NEW DELHI: Brand owners like SAB Miller, Tata DOCOMO and Mahindra & Mahindra are seeking to utilise social media data as a means of enhancing consumer engagement and sales in India.

SAB Miller, the brewer, ran a contest called The Coolest Job on Facebook, promoting Miller High Life, and offering to pay the winner to visit attractive social destinations and high-profile events. It secured 100,000 fans and 37,000 "applications".

However, Ranendra Dutta, vice president for IT at SAB Miller in India, told CIO India it was "tough" to establish firm correlations between such activities and financial metrics, even with access to market research and sales figures.

"Having a million likes on your Facebook page or a million followers on Twitter may not make a social media campaign successful," he said. "It's about time we started measuring the returns because the cost of not being on social media is way too high."

Mahindra & Mahindra, a conglomerate present in sectors from automotive to travel, reported that this medium has reduced its outgoings in areas from marketing to back office procedures.

Using the example of the organisation's Mahindra Holidays unit, VS Parthasarathy, the firm's group CIO, argued web users are increasingly relying on consumer reviews when making decisions.

"Social media eliminates the cost of a third-party recommendation agency," he added. "Social media has automated business processes that otherwise would've been a cost to the company."

Hungama, an online music download platform, has also invested in analytics software to track shopper behaviour on its own site and social media, with demonstrable benefits.

"Our analytics tools help us understand where our customers are coming from, what are they browsing and what songs they are downloading, helping us service them better," Manan Chhatrapati, Hungama's chief technology officer, said. "I can directly co-relate this with my revenue."

Tata DOCOMO, the telecoms brand, generates 2bn message impressions on Facebook each month, and draws consumer data from this source and equivalent social properties.

"The available information is analysed using social media analytics to intelligently identify and resolve customer pain areas," said Ashish Pachory, head of IT at Tata Teleservices.

"The information also helps us in market analyses of products launched by Tata DOCOMO and other telecom players. Most importantly, it helps us understand behaviours and trends to do targeted market launches and arrest any negative sentiment before it hurts our customers or our business."

Data sourced from CIO India; additional content by Warc staff