How many of us resort to mindlessly surfing the internet, particularly social media platforms, when we even have an iota of extra time on our hands?
Whether it is to update ourselves with news from around the world, investigate scrumptious recipes, one up our social media presence, or just snoop around for tantalizing gossip about media personalities — excited at the thought of a scandalous revelation, we all do it!
Almost a quarter of the 1.40 Billion Indian population is currently active on different social media platforms like Facebook (491.53 million users), Whatsapp (534.30 million users), Instagram (503.37 million users) etc. As per estimations, by the end of 2022, nearly 370.77 million Indians will be active on different social media platforms.
Albert Einstein could not have imagined the influence of social media in our lives and how prevalent it would be when he said, ‘A man is simultaneously a solitary and a social being.’
This statement might as well serve as a banner post to convince the undeterred section of the population, which is yet to make the transition into the era ruled by social media.
Social media has somehow managed to create a unique space that has created a new swarm of ‘ambiverts’. Those who enjoy the sense of anonymity and being a wallflower while still presenting a version and a part of themselves to the world for them to ponder about. India is no stranger to this avalanche of change as an average of two and a half hours of the day are solely dictated by social media platforms.
What is Social Media?
Now that we have a little context of India’s social media scene let us try and understand its basic makeup.
Similar to the process of pooling apples and oranges under the umbrella domain of ‘FRUITS’, different social media applications may serve different intended purposes or target audiences. However, they have still considered the primary applications falling under social media.
Social Media is basically the set of new-age tools or communication applications that enable users to form and maintain connections online. While this explanation has certain vagueness attached to it, it accurately mirrors the ambiguous nature of social media.
Emergence of Social Media in the Indian Context
In August of 1995, the Indian public, for the very first time, marvelled at the sight of the internet, made possible by the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL)
ORKUT was the first official website launched for the people of India in the year 2005. It was the start of a life that encompassed interacting and connecting with others by sharing pictures and messages over an online medium anytime, anywhere
The main purpose was to allow people to stay connected and form networks easily, which later laid the foundation for the launch of Facebook in India.
The wall or newsfeed concept of Facebook, where users could interact with real-time pictures, posts, and videos, was new and exciting for the Indian audience.
Since the launch of Whatsapp in mid-2010, the simple yet purposeful user interface has been its key marketing feature.
Apart from the top-tier social media applications, we also have other platforms like Twitter, Snapchat, and Pinterest, which are still slowly but surely gaining much-needed momentum. India currently has 295.44 Million users on Twitter, and Snapchat has a user base of 282.28 Million.
Most of the massive user base is from a well-educated, urban background. The audience age group is quite varied. For example – 25-34 years old are extremely active on Twitter, which is a slightly elevated demographic than other social media platforms like Facebook.
Read more here about the top 31 Important Instagram Stats & Facts to Boost Your Business Online (2022 Instagram Statistics)
It is important to know the kind of target audience that is active in each group, along with the kind of content that will be prioritized. If this is clearly identified and analyzed, it results in an exponential growth of the platform, brand or individual. However, a single platform like YouTube can be used for various different reasons for different age groups. For example, YouTube is used for both educational content for the youth and entertainment for the elders.
Top 4 Social Media Platforms in the Indian Landscape
Now, to better understand the Social Media landscape in the world’s second most populous country, let us delve a little deeper into India’s top social media platforms.
Whatsapp is a social media application that was initially conceptualized to provide a platform for giving quick updates on our day. This was intended to be used by an individual to send updates to his close friends and family. However, over the years, it has constantly evolved to be more than just a messaging application.
Whatsapp’s largest market in the world is India. About 70% of the population are active users of this application. After its launch in 2010, TataDocomo was one of the first service providers to sign up with Whatsapp and make it available to their consumers for a rather affordable price. This access to the Indian market, combined with a new innovative feature – the voice messaging option or push-to-talk feature launched in 2013—pushed WhatsApp to success. It was a short voice message option that intended to provide an even more convenient form of messaging by replacing text with sound. At that time, there were 30 million Indians who were active on Whatsapp.
After Facebook acquired Whatsapp in 2014, the founder, Jan Koum, stated that India was a top priority for the expansion of WhatsApp, with over 40 million users. By the end of 2014 alone, there were 70 million active Indian users on Whatsapp. With unprecedented growth every month, Whatsapp currently has 534.30 million users from all over India. The youth population of India, those in the age group of 18-24 years, form the majority, quickly followed by middle-aged Indian men and women. Although there are more urban users, the speed at which the reach of Whatsapp is growing is much higher in rural areas. The latest trends show that people in rural areas are downloading the application in higher numbers as compared to the urban population.
4 years after the acquisition, WhatsApp launched its Business App and UPI to utilize WhatsApp as a Marketing Channel. Around 5 Crore businesses use WhatsApp, out of which 1.5 Crores are Indian Businesses
Some of the features which have facilitated this mammoth success are the location sharing feature, Blue-ticks feature, adaptability to any user device, business account, end-to-end encryption, and even the backup facility to store all the data. These features, combined with a highly simple user interface, allow people of all ages and backgrounds to navigate easily.
The government of India is also utilizing the benefits of having a wide reach and facilitating some measures and policies to be implemented using WhatsApp. Apart from the tremendous information for resources that were shared on WhatsApp during COVID, the government is also making provision for a 24/7 helpline for women with various needs.
In regional languages, several states utilize the language-rich chatbot feature to provide information on various topics like farming and agriculture, textile, pregnancy, and other issues. This facilitates better reach and better-quality assistance for the citizens.
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One of the most loved social media applications is Instagram. Launched in October 2010, there are 503.37 million users on the platform (June 2022). That accounts for nearly 20.1% of the total Indian population.
