The massive growth in the adoption of smartphones coupled with the update of mobile internet has led to a revolution in the growth of social media in India. Smartphone sales have been growing in excess of 100% over the last 2 years and this growth rate is expected to continue in the near future. However, to unleash the real power of smartphones, it is important that they are connected to internet. The telcos in the country have been working very hard on this opportunity to create compelling mobile internet packages for the people. While this initiative has seen some success, affordability is not the only factor that can help mobile internet growth. There have to be definitive use cases that need to be educated to the masses to ensure faster adoption of mobile internet.
This need has led to multiple partnerships of telcos with leading social media platforms. Leading social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc have seen enormous growth in India. Facebook has emerged as the leading platform with more than 100 million users in India and more than 90% of the users being active on the mobile device.
The top two reasons that can be attributed to the massive number of active users for social platforms on the mobile device are
Smartphone being the first internet screen for majority users
Affordability has been one of the major reason for lower adoption of computing machines (desktop / laptops) in the previous years. With the prices of smartphones continuously seeing the downward trend, their adoption has been growing Y-O-Y
Limited wired broadband connectivity in the country
The availability of wired broadband services in the country has been limited resulting in lower penetration of internet. However, with the launch of 3G services by multiple telcos and recent focus on 4G, mobile internet has seen high adoption rates through various pricing interventions made by the telcos supported with the evolution of the content and the device ecosystem
The popularity, reach and acceptance of social media had been recently demonstrated in the country during the 2014 Lok Sabha General elections. Every political party had taken up the digital medium to reach out to the masses in an effective manner. Social media campaigns not only helped the leaders to connect to a much bigger audience; it had also supported them to capture the voice of the user, understand their expectations and deliver it once they get elected.
The campaigns were made more effective through the use of various social media analytics platforms that helped determine their success, determine factors that created user connect and take informed decisions while replicating it in other parts of country. Thus, social media empowered the political parties to reach out to the people and also take informed decisions based on user response and expectations.
SME Growth in India
SME sector has been consistently growing in India. As per a report published by Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), there are more than 48 million SMEs in the country. The sector has seen a regular growth of over 4.5% in the last 5 years and employs close to 40% of Indian workforce. Infact, the SME sector is second only to agriculture in terms of the number of people employed. This sector caters to both national and international markets manufacturing more than 6,000 products in the traditional as well as the hi-tech areas.
Need of Social Media for SME
The growth of SMEs in India has not been without their own share of problems. The sector continues to face problems with financing/investments because of its smaller scale and market access compared to bigger enterprises. In a consumer led market, SMEs also face problems of efficiency as well as hiring and retaining top talent. Although there are many such issues, the biggest problem being faced by SMEs is attracting new customers.
Their limited budgets does not give them the muscle for traditional marketing, thereby constraining them to connect with customers in the market. As a result, the SME sector faces a major problem in attracting and creating new customers and losing it to competition from the bigger enterprises. It is therefore, important that this sector looks for new innovative ways of reaching out to old & new customers in a manner that their problems does not hamper their intent to grow.
Social media is one of the new channels that can be employed by SMEs to market themselves and connect with customers. The rapid adoption of social media coupled with the increasing penetration of smartphones over the last few years have ensured that this channel will enable SMEs to market themselves to a much larger audience than would have been possible through traditional marketing channels.
SMEs can have their social media strategy chalked out on the kind of customer segment that they intend to target (B2C/B2B). Utilization of different social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ etc will be driven by the kind of product being marketed. An effective strategy that builds on top of complimentary usage of different platforms will have to be carefully worked out to help maximize the benefits that can be drawn from the limited resources (both financial and people) of the SME.