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Brands Can No Longer Ignore Facebook
Brands Can No Longer Ignore Facebook
By: iMedia News Bureau

With more than 500 million active users globally, Facebook is a place that no marketing man can miss. Yet, Indian marketing professionals have been a little late in catching up on the social networking site. But, with 25 million active users, a number that is only expected to grow in a country where the number of internet and web on mobile users are increasing, brands in India are taking to Facebook with gusto to run their branding, advertising and marketing campaigns, thus having a very profound effect on the Indian advertising industry. The ones using Facebook the most and most creatively, are digital and interactive marketing industry. 

When iRealities, a digital marketing company based in Mumbai, launched the Good Morning Heart Campaign for Quaker Oats in 2010 buoyed by social media, they got over 1 lakh registrations in two months. Similarly for a campaign called the World’s Largest Puzzle Campaign for Lipton, the brand managed 150,000 users during the campaign period that lasted a few months, again the main driver was social media, mainly Facebook. Contests2Win, another Mumbai based interactive marketing solutions provider, managed the same miracle for its brands. In one campaign for the Future Group’s Big Bazaar, it managed 10,000 fans on Facebook in just three weeks.  
Similar tales of success are heard from brands across the Indian marketing spectrum. And 2010 will go down as the year where the Indian market fully discovered the potential of Facebook and used it to their advantage with some unique experimentation. 
Why do the brands do that?
The reasons are many. Today, the consumer seeks engagement even in advertising. Though simple ads in conventional media continues to run, it no longer is a sure shot way of success since it is a one way communication where besides watching it for the duration of time, it does not engage the viewer. On social media however, the potential consumer is engaged in a two way communication with the brand and its product. A consumer thus feels engaged to the brand or product, thus not only increasing his retention of the same, but also increases loyalty towards it in a cluttered media space where loyalty is usually fickle. 
Brands are thus not only allocating marketing money for social media but are increasingly hiring specialist agencies to run their social media marketing for them. Thus, like adverting and PR, social media is becoming an integral part of a company’s marketing campaigns. 
According to media estimates, a total of Rs. 85 crores was spent on social networking sites last year, which again is a minuscule number when you consider that the online advertising pie in India is a total of Rs. 785 crore and is expected to grow 26% this year. The reason for this minuscule number when it comes to social media is because Indian brands have been late to wake up to digital. And now that they have, most of the expense is on creating a digital presence through websites and portals and many brands that spend a lot on doing this, so far seem to ignore the importance of being present on social media. 
However, this is expected to be a thing of the past. Considering that Facebook with 25 million plus active users, and growing, makes for a compelling branding case for different brands looking to reach out to a growing India. Then there is Twitter which is again exponentially growing and Orkut, whose user base is declining, but with around 18 million users, still continues to be a formidable social media. Facebook evidently has seen the maximum spent, compared to the other two. The reason is also that Facebook has a much more open platform that lets users build applications that attach to Facebook. 
India has over 100 million internet users. Though this is less than 10% of the total population of India which is 1.21 billion, it is enough to put India at the number three position in the world’s largest internet users list. And this is a number that is slated to rise and with it will rise the number of Facebook users. Brands can thus no longer ignore this social media. They do it at their own risk.