IHM-A | Rebrand, Reengage, Rebuild: A Digital Marketing Case Study
What makes IHM-A one-of-its-kind?
Through a unique association with the University of Huddersfield, the Taj and strong Indian roots, IHM-Aurangabad is truly a global school with an Indian soul. They leave no stone unturned in providing students with a plethora of opportunities ranging from extensive study abroad programs to the unique blend of hotel management and culinary school that IHM-A is now synonymous for.
They further offer training and placements at Taj Hotels, as a result of which their students are recognized for their professionalism, discipline and excellence. IHM-A is a melting pot of cultures, new ideas and foreign experiences that allow students to take on opportunities around the world.
Persistent Problems and Innovative Solutions
Multiple challenges pave the way to success especially when the hotel management industry is considered. Some of these include the perception that the Indian hotel industry holds in comparison to international standards; competitive technology being incorporated in hotels, the lack of professional chefs specializing in local cuisines and a general deficit of employees with specific skill sets.
IHM-A takes a head-on approach, and has incorporated a series of solutions to tackle the issues at hand. They offer courses that are diverse but in-depth, ranging from tourism to marketing. They ensure that their students develop a range of skills, theoretical as well as practical, using which they can work abroad as well as in India.
The ongoing pandemic created a series of challenges for IHM-A. We took up the hard but essential task of; rebuilding trust in the brand by reinstating the heritage of the institute through social media, standardising all digital communications, and showcasing stories of different stakeholders through emotional marketing campaigns.
To communicate and form connections with potential and current students, parents, and alumni through social media.
IHM-A has successfully curated a new standard for Indian hotel management and culinary schools. We drew inspiration from other American and European institutes while researching for IHM-A. We wanted IHM-A to be presented as being at par with these schools.
Hence, like these schools, IHM-A’s social media focuses on high engagement and outreach. We arrived at our goal through the following approaches:
- To establish IHM-A’s brand identity and increase awareness, we standardised all creatives from employment ads to story highlights which use distinct icons in IHM-A colours on Instagram.
- IHM-A’s alumni and current students, both have myriads of posts dedicated to them. These spotlights along with master classes by chefs were used to increase engagement and showcase the faces behind the name.
- Information on unique recipes and rare foods were displayed to increase interactions.
IHM-A’s target audience ranges from students to hotel representatives.
Group #1 — Prospective students: Ideally this would start as early as 16+ years since that’s when students start to think about their careers and look at specific schools.
Group #2 — Parents and decision makers for Group #1
Group #3 — The parents of current students: They get involved in the conversation surrounding IHM-A to gain insights about the institution and what activities are their ward taking part in.
Group #4 — IHM-A’s alumni are able to connect with their alma mater, give back to their school, marvel at its progress and also offer guidance to its current students.
Why is social media important?
Having a social media presence would allow IHM-A to reach a wider audience. With the world moving online, the presence of IHM-A on social media connects the institute with its students, creates a brand personality and allows the institute to tell a story. By connecting with their current students, alumni and prospective students, the school is able to quickly provide essential information and educational content, bring out the culture of the institute, share and celebrate student stories and successes which increases credibility and engagement for the institute.
The engagement on Instagram is much higher than engagement on Facebook since both platforms have different age groups. Instagram is loved by millennials, Gen Y and Gen Z, hence, catering to a wider audience. For a hoteliering school, Instagram serves as the perfect platform to showcase a glimpse of life at the school. With the Indian parents being active on Facebook and/or Instagram they can now follow the institute’s page to get a look at the student lifestyle and experiences, share their child’s achievements on social media, and receive quick updates about the institute.
Furthermore, COVID19 caused widespread unease amongst the parents and social media became the fastest and most comprehensive form of communication between the institute and parents.
Strategy & Execution:
- Communicating student lifestyle on campus.
- Showcasing students experimenting with food and enjoying their time productively, creatively and actively.
- Made sure to highlight how students were maintaining social distancing.
