GLOBAL SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
CAN YOU AFFORD NOT TO THINK GLOBALLY?
The exponentially expansion and evolution of the online social networking landscape for Internet based mass media has brought about a sea change in how people view both themselves and others… and that goes for businesses too. Individuals are becoming more and more receptive to all sorts of information and ideas across continents and cultures.
Therefore, businesses are looking at an unprecedented opportunity to state their case to existing customers and reach out to potential markets. They now have a direct and flexible platform to assess their place in the market zeitgeist by simply listening in.
Better join the conversation or risk failure…
5 “Organizations cannot afford not to be listening to what is being said about them, or interacting with their customers in the space where they are spending their time and, increasingly, their money too.”
Malcolm Alder, Partner
KPMG’s Digital Economy Practice
6 WE HAVE ALL HEARD THE PHRASE “THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY”,
but do we realize the far reaching implications or the deep-seated pragmatism behind it? For profit based organizations with operations cutting across geographical fault lines, this is no longer a new-age business ideology, but a matter of survival. Emerging economic policies demand the process of globalization be a practical one. And today, there is nowhere where it is more necessary and relevant than in the online promotion of goods and services in ever-expanding consumer markets around the world. In December of 2012, there were more than
CAN ANY BRAND AFFORD TO IGNORE THAT OPPORTUNITY?
Only 2.74 million were in North America just over 11% of the world’s online population.
With nearly 90% of the world’s online population elsewhere in the world,
2.4 billion people online around the world.
SOCIAL MEDIA USE AROUND THE WORLD
Opportunities to connect on social media networks have revolutionized marketing and commercial activity across the globe, across sectors, and across markets. In 2012, eMarketer projected a growth of 220 million in the number of worldwide social media users – a rise from 1.18 billion in 2011 to 1.4 billion by the end of that year. Although it is a slight decrease in percentage growth from 2010 to 2011, it still is a 20 percent rise in the number of new social users across the plan and a fifth of all Earthlings.
Similarly, social media watchers reported 2012 growth by continent in social media use over a period of ten months.
The penetration of social media among netizens was set to remain highest in North America for the foreseeable future owing to its wider accessibility to the Internet, says eMarketer. Close on its heels would be the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, which was expected to witness a growth of
its social media user base in 2012
SOCIAL MEDIA POPULATION
India’s social media population as expected to grow
Indonesia was expected to increase
China was expected to increase
In regions such as Africa and India, lower Internet penetration rates and infrastructure remained an impediment to the spread of social media and online networking. As a result, users were fewer than in first world countries, but opportunity was high enough to position these emerging markets for great growth. As industrialization and modernization touched more and more capitals there, the region was poised to become the largest growth center for social networking online.
Insights into worldwide social media usage trends from eMarketer indicate country and continent specific growth projections from 2010 through 2014 will increase by orders of magnitude more in emerging markets than established ones.
Clearly, the rapid growth of the Internet itself in several of the nations such as India, China, Brazil, Mexico are driving the Internet and online social revolution as well as the economic engines of the world, as the graph below shows, contrasting Internet penetration rates up till 2011 in some of these countries against established and increasingly saturated western markets..
FACEBOOK, TWITTER & YOUTUBE: GLOBAL GROWTH
Although local indigenous social media platforms have played a pivotal role in reaching social media users worldwide, the social revolution is mostly unfolding through the efforts of the usual suspects. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been the primary catalysts in generating international interest and engagement in online social networking and content creation. They have played a crucial role in introducing the world to targeted online marketing by global and local brands.
In 2012 eMarketer projected Facebook would rise in the number of its worldwide users to approximately 826 million by the year-end, up from about 651 million in 2011. The actual numbers dwarfed projections by a huge margin, and Facebook counted its billionth member September 14, 2012.
This landmark meant that one in seven people on the planet were on the social media platform, about 60 percent of the total number of social media users and about 40 percent of overall Internet users in the world. It also amounts to more than 14 percent of the total world population, astounding figures for a single website.
The United States has long been the biggest “Facebooking” country on the planet. However, the last three to four years have seen a sea change in Facebook user demographics. During 2010-11, smaller markets like the UK Turkey Indonesia & France were in the Facebook spotlight. By 2012 a completely different trend emerged. Populous markets such as Brazil India, & Mexico started overshadowing relatively developed markets during this period, and the focus shifted from saturated Western countries to Asia and other developing regions.
As with social media deployment overall, the Asia-Pacific region has been the most poised to remain the biggest driver of user growth for Facebook for quite some time to come. Adoption rates in India, Indonesia, and Japan have left the rest behind by miles. Other regions set to witness high user growth include the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.
