The jury is out. Despite the grand launch of Google Plus, Indians seem to be flocking towards Facebook. Digital marketers would indeed be delighted with the latest news from SocialBakers.com. As per a current research, India has just beaten Indonesia to rank at #2 in the list of Facebook users by country. The total number of Facebook users presently in India is 43,497,980 which has seen a 35.98% increase i.e. nearly 11,509,420 new users added in the last six months. The study also reveals that Facebook penetration in India is 53.70% in relation to the number of Internet users so that leaves ample scope for the remaining 46.30% to come onto Facebook.
So does it excite you that we are the #2 Facebooking nation of the world? Well, maybe not but what if you are a brand manager in charge of a Facebook fan page? Then, perhaps this news would be like music to your ears. And especially, since you were waiting with bated breath, after the launch of Google Plus. We asked a few industry experts what they thought about this new change. Pradeep Chopra, CEO, Digital Vidya said, “Theoretically speaking, whether India is ahead of Indonesia or not doesn’t make a difference. However, this news should give a lot of psychological boost to brands in India. Most of the brands have been thinking of Social Media (including Facebook) as still a Niche medium. In reality it’s not and the buzz created around this news should bridge the gap between their perception and reality.”
I think marketers are married to numbers, so as you have expressed this should be news to bridge the gap and erode the myth that social media is still nascent in India. Saurabh Parmar, Founder & CEO, Brandlogist Communications also shared similar views, “43.5 million is a good news, especially when you compare to the fact that Cable & Satellite homes (television) in India are at 105-110 million & TOI readership (print) is 7.5 million. The earlier myth of digital especially social media being small is definitely not true anymore.”
At the same time I have strongly believed that social media is a game changer for SME’s and the number growth will give them some cheer. Hareesh Tibrewala, Joint CEO of Social Wavelength had the same thoughts to share too,“I think social media creates a level playing field, specially from SME perspective. Big brands could always buy TOI front page and TV spots. But now with social networks, SMEs have the opportunity to reach out to a very targeted audience in a very cost effective and efficient manner”.
However, 43.5 million is an enormously exciting number to begin with and every brand manager would want the maximum portion of this pie. Which is why, we will see larger communities, extensive engagement, innovative Facebook marketing campaigns and massive digital budgets this year. Nevertheless, engagement is the key as emphasized by Pradeep, “ I once again want to remind that while the number of fans on Facebook is necessary but they are not sufficient. Engagement will continue to be key.”
But in the greed for numbers, I also fear the Facebook fiascos that are waiting to happen. We are broadly still in a nascent stage – most brands do not follow Facebook promotional guidelines except for a few. Our Facebook apps often suck. We do not reply to negative sentiments on the wall if we do not delete them altogether. We run contests or give discounts just to increase our fan count. We are on Facebook because our competitor is there and we are not bothered where our consumer is. Hence, bigger number of fans might not translate into better engagement or an effective ROI.
In foresight of this new change, Saurabh cautions brands, “But with size should come importance from brands, it needs to move beyond a cute, must do activity for brands & instead focus on how to leverage it in the larger picture. Facebook is not about just contests & likes, it’s about building genuine relationships which brands like Skittles & Starbucks have shown globally & the growth in numbers has benefited them.”
Indeed numbers should make social media chaps happy but one needs to evolve from the mentality of likes, contests and should focus on nurturing a strong targeted community. That’s what we feel about Facebook’s growth in India, do you feel the same or you beg to differ?
Slider Image Courtesy: WAT Blog