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Flipkart turns story-teller

By Saumya Tewari , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | February 22, 2016
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Flipkart Stories, a dedicated website for company stories, stands apart with a significant social presence and diverse content.

'Finding Digital India in Jhumri Tillaiya,' is an interesting leisure read on how Flipkart has waded through the remote town changing people's lives there. But, the catch is that it is not covered by any media platform, but Flipkart itself.

Surprised? Well, don't be. The entity in question is a dedicated website created by e-commerce giant and is aptly titled 'Flipkart Stories'. It is not a company blog as anyone would assume, in fact, the company is pitching it as a 'digital media website'.

A screebgrab of Flipkart Stories website

A screebgrab of Flipkart Stories website

Launched in October 2015, Flipkart Stories claims to stand apart. Styled like a digital media website using the same format and techniques, the website carries company news, customer and seller stories. Each story also comes with sharing buttons across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Digg and Instagram.

With the aim to create a dynamic editorial platform, Flipkart Stories has gathered steam on social media with a Twitter following of 11.4 thousand and over 25,000 Facebook likes.

For the record, other marquee players in the Indian e-commerce industry also have content platform in the form of blogs. Snapdeal comes closest to Flipkart Stories with its initiative called 'Snapdeal Diaries'. The initiative has a social media presence (Twitter, with over 2,500 followers, and Facebook with over 7,000 likes), and is being described as a "new platform to have a conversation with you, get insights into what we do, and meet our people to listen to their stories" on Twitter. Unlike Flipkart Stories, Snapdeal Diaries stories are hosted on Snapdeal's company blog.

Zomato's blog, too, usually carries posts around the company as well as posts by its top management, while Amazon India's blog promises updates on products, the website, and engaging content.

Lifestyle and fashion e-commerce players also run similar blogs. One such is Myntra's Freshly Mynted, which churns out content around fashion and brands at the platform. Jabong, on the other hand, has both web and print presence through its The Juice property.

Meanwhile, the eBay India blog has been discontinued. The page takes the user to eBay Community where one can discuss and ask questions.

What sets Flipkart Stories apart is its constant engagement and updation of the site, as well as a significant social media presence.

Some of the stories currently hosted on the site include recent appointments at Flipkart, heart-warming human stories on company's employees and sellers, as well as brand-related content.

Senjam Raj Sekhar

Bijoy Venugopal

Flipkart Stories is the brain child of Senjam Raj Sekhar, head -- corporate communications, Flipkart, who feels that the concept of company blogs has already crossed its sell-by date.

"Readers, today, are attracted to content that is more engaging and authentic. While Flipkart is a much-discussed company, there are many aspects that are not known to the outside world. Our intention is to tell the Flipkart story in a compelling manner while maintaining authenticity and objectivity," he says.

Headed by the former travel editor of Yahoo Bijoy Venugopal, Flipkart Stories currently functions with a team of five and is scouting for writers and designers. The platform is following a dual content approach with a judicious mix of original and source stories from external contributors.

Sekhar informs that Flipkart Stories follows the same stringent editorial standards of a global independent media platform.

"All stories have to go through the editorial filter of quality, authenticity and readability. We actively encourage our readers to share and comment. They are free to comment about the story and the comments are not moderated by the editorial team," he explains.

Apart from the standard text and images, Flipkart Stories will use other story-telling formats such as animation, infographics, video, and photo-features. The platform also employs social curation platforms like Storify to tell its stories along with Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, and Instagram to propagate sharing.

The platform also publishes brand-related articles without charging any fee from the brand. The only condition is that the story must have authenticity.

Currently, Flipkart has no plans of monetising Flipkart Stories, nor does it intend to get into the business of content.

Flipkart Stories, highlights Sekhar, is clocking around half a million visits a month. He believes that readers are visiting the platform because of the good mix of compelling human stories as well as information that they can use. The platform carries company related announcements. Sekhar, however, denies that the platform is a PR machinery of the company.

Interestingly, one of the biggest Flipkart re-structuring was broken on Flipkart Stories' Twitter handle. The news was about co-founder Binny Bansal replacing Sachin Bansal as the new chief executive officer.

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