Social media in India is full of opportunity. Social platforms are investing big – and global brands want in. Here’s how to make sure your campaign goes with a swing.

62% of Indian citizens aren’t online – yet India is one of the world’s largest social media markets.

It has more Facebook users than any other country. YouTube’s Indian audience has grown 85% in the last year. And WhatsApp’s reached 400 million users. The subcontinent is now the largest market for all three networks.

They’re not the only successful sites either. Instagram boasts 69 million Indian users. LinkedIn’s racked up 56 million. There’s potential for growth too. Thanks to developing infrastructure, many rural areas are about to go digital.

But it’s not all plain sailing.

Twitter and Snapchat have relatively small audiences (but Snapchat is growing). Chinese site WeChat lags even further behind. The Indian courts banned TikTok in spring 2019. (Facebook reacted by allowing users to add music to Facebook and Instagram Stories. In this ultra-competitive market, no one is sitting still.)

Hyperlocal competition is growing too. As Indian audiences diversify, the demand for local language content is increasing. Apps like LocalPlay, Local and Awaaz are rising to the occasion. They create video content focused on specific locales. We recommend planning your Indian expansion on a city or state basis too. It’ll allow you to consider local trends and make all-important language choices.

Feeling dizzy yet?

Social media in India has a lot going on. It’s fast-paced, creative and full of opportunity. Here’s how to make the most of it.

FOCUS ON INTERACTIVE

60% of brands add an interactive element to their social media content. It’s an essential way of standing out.

Take Samsung. They launched a nationwide campaign called ‘Real India’, aimed at Gen Z and millennials. It encouraged users to share 60-second videos that break Indian stereotypes. The result? 161.8 million engagements on Instagram and Facebook over four weeks. This sets the company up well for smartphone sales during the festive season.

Facebook’s been listening to these success stories. They’ve launched new interactive ad formats in time for India’s festival season. (There are thirteen national and religious festivals in October alone.) This includes augmented reality, poll ads and stickers.

Want to stand out on social media in India? Don’t talk at your customers – interact with them.

FROM INTERACTION TO TRANSACTION

The average subscriber’s monthly data usage is 8 GB. Over 70% of that goes on entertainment. In fact, Indians are among the biggest fans of online video in the world. They spend an average of 8.46 hours watching every week.

This is why social media in India has such a cinematic feel. Take British Airways’ ‘Fuelled by Love’ story about an airline stewardess discovering India. Full of heartwarming moments, it’s an epic 6:30 minutes long.

Facebook has also gained exclusive digital rights for ICC (International Cricket Council) events. It will promote match recaps, key in-play moments and other features.

Place storytelling at the heart of your content to delight customers. Don’t be afraid to add your voice to the conversation around events either.

Of course, engagement without revenue will only take you so far. To turn conversations into conversions, consider linking social campaigns to your physical stores. For example, Burger King launched a successful #SayCheese campaign. Customers who sent in a photo with a Burger King burger could win vouchers – for more burgers.

Social commerce is also booming, especially outside the big cities. Startups like GlowRoad and Meesho support female sellers with services in local languages. In the last year, 1.8 million women sold $8 billion worth of goods in India. And the number of resellers is set to grow to 30 million by 2022.

Social media in India is overwhelmingly male. Currently, you should supplement your social strategy with other channels to reach women. But this is starting to change. So connect with female sellers now to turn them into brand ambassadors. You’ll then be in a great position to reach the growing female audience.

SOCIAL VALUES

In 2015, Epigamia launched India’s first Greek yoghurt with a five-part original series. It was ‘a journey of modern families breaking stereotypes, overcoming generation gaps and growing to love one another, despite starkly different world views’. The title? ‘What the folks’.

It’s a great example of two strong themes in Indian social content: family and changing social attitudes.

Politics isn’t off-limits either. During the 2019 general election, many brands campaigned on the importance of voting. United Colours of Benetton launched #UnitedByVote. The campaign video featured politicians making promises. Then, an ‘inked’ finger appears in the frame. The message is clear: voters hold power.

WhatsApp launched a campaign against misinformation, called Share Joy, Not Rumours. The content produced 284,000 views on YouTube alone.

If your brand has a clear social purpose, shout about it. It could be the key to connecting with your customers on social media in India.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Social media is a crucial way of building brand awareness in India. Go big and interactive to make yourself heard. Win over customers by championing your brand purpose. And prepare for the future by embracing India’s ever-changing digital demographics.

Want to conquer hearts and minds on social media in India? Check out our global social media page, then get in touch. We’re here to help.

Photo by Vishnu Nishad on Unsplash

ABOUT Sarah Kerkache

I’m a localization specialist with over twenty years’ experience. I love collecting insights that help to deliver high-quality results. And I’m particularly interested in how language and technology can work together.

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