Social Media Marketing India Trends Study 2016

Third edition

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Over the past few years, the digital and social media landscape in India has shown that India Inc. is embracing social media to attract, engage and transact with its customers. For the third edition of the Social Media Marketing India Trends Study, we wanted to understand what has changed and how brands are leveraging social media to gain advantage across the customer lifecycle, as well as what customers look for when engaging with brands on social media. We have observed that brands understand the importance of a digital and social media presence in order to engage with customers. This is aided by increasing investments in India’s internet connectivity, and growth in internet and social media usage.

Digi-facts: Despite the focus on social media, brands still feel their website is the most effective means to engage with customers.

Key focus areas (Business view):
What do businesses say about their:

Social and digital strategy

  1. The top-three objectives for brands to build a social media presence were: to create awareness, build a community and engage with customers.
  2. Across editions, there seems to be a paradigm shift to key objectives of being present on social media. This has evolved from building communities to building trust and credibility.
  3. Brands are leveraging this information gathered from digital and social touch points to gain better customer insights, improve customer experience and also for new product development.
  4. Brands need to measure ROI from social media and institute emergency response management plans/formal social media policies.

Digi-facts: Mobile is growing and continues to be an important channel for brands as well as consumers. 72% of the brands have a mobile app and a mobile-friendly website.

How businesses use digital and social media across the customer lifecycle to:

Click each section below for the highlights

Digital platforms

  1. Facebook and Twitter are the most popular social media platforms for brands to be present on, followed by YouTube and LinkedIn.
  2. Almost all the brands have their own website; a considerable number of brands also have a mobile website and a mobile app. There is a significant overlap among brands that have apps with those that have a mobile-friendly website, which indicates that these brands are looking at mobile as a separate engagement channel.
  3. Despite the focus on social media, surprisingly, brands still considered website as the most effective platform for customer engagement, followed by Facebook, mobile sites, Twitter and mobile apps.

Customer acquisition through digital

  1. Brands are advertising on web, social and mobile, and driving traffic across channels by cross-linking various platforms to attract users to their digital touch points.
  2. Brands are also looking to create compelling content such as storytelling, contests and “creat[ing] strong content capsules where brand and brand purposes are effectively interspersed” to drive users to digital and social media channels.
  3. This also includes publishing content that includes industry trends and other points of interest to their users, as opposed to only product and service-related information.

Digi-facts: Instagram has gained immense popularity and is preferred by brands and consumers alike. 60% of the brands we surveyed leverage Instagram as a crucial social media tool.

Integration across channels

  1. Our report indicates that businesses are using 360° integrated campaigns/omni-channel approaches to marketing, indicating that digital and social media marketing is being integrated with traditional marketing strategies to engage with customers through multiple touch points.


  1. The number of brands spending 16% or more of their marketing budgets on social media has increased over the last few years. Moreover, for the first time in three years we are seeing some brands specify that they spent more than 31% on social media.

Key challenges

  1. The top-three challenges faced for marketing a brand on social media were — sustaining or increasing engagement rates, content creation and measuring effectiveness. These were same in the last edition, though percentages varied marginally.
  2. The top challenges to attract users to digital touch points relate to effectively defining the target group/audience and the lack of dedicated budgets for these channels/advertising.

Lead generation and sales

  1. Majority of respondents state that they use social PR and influencer management to generate leads and convert users to customers.
  2. Social CRM (use of social media as a customer-servicing channel currently) is gaining momentum across verticals and brands.

App adoption

  1. Brands promote their apps through various campaigns on their social media pages to drive adoption. A small group of brands also focus on social advertising with sponsored posts and pushing discount codes/deals in order to entice users to download their apps.
  2. Surprisingly, almost half of the brands surveyed are not pushing a mobile-first agenda and don’t seem to focus on their mobile-friendly website instead of pushing users to adopt their apps.

e-Commerce and social media/social sharing

  1. While brands usually integrate their social media with their web or mobile commerce initiatives through cross-linkages between platforms, surprisingly, not all businesses link their website or app to their social media channels.
  2. Despite the statistics that show referrals from peers being considered trustworthy, 16% of brands still do not allow word-of-mouth (WOM) referrals through social sharing, which means they are not leveraging the benefits of using their user base for WOM marketing.

Customer feedback and insights

  1. To gain customer feedback, 88% of respondents conduct social listening; however, only 56% brands use a listening tool (the most common being Radian6, followed by Meltwater and Sysomos).
  2. While 60% of brands still rely on traditional channels such as call centers and email for Customer Servicing, 60% brands are also providing Customer Servicing on social media.

Measurement and metrics

  1. Engagement (92%) and social reach (80%) are clear priorities for majority of the brands surveyed, and 68% of participants also track brand mentions.
  2. As compared to the second edition of our report, visitor growth rates seem to be less important; however, on the whole, most metrics measured by companies seem to be more or less the same.

Customer retention

  1. To build a community of loyal users and to help with repeat purchases, 76% of brands believe in regularly engaging with users on social media, while around 64% of brands feel that running exclusive campaigns for their fans and followers will achieve that.
  2. Around 70% of brands surveyed stated they currently service or plan to use social CRM to engage with and service customers through the customer lifecycle.

Governance and response management strategies

  1. 40% of brands mentioned they track end-to-end incidents on social media, and they respond in occurrence to clearly defined emergency plan.
  2. 28% of brands state their social media policy and governance is aligned with other organizational polices that are implemented and followed.
  3. However, a large majority of brand still do not have such an emergency plan in place – in some cases, no formal plan exists, while almost a quarter of brands still use traditional corporate communication methods to respond to emergencies.
  4. 28% of brands state their social media policy and governance is aligned with other organizational polices that are implemented and followed. However, 44% of brands still do not have a formal social media policy in place.

Key focus areas (Customer view):
How to engage with brands using digital and social media across the customer lifecycle:

Click each section below for the highlights

  1. Facebook is the undisputed champion for consumers as well as marketers; surprisingly, an extremely small percentage of consumers are active on Twitter.
  2. There are age and gender differences in usage rates among various social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest.
  3. Pinterest and Vine both have minimal usage among Indian consumers.
  4. Generally, all age groups spend 1–2 hours on social media per day. However, the amount of time spent on social media seems to decrease as the age of the respondent groups increases.
  5. A significant majority of users prefer apps to access social media from their mobile phone, and that percentage tends to gradually increase for users with high-priced devices as well as for consumers aged 25 and below.
  6. As the age of the customer increases, they become more interested in information about products and services and less interested in participating in games and contests.
  1. Receiving promotions and offers, and interacting with customer service on social media also seems to be top choices across all age groups.
  2. We observed age being a factor in earning loyalty points for social media usages, and we see gender differences in the use of apps over mobile browser and desktop computer.
  1. Users feel surveys are the best mode to provide feedback to a brand and that regular updates on a brand’s social media channel will increase their loyalty and encourage them to make repeat purchases.
  2. Consumers across most age ranges are not comfortable with sharing their personal information with brands on social media.

Download our full report for further insights. Join the conversation on Twitter: #EYIndiaDigital


Survey methodology

As part of the Business view, we asked our participants a set of 27 questions regarding the use of digital channels and social media in their organizations. Their input was collected online, via email, or through telephonic interviews. For the Customer view, we conducted an online, 10-question survey for 1,250 respondents.