Our ever-growing global network of Local Social Media Managers around the world helps us ensure contextually relevant content through social listening, content production and response management. It’s a network of very talented people who possess great knowledge of social media in their local context – one of them being Nishanth Krish from India who shares his insights into the social media trends, prospects and challenges in India right now.
India is a mobile first country where 41% of total mobile users are active on social media. And it remains the fastest growing market for social networks in the world. The increasing affordability and use of Smartphones as internet devices means India is serving data to almost one billion mobile phones, and an individual spends an average of 3 hours on social media every day irrespective of device.
However, this rise of social media adoption among Indians has led to a growing concern over poor Internet speed in the country. Internet access is still unevenly distributed with connection speeds remaining disappointingly slow at just 2 Mbps on average, far below the global average of 4.5 Mbps.
Digital India, a program to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy by the government is expected to enable high-speed Internet connectivity across the length and breadth of the country, which will ultimately join the social media bandwagon and create a positive network effect for further growth.
Personalized Content is the Key
As much as our counterparts in other countries do, we consume content, but are averse to sharing. We Indians are conservative by nature and often not as open to sharing content online. Brands have realized that social media is not only about posting brand updates, but also about driving engagement by creating meaningful conversations. In our country of diverse culture, language and practices, brands are developing customized content, which is both relevant and appealing. Top brands such as PepsiCo and Bharti Airtel have integrated regional languages into their digital campaigns, resulting in more than 150% engagement compared to identical English posts.
Indians today are looking for a more personalized social networking platform where they can communicate with different groups of people. As eyeballs have shifted into the digital world, media spend has been following suit. Indian advertisers are spending far more on social media ads compared to their global counterparts. India is projected to be amongst the top three countries in the APAC region as regards its CAGR (2012-2016) in digital media ad spend and many brands have effectively developed tactics to enhance visibility by investing in promoted posts/tweets that carry targeted information about offers, coupons and contests through custom targeting.
Social media platforms have been a melting pot for running promotional campaigns for e-tailers understanding the different user behavior attributes, interests and changing buying behavior patterns. Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, and e-commerce brands like Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal are blending their assets across platforms to tap into customer preferences. Moreover, e-tailers are reducing the length of the purchase cycle by using features like the ‘Get Deals’ button.
Catching the Eye Balls
Images and short format videos are gaining traction in India. Visual rich media content clearly dominates the social media space and gains the majority of engagement with Indian audiences as more people than ever before are sharing, discovering and engaging with videos on Facebook and as content creators build and engage a global audience. From increasing audience traffic to digital publishers and the high level of online conversation during major events, this growth in content discovery and discussion is taking place across social platforms.
Reaching the Rural
The soul of India lives in its villages with 60 percent of the population residing here. To reach the under-penetrated areas, Facebook has initiated the Internet.org project with a vision to provide basic mobile Internet services for free. The service is run by Internet.org in collaboration with a number of telecom players. This service is available in English and six local languages — Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Gujarati and Marathi — and can be accessed via a dedicated Android app.
Facebook is by far the social networking platform with the widest reach, boasting of 118 million monthly active users in India, out of which 55-60 million are daily active users. 95 per cent of these users are ‘mobile-also’ users.
Twitter has specialized its service for the Indian audience with hashtags in regional languages and the ability to support regional language scripts, which has helped the social networking giant to reach out to the large number of non-English users in India who were previously untouched by the phenomenon of micro blogging.
Twitter in India takes center stage for breaking news and special events, bolstered by its partnership with broadcasters and media distributers. These partnerships have allowed Twitter to make the most of product innovations like polls, audio cards and the ability to share videos on the platform. Its rich media tweets gain far more reach than standard text-only tweets.
Focus on Social Mobile
Whether it’s discovering information about a breaking news story or an upcoming TV show, an exclusive screening of a movie trailer first or celebrities engaging with fans in authentic and meaningful ways, people converse on social media around the things that matter most.
As Indians continue to gain access to cheaper smartphones and data plans, with shifting platform preferences, it is imperative that brands shift focus to social mobile communications to reach out to an audience that are always on the go.
The future of social media marketing is expected to be mobile driven and in the year ahead it is most likely that we will be seeing more contextual and location centric content, helping brands to evaluate the different platforms better with accurate reporting capabilities for tracking engagement.