Twitter turns ten and has miles to go still…

India is one of the fastest growing markets for Twitter and the growth engine for the Asia-Pacific. And the volume of conversations on the social media platform are only growing…

BestMediaInfo Bureau
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Twitter turns ten and has miles to go still…

India is one of the fastest growing markets for Twitter and the growth engine for the Asia-Pacific. And the volume of conversations on the social media platform are only growing…

Archit Ambekar | Mumbai | March 28, 2016

Twitter_logo_blueTwitter Inc. founded on March 21, 2006, completes a long and successful decade on the worldwide web. Over the last ten years, it has evolved in many ways – but most of all, it has become a platform for free speech and expression.

Twitter has been a game changer in the realm of social media. Even as Twitter pursues more users, its core mission seems to be that of creating and sharing ideas and information instantly - and without barriers. Judging by the social media site's phenomenal growth, it has a long journey ahead. As it maps its path, will Twitter stick to its core character or will it spring surprises on its users?

Taranjeet Singh, Business Head, Twitter India, shared some insights on the path Twitter had mapped for itself in India, where it is increasingly becoming a platform with a mass reach for both celebrities and decision-makers. Singh said Twitter was beholden to its users, partners and clients for the first successful decade.

“Today, the Indian market of Twitter is in a stronger position with respect to both audience and marketers. India is one of the fastest growing markets for Twitter and the growth engine for Asia-Pacific,” Singh said. “From Head of States like Prime Minister Modi, Nirmala Sitharaman, Amitabh Kant; to sports personalities like cricketer Virat Kohli and Bollywood actors, Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor - Twitter bridges the live connection to influencers.”

Singh pointed out that the volume of Tweet conversations in India was enormous. “87 per cent of Mass Affluent respondents surveyed, use Twitter in India,” he said, adding, “1.4 billion impressions on Twitter related to the Cricket World Cup in 2015; 3.5 million mentions of Diwali on Twitter in 2015 - a 13 per cent year on year increase; 100 per cent of professional sports leagues and teams in India are on Twitter and 80 per cent of the players in the Indian cricket team squad for the World T20 are active on Twitter.”

Singh pointed out that every market was different and so was India. The challenges notwithstanding, Twitter has evolved into a leading internet player in the world today. The social media platform, he said, was constantly iterating user and brand experience to suit market demands and conditions.

Last year, for instance, Twitter had introduced the video auto play globally. The feature was set to Wi-Fi-only for select markets including India, to ensure that the internet bandwidth did not affect user experience. India is also one of the markets where Twitter continues to provide the SMS Fast Follow service to cater for the needs of users.

While Twitter has turned ten as a company, it is still in its infancy in India. In the short span of time in which the company has built a team on ground, Twitter India has grown to be the growth engine for Twitter Asia Pacific. In 2015, India became the fastest growing sales market for Twitter in the region.

“Brands have been increasingly open to experiment and innovate with their marketing campaigns on Twitter,” Singh said. “Most recently at the #AutoExpo2016, 75 per cent of brands (18 of 24) advertising on Twitter in conjunction with the show, were using video on the platform. Brands including Audi, Mercedes, Mahindra, Nissan, Tata Motors, were all participating with integrated Twitter video campaigns at the show.”

Mercedes India ran a rich media campaign, the first TweetCam campaign in Asia. When users tweeted to @MercedesBenzInd using the hashtag #TweetToClick, they received a live photo tweet from the Mercedes Pavilion at #AutoExpo, based on what was going on at the pavilion at that moment.” That, Singh said was “possibly the next best thing to actually being there!”

Video consumption continues to grow on twitter and 90 per cent of video views on Twitter are on mobile phones. Video views raised 220X globally in 2015. “We saw a 400 per cent increase in video consumption on Twitter in India last year,” Singh said. “For example, @RelianceGroup came on board with the objective of wanting to own the conversations on Independence Day in 2015.”

The Twitter India team helped put together an inspirational campaign - #SaluteSelfie. It was based on the insight that Independence Day was a time in the year when people thought about the contributions that the country's Armed Forces make every day to preserve the independence of the country and asked users to send in a #SaluteSelfie that they would share with the soldiers. Celebrities got involved and the campaign turned into a movement, achieving close to 1,00,000 mentions. A promoted video, the 'Silent National Anthem' followed on Twitter and @RelianceGroup achieved a high engagement rate of 21.55 per cent and a CPV of $0.05.”

At the moment Twitter is busy working with brands on the cricket hotspot, to exploit the opportunities that the ICC World Cup Twenty 20 and the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournaments presented. Twitter engagements with both the cricket tournaments have witnessed a massive year-on-year growth.

Asked how Twitter was monetizing its stupendous growth in India, Singh said jovially, “If you're asking about how business is doing in India, we're doing very well. As mentioned above, India became the fastest growing sales market for us in the region in 2015. India is a high potential market with $1.1 billion 2016 digital ad spends, 25 per cent growth, 322 million internet users. We continue to see demand from clients across all verticals, from auto brands like Audi, FMCG brands like Nestle and Unilever, Telco's like Airtel, and electronic goods brands such as Samsung.”

On the global front, Twitter's addressable audience has grown from 300 million to 800 million. In 2015 Twitter earned a revenue of US $2.2 billion in sales, which was a whopping 58 per cent jump over the previous year. Twitter feels that its journey had just begun. In the year ahead, Twitter plans to stick to five priorities –  refine core service, live streaming video, creators and influencers, safety, and developers.

The company feels that each of these areas was critical for strengthening the platform and audience around live web interface. Twitter plans to focus on the live experience, as it grows its service for users, partners and advertisers. The platform also sees a growing momentum with its younger audience, who enjoy hyper-local, interactive and media-forward content. Twitter plans to continue to invest in live experiences to delight its young users and advertisers.

Industry speak on Twitter turning ten:

Now that Twitter is ten, the expectations from the social media platform are growing. There has been an almost unanimous demand from users for discarding the '140 characters' stricture that restricts users from saying more. But will Twitter change?

Ashish Limaye, CEO, APAC, Happy Finish, felt that Twitter should introduce a feature that was more graphics friendly. Since Limaye is associated with augmented and virtual reality, he would like to see a combination of Instagram and Twitter. Not everyone was good with words, Limaye argued, pointing out that images speak a lot too. Limaye was happy, though, that Twitter was not an advertising platform and had maintained the purity of a core social media platform.

Anish Tripathi, AVP, Product Design, BookMyShow, felt that Twitter should be more interactive, and introduce a new 'tag' apart from the 'hastag.' Like Limaye, he too felt that an image based media was more effective and that Twitter should consider incorporating the change.

Sanjay Shetty, Senior Vice President, Brand Platforms, Asymmetrique, felt that Twitter should be more user-friendly. He felt that a major challenge for both the website and companies that were trying to leverage it as a platform, was increasing the user base.

Twitter has come a long way – and has a long way to go. As it lives up to the expectations of its users and industry, BestMediaInfo can only hope that it sticks with its core focus and continues to be a platform for free speech and expression.