Moreover, the average age of Facebook’s population across the world crept up from 29 years old in 2010, to 30 in 2012. Gender distribution too has undergone considerable changes. The female domination of social networks ended, and more and more men spent an increasing amount of time on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. While women still spent more time than men on Facebook in countries like the UK, it’s the other way around in non-western nations such as India and Turkey.
While Twitter has suffered declining growth rates and dropping engagement statistics in several non-English speaking regions, including European nations, according to an eMarketer report, it will continue to expand its worldwide user base. In 2011, Twitter saw growth of almost 32 percent in its user base, an increase from the 23.5 percent figure from 2010, overtaking Facebook in user base growth. User numbers swelled from 106 million in 2010 to over 500 million by the end of 2012, and more than 190 million tweets were sent out in 2012 on a daily basis. Twitter is expected to grow its monthly user numbers by more than 37.6 million before the end of 2014.
YouTube as well played a huge role in pioneering the rise of social ‘multi’-media networking. Launched in May 2005, the video sharing has seen rapid and exponential growth ever since, it’s name becoming synonymous with online video watching and uploading. The evolution of high-speed Internet access played a pivotal role in driving YouTube’s mass popularity. Smart online marketers identified the potential of this platform quite early, as it appeared poised to replace television, especially in viral video content – a natural fit with social media’s culture of sharing.
YouTube has become the world’s second largest search engine, second only to Google, handling around 10 percent of the overall traffic on the entire World Wide Web. According to Alexa statistics, YouTube was the third most visited website on the Internet in 2011, with 2 billion views each day and more than a trillion views that year alone. By 2012, more than 829,000 different clips were uploaded on its servers each day, with 72 hours of video uploaded every 60 seconds. More than 3 billion hours of video were already being watched on YouTube each month by mid-2012.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOOST MOBILE USE AND MOBILE DEVICES BOOST SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT
With 1.5 billion smartphones in use world wide in 2013, it became impossible to leave mobile out of any discussion of social media adoption. By mid-2012, 50 percent of users on both Facebook and Twitter were accessing these sites through their mobile devices. Europe during late 2011 saw growth heading that way, as well. In the US, more than a third of the users were accessing social networking platforms from their mobile devices in 2011. Worldwide, this figure was more than 40 percent for Facebook users.
YouTube has also been widely accepted and adopted on mobile platforms across the world, with more than 600 million views per day on mobile devices. Mobile traffic on YouTube swelled 300 percent just in a matter of ten months in 2011. Volumes were expected to double in 2012. In 2012, approximately 500 years of YouTube video was being watched every 24 hours on Facebook alone. Tweeters shared roughly 700 YouTube videos per minute during the same period.
CHANGING TRENDS IN SOCIAL MEDIA DEMOGRAPHICS
Social media pay per click management services and habits vary greatly with country and region. While Facebook dominates social media use around the globe, important exceptions with large potential markets have local social media platforms. In Europe, for example with few exceptions local operators provide online media and networking platforms in native languages, mostly on Facebook, but also locally popular sites. However, in several Asian countries, principally China, South Korea and Japan social networking web sites are completely different from the ones dominant in the US, UK, or Europe, despite homogenizing effects and efforts of creeping westernized globalization.
According to a 2015 Forrester report that examined social media behavior around the world by studying social media data from 18 separate countries across North America, Europe, South America and Asia, emerging markets such as India, China, Mexico, and Brazil are the ones that are the most addicted to online social media. In spite of low Internet penetration proportions in these countries, their vast geographical and population sizes have resulted in a netizen class with highly entrenched online lives, much larger and much more engaged in web-based social media than their western counterparts.
Another contributing factor for the passive attitude towards social media in North America and Western Europe is their long association with it. As a result, users there tend to be bigger consumers than creators of social media content. Also, it is next to impossible to determine a clear profile of a European social media user. Attitudes and habits differ across the Euro Zone, even between bordering nations. Each EU country’s unique culture is amplified online, and nowhere is his more apparent than in social media engagement.
In Asia, Japanese displayed social media behavior and patterns more akin to leading European markets than those of their Asian neighbors. For instance, they continued to prefer a high level of anonymity when online. The following graph reflects the contrast in interest and involvement in social media between the orient and the occident.
In countries such as China, South Korea and Taiwan, indigenous social networking platforms continued to hold sway over global Facebook and Twitter. Facebook in the last half a decade has developed a strong presence in nine out of thirteen of the major nations in the Asia-Pacific region, except for The Peoples Republic of China, which as late as 2014 lifted its ban on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and then only for the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.
