Around 462 million of India’s 1.3 billion people are online. And while this is a relatively small proportion of the population – 34.8 % – India has the second largest number of internet users in the world, and has experienced 30.5 % growth since 2015. In 2017, 1.06 billion individuals (or 79 % of the population) had mobile subscriptions. As mobile data plans become more affordable and ubiquitous, access to the internet in India should become more widespread in the next several years.
In areas where infrastructure and fixed telecom lines are patchy, and many people would have to walk miles to access the internet, it makes sense that internet use will be driven by the availability of affordable mobile phones and tablets. As a result, brands targeting Indian consumers need to adopt a mobile-first approach in their campaigns, websites, and social network pages to be effective.
- India has over 260 million active social media users
- Facebook is the biggest social network in India, with around 241 million users in 2017
- LinkedIn has around 42 million users
- Twitter has 23.2 million active users, the second largest base in Asia-Pacific after Japan
Research shows that Indian internet users spend the majority of their time online on social media. Facebook is the dominant social network in India, and has the largest base of Facebook users in the world at 241 million, followed closely by the United States at 240 million. Statistics from the Global Web Index show that 54 % of Indian social network users now also have a Google+ account.
Analyst Rajesh Prabankhar reports that social network users in India are mostly urban, male, and under 34 years old.
Video consumption in India is also on the rise. YouTube is the second most visited site in India according to Alexa, and is preceded only by Google.co.in in total traffic.
According to Socialbakers, the most popular Facebook pages in India are: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (43,061,323 fans); cricketer and captain of the Indian national team Virat Kohli (36,046,386); and Bollywood actor and producer Salman Khan (35,632,958 fans).
The number of Twitter users in India has expanded rapidly in recent years. Currently, the platform has 23.2 million active monthly users. However, Twitter accounts for only 17 % of all Indian social network usage.
The most followed Twitter accounts in India are: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (36,439,287 followers); Indian film actor Amitabh Bachchan (30,889,231 followers); and Indian film actor and producer Shah Rukh Khan (30,088,806 followers).
In 2016, users in India spent over 48 hours a month viewing content on YouTube. 70 % of YouTube viewers are under the age of 35, and were 38 % female and 62 % male. Usage of YouTube in India has grown at a rate of 90 % since 2015.
The most popular YouTube channels in India are: Indian music label and film studio T-Series (25,684,901,483 total video views and 27,469,467 subscribers); Hindi-language based channel Sony Entertainment Television – India (11,945,946,483 total video views and 16,106,246 subscribers); and Indian cable and satellite television channel Zee TV (11,334,373,263 total video views and 8,995,983 subscribers).
- People use social media primarily to get details on sales and discounts
- State Bank of India is the most popular brand on Facebook, followed by South Korean company Samsung
- The Indian Food League campaign by snack brand Hippo was one of the most successful regional ad campaigns
What do Indian consumers want from brands on social media? Neilson’s research indicates that is isn’t terribly different from the rest of the world, with 53 % wanting to hear about sales and discounts, 50 % looking for information on industry trends, and 48 % needing advice on using and maintaining products and services.
The biggest brands on Facebook in India (and bearing in mind Facebook is the biggest network by a large margin in India, it would be fair to say these are the biggest brands online in the country) are, according to Socialbakers: State Bank of India (13,675,265 fans); the local page of the South Korean multinational conglomerate, Samsung Mobile India (13,108,316 fans); and Indian mobile network operator Tata DoCoMO (12,917,456 fans).
On Twitter, the most popular brands as of November 2017 were: Indian private-sector bank YES BANK (3,502,280 followers); mobile ticketing app Ridlr Mumbai (3,006,987 followers); and State Bank of India (2,663,579 followers).
On YouTube, the most popular brands as of November 2017 were: Samsung India (455,886,401 total video views and 309,088 subscribers); Samsung Mobile India (378,502,652 total video views and 588,897 subscribers); and mineral and herbal product manufacturers Patanjali Ayurved (338,186,255 total video views and 132,189 subscribers)
One of the most innovative social campaigns in India was a campaign run by the snack brand Hippo entitled Indian Food League. It was a simple campaign focused on India’s love of cricket, and pit regional dishes against each other, encouraging users to comment on a virtual chalkboard showing the day’s menu.
The campaign was timed with the country’s cricket season and depended on the understanding that friends and families eat together as they watch the cricket together. It had a very specific regional appeal and used Twitter and Facebook as well as the hub of the campaign.
Language and Culture
- The most widely spoken language is Hindi, with 25 % of the population speaking it as a first language
- However, there are 22 official languages in India (in order of number of native speakers): Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Punjabi, Assamese, Maithili, Santali, Kashmiri, Nepali, Sindhi, Konkani, Dogri, Manipuri, Bodo, and Sanskrit
- Some are concerned that traditional values are being eroded by exposure to western cultures
- The Indian government is starting to censor various aspects of the internet and press
The most widely spoken language in India is Hindi; Google launched its Translator in Hindi in 2007, and its Hindi portal in 2009. In September 2011, Twitter launched its Twitter portal in Hindi. Hindi blogging is also on the up, with IndiBlogger hosting 1500 blogs in Hindi.
The big social networks are starting to roll out their offerings in other Indian languages: Google now offers search in eight other Indian languages including Punjabi and Bengali; and Facebook is also available in eight languages on mobile.
Traditional Indian cultural values, such as gender specific roles, the caste system and strong family ties, still exist, but are coming under pressure. Some say that this is the result of a globalised economy and the exposure to the west which the youth have gained while working in call centre environments. Most likely, an increase in the use of global social media sites would increase this western influence and therefore weaken these traditional influences further.
Additionally, the Indian government is beginning to censor the Internet. The Information Technology Act compels search engines and internet service providers to delete disparaging or blasphemous posts within 48 hours of a complaint. It has also banned Pastebin and Vimeo for allegedly posting copyrighted material.
In addition, Internet Archive, a service designed to catalogue all material online, was unexpectedly blocked within Indian borders in August of 2017. The site archives all sites online to ensure that no information is deleted forever by governments of individuals. The organisation has reached out to the Indian government for an explanation, but has not received one as of yet.
TranslateMedia provide professional Hindi to English translation services for some of the world’s multinational corporations.