Being Indian as I am, when I take a look at the country’s fascinatingly diverse and colourful digital and social media ecosystem, it reminds me of what is to me the most striking feature of modern India herself today: A nation poised on the cusp of unimaginable transformation, with limitless opportunities and possibilities ahead… if only…
Today there are approximately 120 million Indians online. That staggeringly massive figure, in just about any other country, constitutes roughly just 10% of India’s mammoth, continent-sized population.
Sixty percent of Indians online today use social networks. Not all as active as others. Some are very heavy users – the Twitter addicts of Bombay, Delhi and Bangalore, and the urban elite on Facebook.
Most others have their own private networks, quite often on smaller networks, including dating networks. So the approximate 70 M Indians that do use social networks, a core group of 25 to 30 million can be defined as “heavy users”. This group returns to check their profiles and streams 1-3 times per day on average.
Many of this set access their networks via mobile devices and site apps on iOS, Android and Windows. The top eight metro cities that account for the highest online traffic are Bombay (Mumbai), Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Ahmedabad.
Interestingly, a significant sixty percent of India’s social networking traffic comes from Non Metro-Cities. These are smaller cities and towns. This shows the geographical spread of social networking and online usage in India – far beyond just the traditional bases of infrastructure. Seventy percent of internet users in India are male.
Which leaves the female percentage at just thirty. This is an intriguing statistic, and proves that India has yet to tap the internet for knowledge sharing and as an educational resource – fields where women tend to dominate towards self-empowerment.
Let’s look at some other demographics. For example, Age: the most active demographic of Indians on the internet – via PC and Mobile – is the 15 to 24 age group. Students spend more time on the internet in India than any other group.
Looking for academic and career opportunities plays a big part of how young people in India’s youth-dominated population (India is one of the world’s youngest countries with some forty percent of its population under the age of 25.) With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that social media and online usage finds itself at its highest with the 15-24 demographic, India’s largest, who are ambitious, hungry for opportunities and a chance at success, and are looking for places to apply for university and for jobs.
India’s 25-34 age segment is the next most active. This group represents the young urban and semi-urban elites of India. Working in offices, looking for their next big break, and networking with their friends. Of the 35 plus Indians who are online, we see a drop in social media and networking activity.
Generally speaking, this older group of non-digital natives prefers to browse and read news, reviews, finance, business and entertainment and watch video (consume content) from traditional portals.
Coming back to Social media then, a core group of twenty million users in India are social addicts, checking their feeds and streams once a day on average. Where do they spend their time?
On social services such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Orkut - statistically the three top social networks in India today. Facebook’s rise to a dominant, market-leading position in India has been well-publicized over the last year. Facebook today commands 46M subscribed Indian users.
A rich group of elites and urban hopefuls. India’s most modern set and arguably, the country’s most “valuable” database of 15-40 year old urban Indians. Facebook has seen its subscriber base double in the last 6 months, and is rapidly growing in India, whereas Orkut is shrinking or at most holding steady by most estimates.
LinkedIn is also popular in India, with over twenty five million professional Indians, having built their profiles there. This 25-34 age group is exclusively of India’s white-collar, upper middle class working elites. Many look for exciting jobs beyond India’s shores, while still others look to network and court the best talent from overseas to come to India.
Interestingly, most social networking activity in India takes place between 6 pm and 10 pm – in the evening. For anyone who has ever lived and worked in India, and is familiar with the hard schedule of most professionals, running from pillar to post with one task after the other, this will not come as too big a surprise. Indians tends to network when they relax, and Indians are traditionally highly social people, always looking to expand their spheres of influence and their groups.
WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH DIGITAL CONTENT IN INDIA.
Entertainment is the key driver of content online in India and the most popular type of content. Like people everywhere else, Indians too love to watch videos online, making it a popular content type – especially entertainment and news content. If there is ever a cricket match on, sites like Cricinfo.com and ESPN quickly become the most trafficked and used sites in India.
Seventy percent of online Indians use the online reviews and sites make purchase decisions and to form opinions about products, issues and organizations. What do Indians like to do when they are in their social networks? Social networking usage is topped by Interactive Games/Apps, and viewing Videos and Photos. As it is elsewhere, so too in India, search engines are a powerful driver of opinion-forming and information gathering. Search is used equally by all demographics in India. Google is by far the search leader in India. In the next six months forty five thousand online Indians will sign up to social networking sites – each day!
In a recent study, a quarter of all online Indians were able to recall brands that they came across using social media.
A very significant sixty seven percent of Indians who are on the web today use online reviews to help them make purchases and form purchase decisions around products and brands.
That’s over seventy million of India’s wealthiest and most prosperous demographic. Sixty percent of Indians who use social media sites say that they are open to being approached by brands.
Individual privacy is not as big a concern online in India as it is in some other developed markets. Indians are used to less personal space and maybe that is why they do not mind brand invasion as much. Indians spend more time on social media than they do checking email. Overall, social media usage in India is growing at 100 percent year-on-year.
Indeed, the only constraint in the growth of social media is the growth of India’s internet penetration itself, largely due to its famed infrastructural challenges as a nation.
INDIA – MOBILE NATION
India has eight hundred million mobile subscriptions already. In India some individuals have two SIM cards. So, with this in mind, unique subscribers is in the region of five hundred and fifty million. The number of mobile subcriptions increases by twenty million each month! While mobile payment gateways in India are sophisticated and many banks have begun experimenting with how to use these for transactions with customers, mobile shopping and e-retailing is still very much in its infancy in India.
-Smartphone penetration is growing in the Top 8 Metros, but is still low overall, and expected to grow with more affordable devices and 3G coming into the market. And finally, in our whirlwind tour around the state of India’s internet, online and mobile advertising is massive: ten billion ads are served on mobile every month. Yes, ten billion.
Indians are increasingly connecting to their networks and to the internet via their mobile devices. Here is a list of the top 10 social sites in India now: Facebook LinkedIn Orkut iBibo BharatStudent Myspace Hi5 Fropper Bigadda Perfspot I hope you enjoyed this tour of the Indian internet and social web.
- Zaheer Nooruddin
D/BM l Analytics Strategy Activation
D/BM stands for Social, Mobile and Digital at Burson-Marsteller Asia Pacific. D/BM analyzes real-time conversations, strategizes content and influence, and activates digital storytelling for better corporate reputation and marketing in Asia Pacific.
Zaheer Nooruddin is the regional digital and social media lead at Burson-Marsteller Asia Pacific.