Advancements and globalization of digital platforms and social media technologies is empowering people across the globe to participate, and share content online. India has experienced technology as a vehicle in aiding social change through social media. The growth of social media outlets is changing behaviors, perceptions, and attitudes as the ease and growth of online social technologies induce audiences to become digital activists; changing user behavior from passive to active, non-participatory to avid participation, and enabling users with a voice that was otherwise unknown or untapped. The power of social media and its impacts on individuals, businesses, and society in India has provided an equal opportunity to voice thoughts, opinions, and share information. The increase of usage and ease of entry provides an attractive interface for anyone to become a creator or advocate of information and ideas by using blogs, micro-blogs, social sharing, and networking sites.
Social Media for Peer to Peer: The popularity of social networks has created a new trend of social sharing where individuals can recommend to groups of people products, services, information and ideas. The online peer-influence factor virally spreads as visible feedback channels engage, encourage and promote peers to be more participative and interact. It’s no surprise that micro-blogging sites like Twitter share the breaking news faster than the traditional media channels, as more and more people are using it not only for live streaming of their personal events but most importantly as an information sharing medium and a collective knowledge sharing channel with other people across the world.
Social Media for Business to Consumer: For brands and marketers, social media introduces both opportunities and challenges. Brands are now able to listen to and address both compliments and complaints made by fellow or future consumers enabling the brand or marketer to respond to and interact with the public. In India, eight out of 10 people from urban areas who buy cars use the internet to search for information on brands and products before making a purchase. A major driver for businesses to use the social media marketing is the low-cost model compared to traditional marketing channels. Predictions for Business to Consumer marketing via social media in India indicates that more marketers will be adopting social media strategies as a new marketing medium and engagement channel to interact with current and prospective consumers. For businesses in India, monitoring social interaction behaviors, brand reputation, and current and prospective consumer expectations will help the company to build long-term relationships, create loyal communities of brand advocates, and engage in a dialogue with people interested in the product, brand, or service.
Social Media for Social Change: Social media has empowered people in Indian society to spread perspectives on social causes and change, participation in digital activisms, and support and information sharing in crisis situations. Cultural adoption and availability/understanding of technology prove to be an obstacle for many in underdeveloped areas of India.
Social Media and Behavior: The increase in the use of social media sites will allow for researchers to observe the behaviors of the population engaging in social media. Understanding behaviors will allow for researchers and businesses to track behavioral change patterns, market trends, content consumption patterns, and social changes through technology. Through better placement of advertisements to targeted audiences, monitoring behaviors via social media will help companies reduce the total number of ads served for the same or better result, thus reducing costs. In addition, through web analytics and modeling derived from website user behavior companies will be able to translate the data into actionable business intelligence that can be implemented to deliver better results.
Predictions for Social Media in India:
Text-Based Social Media: Mobile text and application capabilities, such as SMS and Twitter, are becoming more affordable and available, thus adoption of mobile social networking across India increasing. Subscriber growth in India will continue, driven by rural expansion, entry of newer operators, 3G and cheaper handsets. Flat-rate data plans will also accelerate the use of mobile media. InformationWeek has projected a significant transformation in Media, Technology & Telecommunications over the next 10 years because of Wireless Social Networking Revolution. Technology, Media & Telecom represents approximately 5% of global GDP, and with the growing population in India, Indians are expected to have a better chance of capitalizing on developing social media mobile trends.
“Citizen Journalism” : The power of citizen journalism became ever so present during the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Indian media has been increasingly willing to integrate citizen journalism in its news coverage and India is expected to see a continuation of these trends throughout 2009.
Indian General Elections: Social media, online and mobile, will serve as an inflection point in the general elections in India. Interaction with the younger generations in India has launched a popularity and engagement to “get out the vote”. Specifically, Twitter and other mobile based applications will play an important role in future general elections, both in the campaigning and in the coverage of the elections.