At the end of 2014, the top five social media platforms here were:
In 2013 Edelman Digital presented the Internet usage habits in Asia, based on comScore data. The region had even then become the most important hub for social networking and content generation activities on the planet.
MULTI-NATIONAL SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING FOR GLOBAL BRANDS
Just as the advent of social media made it possible for people all across the globe to connect with each other at the click of a mouse, new possibilities for international brands to penetrate fresh and exciting markets have been opening up by the day. Having a social media presence has become a business imperative. Participating in the ongoing social media revolution has climbed up on the boardroom agenda of all businesses – regardless of the size or nature of operations.
KPMG reported in 2011 that more than 70 percent of the business organizations operating around the world – manufacturers and service providers, public and private, small and large – were promoting their products and services proactively on social networking platforms. By 2013 social media had gone corporate in a big way, and businesses of all shapes and sizes were posting, tweeting, and pinning, helping them gain extra exposure and interact directly with their customers, existing and potential.
An astounding 97 percent of all corporations around the world used a social media platform in 2013, up from 94 percent in 2012, while 86 percent reported gaining exposure for their business operations, up from 84 percent the year before. Not surprisingly, Facebook is the favorite, followed by Twitter and LinkedIn. Social media marketing skyrocketed in the corporate world because businesses that engaged experienced a great pay off rate. A reported 74 percent of brands witnessed a considerable rise in web traffic to their portals by putting in just 24 hours per month into various social media. In 2013, 65 percent brands said that social media was a crucial tool for them to acquire market knowledge, and 58 percent found it useful in expanding their customer and fan base.
According to Gartner projections, global social media revenues were set to reach almost
Advertising was the largest contributor to the revenue stream generated by social media, with a projected total of approximately $9 billion in 2012 alone. Gaming apps on social networking sites are proving to be massive revenue generators as well, with figures doubling from 2010 to 2011.
$15 billion by the end of 2013 – a jump of approximately 50 percent from
$10 billion in 2012.
to cross the $6 billion mark in 2013. In 2012 $280 million was the expected revenue from worldwide subscriptions alone on social media sites. With all major social media sites developing pay-for-play platforms, clearly they were finding fuel for their economic engines.
CHALLENGES FOR BRANDS
With all this good news and great future prospects, along with rapid expansion, the social media landscape continues to undergo constant change. Though an increasing number of commercial entities adopted and embraced social media as a strong marketing tool, deploying campaigns also brought unprecedented challenges to the boardroom. The task of guiding and streamlining product and brand perception on all existing and upcoming social marketing channels on a world scale has been a tough one.
The biggest challenge for global brands is maintaining global marketing policy under a unified brand page, while creating customized social media presence for each of its local markets. Localization triumphs over global uniformity, while maintaining a global strategy across markets remains productive.
It is important for digital marketers and PPC company experts to understand that while the World Wide Web has allowed information to flow freely across national boundaries, cultural and societal differences remain strong among populations within different borders. These affect behaviour patterns of social networkers. A research conducted by Trendstream on global consumer adoption of the Internet and social media in 36 different markets found three separate behaviour types in users –
Emerging markets such as those in Asia were found to be intense content creators and sharers. While established western markets like the UK and Canada found to be prolific messengers.
These behavior patterns have driven most leading brands to customize their approach and establish localized online presence in different parts of the world, according to Trendstream.
Many brands have made severe errors of judgement, by merely translating their existing promotional themes and material into local languages, and have suffered debilitating consequences in culture appropriateness, response and brand equity.
Any international brand intending to generate and optimize monetizing a Facebook page must leverage local community management and engage with local consumers in a manner that is authentic to that local market… in every market.
Over 40 percent
of the Fortune 500
were already maintaining local pages for different territories on Facebook
by early 2015.
LEVERAGING THE GLOBAL SOCIAL MEDIA BOOM
With more than 70 percent of business organizations throughout the world active social media participants in 2016, businesses in developing markets like China, India, and Brazil assumed leadership roles in social media marketing strategies, techniques, and success rates – moreso than their western counterparts in the UK, Australia, Germany, and Canada, according to KPMG. Respondents from such emerging markets were 30 percent more likely than the West to say that social media figured within the marketing mix of their respective businesses.
KPMG also reported that those businesses with no social media in place undervalued the potential of social networking, with 87 percent of the respondents that did not have an existing social media presence, of the opinion that it would have no substantial influence on their brand’s public perception or bottom line benefits. Contrast this with an overwhelming 80 percent of those with an active social program that claim that they had measurable results. Clearly, those companies that have tried social networking like it, and those that haven’t don’t – or don’t realize what they are missing.
