Beyond engagement: Gojek marketer on quality reach and learning from influencers

While we often hear of companies proudly boasting of their levels of engagement with their consumers on social media, for Gojek digital strategy VP Aaron Gomez engagement isn't even on his radar.

But Gojek, which is currently discussing its entry into Malaysia with local regulators, has a different strategy in Indonesia, setting its sights on organic reach. At A+M's Digital Marketing Asia, Gomez said that engagement in his view, does not directly reflect if users love the brand or want to use the brand's offerings. Instead, the team has chosen to use social media to amplify messages, much like a billboard. He added:

Engagement is not even on my radar, just quality reach. If I can reach 60% to 70% of the Indonesian market on that platform, that’s my achievement.

Beyond reach, Gomez is also specifically setting his sights on organic traffic. While ambitious, Gojek has however, shown that the goal is possible with its recent publicity stunt with local rapper Rich Brian. In July, Gojek surprised Rich Brian by delivering to Indonesian dishes to his doorstep in New York after the artiste tweeted how he missed local food.

According to Gomez, the move generated 833 million conversations and an Instagram post on the publicity stunt attracted two million views. "In my entire career, I have never hit numbers like this," he said. Following that, Gojek also collaborated with Rich Brian to make a cameo in one of the music videos from his latest album, The Sailor. Gojek also allowed users to access songs, music videos and a documentary about Rich Brian’s career through its app.

Now with its eyes set on 2020, the company is also looking to ride on Indonesian pride and forge "a lot more" cross-collaborations with local personalities. Gojek explained that they are "a firestarter" that will enable Gojek to hit multiple markets and reach international audiences.

Trigger spotting and learning from influencers

Gomez also explained that Gojek's collaborations with artistes do not cost as much as many would be led to think and may even be free in some cases. The secret? Trigger spotting. The Indonesian-based company regularly listens in on the latest trends and looks for opportunities to hijack them with its own content on social media. "Brands need to be more real. People can smell inauthenticity," said Gomez.

As such, he encourages his team to learn from influencers, whom he believes have found the keys to social media. Gomez said many marketers fail to accept that influencers understand social media best as they view social media "in a bright light". He said: "Influencers think about manipulating the system to make money and get more followers, but it's not wrong to think that way because social media is not what it used to be."

One learning point marketers can learn from influencers is "narrative reversals", which is also a form of authenticity. He explained:

Instead of saying good things about the service, we are going to talk about the reality of using it - the pitfalls. I think this is something we are not doing enough in our current set-up.

Coming up with unusual content on a day-to-day basis, Gomez described Gojek's creative lab as the "special forces" within marketing and the "craziest war room" he has ever seen. But the hard work and strategy have all paid off for Gojek, which Gomez claimed to have become a one of the most-watched pop culture brand, where consumers actively follow on social media.

On concerns about possible backlash, he said it is simply a risk that marketers have to take if they do not want the brand to stay stagnant. He advised brands to take on the role as a conversation facilitator on marketing moves that can potentially be turned negative. In its recent cerdikiawan” campaign for example, it allowed the public to take the lead in content, sharing their life hack ideas with others and showing the creativity of Indonesians in the process.

Aaron Gomez

Overall, Malaysia-born Gomez, who has worked in Singapore for 13 years before moving to Jakarta to assume the role at Gojek a year ago, said in the initial days it was an uphill task putting in place social media strategies for Gojek Indonesia, which had 43 profiles across Facebook, Instagram and online channels.

[A+M's PR Asia will come to Malaysia this November, gathering together some of the finest minds in industry to explore the exciting and developing world of digital PR. Join us for a series of exclusive case studies, interactive and thought-provoking discussions at PR Asia on 20 November in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Register now.]

Gomez's first order of business on the job back then, was to implement a set of strong social principles. This includes instilling the discipline in the team to be more selective on what to post and what content to boost. Facing a huge population in Indonesia, he said it is important for the company to efficient with social media ad spend. To keep up with changing trends and produce targeted messages, Gojek's social media team plans its social media content and budget in two-week intervals.

"I had to reduce the junk and the wastage on social media. There was same content going up in multiple places, but said differently," he said. While the company has seen about 4% growth in engagement and 20% increase in following since the guidelines have taken place, Gomez said there is still room for improvement.

Moving forward, he hopes to merge some of Gojek Indonesia's social media pages, though he is mindful that there is a need to understand the needs of different stakeholders and get their buy-in first.

 [Digital Marketing Asia Conference is returning for a fourth year in Jakarta this October! Join us on 22-23 October as we hear from the greatest minds on how you can ably navigate the ever-changing digital marketing landscape and stay ahead of the game. Secure your seats today.]

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