News Column

Social Media: Platform for Customer Engagement

April 30, 2013

Anushree Bhattacharyya

social media user

Social media is no longer just a platform for connecting with people but has transformed into a customer engagement platform with social networking emerging as the second most popular activity over the internet.

From being a channel which allowed one to remain in constant touch with friends and family, social media has matured into a platform for customer engagement, reveals a new report called Social Media in India - 2012, by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). According to the report, the number of social media users in urban India stood at 62 million in December 2012 and about 74% of all active internet users in urban India use social media. By June 2013, the number of social media users is set to touch 66 million.

"In the year 2011-12 India has experienced a massive social network user growth with over 50% growth. According to a report given by Neilsen in 2009, social networks and blogs were the fourth most popular online activity. For the past two years IAMAI has reported social networking as the second most popular activity, which is enough to prove the growth of social networking amongst internet users. With the innovations and value provided by the social networks, the usage can be further predicted to increase," said Yogesh Bansal, founder and CEO,

As per the findings of the report, of the 80 million active internet users in Urban India, 72% or about 58 million users have accessed or used some form of social networking. They have accessed social media via a personal computer (PC), laptop or even a mobile device. Interestingly, social media ranks right after e-mail (80%) in terms of usage. The report further suggests that social networking often serves to be among the 'first internet uses' of Internet in India, i.e., besides the more common reasons such as email, music and gaming.

The report further reveals that the highest proportion of social media usage was observed among the demographic segments of young men and college going students with 84% and 82% penetration levels respectively.

According to the report, although the top eight metros constitute more than a third of the entire user base, the other 66% belong to smaller cities in urban India. Also, 24% of all social networking users in India belong to small towns that have less than 2 lakh population, while another 11% are from towns that have 2-5 lakh population.

"According to the report, about 66% of social networks are being used in small towns vs 34% being used in metros, it is therefore quite clear that there is growth in tier 2 more as compared to the metros and therefore more emphasis should be laid on the value addition in these tier 2 cities," added Bansal.

With mobile penetrations reaching very high levels, and an increasing number of individuals owning feature-rich phones or even smartphones that allow internet access, social networking is rapidly penetrating the India active internet user base. One of the trends that has been observed is that apart from social networking, professional networking has been engaging the users. Professional networking sites are more popular among young females and has the second highest average time spent. It is also anticipated that the rate of growth via mobile will exceed the growth in usage through personal computers for the foreseeable future.

At present there are about 39.7 million active mobile internet users in urban India. This is almost 50% of the active internet base. These mobile internet users belong to the overall general active internet user base of 80.2 million, suggests the report. It also reveals that a greater proportion, that is, 82% of active mobile internet users, use social media, as compared to the overall general active internet population that is about 72%. According to the ICube 2012 mobile internet report, of the 23.6 million mobile internet users from the top 35 cities in India, 77% indulged in social networking by way of mobile phones. In fact, as per the report, social networking is considered the main internet activity done on a mobile phone.

Top activities of urban active internet users

E-mail: 80%

Social Networking:72%

Entertainment: 60%

Gaming: 59%

Browsing: 56%

Utility: 43%

Chatting: 41%

Top activities done on facebook

Using Apps: 73%

Accessing Groups: 47%

Finding friends: 34%

Watching Photos: 21%

Watching Videos: 11%

Chatting / Messaging: 11%

Search: 4%

Copyright 2013 The Indian Express Online Media Pvt. Ltd., distributed by

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Source: Copyright Financial Express (India) 2013

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