Studies indicate that close to 40 million Indians are online. So what are these people doing online? How important is social media to them? Is social media impacting their purchase behavior? A recent study conducted by Windchimes polled Indians from Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore between the ages of 18-35.
When asked which medium do they use when they want information on products or services, 63% said the Internet (blogs, social networking sites & Web sites) followed by television at 23%.
When asked which medium they use to find out about the latest trend, 58% said Internet, followed by television at 26%.
Surfing the Internet is also slowly taking over television as the preferred source of news and way to spend past-time.
A company trying to engage with the Indian audience through social media will need to have a significant online presence to ensure that users can locate them when they are searching or researching online. Having only a company Web site will no longer suffice. Here’s why.
75% of those polled stated that comments left on blogs and in communities influence their purchase decision, not information from the company site.
Once the company has created a significant online presence by connecting with social networking sites and blogs, the company must monitor its brand reputation, reach out to consumers and be an active voice by creating dialogue in social media forums by responding to consumer praise as well as complaints.
Indians have moved from a passive to an active form of engagement. They are more prone to reading online reviews from their peers rather than listening to “experts” on television or reading them in newspapers before carrying out their purchase. Fact finding on social media networks is becoming the first level of research in India, much like Google and now, blogs are for the American audience.
Think about it. Word of mouth is the number method of influencing consumer behavior. Social networking has provided companies with a way of delivering their messages to the masses. The only difference between word of mouth and social media is the medium in which the messages are being delivered and the scope of its reach. Reputation management is key. It only takes a few bad reviews with no rebuttal from the company for a product to fall off of the radar. With that said, once a company has gained the attention of the Indian audience, it should keep it by always keeping the lines of communication and dialogue within the social networking forums open.