At Nielsen’s Consumer 360 conference in New Delhi on 15th November 2011, Brad Smallwood – Facebook’s Global Head of Insights and Measurement, emphasized the role of social media and networking in brand marketing in this cyber age. He highlighted the importance of measuring results, to assess accurately the performance of a particular brand on each social media platform. Smallwood stressed listening to a brand’s online community and learning from community members, to evolve each campaign into an effective value addition and deliver long term bottom-line benefits. The most crucial point was, he said:
Highlighting the need to focus on the “non-fan” community, “a fan is already a customer,” he said.
Econsultancy’s sixth Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing titled ‘Managing and Measuring Social’ authored in collaboration with Adobe in 2012, surveyed more than 650 marketing professionals from several business sectors in Europe and North America to analyze trends in the management and measurement of the value that social media was bringing in for businesses. The study found that
Of those surveyed, 64 percent used it for increasing awareness, 44 percent for direct marketing, and 37 percent for content marketing. About 25 percent of the sample use social for providing post sales customer service.
“The like button is only an opportunity, not an end.”
67 % of businesses accepted social media as an integral part of their marketing strategy
with 86 % of the participants favoring Twitter and Facebook.
The study also underlined the leading concerns that businesses face while managing and quantifying the benefits of their online social profiles. Most businesses willing to co-opt social media into their marketing plans were less confident of being able to accurately measure their social media while techniques and tools were still evolving. 67 percent suggested that social media marketing requires more data to rely on. Only about 25 percent reported leveraging available data and statistics for optimization purposes while 41 percen of the sample had no data tracking tools and capabilities at all.
Despite this, businesses must keep in mind that an individual user – their potential customers – have made on average two social media platforms an integral part of their daily lives. And this is not going to likely to change anytime soon. Measurable or not, the impact on users of a brand’s presence on these platforms can hardly be contested.
Further, blogging is a highly under rated social media tool. Businesses have started discontinuing personal blogs favoring instead the ready-made audiences corralled on social platforms. However, a well maintained company blog is still capable of bringing in immense value and industry credibility for brands. These can serve as launching pads or pivots for their broader social media program.
In addition to dominant names such as Facebook – a domain of choice for most brands reaching to most existing and potential costumers – specialty social media websites are emerging, such as Pinterest, Instagram and SnapChat, that have expanding and increasingly loyal user bases. Businesses must not follow the flock blindly when it comes to choosing a primary social media platforms. The decision should instead be based on industry-specific considerations and the kind of brand identity the business envisions for itself. More importantly, where do the brands customers engage?
Marketing success on the web flows from selecting a platform that is ideal for the target audience of the brand, and in sync with its digital marketing strategy.
Local social media platforms also need to be given due weight while designing a social media strategy. Localization is a pivotal part of any comprehensive and successful social campaign. In China for instance, Facebook is not an option. Renren – the largest operator in this part of the world should be the first choice for anybody targeting this market. Brands also need to be open minded about user participation. Co-creation is a crucial aspect of brand building on the web. Suggestions and feedback can always be taken with a pinch of salt, but constant interaction, responsiveness, and transparency are of paramount importance.
GLOBAL SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TIPS FOR TRANS-NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
Consider markets that are more social and will generate the biggest bang for your buck, such as Asia, Eastern Europe, Middle-East, and increasingly, Africa. Target markets that have increasing social media adoption, instead of persisting with heavy spending on traditional markets like the US and the UK.
Tailor your social media strategies to local cultural in different regions with active local participation. A cookie cutter approach does not work with social media marketing.
Lower your user interaction expectations in mature markets, especially in the West. Focus on providing top notch content that can simply be read or viewed by the American or Western European user.
