea fresh and untainted, and the brand went on to become a huge success.
I had the good fortune of working as a junior member of Seth’s team in Tata Tea during those years, and have seen at close quarters how curious he was by nature. I would accompany him on his visits to London, and I was often dumbfounded by the sheer number of questions he would ask me on just about everything. He inspired the creation of two of India’s strongest consumer brands—Tata Salt and Tata Tea. Interestingly, quite similar to how Microsoft copied the amazing typography of the Apple Macintosh, hundreds of other Indian tea brands have copied Tata Tea’s winning polypack. You will find them available across the country today.

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