Social Media Trends, Prospects, and Challenges in India

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.

 

 

Snapchat – Proof That Simplicity & Authenticity Wins

blogSnapchat has 100 million daily users, 9,000 snaps are shared per second, 10 billion videos are viewed per day and at 500 million Snapchat stories per day, it would take more than 158 years to watch an entire day of Snapchat stories. It’s no wonder that advertisers want a bite of it.

CEO Evan Spiegel describes Snapchat’s messaging as “conversational”, rather than “transactional”, which gives the impression you’re just talking to a friend. This whole implication has mass potential to change the way we see messaging and could ultimately become a revolution in chat. Since the mid-90s, SMS has been seen the same way, with mostly the UI advancing. Maybe it’s time for an overhaul.

 

Here & Now

Because of its “in the moment” nature, Snapchat began as a more personal and authentic alternative to Instagram and all its filters. And somehow, the further development of Lenses has been successfully implemented and hasn’t damaged the spontaneous “here and now”, authentic feel – it has combined filters with real-time.

Another reason engagement is so high on the platform is that there are no worries about content existing forever. 24 hours is the maximum amount of time it will stay live, through “Stories”. This is very likely to be a reason why people keep coming back so often – there may be a fear of missing out on snaps, as there is absolutely no way of viewing them after expiration.

 

The Drivers

Many celebrities are also helping the app’s growth by nailing the platform and making use of the unique features it offers. Ellen DeGeneres, Jared Leto, Miley Cyrus – they are all using it for its exclusivity and real-life, behind-the-scenes moments (that and the drawing feature).

On a similar note, influencers also play a large part of the Snapchat community nowadays, especially for brands. Many of the top Snapchat influencers are YouTube veterans, so they know how the game works and just need to adapt slightly.

Creating cool snaps on a regular basis requires a lot of resources for brands and the high expectation for authenticity can be hard to meet. This is probably the main reason why only the big players, such as Nike, PepsiCo and TRESemmé have been willing to go all in from the very early stages and why many brands are trying to take part through the influencers. On the back of the huge success of Instagram influencers, it allows brands to be present in snaps, with lower risk and is less effort than having their own channel. This also offers them the chance to leverage their learnings from Instagram.

 

Advertising Features

In January 2015, Snapchat introduced “Discover”, a place for advertisers and especially media outlets to publish short pieces of content. Shortly after, they incorporated Geofilters – something you can’t quite imagine working on any other social media network. This forms another source of revenue by inviting companies to make their own Geofilter for a fee.

More recently, Lenses is beginning to show its potential for brands too by harnessing the fun factor, then redirecting consumers to a related checkout. Movies like X-Men are an obvious choice for the platform due to the multiple characters, but the list of possibilities is endless when considering characters and even real-life personalities.

 

Yo!

While considering the subject of simplicity and why Snapchat has been so successful, the only other great app I’ve seen simpler is Yo, where a user simply sends another user the message “Yo” with one tap on their name. The initial intention with this app was to encourage people to say “I’ll ‘Yo’ you when I’m there”, eliminating the need for texting “I’m here”.

The app has been further developed with a new version pushed out in Feb 2015 and was valued over $10 million during a funding round back in 2014. Many brands are also seeking to gain access to their growing mobile audience through it – an audience partly created by Snapchat. The app now offers alerts and news from more than 150 services including BuzzFeed, NBA, Coinbase, TechCrunch, MTV, and more. It seems there’s strong proof then, that to invent something new, sometimes you just have to make something current even simpler.