The Indian film superstar Shah Rukh Khan (also known as SRK) has a huge tribe of fans and has been dubbed the "Baadshah of Bollywood." His fan base goes beyond India - can be found in throughout the world. By some estimates he has more than a billion fans (and counting).
Seth Godin might label his fans a Tribe. According to Godin,
“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
Social media offers gives tribe members a seemingly direct connection to their leader, their inspiration, their power source. When the leader posts something in social media, the tribe takes notice, shares the information, and responds.
SRK's online tribe is fairly extensive. It includes the Bollywood press and marketers, the brands he holds - such as Red Chillies Entertainment and Kolkata Knight Riders, Brand-SRK. It extends to fan clubs around the world and individuals. Fans of Shah Rukh Khan often refer to themselves as "SRKians" and each claims to be SRK's biggest fan. Perform a search on any social media site for #SRK or "Shah Rukh Khan" and you will be astounded at the breadth of different tribe members out there.
Perhaps one reason SRK's tribe is so large is that he has respect for his tribe and the power his tribe gives him. In an Hindustan Times interview, he explained,
"You know, there is a story I have heard: a person was walking and somebody turned to him and said, ‘See how much power you have. You are walking in front and thousands of people are walking behind you.’ And as soon as he said that, the leader replied, ‘That’s not power. Power is not the ability to lead people, but to take them along.’ So he went to the end of the line and said, ‘Let everyone walk ahead and I will look after them from the back.’ That’s what power is. "
For his latest film, Chennai Express (released worldwide on August 8), SRK connected with his tribe via multiple social media channels - encouraging his fans to see the film and share in the fun. His fans eagerly obliged, enthusiastically sharing news and content related to the film as soon as it became available.
Besides periodically posting teaser trailers and item numbers from the upcoming film on youtube - something that has become standard practice for most films - additional online connections and content were made available. This included:
The Chennai Express music launch was livestreamed (and recorded) a month before the film was released.
On August 14, SRK and director Rohit Shetty participated in a Facebook live video chat based on question submitted via Facebook #hashtags.
- Extra Video Content. Several special videos featuring SRK and Chennai Express were posted, including:
Shah Rukh Khan Teaches You How to be a Superstar (posted July 10) which is a humorous take on the life of a film superstar.
Lungi Dance - Full Video Song - "Chennai Express" (2013) Honey Singh "Shahrukh Khan" Deepika (posted July 29) which is a musical tribute to Rajinikanth, a Tamil film superstar.
Bollywood's Ultimate Romantic Hero - Rahul - Shah Rukh Khan (posted August 13) which features clips from previous SRK films and encourages people to fall in love with "Rahul" all over again as they watch Chennai Express.
SRK and Rohit Shetty visited several movie theaters showing Chennai Express shortly after its release and recorded snippets of the fun fan frenzy which were posted online.
Shah Rukh Khan, who had taken a hiatus from Twitter, started to tweet again along with Deepika Padukone and ChennaiExp2013. However, SRK's tweets weren't so much about Chennai Express. SRK's tweets tend to be more philosophical and reflective, focusing on his life, musings of the moment, and his family.
Twitter India and ZipDial set up a collaborative service to allow everyone in India to follow and engage the superstar on Twitter via SMS.
A contest was held as part of the Chennai Express Karaoke App launch. The winner would have the opportunity to meet Shah Rukh Khan in person in Mumbai. However, with the SRKian tribe covering the globe, the winner ended up being Bindia Patel from Texas, so SRK had resort to congratulating her via video on Facebook.
The #FamilyExpress contest was held the weekend of August 23-25 and SRK invited his social media fans to see the film again. For those who sent in photos of the ticket stubs and their families, he would make a short video. While there was a large response, SRK followed through on making the videos. You can view Shah Rukh Khan with the Dooleys here.
- Fan Generated Content. Fan-made artwork made the rounds. Polls were taken as to who is the greatest Bollywood star ever, SRK or [add name here]. People were encouraged to show their love for SRK by sharing photos of the star. While some content came from Chennai Express, a great deal of content also came from other sources. Fans find and post photos from SRK's films, photo shoots, and personal life. Youtube.com has a plethora of film and video snippets about SRK. There is also a thriving PlanetSRK community forum where members share stories and answer questions about SRK's films and his life.
- Multiple Channels. Just as there are multiple profiles, pages, and groups on Facebook and Twitter, there are quite a few profiles, pages, posts, and boards about SRK on Google+, Pinterest and other social media sites - not to mention mainstream news and blogging sites. It is no wonder that SRK won the IIFA Digital Star of the Year Award in 2013.
Of course, SRK's in person visits also helped to fuel the enthusiasm of his tribe to push Chennai Express into the "400 crore club" to become the highest grossing Bollywood film ever.
It will be interesting to see how the SRK tribes sustain enthusiasm through this upcoming year as his next film, Happy New Year, is not scheduled for release until the latter part of 2014.
UPDATE 22 October 2013:
The 2013 Social Media Leadership Awards today announced finalists, among which are notable brands and organizations on the forefront of social media.
Find out more:
- From Chennai Express to "Record Breaking Express": A spot-on social media strategy for extended reach
- Social media strategy that significantly increased social reach and buzz, contributing to the success of "Chennai Express"
UPDATE 31 October 2013:
- CASE STUDY: The Role of Digital Marketing & Social Media in the Phenomenal Success of Chennai Express
Update 13 December 2013:
Update 25 January 2013:
Update 9 February 2013: