You’ve heard all those jokes about Facebook addiction? Well, they are for real.
According to a recent report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India, Facebook is the leading website accessed by 97 per cent of all social media users in India. And the average frequency of social networking access (using the mobile phone) is: yes, seven days a week.
These figures, however, are not startling to anyone in the social media; they only indicate a certain incremental change from the previous years. Saurabh Parmar, founder, Brandlogist, and digital marketing professor, points out a couple of discrepancies: for instance, Facebook says its numbers have crossed 62 million in India, while the study pegs the total number of social media users at 62 million.
Some of the other numbers are surprising, he says. “How many people use G+? The study puts it at the second most popular social media site.” The study also says about 35 per cent of the social networking base is from small towns. “If this is true, then this is a surprise. All along we were thinking that social media are dominated by people from big cities, and we have been targeting content, advertisements and offers for them,” says Naga Chokkanathan, social media and customer experience management consultant.
With all this potential in social media in the country, the utilisation of this force for marketing is still in its infancy, say analysts.
Barring a few exceptions, most brands are still relying on the traditional advertising avenues.
“Brands are surprised when we tell them that FB is seven to eight times the size of the largest print publication, larger than TV channels. Today, almost every brand is on FB, but just as a checklist. They are not yet talking about how you can drive marketing via social media,” says Mr. Parmar.
But, this is going to change very fast, Mr. Chokkanathan says. “Pretty soon, people are going to expect rapid communication via social media channels and this will become a hygiene factor instead of a ‘Good To Have’ thing.”
As for Twitter, though it creates a comfortable-pal zone among its regular users, different strategies are needed to market brands. This is to be clarified, especially given the way people use it in India, compared to the U.S., explains Karthik Srinivasan, blogger, PR professional and social media observer.
An interesting but expected takeaway from the study is the overwhelming use of mobile phones to access digital content. “After all, there are more phones than PCs here,” says Mr. Chokkanathan. Mr. Srinivasan insists that it is only going to grow in the coming years. “We are getting a plethora of smart phones in the below-Rs. 20,000 category and prices are falling year after year. Bandwidth charges notwithstanding, this would drive social media usage a lot more than PC-based access. Add tablets to the mix and things seem even more promising.”
Experts also point to a long-pending but imminent revolution in the social media space in the coming years: the inclusion of regional language content. “Social media being largely a personal mode of communication, people prefer to communicate in their native language. We see a huge growth in this, but user-created content in regional languages is going to become really huge and stay,” says Mr.Chokkanathan. In fact, it is going to be something for IAMAI to seriously consider and delve deeper into the future reports, adds Mr. Srinivasan.