- Outlined the journey of alumni and their children through school and where they are now. The posts evoke nostalgia within alumni and parents, highlighting the decades of trust and experience that embodies IHM-A.
- To increase engagement and interaction we incorporated student stories, quizzes and chef’s recipes and ‘How to make’ videos on Instagram.
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How To Make
- The student spotlights in videos and pictures featured students’ favourite memories and food at IHM-A. The student stories were relatable to what other students were going through.
- Quizzes would require users to reply with correct answers, thereby fostering engagement.
- New age methods of communication to connect with the students: we designed and developed Instagram stickers and communicated through Instagram reels to connect with our target audience groups.
- Increased Overall Engagement: Achieved a rate of 16% while the industry is at 5.6% on an average.
- Highlight the Institute’s Heritage & Rebuilt Trust: The five generation campaign’s minimum engagement rate was 12% with the maximum being 16%, — with 12 posts gaining an average of 2700 impressions, 360 likes and overall engagement of ~14% Featuring the alumni encouraged other alumni to share their stories by contacting the page.
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- COVID19 Response : The student spotlights, food content, posts about administration’s appeal released during the lockdown was met with positive and trusting comments from parents. The parents were able to see what the students were upto, how they were being productive during a lockdown whilst maintaining social distancing. This put their trust back into the institute and applauded IHM-A for their quick response and management of the situation.
They might be confined to their rooms, but their energy and love for music knows no bounds. Our…
“Thank you so much team IHM-A for taking good care of our children and helping then to remain safe. As we parents are miles away and are helpless in such a situation. At least we are relieved that our children are safe.”
- Student Stories: Based on the insights, where we found that featuring current students gathered higher engagement we focussed on posts featuring a single student and their journey till this point and plans ahead.
- ‘What are you cooking’ campaign, aimed to engage with student at home under lockdown. It was incredibly successful with all stories having a 90%+ completion rate. Students were excited to be featured on school pages to further share it on their channels.
- Nostalgia: Poll Stories about student’s favourite places on campus received over 400 responses each. We ran this campaign alongwith the previous campaign, i.e. over the summer when students were back home. The campaign got students reminiscing about their days at IHM-A and looking forward to coming back for their next term.
- IG Story Quizzes for increased interaction: With a 96%+ completion rate, each quiz had challenging questions about food and each respective answer was backed up by interesting facts relating to the answer adding educational value. The highest number of forwards on a single story post with a quiz question was 1,207 with the story reaching 1,163 accounts.
- Faculty Chefs: “How to make” IGTV video series was aimed to offer the faculty a platform to share their recipes and connect with the different target audience groups. Sharing unique but easy to make recipes is appealing and encouraged people to experiment with them in their own kitchens. Since the content is not only limited to IHM-A’s students, we noticed the engagement was from people passionate about cooking including mothers. The videos were posted at a time when people were looking to break the monotony of the lockdown.
- Instagram Stickers: We created a GIPHY account as a direct as well as an indirect marketing effort. In three months we had already garnered over 280,000 views. When students used these GIFs/Stickers it encouraged brand recall and spread brand awareness among not only their classmates but also other users that viewed their stories. Users were made aware of IHM-A through these stickers using indirect marketing.
Learnings & Next Steps:
- Single Source of Communications: We are undergoing a complete redesign of the IHM-A website to complement the social media channels and connect with the younger audience groups #1 & #2.
- Learn & Adapt: As the social media channel offerings change so does our strategy and execution, with the latest introduction of Instagram reels and greater response on Facebook and Instagram stories, we have started pushing specific, curated content on these placements.
- Growing the alumni network: While we continue to draw attention to the day-to-day activities, a need for a dedicated alumni network page was felt. We have designed and deployed a special Alumni digital badge and are now starting a separate alumni page on different social media platforms.
- Interactive and Informative: Content that drives an action or provides a value to the audience always does well. That’s the mantra of good social media content. Engage and reengage with your current audience, and it will grow!
IHM-A Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/weareihmaura/
Plane Crazy Website: www.thisisplanecrazy.com
Plane Crazy Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/plane.crazy.studios/