After ‘tech savvy’ it is the ‘social media savvy’ that has become synonymous with today’s generation. About 2/3rd of Indians online spend time on different social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. Even the trend of sending personal emails seems to have become obsolete as compared to social media. But why is this media becoming so popular in India? Interaction, live chat, status updates, image- as well as video-sharing are few of the major aspects that play a role in the popularity of social media. On the other hand, customer’s responses, interaction and brand awareness is why the companies are using social media in India and across the globe. Thereby, multiple roles played by social media beyond its core role of mere communicating information are leading to its popularity.
By December 2012, the number of social media users in urban India had reached 62 million. A sudden availability of smartphones and mobile Internet has led to a spurt in the use of social media. All the business ventures in India rely on social media to understand their consumer base, for brand awareness and interaction. Indian netizens use social media to build virtual communities, groups and to interact and chat. So, there is no doubt that Information and Technology, in particular rapidly increasing social media plays an important role in shaping the mind of customers towards certain products and brands. At the same time, it is used for entertainment and leisure by most of the Indians online. Each day, about 100 million Indians are engaged in social media, more than the population of Germany.
Social Media – Brief Introduction
In 2004, a Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook to connect with fellow students. But, at present, it is the most promising of all social media. At present there are 51 million Facebook users in India. Twitter, a micro blogging site where you can express yourself in 140 characters or less, is also a very prominent social media platform. YouTube was created in 2005 by Steve Chen and Chad Hurley that provides a provision of sharing videos. For all the professionals out there, LinkedIn is the best social media platform. Google has recently launched Google+ that is more or less like Facebook.
The Role of Social Media
Indian Politics and Social Media
Social media is not only confined to you and me but to politicians as well. Through different activities politics and politicians in India have brought social media into the limelight. It is expected that social media will play a huge role and influence the coming general elections to a great extent. The study by IRIS Knowledge Foundation and supported by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has indicated this fact. Social media will be real game changer with political leaders having millions of fans on Twitter and supporters on Facebook as well as Google+. In order to build a certain image, most of the politicians also have their own websites. A few examples:
All the recent lectures by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi got huge social media attention. He even hosted a political conference on Google+ hangouts and this makes him the third politician across the globe to do this after Obama and Australian PM Julia Gillard. Ajay Degan hosted his Google+ Hangout in which the common man was free to ask live questions from him. He has a strong presence on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
Shashi Tharoor is very active on Twitter and his tweets are quoted in mainstream media.
Few months back, you must have seen a page on Facebook seeking Dr. Abdul Kalam as president of India.
Then there is Anna Hazare’s Social Media Campaign against corruption in India.
Many researchers have indicated that social media would be stronger and more persuasive than television in influencing people.
Social Media and Business
Role of social media in business and consumer market in India cannot be undermined. It is the change in consumers’ behavior that is changing the role of social media in India. With time, use of social media has seen a drastic change from just used for fun to fun plus knowledge and marketing. For business purposes, Facebook is the most important social media platform as there is customers’ engagement, followed by Twitter, YouTube and blogging. Social media is used by brands to build communities for interaction and spreading news.
So not only individuals but every organization, be it big or small, has an online presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube channels and other related social media platforms. 95.7% of organizations in India use social media to build communities, 76.1% for highlighting brand news, platform specific parameters such as number of likes, share, comments, people taking about the company are considered by 81% of the organizations to measure their success. As far as the budget is concerned, most of the organizations set budget below INR 10 million on their social media spending that makes 1-5% of their total marketing budget. Social media interaction provides useful information about the behavior of the customers to the organization on regular basis.
Social Media and Recruitment in India
Social media and recruitment go hand in hand with social media becoming an integral part of recruiting firms. These firms are using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to find new employees and skills. So, gone are the days when for employment recruiters as well as employees used to rely on employment exchange and classified ads in the newspaper. Hiring through traditional media was based on gut feeling whereas through social media, it is based on interaction, communication and direct response. Most of the organizations have well planned strategies for talent acquisition through social media.
Social Media and IPL
Social media is also playing an active role in the Indian Premier League (IPL) by providing up to date and live information on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube. Teams are in constant touch with their fans through social media and there is great interaction. For IPL sponsors and brands, such an interaction and reach of social media is a boon. Thus there is no way to ignore social media for business and entertainment purposes.
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