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With social media chatter analyzed and leveraged, a Bollywood movie becomes a blockbuster.

As head of digital marketing for the 2013 Indian movie Chennai Express, Shailja Gupta needed to work social media channels to optimize interest in the film. She teamed with Persistent Systems in Pune, India, to analyze social media content. "Just looking at numbers doesn't really help. How you use those numbers for your own strategy is what matters," she says

Siddhesh Bhobe, business head at Persistent Systems, says social media buzz tends to be high just before a movie's release and stays high for four to five days. The goal with this project was to sustain interest longer. One challenge in doing that, he says, was debunking the idea that Facebook "likes" measure fan and consumer engagement. To maximize fan engagement, Bhobe says executives need to understand the data hidden in social media activity.

Computer World
Persistent Systems' big data team: Kedar Bindu, Divya Motivala, Ankit Koshti, Avinash More, Kaushik Raghupathi, Mitesh Shah, Kapil Godhwani, Amruta Pawar, Manish Mahajan, Siddhesh Bhobe and Mayur Jain.

"It wasn't so much about pure statistics and mind-boggling numbers," Bhobe explains. "For us, it was more about getting to specifics, looking under the layers of the numbers: What themes of the movie do they like? What's the sentiment of the movie that gets them excited and then keeps them excited?"

Using its proprietary technology, Persistent Systems analyzed social media chatter, which at times included 750,000 tweets about the movie per day, to identify trending words and sentiments. Gupta then used those insights to devise marketing strategies that capitalized on the trends, thereby sustaining interest in the movie over a longer period of time.

At a Glance

Persistent's big data project

  • Business objective: Leverage big data analytics to support a social media marketing campaign for the Bollywood movie Chennai Express.
  • Project payback: At the time of its release, Chennai Express had the highest-grossing opening weekend in India and overseas of any Bollywood movie, and it exceeded 2 billion rupees in ticket sales faster than any major Bollywood movie.
  • Advice: Use analytics to effectively look under the hood to get insights that you can incorporate into your strategy, says Siddhesh Bhobe, business head at Persistent Systems.