Though the popularity of social media began much earlier, it was largely limited to chatting and matchmaking sites. From 2005 to 2010, social media underwent a tremendous change, as evident from the increased viewership at sites like Facebook and Orkut. However, the question remains whether the growth of social media has been limited to personal use in India or has it also become a channel of communication between companies and customers.
Research shows that about 80% of all internet users visit one social networking site or another with Facebook and Twitter being top in their list. The same research also shows that less than 5% of the Indian population have access to the internet and hence are not privy to the interactions on these sites. One reasons for this segregation is that most of the social media sites are not offered in languages other than English. Therefore, researchers expect the next boom in social media networking to happen when this facility is made available in regional languages.
Although the skewed popularity of social media in the classes is blatantly evident from the current statistics, it is also true that in India the maximum internet users do not hail from the corporate class but comes from the middle-income group or youngsters excited to share their life with friends.
Other statistics reflect on the current trends of social media in India with respect to the age and location of the users. The highest traffic at sites like Facebook, Orkut and Twitter comes from Metro cities like Mumbai, although the smaller cities do account to 60 % of the remaining traffic. The traffic can be attributed to different age groups and depends on the particular social media site; for instance, LinkedIn gets a lot of traffic from age groups between 25 and 34, whereas dating sites get a lot of traffic from teenagers and youngsters in their early twenties.
So, what areas do social media networking in India impact? Blogging has become a recent fad with internet users. It is slowly being incorporated into the lifestyle of the classes and being used to advertize and promote new brands, to initiate charity campaigns or even used by Mumbai police to inform and invite comments from residents about the traffic situation in different areas.
Social Media has also entered into various sectors of corporate houses. From LinkedIn being heavily used by HR teams to find suitable candidates; Facebook and Twitter are becoming important marketing channels for business to communicate with their consumers, social media is slowly becoming an important and inevitable part of our personal and professional life.