Get a mobile presence. It is crucial for social media success. Monitor everything. Use localized data tracking In Asia – the largest emerging social media market, viewing videos makes up for the majority of the time spent online. Build campaigns targeted for this region around video and mobile video
Democratization and Economic Globalization by Helen V. Milner and Bumba Mukherjee, 2009:
www.princeton.edu/~hmilner/forthcoming percent20papers/MilnerMukherjee_ Democratization&EconGlobalization_ARPS.pdf
KPMG: Going Social – How businesses are making the most of social media:
A Larger Social Media Community Doesn’t Equate Consumer Engagement – Nielsen Consumer 360 India by Malavika Varma, November 16, 2011:
Twitter is Now Growing Way Faster than Facebook by Josh Wolford, March 6, 2012:
YouTube by the Numbers: Statistics, Traffic & Growth in 7 Years by Eric Guerin, June 12, 2012:
Emerging Markets Lead World in Social Networking Growth, August 16, 2012:
Jonas Klit Nielsen, Mai Bruun Poulsen, Marlene Friis:
Gartner Says Worldwide Social Media Revenue Forecast to Reach $16.9 Billion in 2012, July 25, 2012:
China lifts Facebook ban
2013 Social Media marketing Industry Report
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING IN
In Q1 2014, India’s middle class eager consumers numbered 350 million, larger than the entire population of the US and Canada combined. And the bulk of Internet commerce continued in English. These facts alone are so compelling that international consumer brands such as Red Bull, Subway, Mercedes, Audi and KLM were already investing in social media there, as well as leading Indian companies such as Tata Docomo and Kingfisher.
Moreover India, the dominant political, economic, and demographic force in South Asia has bred some of the most pioneering work in this new arena of unlimited commercial and business possibilities. Indian digital marketing and SEO services from this country bear testimony to this growing trend. Outside the United States, India has been pegged as the biggest field of play for digital marketing – both as a service provider, and as a potential market.
PROFILE OF INDIA ONLINE
The Web has become the multi-media interface of choice in urban India — mostly on mobile, and is expected to top cable television by 2015. While fixed line broadband Internet penetration was still relatively low at only 20 million, about 10 percent of the total Internet user population base in early 2013, India had a reported mobile subscriber count of nearly 905 million, according to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), close to 75 percent of the population, making India second only to China. A huge chunk of this population is based in the rural parts of the country, and more than 200,000 subscribers are jumping into the mix every 24 hours. Indeed, in 2011 and 2012, India’s annual mobile phone growth rate doubled.
Online Indians started flocking to social media websites in massive droves during the later part of the previous decade, with several more waves still waiting in the wings. The ballooning interest in social media here was driven by four giants of the web – Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
For most Indians, social networking has become synonymous with the Internet in addition to search engines. Not surprisingly, individual users were not the only ones seeking visibility there. Most big brands in the country took to marketing their products and services on social networking websites, albeit with varied degrees of success. Even the most interactive of marketing programs explored means other than traditional and organic marketing tactics to develop a strong niche in this massive market. India has emerged as a market for digital brand building for both local and multi-national brands of all shapes and sizes.
Of the 213 million web users in the country, almost two-thirds are active on at least one social media website. In 2010, 45,000 fresh users were joining one such service every single day, with Facebook seeing an unprecedented growth in the second half of that particular year, registering 50 percent growth. The established popular social networking service Orkut, which had made an early debut in India, had approximately 17 million users in India in 2010, growing little as shown in the chart below. However, penetration levels were still low, given the country’s population.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that Google has captured the mind, and Facebook the hearts of the 213 million Internet users in the world’s largest democracy. Going by the latest numbers and projections for the near future, it looks like online social networking services – Facebook in particular, has the real potential to become the third most uniting factor for Indians, right behind Bollywood and Cricket. By the end of 2012 however, there were more than 80 million Indian netizens on Facebook, and other popular social media and networking portals such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
“In essence, India is searching on Google, hiring on LinkedIn, liking on Facebook, and cribbing on Twitter.”
Sriram Vadlamani, Online Journalist &
co-founder of TheGadgetFan.com
A 2011 study by Forrester Research had found that Indian Internet users were among the most engaged social media users on the planet. According to them, 80 percent of online social Indians were content creators, 83 percent were critics, 79 percent conversationalists, and 57 percent were found to be willing receivers of marketing communication for goods and services.
Right from the outset, the most active social media age group in India has been the one between 18 and 25. Still, ‘Inside Facebook’ in reported that older users a growing user group. During India’s formative period in social networking, it looked to be the fastest among 16 of Facebook’s biggest markets tracked by its ‘Global Demographics Report’. In September 2010 for instance, around 20 percent growth was registered in the number of Indian users aged between 35 and 44 – the highest in the world.
Studies conducted in 2011 suggest that the period between 6 to 10 pm saw the highest activity among Indians on social media portals – Facebook and Orkut, the most popular of these. Looking at images uploaded by other users took up the biggest chunk of the activity time. Facebook clocked the most engagement, receiving 975 seconds as average time spent by each Indian user per visit to the site, much of which can be mostly on apps. One such app – Farmville, a popular social game — made a mark on Indians and introduced them to social media. The subscriber base there surpassed one million in 2011. Close on its heels was another game Mafia Wars.
