Before we talk about the future of social media in India we need to think of the dividing line that runs across the nation and creates two separate nations. The uneven development of the country has left a yawning gap between metropolitan cities and the rest of India, and this reflect in the social media usage as well.
To make the case stronger, it suffices to say that Orkut may be dead in the metros, but it thriving in small towns and non-metro cities. So when we talk of the future of social media in India, we need to keep this difference in mind and preferences of both groups in mind.
What is the present state
It has been often said that India is one of the youngest countries in the world, perhaps the youngest – 50% of Indians are below the age of 25 and 65% of us are below 35. It means that there are more potential social media users in India than are anywhere else in the world. And to understand where we stand, all we need to do is to see the data of four biggest social media websites – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.
In terms of Facebook usage, India is the second largest country in the world, just below the United States. There are 45,796,460 Facebook users in the India, which is equal to 3.90% percent of total population and 56.54% of total online population.
India has the second largest base of LinkedIn users as well. India has a total 13,352,622 users which is equal to 1.14% of total population, and 16.48% of the online population. India is also the second largest user base for Google+, and on Twitter 16 million Indians are active.
When talking of the present condition of social media in India, we should also talk of two other dominant social media sites: Orkut and ibibo, which have 15.5 million and 5 million users, respectively.
What is the nature of social media usage in India
In one word social media usage in India is more visual. People share images because images do not need any language proficiency on people’s part for comprehension. Text-based or say opinion-based social media participation in India is still vey low because of lack of everyday English proficiency in the larger section of population.
But it is worth noting that people have developed a workaround this problem by sharing text as images. If you have been on Facebook for sometime then you must have seen text-led images circling Facebook.
The importance of developing social media sites in Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, and Tamil cannot be emphasized merely by the fact that Hindi and Bengali are two of the most spoken language in the world and Telugu and Tamil is not far behind. That is the reason why After Facebook and Twitter, other social media sites are also developing their platforms in Hindi.
What the future holds?
The total penetration of the Internet is 10.2% only, which leaves ample space for the Internet to grow and consecutively social media to spread its wing. When we mix it with the demographic data, we can safely say that in the years to come, a sharp rise in the social media usage in India can be expected.
What affects the social media usage in India
The growing penetration of cheap smartphones and Chinese mobile phones coupled with decreasing data usage rate in India are the prime factors causing the boost of social media usage – particularly the rise of “Facebook enabled phones”, or so they say it in the advertisement – in Tier II and III cities in India as well as in villages.
Social media channels that ask for high-speed Internet connection is yet to plant their feet in the India outside metros, but dropping price and growing acceptance of mobile Internet suggest that soon YouTube, SoundCloud and the likes will dig their feet in India.
The future looks bright for social media in India, but there are a lot many variables that will determine the actual usage of social media in years to come. One of the things that is slowing down the progress is the comprehension level of English, which, as we know, is the language of web.
April 22, 2013, 5:55 am UTC
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