Social media in India is full of opportunity. Social platforms are investing big – and global brands want in. Here’s how to connect with your online audience in the Indian market.

SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS

Just 41% of India’s population is online, but it’s still one of the world’s largest social media markets. There’s potential for growth as well. Thanks to developing infrastructure, many rural areas are about to go digital.

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

That’s not all. Instagram boasts 69 million Indian users, and LinkedIn has racked up 56 million users. Twitter and Snapchat have relatively small audiences (though Snapchat is growing in popularity). The relatively new platform TikTok was banned by Indian courts in spring 2019. (This spurred Facebook to react by allowing users to add music to Facebook and Instagram Stories. In this ultra-competitive market, no platform 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 becoming popular. They create video content focused on specific locales. Because of this, it’s best to plan your Indian social media strategy on a city or state basis. This allows you to address local trends and make regionally specific language choices.

There’s a lot to consider around social media in India. 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 to stand out.

Take Samsung, for example. They launched a nationwide campaign called “Real India,” aimed at Gen Z and millennials. The campaign 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 set the company up well for smartphone sales during the festive season.

Facebook’s been paying attention to the success of this approach. 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.

To stand out on social media in India, don’t just talk at your customers – interact with them.

TURN INTERACTION INTO TRANSACTION

The average Indian online user’s monthly data usage is 8 GB. Over 70% of that is used for entertainment. In fact, Indians are among the biggest fans of online video in the world, spending an average of 8.46 hours every week.

This is why social media in India has such a cinematic feel. Take British Airways’s “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.

Placing locally relevant and authentic storytelling at the heart of your content will delight your customers. To turn conversations into conversions, some brands link social campaigns to their physical locations. 

For example, Burger King launched a successful #SayCheese campaign. Customers who sent in photos featuring Burger King burgers could win vouchers.

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.

Currently, social media in India is overwhelmingly male. Reaching a female audience can mean supplementing social strategy with other channels. But this is starting to change. So connecting with female sellers to turn them into brand ambassadors puts brands in a great position to reach the growing female audience.

CONSIDER SOCIAL VALUES

In 2015, Epigamia launched India’s first Greek yogurt with a five-part original series called “What the folks.” It was “a journey of modern families breaking stereotypes, overcoming generation gaps, and growing to love one another, despite starkly different world views.” And a great example of two strong themes in Indian social content: family and changing social attitudes.

Politics isn’t off-limits in India either. During the 2019 general election, many brands campaigned on the importance of voting. For example, United Colors 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 Rumors.” 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 THOUGHT

Social media is a crucial way of building brand awareness in India. Go big and interact with your audience with locally relevant, authentic, cross-platform content if you want to be heard. Win over customers by championing your brand purpose. And prepare for the future by embracing India’s ever-changing digital demographics.