Realizing the huge potential this region had on offer, Internet giants Google and Facebook established operations in India in February 2007 and mid-2010, respectively. Integrating regional Indian languages, both sent Internet enabled buses to rural areas to expand their presence even further.
India was quick to become the second largest demographic for Google+ as well. Upon its 2011 launch, it built up a user base of 3.5 million in just a matter of 5 months. But Google+ has not come even close to the kind of attention and success that Facebook continues to enjoy– despite Facebook’s privacy concerns and the frequent changes to privacy settings, versus Google+’s advanced privacy options. One way to explain this would be the fact that people already had established networks of ‘friends’ on Facebook, and it was just a matter of resistance in giving up that convenience. Or, could it be Facebook’s ease of use and massive worldwide popularity?
Of the total Internet users in India, at least 41 percent of them were on Facebook in mid 2012, no mean feat for a solo website without the support of other auxiliary or sister services. Indeed, Facebook became more and more synonymous with the Internet itself in India. In January 2012, in terms of number of users, India managed to surpass Indonesia in becoming the top Facebook using country after the US. It had 45 million users against Indonesia’s 43 million at that point. By the end of 2012, Facebook had developed a massive user base of over 61 million in India, behind only the US and Brazil. years of YouTube video was being watched every 24 hours on Facebook alone. Tweeters shared roughly 700 YouTube videos per minute during the same period.
As of then, the total number of users stood at 61,431,940 – growing by a whopping 15,124,360 in just the 6 preceding months. At that stage, the most number of Indian Facebookers belonged to the 18-24 year old age group, with over 29 million users in it.
In late 2012, 74 percent of Indian Facebook users were male, and 26 percent female. Following is a representation of the gender distribution in some major Indian urban centres. Male Woman Mumbai 250000 100000 Delhi 460000 140000 Kolkatta 20000 40000 Chennai 30000 70000 Bangalore 45000 95000 Hyderabad 28000 72000 Pune 25000 50000 0 100000 200000 300000 400000 500000 600000 Geneder Distribution of Facebook users Male Woman
At that stage, the penetration of Facebook among online Indians was relatively high at 66.89 percent. However, even with such popularity, when pitted against the total population of the country, overall penetration rates were still dismally low at only about 5.24 percent — comparable only to Russia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The majority of Indian Facebook users still belong largely to the urban dwelling populations.
It’s worth mentioning is that Facebook’s India success may also be because the social network was censured in India’s biggest socio-economic and demographic rival in Asia, if not the world — the People’s Republic of China. If that changed, India could lose its position as the third largest demography on Facebook, though it would not be expected to slip any further, thanks to its 213 million strong, and growing online population.Mumbai 25% 25% Delhi 39% 39% Kolkatta 4% 4% Chennai 8% 8% Bangalore 10% 10% Hyderabad 8% 8% Pune 6% 6% Mumbai 25% Delhi 39% Kolkatta 4% Chennai 8% Bangalore 10% Hyderabad 8% Pune 6%
Twitter too, has experienced an extraordinary rise in popularity after being introduced to the country by the celebrities such as Mallika Sherawat, a well known actress, and further popularized by parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor and Lalit Modi, the erstwhile chairman of the country’s largest sporting extravaganza, the Indian Premier League – the cricket tournament of international proportions. Twitter boasted over 13 million users in India at the end of 2011, with 16,000 more joining on a daily basis. In 2013, 67 percent of India’s web users had Twitter accounts, but just 30 percent used them within the previous 30 days, according to a November report from Global Web Index. That said, both the number of accounts, and percentage of use was higher in India than both China and the US.
PROFESSIONAL & MATRIMONIAL SOCIAL NETWORKING IN INDIA
Apart from Facebook’s 45 plus million and Orkut’s 20 plus million users, more than 10 million Indians were on the professional networking platform LinkedIn by mid 2011. By 2013 that number more than doubled to 23.7 million, according to SocialBakers.
In 2011 there were more than 20 million people online hunting for jobs monthly in India, and human resource consultancies in the country had plans to source 35 percent of their hiring from profiles on online platforms such as those found on LinkedIn.
By late 2011, 54 million Indians were expected to go online to review products and services, through social networking each year, and 21 million to look for life partners on matrimonial sites such as Shaadi.com. Notably, 50 to 60 percent were outside the biggest metropolitan cities, a significant indicator of the rising popularity of social media in smaller towns and rural areas.