Indians spend an average of 5.25 hours a week on Instagram, which is roughly 45 minutes every single day. Considering that a little over two hours are dedicated to social media and a major chunk of that is spent on Instagram can put things into perspective for all marketers and social media managers.
Instagram initially started as a photo-sharing application designed for mobile phone users. It was a place to share edited or unedited photos to reach a wider audience. It was launched at a time when Facebook was still working on optimizing its site to adapt to the new-age mobile phone users, and Twitter had not managed to sell well to consumers.
Since its launch, the application has continued to grow and has transformed into a mythical creature capable of doing anything and everything. This transformation was further accelerated in India post the ban imposed on TikTok by the Indian government in 2020.
In the context of age groups, the youth are leading this Instagram revolution. Indian youth belonging to the age group of 18-24 years are the major driving force behind those astonishing growth statistics. The majority of users of Instagram in India are reported to be men, nearly reaching 74.5%.
Several innovative and engaging features have driven Instagram to the top tiers. Features like filters, editing tools, explore pages to pursue interests etc. have been game changers. People can upload stories to post short yet engaging videos and reels or even make calls, and chat features have truly made Instagram a haven for content admirers.
After the pandemic, there has been a massive boom in businesses. Online Instagram stores, pop-ups and even thrift stores have allowed people to conduct business from the comfort of their homes. The ease and cost-effective nature of this strategy have given rise to a new wave of small businesses solely operating on Instagram. About 50% of online engagement ends with a purchase. Therefore, Instagram has become one of the leading giants in the field of Digital Marketing.
Businesses have found huge success in paid ads for brand awareness campaigns, with the average PPC around $1.23. Brands need to stay on top of relevant market trends to ensure that Instagram can be the best way to conduct online businesses for products/services, sponsorship or even brand awareness.
Influencers have been able to gain a huge reach and engagement while teaching the masses about topics like finance, content, monetization, fashion etc. Notably, more than half the 30 million creators share their creativity on Instagram. Instagram’s research shows that 70% of shoppers use this network to research their next purchase based on content created by influencers.
Apart from marketing strategy and e-commerce growth, the ease of connecting to anyone and getting a glimpse of their life has been the main reason for the enormous success.
Bounce article, read more about the top 20 Instagram Growth Hacking Techniques.
Facebook is one of the most user-engaged social media platforms in India. The masses of India are the prime users. Those living in rural and developing regions of the country, particularly men, form the huge majority.
According to studies conducted in 2019, Indians spent an average of 17.2 hours a month scrolling through posts and content on Facebook. These numbers have increased due to the pandemic, budget-friendly mobile devices, and better internet facilities. As of June 2022, it is estimated that nearly 514.3 million Indians are active users of Facebook. Men are a whopping 73.8% of this traffic.
Since social media requires a hint of tech-savviness, the youth of the country, belonging to the age group of 18-24 years, is the majority of users.
Over the last 16 years, Facebook has evolved in terms of features and reach. From the humble beginnings of just a ‘wall’ to post thoughts and memories — has transformed with new and exciting features being added frequently. Facebook still manages to grab the attention of the Indian audience and continues its reign here in India. Some of the features of Facebook, like Facebook Marketplace and chat groups for business purposes, have simplified the managing and marketing of businesses to a great extent. Other features like easy user interface, adaptability with mobile devices, and Lite versions of the application, which require less data loading, swept the Indian social media market. Nearly 90% of Indian users are accessing Facebook through mobiles, making their features truly beneficial for their growth. Facebook is standing the test of time and continuing to stay relevant despite launching several similar applications. It is truly an ode to the thinking and conceptualization of its creators.
Bounce article, read more about the top 21 Facebook Growth Hacking Techniques
YouTube was launched in India on December 15th, 2005. This video streaming application facilitates users to view video content from around the globe. It was launched when the internet was the new technological wave that amazed people. This propelled the further success that YouTube experienced in the Indian market.
As of April 2022, there are 467 million active users on Youtube. Unlike the other social media platforms, YouTube users are of different ages. The simple user interface, clear purpose, global access, and creative content are the reasons for the success of Youtube. Food and culture, travel, business, education, art, history, gaming, lifestyle, fashion, luxury, and infinite other topics are discussed on Youtube by both amateurs and industry experts. Such engaging content has been why an average Indian spends roughly 108 minutes daily on this application.
With digital marketing gaining incredible scope worldwide, innovative and consumer-centric target ads are necessary to propel a business towards success. Youtube advertisements, whether paid ads or Youtuber sponsorships are a certified way of reaching a global consumer base for a fraction of the cost. YouTubers or creators create engaging content to inform or entertain the audience. Businesses utilize these content creators’ reach and engagement to market their products or services. This unique strategy has resulted in great profits for all organizations, contributing significantly to the Indian economy. It was reported that Youtubers had contributed nearly 6,800 crore rupees to the Indian economy. These numbers are expected to reach a new high in 2022.
Bounce article, read more about the top 20 YouTube Growth Hacking Techniques – Marketing Strategies
Every era is ruled by an invention of the time. Whether it was the wheel, the engine, or even a new textile fabric, very few creations achieve the relevance needed to define an entire era by their existence. The 21st century is a digital era overtaken by online applications, websites, and portals. This century will be defined by the exponential growth of the world of social media. It has become the best way to engage for learning, entertainment, or even building strong connections. The only investment you will make is your precious time and really fast internet!
India has embraced this wave of change. As one of the largest markets for almost all social media platforms, more and more applications are searching for similar opportunities to launch their product. The past has shown us that while some applications like Orkut were lost to changing needs, others like YouTube and Facebook managed to stay relevant. More exciting and innovative platforms are frequently introduced to keep the audience engaged and hooked to their phones. Social media is the new global trendsetter and is going nowhere.