Is Twitter the next big thing in emerging markets research?

If you’re interested in doing business in India, a quick browse at the Most Influential Twitter Users in India list will guide you in the right direction. Compiled by SEO Consultant, Mani Karthik, The Best 50 list reads like a Who’s Who of Internet and social media entrepreneurs.

The little birdie knows what's booming in India...

Little birdie knows what’s booming…

Twitter sure is the next big thing (well, it already is). Some peeps find it boring and waste of time but there are a handful of “Tweeple” who make the best out of it. They have people flocking them, and ReTweeting their tweets. Simply put – they are the most influential Twitter users in India.

The list ranks Tweeple by calculating their influence based on the following three criteria:

  • Number of followers
  • Power of their network and
  • Frequency/pace of updates

What struck me as most useful for companies aspiring to do business in India, is just how closely the list reflects the phenomonal growth of the technology-based industries in India, dominated as it is by Internet and technology sector entrepreneurs. They tweet in English and following them and reading more about their businesses could provide valuable insights into how and where to market to Indians online.

Five reasons for US technology companies to set up in India:

  1. R&D costs are much lower than in the US
  2. India has an abundance of science and technology talent
  3. Attractive tax benefits
  4. Time difference is ideal – as Americans go home, Indians are starting their day and customers get seamless 24-hour service
  5. Workforce is highly educated and speaks English

Read more here.

Using Twitter to follow locals like #6, Angsuman Chakraborty (who has a Web site for his business, a blog, a Linkedin profile and is a self-declared “social media enthusiast…”) is a relatively easy way to learn about the Indian market. The beauty of Twitter is that you can quickly connect with complete strangers and engage in a two-way conversation. You can ask questions, take the conversation on to email or even offline (by mutual consent) without having to get a personal introduction.

Finnish company and global leader in mobile phone handsets, Nokia, is a good example of a foreign technology business success story in India. Nokia’s market share is as high as 70% in some mobile phone handset segments and about 58% overall – well ahead of the competition. Not only did Nokia get in early, but the company was smart enough to do its homework and tailor its product to the Indian market by offering handsets that double as flashlights for example.

Ravi Bapna, professor of information systems at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, says:

As far as Nokia’s India strategy is concerned, the numbers speak for themselves. The company is a key cog in India’s wireless value chain, and it has used India as its emerging market lab.

Obviously Twitter provides just a snapshot in time but when you look at the Best 50 list, it is clear that right now in India it seems to have real traction with entrepreneurs in the Internet and technology sectors. Twitter is not a bad place to start just to see who’s who and who’s doing what in your sector of interest – it’s free, you have nothing to lose and potentially lots of valuable, market-specific insights to gain – straight from the frontline. As with any social media tool, be sure to pick your ‘market experts’ carefully and do some additional research to establish their credibility. Who knows, you could be the next Nokia-style success story in India.

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3 Responses to Is Twitter the next big thing in emerging markets research?

  1. There is indeed strong potential to use some of the conversations in social media as a way of getting a better sense of how people in a particular culture think and act. Your list of reasons why India may be a good place to set up a technology business is a good one. Ultimately, beyond simply getting information on where a business opportunity may lie, it seems that Twitter in particular has many other potential uses that could benefit businesses. Digging a bit deeper to perhaps expose a few unexpected uses would make this post stand out as stronger and even more insightful. (3)

  2. Quentin says:

    I think one place social media can be use is to tap into the large technical talent pool in India and the shrinking pool of engineers and scientists in the U.S. More than just researching business opportunities in India social media should be used by U.S. colleges to recruit top technical talent from India and use the new graduates to build the Indian industry and economy. This would also help rebuild the decreasing scientific innovation in the U.S.

  3. paulfbove says:

    I liked the examples in the reading of companies creating market-specific products (like Nokia’s flashlight phone you refer to). Good thinking into how a brand can use Twitter to reach out to new audiences. It’s new, fast, and easy find information. Companies would do well to keep an eye on Twitter as a research source for future endeavors. Nice job!

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