THE SOCIAL MEDIA WARS
By the end of the last decade, 2010 Facebook had completely overshadowed and undermined the popularity of the erstwhile top social network in India – Google’s Orkut. By early 2012, 62 percent of Orkut users in India had Facebook accounts, and the rest could be found by using the Facebook “Find your Orkut friends” feature, thereby reducing Orkut’s reach further. It was perplexing that Google has allowed Facebook to log into Orkut without any restrictions, and siphon away subscribers.
This trend is being seen by watchers as a threat to the survival of other providers as well, especially the indigenous ones, like social gaming site iBibo, one of the fastest growing Indian social networks with a subscriber base of 3 million plus as of late 2011. For 2014, iBibo targeted 50 percent of India’s social gaming space, up from 35 percent the previous year, by aggressively improving it’s mobile platform.
Things are looking bleak for India’s own social networking sites such as BharatStudent.com, which already had 3 million users in 2010, but has since experienced massive stagnation, SMSGupShup is an Indian start-up that used to have 22 million subscribers in India, many more than Facebook, Twitter and Orkut combined. Yet very few people will recognize it as a brand in mainstream India today. Says Beerud Sheth, the founder of Webaroo, which owns SMSGupShup, “in India, the approach is firangi, not tirangi”, roughly meaning, given a choice, the average Indian will choose the western product over an indigenous one
THE LARGER IMPACT OF SOCIAL NETWORKING IN INDIA
Indians are increasingly coming to terms with the effect of social networking on mass cultural and political movements in turban centres. The anti-corruption drive that emerged in 2011 and 2012 in the country, touted as the “Arab Spring” of India, was largely driven by social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, just as it was in Tunisia and Egypt. New political forces formed and communicated on social media, such as the ‘India Against Corruption’ movement later went on to become bona fide political party Aam Adami Party, which won 28 of 70 Assembly seats in 2013. Meanwhile, in entertainment, phenomena such as the ‘Why This Kolaveri Di’ music video went viral on YouTube, achieving 40 million views by the end of January 2012.
While most of the Indian government structure and administrative machinery still carries a reputation for being unresponsive and slow to adopt new technology and practices, some agencies have taken measures to change this perception by choosing to adopt digital social media as a platform to engage with the citizenry at large. Delhi Traffic Police, started one such initiative in 2011 to build better trust and dialogue with city communities using Twitter and Facebook pages to regulate and resolve traffic issues. During the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games, Delhi Police made an appeal to citizens to take mobile phone pictures of traffic offenders and post them on their Facebook fan page. Instances like this indicate that online social networking could play a crucial role for mass movements in urban Indian society, acting as a catalyst for bringing in greater credibility and accountability for government and its agencies at both the regional and national level.
LANGUAGE AND CULTURAL CONSIDERATIONS
India’s uniquely and massively diverse cultural and lingual strata must be a crucial consideration in any online promotional campaign here. According to The Economist, there are 438 official languages spoken in the subcontinent. The two languages uniting the country on most occasions however, are Hindi, and in urban and sub-urban areas, English.
Despite this, the importance of including other Indian languages in their scheme of things was recognized pretty early by the big players, especially Google which launched its Hindi Translator in 2007 and a separate Hindi portal in 2009. Twitter too, launched its Hindi website in September 2011. By 2013, one could search on Google in nine different Indian languages. Ditto for Facebook mobile. Indians have also started blogging heavily in native languages, with sites like IndiBlogger containing over 1500 Hindi blogs.
MOBILE INTERNET ACCESS IN INDIA
Indian mobile phone usage has leapt past making voice calls and sending texts. In addition to the 213 million internet users, more than 250 million Indians had already experienced the online world, especially social sites such as Orkut, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, on their mobile phones by 2011. These numbers could only go up from there on, what with the newer 3G and 4G technologies and smart phones swarming the retail space in every corner of the country. For the current Indian consumer, Internet and 3G and 4G have become a top priority while purchasing a cell phone or a mobile telephone service. There is also an ever-increasing desire among upwardly mobile urban classes to keep upgrading their handsets to smarter hand held devices.
In November 2011 ChaseAThought summed up the smart phone story in India, reporting that 60 percent of its respondents had started using smart phones within the previous six to 12 months. Of those 73 percent reported high use of social networks on their smart phones, and 62 percent high engagement. They took baby steps in ecommerce, with 50 percent of them reporting a purchase, though 40 percent preferred laptops and PC’s for online purchases, believing these provided better security. Mobile ads appeared on the scene, with 32 percent reporting awareness of ads, and 41 percent clicking through.
