Man, has always been a social creature. To form communities has been a feature that is inscribed in our hardwiring. Social Media is now not just a platform, it is an evolution for human beings. What we were able to control, will end up controlling us.
Fact 1: According to market research firm eMarketer, India will surpass the United States in terms of largest number of Facebook users on mobile devices by 2017.
Fact 2: “We are adding five million new users a month and that should take the user base to 500 million by 2018-19,” says Rajan Anandan, managing director, Google India.
This simply means that there are more potential social media users in India than anywhere else and also outlines what will be the future of social media in India.
In yesteryears, Social Media evolved from a medium of connecting with friends, sharing pictures, following your favourite stars into something which controlled the fate of something as big as the General Elections. Under the Modi regime, India has already embraced the power of Social Media with initiatives like #SwachhBharat, #MakeinIndia being launched on Social Media, the government ministries, authorities titled the slowest in embracing technology now have their own social media properties with interactions going on 24X7. People have taken upon Social Media as there way of expression, be it sharing the review of their favourite or sounding an opinion against what is wrong with the country. Everyone is on the move, everyone is updated.
So yes, everybody is on Social Media, but where does this leave the brands? Since the scale of opportunity is so huge, brands have to leverage this chance. While the buzzword was ‘search’ a few years back, it is now replaced with social proof. This particular word has huge implications for brands- not just SME’s but even the biggest of the biggest. A single wrong move could make or break a brand. India has seen many such examples within the last few years- for the likes of Zomato, Uber, OLA, & Tinder making it big while many other getting flak for their unresponsiveness or general inability to adapt to this medium.
In time, some clear no-no’s have emerged for brands-
- Don’t just talk about yourself. Nobody cares.
- Customers are not stupid, internet users more so. Don’t treat them like that.
- Do not leave queries un-responded for a long time. Social media platform giants are including new features to measure a brand’s social responsiveness.
It’s the age & time of interactions and brands need to nurture communities by adding value to conversations. And though social media can & must be included within the overall marketing ecosystem, it has now become imperative that brands think about their social media presence as stand alone.
What’s in the future you ask? Here are a few things we definitely see happening in the future-
- Go Mobile!
With Myntra dumping their website for only mobile presence, there is a clear trend emerging and its implications are huge. Not just for ecommerce sites but for everyone. Today, of the total 2.6 billion active social media accounts, 1.6 billion are present on mobile*. To put this into perspective, out of every 5 people present on social media, 3 persons are also present on it through mobile.
Social media is not just about a hunch. It has clearly developed into a system of analytics, giving an insight into human behaviour. In the future, there will be more stress on analytics and understanding why something worked and why something didn’t.
Social Media will not be limited to the existing major platforms like Facebook or Twitter but as an ecosystem where emerging platforms like Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Ask.fm, Quora, Periscope, and numerous mobile apps will form a niche of their own. Dubsmash’s recent success is a prime example; an app initially popularised by college students, soon became the talk of the whole country with celebrities and brands cashing in on buzz. People’s platform choices will be driven by personal benefits, not by technological features.
For brands who haven’t yet seen social media as a key strategy element in their marketing, they are already missing out on something big, but in the future, it is only going to get bigger!
*Digital, Social & Mobile in 2015 by Simon Kemp