A well-timed online strategy for success

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Even before the corona crisis, the German Centre for Research and Innovation (DWIH) New Delhi had a strategy to step up its digital activities.

The desire to foster networking and exchange on all aspects of innovation, not only in the capital but throughout India, spurred the use of digital tools at the DWIH New Delhi at an early stage. When conventional conferences and meetings were also prevented from taking place in India because of the coronavirus pandemic, the DWIH was ready to quickly move its events online. In early May 2020, for example, a new web-talk series about research-based start-ups was launched, its content having already been prepared long in advance.

“We had developed new online content even before the corona crisis”, says Garima Behal, PR and Communications Officer at the DWIH New Delhi since the end of 2018. “A communication strategy for social media was also developed. The focus was on addressing the right target group with the right content using the right channel so as to create added value for our audience.”

Targeted posting of DWIH topics

At the first web-talk format, Indian entrepreneurs had been invited to learn more about Germany’s funding and innovation ecosystem. Three further web-talks staged during the summer revolved around “Cities and Climate”, which was the DWIH’s annual focus topic in 2020. “Throughout the year, we posted a variety of content relating to this topic in a targeted manner on social media“, reports Garima Behal.

At the DWIH New Delhi, in other words, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn serve not only to convey information about events. “In addition, we have been using the channels to present German and Indian perspectives on the subject and to provide details of scholarships and funding opportunities, for example”, explains Behal. “We have also posted strategy papers from governments and think tanks. We have conducted interviews with policymakers and identified Indo-German collaborative research projects in the area of climate protection which we then published on our website and on social media.” Additionally, a digital newsletter was created that proved successful right from the outset, attracting around 500 subscribers. Each newsletter features one current research topic and offers insights from different perspectives.

Analysis and agenda for target groups

This success can be attributed to a systematic strategy and planning. A precise target group analysis forms the basis for the DWIH New Delhi’s communication strategy, as does a long-term agenda for online content. Both of these elements tie in with the centre’s overarching strategy and are designed specifically to expand the Indo-German networks at the level of science and research-based industry in the online sphere, explains Dr Katja Lasch, director of the DWIH New Delhi. “In our view, a systematic approach is crucial. We want not only to increase the number of our followers, but also to target those people who are most relevant for us and to motivate them to interact. ” For example, science journalists in India use Twitter a lot, while scientists and science-oriented companies are best reached via LinkedIn.

One way the DWIH team can tell that its new online strategy is working is the increased traffic on its website. “The number of people interested in our content has nearly doubled”, says Garima Behal. “There is also more interaction, engagement and active dialogue about our regular posts, and more people are using social media to sign up to our events.”

The goal for the coming years is to systematically advance and hone the online strategy. Not all the event formats that had to be offered online in 2020 are perfectly suited to this. “Spreading information across this huge country can be done very well online, for example, and thus meets one of the central objectives of the DWIH New Delhi”, says Katja Lasch. “However, when it is a question of co-creation and postdoc workshops for instance, where new research topics and innovations are discussed over the course of several days, the virtual domain has its limits. So, we are looking forward to being able to use our established formats in situ again.” In other words, the recipe for the DWIH New Delhi’s success in future will continue to lie in pursuing a balanced strategy tailored to meeting specific needs of the target groups.

Bettina Mittelstraß