Social media became such a huge draw that mobile phone companies began marketing their products using Facebook and Twitter apps as their primary selling points. Facebook started a huge campaign to get its mobile version on every one of the 900 million phones in the country.
SOCIAL MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES FOR BRANDS IN INDIA
Indian consumers’ expectations from brands on social media platforms differ little from markets worldwide. According to Neilsen, 53 percent of social media users here are looking for shopping sales and discounts online, 50 percent are in for information on industry trends, and 48 percent are looking for advice on products and services. In addition, the following chart illustrates their more specific expectations.
In late 2010 only 6 brands in India had more than 300,000 fans on their Facebook pages.– Vodafone’s Zoozoo campaign, MTV India, Fastrack, Axe Angels Club, Facebook India, and FlipKart.com.
This changed drastically in the following years. Below is a list of the top 5 local brands on Facebook India in January 2014:
The following were the top brand profiles on Twitter India during the same period:
with 149,809 followers
YouTube featured the following nation wide top performers in its most viewed list towards the beginning of 2014:
Mobile is critical to success of marketing campaigns targeting India. Brands deciding to launch online campaigns in India, will benefit by the availability of affordable mobile handsets and devices such as the Akaash II tablet to the masses, which in June 2102 retailed for less than $US 50, targeting rural markets in India.
One of the key challenges that brands and digital marketers faced in this country however, was the acute shortage of syndicated statistics and authenticated data to use to benchmark the success. Social media marketing in India is maturing however, and more and more relevant data is now being acquired on a regular basis for analysis.
SMALLER BRANDS HAVE THE RIGHT IDEA
Online marketing trends and results in India have proved that on the Internet, the world is flat. The size of a brand seems irrelevant if the focus is on building bridges with the customers by engaging them.
Standardized practices of online marketing do not hold as much water in a nation as culturally, linguistically, and ethnically diverse as India.
A 2011 study conducted by Kapil Ohri of Afaqs established that a range of smaller brands were making far better initial use of social media platforms in India, than their bigger counterparts. Brands such as Wildcraft and Cocoberry then 2011 had 210,000 and 45,797 fans respectively, while big brands Reebok, KFC India, Parle Agro’s Hippo, ITC’s Bingo or even the extreme niche brands such as the Big Chill Café logged fewer than 1,000 fans. Even the biggest corporate names in India such as Airtel, Chevrolet India, and Tata Photon, were not able to generate much interest in their promotional campaigns on online social networks. This is likely because smaller brands were much more adventurous in their online marketing approach by incorporating unusual and sometimes taboo ideas to engage their fans.
TIPS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING IN INDIA
Get started earning engagement as soon as possible your competition is probably already there.
Consider and appreciate that privacy is an important issue for current and potential social media users in India.
Create customized approaches that are fine-tuned for unique Indian cultural and social contexts.
Use Facebook to reach consumers, LinkedIn for Jobs seekers, and Twitter for sports fans.
While Hindi is growing in use in social media, you will be okay setting your campaigns up in English as most tech in India remained in English in 2014.
India Facebook Statistics:
www.indiasocial.in/social-media-marketing-in-india- percentE2 percent80 percent93-brands-active-on-
The Growth of Social Sites in India:
State Of Social Media (World Statistics) by Rajiv Dingra, March 16, 2010:
2012: Taking Over the World by Priit Kallas:
Internet and Social Media in India: Latest Trends and Statistics by Indrashish Ghosh, June 20, 2011:
Finding your target audience on social media – A quick primer, July 14, 2010:
www.blog.adityarao.name/finding-your-target-audience-on-social-media-percentE2 percent80 percent93-a-quick-primer
Twitter expands local trends to 6 cities in India, March 19, 2012:
Social Media in India by Ankit, September 24, 2011:
Social Media Statistics of Facebook & YouTube for brands in India, January 2012:
Social Media India – Facebook India Statistics:
Social Media India – Linkedin India User Statistics:
Top 7 Reasons Why Brands Should Have Mobile Friendly Websites, September 22, 2012:
The Urban Indian Smart-Phone Story, November 04, 2011:
India Passes 60 Million Social Media Users, Still Has a Long Way to Go by Steven Millward, November 09,2012:
IN – 1,270,000,000 population (2013) – Area: 3,166,944 sq km
Capital City: New Delhi – 11,279,074 population (2012)
213,000,000 Internet users for December 2013, 16.8 percent penetration, per IAMAI.
62,713,680 Facebook subscribers on Dec 31, 2012, 5.2 percent penetration rate.
4.21 Mbps Broadband download speed on Nov.28, 2013, per NetIndex.
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