Social Media gathers momentum as brands join the bandwagon in India

Mumbai : Social Media has now become part of everyday life for a majority of online Indians. According to a study on social media usage by The Nielsen Company conducted in collaboration with AbsolutData, nearly 30 million Indians who are online consumers are members of social networking sites and about two-thirds of them spend time on these social networking sites daily. More importantly, Indians spend more time on social media than they do checking personal email. According to the study, an equal number spend up to an hour on social networking and email. However while just 8% spend between an hour and three hours on personal email, 20% spend the same time on social media sites.

“Social media is now ingrained in the way tech savvy Indians live their lives. With its ability to play multiple roles in an individual’s life by enabling shared experiences, creating linkages between communities and satisfying the need to be networked, its role in creating a deeper engagement is a boon to marketing. Infact the study shows a third of online Indians access non traditional video outlets on the web for a range of activities “said Adrian Terron, Vice President, The Nielsen Company.

“The social web appears to have gone beyond supplementing communication. Online Indians today are using social media to facilitate activities that range from leisure like entertainment, improving their livelihood through job searches and researching prospective partners,” said Suhale Kapoor, EVP, AbsolutData.

Social Media gathers momentum as brands join the bandwagon

Social media is also gathering momentum rapidly. Based on the current rate of growth and the intention of online Indians to participate in social media, the study estimates that over the next six months 45,000 online Indians intend to join social networking sites each day.

When asked about the awareness of brands on social media, a fourth of online Indians were able to recall brands using social media. Of those consumers who are on social networking sites, a small but growing number claim to be following brands on these platforms.

“This indicates that no single brand ‘owns’ the social media space and that the opportunity to become a ‘social’ brand is overwhelming. Given that, having a social media presence connotes ‘innovation’ ‘customer friendliness’ and a sense of ‘cool’, brands should only ignore this aspect at their own peril” continued Terron.

Brand engagement through social media on the rise

Nearly 40 million Indians are using online reviews to inform purchase decisions – 67 percent of Indians who are on the web use online reviews to help them make purchases. As personal opinion gains currency on the social web, online users are seeking various outlets to express themselves, be it blogs or social media sites.

Increasingly, Indians also want brands to communicate with them using social media. 60 percent Indians who are social media users are open to being approached by brands indicating that social media has the ability to change the dynamic between brands and consumers who are typically time-starved and may consider traditional forms of advertising obtrusive and undesirable.

This emerging behavior points to the fact that brands need to deliver on consumer expectations much more than ever before, in a world where consumer opinion and brand advocacy, or criticism propagates through social networks much faster than ever before.

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